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...
On Friday, Lt. John Pike [and a number of other officers --- see UPDATE below] of the UC Davis police force lead a group of lawless cops in lining up demonstrators who had been peaceably assembled on the University of California, Davis quad and then covered them with with pepper spray. His fellow cops did nothing to stop him, and actually stood by in support. [Complete appalling video posted at the end of this article.]
We're at a loss to describe this type of outrageous, unprovoked and unnecessary behavior as anything less than torture, to be frank.
Our report yesterday detailed a rapidly growing partial list of other atrocious incidents of blatant, lawless, unprovoked violence carried out by "law enforcement" officials across the nation since the Occupy Wall Street movement began two months ago. The incidents, almost all documented on video by citizen journalists, demonstrate the unrestrained, and almost always illegal, use of brutal force, aggression, violence and often torture by Big Government against peaceful American citizens exercising what were once known as their Constitutional rights --- the very behavior which supporters of the Tea Party once pretended to be concerned about.
As we averred in that article --- as supported by the included linked incidents --- and as we feel even more certain of today after viewing the video of the casually brutal and tortuous behavior of Pike and his band of UC Davis stormtrooper thugs who stood by in support (see full video below), the U.S. has not become merely a Police State in the ten years following 9/11, but a fully weaponized Military State.
Though video evidence of what happened was widely available on Friday, rather than condemning the outrageous violence by a member of her own Police force --- as she almost certainly would have had the situation been reversed and a student used pepper spray against peaceful cops --- UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi chose to issue a statement yesterday which seemed to excuse the police brutality as necessary "to protect the health and safety of our campus community"...
He says "The photo was taken from the southeast corner of the square, looking toward the intersection of 6th and Yamhill after a day of marching through downtown Portland, Ore., by Occupy Portland participants."
Rasmussen goes on to report that "Several people were arrested" during the march to the Wells Fargo downtown branch in recognition of "N17," standing for November 17th, the two-month "anniversary" of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
I'm guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show tonight, so haven't had time to confirm for certain, but I suspect one of those "arrested" was not the officer pepper spraying the apparently peaceful demonstrator in the face.
Add this incident to the growing body of apparently unprovoked police abuse of peaceful citizen demonstrators in the Occupy movement, including (but not limited to):
the Mother Jones journalist Josh Harkinson (who will join us on tonight's Malloy Show) who reports that he was dragged behind a moving truck by an NYPD officer after midnight on Tuesday morning as riot cops were clearing Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan;
This is not a Police State. It is a fully weaponized Military State, at this point. Just ask the folks at Occupy Tampa if it feels that way to them...
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UPDATE 11/19/11: The outrage --- and, yes, torture --- of the fully-weaponized Military State continues, as peaceful student demonstrators are lined up and pepper sprayed by cops at UC Davis on Friday. Details/Video...
Had a very enjoyable and very lively debate yesterday with the Rightwing co-host of the Fairness Doctrine Radio show with Dr. Patrick O'Heffernan (to the Left) and Chuck Morse (on the Right).
I was invited to discuss the Occupy Wall Street movement, and Morse led off the questioning --- with a bunch of unsupportable RW talking points, in my opinion --- which meant things got very lively from the start...and stayed there.
I'd offer you more teasers, but I think I'll just make you listen for yourself instead, if you're interested. But, suffice to say, the photo posted below is sent with my compliments to Chuck.
(BTW, while the show is called Fairness Doctrine Radio, Morse, who says he came up with the name, is against restoration of the real Fairness Doctrine and offers some, um, interesting reasons why during our discussion. Ironically, however, while the show is "balanced" in that it features both Leftish and Right points of view via its co-hosts, and would have been perfectly appropriate on our public airwaves under the Fairness Doctrine, the show is largely confined to the Internet, instead of the public airwaves...where such debate might otherwise actually serve in the public interest, unlike most of the corporatized crap that is currently forced on the nation. In any case, that's why the hosts sound like they are both on the phone. It's because they are.)
This follows on the story of former Marine and two-tour Iraq vet Scott Olsen, whose skull was fractured, allegedly, by a police projectile during demonstrations at Occupy Oakland on October 25th, as we've reported on previously (here, here and, most recently, here).
