May 22nd, 2009
Our newsletter is a weekly review of popular resistance taking place across the U.S. It is important to know we are not alone so we can inspire each other, learn from each other and spread the courage to resist across the country. The newsletter covers people working on a wide range of issues including peace and justice, environmental protection, workers’ and students’ rights, and much more. We see all of these issues connected by our common goal of ending the rule of money, transforming the country and putting people and the planet before profits.
As we approach Labor Day, our thoughts go to the treatment of workers. We will post a number of good articles on this topic in the next few days. Here are a few highlights from the past week. The issue of policing continued to be highlighted this week with the funeral of Michael Brown. Protests stopped for the day at the request of his father and silent vigils were held to mark the death of this young man. Protests against police abuse have intensified around the US as people realize there is a war going on between militarized police and people in many communities. A draft of a new UN report on climate was leaked and it shows devastating climate impact. The People’s Climate March is less than a month away on September 21. We need to be clear in understanding the issues and putting forth demands – as a united movement because climate connects us all – that will actually solve the problem. The final area we’ll cover is the growing #BlockTheBoat protests. This week a handbook was published about how to block a ship, Oakland activists described how they organized their effort despite attempts to derail it and a wide range of information was made available about Israeli ships coming to port so that this burgeoning movement can continue to expand.
Since the killing of Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO has been the epicenter of struggle and resistance. The same city where Dred Scott challenged slavery has become the place of awakening for current racial oppression. Ferguson exposed the reality of militarized and racist policing and created a teachable moment for the nation. The sad reality for many who have studied or lived US history is the killing of African Americans is not new. For decades it has led to both protests and more police violence. The failure to confront this reality is a critical example of a what Thomas Adams describes as a dysfunctional nation in political decay. But, Ferguson is an epicenter for a global struggle as we see in Israel, Gaza, over climate justice and over weapons and war. There is a lot happening on all fronts as we report here.
The recent murders of black men by police and the excessive militaristic repression of protest in the grieving community of Ferguson, MO brought the issues of racism and militarized police to the forefront of the nation this week. We focused our coverage on these issues because they have been bubbling at the surface for a while and now that there is a national dialog and some movement by officials, there is a greater opportunity to organize and change the situation. This week, the US Civil Rights Commission asked Attorney General Eric Holder to play a stronger role in investigating the case in Ferguson. The Department of Justice announced that it willconduct a broad review of police tactics.
No matter how police militarization and violence affects your community, the trend is disturbing and justice is lacking for people of color. It is up to us to demand a demilitarization and de-escalation of police violence. Sonali Kolhatkar provides some insight and ideas into how this can be done. If you are concerned, we recommend starting a local group to discuss how your community is affected and to make plans to change local practices. Police violence and incarceration are symptoms of the militarization of our culture. Instead of common-sense, restorative practices to make our communities healthier, we are indoctrinated in the ways of Empire from a young age. This article reveals that military recruiters bend and break rules to gain access to youth in our High Schools. Look around you this week and you’ll be amazed at how deeply war culture has penetrated all aspects of our society.
What is striking are our common experiences – the neoliberal economic agenda being forced upon our communities, the lack of democracy and the need for resistance. We will report on the conference when we return. Let’s add to the lack of democracy, a lack of following the rule of law. A White House staffer ‘accidentally’ emailed talking points about the CIA Torture Report to a journalist with the Associated Press. The document reveals that information about torture was intentionally kept secret from the State Department. Add to that a CIA internal report which proves the CIA broke into Senate Intelligence Committee Staff emails and that John Brennan lied to the committee about it, and we agree that it’s time for Brennan to resign or be fired. We add James Clapper to that list for also lying to Congress and the American people.
We also need to come together to create a people-powered movement of movements to act with intention to end extreme energy extraction and create a carbon-free, nuclear-free future. One opportunity to further build such a movement will be in New York City this September. Many groups are organizing a Peoples Climate March on September 21 just before the United Nations meets on climate. We are working with a number of groups to create a Climate Convergence on the 19 and 20. There will be space to talk about the obstacles we all face in our sub-movements for health, worker rights, racial justice and more and solutions to these crises. And there will be space to network and plan steps to build stronger movements.
We are sad that the US media are complicit in the lies. The New York Times changed its unusually honest headline about the 4 boys who were killed on the beach to one that is misleading. ABC news showed photos of destruction in Gaza and said that it was Israel. And we are sad that the Boston “T” took down the ad campaign that educated about the abusive treatment of Palestinians. At the same time we are cheered that the truth about Israeli apartheid and violence is being told despite the lies and manipulation. We know it is a difficult truth to face, especially for Jews who have grown up in falsehoods, as Ellen Davidson describes. Social media is playing a big role in making the world aware of the atrocities inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza.
