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 the elections draw near, the plutocracy and crisis of democracy become more visible. There are reports of ‘dark money’ in record amounts influencing races. An obvious example of this took place in Richmond, CA, home of a large Chevron refinery, last week when Chevron funded a ‘new non-profit’ that hosted a ‘civil rights icon’ to stump for pro-business candidates. Steve Early called him “big oil’s reverend for rent.” We’ve written before about the studies which show that the interests of the wealthy are represented in our public policy instead of the needs and interests of the public. For example, on October 19, several IRS whistleblowers exposed that corporations are being allowed illegally to avoid paying billions in taxes while individuals and small businesses are punished. And Drs. Bruno and Burns describe how Coca Cola has infected medical associations and undermined reform. Sheldon Wolin wrote about this in “Democracy, Inc.”
This week we are inspired by the communities that are standing up to police abuse and by the students in Mexico and Hong Kong who are placing themselves at risk in order to fight for their rights. Ferguson Protests Inspire Last weekend was the national gathering in Ferguson, MO to demand the arrest of Officer Darren Wilson and justice for the families of slain black men such as Mike Brown and Vonderrit Myers. Thousands of people participated in 4 days of nonviolent actions beginning with a march to the police station on Friday night, a massive march through downtown St. Louis on Saturday, direct action training on Sunday, an occupation at St. Louis University and multiple actions on ‘Moral Monday’ including clergy being arrested at the police station, protests that shut down several Walmarts, an action at a mall, a protest inside the City Hall and protests at political fundraisers.
There is no doubt that the people are rising. Today there are at least three major events taking place – the Ferguson October massive march to end police brutality and racism in St. Louis, the European-wide day of actions against the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TAFTA) and the Global Frackdown. People are also protesting the World Bank meeting in Washington, DC and the Maine Walk for Peace is beginning. This week we remembered Popular Resistance’s roots in the occupation of Freedom Plaza which began as October2011. At that time we wondered if people were ready to take stronger actions to challenge the corrupt political and economic systems that rule and the answer in the form of hundreds of occupations and the ongoing protests that followed was a clear ‘Yes!”
This past week, there has been a lot written about next steps in the climate justice movement. Now that hundreds of thousands have marched, it shows that the movement exists. But marching alone doesn’t change things, so what do we do? There are many tactics required to move to a carbon-free nuclear-free energy economy. The task for all of us is to build on the momentum created by the march and the Flood Wall Street sit-in and escalate both resistance and building alternatives. Here are a number of opportunities: Stopping Tar Sands excavation – the struggle to stop the expansion of tar sands excavation in Alberta, CA is making progress. Mike Hudema lists concrete successes in his article linked here. Resistance in the United States to transporting the bitumen from Canadian tar sands continues to be strong.
Here are more calls for action: Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council issued a statement which urged people to not put “our trust in governmental leaders and the leaders of industry.” People who came to NYC for the first World Conference of Indigenous Peoples urged that oil and gas be left in the ground and highlighted how Indigenous peoples all over the world are already fighting against extraction. Faith leaders pledged global action for climate justice. Green activists Jill Stein and Ben Manski are calling for a global climate strike as “a next step in the international uprising that insists that another world is possible.” And, a coalition of groups announced consecutive days of action in Washington, DC and elsewhere beginning after the elections.
Yesterday, Congress decided to leave town early and recess until after the elections in November. The good news is that they aren’t likely to do much more damage between now and November. We have time to put pressure on Congress and the White House on major issues and make those issues part of their campaigns. Join us in taking action to prevent the US from getting into another quagmire by putting a stop to the war on ISIS, calling on the FCC to get out of DC and listen to the people and organizing to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership from being Fast Tracked. We’ll be in New York for a week full of education, organization and mobilization to solve the climate crisis.
This was a very busy week, with lots of actions on a variety of issues. We can’t cover them all in one newsletter. Before we go in depth on a few key issues of the week we want to highlight one event which we found to be inspiring. The Newark Students Union walked out of their classes for two days. On the first day they rallied at a park where they held classes on the history of student protests, a ‘know your rights’ training and artistic activism; and shared their lunch with the homeless. The second day, they went to the office of the Newark Public Schools and blockaded an intersection. For nearly 12 hours they locked arms some in PVC tubes and snarled traffic in downtown Newark. There demands were for local control of schools and stopping the privatization and corporatization Newark schools. After holding a blockade for nearly 12 hours, the students released their arms and formed a group hug chanting “I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!”
Another corporation to be aware of is Veolia, the “largest water privatization business in the world.” A French company, Veolia is moving in the US to privatize municipal water in a very sneaky way. Detroit’s appointed emergency manager just hired Veolia, a very concerning move for a city that is engaged in human rights violations by shutting off water to its residents. The People’s Water Board is working to have water recognized as a Commons, an entity that serves and is managed by the public. In this world of privatization, the Commons is a powerful antidote to predatory capitalism. Neoliberal approaches are being pushed at every level through entities called Public Private Partnerships, or ‘P3s’which exploit public resources and taxes for private gain. Some places are countering with Public Public Partnerships. Here is a group that is fighting P3s that are consolidating control over our roads.
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.
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