Have You Heard the Good News?

May 17, 2012

I spend a lot of time dealing with depressing subjects. With corruption at epidemic levels sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today is different. There are several news stories going around right now that are absolutely positive. These stores are a sign that America can get back on track and truly be the land of the free again.

As many of you know Obama has signed the NDAA. The legislation is highly controversial because it could allow for the indefinite detention of US citizens for being belligerent to the central government or for providing significant support to those engaged in hostilities towards he government. This is a very frightening prospect. Belligerent and hostile could mean anything. I myself have grave concern over this. Could my blog be considered belligerent and hostile to the government?

Clearly this provision of the NDAA is unconstitutional as it utterly violates several constitutional amendments. Fortunately for us US District Judge, Katherine Forrest agrees. According to Forrest the NDAA “failed to pass constitutional muster.” The Judge went on to say “There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. There is also a strong public interest in ensuring that due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment are protected by ensuring that ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention.”

In short Forrest has halted the NDAA’s most chilling effect by barring the military from detaining US citizens pending an order from the court or an amendment to the statute by Congress. In other words that dog don’t hunt!

The good news does not end there. The NYPD has garnered a bad reputation for itself. Their brutality and callous disregard for the people’s right to free assembly has come under fire in the court of public opinion. I have written several articles criticizing the department for their overall misconduct (I loved you in Wall Street. Fried Bologna and NYPD Public Enemy #1). The NYPD has arrested hundreds of people since the Occupy Wall Street protests began. On New Year’s day a photographer, Alexander Arbuckle was arrested for disorderly conduct for allegedly blocking traffic during a protest march.

Fortunately Tim Pool, a well known journalist  was shooting video at the time Arbuckle was apprehended. The video clearly exonerates Arbuckle who was consequently acquitted of the charge of disorderly conduct. Arbuckle along with several protesters was standing on the sidewalk. The only people blocking traffic were NYPD officers. Arbuckle’s defense insisted that this video proved  the NYPD’s testimony was patently false. Fortunately the judge agreed.

Ironically Arbuckle was on the scene to show the NYPD’s side of the OWS story. He felt that they were being misrepresented in the media, however his acquittal coupled with Tim Pool’s video proves that the NYPD by and large is a fascist para-military organization. I am counting this as a major victory for the Occupy movement and hopefully this will be the first of many acquittals. Justice will not be served however until the NYPD officers who provided false testimony are charged with perjury.

Good things can happen if we the people stand up and demand change. We cannot rely on elected officials to do the right thing on their own. It is our patriotic duty to affect these changes ourselves.


Charlottetown Rebellion

May 15, 2012

After the Bank of America shareholders meeting protest it is clear to the world that Occupy Charlotte and Occupy Wall Street are alive and well. They never went away. They have regrouped and now they are stronger than ever.

I had the opportunity to catch up with one of Occupy Charlotte’s organizers, Craig Glisson and discuss the recent protest and the future of Occupy Charlotte.

Jeremiah: Last week’s protest at the Bank of America shareholders meeting went very well. I’m counting it as a victory for Occupy Charlotte. In light of this what’s next for Occupy Charlotte?

Craig: That was the first time Occupy Charlotte was involved on a march in the streets so I would definitely consider that to be a victory, but we still have to battle war, injustice and inequality. Occupy Charlotte has several plans moving forward. We plan on being more involved in the community. Occupy Charlotte will be doing a lot more community service and community outreach. We want to be more than just a protest group or a social program. We will be going more into community building. The Charlotte community is the most important thing to Occupy Charlotte.

Jeremiah: Relations between the CMPD and Occupy Charlotte seemed to be tenable last week. How do you think that will effect the upcoming DNC?

Craig: Personally I’m not concerned about the CMPD. I’m concerned with the police around the Charlotte area and also some of the federal agents that will be inhabiting the city during that time period. The CMPD has been very professional with their relationships with activists and protest groups in the Charlotte area. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. I plan on building a more professional relationship with the CMPD so we can work together and so our interactions with the police won’t overshadow the actual events we are protesting.

Jeremiah: During the DNC Obama will be speaking at the Bank of America Stadium. If you could ask him one question or if you wanted him to address one issue affecting  the Charlotte community what would that be?

Craig: There are many issues I would want him to address,but the main question I would ask him is; what happened to the change he promised in 2008 and why did you promote changing the face of Washington when you hired so many Washington insiders to your staff.

