Occupy Wall Street Denounces “Peter Pan” for Presenting “White Experience “

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Typical white people

Oh that Peter Pan. It’s all about doing typical white people stuff, like flying, fighting pirates and a crocodile with a ticking clock inside. These are all white experiences that non-white people can’t possible relate to.

The Michael Brown/Eric Garner protesters have been protesting Christmas, basically, while shouting “I Can’t Breathe” because they’re morons and the Occupy Wall Street Twitter account tried to glom on to the Peter Pan Live disaster by denouncing it as oppression.

No seriously, this happened.

Someone has to stop Peter Pan’s oppression. Wait so we have to be on the side of Captain Hook now?

Michelle Malkin mocked OWS which they did not take well.

A Wikipedia article to cite the race of Barrie. Deep thinkers.

OWS is really white. It’s full of lost boys trying to set up their own encampments, getting high and pretending to be fly. Maybe they have a point about Peter Pan after all.

#LostBoyLivesMatter #CaptainHookCantBreathe

How Fear of Occupy Wall Street Undermined the Red Cross’ Sandy Relief Effort

In the days after Superstorm Sandy, relief organizations were overwhelmed by the chaos and enormous need. One group quickly emerged as a bright spot. While victims in New York’s hardest hit neighborhoods were stuck in the cold and dark, volunteers from the spontaneously formed Occupy Sandy became a widely praised lifeline.

Occupy Sandy was “one of the leading humanitarian groups providing relief to survivors across New York City and New Jersey,” as a government-commissioned study put it.

Yet the Red Cross, which was bungling its own aid efforts after the storm, made a decision that further hampered relief: Senior officials told staffers not to work with Occupy Sandy.

Red Cross officials had no concerns about Occupy Sandy’s effectiveness. Rather, they were worried about the group’s connections to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.

“I have no doubt we could have had a much more productive relationship with the Red Cross if they’d been willing to associate themselves with us out in the open. I have no doubt their failure to look past politics hurt the overall recovery.”

Three Red Cross responders told ProPublica there was a ban. “We were told not to interact with Occupy,” says one. While the Red Cross often didn’t know where to send food, Occupy Sandy “had what we didn’t: minute-by-minute information,” another volunteer says.

The three spoke to ProPublica on the condition of anonymity because they continue to work with the Red Cross. One says the direction came from an official based in Red Cross headquarters in Washington. Another understood the direction came from Washington. A third was not sure who gave the instructions.

The government-sponsored study that praised Occupy Sandy—written in 2013 for the Department of Homeland Security—also cites a prohibition: A Red Cross chief of volunteer coordination recalled that “he was told not to work with Occupy Sandy because of the affiliation with [Occupy Wall Street],” the study says.

Fred Leahy, a veteran Red Cross responder who was a community partnerships manager in Sandy’s aftermath, recalled a meeting a week after the storm in which he and two other officials, one from Washington, discussed “the political and donor ramifications of associating with Occupy Sandy due to its outgrowth from Occupy Wall Street.” He says the meeting was called after an inquiry from Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern.

“Occupy Wall Street was not very favorably received by the political people in the city,” Leahy says. Major Red Cross donors were from the same elite political circles “and they didn’t understand Occupy Wall Street.”

Red Cross responders says that many staffers and volunteers objected to the charity’s stance on Occupy Sandy because among the Red Cross’ fundamental principles is that aid must be delivered without regard to politics or ideology. “We are a neutral, humanitarian organization,” one staffer says. “We don’t take sides.”

Leahy says Red Cross officials decided at the meeting to wait for Occupy Sandy representatives to come to them, rather than to approach the group. When a subordinate inquired about working with Occupy, Leahy says he told the person: “We really don’t need to worry about them at this time. Because we’ve got more important concerns at the moment.”

Nevertheless, Leahy denied there was a explicit injunction not to work with Occupy Sandy.

The Red Cross said in a statement that “there was never at any time a policy prohibiting Red Cross staff or volunteers from working with Occupy Sandy.”

“We linked them with partners,” the charity wrote. “We provided them with meals and other supplies—to the point of providing them with an entire warehouse full of material in March 2013.”

But Occupy Sandy organizers interviewed by ProPublica say the Red Cross did not take their calls in the early days and weeks after the storm hit in October 2012. Nathan Kleinman, an Occupy Sandy organizer, recalls a Red Cross employee telling him that “they couldn’t be seen working with us.” He says some Red Cross responders attempted to help Occupy behind the scenes with advice and occasionally supplies.

“I have no doubt we could have had a much more productive relationship with the Red Cross if they’d been willing to associate themselves with us out in the open,” Kleinman says. “I have no doubt their failure to look past politics hurt the overall recovery.”

Workers inside the Red Cross’ Manhattan headquarters say they were furious with the delay, which hampered the ability to provide aid.

