Quantcast

Allison Kilkenny | The Nation

  •  
Allison Kilkenny

Allison Kilkenny

Budget wars, activism, uprising, dissent and general rabble-rousing.

Occupy DC Plans to Protest on K Street for First Anniversary

Activists from the Washington, DC, chapter of the Occupy movement have planned a series of events for today to mark the first anniversary of the protests. Protesters say they plan to “shut down K Street” and disrupt traffic during two marches starting from Farragut Park, and branching off in order to “confuse and overwhelm police,” according to the AP.

The protest kicked off to a lively start with activists storming multiple buildings, according to participants who were live-tweeting events.

“#OccupyDC has just stormed into the office of Cargill,” Occupy activist Jeff Rae tweeted, adding later that he witnessed lobbyists “scramble to lock their doors.”

“#OccupyDC just stormed ANOTHER building,” Rae tweeted thirty-seven minutes later.

Washington Post contributor Annie Gowen also witnessed the storming of a building.

“Occupiers try to push into lobby of JBG large developer in DC chanting ‘House is a human right,’” Gowen tweeted.

On its website, the group states that it wants the first anniversary of Occupy DC to be a moment to “celebrate and commemorate.” It continues:

We’re no longer occupying K Street, but the war hawks, debt profiteers, bailout pirates and other corporate-government door revolvers continue to use it as their base from which to occupy much of the planet. These agencies, lobbyist firms, and assorted multinationals are collectively responsible for both exploiting and drowning out the voices of the global 99%, forcing governments around the world to adopt policies that starve the common person and enrich the elite. As the concurrent global uprisings of the past year demonstrate, popular patience wears thin for these profit-hungry puppet-masters and their government enforcers.

Protests began over the weekend when a small group of activists demonstrated outside Bank of America branches in the district in order to call attention to the foreclosure epidemic.

One of those facing the loss of his home is the Reverend Robert Michael Vanzant, who spoke to WAMU Radio about being forced to stop working after suffering a mild stroke in 2008.

“I would love to keep my home,” says the reverend. “I’ve lived there for 24 years.” Vanzant, who is also a former Metro employee, fell behind on his mortgage payments after a mild stroke caused him to stop working in 2008.

Protestor Mike Haacks hopes the demonstration will get more people to speak out against bank practices he calls unfair: The banks have been bailed out, but yet they’re still evicting people,” he says. “For example, they haven’t responded to Reverend Vanzant after two years of him reaching out them.”

Occupy DC protesters lived in tents in McPherson Square for about four months before US Park Police raided the camp and enforced a ban on camping.

In other mass eviction news, a Cook County judge declared the mass arrests of Occupy Chicago demonstrators that city leaders praised as a “model for respecting protesters’ rights” were unconstitutional.

The city had singled out Occupy demonstrators for breaking curfew at parks on two consecutive weekends in October 2011, but the Chicago Tribune points out no arrests were made when 500,000 people stayed past curfew during the 2008 election night rally for President Obama.

This selective enforcement of the curfew is what led Associate Judge Thomas M. Donnelly to find “the city intended to discriminate against defendants based on their views.”

Donnelly immediately threw out the arrests of ninety-two Occupy protesters on charges related to violating the curfew, but as the Tribune reports, the judge then went a step further by adding the city is “violating the public’s right to free assembly under the state and US constitutions by restricting late-night access to Chicago’s most famous lakefront park.”

Noting the park’s long history of political rallies going back to Abraham Lincoln, the judge quoted early city leaders who resolved in 1835 that the land that would become Grant Park “should be reserved for all time to come for a public square, accessible at all times to the people.” Because parks are a critical forum for free speech and free assembly, local ordinances restricting access to them must be “narrowly tailored” to serve a specific “government interest,” such as park maintenance, Donnelly wrote.

Thousands Expected to Converge on Spain's Parliament to 'Occupy Congress'

Spain's Parliament "took on the appearance of a heavily guarded fortress" today, according to the AP, as police sealed off the perimeter in anticipations of thousands of protesters converging on the conservative government for an event dubbed "Occupy Congress."

Police (the BBC reports some 1,300 police are at the Congress building) surrounded Parliament even though protesters state they have no intention of storming the chamber, but instead plan to march around it.

One of the main protest groups, Coordinadora #25S, said the Indignants did not plan to storm parliament, only to march around it.

"It will be a non-violent action," she told AFP news agency, asking not to be identified.

"We are not going to prevent members of parliament from entering."

Under Spanish law, individuals who disrupt parliamentary business while the government is in session can be jailed for up to one year.

Coordinadora #25S's manifesto reads: "Democracy has been kidnapped. On 25 September we are going to save it."

"Parties who have betrayed their manifestos, their constituents and the public at large breach promises and contribute to impoverishment of the population," the 25S statement continues. "We believe that the time of the decisions made ​​by a few is over, for, against those who want to leave us without a future, we have the means and collective intelligence to decide and build the society we want."