Jeremiah: Was there anything else you wanted to add? Did I miss anything?

Craig:The BofA shareholders meeting protest shows that Occupy Charlotte is alive. We were preoccupied with this very important event so that people can realize the problems that the big corporations like Bank of America have placed on Charlotte, North Carolina, the United States, and the world. They’ve had a huge hand in the economic mess of 2008. Going forward we have to stand as citizens so that corporations won’t ruin our future or the present that we live in.

When I asked Craig how people could get involved he directed me to the links posted below.

Occupy Charlotte’s Homepage

Occupy Charlotte’s Calendar

Occupy is going strong but it needs the support of the people to stay alive. I urge all of my readers to get involved. This is our future and together we can make it a brighter one.

(Photos by Cannie Osborne)

Don’t Kick the Baby!

May 12, 2012

This next story is a lurid tale of sock and awe.

A Georgia police officer, Jerad Wheeler is under scrutiny for kicking a 9 month pregnant woman in the stomach.

The victim, Raven Dozier received a boot to her stomach so hard that she had to have an emergency c-section 2 weeks after the incident. Doctors say that her unborn son had defecated in the womb. Wheeler literally kicked the shit out of an unborn child.

Wheeler gave Raven a “front push-kick to the abdomen” because she was “moving aggressively.” Adding insult to injury the officer charged Raven with obstruction of justice then he hauled her battered body to county jail. Fortunately those charges have been dropped.

The incident took place last December. Wheeler had responded to a domestic dispute at Raven’s home. Her brother, Darius Usher was having a dispute with her mother. When wheeler arrived on the scene he tasered Usher which caused Raven to cry out and question the officer’s tactics. According to Raven “I think he really just didn’t want me asking him any questions, questioning him, and when I did question him is when he kicked me.”

Wheeler claims that he did not know that Raven was pregnant and that he acted as he was instructed at the academy. Apparently his superiors at the department are OK with this as well. When Raven filed a report with internal affairs she was brushed off as if Wheeler was in the right.

Fortunately Raven has decided to file a lawsuit against the department. Her attorney Mark Bullman said “What kind of a human being kicks a pregnant woman? I mean, forget whether or not it is a police officer that is supposedly protecting people.” Bullman went on to say “This officer is just another loose cannon, and I don’t know how a 180-pound pregnant woman comes at you aggressively.”

Wheeler has had two previous complaints for excessive use of force one of which involves him shooting a family dog after he showed up at the wrong address. The dog was leashed and in the garage. During the other incident he assaulted a 53 year old woman at a traffic stop. The officer was exonerated for both incidents.

Wheeler’s facebook page which has since been taken down lists his activities:  grappling, training, weight lifting and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The page also quoted wheeler stating Weapons give me a semi.”

Bank of America Shareholders Meeting 2012

May 9, 2012

The annual Bank of America shareholders meeting was held today in Charlotte, NC.  Several hundred protesters showed up and marched from the people’s park to the Bank of America headquarters. Demonstrators came from around the country to show their disdain for the ailing bank.

Several protest groups had their members on the ground including Occupy Charlotte, NC Against Corporate Power, Communication Workers of America, and Occupy Wall Street South to name a few.

As the march began demonstrators chanted “Banks got bailed out we got sold out.”

There was a large CMPD presence at the event. The new extraordinary event rule was in place, but for the most part local police kept their cool and did not silence the voice of the people. The CMPD did make a few arrests, however when a couple of demonstrators attempted to gain access to the shareholder meeting.

Despite the arrests the protest was relatively peaceful. Demonstrators marched without interference from the police or the city. One demonstrator said “It’s protesters vs the bank not protesters vs the police.”

Finally the march stopped right in front of the Bank of America headquarters. Demonstrators were in high spirits as they sat in the shadow of the giant building.

There were a few people at the meeting who were upset. Of course those people are the shareholders themselves. Bank of America has lost a lot of value since the 2008 financial crisis.

Bank of America is such a toxic asset that at this point I’m calling the meeting the Anal Skank of America shitholders meeting. The financial giant has been reduced to a giant debt bomb waiting to go off.

All in all it was a great protest. This demonstration proves that Occupy is alive and well, furthermore it proves that southern hospitality is in effect. When Charlotte protests there is no violence. My faith has been restored and for the first time in a long while I believe that we the 99% can bring down the monster of corporate greed.

