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Revealed: Gov’t Used Fusion Centers to Spy on Occupy May 23, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Constitution, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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Roger’s note: The Patriot Act and the establishment of the Orwellian named Homeland Security have taken the United States one giant step forward towards a police state.  Criminalizing dissent is nothing new, goes back to WWI and further; but the scope of it today is truly frightening.

New report exposes US government’s treatment of social movements as ‘criminal or terrorist enterprises’

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

(Photo: David Shankbone / Wikimedia Creative Commons)

U.S. government Fusion Centers, which operate as ill-defined “counter-terrorism” intelligence gathering and sharing centers, conducted spy operations against Occupy protesters involving police, the Pentagon, the FBI, military employees, and business people.

So finds a report released Friday by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund based on 4,000 public documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The release was accompanied by an in-depth article by the New York Times.

“The U.S. Fusion Centers are using their vast counter-terrorism resources to target the domestic social justice movement as a criminal or terrorist enterprise,” PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard stated. “This is an abuse of power and corruption of democracy.”

“Although the Fusion Centers’ existence is justified by the DHS as a necessary component in stopping terrorism and violent crime, the documents show that the Fusion Centers in the Fall of 2011 and Winter of 2012 were devoted to unconstrained targeting of a grassroots movement for social change that was acknowledged to be peaceful in character,” the report states.

Police chiefs of major metropolitan areas used the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center to produce regular reports on the occupy movement.

Furthermore, “The Boston regional intelligence center monitored and cataloged Occupy-associated activities from student organizing to political lectures,” according to the report. That center also produced twice-daily updates on Occupy activities.

The New York Times notes:

The Boston Regional Intelligence Center, one of the most active centers, issued scores of bulletins listing hundreds of events including a protest of “irresponsible lending practices,” a food drive and multiple “yoga, faith & spirituality” classes.

Nationwide surveillance has included extensive monitoring of social media, in addition to a variety of spying methods used across Fusion Centers.

“[T]he Fusion Centers are a threat to civil liberties, democratic dissent and the social and political fabric of this country,” said Carl Messineo, PCJF Legal Director. “The time has long passed for the centers to be defunded.”

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Outrage and Protests Follow Guilty Verdict for OWS Activist May 6, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Occupy Wall Street Movement, Police.
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Roger’s note: There is nothing new about police brutality in democratic America, but historically we always see an escalation when protests against the injustices of our capitalist utopia themselves escalate (during the Great Depression, for example).  What is frightening is the level of militarization of urban police forces and governments at all levels preparing for mass incarceration as protests rise in proportion to the economic, military and environmental crises at the same time that what was left of constitutional guarantees such as habeas corpus have disappeared.

‘This has become something bigger than Cecily McMillan. It’s about protests and dissent.’

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

People across the United States responded with outrage after Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan was found guilty Monday afternoon of “assaulting” the very police officer who she says sexually assaulted her.

Cecily McMillan (Photo: Democracy Now! Screen Shot)

Over 100 people rallied in New York City’s Zuccotti Park Monday night and, according to advocates, messages of support immediately began pouring in from across the country.

“I know Cecily would be in gratitude for how much people care,” Stan Williams of support group Justice for Cecily told Common Dreams. “But this has become something bigger than Cecily. It’s about protests and dissent.”

McMillan’s supporters on Monday filled a New York court room with cries of “Shame!” when the 25-year-old organizer was handed a guilty verdict and then promptly handcuffed and taken away to Rikers Island, where she is currently detained pending sentencing. In a Democracy Now! interview Tuesday morning, Martin Stolar, criminal defense attorney affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild and co-counsel for McMillan’s case, derided her felony verdict—that could land her a sentence of two to seven years with a chance of parole—as “ridiculous” and vowed an appeal.

McMillan was one of approximately 70 people detained late the night of March 17/early morning March 18, 2012, when police violently cleared a memorial event marking the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. McMillan, who had stopped by the park to meet a friend, says she was sexually assaulted by police officer Grantley Bovell while she attempted to leave the area. “Seized from behind, she was forcefully grabbed by the breast and ripped backwards,” according to a statement by Justice For Cecily. “Cecily startled and her arm involuntarily flew backward into the temple of her attacker, who promptly flung her to the ground, where others repeatedly kicked and beat her into a string of seizures.” Following the attack, McMillan underwent treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Yet, despite numerous allegations that Bovell has inflicted excessive force while on duty, as well as his previous involvement in a ticket-fixing scandal, it was McMillan who was put on trial for felony charges of assaulting Bovell.

According to McMillan’s supporters, what followed was a trial riddled with injustice, in which Judge Ronald Zweibel showed repeated favoritism towards the prosecution and imposed a gag order on McMillan’s lawyer.

Facing photographic and video evidence of McMillan’s bruises following the attack, including a hand-shaped bruise on her chest, as well as the testimony of dozens of witnesses, the prosecution went so far as to claim that McMillan had imposed the injuries on herself.

“In the trial, physical evidence was considered suspect but the testimony of the police was cast as infallible,” writes journalist Molly Knefel, who was present the night of McMillan’s arrest. “And not only was Officer Bovell’s documented history of violent behavior deemed irrelevant by the judge, but so were the allegations of his violent behavior that very same night.”

