Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Confirmed: Jennifer Fox Has Miscarried

About a week ago I broke the story that Jennifer Fox has alleged that she miscarried her child due to an attack she sustained by police on November 15th, the same night that Dorli Rainey suffered the indiscriminate pepper-spraying on Occupy Seattle's peaceful protest.

Since my initial report, numerous news outlets, to include the Stranger's online blog, have cast doubts on Jennifer's story.  She is a homeless youth, and many have used past incidents in her troubled history to indicate that she has not told the truth regarding her assault and the ensuing loss of her child.  Pair that past with her inability to provide medical records proving her assertion, and an unclear picture of her credibility has cast doubts on her story.

Since I released her initial account, a story which has now gotten international attention, I have cautioned Jennifer on multiple occasions that she has no obligation to show her medical records to anyone.  Keep in mind that, should her assertion prove true, she is in a time of both physical and emotional stress.  Issues related to reproductive health are very sensitive, and if Jennifer feels she does not want to share private information, she frankly does not have to.  Her case, ultimately, will be decided by a judge, not the Stranger, and not the public.

However, she was eager to confirm her story to me and obtained her discharge summary for my review.  After I once again reminded her that she was under no obligation to show me details of her physical well-being, she disclosed the document to me.

The paperwork she showed me was not a complete medical record.  It was a discharge summary, and it confirmed two facts to me: that she was seen at Harborview after November 15th and that she has indeed suffered what is called a retained miscarriage, meaning that the fetus has yet to be dispelled.  She will be seeking further medical treatment in order to facilitate removal of the fetus from her body.

The discharge summary, however, does not mention the reason for her miscarriage nor the time of death of the fetus.  Frankly, I don't know if that is determinable.

A lot of people have asked me if I believe her story, and now I can say for certain that I do believe two essential key points in her story.  One, she was assaulted by police.  She knows too many details and facts that can be corroborated and has given a statement to the Office of Professional Accountability regarding the incident.  Two, I definitely now have confirmed that she has miscarried since the incident.

While I cannot say for certain that the assault and her miscarriage are related, it is very likely, in my mind, that injuries sustained the night of the 15th could very well cause this tragedy in her life.  In early pregnancy it is extremely believable that a kick and strike from a bicycle to the abdomen could result in the death of a baby.

In the end, we must realize that this story hasn't ended.  There are still facts that need to be confirmed, and we may have to wait until civil litigation is completed before we know those facts.  Fox, on the advice of her lawyer, has stated to me that she does not intend to show her medical information to the press at large.  However, she asked me to report my findings as generated by the discharge summary.  More updates as they come, and as Jennifer and her lawyer decide the best course of action in the development of this controversial and tragic case.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The US Constitution Responds To The Passage Of Detainment Amendment

Ian: Hi Constitution!  How do you feel about this amendment?
Constitution: No sir!  I don't like it!

Upon hearing that the US Senate has approved a defense appropriations amendment authorizing the military to detain American citizens indefinitely, a concerned United States Constitution leaped into the national debate on the issue, stating in no uncertain terms that this amendment is illegal:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
I asked a friend and fellow White House arrestee, Scott Wooledge, how he felt about the matter.
"Scott, does it give you second thoughts about handcuffing yourself to something?"
"If by second thoughts you mean considering doing it a second time, definitely."
 Hmmm.  Scott and Ian no likey.

US Senate Votes To Allow Military To Indefinitely Detain American Citizens

Fuck you, US Senate.

In a move that has many Americans stunned, the US Senate has voted to approve an amendment in the most recent Defense appropriations bill which would allow the military to detain American citizens on US soil indefinitely, a drastic expansion of powers which first were used to hold, without trial, enemy combatants in Afghanistan.

Could this be your new home?

