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What does Independence Day mean to you? The holiday can be a time to gather with family, friends and community. But it can also be an opportunity to reassess the direction of the country, the past struggles that secured rights and freedom, the challenges to power that rose up in the face of adversity, and the inequalities that still exist.
Elliott Adams and Nate Lewis, two members of Veterans For Peace, were part of a larger group of 15 activists arrested Thursday at the gate to Hancock Airbase in Syracuse, N.Y., where they held large banners and signs protesting drones for three hours before they were arrested.
One banner showed images of children killed by U.S. drones in Afghanistan. Another showed a reaper drone and the grim reaper. Another quoted Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a dream" and Barack Obama "I have a drone."
Photos and videos: http://www.facebook.com/daniel.j.burns.9?sk=wall
For some of the participants, this was not their first time protesting at Hancock. Adams was arrested last year as one of the "Hancock 38," and again this past April in a group of 33. Adams is Past President of Veterans for Peace and current Nonviolent Training Coordinator.
Police in Germany Join the People They're Supposed to Protect and Serve -- Imagine That in a More Fascist State Like Ours
In town court this evening, at the request of the town prosecuting attorney, Judge David Gideon dismissed the charge of “parading without a permit” against the “Hancock 33.” Onondaga County sheriffs arrested the defendants, from Syracuse and across New York State, on Sunday, April 22 while they walked silently, solemnly and single-file along the shoulder of East Molloy Road, the public road leading to the main gate of Hancock Air Base.
Many of the defendants were carrying signs protesting the piloting of weaponized Reaper drones at Hancock. Their intent, foiled by the arrests, was to deliver a citizen’s indictment to the base. They allege that under International Law war crimes are committed on the base, especially the widespread killing of civilians by the Reaper in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The town attorney Donald Doerr, citing the DeWitt Town Code – Chapter 134-1, noted that prosecution was unnecessary since the 33 weren’t a threat to themselves or to the traveling public and that they didn’t interfere with emergency service to the community.
One of the walkers, Ann Tiffany of Syracuse, said, “These were pre-emptive arrests. They violated citizens’ rights to assemble and petition our government under the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.”
“Let Justice Flow Like a River…”
By Brian Terrell
The United States District Courthouse in Jefferson City, Missouri, is a modern and graceful structure sitting on a bluff over the Missouri River. Less than one year old, it is a virtual temple in white marble, granite and glass, its clean lines all the more immaculate in contrast to its nearest neighbor, the crumbling 19th century hulk of the derelict and empty Missouri State Penitentiary, now a tourist attraction and occasional movie set. Set into the floor of the courthouse rotunda, executed in marble and bronze, is the image of the Great Seal of the United States, the eagle with arrows in one talon and olive leaves in the other, circled by a quote from the Bible, from the prophet Amos, “Let Justice Flow Like A River.”
By Dave Lindorff
My wife and I live on a 2.3-acre plot of forested land in a pre-Revolutionary house with a run-down old barn. When we first moved here, there was a rather large set of grassy areas, one in front of the house, another behind the kitchen, a large field in the back, behind the barn, a smaller lawn in front of the barn, and a hidden glen, as well as an island of grass in the middle of a circular gravel driveway.
On Wednesday night in Montreal, we shared a long dinner with student organizers, discussing everything from police tactics in Montreal and New York to the necessity of an anti-racist and anti-colonial framework for our movements. Our hosts noticed that, around the time that the nightly 8:30 p.m. march was supposed to begin, we were getting nervous about missing it. They laughed and said, “Don’t worry, it will go on until 2 a.m.” Or at least they normally do.
By midnight, after peacefully and joyfully marching through the city for hours, the police charged our march of about 4,000 people with batons and pepper spray. In a moment the scene became one of chaos and confusion. Many in the crowd turned around and ran, but there were police behind us, too, coming straight at us with their batons out as people were pepper sprayed and thrown to the ground. Eventually, we found our way out of the melée and asked our Canadian comrade what had happened to provoke the police. “Nothing,” she answered. “They just got tired of us.”
Excerpted from: NATO protests reveal need for nonviolent discipline by Ken Butigan
This was the largest organized medal return since April 1971, when more than 800 veterans deposited their medals on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to dramatically repudiate the Vietnam War. Like that event four decades ago, Sunday’s ceremony was moving and powerful. It crystallized in a clear but visceral way the realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time it spelled out the critical importance of undertaking deliberate and potentially risky resistance for healing and nonviolent change.