Indeed, some Red Cross responders were so troubled, they tried to work with people from Occupy covertly. They say they maintained a spreadsheet of Occupy contacts separate from the other contact lists to hide from senior Red Cross officials that they were working with the group.

Contemporaneous Occupy Sandy meeting minutes show some examples of fruitful cooperation. An Occupy Sandy volunteer described the Red Cross as being “our lifeline in terms of hot meals.”

The minutes also record an incident in which two Red Cross employees showed up at an Occupy site in Brooklyn “asking if we could send them volunteers—and their stipulations for that: they couldn’t wear any Occupy stuff.” Those conditions were rejected.

The Red Cross responders who say there was a clear ban on working with Occupy differ on how long it was in place. One person says the policy was rescinded in a matter of days, but that it took weeks to communicate to all the corners of the Red Cross relief effort.

A third Red Cross worker says that the policy was still in place in December, more than a month into the relief effort.


This post originally appeared on ProPublica as “How Fear of Occupy Wall Street Undermined the Red Cross’ Sandy Relief Effort” and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Who’s Afraid of Occupy Wall Street? The Red Cross, Apparently

Superstorm Sandy

December 11, 2014; ProPublica

ProPublica and NPR have been doing an investigative series on the Red Cross focusing on its performance during Superstorm Sandy as well as other issues like possible misrepresentation to donors of the organization’s fundraising and overhead costs. The reporters are openly inviting people to help them with their “Red Cross Reporting.” (It is worth saying that reporting on the basis of anonymous sources, as is done in this article, is often a difficult sell, but in this case, there is corroboration in documents and in interviews with named individuals who worked with both the Red Cross and Occupy Sandy.)

In the most recent installment, the investigation returns to the Sandy response. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy and in the midst of a relief effort that was not only spotty but slow, a loose coalition calling itself Occupy Sandy stepped in quickly to seek out survivors and provide badly needed services. In a report entitled “The Resilient Social Network,” the group was described as follows:

“Within hours of Sandy’s landfall, members from the Occupy Wall Street movement—a planned social movement comprised of social activists who protested income inequality in the United States—used social media to tap the wider Occupy network for volunteers and aid. Overnight, a volunteer army of young, educated, tech-savvy individuals with time and a desire to help others emerged. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, “Occupy Sandy” became one of the leading humanitarian groups providing relief to survivors across New York City and New Jersey. At its peak, it had grown to an estimated 60,000 volunteers—more than four times the number deployed by the American Red Cross.

“Unlike traditional disaster response organizations, there were no appointed leaders, no bureaucracy, no regulations to follow, no pre-defined mission, charter, or strategic plan.

“There was just relief.”

So senior staff at the Red Cross told other ARC staffers not to work with Occupy Sandy. “We were told not to interact with Occupy,” said one staffer even though Occupy Sandy had, according to a volunteer, what ARC did not: minute-by-minute information.

ProPublica writes that three staffers spoke with their reporters on the condition of anonymity because they continue to work with the Red Cross. And in fact, in the previously mentioned report which was produced by the Department of Homeland Security a Red Cross chief of volunteer coordination “he was told not to work with Occupy Sandy because of the affiliation with [Occupy Wall Street].”

Here is how ProPublica reports the dynamic,

“Fred Leahy, a veteran Red Cross responder who was a Community Partnerships Manager in Sandy’s aftermath, recalled a meeting a week after the storm in which he and two other officials, one from Washington, discussed ‘the political and donor ramifications of associating with Occupy Sandy due to its outgrowth from Occupy Wall Street.’ He says the meeting was called after an inquiry from Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern.

“‘Occupy Wall Street was not very favorably received by the political people in the city,’ Leahy says. Major Red Cross donors were from the same elite political circles ‘and they didn’t understand Occupy Wall Street.’

“Red Cross responders says that many staffers and volunteers objected to the charity’s stance on Occupy Sandy because among the Red Cross’ fundamental principles is that aid must be delivered without regard to politics or ideology. ‘We are a neutral, humanitarian organization,” one staffer says. “We don’t take sides.’”

Occupy Sandy organizers told ProPublica that the Red Cross declined their calls for days after the storm, and Occupy Sandy organizer Nathan Kleinman reports that a Red Cross staffer said “they couldn’t be seen working with us.”

Still, some tried to work with Occupy behind the scenes, keeping a separate list of contacts so that their working relationship would not be seen by ARC higher ups. “I have no doubt we could have had a much more productive relationship with the Red Cross if they’d been willing to associate themselves with us out in the open,” Kleinman says. “I have no doubt their failure to look past politics hurt the overall recovery.”

Occupy minutes record a confusing relationship, including one incident in which “two Red Cross employees showed up at an Occupy site in Brooklyn ‘asking if [Occupy] could send [the Red Cross] volunteers—and their stipulations for that: they couldn’t wear any Occupy stuff.’ Those conditions were rejected.”—Ruth McCambridge

The Latest Protests Are Similar to the Occupy Movement

The recent protests over police aggression have a great deal in common with Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Indeed, occupy activists are sharing tactics with organizers in Ferguson and elsewhere.