Now we learn of a second serious injury to an Iraq (and Afghanistan) vet, Kayvan Sabehgi, at the hands of the Oakland PD in response to peaceful demonstrations late last month. He was reportedly in intensive care Friday following surgery for a ruptured spleen, more than 10 days after the Oakland PD's confrontation with demonstrators. Sabeghi was reportedly beaten, arrested, and kept in jail without medical care for some 24 hours after the incident, even though he wasn't even a part of the demonstration and was simply trying to get home that night.
As The BRAD BLOG reported exclusively last week, the Oakland PD appears to have initiated the use of chemical agents against peaceful protesters in violation of both state law and a federal consent decree agreed to after a similarly illegal and violent confrontation with demonstrators in 2003. Both video tape evidence and eye-witnesses testimony suggest the violence was instigated by law enforcement officials, rather than demonstrators, in direct contradiction to the claim by Oakland's Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan that police "had to deploy gas in order to stop the crowd and people from pelting us with bottles and rocks."
The revelations of the Sabehgi story make an already appalling story even more so...
No wonder MSNBC buried Chris Hayes' new show in in the absurdly early hours of the weekend TV ghetto. He should be hosting, at a minimum, NBC's Meet the Press.
Had he been doing so for the last several years --- rather than the clueless elitists who have been, along with their weekly parade of meaningless softballs served up to similarly clueless elitist guests and panelists --- we likely wouldn't be in this mess.
Yesterday's compelling round-table discussion on UP with Chris Hayes, about so much that is actually at the heart of this nation's problems, follows below. I hope you will watch it...
But the fact is, the wholesale takeover of the American government by corporate "persons" --- and the (at least) 30 years of corruption and crapping on the middle class that has come with it --- has some 99% of us with a long, 30 year-list of complaints. They don't easily fit on one single bumper sticker. Ultimately, though, there seems just one thing that underscores all of those complaints: the end of any real accountability for every one of those corrupting influences and often criminal acts.
It has become almost unimaginable that flagrant lawlessness by the elite --- be they in government or corporatist America --- will ever be met with any sort of real accountability, any kind of accountability that might actually dissuade others from the same behavior in a way that might serve to reverse the ever increasing race to lower the bar below ground. That, I suspect, is the frustration at the heart of every Occupation and ever Occupier or those who support them in the country.
Two back-to-back interviews on Tuesday night's Rachel Maddow Show seemed to make these points as plain as could be, and one even offered some hope in the bargain. The first was with NY state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who actually suggests he gets it, and is actually pursuing real accountability, with real investigations into criminality by the banks and the banksters before, during and after the explosion of the mortgage crisis. We'll see if he means it (or if he gets "caught" with a hooker first.) The second interview was with Constitutional attorney, Salon blogger and author of the new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, Glenn Greenwald.
Key points on accountability from both interviews are excerpted below, and the full videos of each are embed below that. Both are worth reading and/or watching in full if you haven't. It's about the accountability, stupid...
The words, "hypocrisy has its own elegant symmetry," appear in this short, but powerful documentary posted on October 10, long prior to last night's shocking scenes from Occupy Oakland.
The video contrasts the positions of our political elites in response to democratic uprisings in other countries against our government's response to the genuine democratic uprising we are now beginning to finally see in the U.S.A...
Once again, late last night, as is becoming a too-regular nightly ritual, after the 11p news was over, police moved in again to violate the Constitutional First Amendment right "of the people peaceably to assemble." And, for the second night in a row, late last night in Oakland, CA, it resembled a war zone as police in riot gear unleashed a punishing onslaught of "non-lethal" flash-bang grenades, rubber (and or bean-bag) bullets and tear gas --- hour after hour, round after round --- injuring demonstrators, including women, the disabled, and even Iraq War veterans...
The results were horrific, according to video, photos, and eye-witness reports as it all happened and was reported on Twitter, including this scene appearing to show a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War knocked out by either a concussive grenade or a tear gas canister or another projectile, and being carried away...
[Update]: The veteran seen above was shot in the head and the UK Guardian is now confirming his name is Scott Olsen and that he is in "critical condition" with a "skull fracture and swelling of the brain" at Highland hospital.
"It's terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us," his roommate, Keith Shannon, also 24, who served alongside Olsen as a Marine in Iraq, told the Guardian in a late follow-up today.
