Friday, October 28, 2011

Joplin School District Refuses To Take Action Against Homophobe Teacher

A concerned Joplinite passed me this link today and I couldn't help but pass it along to you guys.

One Joplin area teacher is breathing a sigh of relief today after his scandalous Facebook comments in which he callously remarked that gay suicides are the fault of the victim's, responding to a former student's post about 15-year old Jamie Hubley's bullying-related suicide by saying "Moral of the story: don't be gay."

Even more shockingly, when the question was rhetorically asked "How many more kids have to kill themselves before everyone realizes that this is an actual issue?" Whitney responded, "11-13 ought to do it. Somewhere in that vicinity."

Why is he relieved?  Because, of course, the Joplin School District is refusing to take action against him, insisting that his Facebook was hacked.

Superintendent C.J. Huff said that Jim Whitney’s Facebook account was compromised and that there were no findings that would indicate wrongdoing by Whitney. 
The board of education discussed the matter and was given a report following an investigation into the incident during a closed session at Tuesday night’s meeting
During my week-long visit in Joplin this summer, I discovered a Midwestern town filled with friendly, loving people.  Though Joplin has its quirks and problems, I found the majority of the city to be welcoming and tolerant.  When I stopped to buy my then-fiance a flower at a florist and corrected the clerk on the gender of my intended, she apologized politely and then congratulated me on my engagement.

Not only is the local populace warm and caring, a community which has come together in the aftermath of May's devastating tornado, but the LGBT community is a thriving reality in Joplin.  From the local gay bar (two-for-one drinks on Monday and Tuesday!!  Even shots!) to the small music scene, queer representation is both visible and appreciated.  The school district's decision to not pursue this matter both with transparency and sensitivity is a grave disservice to this fantastic city.

When Anthony Weiner Tweeted photos of his manparts to a ladyfriend, he claimed that his Twitter was hacked, then admitted to having been the perpetrator of the sex scandal.  How is it that this schoolteacher, who appears gleeful at the idea of gay youth killing themselves, can keep his job by pleading "hacked!" in a closed meeting with administrators?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

OneAngryDyke: Ron Paul Thinks The Gays Are Okay

Since Ian Awesome is busily running around declaring war on the rich, he is proud to introduce his latest guest writer, Kate West, formerly of the Seattle Lesbian and all-around good gal.  Huzzah!

Apparently Ron Paul thinks the gays aren’t the problem in the military . . . it’s those darn heterosexuals causing “trouble”. The same guy who is avidly anti-choice and a self-avowed Republican now (remember when he was a Libertarian?) told Iowa State Daily today that he thinks the straight soldiers are “causing more trouble than the gays”. He didn’t address the real ongoing problem of sexual assault in the military, presumably the “trouble” he referenced. According to NPR, “In 2003, a survey of female veterans found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military.” 

Thank goodness those queers didn’t start hitting on all the straight soldiers after DADT repeal . . . we can all sleep better at night knowing THAT didn’t happen.

#OccupyOakland Protestor/Iraq War Veteran Critically Injured

In the latest bit of news to emerge from Tuesday's police brutality in downtown Oakland, a 24-year-old Occupy Oakland-er and Iraq war vet, Scott Olsen, has been hospitalized in critical condition. He was hit by a piece of projectile, which witnesses say was from flash-bang grenades launched by police. (Police naturally deny this, but there are videos circulating that suggest otherwise.)

Says a friend and fellow protestor:

"I'm just absolutely devastated that someone who did two tours of Iraq and came home safely is now lying in a US hospital because of the domestic police force."
I couldn't have said it better myself. Healing thoughts go out to Olsen, and let's hope that we don't hear any more of this kind of story. I'm especially thinking of particular army vets I know who are out there occupying at the moment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Seattle Marches In Solidarity With Occupy Oakland

Hey guys, I've been on the ground doing some serious organizational work and broadcast reporting for Occupy Seattle, so I've been neglecting the blog.  However, I thought that I would pass it along.  If you live in the Seattle area, feel free to steal this flier and pass it along, print it out, or put it up.  I've got limited resources so can't do it all myself.  

Police Deploy Tear Gas on Occupy Oakland Protestors

Late last night, several scuffles broke out between police and protesters camped out near City Hall in Oakland, California. This followed an early-morning raid by police, disbanding a camp that had been set up for more than two weeks, and resulting in 97 arrests.
The first evening scuffle broke out after several hundred people made their way back to City Hall in an attempt to re-establish a presence in the area of the disbanded camp.

