The OB Media Rundown for 5/19/12

NATO-Chicago Dispatch: Long-haul road-trip with the Boston Occupiers

It really was a whirl. I’m not sure how the Complaining About Free Shit working group felt about the bus, which came courtesy of National Nurses United, but I full engaged the road show. When I felt like resting, I rested. When I felt like reading, I read. Otherwise, when I felt like being entertained, I just listened, and got two ears filled with everything from credible conspiracy theories to at least one comparison of the situation to Christ’s expedition in the wilderness.

In short I had a great time reading, writing, and interviewing Occupiers whose personal stories add up to the reason that more than 50,000 people are heading to Chicago this week. I was hardly even fazed when some movement members who were not on the bus started flaming me on Twitter for mooching off of Occupy resources, which I’d actually feel badly about if there weren’t empty seats. They also accused me of sacrificing whatever little bit of objectivity I had left in covering Occupy by riding along.

That’s completely understandable, or at least it was until I touched down in Chicago and got the briefing for independent journos who are covering NATO. Reliable word is that police aren’t distinguishing between reporters and protesters, writers and anarchists – we’re all subject to the military-grade aggression that’s already being thrust upon folks who are courageous enough to stand up to war profiteers and murderers. At least in that regard, I’d argue that we’re all on the same bus after all.

Another road trip to Chicago report

If the Flower Power generation was reacting against the buttoned-down sexual prudery of its parents, the post-hope generation is engaged in rejecting a culture that promised opportunity, family and security and delivered nothing but hurt, loneliness and debt. If the 1960s were about confronting hypocrisy with hedonism, the 2010s are about confronting alienation with community.

Sometimes all that community spirit can get grating. After three hours of listening to 40 by-now-rather-smelly bus passengers singing a medley of Disney songs and old protest hymns, all that youthful exuberance starts to cross the line from infectious to infuriating. These people have smartphones, but no homes or job prospects. They’re on their way to a peace rally where most of them fully expect to be beaten and arrested. What on earth do they have to sing about?
Connection. That’s what it’s about. From the live streamers chatting with people following the online stream all over the world to the new friendships I see being formed around me, it’s all about connection. It’s about information shared, about building new codes of care and community where the old ones, the jobs and families and pension plans, have proved unreliable.

Chicago protesters break away from nurses’ rally

Hundreds of protesters broke away from a large rally and began marching through Chicago streets Friday, taunting police and shouting about everything from bank bailouts to nuclear power a prelude to even bigger demonstrations expected after the start of a NATO summit.

Police said there was one arrest for aggravated battery of a police officer. Officers were also seen trying to arrest a man who scaled a bridge tower and pulled down part of a NATO banner. Earlier, police handcuffed a man at the end of a noisy but largely peaceful rally organized by the nation’s largest nurses union.

Members of National Nurses United were joined by members of the Occupy movement, unions and veterans at the rally, where they demanded a “Robin Hood” tax on banks’ financial transactions. The event drew several thousand people and featured a performance by former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, an activist who has played at many Occupy events.

Deb Holmes, a nurse at a hospital in Worcester, Mass., said she was advocating for the tax but also protesting proposals to cut back nurses’ pensions. “We’ve worked 30 years for them and don’t want to get rid of them,” she said.

As the G8 Opens at Camp David, Thousands Rally in Chicago for Tax on Wall Street

As the G8 got underway today at Camp David, an estimated 2,500 held a “Peoples’ G8″ in Chicago’s Daley Plaza to call for a Financial Transaction Tax.

Last fall, National Nurses United (NNU), the chief organizer of the rally, began demanding a so-called “Robin Hood Tax” in coordination with National Peoples’ Action and other labor and community groups. NNU has been a close ally of many local Occupy groups, and today hundreds of nurses dressed in Robin Hood costumes descended on the plaza along with newly-arrived members of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy L.A. and other out-of-town demonstrators.

The rally opened with a parody of the concurrent G8 summit, with an actor playing President Obama greeting the crowd, “Welcome to the G8 summit, world’s largest casino!” as world leaders were seated around a poker table where they proceeded to wager their country’s respective social programs before breaking into a round of “Viva Las Vegas.”

Protest groups move into place as G-8 Summit begins 

By noon, the ranks were growing, as members of Occupy movements had gathered in the Weis Markets parking lot to make signs and plan the rest of their day.

Through it all, local, state and federal police were a constant presence through their patrols, working closely and cordially with Occupy groups, but watching out for more antagonistic protesters who have created havoc at past G-8 summits.

Law-enforcement’s mission is to protect the property and safety of Thurmont and its residents, while also protecting the First Amendment rights of the protesters, “as long as they do it legally and lawfully,” said Cpl. Jason L. West, the public information officer for the Frederick County G-8 Information Center.

Arrested Protester Charges Mistreatment After Police Raid Apartment 

Darrin Annussek says he walked to Chicago from Philadelphia to participate in Occupy protests, only to be seized by police in a raid on an apartment at 32nd and Morgan.

“For 18 hours, we were handcuffed to a bench and our legs were shackled together,” he said. “Some of our cries for the bathroom were either ignored or met with silence.”

