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Organisers of cancelled Paris climate march urge global show of support

The Guardian | Protest -

People around the world should protest ‘on behalf of those who can’t’, say organisers of climate march forbidden in light of Paris terror attacks

A march expected to attract 200,000 people onto the streets of Paris ahead of crunch UN climate change talks was forbidden by the French government on Wednesday in light of last Friday’s terror attacks.

But organisers have said it is now even more important for people around the world to come out onto the streets for “the biggest global climate march in history” to protest “on behalf of those who can’t”.

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100 years later: 5 timeless lessons from Joe Hill

Waging Nonviolence -

by Nadine Bloch

A hundred years ago on November 19, 1915, the song writin’, cartoon scribblin’, parody pushin’ Industrial Workers of the World organizer Joe Hill was unceremoniously executed by firing squad in Utah. Ah, but you might say, the only thing I know about him is that “Joe Hill ain’t never died,” quoting the words of a popular folk song. While it is true that not many folks outside of the embattled labor movement and associated circles know much about Joe Hill these days — that’s a crying shame.

Joe Hill’s struggles for worker’s rights, free speech, the right to a fair trial, and against the inequality of our economic order are still significant today. Born in Sweden on October 7, 1879 as Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, Joe Hill left behind a legacy of activist songs as well as innumerable words to live, and die, by. In fact, when the deputy who was directing the firing squad at Hill’s execution said to his men “Ready, aim,” Hill shouted out “Fire, go on and fire!” — calling the shots until the end. He was not only tasking the state, but also the rest of us, to hurry up and act already.

Hill came to the United States in 1902 and spent the next 13 years organizing workers and agitating for change from New York to California. As the impacts of labor organizing and the Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, strikes were felt, the “copper barons” and corporate cronies were not too happy. Government crackdown on the Wobblies, as members of the IWW are known, was personified in the accusation and then execution of Hill for the murders of a businessman and his son in Salt Lake City. At the time, huge national attention was focused on his case, which was murky at best. Hill’s refusal to testify on his own behalf no doubt contributed to his guilty verdict; reportedly, Hill believed he would be worth more dead than alive to the union cause. Given that 100 years later folks are still talking about him and singing his union songs, odds are good he was right about that.

It’s also true that Hill managed to organize and agitate even beyond the firing squad. Not wanting to be “caught dead in Utah,” he asked to have his body sent to Chicago where it was cremated. His ashes were then distributed, by mail, in 600 envelopes to IWW members, unions and supporters around the world. Reportedly, some ashes were confiscated by the U.S. Postal Service (and just released in the 1990s), some used in building materials (which still can be found in a wall in a Swedish reading room), some were eaten (most recently by Billy Bragg), and some were scattered at events or on the winds of change in Nicaragua, the United States, Canada, Sweden and Australia. So Hill literally lives on not only in song, but also in other remarkable artists and activists. Here are five lessons from Joe Hill that still resonate today.

There is power in a union

Hill believed in the power of a united working class, of organizing to fight the system, not other people. He joined the IWW because it was open to all workers — people of color, women, the un-skilled and foreigners, who were excluded from the AFL at that time. The early 1900s were the heyday of the Wobblies, who were very effective at speaking to people about the necessity of banding together in “One Big Union” to wield power against the corrupt capitalist system to create an industrial democracy.

Unfortunately, the IWW refused to participate in politics at this time — leaving this arena to more conservative socialists who generally scared off the U.S. public. They also refused to sign contracts with bosses, seeing them as too much of a compromise, which meant they were unable to solidify gains won through strikes. Due to these factors, divisions within the IWW, and severe government crackdowns, membership tanked by the mid 1920s — and the union never recovered.

Linocut by Carlos Cortez, 1979. (CSPG)

Still, Joe Hill wrote some visionary and cutting words to traditional tunes that live on to tell the glory of the working class. In “Workers of the World, Awaken,” he wrote:

Workers of the world, awaken! Break your chains. Demand your rights.
All the wealth you make is taken by exploiting parasites.
Shall you kneel in deep submission, From your cradles to your graves?
Is the height of your ambition, To be good and willing slaves?
Arise, ye prisoners of starvation! Fight for your own emancipation;
Arise, ye slaves of every nation, In One Union grand.

