June 20 2012 : Bishop Packard Verdict In, Occupy Galway May Protest Race
The word comes down, the verdict is in : the Manhattan District Attorney's office finally scores a conviction for eight protesters, who, led by Bishop George Packard (video above), stormed the gates of the Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan in protest of the shut down of Zuccotti Park and the church's refusal to take up the social protest.
Clergy make news and face difficult and often profound decisions these days: to side with orthodoxy and church officials who abide by existing laws and edicts, or to answer their conscience.
Packard and his 7 co-defendants will perform community service. Packard, a former Vietnam-era Marine Lieutenant Colonel, has spoken previously and emphatically about the clergy's need to respond and support social protest in the United States. NY Times
The masks are back as JP Morgan Chief Financier Jamie Dimon testfiies (again) before congress on his firm's “little mistake,” it's own $2B loss of investor money on a series of highly-leveraged bets. However, Occupy protesters ditch the Guy Fawkes mask in favor of the Robin Hood variety, in support of the “Robin Hood tax,” which would take small fees on any trade accomplished and place it in a fund to help the poor. Neither the President nor Treasury Sec Tim Geitner support the tax, echoing financial industry claims that it would simply “move the trades offshore." Astute readers may wonder : where exactly is offshore for global financial markets?
Michael Kink, executive director of Strong Economy for All Coalition, puts the matter succinctly :
"As a democracy, I think it’s what we want, but the people who would be taxed are the most powerful people in the country.” Christian Science Monitor
File under Get 'Em While They're Young : It's the most wonderful time of the year, particularly if you're a parent sending the kids off to summer camp...Occupy Wall Street gets in on the act by setting up the first Occupy youth camp in Brooklyn, the free, 8 week long Paul Robeson freedom school camp. Practically designed to provoke widespread horror among the Beck-Limbaugh-O'Reilly media axis, the camp features Academics, Occupy activists, and kids, teen and pre-teen, working together on community-based projects and doing phys-ed, offering tips on how to taunt the cops and deal with being wrestled to the ground and kettled by the NYPD – we kid! we kid!
According to Occupy activist Justin Wedes the camp will be “focused on community building and not protest per se,” said Wedes, who taught at Red Hook's South Brooklyn Community High School, “although I do believe teaching is an activist act.” dnainfo.com
Out west, the Occupy Oakland saga continues as US District Judge Thelton Henderson warns Mayor Jean Quan that the city could be liable for fines and penalties if it fails to complete its internal affairs investigation of the harsh police response to last fall's Occupy protests on time. The city says it intends to comply and has outsourced parts of its investigation to the tune of $750,000 to a private investigative contractors. Any one wonder how else that money could have been spent? Mercurynews.com
Occupy Oakland remains (permanently it seems) in the controversial spotlight, taking heat this time for protesting the police and other authorities who are participating in an anti-child sex trafficking conference. The occupiers say that sex workers in the Oakland areas are frequent victims of OPD brutality and harsh tactics, and that broadening police powers using the victims of the trafficking as a pretext ultimately hurts the community. Democraticunderground.com
Perhaps more productively, Occupy Oakland has aligned with parents to protest school closings under the “whose schools, our schools” chant. As of Friday, they stage an occupation (with parents) of the impacted schools' grounds. The demonstrators and parents are protesting 5 school closures, saying are not worth the disruption they cause families, and demanding the district reverse its policy. They also have called for district Superintendent Tony Smith's resignation. Mercurynews.com
Between the two coasts, squarely in the reaches of the far mid-west, Occupy Helena questions their city's purchase of an “armored vehicle.” Why, they ask, does the city need it? In an era of budget cut-backs, at $430,000, is it money well spent.
Helena Police Chief Troy McGee said the bullet-proof vehicle could be used in a “hostage situation or to break down a door”
Much has been made of the increasing militarization of community police forces. Occupy Helena presents a statement to the Helena city council, saying "Despite Chief McGee's assurances, we're concerned that there may be a strong human tendency of authorities, once having acquired such capabilities, to find (or invent?) "reasons" (excuses?) to deploy them, even if not necessarily justified by the particular circumstances." kxlh.com
Since it restricts itself to reporting “of the moment,” i.e. police clashes, arrests, and demonstrations, when lacking these, mainstream media is left to ponder the demise of the occupy movement. While protests have waxed and waned, new information suggests that the unifying factors which inspired and created the movement are as prevalent as ever, as Boston Business Journal reports the area's average CEO pay has risen to $80,000 per week, more than most workers make in a year (or two).
NY Times business reporter Nathaniel Poppard, reporting on this phenomenon, takes it on the chin from newsbusters.org (a site said to combat the “liberal bias” in the mainstream media) who get worked up over the removal of quotation marks from the revolutionary Occupy and 99% language that has allegedly seeped into the New York Times. The point of the newsbusters article itself is ambiguous, as no one, anywhere, seems to refute the facts and figures on CEO pay presented here
Finally, scenes of police violence used against Occupy protesters marked the national consciousness in 2011 and early 2012 . Upon viewing the evidence, two United Nations Envoys to Human Rights requested the United States do more to protect protesters against police brutality and harsh tactics. However the office of the UN says that so far the US has ignored the request, originally submitted in December 2011 to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
In the letter, the envoys also reminded the U.S. government of its international obligations to "take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of all peaceful protesters be respected." The state dept issues a statement saying said it will respond, but would not say when.
The envoys (Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. special rapporteur for the protection of free expression, and Maina Kiai, the special rapporteur for freedom of peaceful assembly) hopefully are not holding their breath.
Volvo Ocean Race Update : the race concludes at the Galway finish line in ten days. Meanwhile a Galway city councilor says that any protest by Occupy Galway - originally evicted from their camp in Eyre Square to make way for the Yachts and the racers – would be “in bad taste”
Occupy Galway disagrees, naturally :
“They say ‘Oh, it will create jobs and people will make money’, but what they’re forgetting is they’re being used; they’re being exploited. This money has been stolen from them to begin with, and now they’re being told that they should work to get the money back, and that’s immoral,” added the Occupy Galway spokesperson.
Meanwhile the latest race update has the crews taking advantage of down time to nurse their aching bodies prior to beginning the stretch run sailworld.com