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Tag: Activism

Police Brutality Activists #ShutdownA14 Nationwide To Oppose Killer Cops

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

As highly publicized killings of unarmed Americans continue to make headlines, activists once again took to the streets nationwide to demand a halt to police murders and oppression. Tuesday’s day of action, centered around the hashtag #ShutDownA14, saw protests in 30 U.S. cities in 18 states.

The protest was organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network in response to the recent killing of Walter Scott — a tragedy in which an eyewitness recorded not just the slaying, but also police attempting to plant evidence near his body.

Protesting George Friedman, CEO Of Stratfor, In Austin & San Francisco

Posted in Austin, Journalism, MintPress News, and Occupy Wall Street

On January 22, journalist and political prisoner Barrett Brown was convicted in a Texas court of controversial charges. In addition to a 63-month sentence, Brown is expected to pay $890,250 in restitution to the private spy agency, Strategic Forecasting (a.k.a. “Stratfor”).

This monumental fine, which turns a theoretically free citizen into an indentured servant of a corporation, is meant to hold Brown responsible for a hack by the Anonymous group LulzSec — even though the government admitted it didn’t have any concrete evidence to show he’d taken any material part in the hack.

Jeremy Hammond, a member of LulzSec, pled guilty in May of 2013 and was sentenced to ten years in prison. The hack, carried out under the instruction of the FBI’s agent saboteur and snitch Sabu, revealed millions of emails that showed the complex interrelationship between the private intelligence firm, multinational corporations, and the surveillance state. The emails also revealed how Stratfor had infiltrated activist groups from Texas to India.

On February 2, 2015, George Friedman, Stratfor’s CEO, was scheduled to sign his book “Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe,” at Book People, an independent bookstore in Austin, Texas. It would be Hammond’s 1,065th day in prison; Brown had been incarcerated for 874.

George Friedman, you should have expected us.

Zim Shipping “On The Ropes” In Oakland As Activists Prepare To Block The Boat Again

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

After multiple Block The Boat actions, even opponents of the blockade movement admit that Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Israel’s largest maritime cargo corporation, is on the defensive.

The next in this series of direct actions, which attempt to prevent Zim shipping vessels from unloading at U.S. ports in a show of support for Palestine, was scheduled to take place on the morning of Oct. 25. But Block The Boat organizers announced via Twitter that Zim Beijing, the latest vessel due in Oakland, California, haddelayed its arrival.

There’s a long history of unions and activists collaborating to blockade business at the Port of Oakland, but the movement has spread in recent months. Attempts to prevent unloading, with varying degrees of success, have also occurred at the Ports of Long Beach, Seattle, Vancouver and Tampa Bay. There are signs that Zim may soon abandon Oakland entirely or may already be in the process of doing so.

In addition to the costs Zim incurs as a result of these actions, organizers suggest these actions damage the company’s reputation in international shipping circles just as it attempts to cement alliances with other similar corporations.

Exposing ALEC’s “Corporate Sausage Factory” In Dallas

Posted in Journalism, MintPress News, and Occupy Wall Street

We’d gathered at Eddie Deen’s Ranch to interrupt the American Legislative Exchange Council at dinner. I was wearing a pink cowboy hat, temporarily inducted into the CODEPINK Posse, an effort organized by the local branch of the well-known national rabble rousers for peace. About 30 of us stood along the sidewalk outside the Ranch, watched by a half-dozen police officers looking bored, a chatty police detective and a pair of startled horses held by two men dressed as cowboys. Overhead, an airplane circled, towing a warning about corporate corruption.

Powerful people in suits laughed at us and snapped smartphone photos as they disembarked from the chartered buses they rode to the Western-themed restaurant. It was July 31 and ALEC was in town for its 41st meeting. After the first of several days of corporate backroom deals at the Hilton Anatole, ALEC’s members wanted to pretend they were cowboys while they ate.

The buses kept coming and out poured some of the world’s most powerful: corporate executives, rich investors, state legislators and their families. Though they’d normally disdain public transportation — when they aren’t orchestrating cuts against it in the name of austerity — I imagined the atmosphere on the bus was jovial, as if the “1%” was on a field trip.

CODEPINK are no strangers to using humor to fight evil. Duded up in pink Western-wear, with faux handcuffs and a “RUN ALEC OUT OF TEXAS” banner, they were aiming for laughter. As the suits’ humor peaked, CODEPINK Dallas — mostly older women — began chanting, “WE MAY BE FUNNY, BUT YOU ARE CORRUPT!”

Speaking out is thirsty, thankless work in the Texas heat. After two hours, a Ranch worker dressed as a cowboy brought us all bottled water.

Video: 5,000 Texans March For Gaza

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and MintPress News

“But we do not have much time. The revolutionary spirit is already worldwide. If the anger of the peoples of the world at the injustice of things is to be channeled into a revolution of love and creativity, we must begin now to work, urgently, with all people, to shape a new world.”

On Aug. 2, Sheikh Islam Mossaad ended his speech at the Texas Stands With Gaza rally by quoting these words of Martin Luther King, Jr. The quotation was preceded by a passionate speech invoking the spirit of dead Palestinian children and calling on the living youth of the world to take up their struggle.

It set the tone for a historic moment — the largest rally for Gaza in the Lone Star State since the beginning of Israel’s military offensive dubbed Operation Protective Edge, and likely the largest pro-Palestine rally ever in the state. A crowd of thousands grew through the speeches and swelled further as it turned from a rally on the state capitol grounds to a march down Congress, the central artery running through downtown Austin, to City Hall. People came off the sidewalks to stand against Israel’s war crimes, to stand with an oppressed people, until the peaceful march stretched to five blocks long and included at least 5,000 Gaza supporters.

Above All Else: The Beauty & Tragedy of Tar Sands Blockade (#SXSW)

Posted in Journalism, and SXSW

The most emotionally devastating and artistically gifted scene in Above All Else, John Fiege’s new climate change documentary, comes late in the film. Deep in the night, East Texas landowner David Daniel hikes through the darkness to an environmental activist encampment where he has to deliver bad news. The scene is lit only by the head lamps that Daniel and the others wear, highlighting or obscuring their grief-stricken faces. Around them is the hush and murmur of the forest. It’s a scene that may have occurred millions of times through history — a half dozen humans, alone among untouched wildness, sharing their pain.

By the early months of 2012, after every Occupy camp in Texas had been evicted, the state became the sight of a dramatic new, ongoing protest: the Tar Sands Blockade. Though largely ignored by the national environmental advocacy groups that had fought to delay the Keystone XL Pipeline, construction of the southern leg of the pipeline continued, cutting across beautiful, untouched Texas wild lands and waterways.

Until police violence and a legal settlement forced a halt to action, the Blockade operated almost continuously from the famous tree village through dozens of smaller direct actions, working from landowners’ property and a secluded tent village. Though the movement attracted many Occupiers and long time activists, it also drew many who’d never taken a stand before — Texas landowners, parents and grandparents who wanted East Texas (and Planet Earth) to be beautiful and life sustaining for their children. The Blockade was truly a citizen’s movement.