In light of the Obama administration's failure to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the White House was quick to denounce the amendment and has threatened veto twice.  I assume the Republican controlled House of Representatives will pass this disgusting piece of legislation, assuring a showdown between the White House and Congress:
The measure, part of the massive National Defense Authorization Act, was also opposed by civil libertarians on the left and right. But 16 Democrats and an independent joined with Republicans to defeatan amendment by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would have killed the provision, voting it down with 61 against, and 37 for it. 
"I'm very, very, concerned about having U.S. citizens sent to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the Senate's most conservative members.
Rand's top complaint is that a terrorism suspect would get just one hearing where the military could assert that the person is a suspected terrorist -- and then they could be locked up for life, without ever formally being charged. The only safety valve is a waiver from the secretary of defense.
The division of Senators who voted for and against the provision is a bit bewildering, with a sizable Republican contingent (to include Paul) voting against it and a significant bloc of Democrats siding for the amendment, to include Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Clair McCaskill (Mo.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.). The White House is staunch in its criticism of the amendment:
This unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial restriction of the President's authority to defend the Nation from terrorist threats would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals. Moreover, applying this military custody requirement to individuals inside the United States, as some Members of Congress have suggested is their intention, would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets. We have spent ten years since September 11, 2001, breaking down the walls between intelligence, military, and law enforcement professionals; Congress should not now rebuild those walls and unnecessarily make the job of preventing terrorist attacks more difficult.
 I'm a bit concerned that the White House didn't include in its statement: "Also, this is unconstitutional and a gross abuse of power."

I know I might be a bit "conspiracy theorist" in supposing that this is a well-timed provision coinciding with nationally coordinated attacks on Occupy Wall Street encampments.  Who knows when some governor is going to decide that OWS protesters are terrorists and calls in the National Guard?  Should Congress overturns the President's veto, will Occupiers run the risk that they will be moved, without justification, to Gitmo?

Octopi Wall Street

This goes out to one of my favorite science teachers, Laurie C.:

Found via Charles B. Thanks Charles!

Who's REALLY Being Divisive, Newt?

Newt Gingrich attempted to "evict an idea whose time has come" recently by calling on President Barack Obama to denounce the "concept of the 99 and 1".
I repudiate, and I call on the President to repudiate, the concept of the 99 and the 1. It is un-American, it is divisive, it is historically false…You are not going to get job creation when you engage in class warfare because you have to attack the very people you hope will create jobs.
Watch (courtesy Think Progress):

Of course, Newt's repudiation has NOTHING to do with the fact that he is quite clearly a member of the 1%.  Recall that cool half million dollar tab he had running with Tiffany's?

Without addressing, of course, the fallacy in the statement that Occupy Wall Street is engaging in class warfare (you can't, after all, start a war that has already been declared on YOU), I think it's important that we stop and really recall how ludicrous his assertion is that this is pitting Americans against each other.

Divisive?  Maybe Newt should recall a few details from his own checkered past!  Including, for instance, his unpublicized financing of anti-gay groups determined to pit straight Americans against gay ones:
ThinkProgress previously reported on $200,000 that Gingrich funneled from an anonymous donor to the anti-marriage equality group Iowa for Freedom, which was also being funded by AFA Action, the political arm of the virulently anti-gay American Family Association. The Associated Press revealed yesterday that one of the cogs in Gingrich’s vast network of business enterprises and front groups, ReAL Action, provided $125,000 to AFA Action. The Des Moines Register reported this morning that ReAL Action also contributed $25,000 to yet another Iowa anti-LGBT group, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.
The American Family Association is, of course, an officially Southern Poverty Law Center-certified hate group.

In fact, his anti-gay policies were denounced as divisive by activist Nick Espinosa, who glitterbombed Gingrich at a Minnesota anti-gay group's event last spring:
"Feel the rainbow, Newt. Stop the hate. Stop anti-gay politics. It's dividing our country and it's not fixing our economy," the protester said, as he yanked out a box and dumped the sparkles on Gingrich, who sat next to wife, Callista.

So what part of the OWS movement do you think really troubles him more: our "dividing" of this country?  Or the fact that we want to get rid of tax cuts that benefit him (and his Tiffany's tab)?

For Better Or For Worse

Australian activist organization GetUp created this video in support of marriage equality and it's too precious to not post.  Gay couples face the same struggles and triumphs straight couples do... so why not let them tie the knot?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Hey, brothers and sisters, friends and family.

Be thankful.  I'm thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Ian Awesome

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jennifer Fox: Update

The past two days Fox has been inundated with requests for interviews, but after the initial round she has decided to cease giving interviews while she accomplishes two things.  First, she is in the process of obtaining a medical report with details that will support her allegation against the Seattle Police Department.  Second, she is busily getting legal representation to represent her in any legal action that will be taken.

