Sunday, August 31, 2008

Second thoughts, officer?

At the end of the day, a long day, a hot day, this picture sticks with me. Credit to "intrepid photojournalist Tony Webster"

It's off of Twin Cities Indymedia, and the young woman on the left is Megan Wilson. She's seventeen and lives on a big green bus and her house was just arrested.

The big green bus is the "Skills for the New Millennium Tour and Earth Activist Training Permaculture Demonstration Bus", or the Permibus. Two adults, Megan, three dogs, three chickens. There's details in other places.

Megan's having a hard time of it. She knows it's a war for the health of the planet, she's not surprised. And I think she'll be fine. But seeing your life towed away does bring tears to your eyes. The other woman in the picture loves her deeply, and her gaze is on the next few things that need to be taken care of. And the officer behind them wonders why he'd been told that these were the bad people.

Prayers for all of us - activist girls who'd rather be playing with the kids, mothers who are doing what they need to for their families, people who passionately want to change systems, and people who are caught in the systems that so need changing.

Another day

Another report from video pirate the Stimulator

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Twin Cities: Criminalize dissent, privatize public space, militarize police response

It's gratifying, somewhat, to find people from Glenn Greenwald at Salon to several bloggers at Firedoglake blogging about the creepy police state tactics that are going on here in the Twin Cities on the eve of the Republican National Convention, aka "The Also-Rans."

A series of raids has swept across the city (the Uptake has a google map showing the raids) and they all follow the same pattern - a generic warrant (pdf) (sometimes shown or read before the raid, sometimes not), police with guns drawn (sometimes handguns, sometimes assault rifles), lengthy times when people sit around in handcuffs, and then the police go away, generally without making arrests. Then the city code people come by and try to board up the house since there are code violations, like a busted back door. You know, the one that the police just kicked in.

The mantra seems to be - criminalize dissent (particularly 'radical' or 'anarchist' dissent), privatize public spaces (the extensive 'security zone' that is around the convention center) and militarize law enforcement. The raids have generally been coordinated by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office (Saint Paul is in Ramsey County), which is under the aegis of Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

While it's generally hard to determine, Sheriff Fletcher almost certainly sits on the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Twin Cities area - that inter-agency department that includes police at all levels - federal (the FBI), state, county and city. This explains why the Minneapolis raids were led by Ramsey County, despite the fact that Minneapolis is in Hennepin County.

Now is the time for Sheriff Fletcher to get before the cameras to talk about the buckets of urine these dangerous anarchists were collecting, or the Anarchist Cookbooks or the old tires (for burning). That's because two members of his elite task force were just convicted of stealing thousands of dollars of drug money. As firedoglake's Phoenix Woman puts it

Bob Fletcher is the sheriff of Ramsey County. Bob Fletcher is a Republican from the formerly lily-white St. Paul suburb of Maplewood, which has for decades had an uneasy relationship with its southern neighbor. Bob Fletcher is also on the verge of losing his job, as a long-standing FBI corruption probe that has already taken out two of his buddies is drawing its net around him; he may well feel that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by using extralegal methods to please his RNC pals.
Excellent time to beat up on some smelly, urine-caching anarcho-hippies!

While I will try to provide you further coverage, I would recommend the following sites for keeping track of things. While we have two corporate papers (the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press) both tend to take the 'stenographers for the police' route, although the inherent disgust that the Twin Cities has for Republicans means that there are City Council members who will go on record saying how insane all this is. These two towns aren't perfect, but they are pretty liberal.

The main reason I might not be able to blog - I'll be working for KFAI 90.3/106.7 FM, the community radio station in town. Unfortunately, our coverage starts on Monday! So listen to the 6 PM news for my stories on the faith beat.

Police target protesters with preemptive raids in Saint Paul and Minneapolis: media sources

There are several fundamental constitutional issues that are being played out on the streets of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in these days before the scheduled convening of the Republican National Convention. They include the free speech rights of the delegate as well as the rights of those who wish to "petition their government for redress of grievances."

Those last have been undergoing a campaign of suppression by the police. What has happened is an militarization of the Twin Cities. Police powers have been expanded and are being used.

Two days out from the convention, roads are closed and raids are occurring. For months, protesters from a number of different political tendencies and points of view have been organizing. Particularly targeted are the anti-authoritarian RNC Welcoming Committee. The lead agency in these raids appears to be the Ramsey County Sheriff's department, led by Bob Fletcher.

Sheriff Fletcher, a former Republican city council member, is following a hard-line, law-and-order playbook that includes a series of raids and selective arrests.

There are a number of sources who are covering these actions. These are the best, if you are looking for journalism that does not begin (and sometimes end) with official police statements.

Twin Cities Indymedia
An explicitly activist media center, the Independent Media Centers were formed to give alternative media types a central location at protests like this.

The Minnesota Independent

MNIndy (Mindy?) is one of a network of independent media sites, run by the nonprofit Center for Independent Media (not the Independent Media Center. See above.)

Twin Cities Daily Planet

The Daily Planet is a 'group blog' of Twin Cities alternative, ethnic, and neighborhood media, which also does independent reporting on it's own.

Also look for these resources -

The Stimulator is a video activist who is producing short clips. Salty language, salty politics.

The legal collective for the activists - Cold Snap - is using a twitter channel.

Use these channels to back up the reporting you see in other areas.

Forgot the Uptake!

The Uptake

Progressive street video bloggers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why did the police attack protesters in Denver?

It looks like this blog is now filtering coverage. Get your finest artesian filtered by Nihilix media here!

The first is during the Tuesday police action. It's not clear exactly what's going on.

The second is some pretty well spoken radical activists defending their American rights of free speech.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where's the real power in DC?

Obama, the Presidency, the Senate, the House; part of the power structure but by no means all of it.

This little film clip hypes a book that I haven't read, by Thomas Frank, who wrote "What's the Matter with Kansas," which I hear is good but haven't read. He tells us where the real power is. It's been privatized.

Hat tip to Pandagon for posting this.

The UnConvention and these cool signs.

Signs from the UnConvention here in Saint Paul

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Getting ready for the RNC

This is AWESOME. Check the race/gender/solidarity moments. The mohawked anarchist kid. The black girl is the one who gets the idea. Cool as all get out. Hat tip The Field.