* THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
This is a memo written by the lobbying firm of Geduldig, Clark, Lytle, and Cranford,
( former aides turned lobbyists, to Speaker of the House, John Boehner ), proposing an $850,000. contract to the American Bankers Association to engage in opposition research on OWS, in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and sympathetic politicians.
FOR: American Bankers Association
FROM: Sam Geduldig, Steve Clark, Gary Lytle, Jay Cranford
DATE: November 24, 2011
SUBJECT: Proposal: Occupy Wall Street Response
From the memo:
… Leading Democratic party strategists have begun to openly discuss the benefits of embracing the growing and increasingly organized Occuy Wall Street (OWS) movement to prevent Republican gains in Congress and the White House next year. We have seen this process of adopting extreme positions and movements to increase base voer turnout, including in the 2005-2006 immigration debate. If vilifying the leading companies of this sector is allowed to become an unchallenged centerpiece of a coordinated Democratic campaign, it has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the Democratic Party or even President Obama’s reelection team would campaign against Wall Street in this cycle. However the bigger concern should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street comapnies — and might start running against them too.
Well-known Wall Street companies stand at the nexus of where OWS protestors and the Tea Party overlap on angered populism. Both the radical left and the radical right are channeling broader frustration about the state of the economy and share a mutual anger over TARP and other perceived bailouts. This combination has the potential to be explosive later in the year when media reports cover the next round of bonuses and contrast it with stories of millins of Americans making do with less this holday season.
Democratic strategists have identified the OWS movement as a way to tap this populist anger…they are certainly in the field right now testing messaging options and developing the plans to deploy them in ads, speeches, social media and grassroots communications as early as this year. The focus of those campaign efforts would be to tar the financial services sector — and in particular high-profile Wall Street investment house brands — as being responsible for the economic problems facing the country and middle class Americans. …
… OWS bears many of the hallmarks of a well-funded effort and media reports have speculated about associations with George Soros and others. It will be vital to understand who is funding it and what their backgrounds and motives are. If we can show they have the same cynical motivation as a political opponent it will undermine their credibility in a profound way. A key strategic goal will ultimately be to show any evidence of fraud on the other side.
Our opposition research work at this stage will produce an analysis of OWS backers, funders, extremist leaders, policy positions, and rhetoric for the development of strategic polling and messaging. The research will also identify opportunities to construct fact based negative narratives of the OWS for high impact media placement to expose the backers behind this movement. …
* U.S. TORTURE POLICY COMES HOME – UC DAVIS COPS ”PEPPER-SPRAYED DOWN THE THROATS” OF STUDENTS
By Gaius Pulbius
John covered this in his original post (see last update), but I want to highlight this one part.
When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.
Torture. There’s no other word for this behavior.
You can talk about one cop, or provocation (if they can find it), or cop behavior, but that’s small-bore analysis.
This is the Bush–Obama torture regime come home. When a nation tortures, forgives torture, justifies torture, glories in torture — it corrupts itself from the core. This nation, my nation, is rotting from the core. …
* OPEN LETTER TO CHANCELLOR LINDA P.B. KATEHI
By Nathan Brown
18 November 2011
Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi
Linda P.B. Katehi,
I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.
You are not.
I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:
1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today
2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality
3) to demand your immediate resignation
Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.
Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.
What happened next?
Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.
This is what happened. You are responsible for it.
You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.
One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.
You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.
On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”
I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”
I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.
Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.
I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis
SIGN THE PETITION FOR LINDA P.B. KATEHI TO RESIGN @ http://www.change.org/petitions/police-pepper-spray-peaceful-uc-davis-students-ask-chancellor-katehi-to-resign
* IN THE WAKE OF OCCUPY CRACKDOWN, NLG TAPS FEDS FOR INFORMATION
By Jefferson Siegel
Contact: Mara Verheyden-Hilliard,
Co-Chair, NLG Mass Defense Committee
(202) 232-1180 ext. 202
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests Wednesday with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Park Service (NPS). The requests ask that the agencies release all information on the planning of the coordinated law enforcement crackdown on Occupy protest encampments that played out in multiple cities over the course of recent days and weeks.
Each FOIA request states: “This request specifically encompasses disclosure of any documents or information pertaining to federal coordination of, or advice or consultation regarding, the police response to the Occupy movement, protests or encampments.”
The Occupy Movement has been confronted by a nearly simultaneous effort by local governments and local police agencies to evict and break up encampments in cities and towns throughout the country. It is now known that mayors and police officials took part in conference calls in recent weeks to develop a coordinated strategy for breaking up the encampments. This strategizing produced common talking points that established a pretextual rationale to justify police action.
“The severe crackdown on the occupation movement appears to be part of a national strategy to crush the movement,” said Mara Veheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice and the co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s National Mass Defense Committee. “This multi-jurisdictional coordination shows that the crackdown is supremely political.”
“The FOIA requests seek critical information regarding the role of federal law enforcement agencies,” Verheyden-Hilliard explained. “The Occupy demonstrations are not criminal activities, and police should not be treating them as such. This protest movement for social and economic justice has captured the imagination of the country. The coordinated effort of law enforcement to suppress it is a reflection of its political challenge to the status-quo.”
“We see the scapegoating of these movements, the attacks at night, and in general, tactics designed to terrorize and to scare protesters away,” said Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild. “This request is critical to the transparency that is required in order for the people of the United States to be informed as to the U.S. government’s action in regard to free speech activities.”
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) is a not-for-profit constitutional rights legal and educational organization which seeks to ensure government transparency and constitutional accountability within police practices. For more information go to: www.JusticeOnline.org.
