Tag Archives: economic justice

Protesting the Police

Occupy DC Takes it in the Ass Again?

By Jehovah Jones

Thursday’s protest was different: This one was specifically about the police, who raided McPherson Square again, almost two months after the first betrayal, and tore down the information booth and meeting tent, where they seemed to think people were sleeping. (Truth be told, some probably were. It’s more comfortable to sleep on the ground in a tent than on the hard sidewalk a few feet away, which is by some moronic twist of logic, allowed.)

And the Occupiers took to the streets with vengeance in their hearts…or maybe more accurately, in their mouths.

Chanting couplets ranging from pointed but civil —

“From Oakland to Greece, disarm the police.”

— to some apparently designed to insult and enrage:

“This is a donut. It is delicious. You know you want to fuckin’ eat it.”

— while bearing makeshift fishing poles dangling chocolate donuts as bait, they headed out from the park that had been their home from Oct 1 to Feb 4, and took a circuitous route through the city, stopping to block every large intersection.

At each, the sign-wielding pack of about 40-45 people took three loops around, chanting, waving signs, propelled by anger and Mo the Palestinian’s pounding drum, disrupting traffic for as long as possible. When the DC cops, half a dozen motorcycles, 3-4 cars, several SUVs and at least two horses, didn’t charge in and arrest them, but rather blocked traffic for them, the marchers kicked it up a notch, reviving a chant from the Occupy Congress event in January —

“No justice, no peace, No bitch-ass police.”

as well as one coined at the Monsanto protest on February 29 —

“Show me what a donut looks like. This is what a donut looks like.”

and added a brand-new personal jab for good measure —

“You say people shouldn’t sleep. We say ‘Fuck Sgt. Reid.’ ”

— apparently in response to comments made to the media by Todd Reid of the Park Police, the cop who was in charge during the day’s tent detail at McPherson, and who was Tanked in the ‘nads way back in the good old sleep-over days.

The two cops on horseback seemed to be having fun, at least at first, teasing a protestor on a bike videotaping the march about his parents’ income. “What are you doing out here? Your mom and dad are millionaires! Hey, did you know this guy’s parents are millionaires? That means he’s one of the One Percent!” the cops taunted.

But it all seemed to be in good fun until an irate motorist at one of the intersections began blowing his horn at the marchers blocking his turn. The protestors seemed ready to let him pass until he stuck his head out the window and screamed obscenities at them, threatening to “flatten your fucking slacker asses,” and then they sat placidly in the road, daring him to follow through. One protestor danced around, inches from the car’s grill, whirling and chanting.

That was too much for the Lone Ranger and Robin, mounted high upon the Clydesdale-esque Steeds of Power. They trotted up and began bellowing orders, insisting that the kids had touched the man’s car, threatening all manner of sanctions. “Harassing citizens! Way to go!” Robin snarled, or the closest approximation thereof, which came out as more of a simper.

“No one touched the car, sir,” the guy on the bike affirmed. “I have the video right here.”

Others were less conciliatory. “If you think we did something wrong, fuckin’ arrest us, porkchop.”

A woman took up a new chant — “Get those animals off those horses.” — and it made a few rounds before being discarded in favor of the old NWA standby: “Fuck tha police.”

One guy paraded through the intersection and up to the horses with his sign: “Go fuck yourself, officer.”

But Andy and Barney weren’t biting, so the protestors turned their attention to the passerby.

“Give us our rights, we’ll give you your streets.”

“Join us. It’s your first amendment too.”

One sign took a backhanded stab at reassurance: “Don’t worry, everything’s fine. Go home and watch American Idol.”

While some people in the cars seemed angry, just as many honked in support, shooting the thumbs up, and shouting encouragement. “Keep it up! You’re doing great!” a cabbie yelled, and a middle-aged woman rolled down the window to get the specifics of the Occupiers’s grievance against the cops. “They took everything I own! “ one man told her. “I was doing what they said, to be in compliance with the law, and they ripped down my tent anyway and stole it all. That shit don’t fly.” The woman grimaced and suggested a lawsuit. “Yep, I’m gonna sue their balls off,” he said.

A young woman in a car honked her horn, long, loud, and waved energetically. “You people are very brave. You’re the hope of the future!” she yelled. At Dupont Circle, a 30ish black couple sat in their German touring car, adrift in stalled traffic, cops, and protestors, smiling hugely, windows open exchanging handshakes and pleasantries with the protestors. A man with a strong accent  talked excitedly on his cell. “It’s Occupy DC! I saw them on TV. They marching, baby! This is so fuckin’ cool. You guys rock!”

Finally after 90 minutes, the throng headed back to McPherson with no arrests. A final three-pronged swing through the intersections by the park finally won them a warning from the cops, and newly energized, some took off again for more. But a significant number dropped off at McPherson, some chatting with the lone arrestee from the morning’s raid, a women called Georgia wearing a cast, with a tiny dog on a leash.

The dog, apparently affected by the vibrations in the air, mounted another dog and got busy.

“Stop that, Daisy” the woman scolded. “That’s not how it works.”

“She’s a girl,” she explained.

