"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world," former British MP Tony Benn said when interviewed by Michael Moore in Sicko! --- "more revolutionary than socialist ideas…because...you have the power to use it to meet the needs of your community."
"If the poor in the U.S. and Britain turned out to vote for people who represent their interests," Ben continued, "it would be a real democratic revolution."
There is a fundamental difference between guarding against being co-opted by the corporate interests which presently control the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic Parties and refusing to vote altogether as an infantile form of protest...
We've long been warning --- beginning with Chicago's Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel's initial arrests of 175 peaceful Occupy demonstrators in late October, and again following the subsequent brutally violent crackdown by the Oakland PD on peaceful Occupiers there on the orders of Democratic Mayor Jean Quan --- of the growing likelihood of an "#OccupyDNC2012" at next year's convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, unless Dems wise up (and quickly) and figure out that it'll be far smarter to work with demonstrators on their legitimate grievances, rather than fool-heartedly try and crush the Occupations in hopes that they will simply go away.
Given that, shamefully, we've seen a series of (theoretically) left-leaning Mayors continuing the use of this ill-considered technique --- even upping the violent ante in many of the "crackdowns" since --- one must wonder if all of these Democrats have simply forgotten about 1968, are too young to know about what actually happened there, or simply don't give a damn for some unknown reason.
The BRAD BLOG's legal contributor Ernest Canning --- who was deployed to Vietnam at the time, so was unaware of what had actually happened outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968 in Grant Park (the very location where, ironically, Barack Obama would give his moving Presidential victory speech in 2008) until learning about it upon his return home the following year --- flagged these poignant reminders for us all...
Look familiar? Ignore those videos, and history, at your own peril, Democrats.
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"...
The Massachusetts attorney general has filed a lawsuit against five large U.S. banks accusing them of deceptive foreclosure practices, such as robo-signing.
Attorney General Martha Coakley said on Thursday the lawsuit was filed in state court in Boston against Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co Inc, Citigroup Inc, Wells Fargo & Co and Ally Financial.
Coakley's office said the lawsuit was filed after more than a year of negotiations with the banks involving all 50 states.
By the way, while I realize that corporations are "people," I wonder how many actual people, after committing massive felonies, are allowed "more than a year" to "negotiate" with law enforcement over whether they will be indicted for those felony crimes or not.
Coakley said she will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. today to detail the suit against Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citi, and Ally Financial.
The suit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, also names the private company Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc. and its parent, MERSCORP Inc., as defendants, according to the attorney general’s office.
“The AG’s lawsuit seeks accountability for the banks’ unlawful and deceptive conduct in the foreclosure process, including unlawful foreclosures, false documentation and robo-signing, MERS, and deceptive practices related to loan modifications,’’ the news release from Coakley’s office said.
And while we're waiting for more info on the above, let's not forget the woman who was arrested by New York City police for daring to close her Citibank account, as seen on video tape. The NYPD is not being sued by the AG (although they should). She did not receive a year to negotiate with the plain-clothed cops who physically picked her up and dragged her back into the Citibank branch just moments after she had the temerity to close her own personal account at the bank. Rather, it's been left to the woman herself to file a lawsuit against the cops and NYC that were both doing the bidding of Citibank on the tax-payers' dime, as Ernest Canning detailed yesterday.
I can't imagine what those Occupy Wall Street folks are calling for. Gosh and golly, just what are their demands?! It's all so confusing.
I was honored to have both the infamous "OccupyFreedomLA" (aka Freedom) and the notorious "OakFoSho" (aka Spencer Mills), citizen journalists both, join me live in-studio today on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show after they spent the entire night live video-streaming the LAPD's de-occupation of OccupyLA at City Hall for the entire world.
So it was awesome to meet them in person to discuss the art of live-stream citizen journalism, get the scoop on how they do it, how you too can also be the media as a live-streamer with little more than a smartphone, and to get some inside skinny on what happened last night as they tried to help counter the spin by corporate media and the 1,400 strong LAPD contingent, to ensure that "the whole world was watching."