Other scenes were similarly gruesome and, yes, shameful...
Apparently, disgraced former HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr just can't help himself.
The guy who lost his job and was publicly humiliated after promising to reveal the identities of the supposed leadership of hacktivist group Anonymous and getting caught devising a plan to illegally discredit, defraud and spy on perceived opponents of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America is now palling around with a self-appointed NYPD/FBI "snitch" at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and beyond, according to --- ironically enough --- emails accidentally released on the Internet by the "snitch" himself, Thomas Ryan.
These two are the government corporate welfare queens and "cyber security" clowns that can't shoot straight, it seems. But at least they have each other --- and your tax-payer dollars --- as they both work for highly remunerated, government contracted security firms. And while they each claim to represent different sides of the partisan aisle, strangely enough, as an investigation by The BRAD BLOG reveals, they've found common ground in representing government and corporations in their fight against We, the People.
Barr had been CEO of the U.S. government contracted firm HBGary Federal until earlier this year, after the firm was embarrassed when their hard drives were scrubbed, their websites hacked, Barr's Twitter account defaced, his iPad remotely wiped and some 70,000 of the "cyber security" company's emails were stolen and posted on the Internet by Anonymous in retaliation against Barr who, the hacktivist group claimed, was poised to release inaccurate information about the group's supposed "leadership".
Found among the treasure trove of Barr's HBGary emails was a $12 million plot being hatched on behalf of the criminal thugs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest and most powerful Rightwing lobbying outfit. The scheme was being secretly devised, according to the emails, by the Chamber's high-powered D.C. law firm Hunton & Williams along with HBGary and two other U.S. cyber security contractors, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies. Their plans were to smear, defraud, plant fake documents and spy --- even hack --- perceived political opponents of the Chamber.
The plot was accidentally discovered via Anonymous' hack of HBGary just days before it was to be put into action. The scheme was to take tools developed by the three companies with public money for use in the "War on Terror" and turn them against U.S. Citizens like myself and my family who were discovered to have been named as targets in the emails, along with photos and personal details about us. A number of progressive advocates and organizations, including other journalistic outlets, were also to have been targets of the Chamber's plot.
Also discovered among the emails was a parallel scheme being coordinated by the same D.C. law firm and the same three U.S. government-funded cyber security firms --- who had banded together to call themselves "Team Themis" --- to target perceived proponents of WikiLeaks, including Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald, on behalf of the corporate giant Bank of America. In both plots, HBGary's Aaron Barr was seen as the lead developer of the various extra-legal schemes.
Barr, who has claimed on a number of occasions to be a Democrat, became a public laughing stock and was forced to resign in shame last February on the heels of the revelations. But his proclivity for scheming against law-abiding U.S. citizens and his vendetta against members of Anonymous has yet to be assuaged, as evidenced by both his recent bizarre, blue-haired appearance at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Manhattan, and his various collaborative appearances in recently released emails and several Twitter exchanges with the Rightwing Ryan...
That'll teach 'em to mess with the Military-Industrial Complex.
As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, Maryland's "Montgomery County Council resolution asking Congress to spend less on wars and redirect the funds to social programs has drawn the scrutiny of one of the county’s largest employers and other lawmakers."
Despite the non-binding resolution's [PDF] 5 to 4 majority support on the Council, it was withdrawn from consideration after "Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin," a giant manufacturer of sophisticated military weapons, "which employs more than 5,000 workers in Montgomery, urged county officials against the resolution."
The Lockheed lobbyists were joined in their efforts to derail the County Council's resolution --- supported by Democratic members of the council --- by Democratic state and county officials concerned about implications of insulting the weapons contractor giant, while officials in neighboring Virginia "gleefully watch[ed] from afar" as the two states are in frequent competition for billions of Pentagon dollars and the jobs that portend to go with them.
But Pentagon dollars are among the least efficient ways to increase jobs and wealth in any given community, as explained by John Feffer, a co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and Jean Athey, a coordinator of Montgomery County Peace Action, a supporter of the now-withdrawn Montgomery resolution:
Spend a billion dollars on the military, economists Robert Pollin and Hedi Garrett-Peltier estimate, and you get about 11,000 jobs (just a little more than what Lockheed Martin employs in all of Maryland). Spend that same billion dollars on clean energy projects and you generate about 17,000 jobs. The same money invested in education produces nearly 30,000 jobs.