At this time, she has chosen to not give further news interviews until she consults a lawyer.  This is a sensitive time for her and she is still physically weak from her ordeal.  However, once medical records are obtained and depending on legal counsel, we will update the world as to the developing story which has alarmed people worldwide.

She has taken other action, however.  The Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) stopped by the Occupy Seattle camp in order to speak to her about her allegations and they took a statement.  She says that a complaint has now been officially filed.

There is a candlelight vigil planned in memorial of Fox's unborn baby planned at 4pm on Saturday.  Supporters will convene at SCCC at that time and then march down to Westlake Park.  More updates as they come.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Photo: Jennifer Fox Immediately Following Attack By Police

Photo by Athena F. From November 15th, 2011.

Pregnant Occupier Alleges Police Brutality Resulted In Miscarriage

The Occupy Wall Street movement has recently come under attack nationwide, with police actions ranging from camp evictions to seemingly punitive pepper spraying of peaceful protesters.  Police officers are losing their jobs over their brutal actions against OWS, with the now-infamous "Pepper-spray cop" incident resulting in the suspension of UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza.

Occupy Seattle has seen its fair share of action, with the now-viral image of Dorli Rainey, 84, becoming an iconic symbol of the oppression this movement has begun to face.  There were other victims, however, at the pepper-spraying that took place on the evening of the 15th of November.

One of them is Jennifer Fox, 19, an Occupier who has been with the demonstration since it began operations at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.  Previously homeless, she now sleeps every night at the Occupation, grateful for a safe place to lay her head.  She is not just here because Occupy Seattle provides her shelter, however.  She has participated in every march since the beginning of the movement and identifies with its goals.
"We deserve to have a change and I felt like Occupy Seattle needed more people to participate."

What's remarkable about the attack on Fox that evening is that she is three months pregnant.  She was the victim of several brutal attacks that evening on the part of police, to include being pepper sprayed twice and hit in the stomach with a cop's bike during the fray that occurred when police indiscriminately (and without provocation) sprayed protesters.  She was rushed to the hospital as soon as the Occupation was able to summon an ambulance, but she says that police prevented her from leaving the scene even though she told them she was pregnant.
"I shouted 'I'm pregnant, I don't want to get hurt, please let me through!'  They didn't cooperate."
She has since visited the hospital once more and received heartbreaking news.  On the 20th, Fox received news that she has miscarried, and alleges the miscarriage is due to the injuries she received during the police action on the 15th.
"It hurts. It's upsetting. I was ready to have a kid, because my family was going to support me in taking care of the child.  Her name was going to be Miracle."
Fox is receiving consultation with the Occupy Seattle legal team presently and will be deciding whether or not to seek legal action against the Seattle Police Department for the loss of her child.  One thing, however, is certain: a tragedy of immeasurable depth has struck the Occupy Wall Street movement.  If her allegation is confirmed, the inappropriate use of force against peaceful activists exercising their right to free speech has finally cost a protester something irreplaceable: an unborn baby.

To Protect And To Serve Who, Exactly?

Bank Divestment Day passed on November 5th, but people are continuing to withdraw their funds from big banks in order to put their money in credit unions and community banks.  In the Seattle area, local credit union BECU has seen an incredible 280% increase in new membership since the beginning of Occupy Wall Street and its sister protests.

Some, unfortunately, were not able to close their accounts on the fifth.  Alexander Williamson, a dedicated supporter of Occupy Seattle, banked with Chase and wanted to make his statement about financial institutions who received bailout money.  When he went to his branch and attempted to close his account, they stalled him by saying he had to wait to ensure that no charges from Netflix were pending.

Finally, on the 14th of November, he went into a Chase location in Edmonds, Washington and attempted to close his account for a final time.  Since there was no money in the account (he had been transferring his banking slowly), the bank teller informed him that he owed a $19.99 low-balance fee-- one of the many ludicrous charges currently scaring customers away from big banks.

Alex refused to pay and refused to leave until they closed his account.  So, naturally, they called the police and attempted to have him arrested for trespassing.
I just closed an account with no money in it... and they wanted to charge me a 19.99 low funds/inactivity fee.  I refused to pay it... and they wouldn't close it... So I refused to leave.  But I was very calm and polite, with no signs or shouting.
Two police officers arrived, forced him to leave the building, and while one officer spoke with Williamson, the other spoke with the bank manager.  They determined that he was not currently breaking any laws, and let him go without detainment.

