Occupy Wall Street Trial Begins in Manhattan

A Manhattan jury heard opening arguments on Friday in one of the final criminal cases stemming from past Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

Cecily McMillan, a 25-year-old graduate student and union employee, was charged with second-degree assault on a police officer.

The charge stems from an incident on March 17, 2012, when demonstrators tried to return to Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan after being evicted from an…

Occupy Wall Street Can’t Get a Fair Trial

The shadow of Occupy Wall Street has passed us by. As the rest of America goes on being productive and capitalist, the only remnants of the irrelevant movement are a few assault and battery lawsuits. One of the last criminal trials is the case of Cecily McMillan, a 25 year old graduate student at The New School in New York City.

Two years ago, during a Saturday night Occupy protest at Zuccotti Park, McMillan allegedly assaulted an NYPD officer. McMillan’s defense is that the policeman, Officer Grantley Bovell, “grabbed her right breast from behind” and “reacted instinctively, not knowing he was a police officer.” The same officer, including “several of his colleagues, the NYPD and city authorities” are now being sued by nine other protesters who claim their “constitutional rights” were violated. Who knew Marxists were so litigious?

Whether Cecily McMillan, or these other protesters, are entitled to a lawsuit isn’t the point. The more interesting fact is that most people still don’t sympathize with Occupy Wall Street. They didn’t in 2011, when 31% of Americans polled by Gallup didn’t agree with their methods (and 59% didn’t know or care). And now, as McMillan’s trial is scrambling to interview jurors, we are finding out that they can’t even get fair representation.

“I’m involved in Wall Street things. I’m on the Wall Street side, not their side,” said George Yih, a potential juror.

“Everything I believe – my morals – are kind of the antithesis of what they represent,” said Jason McLean, an equity trader who was promptly dismissed.

“…in terms of Occupy Wall Street”, says Alan Moore whose wife works on Wall Street, “in general, I would give less credibility to that group than average.”

Are these people trying to get out of jury duty, or are people less inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to socialists? Wait, what am I saying? College socialists are so well behaved

Last of the Occupy Wall Street trials begins in NYC


Kylie Minogue quits The Voice UK

Last of the Occupy Wall Street trials begins in NYC

Occupy Wall Street 17 March 2012

Cecily McMillan, 25, faces 7 years in prison for elbowing Officer Grantley Bovell in the face, a felony, during a police sweep of Zucotti Park, scene of an Occupy Wall Street protest on March 17, 2012.

McMillan does not deny that she elbowed the officer. At issue is the nature of the incident.

Officer Bovell says he was attempting to escort her off the grounds when she attacked him. She says he grabbed her breast from behind, and she simply reacted to the assault on her, throwing out an elbow, not realizing it was a police officer.

In her opening statement, Rebecca Heinegg, one of McMillan’s defense lawyers, said her client “reacted in surprise” when her right breast was grabbed from behind, according to an article in The Guardian. She added that McMillan, a known Occupy activist, was also known for her nonviolence philosophy. Furthermore, Heinegg said McMillan wasn’t taking part in that day’s events, but was simply passing through the area, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends.

“She was dressed in bright green, she had friends visiting from out of town, and she was out in the West Village and the East Village to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” Heinegg said.

Assistant district attorney Erin Choi painted a different picture. Choi said a film would show McMillian crouched, and ready to spring at Officer Bovell.

“Officer Bovell was completely horrified. It was the last thing he expected that day,” Choi said.

The trial got off to a bit of a rocky start after several prospective jurors were dismissed claiming they could not be impartial. Some said they had strong ties to Wall Street financial businesses, others because they said they were suspicious of the police.

Zucotti Park in the city’s financial district was one of the original protest sites when the Occupy movement started in September, 2011. It eventually spread to other locations in New York, and other cities around the country.

Over the course of the protests, New York City police arrested 2,644 protesters, according to the New York Times. Of these, only seven were indicted, including McMillan. Of the other six, only one went to trial, a woman who was acquitted. Two others pleaded guilty to the charges they faced, and the other two pleaded guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges.

McMillan chose to ask for a trial, rather than plead guilty to a felony.