The protesters had gathered at a downtown library, marched toward City Hall and ultimately were met by police officers in riot gear. Several small skirmishes broke out and officers cleared the area by firing tear gas.

The scene has repeated itself several times since. But each time officers move to disperse the crowd, protesters quickly gather again in assemblies that authorities have declared illegal.

Protesters and police offered up different versions of the story; police cited violence in the crowd directed at police, while organizers simply reminded the officers of the goal of the movement- "people trying to have their rights to basic services." Let's hope this sort of police involvement doesn't become a trend at these widespread, largely peaceful demonstrations nationwide.

#OccupySeattle will be marching in support of Occupy Oakland - check out Ian Awesome's twitter #OneAngryQueer for more updates.

New Hampshire To Repeal Gay Marriage Act?

Just over a year ago, New Hampshire governor John Lynch signed into law an act which allowed gay marriage. Yesterday, lawmakers in the Republican-dominated legislature got one step closer to repealing that act, as the state House Judiciary Committee moved forward on a bill that would eliminate gay marriages, replacing them with a foggy version of civil unions (which New Hampshire had allowed since 2007, prior to the gay marriage act):
The bill would not enact the same civil unions law that was in effect before gays were allowed to marry. That law granted gays all the rights and responsibilities of marriage except in name. The proposed civil unions law would be open to any two adults and would let anyone refuse to recognize the unions. It also would allow anyone to discriminate against the couples in employment, housing and public accommodations based on religious or moral beliefs.

I'm David Bates and I command you to have children!
Right, because if we let them, gay people will just marry willy-nilly, so we may as well open it up to "any two adults" - even relatives, perhaps? Some lady I happen to pass on the street? Sponsors of the bill condemn such same-sex couplings, citing the state's need to "[promote] stable and committed marital unions between opposite-sex couples so as to increase the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by both of their natural parents." Last I checked they weren't campaigning against divorce, separation, or single parenthood in the state of New Hampshire, though please stop me if I'm wrong. The statement that marriage exists solely to produce a child is an egregious one and a blow to civil rights, not to mention all that advocates, gay and straight, have fought for in the state over the past few years.

Legislators say that gay marriages already on the books will continue to be recognized, and opponents of the bill say there is little likelihood that it will pass. Still, stay tuned for more news from New Hampshire, or better yet, contact those assholes:

--submitted by OneAngryAlly while Ian Awesome continues to be off saving the world!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OneAngryAlly: Screwy Voting Laws in Ohio Continue

Greetings, OAQ readers! While Ian Awesome is busily holding down the activism fort, I'm going to try to toss up a few news stories. First, I'll begin with typical OneAngryAlly fare - ridiculous things that could only happen in the great state which I currently call home.

After the 2010 census, Ohio had to eliminate two Congressional districts (why people wouldn't want to move here is beyond me). Naturally, something like this has the potential to be upsetting, at least to the two representatives whose districts were squished, but the resulting map, drawn by Republican leaders in the state, has left many Ohioans scratching their heads.

The map divides major cities, such as Toledo, as well as carving chunks out of smaller counties, seemingly without reason. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (one of my personal favorites) now has a district spanning a few hundred miles along the northern edge of Ohio (see that green thing that looks like pond scum creeping along the bottom of Lake Erie? That's his district).

Anyway, state Democratic leaders have begun to fight this, seeking to implement changes or put a referendum on the ballot. Turns out, though, that trying to change Congressional districts that have already been changed, and in an election year, isn't quite so simple.

State law mandates that elections for U.S. senate and most state and local offices be held during the March primary. However, should the re-re-districting succeed, the candidates also, by law, still need 90 days prior to the election to file. To allow time for this, and also for further debate, the election for U.S. House was postponed until June 12. Guess what came with it? The presidential primary.

Yes. Ohio is now having two primaries. And the, dare I say, really important one (as Ohio has long been a battleground state in elections) is not until June. Iowa and New Hampshire are having a "who can have the first primary" contest, Ohio does them one better in having more primaries than anyone else; as the date of the first primary moves ever earlier, Ohioans could select their party choice for president SIX MONTHS following the first primary. Not to mention that Ohio voters, famous for being disenfranchised/confused at every turn by our darling state's government, now have to remember to vote not once, but twice, and in June?! Something tells me that voter turnout is going to be extremely low for both.