The thing is, his goal was not to cause a scene nor make any sort of statement.  He merely refused to pay a spurious and unfair fee, and received the attention of the police for his efforts.
I just went in to make a low key closure... Not trying to make a scene or even protest really. It just pissed me off so much that I kind of ended up doing that.
After the incident, Williamson finally called Chase directly and complained about the service, earning an apology from customer service, who professed to not being aware about any low balance/inactivity fees that were appropriate for his situation.

When he asked the police officer why he was being removed from the bank, he got a simple response: "We cant have you disrupting people's banking, you need to leave right now, or we'll take you in."

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: is this really what we are paying the police to do?  Who was protected?  Who was served?  And why did Williamson have to risk arrest for protesting unfair banking practices?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Video: SPD Laughing, Joking While Pepper Spraying Compliant Protesters

On November 15th, the Seattle Police Department pepper sprayed innocent protesters who had already complied with a lawful order to get on the sidewalk.  One person filming engaged in conversation with an officer who laughed and joked about what was going on.  Watch (warning, graphic footage of police brutality and extreme assholism):

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Portland: The "Good Neighbor" Policy

My good friend Ken Lapworth put together a video documenting our experience in Portland.  Watch:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

OneAngryCultist: The Spirit of Occupy - Witness Under Fire

Tuesday was a day in which I witnessed first-hand the Occupy community of Seattle undergo a rebirth, a baptism of sorts, as well as possibly one of the most atrocious acts of brutality against demonstrators during which many non-violent demonstrators were indiscriminately pepper-sprayed including a blind woman, a priest, a non-denominational chaplain, a pregnant woman as well as friends and acquaintances caught in the cross-fires.

Although I was blocked off from being able one of those caught in the fray due to an ill-timed restroom break, when I was able to catch up to the group the first thing I saw was people corralled between Battery and Wall Street on Third Avenue and the first person I met coming out of that was Reverend Rich Lang of University Methodist Temple in the University District; the same man I had been walking alongside earlier as an individual clergy person representing my own gnostic, religious tradition of Thelema. His face was red and tears were coming from his eyes and he was still determined. It was later that I would find out exactly what happened, but seeing his dedication and witness made a very clear impact on me.

The next morning, I woke up and read the following missive that he had written in response to the events that transpired that day, A Pastoral Lament For My Country:

“I praise the courage and compassion, the discipline and the decency of the Occupy Movement. Out of the rag-tag mob came help, grabbing my hands, leading me (I was blind by then) to the wall and administering care and concern for my well being. The protesters were assembled around all the wounded, and maintained the discipline of nonviolence (granted the nonviolence was in behavior but not language). And they were not afraid. The spraying had been a baptism sealing them into the security of knowing that their prophecy of repentance was indeed the Spirit-Word through them --- it is as if they did not prophecy their very bones would melt within them. Against the wall in increasing pain and burning I realized I was in the midst of church.”

Reverend Rich is but one of the chaplains and religious who were pepper-sprayed that day, the other being Tsukina Blessing, amidst many others of varying religious and non-religious stripes gathered as a community to demonstrate against this country’s grave social and economic inequalities. In the course of that baptism by pepper-spray, Occupy ceased being a group of rag-tag demonstrators and transformed into an ekklesía - a community of believers – indeed, a church.

Although some may object to my overt use of religious language in describing Occupy, the fact is that we are all here in faith that we can restore some level of sanity to this country that has for too long strayed away from its true course and which we are all determined to bear witness to and restore to the brightness and wholeness that is capable of being – in Christian terms, “a city on the hill” for all to see and share in its blessings. In Occupy I have seen proof that in this movement there are many mansions to be found in every tent and every committee meeting and there is room at every table. This is what America can look like and what we are all fighting for.