This riveting event could well have become the indelible image of this week’s NATO protest. Even more importantly, it might have prompted a renewed national focus on the realities and costs of the last dozen years of war-making.
So far, neither has happened. Although there was some media coverage of the medal return ceremony (including a piece on local television and extensive reporting on Democracy Now!), it was largely overshadowed by the clash between police and protesters that took place almost immediately after the vets exited the stage. The march permit expired and most of the thousands of marchers drifted away, but a couple of hundred people stayed put in the streets. Hundreds of police in riot gear then flooded into the area. As an Associated Press story reports:
Some of the most enduring images of the event were likely to be from the end — when a small group of demonstrators clashed with a line of police who tried to keep them from the lakeside convention center where President Barack Obama was hosting the gathering. The protesters tried to move east toward McCormick Place, with some hurling sticks and bottles at police. Officers responded by swinging their batons. The two sides were locked in a standoff for nearly two hours, with police blocking the protesters’ path and the crowd refusing to leave. Some protesters had blood streaming down their faces.
This description conveys little of the ferocity of the tense confrontation that erupted after the permit expired and a huge police contingent swarmed into the space, intent on pushing people out of the intersection and keeping them from moving toward the convention center. News accounts and video clips from the scene show that the police tactics were hugely confrontational and aggressive; the police attacked and pummeled many protesters. At the same time, video clips show objects being hurled at police officers, including a police barricade, and protesters pushing police. Both sides were confrontational, as this raw video indicates.
My spouse Cynthia and I brought our two-year-old daughter Leah to this march. (The coalition website said that this event would be “family friendly,” and we took it at its word.) We were one block from the stage, but left a couple of minutes before the permit expired because Leah was getting hungry and thirsty; it had been a long, hot day. As we walked north, a long phalanx of police officers in riot gear were trotting single file toward the intersection, where only a few minutes later they would be swinging batons at marchers unwilling to budge. Some would be bloodied; others arrested.
There is no excuse for the actions of the police. At the same time, the lack of nonviolent discipline among the remaining protesters contributed to escalating this confrontation. The media frame on this story shifted almost immediately from “peaceful march” to “street fighting,” and the powerful action of the Iraq and Afghanistan vets was largely lost in the inundating shuffle.
Well before all of this, Suellen Semekoski and I were asked by Iraq Veterans Against the War to co-facilitate the nonviolent action training that would support the vets in preparing for their medal return. We were happy to do so, and on Saturday afternoon and evening we plunged into this process with them.
In our six hours together, we sensed the depth of hope that this public action was generating for them as individuals and as a community. Throughout the day the participants repeatedly stressed that nonviolence was going to be crucial to this event and that they were committed to maintaining this spirit. In addition, we were joined by three members of Afghans for Peace who were collaborating with IVAW on this event. They were also resolute about the importance of nonviolent discipline. The success of this action, they said, depended on it.
These survivors of war — U.S. veterans and Afghan peaceworkers — were creating a rare public space where they sought to call on the nation and the world to reflect deeply on the reality of this past, present and future destructiveness. They were very clear that nonviolent strategies, tactics and atmosphere would be vital to achieving this.
Unfortunately, there was little infrastructure in place to support that possibility. While many of us led numerous nonviolence trainings in the Chicago area in the run-up to the NATO mobilization, there were no agreed-upon nonviolence guidelines to serve as a foundation for nonviolent action. (The “Chicago Principles” did not serve this function.) Nor were there adequate numbers of peacekeepers prepared to intervene in order to maintain this nonviolent atmosphere. (In January, some of us had offered to train 500 peacekeepers, who would be equipped to respond to outbreaks of violence. This was based on the experience some of us had had in Seattle in 1999 at the World Trade Organization meeting, where 200 peacekeepers had been an inadequate number. We were told that the coalition was already training peace guides.)
There are many reasons such infrastructure was not in place, including a sensitivity to the now classic debate between nonviolence and diversity of tactics. Nevertheless, I suspect that we are at a crossroads as a movement for change and, at some point, we must make a difficult but important choice.