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Occupy Wall Street activist intended to elbow police officer – prosecution

An Occupy Wall Street activist asked if she was being filmed before intentionally elbowing a New York police officer in the face, prosecutors told a court on Friday, as her lawyers argued that she struck out instinctively after having one of her breasts grabbed from behind.

Video footage will show that Cecily McMillan “crouched down, then bent her knees, and then aimed her elbow at the officer and then jumped up to strike” the officer as he led her away from a protest in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in March 2012, Erin Choi, an assistant district attorney, told the jury in her opening argument in McMillan’s trial for assault.

“‘Are you filming this?’, ‘Are you filming this?’ were the defendant’s words right before she intentionally attacked Police Officer Grantley Bovell,” said Choi.

After receiving a blow to his left eye from McMillan’s elbow, Choi said, “Officer Bovell was completely horrified. This was the last thing he was expecting to happen that day.”

McMillan, 25, is accused of assaulting Bovell, 35, and attempting to stop him from performing his duties during an operation to clear the park on the night of 17 March, when hundreds of protesters had gathered to mark six months of the Occupy movement. McMillan, who denies the charge, faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

One of McMillan’s attorneys, Rebecca Heinegg, told the court in her opening argument that McMillan did not intentionally strike Bovell but simply “reacted in surprise” to being grabbed on her right breast. Heinegg said the trial would centre on “what happened in a split-second on 17 March 2012, inside Cecily McMillan’s head”.

Heinegg stressed that while McMillan was “a committed activist” involved in Occupy Wall Street, “known among other activists for her commitment to non-violence”, she was on “a day off from Occupy” on 17 March 2012.

“She was dressed in bright green, she had friends visiting from out of town, and she was out in the West Village and the East Village to celebrate St Patrick’s Day,” Heinegg said.

McMillan had briefly stopped at the park to collect another friend, said Heinegg. “As Cecily was walking out of the park, heading back to her friends, she was suddenly grabbed from behind and pulled up and back by Officer Bovell, grabbed on her right breast, grabbed so hard that it left a bruise in the shape of a hand-print.

“As she reacted she hit Officer Bovell in the face with her elbow. She did not intend to hurt him, she certainly did not intend to prevent him from completing his police duties. She did not even know that the person grabbing her from behind was a police officer. She just reacted. And ladies and gentlemen, reacting to being grabbed by a stranger is not a crime”.

Choi, however, told the jury that after arriving at Zuccotti Park Bovell, of the 40th precinct in the Bronx, spotted McMillan “shouting, yelling and cursing at a female officer” after protesters were told by police that they must exit so that the park could be cleaned, and insisting that she did not have to leave.

He “decided to escort her out of the park by placing his hand on the back of her right shoulder,” Choi said.

“As they walked, Officer Bovell’s open palm was on the back of her shoulder,” said Choi. “The defendant decided to turn to her left and say: ‘Are you filming this?’, ‘Are you filming this?’. Officer Bovell, curious, turned to the left to find out who the defendant was talking to. At that moment, the defendant crouched down and jumped up and struck Officer Bovell.”

Choi claimed that when McMillan “attempted to flee”, Bovell “fell on top of her” and stood her upright so that she could be walked to a holding area where arrested protesters were being held. McMillan then said that she could not breathe and began “kicking her legs to get away from the officer, laying on the ground and refusing to give the officer her hands so that she could be handcuffed”.

“Officer Bovell informed her that if she could talk she could breathe,” said Choi.

McMillan was placed on a bus to be processed. “As soon as she got on the bus, the defendant acted as if she was suffering from a seizure and could not breathe,” Choi said, adding that McMillan was removed from the bus and began convulsing on the pavement.

Choi told the jury Bovell suffered bruising, swelling and a cut under his left eye, and went on to suffer headaches and blurred vision. “That’s how hard the defendant struck the officer,” she said.

Dr Eva Yan, an optometrist who examined Bovell two days later, testified that she recorded his iris as being slightly inflamed and that his cornea had a small scar. She said under cross-examination from Martin Stolar, McMillan’s lead attorney, that the injuries probably would have been more serious if an elbow had been aimed directly at his eye.