To build your movement, be inclusive

Recognizing that building people power requires growing a movement’s numbers, Hill wrote songs to inspire solidarity in the ranks and recruit new members. He was an early feminist, at least as much as one can tell from his words about union membership and the important role women could play in class struggle. In “The Rebel Girl,” inspired by the phenomenal radical Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, he penned a targeted lesson to his fellow union brothers. He wrote:

Though her hands may be harden’d from labor, And her dress may not be very fine;
But a heart in her bosom is beating, That is true to her class and her kind.
And the grafters in terror are trembling, When her spite and defiance she’ll hurl.
For the only thoroughbred lady, Is the Rebel Girl.

Creativity gets the goods

As a songwriter, poet, public speaker and organizer, Hill was a cultural worker who knew the power of harnessing creativity and catchy tunes to spread a message where traditional media would fall flat. The Wobblies embraced songs, comics, strikes, soapboxing, and other creative tactics in reaching out to unorganized workers as well as in direct actions on the job site. “A pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over,” Hill wrote in a letter to the editor of Solidarity in November 1914. “And I maintain that if a person can put a few common sense facts into a song and dress them up in a cloak of humor, he will succeed in reaching a great number of workers who are too unintelligent or too indifferent to read a pamphlet or an editorial on economic science.”

You can’t eat promises

In several songs, it was clear that Hill believed that promises of future gain were no substitute for a better life in the here and now. His parody “The Preacher and the Slave,” of a Salvation Army hymn, “Sweet Bye and Bye,” was the origin of the phrase “pie in the sky,” which stands in for a false promise or unattainable goal.

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die (and that’s a lie).

Don’t mourn, organize

Perhaps Joe’s most famous directive and organizing principle was captured in one of his last communications, a telegram to union compatriot Big Bill Haywood on the eve of his execution. It lives on in the work of nonviolent activists across the globe from Beirut to Paris, and rings especially true as we struggle to move beyond violent acts of terrorism and revenge to dismantle the systems of oppression that drive evil and inequity. “Goodbye Bill,” he wrote. “I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.”

Thank you Joe Hill, and those that continue to keep his lessons alive by carrying on the work.

Kosovo: Violent protests after an arrest of opposition MP

Revolution News -

Protesters clashed with police and threw stones and paint at the government building in Kosovo at Wednesday, after an arrest of opposition MP. Albulena Kadaj-Bujupi, an MP of the opposition Alliance  for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) was arrested on the charges that she threw tear gas in the Kosovo Assembly. Police have also issued a warrant for the arrest Read More

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LAPD Runs Over Black Man and Calls for Backup, EMT Arrives 1/2 Hour Later

Revolution News -

Please read and share the attached flyer regarding a (Possible Fatal) Hit and No Tell in #DTLA involving the #LAPD. — Jasmyne Cannick (@Jasmyne) November 18, 2015 LOS ANGELES, CA – As news stations were flooded with stories about a hit and run in Los Angeles on Sunday night, a horrifying incident in Downtown Read More

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The Script for the Fake Ayotzinapa Confrontation

Revolution News -

  Mexico: On Wednesday November 11, several buses of students from Raul Isidro Burgos normal school in Ayotzinapa were attacked by police while headed back to the school from Chilpancingo. The students were ambushed on the Tixtla-Chilpancingo highway. A brutal police repression ensued but the narrative pushed in social media and news was that a Read More

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COP21 climate marches in Paris not authorised following attacks

The Guardian | Protest -

French government says demonstrations in closed spaces can go ahead but not those in public places

Marches planned on 29 November and 12 December during the COP21 international climate talks in Paris will not be authorised for security reasons, the French government said on Wednesday.

All demonstrations organised in closed spaces or in places where security can easily be ensured could go ahead, the government said in a statement.

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Greek Farmers Protest Austerity Measures

Revolution News -

#Greece: Clashes with riot police as farmers protest in #Syntagma against tax reforms and austerity. — Savvas Karmaniolas (@SavvasKarma) November 18, 2015 Greece – Five to eight thousand Greek farmers protested over planned tax and pension reforms demanded by the country’s bailout creditors. Farmers are angered by the Governments plans to substantially increase their Read More

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University students hold anti-racism protests across US – live updates

The Guardian | Protest -

  • #StudentBlackOut demonstrations planned from Yale to Mizzou
  • Day of action follows protests over racism issues at University of Missouri
  • Students demand diversity training, resignations and more faculty of color

5.11pm GMT

One protester at Princeton has told us students are already occupying President Christopher Eisgruber’s office.

@Princeton students occupying President Eisgruber's office until demands are met. #StudentBlackOut

We demand the university administration publicly acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson ...

