October 31, 2011

Malcolm X: “You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it.

“You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it. When you get that kind of attitude, they’ll label you as a ‘crazy Negro,’ or they’ll call you a “crazy n——r”—they don’t say Negro. Or they’ll call you an extremist or a subversive, or seditious, or a red, or a radical. But when you stay radical long enough, and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom…. So don’t you run around here trying to make friends with somebody who’s depriving you of your rights. They’re not your friends, no, they’re your enemies. Treat them like that and fight them, and you’ll get your freedom; and after you get your freedom, your enemy will respect you. And I say that with no hate. I don’t have hate in me. I have no hate at all. I don’t have any hate. I’ve got some sense. I’m not going to let anybody who hates me tell me to love him.”

-thanks to Dave Zirin of the Nation

D.C. Superior Court Rules Sidewalks Trump Free Speech Rights

The D.C. Superior Court ruled last Friday that possible pedestrian inconvenience was more important than the US Constitution or stopping wars.

Arrested during a White House demonstration on March 19, 18 defendants, including 8 members of Veterans For Peace, were found guilty by Judge Canan, Friday, of “failure to obey” and “blocking/incommoding” and fined $150.

The defendants argued for their 1st Amendment right to petition their government for redress of grievances.

They called on the US Government to obey the domestic and international law and to stop its crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The government argued that protecting Constitutional rights and ending war crimes were less important than assuring that a potential pedestrian would not be delayed by a few seconds passing in front of the White House.

During the 4 day trial Richard Duffee, who worked under Benjamin Ferencz (the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor), submitted a motion for international law experts to be allowed in the court. The US Constitution makes the Geneva conventions and other elements of international law the supreme law of the land and enforceable in every court. But the Judge denied the motion. Duffee later said, “For the last thirty years, the United States has been reneging on the basic commitment it made after WWII to develop international legal institutions, because we want to be the judge in our own case.”

The defendants maintained a focus on the US Constitution, that international law is enforceable in every court and on the cost of war. The court heard personal stories from several vets. Chuck Heyn, a Vietnam veteran, said “When I left Vietnam I pledged to the guys I served with who did not come back that I would speak out against my country when ever my country decided to commit our troops to war based on lies”

It was a pro se defense (the defendants acted as their own lawyers) ably assisted by attorney-advisors Ann Wilcox, Deborah Anderson and Mark Goldstone.

Judge Russell F. Canan, Jr., Associate Judge of the DC Superior Court found the defendants guilty on all charges, fining them $50 plus $100 court fees. Defendant Bev Rice chose to go to jail rather than pay a fine for an unjust law. The case will be appealed.

-thanks to Veterans for Peace

October 28, 2011

VFP/IVAW Member, Scott Olsen, Seriously Injured @ Occupy Oakland

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Jay Finn

Veterans For Peace & IVAW member, Scott Olsen, former U.S. Marine and Iraq war veteran, lies on the street after being struck by a police projectile in Oakland, California, during eviction of the Occupy Oakland encampment.

Scott Olsen being carried away after being hit by projectile

Scott Olsen has been twice deployed to Iraq, is in the hospital in stable but serious condition with a fractured skull. He was struck by a police projectile fired into a crowd in downtown Oakland, California in the early morning hours of October 26th.

Please contribute to the Scott Olsen Fund to offset any medical expenses.

-thanks to Veterans For Peace

October 27, 2011

Brian Willson video interview, Part 1 & part 2.

Brian Willson is coming to visit with us in Buffalo. He will be at the WNYPC Annual Dinner on Saturday evening, Nov 5th, with Cindy Sheehan.

On Sunday evening, Nov 6th Brian will speak on "Dignity Trumps Longevity" at the First Presbyterian Church, 1 Symphony Circle, Buffalo (at Porter & Richmond). Come listen to his story and share your questions and comments with him and the community from 6 to 9 pm.