It was a fun and, hopefully, informative interview/discussion. Give it a listen!
P.S. Naturally, both of 'em live streamed the interview from the studio as it happened! So, while the sound quality isn't nearly as good, and you won't get to hear the sound clips or music from their inside-the-studio cameras, the archived video versions of each of their live streams follow below, if you prefer...
The City of New York and the NYPD are engaging in a deliberate campaign of "mass arrests, illegally arresting protesters, including bank customers, and needlessly detaining them for excessively long periods...in order to facilitate and promote the CITY OF NEW YORK's desired reputation as corporate friendly and pro-bank."
So says a federal complaint filed by a woman and her fiancée who allege that they were inappropriately detained by New York City police last month inside a branch of Citibank in downtown Manhattan. [Video of the extraordinary arrest is posted at the end of this article.]
The civil rights suit, Carpenter vs. City of New York, has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Heather Carpenter, a 23 year old student and direct care counselor for the mentally disabled, and her fiancé, Julio Jimenez-Artunga.
The complaint arises out of an Oct. 15 mass arrest at a Greenwich Village branch of Citibank during which Carpenter closed her account, quietly exited the bank and even offered a receipt to prove she was a customer, only to be physically accosted by the NYPD, dragged back inside the bank, arrested and charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest. According to the complaint, the DA subsequently has said that the charges would be dismissed for lack of evidence...
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.]
Miley Cyrus' new video for her new single "It's a Liberty Walk" opens with a dedication "to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in."
It includes footage of protests from around the world, including Occupy Wall Street demonstrations (and police violence at many of them) in this country and others.
Notably absent from the video by Disney's former Hannah Montana teen star and the daughter of country music's Billy Ray Cyrus...a single shot of any so-called "Tea Party" protests. Take that rightwingers.
The video accompanying the pop dance tune ends with a shot of a sign reading "We are the 99%" seen among a crowd of demonstrators as they cheer while being faced down by police. One more protest sign is seen as the camera fades. It reads: "We Can Change This World...Imagine."
By the way, while Myley's images are "arresting," the tune itself isn't much our cup of tea. On the other hand, two weeks ago alt rockers Third Eye Blind released a tune for the Occupy Movement. It kicks off with sounds from the aftermath of the police shooting of two-tour Iraq vet Scott Larsen at Occupy Oakland on October 25, 2011. (This morning we covered the inspiring Larsen's first interview after being released from the hospital as he fights to recover from brain damage sustained that night.)
The song doesn't yet have an official video to go with it, to our knowledge, but it calls on folks to join the uprising at Zuccotti Park in New York City and includes both a message for Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp and the words: A tear gas can in a veteran's face won't change the case.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: What was Newt thinking?!; SPECIAL COVERAGE: UN Climate Conference in Durban, S. Africa; 'Occupy Durban'?; Canada's hard right turn on climate; 2011 not hottest year on record; PLUS: Fake hoax redux: Climategate 2.0! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Radiation covers 8% of Japan; Fukushima crisis 'stunting children's growth'; Majority in U.S. Support Carbon Tax ... PLUS: The New Story of Stuff: Are we reaching "peak stuff"? ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Returning for the first time to Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland, where the eviction of peaceful Occupy Oakland demonstrators on October 25th eventually resulted in his critical injury at the hands of a member of the Oakland Police Department's multi-agency task force, Scott Olsen gave his first interview this week since his recent release from the hospital. [Video posted at bottom of article.]
The 24-year old, two-tour Iraq vet and former U.S. Marine was struck by a projectile, believed to have been a CS gas canister fired by a law enforcement official, as he stood with other peaceful Occupy Oakland demonstrators just before police opened fire on them.
