texshelters

Posts Tagged ‘OWS’

The Mainstream Media Ignores Illegal Arrests of Tucson Occupiers

In Current Events, Occupy Movement on April 7, 2012 at 21:28

Arrests at Occupy Tucson from azstarnet.com

On Friday, March 23, Paul Gattone, the lawyer representing many of the Occupy Tucson arrestees, held a press conference to protest the Tucson Police Department’s recent actions against the occupiers at Vente de Agosto park downtown. Despite the fact that five occupiers had been arrested two nights before the press conference, and two the night before, no mainstream media turned up.

One might think that seven arrests resulting from the police going after political activists would seem to warrant some news coverage, but the decision makers at the mainstream news outlets in Tucson decided not to cover either the arrest of the occupiers or the press conference denouncing the police actions.

Some of the extra-legal actions and abuse of authority by the Tucson Police Department that were highlighted in Mr. Gattone’s press release include:

1. Camping gear is now illegal, according to the TPD. The TPD even stated that it was illegal for one of the Occupiers to have his truck parked alongside the park because it had camping gear in it. No ordinance was, however, cited by TPD regarding laws against having camping gear in the back of one’s vehicle.

2. The police have repeatedly ignored the city park curfew of 10:30 p.m. to illegally arrest people whose crime appears to be holding signs. On the evening of Friday, March 23, 2012 at around 9:30 p.m., three individuals were arrested while walking within the four feet easement mandated by the police the night before. The victims were protesting with signs; no blankets or any other personal possessions were present. One individual was reportedly knocked to the ground and injured as the TPD arrested the three.

3. Among the illegal and irresponsible police actions are constantly-changing definitions of park and sidewalk boundaries and the subsequent entrapping and arresting of protestors.

4. The TPD has exercised selective enforcement, violated their own policies with regard to handling evidence, and refused to return personal property of protestors in deliberate indifference to the law. Many occupiers had their possessions confiscated without property receipts given to them as is mandated by city law. Moreover, for many of the protestors, the jackets, clothes, shoes and other necessities taken by the TPD and never returned constitute all of their worldly possessions. Regardless of what you think of Occupy Tucson, the police actions constitute illegal seizure of property.

The unlawful actions and abuses of Occupy Tucson by the TPD warrants investigation and reporting. However, the mainstream media is only interested in scratching the surface of a story and not taking a longer view of a new movement.

Thus, even when the local media reports on Occupy Tucson, they report various allegations about there, e.g., “being a split” in the movement, or about drugs being used, or fights, or anything that will get attention and ratings so they can sell more car commercials on the page or at the next news break. These stories are part fabrication, part conflation and none of these stories are backed up by interviews with actual occupiers.

Instead, the media relies on “official sources” and, in our case, that means the police, Chief Villasenor, and the city council; the media seldom actually talks to the people in movement. It is true that the mainstream media did give some coverage to the Occupy movement in its early days last fall, but now that coverage has disappeared. We have to ask why is it that they no longer seem to have any interest in covering the occupy movement. Is it because Occupy is no longer the new and novel sensation that it was in October? Is the decision to ignore the movement intentional, and why is Occupy Tucson no longer news worthy? Are they saving an extra column of space or five extra minutes to cover, for example, the new Arizona football coach even though the economic and political inequality Occupy Tucson focuses on effects everyone?

Whatever the reason, this lack of media coverage presents a problem for Occupy Tucson and all social movements because in the modern world of politics it often seems that if you aren’t covered in the mass media, you don’t exist. Thus, members of Occupy Tucson, even though we undertake actions of creative disobedience that result in a whole string of arrests, are then asked by members of the public whether we even exist because “they don’t hear anything about the Occupy movement anymore.” On the positive side, the experience of being frozen out of the mainstream media has reminded all of us at Occupy Tucson why it is that alternative media is so important.

Peace,
Occupy Tucson
Co-authored by Greg Evans, Paul Gattone, and Tex Shelters of Occupy Tucson with help others in OT


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Occupy Tucson Day of Solidarity

In Current Events, Economics, Education, Occupy Movement on February 21, 2012 at 02:25

The Raging Grannies performing at Occupy Tucson's 99% Meet Yourself

One thing the Republicans have yet to mention when deriding the Occupy movements and their most visible target, Occupy Wall Street, is that it’s run by a bunch of community organizers. Community organizing was evident at the Occupy Tucson Presents: 99% Meet Yourself event held at the downtown, main library plaza, Saturday Feb. 18th, in Tucson, Arizona.