Demonstrators are calling for new elections in response to the government's austerity measures implemented in part to convince the country's euro partners that it's serious about refusing its deficit during a time when nearly a quarter of the population is unemployed. The government is expected to unveil a new batch of reforms Thursday when it presents a draft budget for 2013.

The austerity measures have included public sector pay cuts and a substantial increase in sales tax.

In anticipation of 25S, police cut off main routes to Congress with a double layer of metal barricades, "backed by vans and with a helicopter hovering overhead," the AP reports.

Rallying outside the city's Atocha railway station, Carmen Rivero, a 40-year-old photographer and "indignant" anti-establishment activist, said she travelled overnight in a bus with 50 protesters from the southern city of Granada to make her voice heard.

"We think this is an illegal government. We want the parliament to be dissolved, a referendum and a constituent assembly so that the people can have a say in everything," she said.

"We don't agree with the cuts they have made."

Meanwhile, the right-wing People's Party (PP) has attempted to smear the protest as an "attempted coup" by the indignados.

"Spain is on the brink of insolvency and under huge pressure to accept a rescue package," Katharine Ainger writes in the Guardian, "In return, Europe's fourth largest economy will have to surrender sovereign and financial control to the IMF, the European commission, and the European Central Bank."

Ainger argues there may be a coup at play in Spain, but it's not the indignados implementing it. She writes:

If talk of a financial coup d'etat sounds far-fetched, consider this statement from a recent Goldman Sachs report: "The more the Spanish administration indulges domestic political interests … the more explicit conditionality is likely to be demanded." That's banker-speak for, 'We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.

Quite revealingly, most establishment media coverage has been devoted to how bond investors feel about Spain's economy, or how Wall Street will react to the news of another round of austerity measures. Little time is spent fretting over Spain's citizens who will suffer even more under a new wave of cuts, or the fact that 25 percent of them can't find jobs.

Occasionally, however, there is a glimmer of actual journalism like this slideshow put together by the New York Times, highlighting the real-life consequences of austerity measures, and featuring a family awaiting eviction and desperate citizens sifting through trash in search of food. One photo shows a soup kitchen in Girona, where the local government has announced that it is going to put locks on the garbage bins around the city to stop people from searching for food in them.

Another photo shows people waiting in a line for food during a march of unemployed people in southern Spain.

"Hunger, most experts agree, is on the rise in Spain. A report by the Catholic charity Caritas, released earlier this year, said that it had fed nearly one million hungry Spaniards in 2010, more than twice as many as in 2007. That number rose again in 2011 by 65,000," the caption reads.

The following video (in Spanish), clearly shows the kind of turnout the protesters are hoping their actions will eventually inspire. During a September 15 protest, some 50,000 anti-austerity protesters converged on Madrid, holding banners that read, "They are destroying the country. We must stop them."

Spain isn't the only country facing harsh austerity measures. Check out Nation coverage of a U.S. senate candidate hoping to "do away" with vital entitlement programs.

Thousands Expected to Converge on Spain's Parliament to 'Occupy Congress'

Spain’s Parliament “took on the appearance of a heavily guarded fortress” today, according to the AP, as police sealed off the perimeter in anticipations of thousands of protesters converging on the conservative government for an event dubbed “Occupy Congress.”

Police (the BBC reports some 1,300 police are at the Congress building) surrounded Parliament even though protesters state they have no intention of storming the chamber, but instead plan to march around it.

One of the main protest groups, Coordinadora #25S, said the Indignants did not plan to storm parliament, only to march around it.

“It will be a non-violent action,” she told AFP news agency, asking not to be identified.

“We are not going to prevent members of parliament from entering.”

Under Spanish law, individuals who disrupt parliamentary business while the government is in session can be jailed for up to one year.

Coordinadora #25S’s manifesto reads: “Democracy has been kidnapped. On 25 September we are going to save it.”

“Parties who have betrayed their manifestos, their constituents and the public at large breach promises and contribute to impoverishment of the population,” the 25S statement continues. “We believe that the time of the decisions made ​​by a few is over, for, against those who want to leave us without a future, we have the means and collective intelligence to decide and build the society we want.”

Demonstrators are calling for new elections in response to the government’s austerity measures implemented in part to convince the country’s euro partners that it’s serious about refusing its deficit during a time when nearly a quarter of the population is unemployed. The government is expected to unveil a new batch of reforms Thursday when it presents a draft budget for 2013.

The austerity measures have included public sector pay cuts and a substantial increase in sales tax.

In anticipation of 25S, police cut off main routes to Congress with a double layer of metal barricades, “backed by vans and with a helicopter hovering overhead,” the AP reports.