Contrary to a statement given by the OPD's Interim Chief Howard Jordan on the night of the confrontation with demonstrators in Oakland, so far no evidence has emerged to support Jordan's claim that police "had to deploy gas in order to stop the crowd and people from pelting us with bottles and rocks." In fact, a November 2nd analysis by The BRAD BLOG of video tape and eye-witness statements from that night suggests quite the opposite, that the police planned to fire on demonstrators before there was any sign of violence by protesters.
The action which resulted in Olsen's injury, as we reported, would be in apparent violation of both state law and a federal consent decree signed by the OPD after similar violence against anti-war protesters in 2003. Following our report, the OPD somewhat walked back Jordan's so far evidence-free remarks to the media following the assault.
In the video interview, Olsen displays a remarkable memory of the events of the night --- particularly given the bloodied, apparent state of shock he was seen in as he was carried off by fellow demonstrators shouting "Medic! Medic!" in video tapes of the incident.
As seen in the interview, he also now has trouble with his speech, thanks to the damage sustained to the left frontal lobe of his brain, according to David Id, who posted the interview on Monday at the East Bay Indy Media website.
Olsen tells Id that his condition has been improving. We'd say remarkably so, given the injury he sustained just over one month ago, which sent him to the hospital in critical condition with a fractured skull and a swelling brain in the early morning hours of October 26th.
His indomitable spirit, evidenced throughout the short interview in which he offers a message to police, politicians, and demonstrators alike, is remarkable as well, as he is seen smiling while responding to each of Id's questions, explaining what he recalls of that night in the moments both before and after he was shot...
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...
While I've appeared as "myself" in a number of documentary films, it's a bit of a new experience to actually find myself as a fictional character in a novel. Such is the case, however, in Richard Averett's new political thriller Imagine Politik, subtitled "American Democracy: Politics in Crisis" where I find my fictional self at the momentary center of a three-way U.S. Presidential race as the independent progressive candidate stands to lose the election thanks to e-voting system chicanery.
Here's how Ernie Canning, in his review of the book, describes the action as my own personal worst nightmare comes true and "the unthinkable has happened":
[W]e find the fictional Zach Barrett confronted with ethical dilemmas, such as when he learns from a fictional Brad Friedman that there is a distinct possibility of vote flipping on Georgia's 100% unverifiable touch screens which may have given the state to the GOP candidate. If it could be proven, the Democratic candidate --- as opposed to the progressive independent Barrett who had been announced the winner of the Presidential race on Election Night --- would not only win Georgia but the White House.
Ernie goes on to describe the book as "serv[ing] up a dose of hard political reality --- one which Americans must honestly confront, and right soon."
The parallels to the Occupy Wall Street movement found in the book are, in fact, quite eerie at times, as Averett told me over the weekend: "Before the Occupy Movement (and the establishment's harsh reaction), ImaginePolitik foresaw mass protests against the two major parties and Wall Street as the only recourse left to achieve democratic justice." He went on to say that "What may have seemed an unlikely reaction by the powers-that-be, doesn't seem so unlikely anymore."
In his review, Ernie describes the book's examination of "The pernicious impact of corporate money and power, not only upon the two major political parties but upon the acceptable range of discourse," and hints at the book's "explosive ending that makes this a must read political thriller" offering "a fundamental argument against compromising of the core principles of democratic governance."
So, with that hearty pitch, I'm happy to announce that Averett has agreed to offer signed copies of the book here as an exclusive premium in support of The BRAD BLOG!
So, get a great new political thriller signed by the author, one in which a fictional "Brad Friedman" appears (for better or worse) with some troubling news for the progressive President Elect, all while supporting The BRAD BLOG as we head into yet another election year and can seriously use all the support we can get!
It's our last night guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show this week! Hope you can join us. I promise a BIG show tonight!
Once again, we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
POST-SHOW UPDATE: On our last show before the Thanksgiving break, I'm thankful to the Malloys and all of their listeners for welcoming me so warmly each time I'm able to sit in. Thanks to you all. We had a helluva show tonight, with some very important news, interviews and calls. They all follow below in the commercial-free archives...