Occupy Wall Street Protests, New York in 2011
Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, 2011. Photograph: KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features

Wearing a purple dress, McMillan, an organiser and former New School student, sat between her attorneys taking notes as prosecutors made their arguments. A group of supporters and Occupy Wall Street organisers sat watching in the public benches. The trial is believed to be the last of a series of prosecutions brought by Manhattan authorities against the 2012 protesters.

Choi acknowledged that questions would be raised by McMillan’s attorneys about Bovell’s past conduct. Previously, during jury selection, she told told jurors Bovell had been disciplined by police chiefs for having five parking and speeding tickets fixed by his union representative as part of the so-called “Bronx ticketing scandal” that became public in 2011.

The NYPD has also confirmed in court filings in the trial that Bovell was previously subject to at least two other inquiries by the internal affairs bureau, and was disciplined over a 2010 case in which a 17-year-old boy claimed to have been injured after being run off the road on his dirt bike by police.

Bovell is also being sued in a civil lawsuit by an Occupy activist who claims the officer intentionally banged his head against the seats of a bus while removing him from the same protest on 17 March.

Choi asked the jurors to instead “focus on what happened” in the approach to McMillan striking Bovell in the face.

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, is scheduled to resume at the state courthouse in Manhattan on Monday morning.

Occupy Wall Street’s lousy math

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Part 2: How America created Canada’s high-tax state

Mark MilkeCALGARY, AB, Apr 13, 2014/ Troy Media/ – Advocates of reflexive state intervention as the desired means to a better world often believe their cause to be noble and just. From Robespierre and the French revolutionaries in the 18th century to Marxists in the 20th century, to milder “social justice” advocates today, what matters to some, apparently, is the language of equality, by which they mean equality of result. They focus overmuch on the words and ignore the often tragic, bloody results.

But one need not look at extreme examples of state interventionism. Lovers of equality of result, and of the notion a public bureaucracy is capable of solving almost any problem, become positively giddy when the prospect of additional taxes and higher spending seem close at hand. The tax-and-spend crowd continually assume, wrongly, that large government is equal to compassion and that its corollary, high taxes, is conducive to and responsible for a sense of community.

For instance, the late federal NDP leader Jack Layton, campaigning in 2004, labelled previous tax relief in Ontario “extreme,” responsible for all sorts of ills, and argued Canadians did not want tax relief to cause “that kind of damage at a national level.” In 2008, Layton campaigned on higher corporate taxes and more taxes on the wealthy on the basis that higher taxes were a necessary salve for societal salvation. The 2011 Occupy Wall Street protest movement, insofar as it had any coherence, saw various protesters demand higher taxes and more redistribution, especially on the “1 per cent” (i.e., those in the top one per cent of income earners).

As long as taxes exist, income will be redistributed; that is what taxes do. But insofar as the specific notion that any Canadian should be taxed more, the demand is curious. At 38 per cent of GDP, government revenues as a percentage of the economy are at the higher end of the range of where they were during Pierre Trudeau’s reign (between 35 and 39 per cent of the economy) – and he was hardly a low-tax advocate.

Moreover, shortly after some reductions in the tax burden in the late 1990s and early 2000s, provincial governments, in particular, began to raise them once again. These days, tax increases are routinely suggested by government unions, special interest groups, and politicians on the grounds of morality, utility or just on the notion the rich do not pay enough. (In such advocacy, rarely is another possibility considered: cuts to unnecessary parts of government to finance other areas).

On the tax question, Canada’s taxes are already wildly “progressive,” if by that it is meant a taxpayer pays more as she moves up the income scale. And contrary to Occupy Wall Street myth, even the wealthy pay a lot in taxes, higher both in proportion to their numbers and income. To grasp this, start with a look at who actually files a tax return and their share of the tax burden. For starters, 24.8 million of us filed a tax return in 2010 and about one-third, over 8.4 million, paid no tax at all. That is a substantial number of people who thus rely on everyone else – the other 16.4 million – to fund hospitals and schools, to pay to patch a road, or to pay a soldier in Canada’s defence.

