'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, November 07, 2011

Don't Film the Oakland Police Department 

UPDATE 4: Arrests in Riverside, California, noteworthy for the anger of the crowd:

UPDATE 3: Occupy Atlanta takes action to try to stop a home foreclosure in nearby Snellville:

Occupy Atlanta has spent a month in downtown Atlanta, decrying corporate influence in U.S. politics and clashing with local authorities over their right to protest at a local park. Now the protesters are turning their attention to the suburbs, hoping to use a family of five in south Gwinnett to highlight the nation's foreclosure crisis.

This family is the perfect example of the fraud going on in the mortgage and banking industries, said Latron Price, one of Occupy Atlanta's organizers. We plan to shed light on the foreclosure issue and we look to make a stand here.

Nearly two dozen protesters assembled Monday afternoon at Tawanna Rorey's four-bedroom home in a neighborhood just south of Snellville, clogging the narrow, winding street that runs in front of the house with cars, vans and TV trucks. Many neighbors stopped to gawk at the spectacle and even honked their car horns in support of the crowd.

Occupy Atlanta shifted their focus to Gwinnett about 12 hours after five people were arrested near Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta, a site that was the staging area for Wall Street protests similar to ones held in other U.S. cities.

Most members of the group showed up at the Rorey's home after the family's attorney told them the Gwinnett Sheriff's Department was prepared to evict them Monday afternoon.

This isn't the first time that this has happened. Michael Moore described a similar episode in Capitalism: A Love Story. But the fact that this is happening within the context of Occupy Together is significant.

UPDATE 2: I don't quote Chris Hedges much, because I figure that you find out what he says independent of me. He also has an excessively moralistic streak that I sometimes find sanctimonious, as if he is preaching from the mount. But this is important enough for me to post:

We seemed to have lost, at least until the advent of the Occupy Wall Street movement, not only all personal responsibility but all capacity for personal judgment. Corporate culture absolves all of responsibility. This is part of its appeal. It relieves all from moral choice. There is an unequivocal acceptance of ruling principles such as unregulated capitalism and globalization as a kind of natural law. The steady march of corporate capitalism requires a passive acceptance of new laws and demolished regulations, of bailouts in the trillions of dollars and the systematic looting of public funds, of lies and deceit. The corporate culture, epitomized by Goldman Sachs, has seeped into our classrooms, our newsrooms, our entertainment systems and our consciousness. This corporate culture has stripped us of the right to express ourselves outside of the narrowly accepted confines of the established political order. It has turned us into compliant consumers. We are forced to surrender our voice. These corporate machines, like fraternities and sororities, also haze new recruits in company rituals, force them to adopt an unrelenting cheerfulness, a childish optimism and obsequiousness to authority. These corporate rituals, bolstered by retreats and training seminars, by grueling days that sometimes end with initiates curled up under their desks to sleep, ensure that only the most morally supine remain. The strong and independent are weeded out early so only the unquestioning advance upward. Corporate culture serves a faceless system. It is, as Hannah Arendt writes, the rule of nobody and for this very reason perhaps the least human and most cruel form of rulership.

Our political class, and its courtiers on the airwaves, insists that if we refuse to comply, if we step outside of the Democratic Party, if we rebel, we will make things worse. This game of accepting the lesser evil enables the steady erosion of justice and corporate plundering. It enables corporations to harvest the nation and finally the global economy, reconfiguring the world into neofeudalism, one of masters and serfs. This game goes on until there is hardly any action carried out by the power elite that is not a crime. It goes on until corporate predators, who long ago decided the nation and the planet were not worth salvaging, seize the last drops of wealth. It goes on until moral acts, such as calling for those inside the corporate headquarters of Goldman Sachs to be tried, see you jailed, and the crimes of financial fraud and perjury are upheld as lawful and rewarded by the courts, the U.S. Treasury and the Congress. And all this is done so a handful of rapacious, immoral plutocrats like Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs who sucks down about $250,000 a day and who lied to the U.S. Congress as well as his investors and the public, can use their dirty money to retreat into their own Forbidden City or Versailles while their underlings, basking in the arrogance of power, snap amusing photos of the rabble outside their gates being hauled away by the police and company goons.

Hedges, in case you haven't heard, was arrested on Saturday during an OWS protest in front of Goldman Sachs.

UPDATE 1: But the police can film you:

On Nov 2nd over 100 people took to the streets of Asheville, NC in a fun, spirited and family friendly march to show support for Occupy Oakland and their general strike. People of all ages from toddlers to grandparents participated in the march carrying banners reading, We are all Scott Olsen and Asheville is Oakland, Oakland is Asheville. The march was the largest protest to take the streets in Asheville without a permit since the Iraq War started in 2003. By all accounts it was a well received and empowering event for those that participated in it. Unless that is you are the Asheville Police Department.

Though the APD did little to stop the march, they did bring out dozens of officers, including the forensics team and undercover officers to video and photograph Asheville residents expressing their First Amendment rights. The APD has done this sort of unconstitutional surveillance for years at all types of protests. However this time is different. Starting Saturday Nov 5 the APD began grabbing Occupy Asheville participants off the streets that they claim they identified from police footage of the march. So far 7 have been arrested, and the police say there are many more arrests on the way. They are being charged with resisting public officers, impeding traffic, unlawful assembly. One person has an additional charge of wearing a mask in public.

For those of you who are unaware, Asheville is a historic resort city near the Great Smoky Mountains. Thomas Wolfe grew up there just after the turn of the last century, and wrote autobiographical novels, such as Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River, about about his experiences. At that time, Asheville was a destination for wealthy people seeking the purportively curative effects of the mineral baths. Today, it is a place where it is difficult to sell your house in the aftermath of the bursting of the housing bubble, which has been particularly brutal in places like Asheville which relied upon second home and retiree sales.


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