More fun with the New York City Police Department. Pictured above, protesters of Mayor Bloomberg’s “Stop and Frisk” policy endure the wrath of an officer who likes pulling hair. Muslims protest NYPD surveillance, and an officer swings his baton at Occupy protesters.
Below is David Ranta, who spent 23 years in a maximum security prison after being falsely convicted of a robbery/murder. A witness who testified against him in 1990 called Ranta’s defense attorney last year to tell him that he was coached to pick Ranta from a line-up. At the time, the witness was only 13. He told the prisoner’s attorney:
“The police told me to pick the guy with the big nose.”
The now retired officer denies any wrongdoing.
Strike debt is awesome!
Strike Debt, brought to you by many of the same people in Occupy, launched an initiative to buy debt for pennies on the dollar. They raised money with benefit concerts, donations etc.
This effort just saved 1,000 people from debt of more than $1 million owed to emergency rooms. The people will soon receive letters stating that their debt has been cleared!
I just saw this graph on The Rachel Maddow show. It shows wealth distribution in America. Look at this graph for a minute. Does this look like democracy to you? Does this look like opportunity to you?
Economic recovery is in rather limited supply, it seems. Research by economist Emmanuel Saez shows that the top 1 percent has enjoyed income growth of over 11 percent since the official end of the recession. The other 99 percent hasn’t fared so well, seeing a 0.4 percent decline in income.
The top 10 percent of earners hauled in 46.5 percent of all income in 2011, the highest proportion since 1917 – and that doesn’t even include money earned from investments. The wealthy have benefitted from favorable tax status and the rise in stock prices, while the rest have been hit with a continuing unemployment crisis that has kept wages down. Saez believes this trend will continue in 2013.
— Alternet For more: http://www.alternet.org/economy/9-economic-facts-will-make-your-head-spin
With hindsight gained by googling “MoveOn” and “co-opt” after the fact, I can’t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, “Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.” I just didn’t read that anywhere in a timely fashion. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate lately. That’s my excuse. And in my ignorance, I responded to some spam about “nonviolent direct action training” organized by MoveOn and got invited to this 99% Spring thing on April 10 at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. Somebody even called me all the way from San Francisco to make sure I was a sincere seeker on the left and would be attending, along with 120,000 others in training sessions around the country.
Which I did. The meeting was a few blocks from where I live. The spam said it was “inspired by Occupy Wall Street.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was vaguely hoping that whatever The 99% Spring was, it would start a chapter of Occupy Wall Street on the Upper West Side, conveniently near my abode, and agitate for the Democrats and MoveOn to move left.
The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the “inspired by Occupy Wall Street” vibe right there. No piles of literature from a zillion different groups, as there had been in Zuccotti Park. No animated arguments among Marxists, anarchists, progressives, punks, engaged Buddhists, anti-war libertarians and what have you. Just Obama buttons, which didn’t appear to be selling. [++]
Brown, 29, had went to two hospitals complaining about pain in her leg in September. When she went to the St. Mary’s Health Center in Richmond Heights, Mo., on Sept. 21, 2011, she was not going to leave until she got answers.
She sat in a wheelchair, draped in a sheet inside the emergency room for seven hours after doctors examined her. When Richmond Heights police arrived they placed Brown under arrest for trespassing; dragged her from the wheelchair; and hauled her off to jail.
In the eight-minute video above we hear Brown moaning and struggling to breathe when officers lay her on a concrete floor in a jail cell. About 15 minutes later, a jail worker found Brown cold to the touch. She was rushed back to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
An autopsy later revealed, that Brown died from blood clots that started in her legs, then lodged in her lungs.
Police suspected Brown was using drugs but no drugs were found in her system.
One could assume that Brown’s treatment was not up to par because she was poor.
People who are well off don’t usually die on the floor of a jail cell.
If this country provided everyone with the same kind of health care these types of stories would not occur. What do you think?
Police Forcibly Evict Midwest Occupy Conference Participants; 14 Arrested In St. Louis
Activists in St. Louis for a national Occupy convention were arrested Thursday night while leaving a park where the city had denied permission for them to camp.
Some 600 people from all over the US are gathering in the midwest city for the second major national conference of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Scheduled events include workshops, discussions, general assemblies and a march to the famous Gateway Arch on the Mississippi River.
Organizers of the three-day Midwest Occupy Conference claim that conference participants were subjected to police brutality and that their First Amendment rights were violated when law enforcement officers with batons aggressively attacked a group of 150 demonstrators who were marching out of Compton Hill Reservoir Park at 10:48 p.m. on March 15.
At 10:48 p.m. witnesses say they observed police beating protesters with batons at Compton Hill Reservoir Park as the crowd was leaving the area. Organizers had already convinced the protesters to vacate the park and they were leading the majority of the people away when the police moved in aggressively and began making arrests. Observers watched as the law enforcement officers entered the march and started pushing demonstrators. There was shouting and chaos, then the acrid scent of pepper spray filled the air.
The activists report that police also used batons and tasers. They say at least two people were hospitalized as a result of the police actions.
The Battle of Oakland
A really great documentation of the events that unfolded between protesters and the police in Oakland on Jan. 28, 2012.
The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe.
Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas. Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy. Black Bloc anarchists spend most of their fury not on the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or globalism, but on those, such as the Zapatistas, who respond to the problem. It is a grotesque inversion of value systems.
