Tag Archives | Activism

Why No One Really Won In The Trial Of The NATO 3

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

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Assistant State’s Attorney John Blakey dubbed the three men “Mr. Cop on Fire,” “Captain Napalm” and “Professor Molotov” respectively, and of hatching a nearly super-villanous terrorism plot that would have included attacks on police stations, President Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters, Chase Tower and burning police officers in the streets.

The trial was the first time the Illinois State’s Attorney’s office prosecuted a case under a 12 year old terrorism law passed just after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Prosecutors argued the three men came to Chicago “ready for war” and presented the jury with inflammatory and incendiary statements the trio made recorded by undercover police, as well as four beer bottles filled partially with gasoline and a collection of various weapons including a bow and arrow, a throwing star, a slingshot and a homemade “shield” emblazoned with the words “austerity ain’t gonna happen.”

If one were to believe Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez Betterly, Chase and Church—who have spent nearly two years in Cook County Jail awaiting trial with $1.5 million bonds—were “cold, calculating terrorists.” Even Judge Thaddeus Wilson seemed to believe the rhetoric (at least in part) when he declined a move by the defense for a direct acquittal.

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The Day We Fight Back

A message from the organizers of “The Day We Fight Back“:
Day We Fight Back

DEAR USERS OF THE INTERNET,

In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. Today we face another critical threat, one that again undermines the Internet and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.

In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.

Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.

If you’re in the US: Thousands of websites will host banners urging people to call/email Congress.… Read the rest

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Does Socialist Critique of Terrorism Apply to Animal Activists?

Pic: Daniel Schwin (CC)

Pic: Daniel Schwin (CC)

Jon Hochschartner writes at CounterPunch:

The animal rights movement has long been divided between militants and pacifists, between those who support violence against property or institutional exploiters and those who do not. In one camp, we find activists like Steven Best, who argue the scope of animal exploitation is so great that preventative violence is a moral necessity. In the other, we find activists like Gary Francione, who argue all forms of violence are wrong, including those directed at institutional exploiters or their property.

I’d argue that by focusing so intently on the morality of violence, the animal rights movement often ignores whether the debated tactics are effective. Additionally, I’d like to investigate what, if anything, we can learn from other movements that have grappled with the question of terrorism. In this essay, I will be examining the revolutionary workers’ struggle specifically.

Most socialists don’t have a moral opposition to violence, but recognize it’s generally incapable of creating large-scale, permanent change when carried out by individuals or small groups.

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Surveillance Camera Man: Antagonism as Activism?

So there is a guy on Youtube who goes by the name of Surveillance Camera Man, and over the past year he has uploaded five videos which are comprised of various scenes of him wandering around and filming people without their permission, presumably to see what kind of reaction he would get. He comes off as a bit of a creep, though, because when people ask him what he is doing, all he ever really says is: “Shooting a video.” A lot of people become belligerent rather quickly, which is understandable considering that they have a camera shoved into their face by a man who refuses to answer their questions. (I almost feel bad for the guy on the phone who keeps saying: “This is a private phone call!” The irony being, of course, that there is no longer any such thing as “private” phone calls…or texts…or emails.) 
But this is where I am torn on the methods employed by SCM: because on the one hand, you could argue that he is raising awareness about the fact that we are all constantly being monitored/recorded, and that he is also pointing out the hypocrisy of our nonchalance over these issues when we are not being confronted with them face-to-face.… Read the rest

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America’s Most Progressive Filmmaker

Robert Greenwald. Photo: Sam Smith (CC)

Robert Greenwald. Photo: Sam Smith (CC)

And the award goes to… Robert Greenwald! Okay, so I just created an award out of thin air, but Greenwald is more prolific and arguably more successful in changing attitudes and policy than the other leading candidate for such an award, Michael Moore. Jeffrey Fleishman profiles Greenwald for the Los Angeles Times:

In an old, whitewashed motel, where folklore has it studio executives once brought their secretaries for “lunch,” Robert Greenwald, a mercurial man trailed by insults and death threats, leads a small band of filmmakers dedicated to unnerving political and corporate powers with righteous anger and quick-cut editing.