Break that number down further. Canadians who earn under $50,000 constituted 73 per cent of all tax filers in 2010; their income is equal to 38 per cent of all income reported. Their share of the taxes paid that year amounted to just 17 per cent. Thus, those who earn under $50,000, almost three quarters of the population who file a tax return, are responsible for less than a fifth of all tax receipts (which includes federal and provincial income tax, Canada Pension Plans payments, and employment insurance taxes).

The middle class – let’s define them as those with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 – account for 21 per cent of all tax filers. They take home 35 per cent of all income, and pay 37 per cent of the taxes.

And the famed “1 per cent,” the subject of so much Occupy Wall Street angst and protest, and who became a cliché for the notion some don’t pay their “fair share”? The top 1 per cent (in Canada, anyone with over $250,000 in earnings) earned 10 per cent of all income and paid 20 per cent of all income tax.

Add in the next wealthiest cohort and the top 2 per cent of tax filers (above $150,000) accounted for 16 per cent of all declared income but paid 30 per cent of all taxes. Add in anyone with earnings over $100,000 and the top 6 per cent of tax filers paid 46 per cent of taxes in Canada.

It was this distribution of income-to-taxes-paid that 1980s-era Conservative Finance Minister Michael Wilson had in mind when he remarked that Canada needed more millionaires. And he was correct. There is no one in Canada who needs to pay more tax, including even the wealthiest cohort of the population. As it is, the top 6 per cent of income earners in Canada already pay almost half the tax bill.

Excerpted from Tax Me I’m Canadian! A Taxpayer’s’ Guide to your Money and How Politicians Spend It. Mark Milke. Thomas Black 2014. Reprinted with permission.

Next: Sorry Virginia, income taxes are constitutional

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NYC court unable to find impartial jury to decide Occupy Wall Street trial

Occupy Wall Street protesters march along 47th Street in New York September 17, 2013.(Reuters / Joshua Lott)

Occupy Wall Street protesters march along 47th Street in New York September 17, 2013.(Reuters / Joshua Lott)

An Occupy Wall Street protester facing seven years in prison for an alleged 2012 assault may wait even longer to hear her fate as New Yorkers have proven to be so divided on the issue that finding impartial jurors has so far been nearly impossible.

Jury selection in the trial of Cecily McMillan began on Monday
but has gone on longer than anticipated because attorneys on both
sides of the case have been unable to agree on a juror pool
willing to approach the case with a fresh perspective. The trial
is the last criminal trial relating to the Occupy Wall Street
protests in New York.

McMillan, 25, is charged with assaulting a police officer during
a March 17, 2012 protest in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.
Prosecutors are expected to argue that McMillan intentionally
assaulted Officer Grantley Bovell when he was making arrests at
the demonstration. The young woman has maintained that she was
unaware Bovell was a police officer and that she was only trying
to fend off a man who grabbed her breast from behind.

Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011 with a small
encampment in the heart of New York City’s financial district.
The movement quickly multiplied, attracting demonstrators from
throughout the world who rallied around the idea that the
wealthiest one percent of the population had for too long taken
advantage of the other 99 percent.

The “We are the 99%” slogan immediately made headlines
and inspired countless other protests around the US and elsewhere
in the world.

For all the talk about income inequality, though, the
left-leaning Occupy movement has been as divisive as the Tea
Party, its rival counterpart on the right. Nowhere was that
divide more evident than in the movement’s birthplace, where
bankers, lawyers, and executives walked past Occupiers’ tents and
signs on their commute into offices located dozens of floors
above.

That tension lasts through today, with prosecutors and defense
attorneys quickly filing through prospective jurors for the
McMillan trial. Alan Moore, one potential juror, told the court
his wife worked on Wall Street as a bond strategist, so it would
be difficult for him to judge McMillan’s actions with a clear
lens.

I like to think of myself as fair,” he said, as quoted by the Guardian, which first
reported on the dilemma. “But in terms of Occupy Wall Street
in general, I would give less credibility to that group than
average…They seem to be people moving a little outside regular
social norms and regular behavior. Therefore I don’t give them
the same level of respect as people who follow the line
.”