I don't know about you all, but the thought that the primaries, any way you stack it, are so close fills me with a shiver of excitement and quite a bit of stone-cold fear. Who else is ready to celebrate New Year's by voting in primary elections?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#Occupy Seattle, Pics and Video from 10/15/2011

Hey guys!  I've been busily occupying Westlake Park in solidarity with the excellent folks demonstrating for the 99%.  Thanks to Michael, our own OneAngryCultist, for his continued assistance with news coverage.

I know that OAQ has been all Occupy all the time, and I'm working on getting other coverage up, but my time has been limited by connectivity and battery issues down here at the park.  I will try to get guest writers to put up more coverage, and thank you guys for reading.

If you want to watch our Livestream feed, feel free to click here.  I'm sometimes the broadcaster and you can catch my cute punim answering questions on that stream.

There is a lot of great video circulating, and this clip below are citizens collectively cutting up their bank cards.  I would like to urge patrons of big banks like Bank of America and Chase (horrible institutions who are continuing to rob the 99% of their wealth while laying off employees) to join a credit union.

Andrew Johnson, a fabulous (and adorable) visitor and photographer from Australia has set up a Tumblr for OccupySeattle and has given me permission to put photos up here.  Take a gander.  

OneAngryQueer: Photos from Yesterday

A very big shout-out and special thanks for bystander and donator of coffee, Casey E., who took these amazing photos yesterday at the #OccupySeattle demonstrations.

OneAngryQueer: Sunday Occupy Report

OneAngryCultist filling in for Ian Awesome who is still down in Westlake this morning.

Yesterday OccupySeattle experienced a number of successes, not the least of these being the largest turnout of demonstrators for the afternoon march down to Pike's Place Public Market. Q13 Fox reports:

"Thousands of protesters took to the streets downtown Saturday afternoon as part of the continuing Occupy Seattle movement. At three p.m. the protesters marched peacefully from Westlake Park to Pike Place Market, and then back to Westlake for a concert and rally. When protesters returned to Westlake Park, some protesters burned and cut up their debit and credit cards from Chase and Bank of America. The crowd has spilled out of the confines of the park."

Turnout estimates approximately 3,000 at the peak of the demonstration, but no official estimates have been released by OccupySeattle or affiliated groups at this time.

Around 5PM demonstrators started setting up tents in preparation for the Occupy "Global Day of Action + Night of 500 Tents!"which was advertised throughout the city through leaflets, posters and social media.

Demonstrations were peaceful and SPD presence was reduced in comparison to previous nights to around thirty officers around midnight who were very proactive about not allowing demonstrators to sleep in accordance with orders from Mayor McGinn's office and keeping with policies of Seattle Parks and Recreation which was also on standby to help with waste removal.

As of this morning, no arrests have been reported and occupiers were allowed to stay overnight in Westlake Center under the condition that tents were to be taken down by 7AM. Demonstrations are expected to continue throughout the day. Pictures and updates will be available later in the day.

Donations are still being accepted by OccupySeattle for the benefit of demonstrators.

Urgent Needs:
  • PEOPLE!!!
  • Sleeping bags
  • Water
  • Extra large ziploc bags
  • Maalox
  • Blankets!
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Heavy socks!
  • Eye wash
  • Paper bowls
  • Snack foods
  • Hot water deliveries late at night
  • Hand warmers
  • Portal Power Source - Sherpa 50 Adventure Kit

  • Charging equipment
  • Deep Cycle Batteries
Also, other food items and bottled water can be delivered near the south side of the plaza at Pike and 4th Avenue.

Friday, October 14, 2011

OneAngryCultist: Religion and the 99%

In the past three and a half weeks the Occupy movement has spread from Wall Street across the nation to over one-hundred cities and seems to be growing by the day despite arrests and threats of eviction. The 99% represents a smorgasbord of different groups representing different political and social perspectives, but little has been mentioned about the religious aspects of the protests.