Protest at U.S. Capitol A boy lies next to placards, some bearing the names of people whom protesters allege were victims of police violence, at Grand Central Terminal in New York, on Dec. 12. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

In both cases, young Americans are the principal victims of the injustices being condemned. Occupy Wall Street was a revolt led by white middle-class young adults against the predatory practices of high finance and the failure of government to punish the bankers adequately. The protagonists of the current protests are young African-Americans who are indignant about institutional racism in our criminal justice system. In both cases, young Americans are expressing their frustration with the oppressive power structures that are destroying their lives and their dreams of a better future. They believe that our government is more inclined to protect the interests of ruling elites than the rest of us. They are joined by a multiracial coalition of social justice and faith-based groups that share their frustration. Having a more liberal mayor in New York City now probably contributes to a less contentious atmosphere during the protests here, but I see many of the same people at the marches.

The protests against police killings of unarmed black men and the failure of grand juries to indict them are not spontaneous. They are the culmination of years of activism that has raised awareness about stop and frisk policies and the alarming rate of incarceration of African-American men for nonviolent crimes. Social justice activists are getting better at mobilizing supporters through social media and alliances are forming among activists and community organizations across the country and around the world. It is heartening to see young people taking to the streets to protest injustice and it also makes me hopeful to see more and more people offering their technical expertise and creative skills in support of the most important civil rights movements of our era: Black lives matter.


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D’Angelo Dedicates New Album to Resistance in Ferguson, Occupy Wall Street

It’s been less than 24 hours since D’Angelo dropped his long-awaited new album “D’Angelo and the Vanguard: Black Messiah,” but it’s already a classic. It’s the first project from the singer in nearly 15 years and, as reported in GQ a couple years ago, is the culmination of years of hardship in the singer’s life. During a listening session for the album last Friday, a lyric pamphlet laid out the album’s inspirations:

[“]Black Messiah[“] is a hell of a name for an album. It can be easily misunderstood. Many will think it’s about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I’m calling myself a Black Messiah. For me, the title is about all of us. It’s about the world. It’s about an idea we can aspire to. We should all aspire to be a Black Messiah.

It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It’s not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them. Not every song is politically charged (though many are), but calling this album “Black Messiah” creates a landscape where these songs can live to the fullest. “Black Messiah” is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.

You can stream the album below:

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2014/12/dangelo_dedicates_new_album_to_resistance_in_ferguson_occupy_wall_street.html

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Who’s Afraid of Occupy Wall Street? Apparently, the Red Cross

Glynnis Jones / Shutterstock.com

This piece originally ran on ProPublica.

In the days after Superstorm Sandy, relief organizations were overwhelmed by the chaos and enormous need. One group quickly emerged as a bright spot. While victims in New York’s hardest hit neighborhoods were stuck in the cold and dark, volunteers from the spontaneously formed Occupy Sandy became a widely praised lifeline.  

Occupy Sandy was “one of the leading humanitarian groups providing relief to survivors across New York City and New Jersey,” as a government-commissioned study put it. 

Yet the Red Cross, which was bungling its own aid efforts after the storm, made a decision that further hampered relief: Senior officials told staffers not to work with Occupy Sandy.

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Red Cross officials had no concerns about Occupy Sandy’s effectiveness. Rather, they were worried about the group’s connections to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.

Three Red Cross responders told ProPublica there was a ban. “We were told not to interact with Occupy,” says one. While the Red Cross often didn’t know where to send food, Occupy Sandy “had what we didn’t: minute-by-minute information,” another volunteer says.

The three spoke to ProPublica on the condition of anonymity because they continue to work with the Red Cross. One says the direction came from an official based in Red Cross headquarters in Washington. Another understood the direction came from Washington. A third was not sure who gave the instructions.

The government-sponsored study that praised Occupy Sandy – written in 2013 for the Department of Homeland Security – also cites a prohibition: A Red Cross chief of volunteer coordination recalled that “he was told not to work with Occupy Sandy because of the affiliation with [Occupy Wall Street],” the study says.  

Fred Leahy, a veteran Red Cross responder who was a Community Partnerships Manager in Sandy’s aftermath, recalled a meeting a week after the storm in which he and two other officials, one from Washington, discussed “the political and donor ramifications of associating with Occupy Sandy due to its outgrowth from Occupy Wall Street.” He says the meeting was called after an inquiry from Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern.  

“Occupy Wall Street was not very favorably received by the political people in the city,” Leahy says. Major Red Cross donors were from the same elite political circles “and they didn’t understand Occupy Wall Street.”

Red Cross responders says that many staffers and volunteers objected to the charity’s stance on Occupy Sandy because among the Red Cross’ fundamental principles is that aid must be delivered without regard to politics or ideology. “We are a neutral, humanitarian organization,” one staffer says. “We don’t take sides.”