The notion was shared by many. The court hoped to fill the 12
juror seats by Monday’s end, although they were only able to fill
seven of those seats by the time Tuesday came to a close.

For 20 years, my occupation has been, in some fashion, on
Wall Street
,” said equity trader Jason McLean, who lives
with his wife, also an equity trader, in the Murray Hill
neighborhood of New York City. “Everything I believe – my
morals – are kind of the antithesis of what they represent. I
don’t know that I could be completely objective
.”

Other possible jurors were excluded after reporting negative
experiences with police in the past. Patrick Grigsby, who works
as an actuary on the Upper West Side, was expelled when he
admitted that learning Officer Bovell had been disciplined as
part of the so-called “Bronx ticketing scandal” of 2011 would
impede his view of the incident in question.

Martin Stolar, McMillan’s attorney, told the Guardian both he and
his client are confident that the two sides would eventually
find the people who fit the profile” of impartiality.
His co-counsel Rebecca Heinegg agreed.

A surprising number of people are actually willing to say
they can’t be fair
,” she said.

The defense team previously told journalist Jon Swaine that McMillan was
a frequent visitor to Zucotti Park and known for her peaceful
disposition. She had brought a friend down to visit for a St.
Patrick’s Day celebration on the day when the incident with
Bovell occurred. The young woman had bruises on her back, head,
feet, and breasts that the defense says were incurred when Bovell
assaulted her.

An innocent woman is being accused of something that could
send her to prison for seven years
,” Stolar said outside a
previous hearing in Manhattan. “She was leaving the park
pursuant to the police department’s orders when she was brutally
assaulted by a police officer and subsequently accused of
assaulting that police officer
.”

The prosecution, perhaps unsurprisingly, disagrees. A criminal
complaint obtained by the New York Times claims that Bovell suffered
swelling and bruising and substantial pain to his left
eye
” in the confusion.

Jury selection is scheduled to resume Friday.

Occupy activist facing seven years in jail was ‘promoter of non-violence’

An Occupy Wall Street activist charged with assaulting a police officer is a “promoter of non-violence” who wandered into a tussle with law enforcement while celebrating St Patrick’s Day, her lawyers plan to argue in court this week.

Jury selection began on Monday morning in the trial of Cecily McMillan, who denies assaulting Officer Grantley Bovell as he arrested protesters from the anti-capitalist movement in New York’s Zuccotti Park on 17 March 2012.

“An innocent woman is being accused of something that could send her to prison for seven years,” McMillan’s attorney, Martin Stolar, told reporters outside the state supreme courtroom in lower Manhattan. “She was leaving the park pursuant to the police department’s orders when she was brutally assaulted by a police officer and subsequently accused of assaulting that police officer.” McMillan told a small group of supporters: “Thank you for being here today.”

Prosecutors are expected to argue that McMillan, 25, intentionally elbowed Bovell in the face as he carried out his official duties. They are expected to cite testimony from police officers and a long-range video clip of the incident.

McMillan insists that she did not know Bovell was a police officer and swung her arm at him only after he grabbed one of her breasts from behind. Stolar told the Guardian in an interview that the court would hear that she was renowned among fellow campaigners in the Occupy movement and in other activist circles as “a profound pusher of non-violent political action”.

“Her reputation is somebody who promotes non-violence as the preferred method of achieving political ends,” said Stolar. “She is not somebody who has a reputation for being a violent person. So there will be character witnesses that will testify that her character is such.”

McMillan’s defence team also intends to stress that although she had been active in the occupation of Zuccotti Park, she was enjoying a “day off” on 17 March by celebrating St Patrick’s Day with a friend visiting from outside the city. She had stopped at the park only for about 20 minutes to collect another friend when the clash with Bovell took place, they claim.

“She was out partying, she wasn’t out to get into a confrontation with the cops,” said Stolar. “And she was dressed in bright green: you don’t go out and go commit a crime wearing something that is obvious and makes you easily picked out.”

Jurors are expected to be shown photographs of McMillan taken three days after the incident showing a hand-shaped bruise on her right breast. Her lawyers argue that while other bruising – on her back, the back of her head, and backs of her legs – was caused when police pushed her to the ground after she struck Bovell, the bruise on her breast was inflicted before this.