Last night, your very own OneAngryCultist joined Ian Awesome at the downtown Seattle Occupy Demonstration where he witnessed the dismantling of a Sukkot booth and the subsequent arrest of ten Occupy demonstrators in what amounts to an act of religious discrimination in addition to the growing intolerance Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has toward protestors.
Sukkot tent being, not occupied, dismantled by Seattle Parks and Recreation
As a member of the minority religious philosophy of Thelema started by Aleister Crowley following the revelations of the central holy text, The Book of the Law, witnessing the destruction of a very clearly religious gathering place affected me deeply and viscerally. As I wrote in my own personal blog, The Digital Enchiridion:
“At the time of writing this essay, we have seen in our world one hundred and seven years of non-stop global conflict: entire civilizations rise and fall in a single generation; countries, states, cities, civil and municipal governments, religions, communities, and families torn asunder cruelly and mercilessly; the rise of the nuclear age and all the anxiety that came with the mastering of the atom; economies have taken on monstrous forms, strangulating countless millions under harsh labor and new slavery of debt; and, in short, the threat of the entire collapse of “the way things were”. Not a comforting image, to be sure, but a real one and one not without hope.”
Religion and spirituality play an important role in people’s lives giving them strength in difficult times and guiding them in their individual causes. I’m reminded of the central role it played in the protests of the Civil Rights Movement led by Rev. Martin Luther King, the protests against British imperialism in India led by Mohandas Gandhi and the responses to LGBTQ bullying led by the nominally non-religious but none-the-less spiritual Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Note from the editor: the Sisters plan to demonstrate with #OccupySeattle tonight-- IA).

In many of the Occupy cities, there are varying degrees of religiously identified groups in attendance offering their support and the support for demonstrators. Both HuffPo and USAToday have coverage of some of the religious goings on and at the Jesuit run weekly, America Magazine, Tom Beaudoin observes:
“there seems to be fairly wide latitude for people to find their way into the economic focus from many different political (and I would presume religious) commitments. (No doubt some are serving as chaplains or spiritual advisors, formally or informally, for this movement, and if so, I would be interested to hear from you.)”
Personally, I too would be interested in and like to hear from more religious groups in my city as a show of unity among people of faith, without sectarian squabble. It is this OneAngryCultist’s belief that the more people come together, the greater chance there will be for dialogue and greater understanding to be gleaned from various perspectives. I would like to see a greater religious voice in the public squares hosting these events, as a show of support and representation of the diversity that makes up the Occupy movement.

Pics From #OccupyWallStreet, 10/13/2011

Thanks to Michael Sebastian Lux for the images.  I apologize for the poor picture quality, there was very little light in the park.

 10 protesters circle the Sukkah (the right half of the frame) while 5 huddle inside, waiting for police.
 The bright lights are the police moving in on their bikes, which were used as a barricade.  
100-150 demonstrators surround the barricaded arrests.  I am somewhere in that crowd, pointing my laptop at the arrests and giving running commentary to 2500 people who were watching the Livestream of events.
 The police await arrestees.
 An arrestee being loaded, limp and unresisting, into the police vehicle.
 The Sukkah, after being demolished by Park Rangers, is loaded into an official vehicle to be taken away.
I watch the jubilant celebration that erupts once the police leave.

I completely lost my voice in last night's events and am feeling tired and run-down.  I may stay home tonight but wild horses couldn't keep me away from Saturday's events.

Last Night's Toll: 150 Protesters, 80 Police, 10 Arrested, One Very Jubilant Santa

Last night's events at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle marked an emotional evening of arrests, outrage, and support for the peaceful demonstrators that camped in the park.

I was on-scene with the rest of the #OccupySeattle demonstrators and actually lent my laptop and reporting to the Livestream effort to document the events that occurred.  At the peak of our viewership, 2500 people from around the world were watching our Livestream.

Much like the night before, the Transit Station closed at 10:00 PM and 20 minutes later the police moved in to make arrests.  Their target was a Sukkah (a Jewish religious structure in observance of Sukkot) that had been erected in defiance of direction from City Hall and the SPD.  Circling the tent with linked arms were 10 protesters attempting to prevent police from removing their Sukkah, while inside the structure 5 people were also circled, linking their arms.

The crowd erupted into chants of "This is what oppression looks like!" as the police erected a barricade of bicycles and bodies between the main group of protesters and the Sukkah.  The outer ring of linked protesters were removed and arrested by the SPD while the Park Rangers tore down the Sukkot tent with demonstrators still inside.  

The crowd waited for another half an hour for the police to decide whether they were arresting the interior occupants of the tent, and in the video below (which is somewhat dark), you can see the five protesters remaining in the center of a ring of police officers, linked tight, smiling and laughing.  One was wearing a Santa cap (I believe his name is Santos?  Not sure).  You can hear me in the background narrating for the Livestream.

Thanks to Sven Straatveit for video.  

Finally, the police gave up, at approximately 11:30 PM.  They left without arresting the remaining five, and Protester Santa led the crowd in jubilant shouts of triumph as #OccupySeattle declared victory.