Leahy says Red Cross officials decided at the meeting to wait for Occupy Sandy representatives to come to them, rather than to approach the group. When a subordinate inquired about working with Occupy, Leahy says he told the person: “We really don’t need to worry about them at this time. Because we’ve got more important concerns at the moment.”

Nevertheless, Leahy denied there was a explicit injunction not to work with Occupy Sandy.

The Red Cross said in a statement that “there was never at any time a policy prohibiting Red Cross staff or volunteers from working with Occupy Sandy.”

“We linked them with partners,” the charity wrote. “We provided them with meals and other supplies – to the point of providing them with an entire warehouse full of material in March 2013.”

But Occupy Sandy organizers interviewed by ProPublica say the Red Cross did not take their calls in the early days and weeks after the storm hit in October 2012. Nathan Kleinman, an Occupy Sandy organizer, recalls a Red Cross employee telling him that “they couldn’t be seen working with us.” He says some Red Cross responders attempted to help Occupy behind the scenes with advice and occasionally supplies.

“I have no doubt we could have had a much more productive relationship with the Red Cross if they’d been willing to associate themselves with us out in the open,” Kleinman says. “I have no doubt their failure to look past politics hurt the overall recovery.”

Workers inside the Red Cross’ Manhattan headquarters say they were furious with the delay, which hampered the ability to provide aid.

Indeed, some Red Cross responders were so troubled, they tried to work with people from Occupy covertly. They say they maintained a spreadsheet of Occupy contacts separate from the other contact lists to hide from senior Red Cross officials that they were working with the group.

Contemporaneous Occupy Sandy meeting minutes show some examples of fruitful cooperation. An Occupy Sandy volunteer described the Red Cross as being “our lifeline in terms of hot meals.”

The minutes also record an incident in which two Red Cross employees showed up at an Occupy site in Brooklyn “asking if we could send them volunteers – and their stipulations for that: they couldn’t wear any Occupy stuff.” Those conditions were rejected.

The Red Cross responders who say there was a clear ban on working with Occupy differ on how long it was in place. One person says the policy was rescinded in a matter of days, but that it took weeks to communicate to all the corners of the Red Cross relief effort.

A third Red Cross worker says that the policy was still in place in December, more than a month into the relief effort.

Read about how the Red Cross botched key elements of its mission after Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac in PR Over People: The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster. And about how the Red Cross’ CEO has been serially misleading about where donors’ dollars are going.

Can you help us with our Red Cross reporting? Learn how to share a tip or email justin@propublica.org.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.  Sign up for their newsletter.

How Fear of Occupy Wall Street Undermined the Red Cross’ Sandy Relief Effort – Truth

The scene at Occupy Wall Street's Hurricane Sandy relief drop off center at St. Jacobi's church in Sunset Park Brooklyn on the evening of November 1, 2012. Volunteers prepared food and water supplies for flood devastated Rockaway and Staten island amid a steady stream of donors.The scene at Occupy Wall Street’s Hurricane Sandy relief drop off center at St. Jacobi’s church in Sunset Park Brooklyn on the evening of November 1, 2012. Volunteers prepared food and water supplies for flood devastated Rockaway and Staten island amid a steady stream of donors. (Photo: Michael Fleshman)

In the days after Superstorm Sandy, relief organizations were overwhelmed by the chaos and enormous need. One group quickly emerged as a bright spot. While victims in New York’s hardest hit neighborhoods were stuck in the cold and dark, volunteers from the spontaneously formed Occupy Sandy became a widely praised lifeline.  

Occupy Sandy was “one of the leading humanitarian groups providing relief to survivors across New York City and New Jersey,” as a government-commissioned study put it. 

Yet the Red Cross, which was bungling its own aid efforts after the storm, made a decision that further hampered relief: Senior officials told staffers not to work with Occupy Sandy.

Red Cross officials had no concerns about Occupy Sandy’s effectiveness. Rather, they were worried about the group’s connections to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.

Three Red Cross responders told ProPublica there was a ban. “We were told not to interact with Occupy,” says one. While the Red Cross often didn’t know where to send food, Occupy Sandy “had what we didn’t: minute-by-minute information,” another volunteer says.

The three spoke to ProPublica on the condition of anonymity because they continue to work with the Red Cross. One says the direction came from an official based in Red Cross headquarters in Washington. Another understood the direction came from Washington. A third was not sure who gave the instructions.

The government-sponsored study that praised Occupy Sandy – written in 2013 for the Department of Homeland Security – also cites a prohibition: A Red Cross chief of volunteer coordination recalled that “he was told not to work with Occupy Sandy because of the affiliation with [Occupy Wall Street],” the study says.  

Fred Leahy, a veteran Red Cross responder who was a Community Partnerships Manager in Sandy’s aftermath, recalled a meeting a week after the storm in which he and two other officials, one from Washington, discussed “the political and donor ramifications of associating with Occupy Sandy due to its outgrowth from Occupy Wall Street.” He says the meeting was called after an inquiry from Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern.  