We demand cultural competency training for all faculty and staff...

Princeton's Black Justice League issue 3 demands. They intend to sit-in until President Eisgruber signs them.

5.00pm GMT

We just learned students are protesting at the University of Pittsburgh today, beginning at 4pm ET.

We’re also expecting demonstrations from students at Emory University, Morehouse and Spelman College around 6pm ET.

#StudentBlackOut #nationalblackout PGH STUDENTS IN SOLIDARITY

4.41pm GMT

There are also calls for protests in Amherst, Boston and Worcester Massachusetts, at Stanford University in California, and Rutgers University in New Jersey.

We also know at least one Canadian school, the University of Toronto, has issued a set of demands, asking administrators to hire more black faculty, provide better mental health services to students of color and to divest from the American for-profit prison industry (a demand suggested by the Black Liberation Collective).

Anti-blackness is systemic. And anti-blackness is a choice. In order to address anti-blackness, we must all become anti-racist in our actions.”

#StudentBlackOut #BlackonCampusUofT

4.27pm GMT

Today’s “day of action” takes place across the country, but times seem to vary. We’re expecting protests at University of Cincinnati in Ohio to begin at 12pm ET.

Tomorrow, 12 pm on Mainstreet. Be there. #theirate8 #studentblackout

3.55pm GMT

Good morning, and welcome to our live blog on the #StudentBlackOut protests planned for universities across the US today.

Anti-racism demonstrations have roiled schools from Yale University in Connecticut to the University of Missouri to Kean University in New Jersey in recent weeks.

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'Dismantle Europe's borders':  Pussy Riot speak up for refugees

The Guardian | Protest -

One of the protest band’s members explains why the migration crisis is ‘the defining issue of our generation’

In the early 1900s the suffragettes fought for the right to vote. In the 1960s tens of thousands of people united to fight for civil rights. More recently, the issue of LGBT equality has raged in Russia and beyond.

In each of these instances it was not governments or the media who led the way. It was ordinary people; people dedicated to fighting injustice even when doing so meant breaking the law, risking possible imprisonment.

Related: The Iraqi Kurdish refugee family stuck in limbo at Moscow airport

Related: Pussy Riot rehearse for Dismaland concert finale – in pictures

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How will activists resist Big Brother’s growing presence in East Africa?

Waging Nonviolence -

by Phil Wilmot

Telecommunications providers in Uganda, such as Africom, are required to comply with interception requests by the government. (Privacy International)

After being released from an illegally prolonged detainment by Ugandan police last year, I opened my Gmail account to find a report from Google documenting suspicious activity on my account throughout the time of my detainment. The source of this activity was somewhere in Kampala, the city where police had retained two of my computers (neither of which have been returned, despite a court directive).

The following day, I read an article in the Daily Monitor, a leading independent newspaper in Uganda, explaining how Uganda’s government was in the process of procuring a fancy phone-tapping machine for about $70 million. This mammoth piece of technology is not only capable of recording both ends of a phone conversation anytime and anywhere in the country, it can even break into email accounts, confirming my suspicions that even after being released, authorities were still monitoring my every move.

The guerrilla bushmen who seized power in Uganda in the mid-1980s built an Orwellian state that relies on an organized offline system of spies speckled throughout the country, as well as a deliberate and extensive ongoing propaganda campaign. But when the masses of young people began using smartphones, these tyrants realized their system of hidden micromanaging would need to be supplemented by a technological crackdown. Consequently, they turned to their security partners in the Global North and — using the rhetoric of terrorism to justify rampant human rights abuses — convinced them to financially support (or at least turn a blind eye to) their rapidly developing Big Brother state.

While countries like the United States offered AK-47 assault rifle training and other tactical support, many of the Ugandan regime’s geopolitical security partners were actually private tech firms and companies. Last month, Privacy International released an extensive report detailing the Ugandan military’s partnership with Gamma International GmbH, a U.K.-based group that supplied the Uganda People’s Defence Force with FinFisher, a spyware program that the regime has used for crushing civil disobedience and blackmailing opponents. This announcement came just a few months after the Italian Hacking Team was exposed by Wikileaks for its communications with the Uganda Police Force — notably the Head of Information and Communications Technology — and President Yoweri Museveni’s office. The IT company’s software has been utilized by the notoriously repressive regimes in Morocco and Ethiopia, and is capable of planting fabricated evidence on victims’ devices.

