Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pepper Spray, Rubber Bullets And The Police State!

This weekend, while listening to an NPR story about police using tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a demonstration, I was actually surprised when it turned out the newscaster was talking about Tahrir Square -- I had assumed it was about another brutal response to a peaceful protest here at home.
All across the country -- most recently on the campus of UC Davis -- a war is being waged. This isn't a battle over parks and tents and sleeping bags. Though many of our leaders don't seem to realize it, this is a battle about their credibility -- even their legitimacy -- about how they represent us, about whom their real allegiance is to. Their misguided response to the Occupy protests has actually proved the point of the protesters more than any sign or chant could. Sure, you can clear the protesters out from this or that park in the middle of the night, or send in riot-geared police to clear a campus sidewalk, but that doesn't mean you've won. Quite the opposite. What is going on is a war of ideas, based in turn on moral standing.
The Occupy movement has been a test -- a national MRI -- that has allowed us to check-in on the health of our democracy by allowing us to see what's going on underneath the surface of America's power structures. And the results are dire. What the movement, and the response to it, has shown is a government almost completely disconnected from those it purports to represent.
Each week brings an image more iconic than the last. There was the NYPD officer calmly walking up to several women who were penned, pepper-spraying them in the face and then slinking off. There was the 84-year-old woman pepper-sprayed in Seattle, along with a pregnant 19-year-old and a priest. There was Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen splayed on the ground with a serious head injury after being assaulted by police in Oakland. There was the picture of Elizabeth Nichols being pepper-sprayed directly in the face at close range by police in Portland.
And there were the indelible images from the surprise 1 a.m. raid on Occupy Wall Street's Zuccotti Park encampment by the NYPD -- which, Mayor Bloomberg claimed, was because it had become "a health and fire safety hazard." Really? Does the city traditionally take care of "health and fire safety hazards" under cover of darkness?
The mayor may have won the battle of sleeping bags in a park but this reminds everyone who was occupying exactly why they were occupying.
If the mayor is so concerned about the hazards posed by people sleeping on the street and is prepared to use immense city resources to take care of it, as of last year there were over 3,000 homeless people sleeping on the streets of New York City.
City officials usually like to publicize their efforts fighting "health and fire safety hazards" for their citizens. But not this time. Not only were the media not allowed to report on the raid on Zuccotti, many reporters were barricaded, blocked, manhandled and even arrested. "The first thing the police did was clear out the journalists so that they could not see what was going on, "just as they routinely do in totalitarian nations."
Rivaling his "health and fire safety hazard" line, Bloomberg claimed the reason reporters were kept away was "to protect members of the press." Another hit to the mayor's credibility. As Harry Siegel put it in the Daily News:
The city doesn't take actions it's proud of at 1 a.m., and with the police literally shoving reporters away from the scene, 'to protect members of the press,' as Bloomberg insisted. That 'protection' applied to at least six journalists who were arrested, and many others who were handled roughly, including myself.
If you're a government official and you choose to do something in the middle of the night and you don't want the press to see, that's a pretty good sign you shouldn't be doing it. Since September, 26 reporters covering the Occupy movement have been arrested. A spokesman for the Mayor later bragged that "only five" of those arrested were officially credentialed by the NYPD. What a victory for civic government! Putting aside the fact that the NYPD doesn't get to decide who "the press" is, they actually want credit for "only" arresting five credentialed reporters of the many they shoved and beat and blocked and barricaded who were doing nothing more than trying to tell the citizens of New York what the officials they voted into office and whose salary they pay were doing in their name.
I often wonder how Rockford mayor Morrissey would handle an encampment. Rockford has one of the biggest police forces per capita in Illinois and now we have a new Home Land Security (also known as the new American KGB) headquarter downtown. So far the police have been more then tolerant and at times seem like they're on our side, but I know that at the flick of Morrissey's finger we would be up against a brutal wall. Just a week ago Morrissey made the decision to have most of the streetlights removed so he wouldn't have to layoff any of the police due to budget cuts. This is a city that operates in the dark now and I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!

Dead Peasant Has A New Mission!

From here on out I'm going to be blogging on the actions and agenda of Occupy Rockford. I will still have articles on corporate corruption outside of my community bubble, but I want to be the trusting news of the Rockford movement. The Rockford mission is in solidarity with the Wall Street occupation.

Here are some statements from Occupy Wall Street activists as it begins to clarify its goals and mission (these do not represent the entire movement):

We Envision: [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society; [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus; [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others; [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few; [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

Ten Things We Want
A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.

3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.

4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.

6. Reorder our nation's spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.

7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can't run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)

10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.

b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.

c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a "second bill of rights" as proposed by President Frankin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age

-Dead Press- Journalism that's not sold-out!