Tag Archives: surveilance

No Time for Sound Bytes Now: #OccupyWallStreet is its Own Message

At Liberty Plaza, New York City (CC BY SA Carwil Bjork-James)

A formidable NYPD presence holds one side of the exit ramp while an equally-large throng of soaked, defiant youth face them on the other side. I’m heading back towards the ramp after witnessing a white-shirted police supervisor commandeer a public bus, ordering the passengers off and instructing the driver to turn around and head back to the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge has been shut down for over an hour now. When the bus arrives, hundreds upon hundreds will be arrested and boarded onto the bus, as well as police vans. Meanwhile, the protesters on the street begin chanting to the police: “We pay YOU! We pay YOU!” and “It’s OUR bridge. It’s OUR bridge!” as a cold, driving rain fails to dampen their spirits.

Police square off against protesters. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Arriving four days earlier, I had hoped for, and was greatly disappointed when, a short list of demands never materialized from the occupation’s General Assembly. Repeal corporate personhood. Remove special interest money from elections. Something. Yet by the fourth day, standing at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge with this standoff, it was clear to me that the Occupy Wall Street movement had evolved.

The occupation at Liberty Plaza may outwardly appear to be just a large encampment of hundreds of tired, exuberant, unwashed people. But it’s an incredibly subversive idea. What the occupation has managed to do thus far is set up a center for agitation on Wall Street’s doorstep, while simultaneously stand up to the most militarized police force in America. In that brave act of defiance, they’ve begun the process of recapturing public space to assemble and foment resistance against a corrupt system, a public space lost to us after 9/11 (with the introduction of “free speech zones”) and just as importantly, begin to remedy the fear and cynicism so many Americans have been feeling for well over a decade now under the hand of a police state and a domestic intelligence apparatus unparalleled in American history. The Founders clearly understood that the right to assemble was of key importance to those who wanted to correct wrongs done by their government. If they could not assemble, they could not achieve their goals. Liberty Plaza is a long-overdue civics lesson.

The protesters have collectively said, simply by holding the plaza: This is OUR square, the PEOPLE’S square, and we have a right to assemble and organize a campaign against the economic and civil injustices perpetrated by the plutocrats and their tax payer-funded security service, the NYPD.

They’ve managed to pull back the curtain and expose the police state which works to protect the ruling elite’s interests at the expense of the citizens they originally took an oath to serve: CIA-trained NYPD counterintelligence squads; videotaping the faces of peaceful protesters to feed into a facial recognition database; commandeering public buses for mass arrests; entrapment; kettling and pepper spray. And perhaps the most audacious: A $4.6 million bribe, ostensibly for new laptops, given by JP Morgan to the NYPD. All of this against peaceful citizens who are the living embodiment of a wildly-popular sentiment in America since 2008: the rich and powerful in this country have gotten away with too much. When Americans demand fundamental change and refuse to rely on or even trust a thoroughly-corrupt system to achieve that change, they must begin at the root of their oppression, and it’s as simple an idea as occupying public space in the face of police intimidation.

This movement is only getting started, with many, many cities developing their own occupations. Maybe I’m wrong, but perhaps it’s time to just let this people-powered movement grow on its own, because you can’t package an idea whose time has come into one or two pithy sound bytes. As one protester told me: “It’s bigger than one or two issues because it’s not about reforming the hopelessly corrupt system we have. This is about creating a new system entirely.”

If you would like to donate to #OccupyWallStreet, visit the New York City General Assembly website.

The Project is leaving Wall Street to report on the Boston occupation, and then to Washington D.C. for the major October 6th occupation in our nation’s capital, but we can’t do it without your help. If you enjoy my work and would like to help me cover expenses such as travel, food and gear, please consider donating to the David and Goliath Project’s #Occupy Media Fund.


Activist Spotlight: 9/11 Researcher Jon Gold

Jon Gold engaged in civil disobedience at the White House, January 31st 2011

I first began following Jon Gold’s (@911JusticeNow) work in late 2003. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the subsequent invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq galvanized me from apathy to a newfound political consciousness, and I soon discovered his work on one of the first websites questioning the official theory of 9/11. What impressed me about his research was that he was deeply committed to using verifiable facts found in mainstream news articles and reports. But perhaps what stands out most about his activism is his unwavering support for the first responders. He was made “Honorary Director” of the FealGood Foundation. He describes himself as “an American trying to make a difference.”

