Columnist and Sanders supporter Harold Meyerson offers some historic warnings for other Sanders supporters; Also: More bad polls for Clinton; More bad 'track conditions' for Dems; Planet's climate crisis worsens...
Many of the individuals who were swept up by last week's LAPD raid on the Occupy LA encampment at Los Angeles City Hall were arrested even as they attempted to disperse in accordance with police directives, according to testimonials from some who were detained in the early morning hours of November 30th and held on misdemeanor charges for days after.
Their videotaped testimonials [some of which are posted below] both corroborate and reinforce the excessive force and post-arrest abuse charges detailed in our previous article on the Occupy LA raid, in which detainees charged that they were hand-cuffed behind their backs and left to languish inside L.A. County Sheriff's Department (LASD) buses for eight to nine hours without access to food, water, medicine, or toilets as they were left to urinate on themselves in their seats.
The details also suggest that these conditions were imposed upon innocent demonstrators who were the victims of indiscriminate, false arrests by law enforcement officials. Worse, one written account suggests the LAPD's misconduct included not only pillaging the encampment and police brutality, but even torture...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning with Brad Friedman
[Article now UPDATED at bottom with new information on the LAPD release of detainees.]
Much of the good will and plaudits earned by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck for their "minimal use of force" tactics employed to clear OccupyLA demonstrators from City Hall Park earlier this week has been quickly squandered in the hours and days since. The BRAD BLOG has learned that hundreds of peaceful arrestees were kept in often deplorable conditions in the hours following their apprehension.
According to new interviews with some of the arrestees following their release, men and women alike were held without charges for hours on end, forced to urinate in their seats on a holding bus while handcuffed, cut off from attorneys, medical supplies, and drinking water, and locked away with punitively high bails while being deprived of both humane and Constitutional rights.
At this hour, almost three full days after their arrest at the OccupyLA encampment in front of Los Angeles City Hall, more than 200 of the peaceful demonstrators detained by LAPD in the evening on Tuesday and early morning hours on Wednesday --- many of them who were not even participating in the Occupation --- are still being held in jail pending $5,000 bail for their misdemeanor detentions, as detailed by radio station KPCC. Approximately fifty people have been released, some after posting bail, others for medical reasons.
KPCC went on to report that on Thursday, only 19 of those people had yet to be charged. The City Attorney's office said that, depending on the charge, some would face bail as high as $20,000.
This morning, Los Angeles Times reported that most of the 19 who were allowed to appear in L.A. County Superior Court Thursday were released without bail, but on the "condition that they not return to the City Hall area, where the protesters had camped." The Times went on to note that most of those still held without being charged have no criminal record...
Yesterday, during my KPFK/Pacifica interview on Wednesday with citizen journalist and fearless video live-streamer Spencer Mills (better known to the world as "OakFoSho") about his remarkable coverage of the Tuesday Night/Wednesday morning LAPD raid of OccupyLA at Los Angeles City Hall, we discussed a moment when an LAPD officer had, inappropriately, pointed a gun at him, and Mills' fearless attempt to take the officer to task for it.
"Escamilla is pointing his gun at protesters," Mills is heard saying on the video. The officer then points the gun towards the sky, and then lowers it briefly straight at the camera as the journalist's video-camera records the moment for posterity.
"That's not necessary! You just pointed your weapon right at me!," Mills shouts to the cop. "That's not necessary!...It's against procedure and it's against code and you're not supposed to do it! Take your finger off the trigger, please. Thank you! Don't point your weapon at me. It's against procedure and its against code. I'm a journalist! I'm allowed to be here!"
The crowd follows up Mills by chanting, "Guns down! Guns down! Guns down!"
"Again, his name is Escamilla," Mills says near the end of the clip, before spelling out his name. "E-S-C-A-M-I-L-L-A. I believe he just broke procedure."
Prior to the show yesterday, I wasn't able to find the audio from the incident, which I had seen live as it occurred on OakFoSho/Mills' live-stream, but RT (Russian television) apparently noticed it, and highlighted it yesterday. Here's that moment...