Death Enforcement Administration

May 5, 2012

4/20 was anything but ecstasy for Daniel Chong, a 23 year old engineering student from the University of California in San Diego. Chong was accosted by DEA agents during a drug sweep on a suspected MDMA distribution center.

Chong had gone to a friends house to get high on 4/20, the international marijuana smoking day. Chong passed out, but the next morning the house was raided by DEA agents who found 18,000 MDMA pills, various other drugs, and weapons. The DEA says that they also took 8 other people into custody.

Chong was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time, but the story doesn’t end there. After being questioned by the DEA Chong was incarcerated in a 5′ by 10′ cell without being charged. Making matters worse he was held there for 5 days without any food or water.

Chong states that he had to drink his own urine to survive. At one point he found a white substance in his cell which he ingested to survive. Authorities later identified the substance as methamphetamine. Chong says that he suffered from hallucinations where anime characters told him to dig into the walls to find water. He then tore apart the walls plastic lining. Chong told the AP “I pretty much lost my mind.” He later told NBC “I didn’t care if I died. I was completely insane.” At that point Chong had lost his will to live. He broke his eye glasses and used a shard of glass to carve sorry mom into his arm, however he only managed to finish the S.

When someone finally came to release Chong he was covered in feces. After being released his ordeal was far from over. Chong was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. In just five days he had lost 15 pounds. Ironically he was treated by the hospital for five days.

William R. Sherman, the top DEA agent in San Diego issued a half-assed apology stating that “he was deeply troubled.”

Chong and his lawyers plan on suing the DEA for $20 million on the grounds that the federal agency tortured him. I hope that Chong gets every red cent. In addition I won’t be satisfied until every DEA agent involved in this debacle is fired and criminally prosecuted for this vicious crime.

In the words of Hunter S. Thompson “We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.” The time has come to teach these uniformed thugs some respect. If we don’t any of us could be the next victim of the DEA or the police.

Duke of Hurl

May 3, 2012

Today demonstrators marched on the Duke Energy shareholders meeting. There were about 50 people at the protest. They chided the energy company chanting “Dirty coal has got to go”.

Many of the denizens of Charlotte take issue with Duke Energy because of their widespread use of coal-fired electric power plants. In the article Mayday Mayday Mayday I sited two organizations that criticize the use of coal.

According to the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League Duke Energy has seven coal-fired electric power plants in North Carolina. Burning coal has enormous environmental impacts. The Union of Concerned Scientists have also come out against the use of coal.

I spoke to demonstrators earlier this week who claim that coal plants emit the same co2 as a million cars. Sourcewatch.org is in agreement with the demonstrators stating

Coal-fired power plants are responsible for one-third of America’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions—about the same amount as all transportation sources — cars, SUVs, trucks, buses, planes, ships, and trains — combined.

According to my partner and camera-woman Cannie Osborne

There seems to be a real reason for concern (about the burning of fossil fuels) since there is an agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions called the Kyoto Protocol. The United States refuses to sign the agreement because of political issues that have controversial ways of calculating the greenhouse gases that each country contributes. The United States should not think that it is not our problem. We are one world and share the same air.

Although the city of Charlotte declared the meeting an extraordinary event no arrest were made. One poster on Occupy Charlotte’s Facebook page joked that it was an ordinary event.

Southern charm is alive and well in the city of Charlotte. Demonstrators are committed to non violent resistance. The Charlotte observer spoke with the field organizer for the N.C. Coalition Against Corporate Power, Roxana Bendezu who said “Our events are going to be very peaceful. We just want a real good visual of people raising their voices.”

It would seem that for now the CMPD is also avoiding violence against protesters. In my experience the CMPD is nothing like the NYPD. I suspect that the DHS encouraged the CMPD to evict Occupy Charlotte, but I do not believe that the Charlotte police want to be known as uniformed thugs and as such they are avoiding negative publicity.

Mayday Mayday Mayday

May 1, 2012

May 1st has been a busy day for Occupy Charlotte. Protesters have organized a sit in on the people’s lawn in Uptown Charlotte.

The following text was taken from Occupy Charlotte’s web site.

It’s our MAY DAY GENERAL STRIKE!! — Show the corporations and the elites that we may not run the country but we make the country run! If you are able, don’t work, don’t go to school, don’t buy anything… DO spend time with friends and family on the People’s Lawn!