A photo of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni watches over a hotel business center in Entebbe. (Privacy International)

Sadly, Uganda is far from the only Big Brother state in East Africa to benefit from international security tech firms. Heads of state in East Africa are learning from one another, jumping on the surveillance tech bandwagon one by one.

According to Sungu Oyoo, an organizer and trainer for Kenyans for Tax Justice, “The surveillance state of Kenya is severe given the excuse of terrorism. It can provide a good decoy to clamp down on civil space because it preys on the fears of the public.”

Indeed, Kenyan authorities have infiltrated and harassed various human rights groups, including Muslims for Human Rights and Haki Africa. Some attacks have been physical, resulting in confiscated hard drives, while others were administrative in nature, with accounts frozen and organizations deregistered — an act that was deemed unconstitutional last week in Mombasa’s High Court.

Through its partnership with Hacking Team and legislative affronts such as the Counter Terrorism Act, Kenya’s government has been well-equipped to interfere with large-scale community organizing. Activists eventually realized that by encrypting their email and SMS exchanges, they were only drawing attention to themselves. There is no easy “quick fix” to the rapidly-developing issue of surveillance.

“Whenever I would go to the offices of a funding partner for our movement, an app would open up on my phone showing my location, including the building and floor number,” explained a female activist in Nairobi, who asked not to be identified. “Well-suited men started following me and offering me rides. I had to flee to Uganda and then to Rwanda to lay low for awhile. I was still young in the struggle, so I was baptized by fire.”

Sungu Oyoo posing at a payphone, which no longer work in East Africa. (WNV/Phil Wilmot)

Staying away from organizing forever is no solution either, of course. According to Oyoo, “You have to be innovative to avoid being cut off from the world. If you hear the tapping, you use coded language to decide upon a meeting point, usually a public place like a park or coffee shop since your safety is better ensured in those areas. Sometimes, even when you meet at that point, you take a walk to another location and try to get a feel for your privacy and security.”

Oyoo, who is becoming less concerned and more annoyed with the situation, said, “Now I’m at a place where I don’t give a damn. I’ll just give them some entertainment on the phone. I’ll let them know that I know they are listening.”

The smaller, globally misunderstood nation of Burundi faces similar political surveillance challenges as its East African neighbors. Following an attempted coup in May, the government began investing more in the censorship of social media. Youths, who had been portrayed in the international press as violent and chaotic, despite their own claims to the contrary, were forced to invest in more costly and secure platforms to enable communication throughout the capital of Bujumbura.

As youths filled the streets to demand the resignation of President Pierre Nkurunziza, who in August was sworn in for his third term, Appolinaire Nishirimbere — the founder of a local development organization — became heavily active on social media. Although a small number of youths, influenced by politicians, reacted violently at the time of the protests, Nishirimbere said that is no longer the case. “They prefer to unite their voices, which has made social media very important in this situation.” During a time of repression against media outlets and general instability in the country, access to technological spaces was of utmost importance for young people who felt their interests were being deliberately overlooked.

Despite this growing wave of social-media-fueled resistance, Nishirimbere doubts activists will be able to use legal means against state surveillance in Burundi. “The trouble with allegations of phone tapping is that it is very hard to collect evidence of it,” he said.

Even though political space in Burundi has reduced drastically this year, it’s no match for the Rwandan government next door, which is about as Big Brother as Big Brother gets. First, there are breaches of privacy enabled by security technology, coupled with legislation that uses “security” as an excuse to violate human rights and crack down on political dissidents. Secondly, there is a highly organized offline network of spies micromanaging social relations, whereby every house in the country is monitored by a local resident who assesses all his neighbors’ movements and activities. If political conversation not favoring the sitting government takes place even in the privacy of one’s home, that person may “find his own corpse floating belly-up in a lake,” as one human rights defender put it.

Still, these are somewhat “normal” forms of draconian dictatorship in East Africa. What makes Rwandan President Paul Kagame so unique is the extent to which he has developed terrifyingly effective propaganda, both nationally and internationally. Within Kagame’s Rwanda, he is celebrated as a developmental hero. Internationally, Kagame hires public relations firms to concoct news pieces that favor his foreign reputation.

I’ve witnessed the most progressive of my activist friends in the region fall under his spell. He’s brought a kind of infrastructural development to the country that has won over many of his own citizens who will faithfully report you to authorities if you spread a single bad word against him. Prominent members of the virtually-absent Rwandan opposition have been harassed, arrested and abused on numerous occasions. A journalist colleague of mine once criticized Kagame in his campus magazine only to have two of his goons show up the next day to threaten him.