Rev. Rich and Tsukina are true spiritual warriors, among the many participating in Occupy across the country. They are inspirations of endeavor and I admire them and all clergy, chaplains and participants in Occupy. Their demonstration of peace under fire is something, I think, all occupiers can learn from and put into practice and something that will make the movement succeed and prosper even more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cornel West Addresses Occupy Seattle

Dr. Cornel West, a civil rights legend, activist, and philosopher stopped by Occupy Seattle today and made his remarks.  Sorry about my head wandering into the shot.  My laptop was wrapped in saran wrap in order to keep it dry and I kept having to straighten it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sex, Drugs, And Occupation

This week has seen a sharp increase in police action against the Occupy Wall Street movement, with the destruction of the Denver camp successfully carried out and a near 24-hour standoff with Portland police meaning that two significant and large Occupations are now scrambling to find new space or reoccupy their old one.  Denver and Portland aren't alone; a vague sense of unease has overtaken the Occupy Seattle encampment at Seattle Central Community College and a discussion group formed after last night's General Assembly in order to discuss tactics should authorities find a legal pretext for evicting us from our space.

The justifications for these actions are many, but the major push to end Occupations seems to be inspired by concerns of health and safety among campers.  Mayor Sam Adams, who previously seemed very motivated to accommodate Occupy Portland, issued orders to clear the camp due to what he characterized as criminal behavior and drug use in the tents at the two parks occupied by protesters.  Thousands of people arrived on-scene to support demonstrators, but after a long 18-hour standoff Occupy Portland decided to make a tactical withdrawal and are now preparing to regroup.

Actions like this, in the face of the largest populist movement in American history, are costly and ineffective.  Occupy Portland isn't going away; on the contrary, police action motivates people to get involved.  I spoke with Janet, the coordinator of Occupy The Roads, an RV tour of the country, and she related to me the story of her involvement.  While vacationing in Detroit, she was unaware of the movement and uninspired to take part until she watched police action on TV.  She then rented a car and drove to Occupy Wall Street, where she immediately began assisting protesters in their activities.  One can certainly use this story to illustrate: police action will not end Occupations.  In Oakland, extreme tactics were used against activists.  They failed.  There is still an Occupy Oakland.

So why do we waste money and resources on ineffective crackdowns?

The debate is centered on drug use and safety, and city governments appear to be willing to abrogate American's right to peaceably assemble in order to regulate crime and substance abuse.  This is doomed to fail and is a symptom of a broken system.  Why?

Because the drug use will still happen, just not where the police can pinpoint it.

I have said for weeks now that one of the great strengths of our movement is our ability to help the homeless.  Our providing of safe space to sleep and clean water and food to consume has brought in unprecedented numbers.  Some have denigrated our camps as homeless shelters; I proudly accept that nomination.  The homeless need to be fed and clothed and we're doing it.  Homeless people need food to eat and healthy activity to participate in and we're providing it.  The homeless are the quintessential example of why we need change in this country.  We can neither turn them away nor discriminate against them!  They are the direst in need among the 99%.

Unfortunately, drug use is disproportionately active among homeless populations.  We know this.  Where there is homelessness, there is despair, and many have become addicted to drugs and commit crimes to feed their habits.

So I'll admit it: There is drug use in occupations.  What is the solution?  Is it tearing down our tents and demonizing our movement?  Absolutely not.

Let's re-think the model of how we deal with these issues.  Criminal behavior and drug use (and yes, I believe they are two different things) require more thoughtful solutions than forcing the homeless to sleep on the street again.  To be frank, if they overdose in our camps (which operate on an alcohol/drug free guideline that is enforced as often as possible), they at least are surrounded by people who can provide first aid and summon authorities.  This is not the case, necessarily, when the homeless are forced to use drugs in alleyways and public restrooms.  So how can city governments address these issues?

1.  Stop making the police our enemy.  Unsafe situations occur when enforcement of safety is impossible.  We have neither the desire nor ability to become police.  Stop tearing down our tents, and we are far more likely to summon the proper authorities in order to stay safe.  As it is, Occupiers fear allowing the police free access to our encampments because thus far, our brothers and sisters in the police force have been inappropriately used to infringe on our right to assemble.  Make them our friends again, and less crime will happen in Occupations.

2.  Stop denigrating us as criminals.  The mainstream media (MSM) and local governments are quick to paint Occupations as hotbeds of criminal activity.  The truth is, crime happens everywhere.  Every apartment building has criminals, every street corner has drug users.  Just because meth is rampant in Seattle does not mean the entirety of our population is tweaking.  Drug use occurs, but it is not rampant.  The vast majority of Occupiers are not there to use drugs, but to protest.  Stop the negative propaganda and find ways to work with Occupiers!