“To the jury, the hundreds of police batons, helmets, fists, and flex cuffs out on March 17 were invisible – rendering McMillan’s elbow the most powerful weapon on display in Zuccotti that night, at least insofar as the jury was concerned,” Knefel added.

Yet, according to Kristen Iversen writing for Brooklyn Magazine, McMillan’s verdict is not just the outcome of one unfair trial, but rather exposes “systemic” failures of justice: “The failure is that McMillan was given the exact kind of trial that our system is set up for, one that supports the police no matter how wrong their behavior, one that dismisses victims of sexual assault in astonishing numbers.”

Lucy Parks, field coordinator for Justice For Cecily, said McMillan’s supporters are busy figuring out next steps, with plans to organize petitions, call-in days, and other mobilizations in the works.

“We’re also trying to bring together communities of U.S. activists and anyone who feels strongly about this trial to try and heal and move forward and broaden the conversation about the justice system to talk about more people than just Cecily,” Parks added.

Reactions and reports are being posted on Twitter:

Not Guilty By Virtue of Videotape, Which, Unlike the Police, Doesn’t Lie March 1, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Occupy Wall Street Movement, Police.
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03.01.13 – 12:04 PM, http://www.commondreams.org

by Abby Zimet

In the first jury trial stemming from Occupy Wall Street protests, activist and community organizer Michael Premo was found innocent of all charges after his lawyers presented video evidence that directly contradicted the story told by police and prosecutors. Premo was facing felony charges of assaulting an officer during a demonstration in Lower Manhattan that also drew clergymen. Police said he tackled officers as they were kettling protesters, but unearthed video from Democracy Now showed that in fact police threw him down to the ground. Lesson of the day: Keep filming.

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gardenernorcal19 minutes ago

Keep those cameras running folks. It’s your only protection. The fact that the police lied about what they filmed is just incredible. Thanks to a Democracy Now camera man this guy is free.

In the police version of events, Premo charged the police like a linebacker, taking out a lieutenant and resisting arrest so forcefully that he fractured an officer’s bone.

Now the only question is how did the cop get his bone broken. It clearly wasn’t by this protester.

I suggest if you attend a protest carry a charged camera, know how to turn it on fairly easily, carry a bandana and some form of glasses for pepper spray and ear plugs. And buddy up. Never be out there on your own

Revealed: How the FBI Coordinated the Crackdown on Occupy December 30, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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Roger’s note: The Empire Strikes Back.  Those of us who oppose the imperial capitalism-on-steroids policies of the United States government are vulnerable to being labeled as terrorists.  And targeted for assassination!  As long as you behave yourself, as most Americans do, you are safe from government oppression (of course, you may lose your home or your job and go into bankruptcy over health care costs, but that is a horse of a different color).  A police state does not attack all its citizens, only those who are uppity. 
Published on Sunday, December 30, 2012 by The Guardian

New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent

  by  Naomi Wolf

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

occupy-oakland-clashes-007_0

Police used teargas to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”:

“FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.”

Verheyden-Hilliard points out the close partnering of banks, the New York Stock Exchange and at least one local Federal Reserve with the FBI and DHS, and calls it “police-statism”:

“This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement … These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

The documents show stunning range: in Denver, Colorado, that branch of the FBI and a “Bank Fraud Working Group” met in November 2011 – during the Occupy protests – to surveil the group. The Federal Reserve of Richmond, Virginia had its own private security surveilling Occupy Tampa and Tampa Veterans for Peace and passing privately-collected information on activists back to the Richmond FBI, which, in turn, categorized OWS activities under its “domestic terrorism” unit. The Anchorage, Alaska “terrorism task force” was watching Occupy Anchorage. The Jackson, Michigan “joint terrorism task force” was issuing a “counterterrorism preparedness alert” about the ill-organized grandmas and college sophomores in Occupy there. Also in Jackson, Michigan, the FBI and the “Bank Security Group” – multiple private banks – met to discuss the reaction to “National Bad Bank Sit-in Day” (the response was violent, as you may recall). The Virginia FBI sent that state’s Occupy members’ details to the Virginia terrorism fusion center. The Memphis FBI tracked OWS under its “joint terrorism task force” aegis, too. And so on, for over 100 pages.

Jason Leopold, at Truthout.org, who has sought similar documents for more than a year, reported that the FBI falsely asserted in response to his own FOIA requests that no documents related to its infiltration of Occupy Wall Street existed at all. But the release may be strategic: if you are an Occupy activist and see how your information is being sent to terrorism task forces and fusion centers, not to mention the “longterm plans” of some redacted group to shoot you, this document is quite the deterrent.

There is a new twist: the merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI means that any of us can become WikiLeaks, a point that Julian Assange was trying to make in explaining the argument behind his recent book. The fusion of the tracking of money and the suppression of dissent means that a huge area of vulnerability in civil society – people’s income streams and financial records – is now firmly in the hands of the banks, which are, in turn, now in the business of tracking your dissent.

Remember that only 10% of the money donated to WikiLeaks can be processed – because of financial sector and DHS-sponsored targeting of PayPal data. With this merger, that crushing of one’s personal or business financial freedom can happen to any of us. How messy, criminalizing and prosecuting dissent. How simple, by contrast, just to label an entity a “terrorist organization” and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.

Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.

© 2012 The Guardian

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Naomi Wolf

Author, social critic, and political activist Naomi Wolf is the author of The New York Times bestseller “The End of America” (Chelsea Green) and, more recently, Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. Wolf’s landmark international bestseller, The Beauty Myth, challenged the cosmetics industry and the marketing of unrealistic standards of beauty, launching a new wave of feminism in the early 1990s.

FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring December 25, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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See the released documents here

  • December 22, 2012

FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.

The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.

“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).  “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.  These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

“The documents are heavily redacted, and it is clear from the production that the FBI is withholding far more material. We are filing an appeal challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of the records of this operation,” stated Heather Benno, staff attorney with the PCJF.

  • As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.

 

  • The FBI’s Indianapolis division released a “Potential Criminal Activity Alert” on September 15, 2011, even though they acknowledged that no specific protest date had been scheduled in Indiana. The documents show that the Indianapolis division of the FBI was coordinating with “All Indiana State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies,” as well as the “Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center,” the FBI “Directorate of Intelligence” and other national FBI coordinating mechanisms.

 

  • Documents show the spying abuses of the FBI’s “Campus Liaison Program” in which the FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to “sixteen (16) different campus police officials,” and then “six (6) additional campus police officials.”  Campus officials were in contact with the FBI for information on OWS.  A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.

 

  • Documents released show coordination between the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and corporate America. They include a report by the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), described by the federal government as “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector,” discussing the OWS protests at the West Coast ports to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report shows the nature of secret collaboration between American intelligence agencies and their corporate clients – the document contains a “handling notice” that the information is “meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…” (The DSAC document was also obtained by the Northern California ACLU which has sought local FBI surveillance files.)

 

  • Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) reported to the DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor for the port actions. The NCIS  describes itself as “an elite worldwide federal law enforcement organization” whose “mission is to investigate and defeat criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats to the United States Navy and Marine Corps ashore, afloat and in cyberspace.” The NCIS also assists with the transport of Guantanamo prisoners.

 

  • DSAC issued several tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest” which it defines as ranging from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” It advised to dress conservatively, avoid political discussions and “avoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity or be met with resistance by security forces. Bystanders may be arrested or harmed by security forces using water cannons, tear gas or other measures to control crowds.”

 

  • The FBI in Anchorage reported from a Joint Terrorism Task Force meeting of November 3, 2011, about Occupy activities in Anchorage.
  • A port Facility Security Officer in Anchorage coordinated with the FBI to attend the meeting of protestors and gain intelligence on the planning of the port actions. He was advised to request the presence of an Anchorage Police Department official to also attend the event. The FBI Special Agent told the undercover private operative that he would notify the Joint Terrorism Task Force and that he would provide a point of contact at the Anchorage Police Department.

 

  • The Jacksonville, Florida FBI prepared a Domestic Terrorism briefing on the “spread of the Occupy Wall Street Movement” in October 2011. The intelligence meeting discussed Occupy venues identifying “Daytona, Gainesville and Ocala Resident Agency territories as portions …where some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.”

 

  • The Tampa, Florida FBI “Domestic Terrorism” liaison participated with the Tampa Police Department’s monthly intelligence meeting in which Occupy Lakeland, Occupy Polk County and Occupy St. Petersburg were discussed. They reported on an individual “leading the Occupy Tampa” and plans for travel to Gainesville for a protest planning meeting, as well as on Veterans for Peace plans to protest at MacDill Air Force Base.

 

  • The Federal Reserve in Richmond appears to have had personnel surveilling OWS planning. They were in contact with the FBI in Richmond to “pass on information regarding the movement known as occupy Wall Street.” There were repeated communications “to pass on updates of the events and decisions made during the small rallies and the following information received from the Capital Police Intelligence Unit through JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force).”

 

  • The Virginia FBI was collecting intelligence on the OWS movement for dissemination to the Virginia Fusion Center and other Intelligence divisions.

 

  • The Milwaukee division of the FBI was coordinating with the Ashwaubenon Public Safety division in Green Bay Wisconsin regarding Occupy.

 

  • The Memphis FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force met to discuss “domestic terrorism” threats, including, “Aryan Nations, Occupy Wall Street, and Anonymous.”

 

  • The Birmingham, AL division of the FBI sent communications to HAZMAT teams regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement.

 

  • The Jackson, Mississippi division of the FBI attended a meeting of the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for “National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day” on December 7, 2011.

 

  • The Denver, CO FBI and its Bank Fraud Working Group met and were briefed on Occupy Wall Street in November 2011. Members of the Working Group include private financial institutions and local area law enforcement.

 

  • Jackson, MS Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a “Counterterrorism Preparedness” alert. This heavily redacted document includes the description, “To document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.”

You can read the FBI – OWS documents below where we have uploaded them in searchable format for public viewing.

The PCJF filed Freedom of Information Act demands with multiple federal law enforcement agencies in the fall of 2011 as the Occupy crackdown began. The FBI initially attempted to limit its search to only one limited record keeping index. Recognizing this as a common tactic used by the FBI to conduct an inadequate search, the PCJF pressed forward demanding searches be performed of the FBI headquarters as well as FBI field offices nationwide.

