Quebec’s ‘truncheon law’ rebounds as student strike spreads

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/24/quebec-truncheon-law-rebounds-student-strike

A draconian law to quell demonstrations has only galvanised public support for young Quebecois protesting tuition fee hikes


guardian.co.uk, Thursday 24 May 2012

At a tiny church tucked away in a working-class neighbourhood in Montreal’s east end, Quebec’s new outlaws gathered on Sunday for a day of deliberations. Aged mostly between 18 and 22, their membership in a progressive student union has made them a target of government scorn and scrutiny. And they have been branded a menace to society because of their weapons: ideas of social justice and equal opportunity in education, alongside the ability to persuade hundreds of thousands to join them in the streets.

Under a draconian law passed by the Quebec government on Friday, their very meeting could be considered a criminal act. Law 78 – unprecedented in recent Canadian history – is the latest, most desperate manoeuvre of a provincial government that is afraid it has lost control over a conflict that began as a student strike against tuition hikes but has since spread into a protest movement with wide-ranging social and environmental demands.

Labelled a “truncheon law” by its critics, it imposes severe restrictions on the right to protest. Any group of 50 or more protesters must submit plans to police eight hours ahead of time; they can be denied the right to proceed. Picket lines at universities and colleges are forbidden, and illegal protests are punishable by fines from $5,000 to $125,000 for individuals and unions – as well as by the seizure of union dues and the dissolution of their associations.

In other words, the government has decided to smash the student movement by force.

The government quickly launched a public relations offensive to defend itself. Full-page ads in local newspapers ran with the headline: “For the sake of democracy and citizenship.” Quebec’s minister of public security, Robert Dutil, prattled about the many countries that have passed similar laws:

“Other societies with rights and freedoms to protect have found it reasonable to impose certain constraints – first of all to protect protesters, and also to protect the public.”

Such language is designed to make violence sound benevolent and infamy honourable. But it did nothing to mask reality for those who have flooded the streets since the weekend and encountered police emboldened by the new legislation. Riot squads beat and tear-gassed people indiscriminately, targeted journalists, pepper-sprayed bystanders in restaurants, and mass-arrested hundreds, including more than 500 Wednesday night – bringing the tally from the last three months of protest to a record Canadian high of more than 2,500. The endless night-time drone of helicopters has become the serenade song of a police state.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/24/quebec-truncheon-law-rebounds-student-strike

Posted in Activism, Anti-Globalization, Civil Rights, Class War, Education, Globalization, Police Abuse, Police State. Comments Off on Quebec’s ‘truncheon law’ rebounds as student strike spreads

This Is What Tyranny Looks Like

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/23-4

by Carl Gibson
Published on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 by Common Dreams

Remember when police beat Tea Party activists with batons, raided homes without warrants, unjustly arrested and strip-searched Tea Party protesters, or attacked and intimidated journalists covering Tea Party rallies?

Me neither. But then again, the Tea Party took to the streets in favor of higher profits and less regulations for the richest 1 percent, whose ranks they hope to but will never join. The media is more than happy to inflate their crowd estimates, and police are more than happy to let pro-status quo protests take to the streets undisturbed. The Tea Party has since phased out street protests to take over a major political party and make it bend to their every radical whim.

While it hasn’t yet taken over a major party, the Occupy movement has successfully exposed the oppressive fascist police state that has reared its ugly head in the past year. If you want to see what tyranny looks like, consider what happened to the estimated 75,000 protesters who took on the military-industrial complex at last weekend’s NATO summit in Chicago, after the mayor revoked protesters’ attempts to lawfully assemble.

-A night before protests even begun, the Chicago Police Department raided an activist’s home and arrested several on unproven allegations of terrorist activity, all without a valid warrant.

-At the front of a police line surrounding a NATO gathering, police suddenly start beating unarmed protesters with batons in an eerie video resembling police at Egypt’s Tahrir Square.

-While covering the protests, credentialed journalists are attacked by police who use bicycles as weapons.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/23-4

Posted in Civil Rights, Class War, Constitutional Rights, Fascism, Globalization, Hard Times, Police Abuse, Police State. Comments Off on This Is What Tyranny Looks Like

The US Government Is Running A Massive Spy Campaign On Occupy Wall Street

From Business Insider:  http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-government-is-running-a-massive-spying-campaign-on-the-occupy-movement-2012-5

May 24, 2012

Remember the Occupy Movement? Since last November, when the NYPD closed the Zuccotti Park encampment in downtown Manhattan –the Movement’s birthplace and symbolic nexus—Occupy’s relevance has seriously dwindled, at least as measured by coverage in the mainstream media. We’re told that this erosion is due to Occupy’s own shortcomings—an inevitable outcome of its disjointed message and decentralized leadership.

While that may be the media’s take, the U.S. Government seems to have a different view.

If recent documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) are any indication, the Occupy Movement continues to be monitored and curtailed in a nationwide, federally-orchestrated campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In response to repeated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the Fund, made on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild, the DHS released a revealing set of documents in April.  But the latest batch, made public on May 3rd, exposes the scale of the government’s “attention” to Occupy as never before.

The documents, many of which are partially blacked-out emails, demonstrate a surprising degree of coordination between the DHS’s National Operations Center (NOC) and local authorities in the monitoring of the Occupy movement. Cities implicated in this wide-scale snooping operation include New York, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Denver, Boston, Portland, Detroit, El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

Posted in Civil Rights, Class War, Economic Issues, Fascism, Police Abuse, Police State. Comments Off on The US Government Is Running A Massive Spy Campaign On Occupy Wall Street

Chicago police clash with Nato summit protesters

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/chicago-police-nato-summit-protesters

Arrests and injuries as thousands march on downtown area of the city, where 51 world leaders are meeting


guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 May 2012

The main anti-war march at the Chicago Nato summit was marred by clashes between police and protesters, with several people injured and 45 arrests.

Thousands of people marched towards McCormick Place in the downtown area of the city, where 51 world leaders are meeting for the two-day summit.

However, the demonstration on Sunday ended in ugly scenes as police used batons to control the crowd. The violence came as a fifth person was charged with terrorism-related offences in in relation to alleged plots to disrupt the summit.

Sunday’s demonstration was the largest anti-war protest so far, after days of marches and protests in the city centre.

Gathering at Grant Park, thousands of protesters set off south towards the site of the summit, led by around 20 Iraq veterans against the war.

Arriving two blocks west of McCormick Place, the veterans, including Scott Olsen, the protester injured in Occupy Oakland demonstrations in October, staged a symbolic “returning” of their medals, tossing them in the direction of the sprawling conference space.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/chicago-police-nato-summit-protesters

LAPD plans separate jail for transgender suspects

A bit more details than the previous announcement.

I think this is a good thing neither transgender nor pre-op transsexuals deserve to be thrown in with the men to be rape just because they have been arrested and charged with a crime.

From The LA Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-transgender-lockup-20120415,0,6584779.story

Police will open a 24-bed facility in response to the risk of violence among the general inmate population. Chief Charlie Beck instructs officers to treat transgender people with respect.

By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles TimesApril 15, 2012

Responding to incidents of violence against transgender arrestees, the Los Angeles Police Department plans to open a segregated lockup for biologically male and female suspects who identify themselves as members of the opposite sex, officials said.

By early May, a 24-bed transgender module will open at the LAPD women’s jail downtown, the first such police lockup in the nation, according to Capt. Dave Lindsay, the jail division commander.

“This is a major change,” Lindsay said. It will allow for “an environment that’s safe and secure, as there’s been a history of violence against transgender people.”

City jails are for holding people only until they are arraigned in court on the charges on which they were arrested, typically a maximum of three days; then they are transferred to the Los Angeles County Jail, run by the Sheriff’s Department. The county jail will not be affected by the changes.

Up until now, transgender men and women arrested by Los Angeles police have been housed in the station closest to where they were detained — most often the jail at the Hollywood Community Police Station on Wilcox Avenue. Transgender women — men who dress and identify as women — were housed with the male population. Transgender advocates have long argued that such practices put transgender inmates at risk of being sexually assaulted or beaten.

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-transgender-lockup-20120415,0,6584779.story

Posted in Civil Rights, Police Abuse, Rape, Transgender, Uncategorized. Comments Off on LAPD plans separate jail for transgender suspects

Die-In tonight; Tomorrow is International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

From Feministe: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/16/die-in-tonight-tomorrow-is-international-day-to-end-violence-against-sex-workers/

by Clarisse Thorn
on 12.16.2011

Reposted with Permission

Tomorrow is the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers. For some 2011 event locations, click here.

Sex Worker Activists, Allies and You has a bunch of great links and 101 materials about sex workers’ rights.

Here in Chicago, the Sex Workers Outreach Project is holding a Die-In tonight and another event tomorrow at the best feminist site ever, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum:

“STOP SHAMING US TO DEATH”
Die-in Action for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Hosted by: Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Chicago
When: Friday, December 16, 2011 at 11:45 AM
Where: 18th and State Street, in front of the Chicago Police Department in the South Loop
Who: Current & former sex workers, allies, friends, families, and communities.

Join SWOP-Chicago in a die-in action to protest violence committed against sex workers

Chicago — On December 16th, sex workers and their allies in the Chicago area will gather at the Chicago Police Department for a “die-in” action. Participants will fall to the ground “dead” holding signs bearing our messages. Through this action, we hope to raise awareness of the violence committed against sex workers and other marginalized groups. Law enforcement, those whose job it is to “serve and protect,” often either ignores violence committed against these groups, or is a direct perpetrator. IT IS TIME FOR THIS VIOLENCE TO STOP.

This event is part of the annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. On the following day, Saturday, December 17th, sex workers and their allies will gather at vigils around the world to commemorate the annual Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, honoring sex workers who have died at the hands of violent crimes, and declaring an end to all violence against sex workers.

PLEASE JOIN US AT THIS IMPORTANT EVENT! And don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather conditions!

And here’s the info about the Saturday December 17 event.

Feel free to link to your own posts about sex work, the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers, and relevant events in the comments.

Posted in Civil Rights, Economic Issues, Feminist, Human Rights, Murders, Police Abuse, Rape, Sex Workers, Sexual Assault, Social Justice, Violence. Comments Off on Die-In tonight; Tomorrow is International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

Police State

I grew up left wing.  I may not have been a red diaper baby but my diapers definitely had a union label.

We were Democrats in part of New York State that had been down with the GOP since they sent volunteers to fight for the Union.

My parents were FDR New Deal Democrats who thought it stupid to vote against the interests of the working people.

I was raised to be careful about telling others things my parents talked about because it was the McCarty era and my father was first generation Polish American at a time when they were stripping people of their citizenship and deporting them for being Reds.

There was a fictional short story by Phillip Nolan called “A Man Without a Country”, about a man stripped of his citizenship and condemned to a life aboard ships.  I don’t remember the specifics of the short story, but John Adams instituted the Alien and Sedition Acts  that could have done something like that.  The moral of the story was supposed to be about how sad the man was to never be permitted back in America. I saw the moral as being, “Freedom of speech, means freedom to agree.”

I came away with a different take on it, perhaps because of my family.  My take on it was that there was a serious gap between what the Constitution says and how the Police State functions.  Freedom of speech should mean just that, after all the Constitution doesn’t have the disclaimer, “So long as one never speaks a disparaging word regarding corporate fascism, police abuse of power, racism, imperialism or the military industrial complex.”

In school I was taught that in the Soviet Union and life under Communism, the citizens had their lives spied upon and could lose their jobs and even be imprisoned for speaking their mind.  Which was way different from the US,  where people were being arrested, spied upon, interrogated, force to name names or face imprisonment as well as be denied employment all under the aegis of “protecting freedom.”

As a kid I couldn’t tell the difference.  But I knew that one of the things that could get one labeled Red was supporting equality for Black people.  At the same time people who murdered and horribly mutilated a Black child named Emmett Till were not prosecuted the way people who said that was wrong were persecuted.

There were things my family spoke about in whispers and that I was told to never speak about like their discussing loyalty oaths.

I was a radical in the 1960s.  I was arrested for my opposition to the war and for standing up for things I knew to be right.

We were subjected to having warrantless raids performed on our places of residence as well as stop and search violations of our rights in the streets.  Even though these warrantless searches were a clear violation of our Constitutional rights.

They called it “The War on Drugs”, they used it as part of a war on anyone the police were bigoted towards.

In the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller:

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up

It was after all the war on drugs and the only people speaking out were either drug users or left wing scum like the ACLU.  Generally the position was, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.

Then a few years later as the government became much more rabidly right wing and the Constitutional rights of Americans were eroded further in various ways including “the War on Crime” and “The War on Drugs” private companies began to demand employees submit to drug testing.  It didn’t matter if you showed up for work stone sober, they wanted to know what you did on the weekends.  And thanks to things like Employment At Will and the Taft Hartley Act workers had lost the ability to protest against these violations of personal privacy.

After all, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”  Like the dark days of the 1950s when a version of that same mantra was the subtext behind the assumption of guilt when people refused to name names for Joe McCarthy and HUAC, refusal to submit to a violation of one’s Constitutional rights to freedom from warrantless search was taken as an admission of guilt.