Brian will also talk about his book, Blood on the Tracks, which will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

Earlier in the day you invited to bring a vegan dish to OccupyBuffalo at 3 pm to share with Brian and Becky, the occupiers and the rest of us.

Brian Willson interview Part 1

Blood on the Tracks - part 1 - S. Brian Willson - Sept. 2, 2011 from Maverick Media on Vimeo.

Brian Willson interview Part 2

Blood on the Tracks - part 2 - S. Brian Willson - Sept. 2, 2011 from Maverick Media on Vimeo.

Bring a vegan dish to OccupyBuffalo to share with the occupiers, Brian and Becky, and the rest of us at 3 pm.

October 26, 2011

Occupy Oakland: Iraq war veteran in critical condition after police clashes

Scott Olsen, 24, in hospital with fractured skull and brain swelling after allegedly being hit by a police projectile in Oakland

Occupy Oakland: Scott Olsen suffered the head injury during protests on Tuesday evening. Photograph: screengrab via YouTube

Adam Gabbatt · 26/10/2011 · guardian.co.uk
An Iraq war veteran has a fractured skull and brain swelling after allegedly being hit by a police projectile.

Scott Olsen is in a "critical condition" in Highland hospital in Oakland, a hospital spokesman confirmed.

Olsen, 24, suffered the head injury during protests in Oakland on Tuesday evening. More than 15 people were arrested after a crowd gathered to demonstrate against the police operation to clear two Occupy Oakland camps in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Jay Finneburgh, a photographer who was covering the protest, published pictures of Olsen lying on the ground.

"This poor guy was right behind me when he was hit in the head with a police projectile. He went down hard and did not get up," Finneburgh wrote.

Olsen was taken to Highland by fellow protesters.

The Guardian spoke to people with Olsen at the hospital. Adele Carpenter, who knows Olsen through his involvement with anti-war groups, said she arrived at the hospital at 11pm on Tuesday night.

Carpenter said she was told by a doctor at the hospital that Olsen had a skull fracture and was in a "serious but stable" condition. She said he had been sedated and was unconscious.

"I'm just absolutely devastated that someone who did two tours of Iraq and came home safely is now lying in a US hospital because of the domestic police force," Carpenter said.

Olsen had only moved to Oakland in July, Carpenter said. He is a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, and met Carpenter through her work with the civilian soldier alliance.

Keith Shannon, who served with Olsen in Iraq, arrived at the hospital after protesters contacted him through Facebook. He confirmed Olsen had a fractured skull, and said he had been told by a doctor Olsen also had brain swelling.

A neurosurgeon was due to assess Olsen to determine if he needed surgery, Shannon said.

"It's really hard," Shannon said. "I really wish I had gone out with him instead of staying home last night."

Shannon, who is also 24, said he had seen the video footage showing Olsen lying on the floor as a police officer throws an explosive device near him.

"It's terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us," he said.

He said Olsen had served two tours of Iraq, in 2006 and 2007. Olsen was in 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines with Shannon before leaving the military in 2010.

He moved to the San Francisco area in July and works for Opswat, a software company, living with Shannon in Daly City, just south of San Francisco.

Shannon said Olsen was hit in the head by a tear gas canister or smoke canister shot by a police officer. He said Olsen had a curved scar on his forehead consistent with a canister.

Protesters who had accompanied Olsen to Highland hospital got in touch with Shannon through Facebook, after Olsen said he lived with someone called "Keith". Shannon said he was told Olsen was unable to say his surname.

Olsen is originally from Wisconsin and some of his family were planning to fly out to California to be with him, Shannon said.

Video footage published to YouTube shows Olsen lying prone in front of a line of police. Around 10 people gather around him in an apparent attempt to provide aid, before a police officer throws an explosive device into their midst, scattering the group.

Footage captured after the explosion, which appears to be from a flash bang grenade, shows Olsen being carried away by a group of people.

Oakland police confirmed at a press conference that they used tear gas and baton rounds, but said they did not use flash bang grenades. Police could not be immediately reached for comment.