Because Black Bloc anarchists do not believe in organization, indeed oppose all organized movements, they ensure their own powerlessness. They can only be obstructionist. And they are primarily obstructionist to those who resist. Solidarity becomes the hijacking or destruction of competing movements, which is exactly what the Black Bloc contingents are attempting to do with the Occupy movement.
Photos from the ongoing police-protester standoff in Oakland right now. All of the photos were taken by Intifada Tent, a Twitter user currently live-tweeting from Oakland. The tear gas canister pictured above is, according to @IntifadaTent, the same brand used by the Israeli military.
For months, a massive federal settlement with big Wall Street banks over their role in the mortgage crisis has been in the offing. The rumored details have always given progressives heartburn: civil immunity, no investigations, inadequate help for homeowners and a small penalty for the banks. Now, on the eve President Obama’s State of the Union address—in which he plans to further advance a populist message against big money and income inequality—the deal may be here, and it’s every bit as ugly as progressives feared.
The Associated Press reports that a proposed deal could be announced within weeks. Five banks—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC)—would pay the federal government $25 billion. About $17 billion would be used to reduce the principal that some struggling homeowners owe, $5 billion more would be used for future federal and state programs and $3 billion would be used to help homeowners refinance at 5.25 percent. Civil immunity would be granted to the banks for any role in foreclosure fraud, and there would be no investigations.
Many progressive groups have begun a massive petition drive to push back against the settlement and demand fair investigations. Moreover, attorneys general in California, New York, Delaware, Nevada and Massachusetts have previously said they won’t be a part of any deal that offers civil immunity.
So the deal is far from done—but it’s certainly moving towards an undesirable conclusion. We’ll have plenty more in this space all week.
South Carolina’s Attorney General Detects Voter Fraud during Primary
Already, there have been some question raised about folks who cast their ballots on Saturday in the South Carolina Primary. South Carolina’s Attorney General, Alan Wilson has notified the U.S. Justice Department of potential voter fraud. Wilson says an analysis found 953 ballots cast by voters were people who are listed as dead. He has asked the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate.
Hundreds of protesters clad in rain gear marched through downtown San Francisco on Friday evening - one of several events in a day of action organized by Occupy San Francisco and other allied groups on the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, which removed limits on how much money corporations could spend on political campaigns.
Multiple blocks of California Street and Montgomery Street were blocked for hours by the demonstrations at two banks and the ensuing response by police in riot gear.
In the city’s financial district police arrested 18 people for trespassing, including a group that refused to move their human chain blocking an entrance to the headquarters of Wells Fargo. Another was arrested for allegedly grabbing a police officer’s baton.
Teachers Decide To Work For Free After Budget Cuts Leave Pennsylvania School District Without Funds For Salaries
The Chester Upland School District in Delaware County, Pennsylvania suffered a serious setback when Gov. Tom Corbett (R) slashed $900 million in education funds from the state budget. The cuts landed hardest on poorer districts, and Chester Upland, which predominantly serves African-American children and relies on state aid for nearly 70 percent of its funding, expects to fall short this school year by $19 million.
Faced with such a shortage of funds, the school district informed its staff that it will not be able to pay their salaries come Wednesday. So the teachers decided to work for free. As one teacher put it, students “need to be educated, so we intend to be on the job”:
At a union meeting at Chester High School on Tuesday night, the employees passed a resolution saying they would stay on “as long as we are individually able.”
Columbus Elementary School math and literacy teacher Sara Ferguson, who has taught in Chester Upland for 21 years, said after the meeting, “It’s alarming. It’s disturbing. But we are adults; we will make a way. The students don’t have any contingency plan. They need to be educated, so we intend to be on the job.”
The school board and the unions separately begged Corbett to provide financial aid for the district, but Corbett turned each request down. Pennsylvania’s Education Secretary Ron Tomalis told the board that it “had failed to properly manage its finances and would not get any additional funds.” Chester Upland was forced to lay off “40 percent of its professional staff and about half of its unionized support staff before school began last fall.” That leaves 200 professionals and 65 support staff to manage a school with class sizes of over 40 students.
Chester Upland is not the only district desperately trying to stay afloat. Corbett’s cuts forced one school district to enforce wage freezes and cut extracurricular activities and another turned to actually using sheep instead of lawnmowers to cut grass at two of its schools. As ThinkProgress’s Travis Waldron pointed out, Corbett could relieve school districts if he let special interest groups like tobacco and the oil and gas industry go without their tax breaks. But he seems to prefer allowing teachers to go without pay.
I’ve never understood the eagerness to slash education budgets as a way to save money. It is the most shortsighted policy possible. Yeah, you save some money now, but you end up with less educated citizens. Unless, of course, that’s exactly what you want.
*Plays conspiracy music*
Why January 17th you ask? The U.S. House of Representatives convenes for the first time in 2012 on January 17th. We can’t wait until the weather gets nice and everybody has the day off. We need to be there en mass as soon as they begin their legislative session to let them know that they’re not going to waste another year. Not much gets accomplished in an election year, and that is part of the problem. What better way to welcome them back than to have a huge demonstration that will drive the conversation on the ground and in the media. It’s time we start holding their feet to the fire to get something done for the people.
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