What was the first discrepancy, or discrepancies, that moved you to begin researching the hidden history of 9/11, and how long have you been involved with it ever since?

The first thing that caught my attention was the fact that Dick Cheney and George Bush went to Tom Daschle’s office, and asked him to “limit the scope” of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11. At the time I thought, “why would the President and Vice President, of all people, not want to know exactly how and why this happened, so as to make sure it could never happen again?” After 9/11, we were told repeatedly that there were no warnings, that no one had any idea that anything like that could happen. Then in May 2002, news of the August 6th, 2001 PDB entitled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike In US” was reported on. That was a “warning.” Once I saw that we were being lied to, I was “off to the races.”

If there were just three facts that discredit the official theory that you feel people must know, what would be those facts?

There were a multitude of warnings, and a lot more known about the hijackers by our Government, prior to 9/11, than the public has been led to believe. The investigations we got into 9/11, in my view, were compromised and corrupt. Especially the 9/11 Commission, which was led by Philip Zelikow. We were told that the source of the funding was “ultimately of little practical significance.” There are indications that some of the money was connected to Prince Bandar’s [of Saudi Arabia] wife. That’s significant. There are indications that some of the money came from Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh at the behest of Lt. General Mahmood Ahmed of the Pakistani ISI. That is significant.

What have been some of the biggest or most intriguing revelations to surface within the past couple of years?

That the 9/11 Commission considered referring NORAD to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation because of the lies they told to the 9/11 Commission. That 9/11 Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds said Osama Bin Laden had “intimate relations” with the U.S. up until 9/11. The multitude of whistleblowers that were ignored and censored by the 9/11 Commission. There were “Government Minders” that intimidated witnesses before the 9/11 Commission, and in some cases, answered questions for witnesses. That a complete outline of the final report of the 9/11 Commission was written by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow before the 9/11 Commission’s investigation even began. That Philip Zelikow may have been taking direction from Karl Rove. That’s really off the top of my head, but there is so much more.

We’ve both talked about our respect for the film 9/11: Press for Truth. Can you talk about why that film is such an important document about the hidden history of 9/11? Would you recommend it as an introduction to people just starting to question the official theory?

When Kyle Hence told me he was working on the film, I was extremely excited. It was going to tell the story of my heroes, the Jersey Girls, and it was going to be based on the work of someone that greatly influenced me, Paul Thompson. Nothing could be better in my opinion. When Kyle told me he needed money to finish the film, within a few minutes after he told me, I asked my father to loan me the money so they could finish the film. I didn’t hesitate for a second because I knew this was going to be an important documentary. The film is clearly one of the most important documentaries of our generation. It tells the story of the cover-up from the perspective of those who lost the most that day. It completely obliterates the legitimacy of the 9/11 Commission in the first 30 minutes. It shows the basic inconsistencies in the “official account.” I have always thought this documentary was the best tool for activists. In my opinion, 9/11 activists should show this film to people before anything else if they want to be taken seriously.

Will you talk about why (if you agree with this assertion, of course) the movement to question the official theory and uncover the truth hasn’t gained more traction in America, and why it seems to have made more headway in other parts of the world?

Well, the “9/11 Truth Movement” did gain some momentum in 2005-2006. But the “media” decided to focus on the fringiest of the fringe. As a result, we weren’t taken seriously. The “media” overall, has done its best over the years to paint us as conspiracy theorists, as crazy, as unpatriotic, as terrorist sympathizers, as terrorists, as holocaust denying murderers, etc… and so on. No one wants to associate with us. The media’s campaign to tarnish anyone that questions the official account of 9/11 has been extremely successful. People are dying in the Middle East, so it would make sense for people in the Middle East to question the official account of 9/11. As far as parts of the world outside the United States that question the official account, that aren’t directly affected by America’s occupations… they probably have better media than the U.S.

We now know from various news reports that the U.S. security state has turned its attention inward to spy on American activists as well as potential foreign enemies living in the country. Homeland Security was seen monitoring a peaceful BART protest in San Francisco the other night, and they’re also likely monitoring organizers and participants involved with US Day of Rage’s upcoming occupation of Wall Street, based on a bulletin released recently. Can you talk about how 9/11 has eroded the freedoms America used to cherish, and do you think we’ve allowed the 9/11 tragedy to get the best of us? Is there hope of beating the security state and regaining our civil liberties?