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
* THE COP GROUP COORDINATION THE OCCUPY CRACKDOWNS
By Shawn Gaynor
… According to PERF’s ( The Police Executive Research Forum ) website, general membership in the group is exclusive to “the executive head of a municipal, county or state-funded agency that provides general police services. The agency must have at least 100 full-time employees, or serve a population of 50,000 or more people.”
PERF’s current and former directors read as a who’s who of police chiefs involved in crackdowns on anti-globalization and political convention protesters resulting in thousands of arrests, hundreds of injuries, and millions of dollars paid out in police brutality and wrongful arrest lawsuits.
These current and former U.S. police chiefs — along with top ranking police union officials and representatives from Canadian and British police — have been marketing to municipal police forces and politicians their joint experiences as specialists on policing mass demonstrations.
Chairing PERF’s board of directors is Philadelphia Police Commissioner and former Washington D.C. Metro Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who was responsible for coordinating the police response to protests against international banking institutions including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Those protests, and Ramsey’s response to massive anti-war demonstrations in Washington DC in the lead up the the Iraq War, often resulted in preemptive mass arrest of participants that were later deemed to be unconstitutional.
Ramsey’s predecessor as organization chair is former Philadelphia Police Commissioner and former Miami Police Chief John Timoney, who is responsible for the so called “Miami Model,” coined after the police crackdown on the 2003 Free Trade Agreement of the Americas protest.
The police response to protesters in Miami lead to hundreds of injuries to protesters. The ACLU won multiple suits against the Miami P.D. over abuse to protesters and free speech concerns.
Prior to the 2003 protest, Timoney was quoted as saying that the FTAA was “the first big event for homeland security … the first real realistic run-through to see how it would work.”
Timoney arrived in Miami with plenty of baggage. At the 2000 Republican National Convention, Timoney coordinated a crackdown that resulted in more than 420 arrests with only 13 convictions, none of which resulted in jail time. As in Miami, there was well documented abuse of some of the people arrested.
Also among PERF’s directors is Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan, who was responsible for the crackdown on protesters at the 2008 Republican National Convention. That event also resulted in lawsuits, protester injuries and an outcry from the national press about police brutality and the preemptive nature of the police action.
PERF is more than a mere policy group. Wexler has personally represented PERF at major political events, in face-to-face dialog with police tactical commanders and leadership. That was the case at the 2008 Republican National Convention, where Wexler and Minneapolis Police Chief Dolan coordinated what is widely regarded as one of the most aggressive political crackdowns in recent American history. …
* THE CAMP IS THE WORLD: CONNECTING THE OCCUPY MOVEMENTS AND THE SPANISH MAY 15th MOVEMENT
By Marina Sitrin
We write this letter as participants in the movements, and as an invitation to a conversation. We hope to raise questions about how we continue to deepen and transform the new social relationships and processes we have begun … to open the discussion towards a common horizon.
The evictions and threats to the physical Occupations in the United States have again raised the question of the future of the movement. That the movements have a future is not the question – but what sort of future is. For example, should our energy be focused on finding new spaces to occupy and create encampments? Should we be focused more in our local neighborhoods, schools and workplaces? Is there a way to both occupy public space with horizontal assemblies yet also focus locally and concretely?
A look at the recent history of a movement similar to Occupy – the Spanish indignados or 15M movement can shed some light on the opportunities and urgency of this new phase. It is a moment that we see as a potential turning point, and one with incredible possibilities.
There are three key elements that have made the global movements of 2011 so powerful and different. The extraordinary capacity to include all types of people; the impulse to move beyond traditional forms of the protest and contention, so as to create solutions for the problems identified; and the horizontal and directly participatory form they take.
Let’s look at the first element. Unlike other movements that have strongly identified with concrete social groups (workers, students, etc.), both the indignados and Occupy are movements that anyone can join, just by choosing to do so. Again and again in Madrid as in New York we have heard the demonstrators chanting solidarity slogans to the police: “they’ve also lowered your salary” and “you too are the 99 %”. In both places the movements have been able to bring out many people who had never been to a demonstration before and made them feel welcome and useful. It is a culture and politics of openness and acceptance of the other.
The second element, the capacity to create solutions, is consistent with this non-confrontational aspect of the Spanish and American movements. Like their predecessors in Egypt and Greece, both movements began with the occupation of a public space. Rather than reproducing the logic of the traditional “sit-in,” these occupations quickly turned to the construction of miniature models of the society that the movement wanted to create – prefiguring the world while simultaneously creating it. The territory occupied was geographic, but only so as to open other ways of doing and being together. It is not the specific place that is the issue, but what happens in it. This is what we could call the first phase of the movement. Solutions began to be implemented for the urgent problems of loneliness, humiliating competition, the absence of truly representative politics, and the lack of basic necessities, such as housing, education, food, and health care. In Spain and in the United States this first phase saw the creation of two problem-solving institutions: the general assemblies and the working-groups. …
* THE ROOTS OF THE UC-DAVIS PEPPER-SPRAYING
By Glenn Greenwald
The now-viral video of police officers in their Robocop costumes sadistically pepper-spraying peaceful, sitting protesters at UC-Davis (details here) shows a police state in its pure form. It’s easy to be outraged by this incident as though it’s some sort of shocking aberration, but that is exactly what it is not. The Atlantic‘s Garance Franke-Ruta adeptly demonstrates with an assemblage of video how common such excessive police force has been in response to the Occupy protests. Along those lines, there are several points to note about this incident and what it reflects: …