Greenwald embodies the populism of George Bailey and the sly delight of a spy handed a secret dossier. His Brave New Films has skewered Wal-Mart, Fox News (Bill O’Reilly despises him) and the conservative politics of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Greenwald’s narratives have criticized the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and his latest documentary condemns the Obama administration’s drone program for killing civilians in Pakistan and other countries in a misguided strategy to combat terror.

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Angela Davis on Activism (Video)

Photo: GeorgeLouis (CC)

Photo: GeorgeLouis (CC)

Angela Davis was one of the most famous voices (and faces) of African American political activism in the 1960s and ’70s.

She’s still speaking out, and in this talk at the Brooklyn Academy of Music she talks about committing oneself to struggle for a better world and the vast history of activism for the right to freedom:

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Stay Calm & Get Stoned: Trans Woman Confronts Bigot Councilman

Pamela Raintree – Hero

Pamela Raintree is a trans woman from Shreveport, La. who stood before Ron Webb – a city councilman who was trying to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance for LGBT citizens – and dared him to stone her after quoting scripture at him:

So Raintree stood before Webb, lifting up her rock, and said, “Leviticus 20:13 states: ‘If a man lie also with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death.’ I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smoke screen for personal prejudices.”

Bravo, Ms. Raintree, for daring the fervency of this bigot’s faith! And the look on Webb’s face when he realizes that his bluff has been called? Brilliant! This could be a great tactic for other activists to use in upcoming court cases that deal with similar issues…am kinda surprised that no one else thought to do so before now.… Read the rest

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Green Groups Threaten Election Payback Over Keystone Fight

Pic: PDTillman (CC)

Pic: PDTillman (CC)

Lauren McCauley writes at Common Dreams:

Leading environmentalists are threatening mass voter retribution if President Barack Obama decides to go forward with the construction of the northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Days following the release of the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), The Hill reports Tuesday that, based on conversations with leading campaigners, approval of the project will likely “sow liberal discontent” among a new, mobilized force of environmentalists with serious consequences for Democratic lawmakers in the 2014 midterm elections.

“It is very likely that there will be negative consequences for Democrats if Keystone were approved,” said Kate Colarulli, associate director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil campaign, told The Hill.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to protect the climate and build the Democratic base if Obama rejects Keystone XL,” Colarulli added.

The Hill continues:

Jamie Henn of the green group 350.org called the dispute over Keystone “the most iconic fight of a generation” and said the youth vote, which played an important part in Obama’s rise, could hang in the balance.

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Trial of NATO3 Reveals Police Spying Operation

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 9.58.35 AMTestimony from an undercover police officer in the trial of three activists arrested just prior to the Chicago’s NATO summit in May 2012 and now face terrorism charges, revealed a large surveillance operation Chicago Police had months prior to the summit.

The prosecution alleges the three men were planning to build Molotov cocktails to bring to the protests along with discussing “attacking” several locations, including President Barack Obama’s re-election headquarters and police stations. Police also allege they found several weapons including knives and a throwing star, a mortar made from PVC pipe and a bow during the raid.

Much of the case against the three is based on information garnered from two Chicago Police informants who infiltrated local activist groups many weeks prior to the NATO protests. Known as “Moe” and “Gloves,” the prosecution alleges the two officers were inside the apartment where Church, Chase and Betterly were staying when they say they filled beer bottles with gasoline.… Read the rest

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Cut Off the NSA’s Juice

1984-Big-BrotherThe National Security Agency depends on huge computers that guzzle electricity in the service of the surveillance state. For the NSA’s top executives, maintaining a vast flow of juice to keep Big Brother nourished is essential — and any interference with that flow is unthinkable.

But interference isn’t unthinkable. And in fact, it may be doable.

Grassroots activists have begun to realize the potential to put the NSA on the defensive in nearly a dozen states where the agency is known to be running surveillance facilities, integral to its worldwide snoop operations.

Organizers have begun to push for action by state legislatures to impede the electric, water and other services that sustain the NSA’s secretive outposts.

Those efforts are farthest along in the state of Washington, where a new bill in the legislature — the Fourth Amendment Protection Act — is a statutory nightmare for the NSA. The agency has a listening post in Yakima, in the south-central part of the state.… Read the rest

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