-thanks to the Guardian

Splitting the Sky Speaks At the Arrest Bush Protest in Surrey, British Columbia

-thanks to Globalization 1492

Howard Zinn on direct action

October 24, 2011

Last April the Hancock 38 served this indictment on the 'chain of command' responsible for crimes committed with the drones. Trial begins November 1st

Drones on Trial

The messengers, the Hancock 38, were arrested while the war criminals remain free and many continue to murder people and devastate and terrorize communities around the world.

The Hancock 38 trial begins at 5pm, Nov 1st at the Dewitt Town Court, near Syracuse, NY.

Indictment for Violations of Human Rights

Transcribed from a photograph taken of the Indictment at the April 22, 2011 drone event in Syracuse NY.
The Indictment was created by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars.
An attempt was made to present this document to the Air National Guard stationed at Hancock Field, Mattydale, NY -- near Syracuse, NY

We charge the chain of command from President Barack Obama, to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, to Commander Kevin Bradley, to every drone crew:

With the following crimes: extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians.

We charge that these crimes are committed in violation of the Constitution of the United States of America, Article I, Section 6.11, the Charter of the United Nations, Article 2, Section 4, the Golden Rule and International Law, to which we are especially bound by Article 6 section 2 of the Constitution which states

“...all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

We demand they immediately stop these crimes.
And be accountable to the people of the United States and Afghanistan.

We appeal to all citizens of the United States, military and civilian, and to all public officials, that we are required by the Nuremburg Principles I - VI and by Conscience to refuse to participate in these crimes, to denounce them and to resist them nonviolently.


We charge the Air National Guard of the United States of America, headquartered at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, under the command of 174th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Kevin W. Bradley, is maintaining and utilizing MQ-9 Reaper Drones for use in combat.

Extrajudicial targeted killings by the use of unmanned aircraft drones by the United States of America are intentional, premeditated and deliberate use of lethal force in violation of the US and international human rights law.

The US has used drones for targeted killing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan with no legal basis for defining the scope of the area where drones can and cannot be used, no rigorous

criteria for deciding which people will be targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality and accuracy of the killings, and no mechanisms of accountability.

In support of this indictment we cite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, who has said that the use of drones is

“...a highly probable blurring and expansion of the boundaries of the applicable legal frameworks human rights law, the laws of war, and the law applicable to the use of inter-state force...The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum.... In terms of the legal framework, many of these practices violate straightforward legal rules..”

See United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council Study on Targeted Killings, 28 May 2010. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.24.Add6.pdf

Let all accused in this indictment understand that our words are spoken nonviolently. All are invited to stop the use of drones and refuse to participate in illegal warfare.


2. 3.



Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nüremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, 1950: http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/390

Charter of the United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/index.shtml

National Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution: http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/art6_user.html#art6_hd4

-thanks to the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

October 11, 2011

Statement from Veterans For Peace Regarding the Incident in Boston Last Night, by Acting Director, Mike Ferner

Last night in Boston, our members displayed real courage, standing nonviolently between police and people in the Occupy Boston protest. Police were given orders to clear the park and initial reports I've heard say that some VFP members and perhaps others were injured by the police and that fifty people were arrested. If there were injuries, we hope they were minimal. VFP never condones the use of violence.

We need to keep in mind that police officers are in the same 99% as we are, providing the muscle, sweat, blood and money used by the 1% who own and govern. The most important thing we share with the police is our humanity. We appeal to police in every corner of America to maintain their humanity and think about it when they consider orders they are given.

Last night in Boston, our members displayed real courage, standing nonviolently between police and people in the Occupy Boston protest. Police were given orders to clear the park and initial reports I've heard say that some VFP members and perhaps others were injured by the police and that fifty people were arrested. If there were injuries, we hope they were minimal. VFP never condones the use of violence.