“The explanation for her having a bruise on her front, as far as we are concerned, is that is where she was grabbed by the person who turns out to be a police officer,” said Stolar. “And her swinging around and her arm hitting the cop in the face was a reaction, a response to being grabbed on the breast.”

Stolar last month had a motion requesting access to Bovell’s NYPD personnel file rejected by Judge Ronald A Zweibel as irrelevant to McMillan’s trial. The NYPD’s response to Stolar’s motion confirmed that Bovell had been subject to inquiries by the force’s internal affairs bureau at least twice and had received a “command discipline” in 2010.

The Guardian last week disclosed that Bovell is being sued by another Occupy activist, Austin Guest, who alleges that the officer dragged him down the aisle of a bus while “intentionally banging his head on each seat” while removing him and dozens of other protesters from the demonstration, which marked six months of the Occupy movement.

Guest’s attorneys said in an updated complaint in federal court that as a result, the 33-year-old Harvard graduate “suffered physical, psychological and emotional injuries, mental anguish, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, and other damages”.

Guest and eight other protesters, none of whom was charged with a crime, are suing Bovell, several of his colleagues, the NYPD and city authorities for allegedly violating their rights. They are seeking unspecified compensation, damages and legal fees. Lawyers for the NYPD said in a response motion that the officers denied all the allegations.

Austerity terrorism: From Kiev to NYC



Caleb Maupin is a political analyst who lives in New York City, and is an activist with the International Action Center and Workers World Party. He was part of the Occupy Wall Street mo

Protesters affiliated with Occupy Wall Street demonstrate for a variety of causes at Zuccotti Park near the New York Stock Exchange on the second anniversary of the movement on September 17, 2013 in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP)

Tags

Austerity, Crisis, EU, Economy, Obama, Opposition, Politics, Protest, Terrorism, USA, Ukraine

Two recent events – violence on the floor of the Ukrainian parliament and the launch of a criminal trial for an Occupy Wall Street activist – are both an example of a rising trend in global politics: austerity terrorism.

On Tuesday, as Petro Symonenko was speaking in the Ukrainian
parliament, he was attacked by two members of Svoboda, the
ultra-right wing nationalist party. Symonenko, an MP from the
Communist Party of Ukraine, was speaking in defense of those in
Kharkov, Donetsk, and other parts of Ukraine who were protesting
the new, US-backed regime that recently took power. The response
of his opponents was to violently drag him from the podium.

The very same day, over 4,700 miles away, jury selection was
beginning in a criminal trial in New York City. Cecily McMillan,
a young woman who is the northeast regional organizer of the
Young Democratic Socialists of America, was grabbed and assaulted
by the police while participating in protests on the sixth-month
anniversary of Occupy Wall Street on March 17, 2012. They beat
her severely, breaking her ribs, and leaving huge, hand-shaped
bruises on her breasts. Because she raised her elbow in response
to a violent police assault, she is on trial for “assault on a
police officer” and faces a possible sentence of seven years in
prison.

‘Doing everything to intimidate people’

The US State Department defines terrorism as the “use of
violence or threat of violence to instill fear and coerce
governments or societies.”
Globally we are seeing a campaign
of violence and repression designed to instill fear into those
who challenge the economic setup in this time of crisis.

We are in a period where the global economic order, controlled by
bankers on Wall Street and in London, Frankfurt and elsewhere, is
creaking and moaning. The current world system cannot continue to
function without ever-rising misery.

Though a large proportion of Ukrainians had no desire to join the
European Union, or put themselves under the financial slavery of
the IMF, and no official vote was held in this regard, both were
forced upon them. The US-backed right-wing government of
ultranationalists seized power against the will of the
population. This government cut the old-age pension in half. It
raised the price of heating oil. The cost of basic items like
food has risen dramatically, and privatization plans are on the
table.

Petro Symonenko, a Communist, was speaking against this,
defending those who dared challenge the new regime, imposed on
the people of Ukraine to serve Wall Street imperialism. As he was
being attacked by Svoboda members, he shouted: “You are today
doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, and
start fighting people who have a different point of view.”