We are in the midst of a week of wonderfully creative actions to raise awareness of the need for real democracy. For information, visit RollingRebellion.org. In Venice Beach, CA, activists dressed as characters from the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars and marched in the Fourth of July parade taking on democracy-killing entities such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and money in politics. Activists in Seattle, WA also marched with giant puppets and talking TV heads. Hundreds marched in the New Hampshire Rebellion organized by Lawrence Lessig. His approach to getting money out of politics is to raise millions of dollars to elect candidates that will work to get money out of politics. He met the first hurdle this week. A march to stop construction of a high-pressure fracked gas pipeline is underway across the state of Massachusetts.
As we celebrate the nostalgia of Independence Day, let’s resolve to actually become independent from our Empire economy that never fails to fund wars while our domestic infrastructure and economy falter. Let’s resolve to become independent of oligarchic rule that puts the rights and interests of large corporations before the needs of the public, and that finds it acceptable to pollute or to cut off water to hundreds of thousands while corporations escape accountability. When the Occupy Movement joined the global uprising, the encampments gave us a taste of what caring communities looked like, of what participatory democracy felt like and how to create new sustainable systems. Since then, as occupy chronicler Nathan Schneider writes, activists are engaged in all sorts of efforts to protest injustice and build alternatives.
It is time to tap into the United States’ revolutionary roots and in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence instigate a second American Revolution against oligarchic rule.” The Rolling Rebellion actions are the beginning of an ongoing multi-year campaign to create real democracy in the United States. A dozen actions are currently listed we urge you to create your own if one does not exist in your community. Join the Rolling Rebellion. This is an opportunity to start building a core group of democracy activists in your community so you have a foundation on which to build this movement locally. Rolling Rebellion provides ideas for actions and tools to carry them out.
In a recent interview, Gerardo Cerdas of “City of the Excluded,” a Latin American and Caribbean-wide social movement, stated that activists need to expand their vision to a global perspective because around the world, we all face common problems and the solutions cannot be restricted to one or a few countries. We see evidence that global collaboration is growing and that people are taking bolder steps to stop abuses and create new systems. The basis for the new systems is real democracy – meaning a participatory democracy in which people make decisions about all facets of society in a collective and egalitarian process. As Jerome Roos writes in his review of the new book by Marina Sitrin and Dario Azzelini They Can’t Represent Us: Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy, today “hundreds of ‘laboratories for democracy’ are emerging around the world, creating space for ordinary citizens to experiment with alternative forms of social organization, democratic decision-making processes and non-hierarchical ways of relating.”
Nafeez Ahmed writes that the Department of Defense is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to study social movements in order to develop ‘operational tools.’ In Canada, this week there was a discussion in the House of Commons of surveillance of peaceful protesters where PM Harper’s spokesperson revealed a rationale that makes all people suspect, saying “Peaceful protests can suddenly turn violent, just as law-abiding citizens can suddenly create a crime.” Of course, such sentiments are ridiculous and are used to justify further clamp downs on our civil liberties. And that is why the people need tools to know what is going on and to resist injustice.
Past movements have been divided over the two tracks we recommend in our strategy for change: Stop the Machine and Create a New World because some get so focused on creating their new world that that they look inward and do not connect with those working for societal change with protest, sit-ins and other tactics. But, as Mark and Paul Engler conclude in their discussion of this divide, we can balance these approaches and “experience the power of a community that is committed to living in radical solidarity, as well as the joy of transforming the world around us.” In the last year we have seen various sub-movements come together over issues like stopping the TPP and keeping the Internet free of discrimination because these are issues that affect us in obvious and direct ways. These are first steps in developing the kind of movement of movements that can be a building block to the mass movement we need to succeed.
Tomorrow, June 1st, is the 1st anniversary of Popular Resistance. The goal of Popular Resistance is to help grow a mass movement for social, economic and environmental justice. We do this by covering the wide range of both protest movements and those working to create alternative systems in the US and around the world; connecting issues (or sub-movements) so we become a ‘movement of movements’; and providing tools and information for everyone who seeks to participate in this movement. We are all in this together. We want to thank you for your participation in Popular Resistance. Please help us celebrate by growing the movement – share Popular Resistance with your friends and family. Consider using the articles for discussion groups. Use the tools and information on the “Organize” “Strategize” “Resist” and “Create” pages. And use Popular Resistance to share your work, tools and events by emailing [email protected]
Driven by greater awareness of the urgency needed to mitigate climate change, the pressure is growing to stop extreme energy extraction and it’s having an effect. In particular, pipelines are being slowed and popular action is causing a big economic hit to extractors. In Canada, a new group “Coule Pas Chez Nous!” is taking on the Eastern pipeline that plans to carry tar sands bitumen. Protests are also bringing out the truth. It was revealed this week in California that the amount of gas available through fracking is only 5% of what the industry was reporting. And an energy corporation executive admitted that fracking increases the risk of climate change. We also learned that the recent report by UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was watered down by countries that produce fossil fuels. The pushback against climate change is coming from new directions.
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