We need to keep in mind that police officers are in the same 99% as we are, providing the muscle, sweat, blood and money used by the 1% who own and govern. The most important thing we share with the police is our humanity. We appeal to police in every corner of America to maintain their humanity and think about it when they consider orders they are given.

The largest democratic uprising in U.S. history was that of the Populists in the late 1800's. Of them, Lawrence Goodwyn, author of "The Populist Moment," wrote that they "...created the psychological space to dare to aspire grandly." That is what the dozens of "Occupy" movements are doing throughout America today -- daring to aspire grandly and aspiring to the grandest ideal of our nation, which is democracy.

We are just at the beginning stages of a powerful, new rising of democratic energy and ideals. We will remain human but we will remain silent no longer.

-thanks to Veterans for Peace

Chris Hedges: Why the elites are in trouble

Chris Hedges:

Ketchup, a petite 22-year-old from Chicago with wavy red hair and glasses with bright red frames, arrived in Zuccotti Park in New York on Sept. 17. She had a tent, a rolling suitcase, 40 dollars’ worth of food, the graphic version of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and a sleeping bag. She had no return ticket, no idea what she was undertaking, and no acquaintances among the stragglers who joined her that afternoon to begin the Wall Street occupation. She decided to go to New York after reading the Canadian magazine Adbusters, which called for the occupation, although she noted that when she got to the park Adbusters had no discernable presence.

The lords of finance in the looming towers surrounding the park, who toy with money and lives, who make the political class, the press and the judiciary jump at their demands, who destroy the ecosystem for profit and drain the U.S. Treasury to gamble and speculate, took little notice of Ketchup or any of the other scruffy activists on the street below them. The elites consider everyone outside their sphere marginal or invisible. And what significance could an artist who paid her bills by working as a waitress have for the powerful? What could she and the others in Zuccotti Park do to them? What threat can the weak pose to the strong? Those who worship money believe their buckets of cash, like the $4.6 million JPMorgan Chase gave* to the New York City Police Foundation, can buy them perpetual power and security. Masters all, kneeling before the idols of the marketplace, blinded by their self-importance, impervious to human suffering, bloated from unchecked greed and privilege, they were about to be taught a lesson in the folly of hubris.

Even now, three weeks later, elites, and their mouthpieces in the press, continue to puzzle over what people like Ketchup want. Where is the list of demands? Why don’t they present us with specific goals? Why can’t they articulate an agenda?

The goal to people like Ketchup is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word—REBELLION. These protesters have not come to work within the system. They are not pleading with Congress for electoral reform. They know electoral politics is a farce and have found another way to be heard and exercise power. They have no faith, nor should they, in the political system or the two major political parties. They know the press will not amplify their voices, and so they created a press of their own. They know the economy serves the oligarchs, so they formed their own communal system. This movement is an effort to take our country back.

This is a goal the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in trouble. That is why they keep asking what the demands are. They don’t understand what is happening. They are deaf, dumb and blind.

“The world can’t continue on its current path and survive,” Ketchup told me. “That idea is selfish and blind. It’s not sustainable. People all over the globe are suffering needlessly at our hands.”

The occupation of Wall Street has formed an alternative community that defies the profit-driven hierarchical structures of corporate capitalism. If the police shut down the encampment in New York tonight, the power elite will still lose, for this vision and structure have been imprinted into the thousands of people who have passed through park, renamed Liberty Plaza by the protesters. The greatest gift the occupation has given us is a blueprint for how to fight back. And this blueprint is being transferred to cities and parks across the country.

“We get to the park,” Ketchup says of the first day. “There’s madness for a little while. There were a lot of people. They were using megaphones at first. Nobody could hear. Then someone says we should get into circles and talk about what needed to happen, what we thought we could accomplish. And so that’s what we did. There was a note-taker in each circle. I don’t know what happened with those notes, probably nothing, but it was a good start. One person at a time, airing your ideas. There was one person saying that he wasn’t very hopeful about what we could accomplish here, that he wasn’t very optimistic. And then my response was that, well, we have to be optimistic, because if anybody’s going to get anything done, it’s going be us here. People said different things about what our priorities should be. People were talking about the one-demand idea. Someone called for AIG executives to be prosecuted. There was someone who had come from Spain to be there, saying that she was here to help us avoid the mistakes that were made in Spain. It was a wide spectrum. Some had come because of their own personal suffering or what they saw in the world.”