“Occupy Wall Street was not very favorably received by the political people in the city,” Leahy says. Major Red Cross donors were from the same elite political circles “and they didn’t understand Occupy Wall Street.”

Red Cross responders says that many staffers and volunteers objected to the charity’s stance on Occupy Sandy because among the Red Cross’ fundamental principles is that aid must be delivered without regard to politics or ideology. “We are a neutral, humanitarian organization,” one staffer says. “We don’t take sides.”

Leahy says Red Cross officials decided at the meeting to wait for Occupy Sandy representatives to come to them, rather than to approach the group. When a subordinate inquired about working with Occupy, Leahy says he told the person: “We really don’t need to worry about them at this time. Because we’ve got more important concerns at the moment.”

Nevertheless, Leahy denied there was a explicit injunction not to work with Occupy Sandy.

The Red Cross said in a statement that “there was never at any time a policy prohibiting Red Cross staff or volunteers from working with Occupy Sandy.”

“We linked them with partners,” the charity wrote. “We provided them with meals and other supplies – to the point of providing them with an entire warehouse full of material in March 2013.”

But Occupy Sandy organizers interviewed by ProPublica say the Red Cross did not take their calls in the early days and weeks after the storm hit in October 2012. Nathan Kleinman, an Occupy Sandy organizer, recalls a Red Cross employee telling him that “they couldn’t be seen working with us.” He says some Red Cross responders attempted to help Occupy behind the scenes with advice and occasionally supplies.

“I have no doubt we could have had a much more productive relationship with the Red Cross if they’d been willing to associate themselves with us out in the open,” Kleinman says. “I have no doubt their failure to look past politics hurt the overall recovery.”

Workers inside the Red Cross’ Manhattan headquarters say they were furious with the delay, which hampered the ability to provide aid.

Indeed, some Red Cross responders were so troubled, they tried to work with people from Occupy covertly. They say they maintained a spreadsheet of Occupy contacts separate from the other contact lists to hide from senior Red Cross officials that they were working with the group.

Contemporaneous Occupy Sandy meeting minutes show some examples of fruitful cooperation. An Occupy Sandy volunteer described the Red Cross as being “our lifeline in terms of hot meals.”

The minutes also record an incident in which two Red Cross employees showed up at an Occupy site in Brooklyn “asking if we could send them volunteers – and their stipulations for that: they couldn’t wear any Occupy stuff.” Those conditions were rejected.

The Red Cross responders who say there was a clear ban on working with Occupy differ on how long it was in place. One person says the policy was rescinded in a matter of days, but that it took weeks to communicate to all the corners of the Red Cross relief effort.

A third Red Cross worker says that the policy was still in place in December, more than a month into the relief effort.

Two arrested as Boulder protesters again march against police brutality

Two people were arrested during a third straight Saturday of protests in Boulder, in a continuing campaign to raise awareness over concerns about police brutality, and show solidarity for hundreds of thousands doing the same across the nation.

The reasons for their arrests of the two men — Joe Harris, a black man from Boulder, and Jorge Chavez, a Hispanic male from Denver — were not immediately known. Police on scene would not comment, and Boulder Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kobel did not return calls as of 6 p.m.

Harris and Chavez were arrested in the parking lot just north of the Boulder Running Company, 2775 Pearl St., just after 3 p.m. In a march that at times swelled to more than 100 people, Harris and Chavez were among about a dozen people of color participating.

Harris has been among the Boulder movement’s most vocal leaders since protests began several weeks ago, in the wake of a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo.

Chavez has been an active participant in Denver protests, and has worked there as a street medic, offering first aid to fellow protesters who have either been injured or sprayed with chemical disablers such as tear gas and pepper spray.

Reina Fujita, a Naropa University student who identified herself as Harris’ girlfriend, said that she and several other protesters had been told by police on scene that Chavez was arrested for outstanding charges unrelated to Saturday’s events.

Fujita herself was briefly detained while rushing to the defense of Chavez, and she said Harris was arrested after “trying to stop the police from taking Jorge.”

“Conversation heated up, and the police put him down on the ground. By the time I got there, I grabbed Joe to try to protect him, and they twisted my arm and put their thumb on my neck. Basically, they were just choking me. They were pushing really hard and it stills hurts, my arm and my neck,” she said roughly 90 minutes after the incident.

Chavez, meanwhile, was released less than 30 minutes after arriving at the Boulder County Jail, 3200 Airport Road. He claims his arrest was wrongful, and resulted from police confusing him with another man who authorities want in connection with possible domestic violence charges.

“They weren’t able to prove the person they were looking for,” Chavez said. “They told me they were looking for a Caucasian male, same height, same hair color, same eye color, same weight. They literally tried saying it was me. Nobody even fingerprinted me. They just called the DPD in Denver and they figured out who I was.