From my perspective, people power depends for its lifeblood on nonviolent discipline.
Nonviolent action is more effective than violent action — including the kind of heated scrum that took place in Chicago this past Sunday — because it keeps us on message (focused on the issue, rather than the tired tit-for-tat narrative), it is more likely to alert, educate and mobilize the population (the lynchpin of successful movements), and it communicates a vision of the kind of society we want (veterans creating the space of transformative healing and social change rather than the push-comes-to-shove dynamics of retaliatory violence).
By Dave Lindorff
It seems pretty clear by now that the three young “domestic terrorists” arrested by Chicago police in a warrantless house invasion reminiscent of what US military forces are doing on a daily basis in Afghanistan, are the victims of planted evidence -- part of the police-state-style crackdown on anti-NATO protesters in Chicago last week.
Camp Douglas, WI – Thirteen Wisconsin citizen activists held their monthly vigil outside the gates of Camp Williams/Volk Field on Tuesday May 22, 2012, calling for an end to drone warfare. People attended from Madison, Monona, Portage, Montello, Mount Horeb, and Wisconsin Rapids. Camp Williams/Volk Field is a National Guard facility where testing and training for the RQ-7 Shadow 200 drones is being conducted. The monthly vigils are organized by the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, a group that practices nonviolent civil resistance against the illegal and immoral policies of our government. They join an increasing number of activists all over the country who are speaking out against drone warfare.
By Phil Wilayto
On Tuesday, May 22, a group of prisoners held in Virginia's notorious Red Onion Super-Max prison began a hunger strike to demand that the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) follow its own regulations in regard to meals, sanitation, isolation, safety and procedures for processing prisoner grievances. To support these courageous prisoners, a press conference was held today at 11 a.m. outside DOC headquarters in Richmond, sponsored by the Richmond chapter of SPARC (Supporting Prisoners and Advocating for Radical Change). (See: http://vimeo.com/42634852)
New York, May 15, 2012 -- Stop Mass Incarceration Network --Occupy Wall Street/Stop Stop and Frisk activist Christina Gonzalez was arrested in court and sentenced to ten days in jail on Friday by Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge John H. Wilson, who charged her with "contempt of court."
The confrontation with Judge Wilson began when Ms. Gonzalez, charged with obstruction of government administration and disorderly conduct for her participation in a Brownsville Stop Stop-and-Frisk action last November, stood in the aisle to ask court clerks if a fax memo had been received indicating her attorney’s inability to be in court that day. The judge yelled at her to sit down, and then asked the court officers to remove her to the area outside the courtroom.
When her case was called about an hour later, Ms. Gonzalez attempted to reenter the courtroom, not knowing that the Judge had not intended for her to return at all. Without warning, the Judge immediately ordered for her to be handcuffed. She became indignant at what appeared to be an arbitrary abuse of power in the courtroom and asked another defendant to call her employer since she "was being arrested by a white racist pig." With court still in session, Judge Wilson demanded that she apologize. Ms. Gonzalez refused, stating that in good conscience she could not. The Judge abruptly found her in contempt, and immediately had her taken into custody. A bystander in the courthouse who filmed the incident was also arrested. Ms. Gonzalez is currently serving her sentence on Rikers Island.
They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks - Isiah 2:4
If Monday, May 14 - the first day of anti-G8/NATO summit protests in Chicago - is any indication, a direct action street protest model of confrontational nonviolence that enhances both local campaigns and national social movements is emerging that could predict how the rest of the week will play out on the ground in the Windy City.
Imagine if, by next weekend, a hundred or more large affinity groups of 50-75 people each all started organizing their own pop-up demonstrations at big banks, payday loan shops, and the offices of elected officials. The city of Chicago could potentially be overwhelmed, while a disciplined commitment to confrontational nonviolence could increase the legitimacy of the protests and their message.
Monday morning, about 100 members of the national Catholic Worker movement occupied the Prudential building that houses President Obama's national campaign headquarters to protest the corporate G8/NATO agenda (for MSNBC, Chicago Tribune, and Reuters coverage, go here , here, and here. Eight people were arrested.