3.  Send us social workers!  Organizers would welcome drug and alcohol counselors to assist us in helping people addicted to substances.  To be honest, the people who need help should have been helped already.  The only reason we have drug users in Occupations is because local governments have failed to effectively address the problem of drug abuse.  Send us social workers, treatment counselors, give us resources!  You should have been doing this already!  At least we are providing a model where it would be easier to give those resources to the people that need them the most.

Lastly, have compassion.  The reason our movement exists is because people are troubled.  They are unhappy.  They need help.  We are providing a forum for discussion and a method for people to address those problems, but we need assistance in many aspects.

To summarize: if you fear crime and drug use in our encampments, make it possible to address crime and drug use.  By tearing down these tents you are not only making things worse for those of us who do not use drugs, you are only scattering those that do.  You aren't helping.  So please start.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Post-PDX Acknowledgments-- Police, Protesters, and A Really Big Dummy

It's been a long weekend.  After our Veteran's Day festivities at Occupy Seattle, a bunch of us went down to stand in solidarity with Occupy Portland on the night of their big eviction (smirk) as ordered by Mayor Sam Adams.  Full accounts of the night's events are found elsewhere, but before I get out of my Army dress blues and collapse into bed, I thought some acknowledgments were in order for the many characters on-scene in Portland.

Yeah, I'm in this picture.  Far left, in military uniform standing in front of the police.

To the Occupy Seattlites I rode with: thanks for the conversation.  Big thanks to Gabriel and Ken for driving to and from Portland all in one night.

To the Occupy Portlanders: thank you for the warm welcome.  You guys were great.

To the many dancers, musicians, and jokers milling around the encampment: thanks for keeping the atmosphere light.

To the proprietor(s) of Lotus bar: thanks for letting me use your bathroom.  Repeatedly.

To the "gentleman" who got in a heated argument with me about the movement, then stated that he would kill me were I not in uniform, then called me a dummy (it was written on a sign he was holding that he waved in my face) and forced me to walk away in disgust: I'm sorry your behavior was so unruly and disrespectful that it got you TASERed and arrested.  By the way?  I win the argument.

To the police officer who thought it was appropriate to take time out from keeping people safe in order to  yell at me for a minor uniform infraction: neither your sarcasm nor your penchant for harassment do honor to the uniform you wear.  I am confident that I wore my uniform with well-deserved pride, and I hope that someday you will too.

To the frightened hippie on the front line who helped me face down the police, even though tears were streaming down his face: sorry for squeezing your hand so hard.  I was scared too.

To the former Army Specialist in the Guy Fawkes mask who asked me to pin new "rank"-- a flower-- to his collar in military fashion: I have never been so pleased to "promote" someone.  Hoo-ah!

To the many police officers, male and female, who peered through their riot shields with near terror in their eyes: don't worry.  We're far more likely to hug you than hurt you.  Also, I was scared too.

To the man with the tattooed face who informed me his dog had been stolen and then gently told me "He was a good dog":  I'm sorry, brother.  I hope you find your dog.

To the horse who spooked and almost ran, having scented the tension in the air: easy, big guy!  Um.  I was scared too.

To my voice, which I seem to have misplaced after a night of continued chanting and shouting: I don't blame you for leaving, but please come back.  I miss you.

To every brave individual who stared authority in the face and said "I'm not moving": You are some of the bravest people I've ever met, and I am proud to have "held the line" with you.

To every single person who was in downtown Portland and helped ensure that last night's demonstration and police action ended peacefully and without violence: it doesn't matter which side of the line you were holding or if you were police or protester.  Your dedication to peace was awe-inspiring.

To Mayor Sam Adams, Mayor McGinn, and any other politician who dares to send our brethren in the 99% in riot gear to remove us from our adopted homes and infringe on our right to peaceably assemble: We cannot be divided and we cannot be silenced.  We are not here on your terms, but on ours.  We are the 99%, we are too big to fail, and we will not be moved.

I love you all.

PS: Not the guy with the sign that said "Dummy."  You actually suck and I don't love you at all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

OneAngryAlly: Trouble at Occupy Berkeley Protests - I Know, Right?