Rallying outside the city’s Atocha railway station, Carmen Rivero, a 40-year-old photographer and “indignant” anti-establishment activist, said she travelled overnight in a bus with 50 protesters from the southern city of Granada to make her voice heard.

“We think this is an illegal government. We want the parliament to be dissolved, a referendum and a constituent assembly so that the people can have a say in everything,” she said.

“We don’t agree with the cuts they have made.”

Meanwhile, the right-wing People’s Party (PP) has attempted to smear the protest as an “attempted coup” by the indignados.

“Spain is on the brink of insolvency and under huge pressure to accept a rescue package,” Katharine Ainger writes in The Guardian, “In return, Europe’s fourth largest economy will have to surrender sovereign and financial control to the IMF, the European commission, and the European Central Bank.”

Ainger argues there may be a coup at play in Spain, but it’s not the indignados implementing it. She writes:

If talk of a financial coup d’etat sounds far-fetched, consider this statement from a recent Goldman Sachs report: “The more the Spanish administration indulges domestic political interests … the more explicit conditionality is likely to be demanded.” That’s banker-speak for, ‘We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.

Quite revealingly, most establishment media coverage has been devoted to how bond investors feel about Spain’s economy, or how Wall Street will react to the news of another round of austerity measures. Little time is spent fretting over Spain’s citizens who will suffer even more under a new wave of cuts, or the fact that 25 percent of them can’t find jobs.

Occasionally, however, there is a glimmer of actual journalism like this slideshow put together by The New York Times, highlighting the real-life consequences of austerity measures, and featuring a family awaiting eviction and desperate citizens sifting through trash in search of food. One photo shows a soup kitchen in Girona, where the local government has announced that it is going to put locks on the garbage bins around the city to stop people from searching for food in them.

Another photo shows people waiting in a line for food during a march of unemployed people in southern Spain.

“Hunger, most experts agree, is on the rise in Spain. A report by the Catholic charity Caritas, released earlier this year, said that it had fed nearly one million hungry Spaniards in 2010, more than twice as many as in 2007. That number rose again in 2011 by 65,000,” the caption reads.

The following video, while in Spanish, clearly shows the kind of turnout the protesters are hoping their actions will eventually inspire. During a September 15 protest, some 50,000 anti-austerity protesters converged on Madrid, holding banners that read, “They are destroying the country. We must stop them.”

Spain isn’t the only country facing harsh austerity measures. Check out Nation coverage of a US Senate candidate hoping to “do away” with vital entitlement programs.

Chicago Teachers, Verizon Workers and Quebec's Students Prove That Resistance Works

Teachers in Chicago, Verizon workers, and students in Quebec recently proved that not only are strikes and general resistance and dissent essential to any democracy, they also work.

Despite ongoing efforts by private education lobbyists and a complacent national media working to smear teachers as being selfish, greedy leeches on society, educators in Chicago secured a major victory for themselves and their students.

After just nine days on strike, the Chicago teachers union fought for and won a contract that includes hiring more than 600 additional teachers in art, music and physical education, making textbooks available on the first day of school, and bringing the percentage of teacher evaluations that are decided by standardized test scores down to the legal minimum of 30 percent.

CTU is the third biggest union in the country, and this was the first time in twenty-five years the union went on strike, but most importantly: it worked.

CTU President Karen Lewis called the agreement “a victory for education.”

Similarly, when unions representing 43,000 employees went on strike, employees won a three-year agreement that covered job security, retirement benefits and other issues. CWA, which represents 34,000 Verizon workers, said the new contract preserves existing job security language prohibiting layoffs for those hired before 2003, preserves the pension plan for current workers and restricts the company’s right to assign workers too far from their homes, according to the AP.

It’s important to note that many Verizon workers feel this deal didn’t go far enough in protecting workers, and Verizon won some big concessions in the process, including the fact that members will now have to pay a portion of health insurance premiums, workers retiring after January 1 will pay the same premiums as active employees for their retiree medical benefits, and new hires will receive 401(k) plans and not pensions.

Pam Galpern, a technician in Local 1101 in New York City, told the Indypendent the proposed contract deepens the two-tier system.

“New hires already aren’t covered by the job security protection that pre-2003 hires have, and they don’t have the same retiree health benefits as those hired before 2008, and now they won’t have a pension,” she said. “They’re incrementally trying to dismantle the contract we have.”

However, the deal does guarantee an 8 percent raise over four years, preserves the existing pension plan for current workers and includes an $800 ratification bonus.

Many Verizon employees are rightly disappointed in the deal, but the fact that Verizon bowed at all to any of the unions’ appeals indicates strikes are still a powerful tool for collective bargaining, and if workers feel slighted by this latest contract, the option remains to strike again and push the goal posts to make better, bolder demands.