“After the circles broke I felt disheartened because it was sort of chaotic,” she said. “I didn’t have anybody there, so it was a little depressing. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

“Over the past few months, people had been meeting in New York City general assembly,” she said. “One of them is named Brooke. She’s a professor of social ecology. She did my facilitation training. There’s her and a lot of other people, students, school teachers, different people who were involved with that … so they organized a general assembly.”

“It’s funny that the cops won’t let us use megaphones, because it’s to make our lives harder, but we actually end up making a much louder sound [with the “people’s mic”] and I imagine it’s much more annoying to the people around us,” she said. “I had been in the back, unable to hear. I walked to different parts of the circle. I saw this man talking in short phrases and people were repeating them. I don’t know whose idea it was, but that started on the first night. The first general assembly was a little chaotic because people had no idea … a general assembly, what is this for? At first it was kind of grandstanding about what were our demands. Ending corporate personhood is one that has come up again and again as a favorite and. … What ended up happening was, they said, OK, we’re going to break into work groups.

“People were worried we were going to get kicked out of the park at 10 p.m. This was a major concern. There were tons of cops. I’ve heard that it’s costing the city a ton of money to have constant surveillance on a bunch of peaceful protesters who aren’t hurting anyone. With the people’s mic, everything we do is completely transparent. We know there are undercover cops in the crowd. I think I was talking to one last night, but it’s like, what are you trying to accomplish? We don’t have any secrets.”

“The undercover cops are the only ones who ask, ‘Who’s the leader?’ ” she said. “Presumably, if they know who our leaders are they can take them out. The fact is we have no leader. There’s no leader, so there’s nothing they can do.

“There was a woman [in the medics unit]. This guy was pretending to be a reporter. The first question he asks is, ‘Who’s the leader?’ She goes, ‘I’m the leader.’ And he says, ‘Oh yeah, what are you in charge of?’ She says, ‘I’m in a charge of everything.’ He says, ‘Oh yeah? What’s your title?’ She says ‘God.’ ”

“So it’s 9:30 p.m. and people are worried that they’re going to try and rush us out of the camp,” she said, referring back to the first day. “At 9:30 they break into work groups. I joined the group on contingency plans. The job of the bedding group was to find cardboard for people to sleep on. The contingency group had to decide what to do if they kick us out. The big decision we made was to announce to the group that if we were dispersed we were going to meet back at 10 a.m. the next day in the park. Another group was arts and culture. What was really cool was that we assumed we were going to be there more than one night. There was a food group. They were going dumpster diving. The direct action committee plans for direct, visible action like marches. There was a security team. It’s security against the cops. The cops are the only people we think that might hurt us. The security team keeps people awake in shifts. They always have people awake.”

The work groups make logistical decisions, and the general assembly makes large policy decisions.

“Work groups make their own decisions,” Ketchup said. “For example, someone donated a laptop. And because I’ve been taking minutes I keep running around and asking, ‘Does someone have a laptop I could borrow?’ The media team, upon receiving that laptop, designated it to me for my use on behalf of the Internet committee. The computer isn’t mine. When I go back to Chicago, I’m not going to take it. Right now I don’t even know where it is. Someone else is using it. But so, after hearing this, people thought it had been gifted to me personally. People were upset by that. So a member of the Internet work group went in front of the group and said, ‘This is a need of the committee. It’s been put into Ketchup’s care.’ They explained that to the group, but didn’t ask for consensus on it, because the committees are empowered. Some people might still think that choice was inappropriate. In the future, it might be handled differently.”