Petro Symonenko (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko)

The same Western bankers who have imposed austerity on Ukraine
have created a situation of mass unemployment in the United
States. With unemployment already very high in the US, it is
especially high for youth, with 18.5 percent of people age 16-24
who are looking for work unable to find any. The youth who are
lucky enough to be working are not making anything near the wages
their parents in the “middle class” once had. Jobs in
industry, known for their higher wages, benefits and union
protection have been eliminated. The jobs young people find
themselves in are low-wage, service jobs. They are rarely able to
work full-time, often stuck with less than 20 hours per week,
with pay as low as $8 an hour.

The fact that hundreds of thousands of young people joined the
Occupy movement in 2011 was directly linked to economic
conditions. Many of the occupiers were young people with college
degrees who simply could not find a way to get by, and were
filled with rage. Placards carried by the occupiers read
“Where is my future?”; “Where is my bailout?” and “I
can’t afford a lobbyist”,
expressing the anger of millions
of young people in what is supposedly the “richest country in
the world.”

McMillan is, like Petro Symonenko, an anti-capitalist who calls
for a different economic order. Now the repressive forces seek to
“make an example” of her, by possibly sending her to
prison for seven years, after already causing her extreme
physical injuries for daring participate in a protest.

In both of these instances, we are seeing the billionaire
capitalists defending their power, and trying to very publicly
suppress those who oppose them. They are attempting to send a
message: “No matter who you are, a member of parliament in
Ukraine, a socialist youth in New York City, don’t stand up to
us! Don’t fight back! We will attack you!”

Capitalism in decay

In 1935, Georgy Dmitrov, who had recently been released by the
Nazis after a global campaign, explained the nature of fascism to
a gathering of progressive people from around the world in
Moscow. He said: “The imperialist circles are trying to shift
the whole burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the working
people. That is why they need fascism. They are trying to solve
the problem of markets by enslaving the weak nations, by
intensifying colonial oppression and re-partitioning the world
anew by means of war. That is why they need fascism. They are
striving to forestall the growth of the forces of revolution by
smashing the revolutionary movement of the workers and
peasants… That is why they need fascism.”

What Dmitrov was observing in 1935 about the rise of figures such
as Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and Adolf Hitler, is just
as true in the current global economic crisis. In economic times
like these, the billionaires who dominate the global economy will
try to force the rest of humanity to bear the brunt of the crisis
they created. They will try to start wars in order to make
profits, and to re-divide and plunder the world. They will try to
halt those who would get in their way and demand a different
economic system.

Doing this, however, means an abolition of democracy. If the
people cannot be fooled into voting away their livelihoods, then
their very right to vote must be stripped away.

Protesters hold a banner during a demonstration trying to reach the venue of an Informal Meeting of EU Ministers for Economic and Financial affairs in Athens on April 1, 2014. (AFP Photo / Louisa Gouliamaki)

In Detroit, the city is no longer run by a mayor and city council
elected by the people. The elected government has been pushed
aside, and an “emergency manager” named Kevyn Orr, with
close ties to the banks, now rules by decree. He is talking of
privatizing the city’s assets, such as the Detroit Art Institute,
and Belle Isle, and cutting away at the pension of city workers.

While the US economy cannot provide decent paying jobs for young
people, the “prison industrial complex” is on the rise,
with over 2.5 million people locked away. The schools the youth
attend are filled with cops, who handcuff and arrest them for
what would previously have been a matter of classroom discipline.

The NSA has been exposed by Edward Snowden to be engaging in an
unprecedented amount of spying. Though the US constitution
supposedly protects the people from unreasonable “search and
seizure,”
such liberties are being eliminated as the
policing agencies declare their right to watch our every move.

Obama now assassinates people by drones, and has declared that
even US citizens are not immune from these extra-legal
executions. Without a judge or jury, or any legal proceeding, the
US president can order that a button be pushed and a US citizen
be killed.

In this time of economic crisis, the trend is for the abolition
of civilian rule and popular sovereignty. The western capitalist
societies are moving toward the direct rule by the military and
police apparatus, and the abolition of civil liberties.