The PCJF will continue to push for public disclosure of the government’s spy files and will release documents as they are obtained.

Click here to see the FBI documents obtained by the PCJF.

US Congress passes authoritarian anti-protest law March 3, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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By Tom Carter 3 March 2012, World Socialist Web Site, www.wsws,org

A bill passed Monday in the US House of Representatives and Thursday in the Senate would make it a felony—a serious criminal offense punishable by lengthy terms of incarceration—to participate in many forms of protest associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests of last year. Several commentators have dubbed it the “anti-Occupy” law, but its implications are far broader.

The bill—H.R. 347, or the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011”—was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, while only Ron Paul and two other Republicans voted against the bill in the House of Representatives (the bill passed 388-3). Not a single Democratic politician voted against the bill.

The virtually unanimous passage of H.R. 347 starkly exposes the fact that, despite all the posturing, the Democrats and the Republicans stand shoulder to shoulder with the corporate and financial oligarchy, which regarded last year’s popular protests against social inequality with a mixture of fear and hostility.

Among the central provisions of H.R. 347 is a section that would make it a criminal offense to “enter or remain in” an area designated as “restricted.”

The bill defines the areas that qualify as “restricted” in extremely vague and broad terms. Restricted areas can include “a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting” and “a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.”

The Secret Service provides bodyguards not just to the US president, but to a broad layer of top figures in the political establishment, including presidential candidates and foreign dignitaries.

Even more sinister is the provision regarding events of “national significance.” What circumstances constitute events of “national significance” is left to the unbridled discretion of the Department of Homeland Security. The occasion for virtually any large protest could be designated by the Department of Homeland Security as an event of “national significance,” making any demonstrations in the vicinity illegal.

For certain, included among such events would be the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, which have been classified as National Special Security Events (NSSE), a category created under the Clinton administration. These conventions have been the occasion for protests that have been subjected to ever increasing police restrictions and repression. Under H.R. 347, future protests at such events could be outright criminalized.

The standard punishment under the new law is a fine and up to one year in prison. If a weapon or serious physical injury is involved, the penalty may be increased to up to ten years.

Also criminalized by the bill is conduct “that impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions” and “obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds.” These provisions, even more so than the provisions creating “restricted areas,” threaten to criminalize a broad range of protest activities that were previously perfectly legal.

In order to appreciate the unprecedented sweep of H.R. 347, it is necessary to consider a few examples:

 A wide area around the next G-20 meeting or other global summit could be designated “restricted” by the Secret Service, such that any person who “enters” a that area can be subject to a fine and a year in jail under Section 1752(a)(1) (making it a felony to enter any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so).

 Senator Rick Santorum, the ultra-right Republican presidential candidate, enjoys the protection of the Secret Service. Accordingly, a person who shouts “boo!” during a speech by Santorum could be subject to arrest and a year of imprisonment under Section 1752(a)(2) (making it a felony to “engag[e] in disorderly or disruptive conduct in” a restricted area).

 Striking government workers who form a picket line near any event of “national significance” can be locked up under Section 1752(a)(3) (making it a crime to imped[e] ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds).

Under the ancien regime in France, steps were taken to ensure that the “unwashed masses” were kept out of sight whenever a carriage containing an important aristocrat or church official was passing through. Similarly, H.R. 347 creates for the US president and other top officials a protest-free bubble or “no-free-speech zone” that follows them wherever they go, making sure the discontented multitude is kept out of the picture.

The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act is plainly in violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which was passed in 1791 in the aftermath of the American Revolution. The First Amendment provides: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . . or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (The arrogance of the Democratic and Republican politicians is staggering—what part of “Congress shall make no law” do they not understand?)

H.R. 347 comes on the heels of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed by President Obama into law on December 31, 2011. The NDAA gives the president the power to order the assassination and incarceration of any person—including a US citizen—anywhere in the world without charge or trial.

The passage of H.R. 347 has been the subject of a virtual blackout in the media. In light of the unprecedented nature of the bill, which would effectively overturn the First Amendment, this blackout cannot be innocent. The media silence therefore represents a conscious effort to keep the American population in the dark as to the government’s efforts to eviscerate the Bill of Rights.

The bill would vastly expand a previous law making it misdemeanor to trespass on the grounds of the White House. An earlier version of the bill would have made it a felony just to “conspire” to engage in any of the conduct described above. The bill now awaits President Obama’s signature before it becomes the law of the land.

What lies behind the unprecedented attack underway on the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is a growing understanding in the ruling class that the protests that took place around the world against social inequality in 2011 will inevitably re-emerge in more and more powerful forms in 2012 and beyond, as austerity measures and the crashing economy make the conditions of life more and more impossible for the working class. The virtually unanimous support in Congress H.R. 347, among Democrats as well as Republicans, reflects overriding sentiment within the ruling establishment for scrapping all existing democratic rights in favor of dictatorial methods of rule.

This sentiment was most directly expressed this week by Wyoming Republican legislator David Miller, who recently introduced a bill into the state legislature that would give the state the power, in an “emergency,” to create its own standing army through conscription, print its own currency, acquire military aircraft, suspend the legislature, and establish martial law. “Things happen quickly sometimes—look at Libya, look at Egypt, look at those situations,” Miller told the Star-Tribune in Casper, Wyoming. Repeating arguments employed by every military dictatorship over the past century, Miller declared, “We wouldn’t have time to meet as a Legislature or even in special session to do anything to respond.” Miller’s so-called “doomsday law” was defeated in the Wyoming legislature Tuesday by the narrow margin of 30-27.