Expose the 9/11 Cover-Up, and I believe that everything that happened as a result of that day, will stop, or be reversed. The occupations will end, and the majority of legislation written that takes away our civil liberties will be reversed. Peace of the Action, the group Cindy Sheehan founded that I am apart of, was spied on by the Institute Of Terrorism Research And Response. I was spied on before I committed civil disobedience at the White House for 9/11 Justice. I assume I was spied on because when I got there, a cop asked me “are you Jon Gold? Are you still planning on chaining yourself to the White House fence?” There are many examples of liberties lost since 9/11. Look at the TSA, look at the wiretapping of phones, look at free speech zones, etc… Again, expose the damn 9/11 Cover-Up.

Would you care to offer any sort of narrative regarding what you think happened on 9/11, based on the extensive research you’ve conducted over all these years?

I don’t know what happened on 9/11, or who was ultimately responsible. That’s the problem. I have an idea, but I don’t know. Everyone has theories about what happened that day. Some are ridiculous and far-fetched, and others aren’t. However, without a real criminal investigation, we just don’t know. I believe 9/11 was a crime as opposed to an act of war, and as with every crime, there are suspects for that crime. In my opinion, elements within our Government and others have MORE THAN EARNED the title of suspect for the crime of 9/11.

How do you suggest people get involved in the struggle for 9/11 accountability?

By telling the next person until we have a majority of people. We can’t do shit with the system we have.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Since today is 9/11, I’d just like to say that I hope the families that lost someone that day have the easiest day possible. I hope the responders that were down there are honored, and that the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act is made to include cancer for the coverage it gives.

Jon Gold (@911JusticeNow) is a prolific contributor to sites such as 9/11 Truth News, History Commons, Peace of the Action, Secrecy Kills and helped fund the film 9/11: Press for Truth.

http://www.peaceoftheaction.net


#OccupyWallStreet Activists Conduct a Trial Run, Creating More Questions than Answers (w/ video)

via Adbusters.org

On September 1st, 2011, activists organizing the upcoming September 17th Occupy Wall Street action decided they would test law enforcement response by spending the night on Wall Street “in a peaceful demonstration to confirm their Constitutional rights.”

Below is a video produced by Occupy Wall Street’s Arts Committee:

The nine activists were arrested for legally and peaceably assembling on a public sidewalk. According to a 2000 federal ruling, the use of

“public sleeping as a means of symbolic expression” is allowed on public sidewalks in New York City as long as you do not block pedestrians. See METROPOLITAN COUNCIL, INC., Plaintiff, -against- HOWARD SAFIR, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, et al., June 12, 2000 [99 F. Supp. 2d 438; 2000 U.S. Dist.]

It must be stressed that the NYPD violated these activists’ rights by arresting and detaining them. Furthermore, no permit is necessary for a prolonged assembly on a public sidewalk. The only prohibition is that there be no camping (i.e. use of tents) because that would obviously impede pedestrian travel. I’ve noticed, especially on the event sponsor’s website, encouragement to bring a tent to the event. Setting up tents is not a good idea.

The sense from one of the activists present was that the police didn’t want to arrest them, and that the order to detain them came from a higher source. This cannot be fully confirmed, and should be considered speculation, although it certainly isn’t far-fetched considering the very high probability that organizers are under surveillance (via US Day of Rage):

Citizens have been prevented from exercising their right to peaceable assemble in New York City because the force established to serve and protect civil society, the NYPD, has become a counter-intel paramilitary force. CIA training has turned their operations into one of the “most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies“. Just last week the New York’s police commissioner confirmed that a CIA officer is even working out of police headquarters.

The arrests and detentions, however, raise more questions: will the NYPD have the audacity to violate protestors rights en masse when they begin their occupation? And as Alexa O’ Brien (@carwinb), an organizer for US Day of Rage astutely pointed out to me, on a wider public relations level, can Mayor Bloomberg afford to be seen as defending Wall Street criminals from peaceful, justified public outrage at the American financial elite? The occupation will no doubt draw attention to the fact that no one on Wall Street has been prosecuted yet for crimes committed against Main Street. In addition, using taxpayer-funded police to defend major financial institutions, many of which pay absolutely nothing in taxes, is hard to justify.

Below are resources for activists in New York City, via the Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStreet) website:

Demonstrating in New York City
What to Do If You’re Stopped by the Police

Please subscribe to The Project to stay up to date on the latest developments concerning the September 17th occupation, including on the ground coverage of the event that weekend.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers