On Friday, May 18, the Québec legislature signed a special “emergency law” to “restore order” in the province following three months of student protests in a strike against the government’s proposed 80% increase in the cost of tuition. A legislative debate lasted all night and resulted in a vote of 68-48 in favour of the legislation. The legislation has three main focal points: (1) it “suspends” the school semester for schools majorly affected by the strike, (2) it establishes extremely high fines for anyone who attempts to picket or block access to schools, and (3) it imposes massive restrictions on where and how people may demonstrate and protest in the streets. The law is set to expire by July 1, 2013.
On Tuesday, May 15, protests continued in Quebec, with about 100 riot police called in to break a student strike blockage of a community college in Montreal. Students were told that “all necessary force” would be used to ensure that classes would resume, in line with a legal injunction obtained by 53 of the school’s students to return to class. … The injunctions are backed by the power of the state, and so the riot police are called in to pepper spray, tear gas, and beat with batons those students who form picket lines blocking access to the schools. On May 15, parents and teachers of striking students were involved in helping organize the picket line which ended with the riot squad using tear gas and arresting several people. …
Well-known independent journalist Tim Pool (who has covered just about every Occupy event since it started back in Sept. 2011) was evidently handcuffed, had a gun pointed at him and searched. Seems like a pretty clear case of intimidation.
“We may have been raided, suspicious circumstances. Talked to NLG [editors note: National Lawyers Guild], more info soon.”
It was later confirmed with the following tweets:
“WE HAVE BEEN RAIDED SOS
Calming down, still paranoid after being cuffed at gunpoint. #nato #nonato”
Watch the video here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22716864
In case they try to take the video down , please download the raw FLV here: http://upmv07.xo.upmv.ustream.tv/0/1/22/22716/22716864/1_9824271_22716864.flv
and upload it to Youtube.
Unconfirmed reports allege that the LivesStream equipment was intentionally damaged by CPD.
Our apologies for the radio silence here – we’ve been working on getting back in motion! One occurrence during downtime was the F29 protests. Organized by Occupy Portland, which saw 1,000 marchers, the effort seems to be the first rekindling of major ground efforts after the winter focus on dialogue and other, largely warmth-based activities. (For the record, New York saw about 200, largely attributed to poor weather.)
We’ll let the article speak for itself:
Co-ordinated protests are planned in some 60 cities later this month against a right wing group which activists say has an unfair hand in writing state legislation that favours corporate interests.
Working under the banner Shut Down the Corporations, activists plan to target corporate members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) with nationwide protests on 29 February.
Organisers say Alec, a nonprofit free-market policy group whose membership includes some 2,000 state legislators, wields undue influence by drafting legislation beneficial to its corporate members, which in some cases is then used as a model for legislation in states across America.
The nationwide protest is being co-ordinated by Occupy Portland, with activists across the country due to take part – including from Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Oakland.
“We call on people to target corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council which is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people,” reads a statement on Shut Down the Corporations’ website.
[...]Alec was founded in September 1973 as a “nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers”. The organisation, which counts the conservative billionaire Koch brothers among its financial backers, has a membership some of the largest companies in America.
One of the better known examples of Alec’s influence can be found in Arizona’s SB 1070 bill. The legislation, seen as one of the strictest anti-illegal immigrant laws in America’s history and criticised by Barack Obama, was modelled on Alec’s “No Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act”, which had been approved by an Alec task force made up, in part, of prison companies that stood to benefit from the act being passed.
Democratic lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin are seeking to introduce the Alec Accountability Act in their states, which would require Alec to register as a lobbying organisation and subsequently disclose its financiers.
Mark Pocan, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin state assembly who is gunning for Congress in in Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District, is behind the proposed Wisconsin legislation.
“Alec is like a giant corporate dating service [for] lonely legislators and their special interest corporate allies,” Pocan told the Guardian. “Alec operates best when it operates in the shadows. Once people find out that it’s really nothing but a front for corporate special interests you start to know that the ideas they put forward aren’t in the public good.”
Self-trained medical personnel have been a fixture in street protests for some time; the Occupy movement is calling more attention to them and their work than ever before. Here, the Boston Phoenix tells us more about who they are and what they do.
Anarchistic, high-energy, and self- organized, street medics have been part of activist counterculture since the 1960s, with major presences at civil-rights protests, anti–Vietnam War actions, the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973, anti-globalization protests in the 1990s and early aughts, and most recently, at Occupy encampments internationally. Street medics also take their skills to disaster areas: there were medics in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and in Haiti after the earthquake.
