Occupy Portland / The 99% / Occupy Wall Street Interoccupy
There is no doubt that the people are rising. Today there are at least three major events taking place – the Ferguson October massive march to end police brutality and racism in St. Louis, the European-wide day of actions against the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TAFTA) and the Global Frackdown. People are also protesting the World Bank meeting in Washington, DC and the Maine Walk for Peace is beginning.
This week we remembered Popular Resistance’s roots in the occupation of Freedom Plaza which began as October2011. At that time we wondered if people were ready to take stronger actions to challenge the corrupt political and economic systems that rule and the answer in the form of hundreds of occupations and the ongoing protests that followed was a clear ‘Yes!”
That momentum continues to build through meetings, networking, actions and the creation of new systems. The culture of the movement now is ‘convergence’ and the question is: “How do we work together more effectively to change the system?” Even traditional non-governmental organizations are starting to question whether they are challenging the system or perpetuating it. This is good news. The tide is shifting.
Thousands march for justice in St. Louis
Grassroots groups in Ferguson, MO called for people to join them for a weekend of nonviolent action and thousands responded. The weekend began with a march from Clayton to the police station last night and today thousands marched in downtown St. Louis. The marches are well-organized and peaceful. The future may not be so peaceful as police are coordinating with the FBI to prepare for possible riots if the grand jury does not indict Officer Darren Wilson.
Getting justice for Mike Brown and the hundreds of others who are killed by police each year is an uphill battle. Davey D wrote about his concerns around another murder by police of an 18 year old black teen in St. Louis this past week, Vonderrick Myers. While doubts were raised about the actions of an unidentified off-duty police officer, police immediately pointed to Myers’ arrest record. But in an area that overwhelmingly arrests black males, it’s hard to escape having a record.
The roots of racism and police violence are long and deep in the United States. These issues have been bubbling at the surface for a while. Mike Brown’s murder and the clear injustices in Ferguson brought them to a boil. Now the question is how to use this energy and attention to solve these crises rather than adding to them. Here is one vision that has been put forth which suggests expanding the work beyond civil rights to a human rights framework.
The Ohio Student’s Association organized and carried out a powerful campaign this week seeking justice for John Crawford, 21 years old, who was murdered by an officer in a Walmart while carrying a toy gun. The students started by occupying the police station for 3 days asking for a meeting with the chief and when the chief did not accept their basic demands, they shut down the office by sitting-in outside of it.
We need more campaigns like this. And we need more actions like this lawyer took who saw a black man being stopped by police for no reason other than walking in a wealthy neighborhood. She confronted the police and told them to get out of the neighborhood. We need to understand our legal rights and help each other. Check out the Civil Liberties Defense Center for helpful resources. And remember that this is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Free Marissa campaign is calling on Florida to drop the charges against Marissa Alexander.
The economic system that we are working to change is a form of capitalism called neo-liberalism. It’s a system that puts profit ahead of human rights and protection of the planet. It turns everything into a commodity. It privatizes our Commons and services through ‘public-private partnerships’ which are less partnership and more plundering.
The World Bank is a prime culprit in the global neo-liberal agenda and it’s time to call them out for it. Here is a new report that dispels the myths around the World Bank’s new approach to agriculture which is displacing millions of Indigenous People from their land. Another report shows that the World Bank is failing to address energy poverty. The World Bank annual meeting is in Washington, DC this weekend. Lively protests were held there yesterday featuring Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir and today. It was organized by the Our Land Our Business campaign and was part of an international day of action.
Other tools for the neoliberal agenda are global trade agreements such as the TPP and TAFTA. They give legal rights for corporations to sue governments if laws interfere with profits. Lambert Strether wrote about some of the worst ways this power has been abused. And this article describes a similar case in New Brunswick that threatens to open the area to fracking.
Today there were actions throughout Europe to protest the Atlantic agreement, TAFTA. And we are preparing for a week of actions to stop the TPP and TAFTA in November. Last year there were 35 actions in the US on the national day of action to stop the TPP. We can double that this year and send a strong message to Congress. Click here to learn more about what you can do.
Fossil Fuel Industry Forges Ahead
We must continue to escalate actions to stop the fossil fuel industry. This week, a gas pipeline that is heavily opposed by the public was approved in Vermont. A massive sit-in is being organized in Montpelier for October 27 to protest it. Join them if you can! Click here for more information.