But Daisy wasn’t letting the lack of a penis stand in her way, continuing to hump madly.

The other dog seemed confused as to what was being accomplished.

But serving notice that you won’t be bullied by a growing police state is something, no matter if it can sometimes seem like just faux-screwing the pooch.

Photos by The Lucie

Originally posted on CoolRevolution.net, March 31, 2012


“I love the smell of Roundup in the morning.”

Occupy pays a Leap Day visit to Monsanto and ALEC

by Jehovah Jones

Feb 29: Occupy DC’s Leap Day actions started at the butt-crack of dawn.

Ok, maybe 7am doesn’t precisely qualify as time’s anus, but it’s right next door. And Occupiers aren’t known for liking to get up early. Back in the good ol’ before-February-5 days when I used to crawl out of my tent at McPherson around 5am to go to work, the few hardy souls I bumped into seemed less than completely alert, partly due to the neocon agitators honking horns ’til the wee hours.

Everybody’s milling around drinking coffee, and because this is Occupy, there’s a woman with a Domino’s box.

Cinnamon bread sticks, maybe.

No… it’s pizza.

Note to self: Tell that woman why Domino’s should be the target of a boycott.

And stop salivating.

We’re about 50 strong now, maybe 60. It’s too early for accurate counting. Three U.S. Park Service cops, including an older guy who’s always here, seems mostly decent. Somebody says he’s the one who got Tank’s foot in the ‘nads back in December. Seems pretty calm and easy, chats with any and all of us, doesn’t seem angry or vindictive. The other two look like Beaver and Wally going to pepper-spray camp, hands on their ‘batons’ a lot; maybe they like caressing wood..?

7:30 a.m. Occutime, and we’re off. Down 14th and turn on L St NW, a couple of DC cops and a black SUV trailing us.

On this rainy morning, Occupy DC is acting in solidarity with Occupy Portland, which has declared today to be Shutdown the Corporations day; we’re visiting our neighbor ALEC, formally known as the American Legislative Exchange Council, on the 11th floor at 1101 Vermont Ave. N.W. (They seem fond of ones; maybe it’s the one-percent thing?)

Our homeboy ALEC, who provides right-wing legislation for state governments that’s ghost-written by corporations — one of the benefits of their being declared people, perhaps? — has been busy over the past year, pushing hundreds of anti-worker bills to stop public employees from unionizing and bargaining for a fair deal and a living wage. Alec’s been hanging out with some real douche-bag governors, including Jan Brewer and Scott Walker.

“No legislation for human subjugation!” the people chant to the beat of a drum and whistle. “ALEC, can’t you see? We’re a democracy!”

Then we’re off again, with Occupiers at the head of the pack determined to find another corporation to congratulate on his or her civic-minded citizenship.

“We are unstoppable. Another world is possible!” A cop on a motorcycle hears, believes, and shuts down K Street for us. Yeah! Let the lobbyists curse. “Get up, get down! There’s revolution in this town!” We cut through a park–Franklin Square? Who cares? Parks are so yesterday.

An OccuKid pulling a cart full of signboards announces that we’re about to see some anarchist street theater. Seems like that might best be done on the street, so we head out the other side, and…Jesus. Some students from AU want me to fill out a survey about Occupy’s relations with police. I tell them I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve never screwed a cop while Occupying.

On to 1300 I Street to visit Sigñor Monsanto, the scourge of farmers and eaters everywhere. This fine Corporate-American’s first product in 1901 was saccharine, a harbinger of all that was to come, including a flurry of poisons used to make it dirt cheap for corporations to produce food-like substances that will enrich them almost as fast as they kill you.

In a partnership with Dow, Monsanto made Agent Orange, a potion that Vietnamese civilians and American soldiers alike can attest has a bit more kick than Orange Crush.

Monsanto was the first to modify a plant cell’s genetics to create fake-but-photogenic food. “Food with a boob job,” a friend used to call it.

They manufacture Roundup, a name which describes what their security thugs are trying to do right now to their Occupying neighbors. “Can I get a wagon over here?” a scruffy woman in plain clothes yells into a walkie-talkie, and a screech of sirens answers from the box.

The Occupiers sit in front of the revolving door holding a large Occupation Nation sign. “Take the day off!” they advise Monsanto employees. “Sorry for the inconvenience, but we are shutting the building down. This is what democracy looks like.”

“This is a peaceful, nonviolent protest,” they calmly inform the cops who approach. Some cops aren’t interested in nonviolence, yanking at those sitting. “Who do you serve?” the Occupiers demand.

“If you do not move, a police officer will arrest you!” one very large cop bellows, his stomach heaving with indignation. “He’s talking to a donut,” one kid grins. “Why don’t you go an arrest Monsanto?” another yells. “They’re the ones killing us. We’re upholding the law.”

But they’re not moving. Well, one girl is. She’s being dragged across the pavement by a giant donut masticator. “Medic!” she whimpers, her arm firmly clutched in his large sweaty palm. “Show me what a police state looks like!” the crowd chants. “This is what a police state looks like!”