Students in Quebec showed how to draw a line in the sand and then refuse to accept half measures in the negotiation process. Following mass unrest, the tuition increase that triggered protests in Quebec was cancelled last week by the new government.

“Together we’ve written a chapter in the history of Quebec,” said Martine Desjardins, head of the more moderate university student association.

“It’s a triumph of justice and equity.”

Premier Pauline Marois ran partly on the promise that she would repeal the tuition hikes, and made good on her word, making the tuition hike cancellation announcement during a news conference after a cabinet meeting.

Tuition will go back to $2,168—the lowest in Canada, The Canadian Press reports.

This is by no means intended to be a complete list of recent strike victories, but rather a microcosm, or a demonstration, of why unions and strikes are so essential to any democracy. Workers and students should take comfort in news of their fellow global citizens’ victories against the forces of privatization and corporate greed, and also feel encouraged to make bolder, bigger demands. After all, strikes work.

More Than 180 Arrested on Occupy Wall Street's First Anniversary

All photos by Allison Kilkenny

In the early morning hours Monday, Occupy Wall Street activists marked the first anniversary of the movement by protesting in the financial district. Hundreds gathered on Water Street and hundreds more in Zuccotti Park, the birth place of the movement, before marching through Lower Manhattan, occasionally pausing to occupy intersections and protest financial institutions like Chase and Bank of America.

It was one of the largest turnouts since the early days of Occupy, but Monday was also exceptional because of the high arrest figures. More than 180 people, including journalists, were arrested, and in at least some of these cases, the police were arresting individuals arbitrarily and without cause.

Protesters reported, and I witnessed firsthand, police dragging individuals off of sidewalks (previously considered the “safe space” of activists who don’t wish to participate in direct action and go to jail) into the street, where they were then arrested. When press attempted to rush forth to photograph these arrests, the police formed a wall and aggressively shoved back journalists, making it difficult to document the actions.

At one point, a NYPD white shirt supervising officer told a group of journalists, “You can’t stand and take more pictures. That’s over with.”

“I just got out of jail. Was arrested despite screaming over and over that I’m a journalist,” Chris Faraone, a Boston Phoenix staff writer, tweeted.

Julia Reinhart, a photojournalist, was also arrested even through she was wearing identification that listed her as a member of the National Press Photographers Association.

Another journalist from WPIX was arrested Monday, as was journalist and illustrator Molly Crabapple and independent journalist John Knefel. Knefel’s sister, Molly, described the arrest as “violent and unprovoked.”

Later in the evening, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams was assaulted in Zuccotti Park by the NYPD. Protester Jeff Rae photographed a NYPD officer jamming his baton into the councilman’s chest.

As of this report, the National Lawyers Guild estimates that between thirty and fifty protesters are still in custody after yesterday’s actions.

Reports emerged almost immediately that the anniversary was a flop, or in the words of the New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, the event “fizzled,” a diagnosis preordained by a media that has never been particularly friendly to a movement it failed to understand in the first place. Sorkin is a Times financial columnist who first checked out OWS only “after getting a call from the chief executive of a major bank,” who wanted to know how worried he and his CEO buddies should be about the movement. Sorkin dutifully hurried down to Zuccotti.

To say “Occupy is dead” is to misunderstand everything about the movement. Occupy can’t die as long as the dire conditions that inspired the creation of the movement continue to exist. In speaking with protesters, one can easily see all of their grievances are still real and present. One protester summarized the current state of Occupy nicely as he carried a sign around Zuccotti that read: “Nothing has changed.”

Students are still buried under loan debt. People are still losing their homes. People still can’t afford healthcare, and they still can’t survive on minimum wage jobs.

And protesters are quick to point out that it’s only been a year, and the timeline of any social justice movement is long. Perhaps “Occupy” will evolve into a different kind of movement under an entirely different banner, but the spirit that first served as a catalyst lives on.

No revolutionary force is without ebb and flows—that is without question—but it’s been interesting to watch the establishment media rush to slap a bow on the “Occupy story” and force a “The End” onto the movement. There is a borderline obsession in the media with numbers, as though there’s a direct correlation between protester turnout and the “seriousness” of a protest—as though small groups of highly dedicated individuals haven’t inspired real, lasting change in the past.

Several media outlets alluded to the “good ol’ days” of Occupy, and how this new Occupy is only a shadow of its former self. As if these aren’t the same media outlets who also dismissed the old Occupy, as well. Hundreds aren’t as important as thousands, who aren’t as important as millions, and the point is Occupy was never, ever going to impress the mainstream media, and so they never aimed to.

No one can predict the future of Occupy Wall Street, though organizers, who are mindful of the media’s desire to slap “DEATH” before its name, attempted to show they have a game plan for September 18 and beyond. For example, many protesters continue to work in the student debt and home foreclosure movements.