Also, as we've been quite complimentary, in general, towards the way the LAPD handled the eviction from the park in a surprisingly peaceful way (versus the appalling example set by other cities where police sparked violence by the use of pepper spray, tear gas, and more against peaceful demonstrators), it seems, in addition to the above, a bit more video is helpful for balance.
"OccupyFreedomLA," the other video live-streamer who joined me in-studio at KPFK on Wednesday to discuss her coverage, sends along the following video captured that same night and aired by KCBS2/KCAL9 (yes, their news divisions are now merged), showing exceedingly rough treatment by the LAPD of a photojournalist in the park that night. "It could have been us," she notes, in the tweet accompanying the link she sent to both me and "OakFoSho"...
3:31am PT: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck give a very brief statement to media. Villaraigosa lauds Beck, saying that he's never seen such a well handled resolution. "This is a man who understands that Constitutional policing is the only way to go," said the Mayor.
For his part, Beck explained that "60 days ago we started a relationship with Occupy LA demonstrators," which allowed some 1400 officers tonight to use "an absolute minimal use of force" to clear the park.
Commander Andy Smith answers questions after the Mayor and the Chief leave, says that while dogs are still going through things, he is aware of no weapons or drugs found in the park. He lauds the demonstrators for "A fantastic job as far as the folks in there being non-violent." He said no pepper spray, tear gas or batons had to be used as hundreds of demonstrators were cleared from the park.
And yes, there are reportedly still four more demonstrators --- and one dog --- up in the trees...holding the Occupation...
Here is the full audio of the brief, 2 minute statement by Villaraigosa and Beck, as taken from OakFoSho's live video stream --- apologies for the very poor sound quality, thanks to the helicopters above the park...
Hopefully, here endeth our report for tonight. Read below from the bottom up --- as well as see our twitter feed --- if you'd like to relive it all as we did all night tonight...
3:21am PT: Not done after all. Citizen journalist Spencer Mills, better known as live streamer "OakFoSho," has been given permission to cover Mayor Villaraigo and Chief Beck's statement in front of city hall. Minutes away. See OakFoSho's stream below.
By the way, OakFoSho and OccupyFreedomLA are both scheduled to be our guests tomorrow on KPFK at 3:30pm PT on 90.7FM in Los Angeles and streaming live on KPFK.org. [UPDATE: That interview --- both audio and live video stream(s), naturally --- now here.]
It was a long night at the OccupyLA encampment outside of City Hall. The celebratory mood during the day had turned to tension at night, as the 12:01am Monday deadline loomed for what Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa had announced on Friday as the "date certain" when peaceful demonstrators would no longer be able to peacefully demonstrate in the overnight encampment on the lawn at City Hall.
57 days of free speech and peaceable assembly were fine, apparently, but 58 days would simply be a bridge too far. Or so Villaraigosa had made it sound during his presser that night, with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck by his side. They each took the opportunity then to praise the "Occupy LA movement for its peaceful efforts to change the national political and economic conversation."
But, as LAPD cops and the Mayor had been telling (often skeptical) demonstrators for the last several days: "We are not Oakland. We are not New York City." They had promised that there would not be a repeat of the horrific scenes which had gone viral on YouTube in other cities, where peaceful demonstrators were shot, beaten, "nudged,"peppersprayed, threatened and tear gassed during violent confrontations created by the police themselves, as they attempted to evict OWS encampments elsewhere.
One long-time demonstrator told us hours prior to the expected shut down last night, the LAPD had taken great pains to work with the L.A. protesters from the beginning of their encampment nearly two months ago. There has been a cooperative spirit with them from the beginning, she explained, noting that it seemed the LAPD was "still haunted" by the 2007 May Day Riots (which The BRAD BLOG covered live as it happened, and again when they finally reached a $13 million settlement in 2009 with the victims of their outrageous, inappropriate and unnecessary violence which included rubber bullet attacks on peaceful demonstrators and attacks against journalists attempting to cover it).
Last night's eviction never came, as protesters, media --- both corporate and citizen --- all took to the streets (and skies) around City Hall all night long. There was little show of force by the police, as they were mostly missing altogether through the night, with a few hundred, at best, appearing in the very early hours with helmets (but not full riot gear as seen elsewhere) largely to patrol intersections in an attempt to keep folks out of the street. Ironically, at about 3:30am, they spread the word that protesters should go back to City Hall Park, that they'd only be arrested if they were in the streets. There were just three such arrests total last night and the camp is still standing as of this morning.