Last night's media effort on the part of the Livestream crew and citizen journalists was hampered by difficulties related to limited power sources (the police turn off the power in the square before beginning their raid) and spotty internet coverage.  There will likely be more actions tonight, and anyone with a Wi-Fi Hotspot or other resources that can help our documentation of events is much appreciated.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Fool Just Doesn't Know When To Stop

Because he hasn't taken enough of a beating from the LGBT community over his anti-gay ridiculousness, failed Senator and Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum suggested Tuesday that gays were at fault for the destruction of the US economy.
In remarks during Tuesday's Bloomberg debate on the economy, Santorum said the economy suffers when the family is in trouble. 
“[T]he biggest problem with poverty in America, and we don't talk about here, because it's an economic discussion – and that is the breakdown of the American family,” said Santorum. 
“You want to look at the poverty rate among families that have two – that have a husband and wife working in them? It's 5 percent today. A family that's headed by one person? It's 30 percent today. We need to do something, we need to talk about economics. The home – the word 'home' in Greek is the basis of the word 'economy.' It is the foundation of our country. We need to have a policy that supports families, that encourages marriage.” 
In the spin room after the debate, Santorum told a small scrum of reporters: “As I said, economy … starts at the home, starts with the family, it is the first economy, and if that economy breaks down the overall economy can't succeed.”
I'm headed down to talk with the 99% at Westlake Park in a few.  I'm sure they'll be VERY interested to hear that my love of manflesh is what is preventing them from getting a job and having a quality, affordable education.  

Also:  Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.

Occupy Wall Street To Go Global

Saturday has events planned that, should they be successful, will catapult the #OccupyWallStreet and similar movements onto the global stage in a worldwide show of solidarity for the working class.

The #GlobalChange event is scheduled to take place in over 650 cities worldwide and has been explicitly endorsed by the organizers of #OccupyWallStreet, signaling a rush of similar events to take place on October 15th.

Its goal is stated to be a clear message to the powerful minority of wealthy people that fouling the environment and bankrupting our nations is no longer a tenable option to the people of the world:
From America to Asia, from Africa to Europe, people are rising up to claim their rights and demand a true democracy. Now it is time for all of us to join in a global non violent protest. 
The ruling powers work for the benefit of just a few, ignoring the will of the vast majority and the human and environmental price we all have to pay. This intolerable situation must end. 
United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future. We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us.
#OccupySeattle is joining the worldwide event with a rally scheduled at 12 PM.  The day's agenda will continue well into the evening, with the occupiers of Westlake defiantly calling for a "Night of 500 Tents," an event clearly planned to assert the demonstrator's right to camp in Seattle's financial district.  Until now, arrests have been infrequent and this appears to have bolstered protesters' confidence in their right to demonstrate at the park, even though the Mayor and the SPD have been adamant that protesters cannot camp overnight in the busiest shopping district in the city.

No word has reportedly come from City Hall commenting on Saturday's planned events.  More updates as they come.  

"I'm Getting Arrested!" App Hits Digital Shelves

Apropos to recent events, one enterprising and social-justice minded app creator has whipped up an app, available to Android phones, that informs a preset list of contacts that you have been slapped in the clink:

Enter I'm Getting Arrested, a creative Android app that, according to developer Quadrant 2, was inspired by a similar incident. It lets you quickly notify your family, friends, and crack legal team (if you have one) of your situation with a single tap of your finger. Just initially enter a custom message and some SMS-ready numbers to contact in the event of your arrest. Then, as you're about to be corralled into the back of a squad car, fire the app up and long-press the bull's-eye for 2 seconds. From there, you can rest assured that your message will be sent to the appropriate contacts.

I think it's funny that police are still using radio-based police scanners and handcuffs, while protesters and civilians are running circles around them with the available cell and computer technologies.  Who's Big Brother now?  I vote for the 99%.  

Openly Gay Soldier Runs For Colorado House

Since Don't Ask, Don't Tell's repeal, thousands have gay soldiers and veterans have come out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.  It was only a matter of time until one ran for office, and one Colorado veteran has announced a bid for a seat in Colorado House District 28.
Carroll served two tours in Afghanistan and one Iraq with Army Special Forces Information Management Division, Special Operations Command and was openly gay despite Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Carroll returned to Colorado after completing 6 years of active duty, joined the Colorado Army National Guard, 19th Special Forces Group, and served as a Veterans Affairs Specialist for Senator Mark Udall, assisting military and veteran constituents with cases pertaining to healthcare, housing, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal.