The Federal Energy Regulation Commission recently approved the storage of methane gas in a cavern at Lake Seneca in New York and the construction of a gas export terminal in Maryland. Both of these are heavily opposed and the environmental impacts were inadequately studied. And it was revealed this week that the Cuomo administration pressured the USGS to alter a key study on the impacts of fracking.
That’s why the week of actions in Washington, DC from November 1 to 8, called Beyond Extreme Energy, couldn’t come at a better time. The FERC will be one of many targets. You can learn more and sign up here. We urge you to join the new Popular Resistance Climate Justice affinity group. We are organizing an action in DC on November 3 as part of Beyond Extreme Energy which you can join and if you can’t, we’ll keep you informed of activities around climate justice. Click here to sign up.
Stopping the War Machine
This week marked the beginning of the 14th year in Afghanistan. We marked that anniversary with a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New York City. For those of you who have followed the annual ceremony there, you will be pleased to know that the curfew was lifted and there were no arrests. This victory was bittersweet as we mourned the expansion of war and the continuing epidemic of suicides by veterans.
Once more, the Masters of War have succeeded in convincing the public to accept more wars. Jason Hirthler explains why the US is entering another quagmire. Unfortunately,endless war is the doctrine of the United States and it is embraced by both dominant political parties. Scott Tucker warns that peace activists must take on the Democratic Party if there is to be an end to war. As we did last fall, David Swanson calls for the anti-war movement to move past partisanship and work together to stop war.
And we urge you to take time this weekend to learn more about America’s first war, also called the American Holocaust. Elysse Bruce of Idle No More explains why Columbus should not be celebrated and in fact, Seattle just voted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples this Monday.
There is a lot happening and a lot to do. To learn more about the constructive actions that people are taking to create a better world, we urge you to visit the Create page on Popular Resistance. And if you are engaged in constructive work in your community, please share that with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great Indigenous People’s Day this Monday!
Breaking News: Resist!
Attorney Kevin Zeese discusses how the judge hearing Cecily McMillan's
case did not allow the defense to show images, which would have proven
that the activist was reacting to getting her breast grabbed
On this Fourth of July, let us pause in our festivities to consider what we are celebrating. To help, we’ve posted several reflections about Independence Day on PopularResistance.org.
We begin with the transcript of a speech given by Frederick Douglass on the fourth of July in 1852. He acknowledges the accomplishment of gaining independence from the British Empire but reminds the audience that he does not share in that independence. Douglass urges the young nation to acknowledge the truth of its founding and the hypocrisy of celebrating freedom while millions were not free. He concludes,
“For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed….”
Bill Bigelow, an educator from Oregon, similarly writes about the need to understand the truth of our history and how social change occurs and to teach it in our schools. The United States has become that from which it originally sought to separate itself: an Empire. Class War Films provides a new short video history of American Empire in which it states that the function of empire is as follows: “It is by violence abroad and deception and repression at home to enrich the ruling class at the cost of the utter ruin of its society.”
Breaking News: Resist!
All Empires fall when they overreach and Class War Films concludes that the United States is in decline. Put simply, the primary responsibility of governments is to ensure security, but US government has gone astray to protect the security of multinational corporations at the expense of its population. Tom Dispatch published Noam Chomsky’s article, “America’s Real Foreign Policy,” which describes this misdirection in greater depth.
But we don’t have to look far to see it. The recently leaked text of another secret trade agreement, TISA, shows that it serves to further roll back corporate regulations. The twin agreements, TPP and TAFTA, are huge corporate power grabs and the negotiators know it. That is why they fled in the dark of night almost 3,000 miles to avoid protests this week. And that is why corporations are gagging employees.
Secrecy is one tool used by the elites to do their dirty work, and another is doublespeak. Chair of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, says that he opposes a tiered Internet but he is avoiding what the public is clearly demanding, reclassification of the Internet as a Common Carrier so that all people would have equal access. With less than two weeks before the public comment period ends, we performed a musical in front of the FCC on Tuesday which asked “Which Side Are You On, Tom?” Click here to take action.
The Supreme Court revealed which side it was on this week through decisions that weaken the rights of women. Obama also says one thing and does another as he speaks about our nation’s immigrant heritage while separating families by deporting millions of people. The US response to the influx of immigrants is being questioned as possibly violating international law. And Hillary Clinton has had a busy week supporting rigged corporate trade in Denver and helping Big Ag frame GMOs in more acceptable terms in San Diego.