The mixed messages from officials led one citizen journalist --- an OccupySF live video streamer who had come down from the Bay Area to cover the deadline here in L.A. --- to mention wryly as his camera rolled in the early hours: "The LAPD seem to want something from us, but it's unclear what their demands are"...
A post on Tuesday on the hard right Republican website Free Republic suggests that opponents of the Occupy Wall Street movement may well be injecting themselves into the demonstrations' open consensus process in order to confound the objectives of the nascent movement.
"[We n]eed LA Freepers to show up to block this vote by the Occupy LA General Assembly," the poster identifying him/herself only as "joinedafterattack" wrote in apparent hopes of scuttling a discussion that night about a proposal being negotiated with the LA City Council to trade 10,000 square feet of office space and some farmland with demonstrators in exchange for their voluntary exodus from the lawn in front of City Hall.
The call by the rightwingers to take part in a General Assembly meeting at OccupyLA for the specific purpose of blocking a proposal (one that was rejected, in any case, by the majority of demonstrators that night) exposes the vulnerability of Occupy Wall Street's "consensus" decision-making and an internal contradiction between a movement which rails against rule by the 1% even as it permits the one to block the will of the many...
Our own Jeannie Dean --- longtime reader, supporter and commenter at The BRAD BLOG, years-long Election Integrity champion, and now OccupyLA rep --- brings the gospel of the Occupation to RT (formerly Russia Today)...
Says Jeannie to the whole wide world via RT: "We have already changed the narrative from deficit spending to jobs and to the economic disparities and the social injustice as we are seeing through our banking system, and the hijacking and corruption inherent in our banking and political system."
Way to sing it, JD! You do us proud! Great job! And keep making noise!
An October 9 Time Magazine poll revealed that 89% of Americans agree that Wall Street exerts too much influence on our political system; 79% feel the gap between rich and poor is too large; 71% feel the executives from the major financial institutions responsible for the 2008 economic meltdown should be prosecuted; and that only 6% of Americans identify themselves as "Tea Party" followers.
Previous MSM efforts to either ignore what amounts to a genuine democratic uprising or to disparage Occupy Wall Street by falsely claiming the movement has no goal have obviously fallen flat. Against that backdrop, the corporate-owned Los Angeles Times launched a desperate effort to deceptively depict the movement as a transient phenomenon which has had its say and should now fade away.
Despite such efforts, neither the dire underlying conditions which have been brought on by history's greatest wealth disparity and the tyranny of the corporate security state, nor the people's desire to realize America's still-unfilled egalitarian democracy is likely to dissipate any time soon. As the Mavis Staples song says, "We shall not be moved!"...
I'm still largely off the grid for another day or so (as I have been for the last 24 hours+), but delighted to check in to see so much great conversation on D.C. Douglas' #OccupyWallStreet video we posted in the previous item. Also delighted to check in to see that the worldwide #OWS movement is today's top story across all the major corporate media outlets!
Incredibly, I'm here in Las Vegas (for a conference) and find huge signs advertising CNN's next GOP debate here on Tuesday being held at The Venetian. The embarrassing perfection and irony of the next Presidential debate being held at a CASINO is something I don't have time enough or perhaps even skills enough, to adequately elucidate upon at the moment.
All as some 20 #OccupyWallStreet protesters were reported arrested just minutes ago attempting to close their accounts at Citibank near Washington Sq. Park in Manhattan! More irony there than you can shake a GOP debate in a casino at.
In the meantime, cursorily related --- on both the irony scale and several others --- I was interviewed by Bob Jimenez on LA Business Today, about two weeks ago on our local LA Cityview 35 channel as the uprising was just begin to force its way onto the national corporate mediascape.
The segment, seen below, aired earlier this week. We discussed blogging, journalism, capitalism, the "occupation," e-voting and more in the very quick 12-minute segment...