Working groups blossomed in the following days. The media working group was joined by a welcome working group for new arrivals, a sanitation working group (some members of which go around the park on skateboards as they carry brooms), a legal working group with lawyers, an events working group, an education working group, medics, a facilitation working group (which trains new facilitators for the general assembly meetings), a public relations working group, and an outreach working group for like-minded communities as well as the general public. There is an Internet working group and an open source technology working group. The nearby McDonald’s is the principal bathroom for the park after Burger King banned protesters from its facilities.

Caucuses also grew up in the encampment, including a “Speak Easy caucus.” “That’s a caucus I started,” Ketchup said. “It is for a broad spectrum of individuals from female-bodied people who identify as women to male-bodied people who are not traditionally masculine. That’s called the ‘Speak Easy’ caucus. I was just talking to a woman named Sharon who’s interested in starting a caucus for people of color.

“A caucus gives people a safe space to talk to each other without people from the culture of their oppressors present. It gives them greater power together, so that if the larger group is taking an action that the caucus felt was specifically against their interests, then the caucus can block that action. Consensus can potentially still be reached after a caucus blocks something, but a block, or a ‘paramount objection,’ is really serious. You’re saying that you are willing to walk out.”

“We’ve done a couple of things so far,” she said. “So, you know the live stream? The comments are moderated on the live stream. There are moderators who remove racist comments, comments that say ‘I hate cops’ or ‘Kill cops.’ They remove irrelevant comments that have nothing to do with the movement. There is this woman who is incredibly hardworking and intelligent. She has been the driving force of the finance committee. Her hair is half-blond and half-black. People were referring to her as “blond-black hottie.” These comments weren’t moderated, and at one point whoever was running the camera took the camera off her face and did a body scan. So, that was one of the first things the caucus talked about. We decided as a caucus that I would go to the moderators and tell them this is a serious problem. If you’re moderating other offensive comments then you need to moderate these kinds of offensive comments.”

The heart of the protest is the two daily meetings, held in the morning and the evening. The assemblies, which usually last about two hours, start with a review of process, which is open to change and improvement, so people are clear about how the assembly works. Those who would like to speak raise their hand and get on “stack.”

“There’s a stack keeper,” Ketchup said. “The stack keeper writes down your name or some signifier for you. A lot of white men are the people raising their hands. So, anyone who is not apparently a white man gets to jump stack. The stack keeper will make note of the fact that the person who put their hand up was not a white man and will arrange the list so that it’s not dominated by white men. People don’t get called up in the same order as they raise their hand.”

While someone is speaking, their words amplified by the people’s mic, the crowd responds through hand signals.

“Putting your fingers up like this,” she said, holding her hands up and wiggling her fingers, “means you like what you’re hearing, or you’re in agreement. Like this,” she said, holding her hands level and wiggling her fingers, “means you don’t like it so much. Fingers down, you don’t like it at all; you’re not in agreement. Then there’s this triangle you make with your hand that says ‘point of process.’ So, if you think that something is not being respected within the process that we’ve agreed to follow then you can bring that up.”

“You wait till you’re called,” she said. “These rules get abused all the time, but they are important. We start with agenda items, which are proposals or group discussions. Then working group report-backs, so you know what every working group is doing. Then we have general announcements. The agenda items have been brought to the facilitators by the working groups because you need the whole group to pay attention. Like last night, Legal brought up a discussion on bail: ‘Can we agree that the money from the general funds can be allotted if someone needs bail?’ And the group had to come to consensus on that. [It decided yes.] There’s two co-facilitators, a stack keeper, a timekeeper, a vibes-person making sure that people are feeling OK, that people’s voices aren’t getting stomped on, and then if someone’s being really disruptive, the vibes-person deals with them. There’s a note-taker—I end up doing that a lot because I type very, very quickly. We try to keep the facilitation team one man, one woman, or one female-bodied person, one male-bodied person. When you facilitate multiple times it’s rough on your brain. You end up having a lot of criticism thrown your way. You need to keep the facilitators rotating as much as possible. It needs to be a huge, huge priority to have a strong facilitation group.”