“They literally walked up to me, and lied to my face about me having a domestic violence warrant against my name.”

‘They don’t like that people are treated differently’

Fujita and about 40 other protesters gathered at the Boulder County Jail, to support their arrested comrades.

Prior to the arrests, Saturday’s protests resembled those of the previous two weeks, though their numbers were much smaller than the Dec. 6 crowd of about 500. Protesters started, as before, at 12:30 p.m. at Broadway and Canyon Boulevard, with plans to head toward the Pearl Street Mall. Early estimates put the crowd at slightly over 100, including more than a dozen children under the age of 10.

Some parents were carrying toddlers, while older children marched alongside their parents.

Activists marching today from the Boulder Municipal Building toward the Pearl Street Mall, in solidarity with protest actions taking place across the

Elicia Arwen, a Boulder woman who brought her three children to the event, said, “I want my kids to understand the importance of using their voices and speaking up.

“They know there’s an issue, to the extent that they’re 3 and 7 and 14, and they don’t like that people are treated differently because of the color of their skin.”

Keith Percy, 29, of Boulder, spoke to the group before they embarked on their actions.

“Know this is about institutional racism. It is about ‘black lives matter,’ it is about our solidarity and allyship,” Percy said.

“We know these things are really in Boulder, because five times the people of color are arrested in Boulder as compared to white people, whereas white people are in the high 80s percentage-wise (in population), and people of color are less than 1 percent. Stay on that.”

Percy also said, “If we weren’t confronting institutional racism in Boulder, we would have a whole lot more people of color and we would raise the economic and social conditions that keep them away. So black lives matter. They’re dying. They’re dying expediently fast.

“Let’s show that we are allies, so they know that we have solidarity and that black lives matter.”

As the group marched, participants chanted “Black lives matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot,” and “No justice, no peace. No racist police.”

Seeking change through ‘disruption’

Roughly an hour into their action, demonstrators staged an 11-minute die-in, in front of the Boulder County Courthouse at 13th and Pearl streets, representing the 11 times that Eric Garner stated that he could not breathe, while a Staten Island, N.Y., police officer had him in a choke hold. Garner died, in that incident.

Protesters met with some resistance from a number of motorists during today’s march, resulting in a few shouting matches. Activists were seen photographing the license plates of those drivers.

Gary Roland, one of the early organizers of Occupy Wall Street, as well as a leader of the recent Boulder protests, said motorists upset with the marches may misunderstand their purpose.

“The way that social justice movements make change is through disruption,” he said. “If there’s a demand, but no actual economic disruption, such as shutting down traffic or bus boycotts or stuff like that, the powers that be don’t have a reason to comply to the demand.

“So it might be inconvenient to sit in traffic for 15 minutes, but our movement is about people who have been inconvenienced their entire lives and so as much as it is an inconvenience, it’s also important to allow these sort of manifestations to occur, and these are actually what pushes our society forward.”

For most of the day, police were keeping a distance from the marchers, until they reached Pearl and 26th streets, at which point they blocked off eastbound Pearl, as more tension developed between protesters and some drivers.

Close to 3 p.m., another 11-minute die in was being staged at the intersection of Pearl and 28th streets. In Saturday’s die-ins, roughly 15 participants of color were the ones actually lying down, while white demonstrators, identifying themselves as “allies,” stood with linked arms in a circle around them.

From 28th and Pearl, and following the two arrests, protesters got into cars, about 45 of them heading for the Boulder County Jail.

The previous two weeks of protests also saw the activists perform die-ins at key intersections in the city, as well as the Apple store at the Twenty Ninth Street Mall, on Dec. 6. At this past Monday evening’s rush hour, their actions also briefly closed down U.S. 36, near Baseline Road.

The protests had been peaceful, with Boulder police prioritizing the activists’ safety, and making no arrests, prior to today.

Alex Burness: 303-473-1389, burnessa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/alex_burness

NYC Cops Are Blithely Firing A Potentially Deafening Sound Cannon At …

121214knefel.jpg
(Courtesy John Knefel)

New York City police officers have lately taken to blasting protesters with 21st-century sound cannons, and as far as anyone can tell, the department doesn’t have any policies governing when and how they get to do so.

Video taken on the night of December 4th during one of the marches protesting the failure to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner clearly shows police officers deploying one of its Long Range Acoustic Devices, or LRADs, against protesters near Columbus Circle. Today, lawyers representing some of those protesters have written to NYPD Commissioner Bratton, raising concerns with the NYPD’s use of the device.

“This is not a precision tool,” said Gideon Oliver, one of the lawyers who authored the letter. “This is an area-of-effect weapon. When the police use it, it’s not as if they’re just targeting one person. It’s indiscriminate like teargas.”

Oliver’s letter asks for any written policies the department has for the use of the LRAD, but he said it also serves to put the department on notice. “It’s about making sure the commissioner knows about the incident that happened to our clients,” he said. “Also, there are ongoing protests—there’s a big protest Saturday. We wanted to make sure the commissioner knows we’re watching how they’re using this device.”