National Lawyers Guild statement on raids and unlawful searches in Chicago, days before May 20 NATO protest 

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns a preemptive police raid that took place at approximately 11:30pm Wednesday in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and instances of harassment on the street, in which Chicago police are unlawfully detaining, searching, and questioning NATO protesters. The Bridgeport raid was apparently conducted by the Organized Crime Division of the Chicago Police Department and resulted in as many as 8 arrests.

According to witnesses in Bridgeport, police broke down a door to access a 6-unit apartment building near 32nd & Morgan Streets without a search warrant. Police entered an apartment with guns drawn and tackled one of the tenants to the floor in his kitchen. Two tenants were handcuffed for more than 2 hours in their living room while police searched their apartment and a neighboring unit, repeatedly calling one of the tenants a “Commie faggot.” A search warrant produced 4 hours after police broke into the apartment was missing a judge’s signature, according to witnesses. Among items seized by police in the Bridgeport raid were beer-making supplies and at least one cell phone.

Can Occupy Fight Back Against the War on Women? 

Three hundred feminists blanketed the concrete in Washington Square Park last night, their attention focused by the now-familiar mic check. The “Raging Grannies” had just performed. A banner, framed by the park’s iconic arch, declared that the first NYC Feminist General Assembly, presented by Women Occupying Wall Street (WOWS), was in full swing.

After seven months of reporting on feminism and the work of women activists in the Occupy movement, I wanted to know: could this meeting be a model for how OWS collaborates with other social movements? Might I witness the forming of a new activist coalition, bringing SlutWalkers, Occupiers, second-wavers and radicals together to fight back against the assault on rights we know as the War on Women?

The assembly gathered activists of a wide range of ages, ethnicities, abilities and gender presentations, with a noticeable majority of cisgender (that is, non-transgender) white women. Not a single police officer looked on, a rarity for an OWS event.

‘Predatory’ prison phone rates: Civil rights leaders urge reform

What if it cost $17 to make a 15-minute phone call in the U.S.? How often would you call home?

That’s the dilemma facing many inmates who must rely on the prison phone service and pay sky-high rates.

A bipartisan group of prison reformers is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to stop phone companies from charging inmates what they call unreasonable and predatory rates to make phone calls.

How to Identify an Agent Provocateur

Agents will often lack background connections or references. No one in your circles or related groups will know them.

Agents try to keep discussions and action unproductive and still. They’ll spend plenty of time debating issues, with little action. They focus on ideas over people.

They tend to create messes in groups and between group members. They leave chaos in their wake.

They tend to gravitate toward people in the group who are dissatisfied. Once relationships with those folks grow, the dissatisfaction spreads.

Some agents have been former prisoners who do this work as part of a deal. These folks tend to jump from organization to organization in a relatively short time.

Agents don’t have known sources of income. They might have a job that doesn’t match their spending or claim their money comes from prior savings.

They tend to provide gifts for key figures at first. This helps them build trust with the group.

When confronted, they will get defensive and start making their own accusations.
They act like zealots, but they don’t have the fruit of it. They have passion but don’t truly care.

Sheriff will not release Occupy San Diego review – We’ll never know why activists had to piss themselves in custody

It seems like it was years ago that San Diego police officers and sheriff’s deputies rounded up Occupy Wall Street activists from the concourse outside City Hall, forced them on to buses, and hauled them to jail.

But it was only last October and we still remember the complaints voiced by the activists who said they were held for hours on those buses, abused, and told by staff to piss and shit themselves rather be taken to toilet facilities. Afterward, the Sheriff’s Department said it would initiate an internal review. So, on April 25, we filed a public-records request to inspect the outcome of the investigation.

After asking for a 14-day extension so the sheriff could consult with unnamed other agencies, the department sent its response today. We will not be allowed to inspect the records.

Occupy Grand Junction occupies local radio station [CO]

Occupy Grand Junction took its movement to KAFM’s studio today, in wake of recently being denied air time by the community radio station. The groups main message Friday is “Having no news is bad news.”

It would like to see Grand Junction radio stations free the airwaves and produce more local news.

Occupy members confronted KAFM management, saying the station has an obligation to the public to provide airtime for local politicized issues.

Protesters Attempt to ‘Occupy’ Chase Bank [TX]

Members of Occupy Austin staged a protest at a local Chase Bank branch this afternoon, resulting in protesters’ ejection from the building.

Occupy Austin had pushed for the City of Austin to move their funds from Bank of America. In February, the Austin City Council passed a resolution looking at that possibility. But instead of shifting those funds to smaller banks or credit unions, as Occupy Austin had hoped for, the city transferred its money to JP Morgan Chase.

On the heels of JP Morgan’s disclosure of billions in losses from risky financial trades, Occupy Austin members protested at a Chase branch on 19th and Guadalupe Street.

Quebec student bill ‘worst law’ since War Measures Act: law professor

Simply offering encouragement for someone to protest at a school – either tacitly or otherwise – is subject to punishment.

Remarks from the education minister fuelled some of the confusion about the bill’s potential reach.

Michelle Courchesne, less than a week in her new position, raised more than a few eyebrows by mentioning that tweets from the social network website Twitter could also be considered as encouragement to protest.

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