Los Angeles is no New York City. Following a torrential down pour on Wednesday, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent a hundred rain ponchos over to those who had been encamped outside of L.A. City Hall since last weekend, as the core of the Occupy Los Angeles movement.
Later that same day, the Los Angeles City Council filed an extraordinary Resolution [PDF] in support of the L.A. "occupiers" and of the larger "Occupy Wall Street" movement as a whole.
The resolution, to be adopted "with the concurrence of the Mayor" (and supported by the L.A. County Federation of Labor), comes very close to a formal governmental endorsement of "Occupy Wall Street," a movement which Michael Moore describes plainly enough as "an uprising of people who have had it."
Amongst the powerful WHEREAS statements in support of the L.A. City Council Resolution, adopted "with the concurrence of the Mayor," was a recognition that "corporations hold undue influence and power;" that wealth disparity in the U.S. is greater than many of the nations in the Middle East that have been racked by "violent revolutionary protests;" that "our economic system" is "broken," creating an "economic crisis" that is "eroding the very social contract upon which the Constitution of the United States of America was founded"...
More on Occupation Nation tonight, as I continue to guest host the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show. Tune in tonight at 6p PT / 9p ET. We'll have live listening links and an occupied chat room right here at The BRAD BLOG! (Audio archives of last night's show are here.)
"What is a vote worth?" Venango County, PA's Election Board Chairman Craig Adams, a Republican, asked last week. "If the vote is counted it is priceless. If it is not counted, I don't care what it costs. Let's get a right."
"After months of legal wrangling," Marybeth Kuznik of the non-partisan Election Integrity advocacy group VotePA told The BRAD BLOG last week, Venango County's landmark independent forensic examination of the notoriously unreliable and 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, most often touch-screen) e-voting system finally got under way.
Kuznik explained that the study comes in the wake of the heavily Republican-leaning county having experienced "numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates in their May 17 Primary." Some candidates on the ballots even were reported by the voting machines to have received zero votes...
So I forced myself to take a few hours off yesterday. As too often happens, it turned into a busman's holiday.
We took a trip out to closing day at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, CA, had a great time in the bargain, and even shared a bunch of fun/snarky photo tweets throughout the day (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here if you're interested, or are not otherwise already a Twitter follower of @TheBradBlog.)
It was all fun and games and sassy social observation until we had the good fortune to chance upon a booth being run by the Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, where two delightful representatives of the office where on hand to help folks register to vote and to offer a demonstration of the country's 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system.
As I would come to learn, the two delightful representatives of the office had no idea that their own e-voting system was actually 100% unverifiable until I explained to them how that was the case. Equally as troubling, as I was testing out one of the Hart Intercivic eSlate demo systems set up for voters to try and learn how to use them, it failed on me while I was running through the demo ballot created for fair goers...one of my selections disappeared entirely...or at least appeared to...
[See UPDATES at bottom for Bowen statement, final reported results...]
Yesterday, California's Republican-supported Prop 14 --- which voters approved last June, changing the state's separate party primary system to a single primary for all candidates, with the top two vote-getters going on to a run-off election if none receives more than 50% of the vote --- had its first official try-out in the Special Election to replace the resigning Blue Dog Democrat and unrepentant war supporter Rep. Jane Harman in the state's 36th Congressional District.
While similarly "Blue Dog" Democratic candidate and L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn was in the lead last night as results were reported throughout the evening, it was the battle for second place, and therefore the right to participate in the run-off, that presented a real late-night nail-biter twist as unofficial precinct results were completed in the wee hours.
With Democratic CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen running second and seemingly headed for the run-off with Hahn for most of the night, according to L.A. County's running totals, the final unverified results inched self-financed Republican Craig Huey into the second place spot by just 206 votes at evening's end, after all 261 precincts in the very Democratic-leaning CA-36 were tallied.
With nearly 10,000 mail-in, provisional and other votes still to be tallied on the county's optical-scan system, however --- a system which was decertified and then conditionally re-certified, in part, by Bowen herself in 2008 --- the result of the cliff-hanger is likely to ensure "busy days ahead" at the L.A. County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk's office as Dean Logan, L.A. County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk, noted last night on his personal Twitter account...