The Occupy movement continues to grow and spread, and a logical place to set up shop is Berkeley, California, historically a hotbed of political activity. Well, police of that fair city barely gave it a day before clashing with protestors on the iconic campus - 39 demonstrators were arrested yesterday, on that first day.
Administration officials responded to the protesters by agreeing to let demonstrators stay on school property, but forbid them from erecting any sort of shelter or using sleeping bags, a move which would keep the students from starting an encampment like the ones in hundreds of cities across the world aligned to the Occupy movement. In a vote from Occupy Cal organizers early in the day, however, protesters decided to pitch tents on school property, despite those orders from the administration to refrain from doing so.

Video from throughout the course of events show police attacking protesters with batons, bluntly striking them in their abdomens and elsewhere. Some footage has also surfaced in which police are clearly seen striking protesters, unprovoked, from behind.
“We were linked arms, peacefully, when they were stabbing and beating people as hard as they could, it hurt really bad when they got me in the stomach,” Ashley Pinkerton, a student at UC Berkeley, tells Daily Cal after being beat by the police.
Here's the video; you decide.

As one student summed up in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle: "This just shows us how afraid they are of the Occupy movement."

"Battle For Seattle" Police Chief Condemns Brutality, Voices Support For OWS

A fantastic reflective piece appeared on the Nation today, written by former Seattle chief of police Norm Stamper all but voicing support for the Occupy Wall Street movement.  What's really fascinating about his input is that he was the chief of police during the WTO riots in 1999, so his commentary about police brutality is especially riveting.
More than a decade later, the police response to the Occupy movement, most disturbingly visible in Oakland—where scenes resembled a war zone and where a marine remains in serious condition from a police projectile—brings into sharp relief the acute and chronic problems of American law enforcement. Seattle might have served as a cautionary tale, but instead, US police forces have become increasingly militarized, and it’s showing in cities everywhere: the NYPD “white shirt” coating innocent people with pepper spray, the arrests of two student journalists at Occupy Atlanta, the declaration of public property as off-limits and the arrests of protesters for “trespassing.”

The paramilitary bureaucracy and the culture it engenders—a black-and-white world in which police unions serve above all to protect the brotherhood—is worse today than it was in the 1990s. Such agencies inevitably view protesters as the enemy. And young people, poor people and people of color will forever experience the institution as an abusive, militaristic force—not just during demonstrations but every day, in neighborhoods across the country.
Even more groundbreaking is his unabashed admission of his mistakes during the "Battle for Seattle," a riot that has since become a hallmark example of police brutality in America:
My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose. Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict. The “Battle in Seattle,” as the WTO protests and their aftermath came to be known, was a huge setback—for the protesters, my cops, the community.
I've noted that the shadow of WTO seems to hang over the Occupy Seattle movement.  I spoke to a police officer about the tactics used on protesters at OS and he agreed that the SPD learned many valuable lessons in '99 that are applied today.  Perhaps police departments in NYC and Oakland would do well to learn as Norm Stamper has-- police brutality helps no-one, especially when oppressing a movement that represents the 99%'s interests.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Hits The Road, Marches To DC

Occupy DC in Freedom Plaza should put the tea on, as they are expecting guests from Occupy Wall Street in New York City two weeks from now.

Starting today, a group of OWS protesters are walking from NYC to DC in order to reach the District in time for the congressional budget supercommittee, which is due to meet on November 23rd.  They plan on walking 20 miles a day.  Here's their (super cute) map:

Good luck to the walkers, and be sure to dress warmly.  

Thanks to reader Leah M. for the tip.

Republicans Soften Their Stance On Taxes, Except Not

The political landscape in the US has seen a profound shift among the liberal set, with a focus on social issues shifting in favor of setting economic disparities in the sights of the left's political machine.  This includes yours truly-- I've been sacrificing blogging about gay shit in order to focus on the Occupy Wall Street/ Occupy Seattle movement.  

Perhaps Republicans and the right as a whole is starting to feel the heat, as they now are at least attempting to make an appearance of softening their "no new taxes" stance.  The reality is, of course, that if we do not increase taxes (to include the rich, who pay almost none by comparison to the poor and middle classes), much needed programs like education will feel the pinch.  Maybe the Occupy Wall Street movement has made that plain, as Congressional Republicans have put an offer on the table that would increase tax revenue by as much as $300 billion.