When I was there earlier today there were a dozen or so people in attendance. The Occupiers were in high spirits. A few cars honked their horns in support of the protesters as they drove down East Trade St.

Much like Craig Glisson who I interviewed in my last post It’s like watching the Sopranos other members of Occupy Charlotte were very much aware of the activities of the corporations in their city, namely Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Duke Energy.

Demonstrations are scheduled this week dealing with Duke Energy and Bank of America.

On Thursday, May 3, 8:00 AM Occupy Charlotte will protest the Duke Energy shareholders meeting. Occupiers are unhappy with the utility companies use of nuclear power and coal which they cite as dangerous energy.

According to the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League Duke Energy has seven coal-fired electric power plants in North Carolina. Burning coal has enormous environmental impacts. The Union of Concerned Scientists puts it like this

Burning coal is a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming, and air toxics. In an average year, a typical coal plant generates:

    3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary human cause of global warming–as much carbon dioxide as cutting down 161 million trees.

    10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which causes acid rain that damages forests, lakes, and buildings, and forms small airborne particles that can penetrate deep into lungs.

    500 tons of small airborne particles, which can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death, as well as haze obstructing visibility.

    10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), as much as would be emitted by half a million late-model cars. NOx leads to formation of ozone (smog) which inflames the lungs, burning through lung tissue making people more susceptible to respiratory illness.

    720 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), which causes headaches and place additional stress on people with heart disease.

    220 tons of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOC), which form ozone.

    170 pounds of mercury, where just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat.

    225 pounds of arsenic, which will cause cancer in one out of 100 people who drink water containing 50 parts per billion.

    114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium.

Making matters worse Duke Energy is poised to acquire Progress Energy. If this were to happen Duke Energy would have the largest energy monopoly in the nation further enhancing their ability to gouge their customers with rate hikes.

On Wednesday, May 9, 8:00 AM Occupy Charlotte will be marching on the Bank of America shareholders meeting. Recently the upcoming event has been grabbing national attention.

The group 99% Power has sent Bank of America CEO, Brian Moynihan a strongly worded letter asking for him to meet with them by this Friday. The letter states

It is incumbent on you to ensure that legitimate stakeholders in your company have a seat and that your company does not engage in the same exclusionary practices as Wells Fargo. We want to meet with you by May 4 to confirm that all proxies and shareholders will be seated and present in your annual shareholder meeting.

99% power is concerned that the shareholders meeting will turn out like the Wells Fargo meeting in April where several shareholders were denied entry.

The city of Charlotte has declared both shareholder meetings “extraordinary events”.

According to the CMDP

The City of Charlotte, ordained by the City Council of Charlotte, North Carolina, has amended Chapter 15 – Offenses and Miscellaneous Provisions to include a new Sections 15-26, 15-27, 15-28, 15-29, 15-30 and 15-31 to prohibit camping, obstructions, possession/dispersal of noxious substances and other activities on public property, roadways and public right of way.

The new ordinance bans the possession of the following items during an extraordinary event :a bar, chain, shaft, staff, cable, wire, lumber, aerosol container, spray gun, spray paint, liquid paint or marker, etching materials, backpacks, duffel bag, satchel, coolers, a glass container, knives, hammer, crow bar,pepper spray, mace, body armor, shield, helmet, protective pads, gas masks, police scanners, masks, rocks, bottles, objects (the ordinance actually bans possession of objects), bricks, animals, fireworks, smoke bombs, sparklers, stink bombs, and missile weapons.

The ordinance can be found here.

According to the Charlotte Observer

Charlotte City Attorney Bob Hagemann said Monday that ordinary citizens, or people protesting lawfully, do not have to be worried.

This is not the first fishy thing that the CMPD has done since I’ve been in Charlotte. In the article CMPD aka Charlotte’s secret police I lambasted the department for concealing their budget in violation of North Carolina law.

At first glance this vote appears to be innocuous. Unfortunately this is not the case. The city is slated to spend $25 million on equipment in preparation for the DNC. What exactly are they planning to buy no one knows. These purchases are not going to face a public vote.

I will be in Uptown Charlotte for both events, however in light of my mistrust of the CMPD I will be keeping one eye over my shoulder.

Photos courtesy of Cannie Osborne.