“This is an historic day,” Carroll explained, “as far as I know I am the first out Veteran and active National Guardsman in the country to officially run for office since the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Brian continued, “I am proud of the work that I did fighting alongside Mark Udall and the thousands of Service Members nationwide to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I will continue to fight for equality, serving my country and our great state of Colorado in the Army National Guard while exercising my right to run for public office. I look forward to a robust and energetic campaign where I will have the opportunity to engage the voters and constituents of House District 28 to hear their concerns and hopes for a better future.”
Good luck to Carroll.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Two Arrests At Westlake, Police Appear To Have Backed Down For Now

The #OccupyWallStreet movement reached a fever pitch tonight in Seattle, as an increased presence at Westlake due to an influx of Seattle Central, University of Washington, and other students swelled the crowd to over 500 during the day's events and speeches.

Over the past week campus organizers affiliated with Occupy Seattle, the Socialist Alternative and other political organizations pooled their efforts to coordinate a city-wide school walkout, with participants not just from colleges but Nathan Hill high school joining in this populist movement attempting represent the interests of the 99% of Americans disenfranchised by economic collapse.

Students cheered and chanted slogans as they marched from Seattle Central down to Westlake Park, an enthusiasm that ran high well into the night as debate erupted whether or not the protest should stay in Westlake.

Mayor McGinn's office, while stating its support for the protest, had previously encouraged demonstrators to decamp from Westlake and move to City Hall.  While some supported this action, the gathering's General Assembly, buoyed by sentiments derived from student enthusiasm earlier in the day, rejected the Mayor's offer and decided to camp in Westlake indefinitely.

At 10:00 PM last night, the Seattle Police Department closed the Westlake Transit Station in order, as reported by citizen journalists on-scene, to prevent protesters from using the buses.  By 11:20 PM, the tunnel was announced reopened by Sound Transit via e-mail.

At approximately 10:20, two confirmed arrests had been reported, one notably being a man who erected a tent in the plaza in celebration of Sukkot.  By 11:00 PM, the police had apparently left the scene entirely once they were certain that people were merely gathered, not camping.

I will continue to have updates on OneAngryQueer and on the New City Collegian, Seattle Central's online student publication.

Why Sleeping At Westlake Is Important

The sleeping situation at Westlake Park for the 99% has come to a pivotal moment in the shape of the Occupy movement in the Emerald City, with roughly eighty percent of the protesters electing to take City Hall up on its offer for relocation to a more legal venue for camping, namely outside City Hall.  As a caveat to that accession to the authorities, Occupy Seattle has demanded that the first floor of the building remain open for restrooms and that a dedicated parking spot be made available to the protesters.

A courageous few have decided to stay in Westlake, and these few are, by all reports, urging others to join them.  The authorities have made it plain that anybody left in the park at 10pm will be arrested, and those choosing to stay will almost certainly spend the night not in the park, but in a jail cell.

Debate has been furious on the topic, with certain writers (Dominic Holden) taking to certain publications (the ever more milquetoast Slog) to make their assertion that people who knowingly flout the law in pursuit of social justice are not attempting to get their demands met, but are instead simply seeking arrest.  If you can stomach it, read his missive in which he calls stalwart activists "loons":
But a few folks have been pushing to stay at Westlake. These were the "fight the power" loons who mucked up the larger group's earlier decision to move. They seem to be saying that the point isn't longevity, maintaining a presence, or keeping this issue in the media—it's just getting arrested. 
If there are arrests tonight, chattering media yakkers will be tempted to say that those people are the Occupy Seattle movement. But by all indications, they're not. They're the slim minority. If a handful of outliers want to get arrested, great. They should just be civil in their civil disobedience. But if that handful of people break off from the group—that is, if over 100 people people decide to move to City Hall and just a few rabble stay behind—let's not tell ourselves that those few people are Occupy Seattle. Those are just the people who want to get arrested.
Mr. Holden and other naysayers would do well to examine the underlying reasons for breaking the law to prove a point.  In this case, City Hall has attempted to divide and undermine the protesters' position by forcing them to do what City Hall wants.  Those who object to this are not crazy, they are stubborn, and it is only through the stubborn repetition and reiteration of their position will they achieve victory.

Those seeking to stay in Westlake are not just loons who are out seeking arrest, they are people who are saying "I have no fear of arrest and you cannot control my message with handcuffs."

So, Dominic Holden of the Slog, please, just can it.  You may not feel that your convictions are worth getting arrested for, but these people do, and leave them to it.  They will be busy making history.  You're just making bad commentary.