The event was well organized, with a stage, music and speakers from different community based local and national organizations, tables that had information from these organizations, sign making, and information about the historical struggles of the 99%.

Several hundred people attended the event throughout the day to observe, share, learn and listen to the speakers and music and uncounted others that visit the plaza on weekends sat to witness and partake in the event. The event was also live streamed on the Internet for the world to see. Considering how dangerous the occupy movement has been portrayed in some media outlets, it was surprising that no counter protests occurred and there was little police presence.

The day focused on support and sharing of information regarding mutual and overlapping goals shared by the organizations at the event. As speaker Billy Lolos of Occupy Tucson (OT) pointed out, people ask what we in the occupy movements are about, why we don’t have one issue. The truth is, he said, was that we live in a “target rich environment”, and we will be there to protest and join in solidarity with those that share these concerns.

IT Live Streaming OT's 99% Meet Yourself

He then talked about the foreclosure crisis in the nation and in Tucson. Mr. Lolos urged us to get the Tucson and Pima County governments to use eminent domain to claim foreclosed houses and refinance homes for at risk owners. He also took aim at the banks and their bailouts and how if we let them, they will continue taking bailouts from tax payers to finance their risky ventures.

Steve Valencia, Tucson Chair of Jobs with Justice, thanked the occupy movement for helping change the discourse in this nation from cuts that would harm workers to investment in jobs and a sustainable future. He discussed what a “Job with Justice” means: a livable wage, dignity, benefits, collective bargaining, and so forth. Mr. Valencia also pointed out how the occupy movement is raising awareness for the push back against the dominance of corporations over our politics and the scapegoating of workers.

Joe Bernick, a leading voice in the Communist Party of America, author and director of the Salt of the Earth Labor College, added his voice of support and caution to the proceedings. He  reminded us that change doesn’t happen without social movements working for change. He added that capital and capitalism will prevent needed change unless we overturn the faulty capitalist paradigm.

Sal Baldenegro, Sr, a preeminent voice in the Chicano Movement and defender of ethnic studies, more accurately “Mexican American Studies”, echoed the sentiment in his presentation. He pointed out that every time laws were passed to exclude Mexicans and others from participation as members of the United States, those efforts have been defeated. When the U.S. tried to keep Mexicans from owning property, it failed. When governments tried to exclude Mexicans from certain neighborhoods, it failed. When people tried to keep Mexicans segregated and out of their businesses, Mexicans opened their own businesses and over time, segregation became less of an issue. And this happened because of the work of people to overcome those obstacles. And the ban of Mexican American Studies will also fail, he pointed out, because of the efforts of the people.

Sign making at OT's 99% Meet Yourself

David Yerkey of the KXCI show “A View from Slightly off Center”  talked about the media’s role in censorship and promoting the corporate agenda and the way marginalized groups are kept out of the national debate. One striking example he mentioned was how Wikileaks was kept out of the UNESCO debate on Wikileaks by the U.S., and how the U.S. state department filled the meeting with Wikileaks detractors. With public media and the Internet, we can get the news out about these forms of political censorship.

Gayle Hartmann, director of “Saved the Scenic Santa Ritas“, thanked the support OT has given their cause. She added that the letter writing campaign to the U.S. Forest Service against the mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, specifically those questioning the water quality effects of the Rosemont project, were having an impact on the Forest Service’s support for open pit mine. And she made it clear that the mine “would create only a few jobs” and that mining jobs were already available in Arizona.

The music of the day was rousing, lively, socially relevant, and uplifting. The headline band, Relic Soup, played classic songs from Stevie Wonder to Pearl Jam. Ted Warmbrand entertained us with his folk songs and traditional sing-a-longs while local favorites The Raging Grannies sang traditional songs with new updated lyrics about the 99%. Arianna Solare played her politic songs while accompanying herself on guitar while singing in English and Spanish. Guest musicians Ron Pandy entertained us with his down-home folk originals while local character known only as “Iggy” entertained us with his improvised piano and scat style a cappella rapping.

Tabling at the event were groups as diverse as a local solar power company, Move to Amend, the National Writers Union, and Occupy Tucson working groups such as the Yoga and meditation working group, PR/Outreach (the main organizers of the event), among others. Occupy Phoenix also had a table at the event to present information and invite Tucsonans to their events in the coming month.