Grandparents, Unite! Your Grandchildren’s Future is at Stake January 13, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 by CommonDreams.org

“What are these grandmas and grandpas demanding? “Equitable taxation of the 1%; regulation of the banks; arrests of the perpetrators of the economic collapse;  depersonalization of the corporations;  an end to US wars. The list of interconnected problems is overwhelming.”
  by Sally and Bill McCoy

“Your grandchildren’s future is at stake. Your courageous voices, actions, and sanity are needed to defend their dreams and their right to a full and happy life. Join us and help draw attention to the institutions and injustices which are eroding our neighborhoods, our cities, our nation, the international community, and the ecology of our world. The time to speak out and act is now! Our visibility is essential to helping raise the hopes and consciousness of our community. We urge all grandparents to stand up for the future generations and for those who are presently vulnerable to the collapse of our democracy and our rights.

 

This call to action was sent out last Summer in Rochester, NY by the ‘Band of Rebels’, a small group of grandparents who could no longer sit in their rocking chairs watching the deterioration of the underpinnings of civilization. Since late July the ‘rebels’ have picketed banks every week and joined the eruption of protests initiated by various local groups, including Occupy Rochester.

Every week, more and more grandparents have joined the ‘Rebels’. Local union members have joined the picket lines. The Occupy Rochester youth have also participated as well as members of other organizations. We are now urging grandchildren as well as grandparents to join us (since everyone is a grandchild). Other communities in the Rochester area have contacted us for help forming their own bands of rebels. A ‘band’ in Wayne County to the east of us is picketing weekly in Newark.

The national media has attempted to paint a negative and false image of the Occupy Wall Street movement which has swept across the country by suggesting that it is made up of scruffy, unemployed youth who lack direction and leadership. How about a companion movement of scruffy, unemployed senior citizens who can be just as determined and whose objectives are identical to those brave and creative younger people?

Our grandchildren are facing a future which will be lived in the rubble of our broken democracy and our misguided empire. We advocate: equitable taxation of the 1%; regulation of the banks; arrests of the perpetrators of the economic collapse; depersonalization of the corporations; an end to U.S. wars. The list of interconnected problems is overwhelming. Everyone needs universal health care, employment, affordable education, affordable housing, freedom from discrimination and democracy. The list of roadblocks to the obvious solutions is short. Greed, misinformation, and fear manufactured by the corporate powers.

In addition, our grandchildren are facing the disastrous effects of human interference with the earth’s natural balance of the biosphere. Despite the fact that since the early 1700s scientists have been warning that humans are causing permanent damage to the environment which effects climate and all forms of life, there is still widespread denial that life on our planet is in serious trouble.

The concerns that have triggered the current world protests affect people of all generations and it is clear that those between the young and the old are also beginning to head for the streets. The outcry is being heard all over the world. The protests in Madison, Wisconsin this past year motivated our local response and the Occupy Wall Street movement cemented our resolve to make ourselves heard. We encourage grandparents and grandchildren across the country to join in the fight to rescue the future.

There are 39 million Americans over the age of 65, 13% of the population. We urge grandparents everywhere to participate in the protection of all grandchildren. Hang on to your torches. Light a few more torches. Take back our democracy, our communities and our country, and our planet.

Sally (74) and Bill (72) McCoy are members of ‘Band of Rebels‘ in Rochester, New York.  A retired teacher and engineer, they have  8 children, 20 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.  They have been activists since the civil rights movement.

To the Winter Patriot November 23, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Occupy Wall Street Movement, War.
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11.23.11 – 9:03 A

by Abby Zimet, www.commondreams.org, November 23, 2011

An impassioned open letter from Army vet and PhD economics student Mitch Green to his “brothers and sisters in the armed forces,” asking, What will you do when your bosses call you to put down the Occupy movement? Powerful.

“Sadly, society has placed a twin tax upon you by asking that you sacrifice both your body and your morality…Now, more than ever we need your sacrifice. But, I’m asking you to soldier in a different way. If called upon to deny the people their first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievance, disregard the order.  Abstain from service.  Or if you are so bold, join us.”
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Posted by Erroll
Nov 23 2011 – 9:37am

During the Vietnam conflict many African-American soldiers refused to be sent from Vietnam to the United States where they would have been part of a force that would have had to crack down on those who were taking part in demonstrations outside the Democratic presidential convention in Chicago in 1968. Many of them, just like those who participated in the GI movement back then, went to jail because of the principled stand that they had taken. So the members of the armed forces have to ask themselves if they feel that they belong, as Mitch Green inquires, to the world of humanity or to the world of the state.

Posted by jessia
Nov 23 2011 – 10:13am

The “general” mentality of those in these chosen types of work, fits well with what they are told to do.  I suspect the percentage that will think for themselves and then have the courage to act on it ,will be few- unfortunately.

Posted by RV
Nov 23 2011 – 10:16am

Great open letter. Exceptionally well written. Whether the very important distinction between sworn allegience to the constitution and allegience to the command structure will be well and fully appreciated by most ordinary “grunts” remains to be seen.  But, if it is, the real American Revolution – Part II might be getting closer.