Some, however, are not best pleased with the new plan:
Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hard-line stance against new taxes, offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt. 
But Democrats rejected the offer Tuesday — along with the notion that Republicans had made a significant concession that could end the long-standing political impasse — leaving a special debt-reduction committee far from compromise with less than two weeks until its Thanksgiving deadline.
Democrats said the tax increases in the GOP offer would be dwarfed by major new tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest households, including a reduction in the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent.
In plain terms: Republicans are happy to increase taxes to meet our growing debt!  Uh, it's just that it's the poor and middle classes who will have to pay those increased taxes.  Not the rich!  No, we're going to cut their taxes even further.  

Nice try, guys.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

OneAngryClotheshorse: Don't do gymnastics - you'll get hurt and catch the gay.

Bon Apres-midi, mes amis! I awoke today from my post breakfast, pre brunch nap to read this story from the Daily Mail (a UK publication prone to scandalmongering): "Burly rugby player has a stroke after freak gym accident…wakes up gay and becomes a hairdresser". Apparently a large heterosexual in Wales was attempting a backflip to impress his friends and botched it, breaking his neck and causing a stroke. When he woke up everything had changed, including his sexuality. Well, now...That's very convenient for him, but it invites so many questions. Were you gay before, and are you just lying about it now? Was the stroke responsible for your questionable styling decisions (pun definitely intended)? Would it work for various Tea Party politicians, who could CLEARLY use a good stroking? His massive weight loss - going from 19st to 11st (nearly 115 lbs) is also problematic, contributing to the unfair stereotype that all gay men are in fabulous shape.

Obviously we need to research this dubious claim in the name of science, so the Liberal Media Elite can add "stroke recruiting" to its Gay Agenda. As soon as we figure out how to fix the ensuing fashion disaster apparently innate to this technique.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

OneAngryCultist: Voting for God

Hold on to your horses, kids, the current GOP-led Congress is finally voting on something that is nothing short of Biblical and will bring about the second-coming; cure cancer, AIDS, hemorrhoids, and result in the liberation of all humanity accomplish absolutely nothing except reaffirm, "In God We Trust" as the national motto of the United States. The proposed bill would also encourage public buildings to include the motto in their architecture because, you know, architectural redecoration is some kind of job-creation, right?!

Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and author of H.CON.RES.13 cites the following reasons why this bill is necessary:

"President Obama inaccurately proclaimed "E Pluribus Unum' as our national motto. Last November before a worldwide audience, in a much-anticipated and much-publicized speech focusing on the United States' relationship with the Muslim world, President Obama falsely proclaimed that our national motto was E pluribus unum. The President failed to respond to congressional entreaties to issue a correction; the uncorrected transcript remains on the White House website.

Misunderstanding of the phrase "Separation of Church and State". The Supreme Court has held, “The First Amendment, however, does not say that in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State. . . We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion.” The words ‘separation of church and state’ do not appear in the U.S. Constitution. Rather, the phrase originates from a letter penned by Thomas Jefferson on January 1, 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association.

Inaccuracies and omissions in the half-billion-dollar Capitol Visitor Center. In 2008, the over half-billion dollar Capitol Visitor Center opened for the purpose of educating over 15,000 Capitol visitors daily on the “legislative process as well as the history and development of the architecture and art of the U.S. Capitol.” Yet, Capitol Visitor Center historians had sanitized the public building of any references to our national motto, including replacing the inscription of ‘In God We Trust,’ inscribed above the Speaker’s Rostrum with stars in a replica of the House Chamber and cropping an actual picture of the chamber so you could not see the words ‘In God We Trust.’ Only until Members of Congress intervened publically [sic.] and legislatively were these omissions and inaccuracies corrected."
So, essentially, what I'm reading is that Congressman Forbes took one of President Obama's gaffes a little too close to heart and is using Congress to make sure this doesn't happen again lest we all fall into godless heathenry.

Now, "Why is your OneAngryCultist chiming in on this particular issue?" you might ask. Well, because religion is important to me - not just mine, but all religions and spiritual perspectives atheism inclusive. As much as I like a little ceremonial deism here and there, H.CON.RES.13 is decidedly sectarian in nature and is part of a growing trend of denying the religious pluralism upon which this country was founded. While the issue of "separation of church and state" does not exist in the Constitution in word, the kind of religion that politicians like Forbes, Perry and others want to enshrine into law is not the kind of religion that would be recognizable by the founding fathers, let alone the 25% of non-Christians in the United States.