Asked whether his clients are considering a lawsuit, Oliver answered, “We’re certainly looking at it.”

First popularized for military applications more than a decade ago, LRADs are powerful amplification systems that direct a focused cone of sound, enabling instructions and announcements to be communicated across great distances. But from early on, LRAD’s have also been equipped with a “powerful warning tone,” as the manufacturer’s website puts it, that allows for “near instantaneous escalation across the force protection spectrum” to “shape the behavior of potential threats.”

To translate that from the obfuscatory jargon of people who sell tools for hurting people: The LRAD can be used as a crowd-control device, emitting a piercing noise so loud that it can really mess you up if you don’t comply or disperse immediately.

Perhaps mindful of public discomfort with the prospect of cops with their fingers on the triggers of futuristic incapacitating sonic weapons, both the manufacturer and the police tend to emphasize the device’s utility as a public address system, presenting it as little more than an extra-loud bullhorn.

The NYPD bought a pair in advance of the 2004 Republican National Convention, but reportedly only used it as an address system. Since then, LRADs have been a common sight at mass protests in NYC: police brandished a truck-mounted LRAD when Occupy Wall Street protesters marched on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2011, and there are reports that one was actually used during the eviction of Occupiers from Zuccotti Park a few months later.

More recently, journalist John Knefel spotted NYPD officers carrying the smaller, handheld LRAD 100x model during protests following the police killing of 16-year-old Kimani Gray in 2013. It’s the 100x model that cops were using against protesters last week.

Keegan Stephan, an activist and frequent attendee of NYC-area protests, was in midtown last week when the LRAD was used. “The scene was very bizarre,” Stephan says. “There was an arrest that was made near to me. Three officers were on this guy’s back while cuffing him. It was very disturbing for me because it was reminiscent of what happened to Eric Garner.”

Stephan began taking pictures of the arrest, surprised that he wasn’t being forced away from the scene by police. “That already felt like this was eerie and strange,” he says. “But instead of getting shoved away, an officer deployed pepper spray across three of us who were there watching. Everybody was just terrified. People started running down 57th Street.”

It was in the midst of this chaos, with protesters already running away from police, that the cops started using the LRAD, alternating between making announcements to clear the roadway and using its pain-inducing crowd-dispersal alarm. Stephan retreated to the sidewalk, where he was outside of the cone where people took the full blast of the LRAD, and captured video.

Another protester, who shot this video, was caught in the LRAD’s cone of sound. “It’s like being inches from a car alarm going off, except a car alarm goes off after maybe 10 seconds,” he said. “It was definitely one of the loudest noises I’ve ever heard, but I wouldn’t say it was immediately pain inducing. But for the next six days, I was feeling pain. It was like an earache. Any loud noises made it worse.”

Last week wasn’t Stephan’s first exposure to the NYPD’s LRADs. Disturbed by seeing one of the devices on the Brooklyn Bridge during the Occupy Wall Street march, he and another activist worked with the NYCLU to file a Freedom of Information Law request seeking all of the NYPD’s materials on the LRADs.

The supposedly exhaustive response they got back in 2012 contained absolutely nothing detailing department rules on the use of LRADs. That’s a problem, says Oliver. “It tells us, we think, that as of late 2012 there were no written guidelines or policies.” Here’s an excerpt from the LRAD documents released by the NYPD:

NYPD LRAD

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication; we’ll update if we hear back from them.

What Stephan’s Freedom of Information request did yield was 17 pages of press clippings, manufacturer’s specs, and promotional materials, as well as a seven-page briefing by the NYPD’s Disorder Control Unit on testing they’d conducted in a deserted Bronx parking lot.

According to that report, with the power turned up to maximum, police recorded sound levels of 110 decibels at 320 feet away: enough to cause hearing loss with sustained exposure, but no louder than a power saw. The police took no readings closer than 320 feet. “Potential danger area. Not tested,” reads a notation in the report.

Of course, as many of the videos taken during the march last week show, protesters were well within that football-field-long potential danger area when police officers used the LRAD. And while there’s no way to know whether the LRAD was turned up to maximum volume, Oliver says it’s hard to see how the cops could know that it was safe to use the LRAD at any loud volume so close to people, in the enclosed canyons of midtown.

Alex Vitale, a policing expert at Brooklyn College, is also concerned by the use of the LRAD last week. While there might be situations where police have a legitimate use for the device, such as dispersing a large and violent group, he says this wasn’t such a situation.
“LRADs should be used to avoid having to do a baton charge,” Vitale says. “This was used to scatter already scattered protesters.”

The problem, according to Vitale, is that we know very little about the safety of LRADs in crowd-control situations. “Very few departments have them and even fewer have ever used them,” he says. “Usage for dispersal functions is very, very rare. So we don’t really know a lot about how effective they are in practice.”