Tabling at 99% Meet Yourself

More than all the learning, teaching, an networking, the event demonstrated that Occupy Tucson is organized, issue oriented, talented and well spoken members of a community that cares deeply about what happens in our city, state, and nation.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Myths, Misinformation and Falsehoods about the Occupy Movement

In Current Events, Economics, Occupy Movement on December 4, 2011 at 22:53

 

1. The Occupy Movement blames everything on Wall Street. This is false for many reasons. First, there are many culprits in the economic crisis and corporate takeover of government, including the government itself. We understand that. Wall Street is a symbol of excess and corporate dominance of our daily lives, not the only cause. Wall Street is a good rallying point, but if journalists and talking heads would look beyond the surface, they would find more. How about looking at the signs online and stay in your warm offices and you will see signs at Occupy Rallies and elsewhere about many issues.

2. “They have no agenda.”  Josh Barro, a “research scholar” at the right-wing think tank the Manhattan Institute has derided Occupy Wall Street (obviously doing little “research”) for not having an agenda.

But as I wrote in a response to this nonsense in his National Review article,

“You talk to one representative and now you are an expert? Have you been to an encampment or event? There are several clear goals that the Occupy Groups have, and if you had bothered to do research and looked at the various declarations of these groups (online, so you don’t even have to visit a camp to learn) you would find goals such as:

Protect homes from unlawful foreclosures
Repeal Citizens United
Single payer health care
Forgive and reduce student debt obligations
Make college more affordable for families
End foreign wars and bring our troops home
Reinvest in education and infrastructure
End indefinite detentions
Repeal the patriot act
End corporate personhood
and so on.

Perhaps the reason you don’t know of these goals is that you are too lazy to look them up and main stream reporters such as yourself refuse to report on them.

If you want to refute what I say, why not have me debate you and your ignorance.”

Perhaps I am being unfair to him and should forgive his inability to understand a movement that doesn’t fit into his “liberal versus conservative paradigm”, a leaderless movement full of capable people, and a movement that has many goals and objectives but isn’t as narrowly focused as Republican Senators are on bringing down Obama and nothing else.

3. They are all unemployed hippies who are aimless but at the same time violent anarchists, and other demographic falsehoods. The population of the Occupy encampments changes from day to day and city to city. I have seen different surveys of the group, but the highest unemployment stat on the movement I have seen is 30%. We are employed, part time workers, unemployed, retired, homeless, rental unit owners, entrepreneurs, students, vets, and so on.

The actual number of hippies in the movement is quite low, and what’s wrong with hippies anyway? Do hippies make right-wingers uncomfortable or jealous that these reporters and pundits chose a life defending the 1% while hippies are free of such nonsense and don’t have to lie and misrepresent facts for living? I know it’s hard for people in the media to understand that there is not one type of person involved with the Occupy movement, and it makes the movement hard to stereotype. But they keep trying.

4. The Occupy Movement is disorganized. This is false. With few resources and no corporate or political party backing, Occupiers have daily and weekly general assembly meetings. We have declarations, clean camps, feed people, make the media contacts available to us (somehow, the Today Show hasn’t called Occupy Tucson), and so forth. We have no central committee, and I know that is hard to understand for inflexible minds reporting news for the 1%.

Yes, we don’t fit the standard non-profit organization, or the Tea Party (paid for by Koch), but if you go to the camps and talk to the organizers, there is a lot of organization for an underfunded, non-aligned, independent organization. People say we are disorganized because they don’t understand our organization and want to marginalize us.

5.   Occupy Movements caused their own troubles and the violence. Little of the violence was instigated by the protesters, and at least in LA, much of the violence has occurred to Occupiers after they were in custody. To blame movement activists for being violent when they are attacked is like blaming a rape victim, something Republicans and many others have done. Don’t buy it when someone tells you that being hit by batons, or being pepper sprayed or being hit by rubber bullets is the fault of the occupiers. If the police would let us occupy or surrender in peace, there would be little to no violence.

6. We’re Anti-captilist.  Not true. While that may be true for a few, we are all against the rigged system. We are against a system that gives more tax cuts and affords tax loopholes to billionaires and millionaires and increases fees on the lower classes. We are against a system that passes laws to deregulate industries and gives corporate welfare in free rent, under-market prices for mining rights, military projects we don’t need to help contractors profit off of our tax dollars while they target cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, education and other social programs that help the vast majority of the people. We are against the selling off of valuable assets that only benefit the 1% such as the Rosemont Copper mine in Arizona and we are against the selling of our education system for profit while damaging that system.

Many of us own business, promote local enterprises and are for responsible capitalism that doesn’t damage the environment.

Can we ever really understand a movement that is in process, or ever? Only by being at an Occupy rally or meeting can you have the remotest understanding that you will never understand the full implications and people in the movement. We must work for the benefit of 99% forever, whatever the falsehoods told about the Occupy Movement.

Peace,
Tex Shelters