It is time once again to reject Empire and oligarchy and change the course of our still young nation. Today marks the beginning of a campaign called the Rolling Rebellion for Real Democracy. Click hereto learn more about it and to get involved. People are holding creative actions across the country to make our true history and lack of true democracy visible.
Of course, what we lack is democratic governance. True democracy, defined as ‘people power,’ is on the rise. There are victories to celebrate this week. In Maryland, students announced the halt in construction of a huge trash incinerator close to their school that they’ve been fighting for three years. In New York, local governments won the right to ban fracking. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to allow victims of torture in Abu Ghraib to sue the private contractors who abused them. And the US Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution in favor of postal banks that could end predatory financial practices and keep wealth in communities.
Resistance is ongoing. Protesters in Detroit called for a moratorium on the water shut-offs and promised to take direct action if necessary to protect their right to water. Homeowners in New York City who are still at risk of foreclosure released a new report showing how people of color are adversely affected by underwater mortgages and demanded that the city take steps to protect them. And dozens of people walked more than 150 miles straight to the Governor’s home to protest a law that exempts oil and gas companies from liability for damage to water. On July 13, a rally will be held in DC over a new gas terminal being proposed in Maryland that would increase fracking and threaten the safety of the surrounding community.
A growing global campaign to stop corporate abuses and hold transnational corporations accountable held a week of actions in Geneva during the meeting of the Human Rights Council which included a People’s Tribunal.
As we celebrate the nostalgia of Independence Day, let’s resolve to actually become independent from our Empire economy that never fails to fund wars while our domestic infrastructure and economy falter. Let’s resolve to become independent of oligarchic rule that puts the rights and interests of large corporations before the needs of the public, and that finds it acceptable to pollute or to cut off water to hundreds of thousands while corporations escape accountability.
When the Occupy Movement joined the global uprising, the encampments gave us a taste of what caring communities looked like, of what participatory democracy felt like and how to create new sustainable systems. Since then, as occupy chronicler Nathan Schneider writes, activists are engaged in all sorts of efforts to protest injustice and build alternatives. It is difficult but also rewarding work.
Let’s imagine what real democracy would look like. Howie Hawkins gives us some ideas in his new article on the meaning of democracy. And Professor Steven Colatrella goes even further by gathering ideas from all over the world and assembling them into a roadmap for “A Civilization based on Self-Governing Cities and Townships, Cooperative Self-Governed Workplaces and Public Finance, Sustainable Agriculture and Renewable Energy and Universal Access to Citizenship, Income and Subsistence.”
Out of crisis comes opportunity for real solutions. Take some time this weekend to lean about our true history, talk about the kind of society that we want to live in and become active in making it a reality.
Chris Hedges wrote an excellent article this week on the lessons learned from the Tiananmen Square massacre that occurred 25 years ago. These lessons are salient today, particularly as we watch the violent repression of protests happening around the World Cup in Brazil.
Hedges emphasizes the importance of creating a broad movement grounded in nonviolence that draws in groups supporting the power structure. In Brazil, there is broad support for the protesters including the police and multiple unions that have gone on strike. In response, Brazil mobilized its military against the people injuring both protesters and tourists on opening day.
There is evidence that a similar response can occur in the Americas. Nafeez Ahmed writes that the US Department of Defense is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to study social movements in order to develop ‘operational tools.’ In Canada, this week there was adiscussion in the House of Commons about surveillance of peaceful protesters. PM Harper’s spokesperson revealed a rationale that makes all people suspect, saying “Peaceful protests can suddenly turn violent, just as law-abiding citizens can suddenly create a crime.”
Of course, such sentiments are ridiculous and are used to justify further clamp downs on our civil liberties. And that is why the people need tools to know what is going on and to resist injustice.
Last week Internet freedom groups launched the Reset the Net campaign to provide tools for everyone to make it more difficult for the NSA to spy on us. This is an ongoing campaign, so if you haven’t done so already, you can still download these tools. Click here to learn more. And check out and share Shahid Buttar’s (of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee) new music video about the NSA.
There are also new groups and tools for blowing the whistle. Last week, ExposeFacts.orgwas launched to “shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war.” They provide access to Secure Drop, as does The Guardian and other media, so that whistleblowers can transmit information. And this week, the Courage Foundation, an international whistleblower support group, was also announced. Their mission is to defend the people’s ‘Right to know.’