It’s telling that the “Occupy is dead” narrative never bothers to explore the reasons beyond why the oxygen was sucked out of what appeared to be, at the time, an unstoppable force like OWS. The same individuals rushing to declare Occupy dead never explore the systemic presence of severe police brutality that constantly sought to crush the movement, and ask if, perhaps, that is why the movement is a “shadow” of its former self.

This omission is made all the more odious by the fact that many journalists had their rights violated by police all across the country, but most recently yesterday by the NYPD.

The important takeaway is: no mainstream media outlet predicted the significance of September 17, 2011. Not a single one. Yet, the same crew seems all too eager to predict Occupy’s future. Those predictions—all of them—need to be judged with that fact taken in mind.

Illustrator Molly Crabapple was one of the many arrested at yesterday’s protests. Check out her coverage of the event, in drawings.

Year One: Occupy Wall Street Plans Anniversary Protest of Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street, one of the largest grassroots mass movements in US history, celebrates its first anniversary next week on September 17, and the group has planned not only a day of protest and direct action but also weekend workshops in which protesters will bring awareness to ongoing projects, and lay out Occupy’s vision for what will happen September 18 and beyond. The week leading up to Occupy’s anniversary will include training in direct action, reflection on the past year of popular resistance, and ultimately the September 17 action on Wall Street.

Washington Square Park on September 15 will be a site of convergence, for gathering and information-sharing under the banner of “Education for Liberation,” according to Nina Mehta, an Occupy organizer who has been working the convergence spaces around S17.

“We’ve mostly been building a framework with some structure and scheduling, and open space for participation around education, solutions, movement and coalition-building,” says Mehta.

The following day, Occupy has planned a celebration in Foley Square, which Mehta says will be similar to S17, complete with an “area for tabling, information and Open Space, for participants to sign up and plan things to share,” and later in the afternoon the “99 Revolutions” concert, featuring Tom Morello and Jello Biafra.

For about six weeks, activists have been meeting inside an office on 23rd Street to plan the logistics of the movement’s commemoration. The debate sometimes became heated, particularly when it came to specific tactics that will be implemented on Monday.

The direct action part of the day includes the “People’s Wall,” which will be centralized on Wall Street, or as near as the activists can get (when I attended a meeting, Occupy activists discussed the possibility that most of Wall Street will be closed off by the police), with other actions “pinwheeling” out from the heart of the protest. The idea is to coordinate a highly organized, peaceful piece of civil disobedience while providing space for independent “affinity groups” to do more creative actions.

This is the balance Occupy has always struggled to find: organizers want to create both structure and facilitate space to allow for more radical actions. Heavy emphasis has been placed on the “non-threatening,” “peaceful,” and “civil disobedience” aspects of the anniversary, however, the underscoring of which has frustrated some of the more radical members of the movement.

While organizers hesitate to make turnout predictions, they do expect Occupy activists from all over the country to converge on Wall Street come Monday. For example, OWS is expecting around 250 people from Occupy Philadelphia to attend the action.

Organizers hope the anniversary will serve as a refresher to people, and remind them of the importance of addressing Wall Street’s influence on politics.

“By having a clear demand for money out of politics, it just lays it down very clearly that this system is broken, that no matter whether Obama or Romney gets more or less funding is not the point. It’s that Wall Street has massive control over the election itself. It doesn’t matter which way Wall Street picks,” says Andrew Smith, an organizer.

“The action on September 17 is deeply tied to the election in a lot of ways because the complete nature of our democracy is bought and sold,” says Smith.

“I’m not particularly motivated by anniversaries,” says Mehta, “but I think it’s important to gather, and bring people together on this weekend, and on dates to come, to do what we’ve been doing for the year…expressing our discontent, learning, teaching and caring for each other.

“Sure, I want tens of thousands of people to gather for the assemblies, for performance, to circulate around and sit in intersections in the financial district, blocking business as usual, but I’ll be happy if this is done, and keeps being done by people, as many or few as are willing and wanting, as we build a movement over time.”

Undocumented Protesters Arrested at DNC, Police Pre-emptively Detain Prominent Activist

Police arrested ten undocumented activists following an action to shut down an intersection nearby the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday. The arrestees were all passengers on the Undocubus, part of the “No Papers, No Fear” tour that set out from Arizona in July.

Multiple media outlets have remarked on the overwhelming police presence at the protest. The AP reports that “hundreds” of officers “swooped in to surround” the protesters, ultimately waiting around forty minutes before taking action.

Among those arrested was Rosi Carrasco, a Chicago woman whom the group identified as an illegal immigrant first brought to the United States as a child. A married mother, she said she wanted to set an example for her two daughters by protesting the mass deportation of illegal immigrants.

“It was my children that taught me that making change requires taking risks and the status quo of mass deportation constitutes a human rights crisis we can no longer tolerate,” she said in a written statement issued by the group. The statement claimed that President Barack Obama “has deported more people than anyone else in U.S. history.”