Increasingly, those who act as strong-armed thugs, violently
enforcing this march of society toward autocracy and militarism,
are open about their fascist beliefs. The ultranationalists in
Ukraine openly speak about pro-fascist insurgents during World
War II as heroes, and burn monuments to those who died fighting
Hitler. In Greece, austerity is being enforced by Golden Dawn,
another group of unapologetic Hitler worshipers. In Britain, the
English Defense League and the British National Party are growing
in popularity, pushing for heavy police repression and preaching
hatred for immigrants. The ultra-right wing in the US has turned
George Zimmerman into a hero for killing an unarmed
African-American youth, and Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi groups are
holding more and more public rallies.

While once the US and the countries of Western Europe bragged
about being “democratic,” in a time of economic crisis,
the supposed signs of this “democracy” are fading, and
fascism and authoritarian militarism are on display.

Employee of Iberian Partners, the sole bottler of Coca-Cola in Spain, demonstrate against a redundancy employment scheme in Madrid on March 9, 2014 on the sidelines of outdoor performances in protest against the decline in state support for the arts in Spain. (AFP Photo / Javier Soriano)

‘Specter of Communism’ rises again

The targets of these latest public displays of austerity terror
are those who raise possibility of a whole new world. Cecily
McMillan, a “democratic socialist”, Petro Symonenko, a
Communist, both think and say what so many voices in Western
media have declared is impossible. They say that the “free
market”
is not the only way society can be organized. They
dare raise the possibility of reorganizing society so that the
economy serves to meet the needs of all humanity, not making
profits for a small class of owners.

It is no surprise that they have become targets of austerity
terrorism.

During the financial collapse of 2008, long before the words
“Occupy Wall Street” had ever been imagined, the US
right-wing was suddenly speaking about “the red menace”
again. The Tea Party was calling Obama a Communist, and Glenn
Beck was declaring he had found the fingerprints of Che Guevara,
Mao Zedong, and the US Communist Party in all kinds of places
across the US political establishment. Just as the Marxists of
the world predicted there would be a rise in protests, revolts
and anti-capitalist sentiments, the billionaires predicted the
same thing. The fears of some, and the dreams of others, are
coming into reality, with protest movements, strikes, and red
flags popping up, years after so many declared “the end of
history.”

The fear of “socialism” and “communism” is
rising among the powerful, because such ideas are gaining
popularity. Polls in the United States show larger than ever
percentages of the population declaring a favorable view of
“socialism” and “communism,” despite the US
being a center of world anti-Communism with the Cold War
“victory” as its heritage.

The fact that protests and uprisings are taking place and
post-capitalist models of society are being envisioned is scaring
the powers into the frenzy of violence we are currently seeing.
But, the drive to destroy democratic institutions and carry out
austerity terror has never succeeded in halting opposition and
resistance. Hitler stormed into power burning books, executing
leaders of trade unions, and outlawing leftist political parties.
Yet, within Nazi Germany underground communist groups flourished.
When the peaceful hungry peasants marchers led by Father Gapon
were gunned down in Petrograd in 1905, this only created more
radical sentiments. By 1917 the Bolsheviks were riding in to
power on a program, fighting for “Peace, Land, and
Bread.”
The attempt to execute revolutionary journalist
Mumia Abu Jamal by the state of Pennsylvania made him an
international celebrity, with streets in Paris being named for
him, and his writings being circulated across the world.

Attempts to terrorize people into accepting greater poverty and
police repression cannot succeed for this simple reason: They
further reveal the ruthlessness of those who carry them out, and
expose the very reasons for rebellion.

While some may theorize about “propaganda of the deed,”
the campaign of austerity terrorism is a real–life example. By
attacking speakers on the floor of the Ukrainian parliament, by
beating and attempting to imprison peaceful occupy protesters, by
creating a police state and fomenting a rise in fascism, the
Western billionaire class and their enforcers in the governments
are making clear to many exactly why it is necessary to revolt
against them.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Comments (1)

Marcus N 11.04.2014 01:40

Great essay, very true and very disturbing

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