And so it goes, one baby step at a time we surrendered our Forth Amendment rights.

Did you speak out regarding this violation of people’s rights?  If you did you were in a minority.  There are gulags across America filled with people whose only crime is the violation of the drug prohibition laws.

Some where along with all the get tough on crime propaganda there was a new mantra introduced, “What part of illegal do you just not get?”  All the while there were obviously two sets of laws one for the rich and one for the poor.

Yet who, other than those pesky Reds spoke up?  And yes it is a truism that if one speaks out against the right wing police state then one is automatically a “Red”.  Even if they have never read a word of Marx/Engels/Lenin.  Even if they are no further left than Obama.

Then came the “War on Terror” with the TSA and NSA, Echelon, and Total Information Awareness.  To speak out against this infringement was to once again be a Red and soft on terror.  We learned new words and phrases like “rendition” and “water-boarding”.

But we weren’t being thrown in concentration and torture camps. So we sat back and repeated the mantra we had long ago taken to heart. “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”

In the process we learned to internalize the police state, to watch what we said and wrote, to point fingers and condemn as “Reds” and “Agitators” those who spoke out and questioned what the fuck was going on.

Remember Cindy Sheehan and the Crawford Ranch Demonstration?  Cindy, who son was killed in Iraq, had the audacity to ask  W., “What noble cause?” Perhaps more of us should have asked, “What noble cause?” Because our civil rights were going down the tube and had been for many years.

One of the major problems of identity politics is the compartmentalization and focus on an issue that is supposed to unite in spite of the people who supposedly share that identity having all sorts of different politics.

I have met too many sisters who were classist, racist, anti-feminist and right wing to believe that just having an association at some point and time with a trans-prefixed word makes them my sister.

I have been called a “Red” too many times by people I am supposed to have common ground with according to the ideology of Transgender Inc.

But now the Police state has become real for them too.

We Do NOT Have All the Same Body Parts and Body Scanners Violates Your Privacy

http://blog.seattlepi.com/airlinereporter/archives/218649.asp

It is time to improve privacy!

I haven’t been able to talk about body scanners for a while and it is about time I bring them up again. When I blog about them or am doing research, I constantly see the same argument, “What’s the big deal, we all have the same parts, get over it.”

The thing is we are not all the same and even if we are, we still have a right to privacy. With my obvious dis-like (maybe that is too nice of a word) for the body scanners, I get people who write me in support and calling me  fool. Recently I had a woman write me who is  a pre-operative transsexual, meaning she self-defines as a woman, but still has male genitalia. It is absolutely her right to keep her situation private and no one should have the ability to invade her privacy. Talking about privacy, I will call her “Jane” to keep her anonymous for this blog.

I asked Jane what it is like being asked to go through a body scanner and she told me, “that having to go through a body scanner would be particularly difficult for me as the body scanners actually reveal a person’s gender. ” She also explained it becomes even more difficult because she has, “anxiety which makes the thought of using these even more difficult.”

Jane lives in the UK and unlike in the US, passengers cannot opt-out of body scanners. If you get “randomly selected” , you must be scanned or you don’t fly.

Another argument people often use is, “if you don’t like it, don’t fly then.” There are so many reasons why this argument is weak. If you don’t agree with something, you should stand up for what you think is right and try to change the system.

Jane told me she doesn’t fly as much now due to the fear and has missed out on some very important life experiences. “I have relatives in India who I would like to see again and would also like to travel to India to pay my respects to relatives who have died but feel unable to pass through an airport whilst passing through a body scanner is a condition to boarding my flight,” Jane explained.

We are a global society and need to allow people to fly around the world to continue to grow and prosper. We should not become  society that violates a person’s privacy, so passengers can get a false sense of security that the body scanners provide.

Trans-gender fliers, disabled passengers, folks with body issues and those that have gone through a traumatic experience involving their body should not have to endure evasive security to be able to function in our society. Is giving up your privacy worth the false sense of security you get going through body scanners? I say absolutely not.

And then they came for_______ and suddenly the mantra, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.” becomes very personal to some who were all too willing to accept the privileges they enjoyed in the past when the people whose rights were being violated were Reds and drug users.

The time to stand up against the Police State is when they start scapegoating and imprisoning the under-privileged, those Justice Marshall referred to as the “despised and dispossessed”.  Not when they finally come for you because by then the only people left will be those still saying, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”