“We want him to be on the right side of history.”

The Village Voice’s Nick Pinto tweeted last night that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent has been assigned in the Undocubus arrests, but the “outcome won’t be clear until morning.”

President Obama has overseen more deportations than his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, an official policy that belies the message of inclusion and acceptance presented within the DNC venue, featuring a plethora of prominent Latino speakers. Contradicting the Obama administration’s framing of national unity are the nearly 1.5 million undocumented immigrants who have been forcefully deported on Janet Napolitano’s watch.

In total, fourteen people were arrested following the action as part of what the AP described as “the most vigorous day of protests since both parties began meeting to formally nominate their presidential candidates.” The march kicked off when half a dozen Vietnam veterans protesting for better medical care and other issues began an unauthorized march that was quickly joined by members of the Occupy movement.

Other demonstrators reportedly got into shouting matches with delegates. Chris Faraone, a Boston Phoenix staff writer, tweeted that delegates at one point shouted at protesters, “Go to the free speech area!”

Despite the tense environment, there have been no reports of violence or significant damage during the protests.

Over the weekend, police arrested a prominent Charlotte activist for a traffic violation and then sought to keep him in jail during the DNC because an officer said he is on a terrorist watch list, the Charlotte Observer reports.

James Ian Tyson’s bail was originally set at $10,000, an unusually high amount for the minor charge of driving with a revoked license. Chief District Judge Lisa Bell later reduced the bond to $2,500, and Tyson was released at about 8 pm on Monday.

Tyson’s attorney, Derek Fletcher, believes officers wanted to keep Tyson in jail to restrict his speech.

“The state wanted to keep my client in jail during the DNC so he couldn’t help organize any protests,” Fletcher told the Observer. “I informed the judge it appeared to me that the state was trying to suppress my client from exercising his rights to speak during the DNC.”

Bell said she approved the high bond “based on alarming information” the magistrate received when Tyson arrested, but that “alarming information” was never presented during Tyson’s first appearance hearing.

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer requested Tyson be held in jail because of the DNC, and the officer recommended that Tyson not get out of jail on pretrial release.

“Why do you feel suspect is a risk?” the law enforcement information sheet asked.

“Known activist + protester who is currently on a terrorist watchlist,” the officer wrote. “Request he be held due to DNC being a National Special Security Event.”

A “National Special Security Event” involves numerous agencies coordinating resources to monitor a special event like the DNC. The agencies working at the Multi-Agency Communication Center in Charlotte include: the US Secret Service, the US Department of Homeland Security, the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, the White House Military Office, the US Capitol Police, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Marshals Service and the US Postal Inspection Service.

Tyson is a Charlotte activist, a volunteer with the Rainforest Action Network, and has spoken at Occupy Charlotte events.

North Carolina criminal records show Tyson was found guilty of fishing trout water in closed season in 2007 and fined $145. Last May, he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. Tyson was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and paid $293 in fines and court costs.

In 2011, there were around 400,000 names on the government’s consolidated terrorist watch list, according to the government, and a 2009 audit found the FBI’s terrorist watch list has a high error rate, with many people wrongly kept on the roster and many others kept on the list too long, the Observer reports.

The inclusion of his name on the watch list stunned Tyson, who told the Observer, “I’m a local Charlottean, I’m a farmer, I’m a carpenter, I’m a family member and a community member. I am not a terrorist.”

“They have no reason to have me on that list,” Tyson said. “I haven’t done anything remotely criminal involving politics.”

“No one knows how you get on this list … or the accountability process or, most importantly, how they get off this list.”

Hundreds Protest Corporate Greed at the DNC

Hundreds of protesters turned out to this weekend’s “March on Wall Street South” in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Democratic National Convention kicked off. About 800 marchers (organizers put the count at more than a thousand) carried signs and banners, banged drums and chanted slogans, in what Police Chief Rodney Monroe described as a “mostly uneventful” demonstration (protests are usually described by the establishment media and law enforcement as either being “uneventful” or exercises in chaotic anarchy).

Activists expressed an array of grievances, but the main issues centered around the peace movement, unionized labor, immigration, corporate greed and a perceived betrayal by President Obama.

For example, the AP reports that one demonstrator marched with a sign that read: “OBAMA MURDERS CHILDREN WITH DRONES.”

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a British nonprofit organization, 175 children have been killed by drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia since 2004. In total, Obama has overseen 285 drone strikes with thousands of casualties reported, in addition to over a thousand injured.

At least 100 police officers walked along the parade, carrying gas masks, batons and plastic hand-ties, and the AP reports that a police helicopter hovered so low to the march that activists could feel the wind off its rotors.

Protesters passed the corporate headquarters of Bank of America and a major hub of Wells Fargo, two of the biggest recipients of the massive taxpayer-funded bailout in 2008.