The demonstration was marked by prayer, song, and dance, more of a block party than a raucous rally (the only real chant heard besides antiwar blues and gospel tunes was "potato! tomato! no more NATO!"), but the christian anarchists still caught building security by surprise when they suddenly stopped their program outside the public sidewalk and quickly, efficiently, with discipline, rushed the front doors of the building, pushed past security, and resumed their "Ain't Gonna Study War No More" dance party - this time inside the lobby and second floors of the building before the private guards could react.
Demonstrators would have actually penetrated every floor of the skyscraper but the guards were forced to shut down the elevators, disrupting business inside the building for hundreds of people trying to get to work.
As bold as that action was, however, when dozens of Chicago police officers began mobilizing inside and outside, protesters maintained their nonviolent discipline, stalled for time by "mic checking" a prepared statement, and, eventually, dispersed in an orderly manner while the eight-member arrest team stayed and got busted for criminal trespass.
How the rest of the week of action plays out in large part depends on if street protests continue to grow and build momentum in advance of the nurses march on Friday, the coalition action on Sunday, and the Boeing shutdown on Monday.
But Monday showed that the G8/NATO summit protest mobilizations this week may also add power to local campaigns. Monday afternoon, more than 50 teachers and students at a southside high school were joined by more than 50 people from Occupy Chicago, the Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education, and assorted socialist groups like the Workers World Party and the International Socialist Organization.
Local immigration, climate, and housing organizations also have demonstrations planned this week, and spontaneous, or unannounced, anti-capitalist marches can take everyone by surprise.
White House & Dems Back Banks over Protests: Newly Discovered Homeland Security Files Show Feds Central to Occupy Crackdown
By Dave Lindorff
A new trove of heavily redacted documents provided by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild makes it increasingly evident that there was and is a nationally coordinated campaign to disrupt and crush the Occupy Movement.
By Joy First
On Tuesday May 8, nine activists, as part of an action organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), occupied the office of the president of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) for eight hours, calling on the university to end the drone research that is being conducted at the Applied Physics Lab (APL).
Drones are being used with more frequency than ever before. Obama has greatly increased the number of drone strikes. It is difficult to know how many innocent people are being killed by drone strikes because our government tries to keep this information undercover There are credible reports of 175 children being killed in Pakistan over a period of time, however the number of actual deaths of innocent civilians is expected to be much higher. I think about how people in this country would react if 175 of our children were murdered by a foreign country. How can we sleep at night with these atrocities going on in our name?
I regret that I have but one skull to get cracked for my country
Listen to this four-minute clip from the Thom Hartmann Show:
Thom tells his caller to read War Is A Lie:
But Thom uses brilliant arguments and facts that are not even in the book, which is really the best result an author can hope for: inspiring further thought.
There's also a video of Thom Hartmann and David Swanson discussing this topic at http://warisalie.org
The Thom Hartmann Show is at http://thomhartmann.com
Wednesday 8am or before till 11am LiveStream http://www.bankvsamerica.org
UPDATE: from Ellen Barfield:
In Solidarity with Occupy Wall St. at Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The newly formed Veterans Peace Team went into action with Occupy Wall St. on May Day. Eight members were arrested at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New York City's Wall St. district, as they stood their ground in the face of a mass police invasion of the park.
By Charles M. Young
I got home at 10:00 pm on the nose, and the first thing I did was take off my shoes after 14 hours of May Day marching with 30-40,000 other conscientious objectors to capitalism. My feet hurt, okay? My second priority was turning on the local news, which happened to be Fox Five New York. According to my watch, it was 10:02. I didn’t see the first few seconds of the story, but it must have have been the lead. There was Ray Kelly, the chief of police, talking about...not Occupy Wall Street?...no, it was a video of him on some talk show, warning of the apparently imminent threat of Arab terrorists “implanting” bombs in their bodies and blowing up airplanes and buildings.
By Joy First
Seven citizen activists were arrested for calling for an end to drone warfare at Camp Williams/Volk Field in Wisconsin on Tuesday April 24. They are joining together with activists in New York, Nevada, California, Missouri, Illinois, and Maryland who are risking arrest in actions as they raise their voices to draw attention to the travesty and illegality of drone warfare.
Camp Williams/Volk Field, a training site for drone pilots, is located in rural central Wisconsin. As families in Wisconsin are struggling to make ends meet, there are plans underway to build an $8 million drone training facility at the base, using both state and federal money.