Some medics have formal EMS training, but most are just trained by other medics. In typical “fuck the system, let’s build our own world” punk fashion, they reject the necessity of legal medical licensing. Instead, over the decades, they’ve amassed their own set of traditions and protocols, their own collectives and conferences.
Ask any street medic, and they’ll tell you their free, direct-action health care is protected by Good Samaritan laws — laws designed to deflect liability from bystanders who respond to emergencies. But it’s unclear whether those laws apply to medics, who go into protests specifically prepared to give medical care.
“Street medics, when they’re marked as street medics, are generally expected to be tactically neutral,” says “Errico,” a 23-year-old street medic who lives in an Allston collective (like several medics we spoke to, Errico asked that we not use his real name). “We tend to discourage people who are wearing street-medic insignia from, for example, throwing bricks at cops . . . but we are in no way politically neutral. Medics exist to further the movement.”
Graeber was a member of the group that conceived Occupy in the first place. As an expansion of the previous post, here he provides a rebuttal to Chris Hedges and a handy primer on Black Bloc protest tactics.
“Diversity of tactics” is not a “Black Bloc” idea. The original GA in Tompkins Square Park that planned the original occupation, if I remember, adopted the principle of diversity of tactics (at least it was discussed in a very approving fashion), at the same time as we all also concurred that a Gandhian approach would be the best way to go. This is not a contradiction: “diversity of tactics” means leaving such matters up to individual conscience, rather than imposing a code on anyone. Partly,this is because imposing such a code invariably backfires. In practice, it means some groups break off in indignation and do even more militant things than they would have otherwise, without coordinating with anyone else—as happened, for instance, in Seattle. The results are usually disastrous. After the fiasco of Seattle, of watching some activists actively turning others over to the police—we quickly decided we needed to ensure this never happened again. What we found that if we declared “we shall all be in solidarity with one another. We will not turn in fellow protesters to the police. We will treat you as brothers and sisters. But we expect you to do the same to us”—then, those who might be disposed to more militant tactics will act in solidarity as well, either by not engaging in militant actions at all for fear they will endanger others (as in many later Global Justice Actions, where Black Blocs merely helped protect the lockdowns, or in Zuccotti Park, where mostly people didn’t bloc up at all) or doing so in ways that run the least risk of endangering fellow activists.
Curiously, this story isn’t getting a lot of mainstream media attention!
Thousands of Hoosier unionists are rallying at the Indianapolis statehouse for a second week of demonstrations against the legislature’s attempt to pass a right-to-work law.
Members of the Steelworkers, Carpenters, Laborers, Teamsters, Food and Commercial Workers, and other unions packed the chambers and rallied outside a joint House-Senate hearing on the bill last Friday.
[...]Anti-union Governor Mitch Daniels had issued a rule December 30 limiting the number of people who could be present inside the statehouse, widely seen as an attempt to prevent unions from mounting the kind of mass protests that Wisconsin and Ohio saw last year in response to attacks on collective bargaining rights.
Protesters won an early victory five days later when Daniels repealed the rule in response to growing crowds outside the statehouse and widespread public opposition.
The so-called right-to-work legislation would allow workers to reap the benefits of union representation without joining the union or paying dues.
While the bill’s backers argue that it would have little effect beyond the 11 percent of the state’s workers who are union members, opponents say such laws drive everyone’s wages down. “It’s a ‘falling tide’ effect,” said David Williams of the Laborers.
A study from the Economic Policy Institute said right-to-work laws have pushed wages and benefits lower in states that adopt them. Through the recession unemployment in right-to-work states has been worse than in union bastions. EPI has also reported that the law did not aid job creation in Oklahoma after it passed a right-to-work bill in 2001.
As the February 5 Super Bowl approaches, right-to-work opponents are buoyed by support from the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA released a statement against the bill and six football player unionists, all Indiana natives, sent letters to the legislature last week opposing it.
Protesters celebrated this support with an “NFLPA Appreciation Day” last Thursday. Wearing football jerseys, hundreds marched through the snow to Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Super Bowl will be played.
While Democrats said today they have no plans to intervene in the big game, protesters may have other ideas. In the past few weeks, “occupy the Super Bowl” has become one of the most popular chants in the statehouse.
NFLPA Director DeMaurice Smith indicated in an interview yesterday that the football players’ union may “possibly” support a demonstration outside the stadium. Noting that the union has lent its support to picket lines in the past, he said, “We’ll have to see what is going to go on when we’re there, but issues like this are incredibly important to us.”
“Right to work” legislation sounds reasonable on paper but weakens unions and removes protections for workers. –ed