The AP reports that on two occasions, protesters sat and locked arms outside of corporate headquarters. Around two dozen individuals sat for about ten minutes outside Bank of America’s skyscraper but then moved on. A second action followed with a similar-sized group outside Duke Energy, but those protesters also got up and left after a short demonstration.

Duke Energy is a target of GreenPeace USA’s Robert Gardner, who is critical of the company’s environmental record. Specifically, activists take issue with the utility giant’s continued policy of building coal-fired plants and moving ahead with new nuclear plants.

Police told WBTV that two people were arrested, one young man, who reportedly was not a protester, for disorderly conduct, assaulting a government official, and resisting arrest. A young woman was also arrested, allegedly after being caught with a mask and knife.

As they marched, protesters chanted in unison: “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”

AP:

Mark Bailey, 58, carried an anti-war sign in honor of his son, who has done two tours in Iraq and is currently in Afghanistan. Bailey came to Charlotte from Cleveland with about a dozen friends.

Bailey voted for Obama in 2008, but said he won’t make the mistake this year. He said he is disgusted the president turned out more like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

“He’s willing to make war anywhere, just like they were,” Bailey said.

“He does not represent the interest of the people, the interest of women. He’s dropped drones on innocent children around the world. He’s continued Bush’s program of rendition,” said Sunsara Taylor of the Revolutionary Communist Party to YNN.

Others tentatively expressed support for the president.

“I hate to say I’m going to vote for the less of two evils, but yes, I’m going to vote for Obama,” said Allyson Caison of Code Pink to YNN.

Labor advocates in particular expressed frustration with Obama and the Democratic Party for choosing North Carolina, a state that is hostile to the right of workers to unionize, as the site for this year’s DNC. Inside the convention, despite the presence of large delegate presences from unions like the SEIU, UAW and AFSCME, there seems to be no labor speakers on the publicly posted schedule.

YNN:

“A lot of workers in general, and a lot of organized workers in particular, feel that they have nowhere to go. And some of them, probably most of them, will sit out the election,” said Richard Koritz of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Some demonstrators called for an end to foreclosures, and for bankers to stand trial for their role in causing the financial crisis.

“At this point, we are literally foreclosing on our neighbors every day with our tax dollars,” Detroit foreclosure attorney Vanessa Fluker said to Press TV. “I have friends fighting in the war in Afghanistan and Bank of America is trying to throw them out on the street every day.”

As Protests Outside Stadium Continue, Ron Paul Supporters Walk Off the RNC Floor

As activists faced down Hurricane Isaac and an inflated police presence in Tampa (police outnumber convention demonstrators by 4-1), protest also erupted within the taxpayer-funded Tampa Bay Times Forum.

While Conservative celebrities such as Chris Christie, Ann Romney and Rick Santorum attempted to invoke imagery of unity among the GOP, a contingent of Ron Paul delegates from several states shouted “several times” during the proceedings, according to the New York Times. Part of Maine’s delegation then walked out in protest over a decision to strip away half the candidate’s delegates from the state, a move Paul supporters say is designed to squelch the faction’s rise within the larger party.

Most Americans never saw this protest, just as they didn’t see a young woman yelling about getting money out of “politics and corporations,“ the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart tweeted.

The Times reports there was “little evidence” of the protests shown to the American people, but they “signaled deeper party divisions bubbling under the telegenic surface of Mr. Romney’s nomination.”

“It’s an embarassment to the process, it’s an embarassment to the state of Maine, and to the party as a whole how things were conducted today,” said Maine National Committeewoman Ashley Ryan to Reason minutes after half the Maine delegation walked off the floor.

Ryan previously stated that she is proud of Maine Governor Paul LePage for refusing to participate in the convention because the credentials committee unseated half of the state’s 20 Paul convention delegates. On August 24, LePage announced that he wouldn’t attend the convention, stating it’s “unfortunate that not all of these delegates” selected at the state Republican Party convention will be seated.

At a rally of Paul supporters, Michigan Representative Justin Amash said it might be time to “audit the RNC.”

In his address to supporters, Paul said people at the RNC were “worried about just how much trouble we would cause.” He continued, saying now “there is a big fight going on” now “they overstepped their bounds” and “others are joining us” because they realize “the Ron Paul people are right.”

When told they could avoid a challenge to their credentials if they threw their support behind Romney, the ten unseated Maine delegates told the campaign representatives that “you will have to steal it from us.”

Paul delegates have also been successfully unseated in Louisiana and Oregon.

Protests and marches continued in the streets of Tampa with activists shouting familiar Occupy slogans such as “We. Are. The 99 percent!” and “We. Are. The source of all your wealth!” The demonstrations were peaceful, although police in riot gear did break up a fight outside the RNC on Tuesday between protesters and members of the Westboro Baptist Church. No arrests were made by police.