“People have been yelled out of the park,” she said. “Someone had a sign the other day that said ‘Kill the Jew Bankers.’ They got screamed out of the park. Someone else had a sign with the N-word on it. That person’s sign was ripped up, but that person is apparently still in the park.

“We’re trying to make this a space that everyone can join. This is something the caucuses are trying to really work on. We are having workshops to get people to understand their privilege.”

But perhaps the most important rule adopted by the protesters is nonviolence and nonaggression against the police, no matter how brutal the police become.

“The cops, I think, maced those women in the face and expected the men and women around them to start a riot,” Ketchup said. “They want a riot. They can deal with a riot. They cannot deal with nonviolent protesters with cameras.”

I tell Ketchup I will bring her my winter sleeping bag. It is getting cold. She will need it. I leave her in a light drizzle and walk down Broadway. I pass the barricades, uniformed officers on motorcycles, the rows of paddy wagons and lines of patrol cars that block the streets into the financial district and surround the park. These bankers, I think, have no idea what they are up against.

-thanks to Nation of Change

October 4, 2011

Veterans for Peace Issues Position Statement on US Attack in Yemen

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you?


October 4, 2011

As of September 29, 2011, we are only one step away from a government where the top official can kill anybody, anywhere, any time he feels it necessary – and do it in complete secret.

With last week’s lawless killings of two U.S. citizens living in Yemen, Anwar Al-Awlaqi and Samir Khan, among others, President Obama took another step closer to that frightful day by assuming the roles of judge, jury and executioner. The two citizens were reportedly executed by a combined drone strike and the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden earlier this year.

Veterans For Peace believes these killings, which violated domestic and international law, expose yet another true cost of war – we can see our nation drift ever closer to the terrible waters of tyranny. The Obama administration claims evidence that shows Awlaqi and Khan were violent, implacable foes of the U.S. But isn’t one of our most basic beliefs, enshrined in our Bill of Rights, the principle that all accused deserve a fair trial and that all, no matter how dreadful the allegations against them, are innocent until proven guilty? The summary killing of two citizens without trial abandons that principle and charts a course to a totalitarian government.

According to McClatchy Newspapers, “Awlaqi spent his first seven years in the United States, before his family moved back to Yemen. He returned in 1991 to attend Colorado State University, and then earned a master's degree at San Diego State University. He married and had three children in the United States before leaving the country in 2003.”

Khan, born in NY, moved with his family to Charlotte, NC in 2004, where he edited an English-language magazine for Al-Qaida. A spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte told the Charlotte Observer last year that Khan's views were “widely rejected in the local Muslim community (and) Khan was not allowed to speak at any of the major mosques.”

The Obama administration said the authority to execute citizens was first given to George W. Bush by Congress after the attacks of 9/11. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Justice argued last October that “The (president's) judgment as to whether force is authorized against (al Qaida) or any other organization is informed by changing circumstances and sensitive intelligence that cannot be disclosed.” In other words, Obama contends that the authority to execute citizens without trial still stands, even if circumstances have changed. Furthermore, he is not required to explain anything.

That Justice Department’s argument was made in opposition to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of Awlaqi’s father in an attempt to save his son. But Judge John Bates dismissed the lawsuit, stating he lacked the authority to get involved, ruling “There are circumstances in which the (president's) unilateral decision to kill a U.S. citizen overseas is…judicially unreviewable.”

ACLU Deputy Legal Director, Jameel Jaffer, said the administration’s targeted killing program allows the government to execute American citizens far from any battlefield with no judicial process and on evidence “…kept secret not just from the public but from the courts.”

The Obama administration maintains that none of this matters as long as the proper secret procedures are followed. This is indeed a frightening notion.

It is time to bring all of our troops home from Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. We must return to a civil society that takes care of its people, not a militarized one that inches closer to despotism by the day.

October 1, 2011