Posted by XGenman
Nov 23 2011 – 11:03am

It’s about time we saw more of this.  Huzzah Mitch Green and all of the other patriots who understand your duty.  Those of us who took the oath need now more than ever to recognize who the enemy of the Constitution is.  Is it those in Afghanistan or Iraq or many other locations in the world we are told are the enemy, or those who openly assault the Constitution as our current leaders so brazenly have done, some even calling it mere paper.

Thank you Mitch!

Posted by hummingbird
Nov 23 2011 – 11:07am

“Sadly, society has placed a twin tax upon you by asking that you sacrifice both your body and your morality…Now, more than ever we need your sacrifice. But, I’m asking you to soldier in a different way. If called upon to deny the people their first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievance, disregard the order.  Abstain from service.  Or if you are so bold, join us.–Mitch Green

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ He’s 5 foot 2 and he’s 6 feet 4 He fights with missiles and with spears He’s all of 31 and he’s only 17. He’s been a soldier for a thousand years

He’s a catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain A Buddhist, and a Baptist and Jew. And he knows he shouldn’t kill And he knows he always will kill You’ll for me my friend and me for you

And He’s fighting for Canada. He’s fighting for France. He’s fighting for the USA. And he’s fighting for the Russians. And he’s fighting for Japan And he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way.

And He’s fighting for democracy, He’s fighting for the reds He says it’s for the peace of all. He’s the one, who must decide, who’s to live and who’s to die. And he never sees the writing on the wall.

But without him, how would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau? Without him Caesar would have stood alone He’s the one who gives his body as a weapon of the war. And without him all this killing can’t go on

He’s the universal soldier And he really is the blame His orders comes from far away no more.

They come from him. And you and me. And brothers can’t you see. This is not the way we put an end to war –Buffy Sainte-Marie ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

Posted by queerplanet
Nov 23 2011 – 11:10am

Okay, nice letter.   It is the question of the day for sure.  In fact, it is the question that has gone unasked for many decades.

However, if you take a good look at the photo above what do you see?

Take a good look.  Look at the details.

The upper one and the lower one both show well dressed people in affluent surroundings, (compared to say, most of Africa.)     Both the police and the students have some access to money, obviously from the photos.

Now where does all this stuff come from?   The nice jackets.   The t shirts.  The helmets, the guns, the backpacks, the glasses and the flag.

It comes from resources from the planet, which are delivered through supply chains, which are then made into products, which are then delivered through supply chains, and then put into the stores for people to buy.

Supply chains being the key factor here.   Do you really think that if protestors block ports, as they did in Oakland, that is going to be allowed?

Do you want to starve in the next two weeks?   Where do you think your food comes from?   Where do you think all the jobs come from that make the t shirts, the glasses, the backpacks, the helmets, and all the rest?

Also, if the military and police stand down, at what point do you want them to stand back up?   When YOUR job fails due to a strike, or maybe when your laptop isn’t delivered on time.

We live in an intricate network of resources and supply chains that crisscrosses the planet.   Shut down this, and over here people will starve, or go to war.

Yes, people have a right to assembly, but yes, if you even THINK about shutting down the supply chains, you will face the full wrath of the world police, starting with the one’s closest to you, and working their way into more lethal fare.

What else would happen?   Do you think people who own factories and stores will just let you shut them down out of principle?

Yes, the climate is changing.  Yes resources are running out.

So, that’s the real trick.   How do you change the system, without first shutting it down?  And stay peaceful.  (Because honey, they have weapons and weapons and weapons and weapons to deal with any kind of violence.)

How do you change the system that is destroying the environment and the economy, but at the same time prevent massive famine.   If you fuck with the supply chain, you will cause massive famine.   If you don’t change the system, the climate and environment are going to cause lots of trouble.

THAT is the question facing the young intelligent people today.

Soldiers who stand down will also have to face it.

Posted by guitarist
Nov 23 2011 – 11:34am

Shutting down the supply with general strikes is EXACTLY what needs to happen if the occupies are anything more than a bourgeois hissy fit, I must admit I am starting to have my doubts.  When workers start occupying factories like in Argentina (see the excellent film The Take Down) then I’ll be truly impressed.  And the latest moves to roll up and become an old style day protest that disdains the actual occupation campers let by aging white middle class ex campus radical like Chris Hedges?

Not so much…

Prognosis gloomy I don’t think Americans have the balls for a general strike to shut down the supply chain that is raping the planet and third world workers, and our own workers though out sourcing.

Posted by RV
Nov 23 2011 – 12:11pm

Maybe not, but “queerplanet” seems extremely concerned about the possibility, and not alone one suspects.

Keep the resistance “passive”, folks.  Do nothing that might actually cause inconvenience for your masters.

Posted by Sundome
Nov 23 2011 – 12:39pm

No wonder we have all the problems we do today – what with people like you letting their rights be trampled in the name of security, I have no doubt fascism will rule.

Figures you’d look at those two pictures,  and instead of a seeing bunch of out of work people protesting and police abuse, you see products the terrible possibility that you may not be able to obtain them.