Two men living in Romneyville got into an altercation that led to one of the men being arrested and charged with aggravated battery after he hit 60-year-old Eddie Thomas and allegedly broke his jaw.

Two other protesters were arrested at other demonstrations: one Monday and another on Sunday.

Police stopped a dozen anti-war protesters from Code Pink from entering an event attended by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after the group said it intended to arrest her for war crimes.

Protesters carried handcuffs to the event and said they were there to make a citizen’s arrest of Rice. Officers ordered the protesters to leave because they were on private property, so activists went back to the sidewalk and lay under sheets made to look like they were blood-splattered.

Hundreds of Activists Protest at the Republican National Convention

Hundreds of senior citizens, religious leaders, community organizers, and Occupy Wall Street activists have descended upon St. Petersburg to protest at the Republican National Convention’s welcome event at Tropicana Field.

More than 1,800 law enforcement officers from federal, state, and local agencies worked in tandem over the last 36 hours to secure the stadium by closing surrounding roads, implementing parking restrictions, and monitoring traffic flow to facilitate the peaceful protests.

Some protesters rode down on buses provided by Occupy, including an activist named Susan, 62, who told the Huffington Post she was laid off from her job in a hospital last fall and has since been receiving unemployment benefits.

Working in the hospital, Susan said, she had seen the Great Recession’s effects up close.

“Medicaid is being cut,” she said. “Charity care is being cut. So the hospital is really struggling.” She said she felt compelled to march against Mitt Romney and the RNC. There had been plans for five buses to come down to Florida from New York, but the storm kept a lot of people at home, she said. Only two buses ended up making the 22-hour trip.

Judy Sellers, 66, a retired school teacher, told the Huffington Post she hadn’t attended a protest since Vietnam, but “this is just as important to me.”

Sellers said that she’s been middle-class all her life. She’s concerned that kids won’t be able to afford college and she’s disturbed by the way she thinks Republicans have maligned teachers. “We work our butts off,” she said. “It’s not right.”

Bank of America quickly became a primary target for activists. Carrying a giant statue of Mitt Romney wearing a sign that said “King of the 1%,” hundreds of activists (one report put the count higher at “roughly 1,000”) gathered in a downtown park for an unschedule protest before speakers criticized tax cuts for the rich, and half the group split off to march across the street to Bank of America plaza.

Charlotte Observer:

They carried signs and chanted slogans against the “one percent.” Several demonstrators — armed with crayons and stickers — began pasting and scribbling slogans across the sidewalk and building pillars. One sign read: “You stole our money; we want it back.”

The ubiquitous Code Pink was also in attendance and held signs including, “Vagina. If you can’t say it, don’t legislate it,” and “GOP, respect women.”

“I’m completely opposed to the Ralph Reed agenda of the war on women,” said Rae Abileah, 29, of San Francisco. Reed started the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which among other causes is against abortion.

There has been a ton of speculation in the media about if Tropical Storm Isaac would scare off the majority of protesters, and while it’s clear the inclement weather did impede on some of the activists’ travel plans, other demonstrators insist they will go forward unimpeded.

Newsday:

“We’re no longer really considering indoor options. Some regular rain and wind won’t stop us. They would have to be unsafe conditions to make us consider changing the plans,” said Michael Long, of the Florida Consumer Action Network, which is organizing a protest for Sunday evening as the RNC holds its kickoff party at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

“I could already see there being less people, but I think there’s a lot of people who are determined to make a statement,” said Pim, who is from Cape Coral, Fla.

Jared Hamil, with the Coalition to March on the RNC, said one of the week’s largest planned events will take place on Monday afternoon.

“Rain or shine, we’re still going to be there,” he said. “The only thing that’s going to change is perhaps how we dress. We’ll be wearing ponchos and galoshes. We’re still going to march.”

As for the action inside the convention, New Hampshire delegate Phyllis Woods told Newsday the protests would be a minor distraction at most.

“We are not worried about the protesters,” Woods said. “It’s not even a blip on the radar screen for most of us.”

Meanwhile, about sixty protesters continue to live in an encampment dubbed “Romneyville” in downtown Tampa. The site was established last month by a local homeless advocacy group, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, and is located in a vacant lot just off an interstate ramp.

Now, activists from around the nation are trickling into the camp to join the protesters.

Daily Beast:

John Penley, a longtime East Village anarchist activist who helped organize Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, holds court at the media information tent. Diamond Dave Whitaker, a self-professed beatnik of the San Francisco Rainbow Coalition scene, takes a break on a mattress from preparing meals outside a beat-up former school bus.

Penley said an estimated 600 Occupy protesters from New York are anticipated to join them, but Isaac has thrown a monkey wrench into the plans of protesters as well as those of convention organizers. 

Syndicate content