“Show me what a donut looks like,” a kid begins, and a cop grabs his hair… then sheepishly lets go and walks into the street, where the Occupiers are unfurling a huge banner. One rope catches on a cop’s parked motorcycle, and Occupiers yell, “Stop! Don’t turn the bike over!” A cop, whose name tag reads Farr, helps free the snagged rope, and smiles at the Occupiers as they get back to work. “Thanks, officer!” the Occupiers yell. But after a bit, seeing that the paddy wagon has been backed up to the curb, he informs them that they have to get off the street or be arrested.

An Occupier does a mic check. “Should we stay in the street and get arrested, or hold the doors?” he asks.

“Fuck the street, hold the doors!” the crowd yells. And under the leering grin of the cardboard ghost writer dripping simulated blood, 12 people are arrested for doing just that. “Fuck Monsanto!” they yell as the cuffs are attached.

“Fuck Monsanto,” a cop agrees.

As I walk away through the rain, headed for the job it seems I am lucky to have, some workmen prepare to go into the building. Music by Canadian rock band Rush blasts from their van’s speakers:

“It’s a far cry from the world we thought we’d inherit. It’s a far cry from the way we thought we’d share it.”

Originally published on CoolRevolution.net, March 1, 2012

Occupying Labor, pt. 1

This is the first in a series of posts on the history of the labor movement in this country, which bears directly on the current Occupy movement for economic justice.


“The calendar is lying when it reads the present time.” – Phil Ochs

Working people of 100 years ago put in unimaginable work days – 18, even 20 hours — under conditions that could – and did –kill. And yet they managed to find the time to think, to recognize that the only people who could probably understand their lives were the recently freed slaves. The tipping point came when poor black working folks, recognizing that working yourself to death for so little pay that you die still owing your corporate massa for food and shelter wasn’t that far from being literally owned,  joined forces with labor, and the masses of working poor found the energy somehow to fight the powers that were—and to a large extent, still are.

And the right wing, which then and now glorifies hard work in the abstract, persecuted, demonized, shot and killed them when they sought to use the democratic process to rectify that injustice. It’s a grim picture that’s been utterly erased from the glorious pseudo-history that we Americans have been spoon-fed in our schools, but all you really have to do is look around, and you’ll see it, because it never really left. Like a vampire, that past was only briefly hiding in the shadows waiting for its chance to again feed on the blood of a society made vulnerable by political cravenness.

The names that you encounter these days mostly as benevolent sponsoring foundations on NPR originally belonged to brutal, rapacious men who treated humans like machines “to be used and tossed in the street after they are done with them.” J.P. Morgan got his start by royally screwing the taxpayers *and* endangering the Civil War soldiers with a defective-rifle swindle made possible by inept, corrupt oversight; instead of being tried for treason and properly punished, he made an obscene fortune courtesy of us all, and left it to his heirs. Andrew Carnegie. John D. Rockefeller. Andrew Mellon. All of them milked the U.S. government and ruthlessly overworked its citizens, getting filthy rich.

When the people whose labor created that wealth decided to band together and form unions to balance the scales, they were harassed and jailed on almost any pretext by a “police” force controlled by the monopolists. Groups of miners or railroad workers who tried to exercise their First Amendment rights and take their protest directly to their alleged Representatives were “arrested for stepping on the grass” and jailed. Sound vaguely familiar, Occupy?

While the toys our corporate masters sell us to distract us today are slicker and smarter, under the skin of society not much has changed. Or rather, it changed briefly for the better, but there’s been a steady rollback of that progress, and the present looks a lot like the 19th century. Look around, and you’ll see many of the companies the monopolists founded, some still bearing their surnames and some disguised, still raking it in, still raping the rank and file. Mellon Bank. Morgan Stanley. Chevron-Texaco. CBS Corporation. Siemens, Rockwell, U.S. Steel, Heinz, General Motors, and ExxonMobil; all sprang from the loins of these scourges of American workers. The money that allowed them to survive and thrive came from the interest paid on the obscene fortunes they extorted from your parents and grandparents.

The constant march of monopoly-friendly acts issuing from the right wing and the opportunistic “opposition” party eagerly cashing in whatever principles it has left has brought these and new monsters out of hiding and they’re ravenous for more, more, more. They’re getting it. More of your tax money in their private bank accounts, more cuts to the things your taxes should pay for, things you need to protect you from them. The sneaky repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act by Republicans and Bill Clinton. The Telecommunications Act of 1996. NAFTA. Citizens United. All crafted to make it possible for these corporations to roll over the powerless in their rush back to the end of the 19th century.

With all the powers aligned against us, and the longevity they’ve demonstrated, Occupy’s effort may seem like a fool’s errand. But isn’t it always that way? Ask the people who rose up against murderously corrupt leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and all over South America.

Sometimes ‘solidarity forever’ means exactly what it says. Those starving farmers and miners, persecuted by lazy, irresponsible media so they could be killed by their own governments, finally created a movement of working people that made life briefly bearable for the people who built the country: the same unions the right is gleefully decimating today. It’s time to finish what those populists started.

For more, read http://www.ranknfile-ue.org/untold.html

 Originally published at http//journeyamerica.wordpress.com,  Feb. 23, 2012.