Occupy Seattle has rejected City Hall's offer and will be continuing to camp in Westlake Park.  The Tweet and my reaction:

If you live in Seattle and want to show your solidarity, reports of a police sweep of the park at 9:30 PM is lighting up Twitter.  If you choose to not get in the way of police, Occupy Seattle is recommending that you stand on the sidewalk and not in the park.  Take pictures.  The only way to fight police brutality is to document it.

ANOTHER, LESS IMPORTANT UPDATE:  The Slog, yet again, thinks staying in Westlake is silly blah blah blah.

Newt: Arrest Barney Frank! Frank: Oh No You Didn't!

In the face of the popular uprising known as #OccupyWallStreet, various legislators and political leaders are attempting to either cast their lot with the demonstrators or demonize the movement, with Nancy Pelosi and Eric Cantor notably coming to verbal blows over what the Occupation means for the political landscape in America.  Republican candidates for president are no exception, with Newt Gingrich making plain his viewpoint on the matter.

In last night's Republican debate, Newt wasted no time in trashing leftist activists as vandals and then went further, suggesting that Wall Street isn't the problem, but legislators guilty of financial malfeasance.  He lays the blame squarely on Fed Chairman Bernanke, former Senator Chris Dodd, and Congressman Barney Frank.  Then he went on to suggest that they should be jailed for their actions.  Watch:

 Now, you wouldn't expect Barney Frank, a firebrand by any definition of the word, to take this lying down, and he didn't.  He responds today:
Frank said Gingrich’s anger over his and Dodd’s role in the financial meltdown was absurd given that Republicans were in charge of the House and — excerpt for a brief period — Senate, from 1995 to 2007.He noted that he worked on reform legislation on mortgage in his first year as chair in 2007. 
 Barney ain't havin' it.
“It’s interesting, the charge is failure to stop Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay from deregulating,” he said. “This notion we caused the problem that started while they were in charge even by Gingrich’s standards is very odd.” 
Added Frank: “I wish I knew that he was willing to listen to my advice, I would have given him some: I would have told him not to impeach Clinton, I would have told his successors not to go to war with Iraq, and I would have told DeLay not to go on the dance show.”
Frank went on to speculate as to why Gingrich would make such a ridiculous suggestion:
“He’s been having a bad year, you know — this self-styled intellectual leader of the free world struggling to stay ahead of Michele Bachmann in the polls is unsettling him so he talks even sillier than he sometimes does,” he said.
Republican leadership slowly appears to be realizing that their asses are in hot water, and they're quick to make baseless and outrageous allegations regarding blame in the economic collapse of recent years to punt their culpability.  America isn't particularly fooled; the majority of Americans now support tax hikes for the richest 1%, to include 53% of Republican voters.

Gingrich and his cronies have been protecting Wall Street interests for decades, is it any surprise that he desperately wants you to be angry at someone else?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Elizabeth Warren's Bid For The US Senate

It's fake, but still only slightly less awesome than her original video taking the super-rich to task for not contributing to society.

Setbacks For Dan Choi: Judge Denies Use Of Selective Prosecution

A new development has sprung up in the ongoing case related to Dan Choi's arrest in the November 15th, 2010 demonstration at the White House fence, as Judge Lamberth today ruled on the government's attempt to block his legal counsel's proposed defense of selective or vindictive prosecution.  Prosecutor Angela George had previously filed a writ of mandamus barring the defense's use in this case, which Lamberth today acceded to and disallowed the defense in court.

Oh yeah, and I was there too.

From the National Law Journal (via Legal Times):
U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth, in issuing a writ of mandamus (PDF) to the presiding magistrate judge in Choi's case, ruled that such a defense theory should have been brought up pre-trial. Lamberth also clarified for the first time that a district judge can issue such a writ to a magistrate in the same court, in the same way an appellate court can issue a writ to a district court. 
Choi, a former Army lieutenant who was discharged in 2009 after publicly announcing he was gay, was arrested with 12 other demonstrators outside the White House in November 2010. Choi has been a vocal opponent of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military’s former policy barring openly gay servicemembers.
The other protestors resolved their cases through a deferred-sentencing agreement with the government. Choi declined the offer. 
U.S. District Magistrate Judge John Facciola has been presiding over Choi’s trial, which began on Aug. 29. It was halted, however, after prosecutors objected to Choi and his attorneys presenting a defense of selective or vindictive prosecution. 
According to the petition (PDF), Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George learned shortly before the trial that Choi’s legal team planned to present a selective or vindictive prosecution defense. Such a defense theory, according to briefs, would point out disparities in how Choi’s case was handled compared with his previous arrests for protesting, and also how protestors who had gathered outside the White House were treated in the past.
This ruling represents a significant need for restructuring of the defense's strategy and I can't help but think that Judge Lamberth has acted in collusion with the government to hamstring an important court case with far-reaching implications on issues of free speech.  It is seemingly clear to many that he (and the rest of the protesters present by association with him) were victims of selective prosecution, and Lamberth's ruling provides a disturbing precedent for the government to prosecute demonstrators with extreme prejudice.