Posted by SkDoTo
Nov 23 2011 – 12:44pm

Yes, let’s everyone get arrested, beaten, all to just elect our elite’s hand-picked leaders.  See what happens?  If you would just sign the damn pledge that you’ll get up and pull that lever for Special X candidate, then we wouldn’t be demanding that you get arrested, get beaten, pepper sprayed, sound cannoned, soon to be tank/horse trampled, tasered, shot-at/on, etc, etc, etc…  (In other words, if the polls were showing a landslide victory, we wouldn’t ask you to do this in the first place.  You need the coaxing and prodding to get you to the voting booth, I predict….)

Posted by dkshaw
Nov 23 2011 – 1:33pm

>>Where do you think all the jobs come from that make the t shirts, the glasses, the backpacks, the helmets, and all the rest?<<

The jobs are in CHINA, of course, where the corporate bastards have sent all of our jobs. It’s part of the reason for the OWS protest movement.

Posted by moonpie
Nov 23 2011 – 2:33pm

Nice posting, QP. Interesting…thoughtful & insightful.

But, everyone knows, revolution is never easy,  pretty or tidy.

If it happens, it will truly be something to see.

Posted by rosemarie jackowski
Nov 23 2011 – 11:26am

Nice letter, BUT I have no doubt that uniformed troops will NOT be on the side of the people.   Think about it.  Little children glorify them. They have been awarded medals and honored with parades because of their willingness to kill.  Very few will side with us. Those who do will be in prison, or worse.    Think about Bradley Manning.

I am a vet and a member of VFP.   Military training is very effective in removing any taboo against killing, and they do it in a matter of weeks. That’s what military training for officers and enlistees is all about.

Posted by queerplanet
Nov 23 2011 – 11:31am

Yeah, and for how long has the US sent troops around the world as if it were a football team that gets cheered on by the US citizens?

In a bizarre way the photo of the police holding weapons at the students is sadly amusing. What goes around comes around.

It was fine when those weapons are pointed at everyone else in the world to keep the resources and supplies flowing.

Yeah, some people knew it was happening and yeah, we knew people were being slaughtered OVER THERE, but then you go have more kids and go shopping and it drops from the front of important issues.

Only now…. good gawd…. holy fuck…..they are pointing the guns at OUR CHILDREN!!!

Oh gosh, how did that happen?

We are the ninety nine percent!   Just keep chanting.   Maybe they will go away.

Posted by rosemarie jackowski
Nov 23 2011 – 11:58am

queerplanet…GREAT COMMENT.   The chickens have come home to roost.

And I agree with the other comment here…US citizens do not have the courage to resist in an effective way.    In the US the brain washing starts very early – in day care centers, then in elementry schools, and on and on.   Try this experiment…over the dinner table or on Main Street, mention the 500,000 Iraqi children who died because of US policies.  See how many will deny that that ever happened – even though the official addmission is on tape and was seen around the world.

Posted by SkDoTo
Nov 23 2011 – 1:07pm

I talked to a 20s-something, PhD, well educated, Democrat Dept of Energy physicist who completely feels that oil must, MUST be sought out on every inch of this planet in order to fulfill all energy needs, because in his mind, there are no other energy alternatives to oil.  I explained the 500K children dead in Iraq for that policy.  He balked, and said Iraq had nothing to do with oil and our energy needs.  KID YOU NOT!  I explained the the Dept of Energy has its own “intelligence unit,” as one of 17 known intelligence agencies openly funded by our gov’t.  He balked again, not believing such matters, saying Iraq is a terrorist security issue, and not an energy issue.

AND THIS FROM OUR SUPPOSED BEST AND BRIGHTEST!  Imagine what the lesser educated, lesser informed, the lesser critical-thinking are understanding about such matters…

Posted by dkshaw
Nov 23 2011 – 1:41pm

>> Imagine what the lesser educated, lesser informed, the lesser critical-thinking are understanding about such matters<<

Such as Fox “News” watchers…

Posted by dkshaw
Nov 23 2011 – 1:37pm

>>mention the 500,000 Iraqi children who died because of US policies.<<

“We think it was worth it.” — Madame Defarge … er … I mean Madeleine Albright

Posted by jclientelle
Nov 23 2011 – 2:33pm

There were no children on Madame Defarge’s list.

Posted by NateW
Nov 23 2011 – 11:32am

This is one of the existential struggles of Occupy: to neuter the elite’s ability to clamp down, as police brass are not numerous enough to do the actualy dirty work.  There are halting signs already this is occuring, as two of the more notorious pepper spraying incidents (New York & UC Davis) were carried out by command personel.

Posted by Paul Revere
Nov 23 2011 – 11:50am

Excellent letter by Mitch Green.

He is taking is oath seriously: I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.

Mitch has it right, we need protection from America’s domestic terrorists now. That would be the 1% that are traitors to the Constitution, the Bill Of Rights, and the 99%.

Posted by bornfreemen
Nov 23 2011 – 12:16pm

Army vet and PhD economics student Mitch Green

Thanks Sir, You are an American Patriot, unlike those who vote for , support, and profit from  the Patriot Acts. The DHS, TSA, Chertoff and his scanner contracts, Fusion centers, etc.etc.etc.

The worst legislation in American history , created in 30 days by Bush/Cheney. An amazing mount of work done in 30 days, or were they just rewriting Hitlers manifesto.