Nonetheless, Lockheed and other longtime members of the Military-Industrial Complex continue to work with public officials in exploiting the "jobs scam" in order to pit state against state, county against county and town against town to bilk tax-payers out of billions under the cynical rubrik of "job creation."
And when that doesn't work, there are other, darker methods that can be used to send the "right" message to those members of the public who might have the temerity to oppose their corporate interests...
George W. Bush adviser Kenneth Adelman predicted the War in Iraq would be a "cakewalk." As President Barack Obama announced today that all U.S. military troops would finally be leaving the "cakewalk" by year's end after 9 deadly years (and as Fox "News" was busy ignoring the historic announcement), ThinkProgress put together a few numbers from what they describe as "The World's Costliest Cakewalk"...
8 years, 260 days since Secretary of State Colin Powell presented evidence of Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program
8 years, 215 days since the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq
8 years, 175 days since President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln
President Barack Obama gave the media some 25 minutes or so heads-up today before coming to the White House briefing room to offer his dramatic announcement that, "as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over."
"Over the next two months," he said, "our troops in Iraq --- tens of thousands of them --- will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldier[s] will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end."
"Here at home, the coming months will be another season of homecomings. Across America, our servicemen and women will be reunited with their families," he announced, before adding dramatically, "Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays."
No matter how you may feel about the President, it was certainly an historic announcement.
Had you been watching pretend news outlet Fox "News," however, in the hours following today's surprise announcement, you might not have even noticed that after 9 years and the deaths of some 4,479 Americans and injuries to more than 32,000 of them during one of the longest and most controversial wars this nation has ever waged, all U.S. military troops would finally be leaving "victoriously" in time for Christmas, just over two months from now.
After initially covering the President's briefing room announcement live, just before noon Eastern Time, here's what I was able to report via Twitter, as both CNN and MSNBC continued their breaking coverage with "experts," analysts, and journalists, and as Fox went into its next two hours beginning with a loud and dramatic "FOX 'NEWS' ALERT" right at the top of the hour...
...the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Isn't that quaint?
Josh Holland takes a look at what happened to that apparently antiquated notion from the document which used to carry some weight in the way this country was governed, as he notes that some 1,500 American citizens have now been arrested while peaceably assembling to petition the Government for a redress of grievances over the past month since Occupy Wall Street began.
Last night, while the GOP debated Casino Capitalism (in an actual casino!), Give Me Liberty author and reporter Naomi Wolfe became one of the latest to have had her Constitutional right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances taken away from her, as seen in the following video (in which that "Democrat Party-sponsored""mob" was attempting to petition Democratic NY state Governor Andrew Cuomo for a redress of grievances)...
Wolf wrote about her arrest seen above, "for standing lawfully on the sidewalk in an evening gown" at the UK's Guardian today, noting that she explained to the NYPD before she was cuffed that she was both a "NYC citizen and a reporter".
As her article's sub-header notes, "Arresting a middle-aged writer in an evening gown for peaceable conduct is a far cry from when America was a free republic."
"I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007," Wolfe writes. "First they come for the 'other' – the 'terrorist', the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law."
So, where are all the outraged "Tea Partiers" who used to decry supposed abuses of the U.S. Constitution under our authoritarian regime? Oh, right, they were just pretending to give a damn about any of it...like good little scammed Fox "News" soldiers.
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P.S. Here's hoping Wolf makes out as well following her inappropriate arrest as Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman did after hers.
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UPDATE 10/19/11: In her Guardian piece, Wolf explained that the NYPD had told her the permit for the event she was attending (an annual Huffington Post event which Gov. Cuomo was also scheduled to attend, thus the protesters) when she came across the #OWS folks, forbade protesters from using the public sidewalks outside the building. Suspecting the claim from the police was bullshit, she says she requested to see a copy of that permit prior to her arrest, but was not allowed to.
Since posting the article above, Wolf contacted me to note that she has finally tracked down a copy of the type of permit HuffPo had last night and --- surprise, surprise --- the claim by cops appears to, in fact, be bullshit...