Given the corporate influence over our government agencies and the actions that Big Business will take to suppress information, we need whistleblowers and the public needs to support them. Kamil Ahsan writes about scientist Tyrone Hayes who was targeted by Syngenta when he exposed the toxicity of one of their products.
We know that Monsanto heavily influences the FDA and USDA to keep toxic pesticides like RoundUp and genetically engineered foods on the market. In response, people are pushing at the state level to ban and label GMO foods. Vermont was the most recent to pass a GMO labeling law. To stop them, the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) filed a lawsuit. You can boycott and urge these members of the GMA to drop their membership. The best way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic. Here is a tool that helps you to understand food labeling. You can also buy more responsibly by being aware of where your food comes from. Al Jazeera published an in-depth piece this week on the slave labor used to supply shrimp to stores in the US and UK.
The Post-extraction World
We are coming to the end of easy extraction of a number of different fuels and minerals which is begging for us to find new ways of doing things. This is documented in a new report. The authors warn that the window is closing for the adoption of new policies in time to avert significant harm to our economy.
There is a new way forward in the post-extraction world. Jeremy Rifkin envisions a commons-based economy that uses technology and decentralized renewable energy production to create a Third Industrial Revolution that is sustainable. And as we end the post-fossil fuel era, young farmers are already adopting more organic practices.
In addition to creating alternatives, we must stop out-of-control Big Energy from further harmful extraction. Numerous tools are being used to accomplish this and are succeeding. The Great Climate March is bringing awareness to communities that have not been discussing the reality of climate change. Blockades recently succeeded in stopping an $11 billion expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands. Long-term opposition in Chile caused the rejection of a large hydro-electric dam project in Patagonia. And court cases were filed to stop fracking in Colorado and a liquefied methane project in Maryland.
Ending wealth extraction
Big Business is also extracting wealth from our communities in a number of ways. This survey documents that wage theft is rampant in the US. In the EU, austerity measures are causing a rise in poverty. In a related move, a wealthy Silicon Valley man created a front group called Students Matter and ended tenure for teachers in California (the decision is being appealed). Keeping teachers insecure in their jobs is one tool for preventing academics from speaking out and for dumbing down education.
People are fighting back though. We’ve covered the struggles for higher wages previously. In addition, the movement for postal banks that can provide financial services to the un- and under-banked is growing nationally. In the EU, France was the first country to audit its debt. They found that 60% of the national debt is illegitimate and that excuses for debt and austerity were unsubstantiated. Imagine if the same were done in the US. An audit could also be done at the local level.
To protect public education,a tri-national North American coalition of students, teachers and unions is growing. Here is a report from their conference last month in Chicago.
Even the struggle to protect Internet equality is connected to wealth extraction. The Internet was developed using public dollars and was initially regulated as a Common Carrier like a public utility. Now, giant telecoms are trying to wrest greater control over it in order to monetize it.
The giant telecoms are going to great lengths to confuse the public. They even created a front group and signed organizations on as members without their consent. Comcast has been promoting its program to provide low cost Internet to the poor despite its failure.
Internet neutrality is confusing. If you want to understand this important issue more, you can participate in an online discussion on June 14. Click here for more information. If you want to file a public comment with the FCC, you will find information about that by clicking here.
And check out the Rolling Rebellion for Real Democracy. Actions are being planned across the US the week after July 4 to raise awareness of the illegitimacy of our government.
Hedges writes that following violent repression, “the state invests tremendous energy to foster historical amnesia.” In fact, such amnesia and distraction are tools the state often uses to maintain the status quo.
The recent vilification of Bowe Bergdahl is an example of an attempt to bolster the War Culture in the US by avoiding the harder questions raised by his return. In response, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace and other groups held a press conference and rally in DC to speak about the Afghanistan War and the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Medea Benjamin and Alli McCracken also wrote that Obama no longer has excuses to keep Guantanamo open.
This is why whistleblowing and a truly open Internet are fundamental in the struggle for justice. And it’s why we mustn’t allow ourselves to be fooled or taken off track. In addition to tools for justice, we need creative ways to reach people such as these powerful one word ads in Boston exposing Israeli apartheid. For other creative ideas, check out CreativeResistance.org.
In the face of corruption, let’s show courage and create tools for justice. People power is showing every week that by working together we can prevail.