This is the United States of America , the country that nurtured men who wrote the greatest Deceleration of Independence ever penned, and a constitution that forbids legislation like the Patriot Acts. This is not the Unites Stasi of America, or the United Spys of America.

Protest everything.

Posted by Truthseeker58
Nov 23 2011 – 12:15pm

Bravo for the impassioned plea to your fellow comrades, Mitch Green!!!

The reality is that when ALL these foot soldiers refuse to brutalize the peaceful protesters, we have WON.  So all those foot soldiers who are too cowardly to deny their orders or have a mental illness inside that makes them sadists, if you could sum up that courage to JUST SAY NO just this once in your life, you would have saved this country from this brutal fascist reign!  So THINK OF IT.  YOU CAN SAVE THIS COUNTRY, Soldiers, if you just say no.

Posted by Chuck
Nov 23 2011 – 12:32pm

I do not understand….

How does a man/woman put on a uniform and dismiss their conscience and their sense of justice..?

Posted by Sundome
Nov 23 2011 – 12:34pm

Excellent letter. Thanks Mitch!

Posted by martha
Nov 23 2011 – 1:10pm

Well, soldiers do take an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign AND domestic (emphasis on domestic), and they also have the right to refuse to obey an UNLAWFUL order…

Less Lethal, Or You Die November 22, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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11.22.11 – 11:01 AM

by Abby Zimet, www.commondreams.org, November 22, 2011

A chilling look at “crowd management tools” – a.k.a. weapons – made by companies with names like Defense Technology and Combined Tactical Systems and increasingly used by police, from pepperball guns and compressed-air pepper-spray backbacks to projectiles firing bean bag “pain compliance rounds” and fog machines dispensing clouds of tear gas “to provide reliable, less-lethal, effective means of incapacitation.” From Mother Jones.

 

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Posted by Demonstorm
Nov 22 2011 – 11:32am

Most of these – and all the future ones still in development – weapons have one and only one purpose: to be used against Amereichan citizens who have the balls to dissent against the U.S. government. Think about that. Anyone thinking we still live in a democracy needs to have their blinders ripped off.

Posted by Oikos
Nov 22 2011 – 11:45am

The Evil Empire’s ways come home to discipline and punish the citizenry.

a few “pre-revolutionary” thoughts I had November 21, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Economic Crisis, India, Occupy Wall Street Movement, Revolution.
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opednews.com

 

Tuesday morning, the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back. The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We’re not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for justice. Justice, not just for the people of the US, but for everybody.

What you have achieved since September 17th, when the Occupy movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language into the heart of empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies, mesmerized into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfillment.

As a writer, let me tell you, this is an immense achievement. And I cannot thank you enough.

Ever since the Great Depression, the manufacture of weapons and the export of war have been key ways in which the United States has stimulated its economy. Just recently, under President Obama, the US made a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia – moderate Muslims, right? It hopes to sell thousands of bunker busters to the UAE. It has sold $5 billion-worth of military aircraft to my country, India, which has more poor people than all the poorest countries of Africa put together. All these wars, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Vietnam, Korea, Latin America, have claimed millions of lives — all of them fought to secure the “American way of life”.

Today, we know that the “American way of life” — the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire towards — has resulted in 400 people owning the wealth of half of the population of the United States. It has meant thousands of people being turned out of their homes and their jobs while the US government bailed out banks and corporations — American International Group (AIG) alone was given $182 billion.

The Indian government worships US economic policy. As a result of 20 years of the free market economy, today, 100 of India’s richest people own assets worth one-quarter of the country’s GDP while more than 80% of the people live on less than 50 cents a day. Two hundred and fifty thousand farmers, driven into a spiral of debt death, have committed suicide. We call this progress, and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well-qualified. We have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality.

The good news is that people have had enough and are not going to take it any more. The Occupy movement has joined thousands of other resistance movements all over the world in which the poorest of people are standing up and stopping the richest corporations in their tracks. Few of us dreamed that we would see you, the people of the United States on our side, trying to do this in the heart of Empire. I don’t know how to communicate the enormity of what this means.

They, the one percent, say that we don’t have demands” perhaps they don’t know, that our anger alone would be enough to destroy them. But here are some things — a few “pre-revolutionary” thoughts I had — for us to think about together:

We want to put a lid on this system that manufactures inequality. We want to put a cap on the unfettered accumulation of wealth and property by individuals as well as corporations. As “cap-ists” and “lid-ites”, we demand:

One, an end to cross-ownership in businesses. For example, weapons manufacturers cannot own TV stations; mining corporations cannot run newspapers; business houses cannot fund universities; drug companies cannot control public health funds.

Two, natural resources and essential infrastructure — water supply, electricity, health, and education — cannot be privatized.

Three, everybody must have the right to shelter, education and healthcare

Four, the children of the rich cannot inherit their parents’ wealth.

This struggle has re-awakened our imagination. Somewhere along the way, capitalism reduced the idea of justice to mean just “human rights”, and the idea of dreaming of equality became blasphemous. We are not fighting to just tinker with reforming a system that needs to be replaced.

As a cap-ist and a lid-ite, I salute your struggle.

Salaam and Zindabad.

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