In 2009, Karen Piper, an academic researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, sued the city of Pittsburgh after she was exposed to an LRAD while observing an anti-globalization protest during the G-20 summit.

Piper said the LRAD made fluid leak out of her ear, and produced dizziness, nausea, and headaches. The city ultimately settled the suit for $72,000 and agreed to develop a policy for safe use of LRADs.

The only other major public discussion of LRAD policy came in Canada in 2010, when civil liberties advocates sought to prevent police from using their LRADs as weapons against protesters during the G-8 and G-20 summits. The resulting ministry report determined that “simply put, new weapons such as the LRAD should not be employed without prior independent assessment and study.”

Vitale says the use of the LRAD seems to run contrary to the more hands-off, deescalatory “Negotiated Management” style of protest policing that Commissioner Bratton has generally adopted. The way the police used the LRAD last week—using the public address function to make announcements at the same time that they employed the painful warning sound—suggests to Vitale that this was not a well-thought out implementation.

“It just seemed like they didn’t know what they were doing,” he says. “I’m just guessing that they’ve got a new toy and they were figuring out how to use it.”

The best thing, Vitale says, would be for the City Council’s Public Safety Committee to hold hearings on the proper use of the device.

In the meantime, Stephan says the use of LRADs against demonstrators has the potential to frighten people away from exercising their right to assemble. “The idea that the NYPD has a weapon that can cause permanent hearing damage and is willing to use it on peaceful demonstrators definitely has a chilling effect on people’s First Amendment rights,” Stephan says. “It’s going to make me want to leave or limit my involvement the minute I see that thing out. I don’t want to be in that beam.”

Nick Pinto is a freelance writer living in New York.

It’s good to be Ready for Warren — just don’t mention Clinton

It’s a good time to be Ready for Warren – just don’t mention Hillary Clinton.

When the extended network of activists hoping to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 presidential race gathered in Washington, D.C. on Saturday for a lefty organizing conference, they felt confident – “electric,” as one put it.

Just a week ago, even some involved in Ready for Warren saw it as a fun, if modest, project. But on Tuesday, two of the biggest liberal grassroots groups in the country, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, joined the effort to draft the Massachusetts senator. On Friday, more than 300 Obama campaign alumni signed a letter urging Warren to get in the race. And over the course of the week, Warren’s star power reached new highs as she led the (ultimately doomed) progressive revolt against a government funding bill that included pro-Wall Street provisions.

Related: Elizabeth’s Warren moment

At a panel Saturday organized by the groups involved in the draft Warren effort at the Roots Camp conference, a summit of 2,000 liberal political organizers and techies, anything seemed possible. “If you would like to go to Iowa and change the world, we will find you a futon and feed you pizza three meals a day!” said Ben Wickler,the MoveOn organizer who is leading the group’s new $1 million campaign to draft the senator. They’re hiring people in key presidential states and plan a big kickoff event in Des Moines on Wednesday.

Warren is “catching fire,” one organizer said, referencing the group’s life-sized cutout of the populist senator as Katniss Everdeen, the symbolic leader of the rebels in the “Hunger Games” film series.

But as they build enthusiasm for Warren, her supporters still seem unsure how to talk about the proverbial donkey in the room (these are Democrats, after all): Hillary Clinton. The presence of the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination could be felt, even if her name was hardly mentioned.

No one on the panel dared speak the words “Hillary Clinton,” and she came up only in a question from a member of the audience. Erica Sagrans, the campaign manager of Ready for Warren, referred to Clinton as “that other candidate.”

The same was true at a panel earlier in the day organized by climate activists. Despite being titled “#HillaryProblems,” problems with Hillary Clinton were mentioned only in two, fleeting moments.

Asked about the lack of mention of Clinton after the Warren panel, Wickler declined to utter the name of the former secretary of state. “We’re running a pro-Warren campaign. This is a campaign to get her in the race. It’s not an anti-anyone campaign,” he said.

Pressed again, he repeated: “It’s a pro-Warren campaign.”

“We’re thinking in a Warren-centric way,” added Robel Tekleab, a Iowa-based veteran of Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign who is now Ready for Warren’s point person in the state.

During the panel, Chuck Rocha, a Democratic strategist who worked on John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign, said most Democratic politicians have failed to connect emotionally with people like him – he’s a Southern Latino with working class roots who talks “like a redneck.” But not Warren. “There’s a populist message out there that was not being spoken about until Elizabeth Warren got on the Senate floor and talked about it,” he said.

Even though she’s talking about obscure financial regulations, she’s makes people feel like she can “speak to them,” said Rocha, something he said he’s rarely seen since Clinton’s husband was president.

Sagrans said the pro-Warren movement was inspired in part by Occupy Wall Street and the protests movement against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s cuts to public sector worker pensions in 2011.

But even if the panelists avoided Clinton, attendees did not. One, a local organizer, said, “I think we need to be not just ready for Warren, but also need to be ready for unity.”