Occupy Movement Beset With Overnight Intimidation, Arrests

The #Occupy movement saw some action last night, with threats of arrest in Seattle and actual arrests in Boston taking place late last night, leading movement leaders unsure of how to proceed today.

Seattle had ongoing drama last night, with the Mayor urging protesters to decamp from highly visible Westlake Park and move to City Hall.  This has been ongoing news this week, with city government initially urging protesters to move as other groups had legally obtained permits in order to demonstrate at the park.  Thus far, those groups have not objected to the 99%'s occupation, and instead stood with those demonstrators in solidarity.

That didn't stop City Hall and the SPD from issuing threats of arrest, this time in order to get protesters to move in order to clean the park.

Occupy Seattle is, at this time, refusing to move.  I'm looking forward to seeing if the Westlake campers come up with their own cleaning plan (hint to Westlake campers: come up with your own cleaning plan).

Occupy Boston actually saw arrests last night, with 100 protesters being hauled off in handcuffs and the Mayor's office stating that they agreed with the protesters' aims, but that they can't be allowed to "tie up the city."

Wonkette's Garrett Quinn, who was present at the time of the arrests, writes:
As darkness fell and tension rose the protesters made their defensive preparations. All the tents were moved into a tight circle while a ring of people locking arms lined it. Midnight came and went but there was a growing public safety presence in the area. Multiple ambulances were parked along with a triage setup off of Pearl Street, not exactly a sign of good things to come. Police blocked the on and off ramps to 93 near Seaport Ave and there were rumors flying about riot police here and uniformed police there. 
Then at approximately 1:20 am a large column of riot police marched from outside South Station up Atlantic Avenue ….
Video was taken on-scene which shows the chaotic proceedings, to include what appears to be an attack on Veterans For Peace.  The police reportedly tore down and trampled their flags, to include the American flag.

 Things are starting to come to a head for the 99%.  The question is, will these attempts to control the situation on the part of police and city governments succeed, or will the Occupy movement continue to gain momentum?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Eric Cantor Is Real Worried About The 99%

Cantor wants you to believe that it's the protesters that are dividing America.  I say the protesters ARE America and he'd better start jotting down some demands. 

Eric Cantor, last week, made waves attempting to paint the #Occupy Wall Street movement as unruly mobs who are threatening society and condemned the protesters as "pitting Americans against Americans."  Now Nancy Pelosi responded in kind, asking where Cantor was when Americans were spitting on Americans, IE, the Tea Party demonstrations on Capitol Hill where gun-toting Teabaggers spit on Congresspeople coming to work:
“I didn't hear him say anything when the Tea Party was out demonstrating, actually spitting on members of Congress right here in the Capitol. And he and his colleagues were putting signs in the windows encouraging them.”
You go, Nancy!

Here's the thing, though.  I'm kind of tickled that Cantor, the number two House Republican, has started to quake in his boots.  Isn't that the purpose of a popular uprising, even a peaceful one such as the #Occupy movement?

Inspired by the recent protests and some of the costuming used by some of the marchers, I found myself watching V for Vendetta the other day.  It contains one of my favorite lines of any movie ever, one which has repeated often and is, I'm sure, a quote from elsewhere:
People should not be afraid of their governments.  Governments should be afraid of their people.
I think we're beginning to see that.  Human rights abuses at the hands of police in New York aren't stopping people from demonstrating.  Americans are showing that they are tired, they are poor, and they just aren't scared anymore.  They're standing up and saying "something isn't right, and you have to make it right, because there's a hell of a lot more of us than there are of you."

So good job, Eric Cantor, for demonstrating that people who are pissed off are scary.  In order to make them not be so scary, I suggest going down to the General Assembly of #Occupy Wall Street and find out what their demands are, and doing what you can to meet them.  This is the American people, and it's your duty to ensure that the government is meeting their needs.

Because in the end, it's not the banks that are too big to fail, Cantor.  It's us.