Rwandan activists unfurl a banner against President Paul Kagame. (Flickr)

Much as the surveillance states in East Africa are still trying to catch up to speed with the technology in their possession, resistance to Big Brother is also in its infancy. A population that is victimized by an ever-encroaching government must forge its way forward, but due to external factors beyond their own immediate control, a little outside solidarity could help, given that foreign governments and private firms are some of the strongest pillars of support for repressive regimes.

Nishirimbere suggests that telecommunications companies be independent of total state oversight through the establishment of fairer telecommunications laws. “Youths should also learn how to communicate effectively for social change,” he said, noting that some of them have registered for phone lines through false identities so that they are less likely to be tracked. Some send apolitical friends to register a new SIM card when they want some space to communicate freely.

“Citizens in the diaspora should hold these [international] companies accountable by writing to the companies to inform and pressure them,” said Kenyan activist Ruth Mumbi about the security firms that knowingly partner with oppressive governments in East Africa. “In some cases their own countries even have laws against doing the kinds of things they are doing.”

Another challenge relates to access to technology for poor activists. According to Oyoo, “East African activists need to have better access to secure tech. These apps and software also need to be less elitist so that they’re easier to use.” Activists are not always financially privileged individuals, and computer literacy and IT education throughout East Africa are quite low in comparison to other parts of the world. Insisting that activists use a better app or upgrade their hardware is much easier said than done. “Many of us are still on the analog system,” said Kampala-based activist Robert Mayanja, referring to his own cheap phone.

There is also a case to be made for developing a culture of openness — and resisting a culture of secrecy — among nonviolent movements in East Africa. Perhaps Oyoo is on to something when he says he “doesn’t give a damn.” While recklessly tossing around specific names and places obviously isn’t healthy for a movement’s security culture, activists and organizers across East Africa shouldn’t have to conceal their noble efforts either.

As a white American married to an East African, I enjoy many security benefits that my peers may not. Even though the risks are still high, I’m personally resolved to take the route of openness in my activities. (Publishing this article is enough to draw unwanted attention.) Dedicating myself to social change while fathering two children in a repressive context is already exhausting. I really identify with Oyoo’s bitter-yet-resigned attitude. I don’t have the time, money or will to manage technological security on top of my other responsibilities. It’s just much easier to stay resilient by declaring my life an open book, but I sure wouldn’t condemn any of my fellow drivers of social change in the region who would take greater precautions or rather lay low.

‘There is zero control’: report on Freddie Gray protests feeds crisis of confidence in police

The Guardian | Protest -

Inadequate planning, poor training and unclear policies for Baltimore police led to an undermining of protesters’ basic rights – and many are concerned as the trials of the officers involved in Gray’s death begin and the city’s murder rate rises

The findings of an independent report on the Baltimore police department’s flawed handling of the protests following Freddie Gray’s death in April came as little surprise to Michael Wood, a former BPD officer and vocal critic of the department.

“Everybody thinks there is some plan but there is virtually zero control that goes on in the agency,” Wood said.

Related: The Counted: people killed by police in the United States in 2015 – interactive

Everybody thinks there is some plan but there is virtually zero control that goes on in the agency

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Stop calling the violence in Burundi 'genocide'

The Guardian | Protest -

Ignore the alarmists, the changes in Bujumburu’s army and government mean comparisons with Rwanda in 1994 are both lazy and ludicrous

Depending on what you read, genocide in Burundi is either imminent or it’s already in full swing.

World leaders have called for action before it’s “too late”, while international media outlets have repeatedly warned that the country is teetering on the brink of a bloody collapse.

#Burundi Is this REALLY analysis or is it clickbait? Burundi is violently dangerous but it ISN'T Rwanda or genocide

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Filmmaker Michael Moore Makes Appearance at TPP Protest

Revolution News -

Washington DC – Protesters against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) had just surrounded the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC on Monday night when filmmaker Michael Moore showed up to lend a hand. Moore was attending an event just around the corner and heard the commotion at the Chamber of Commerce. He appeared delighted there Read More

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US student activist group plans day of action to challenge university injustices

The Guardian | Protest -

The Black Liberation Collective hopes students will protest on Wednesday for ‘radical’ set of demands, including free tuition for black and indigenous people

A group of student activists are hoping to use the momentum of recent anti-racism college demonstrations and the Black Lives Matter movement to organize a day of action across the US on Wednesday.

The Black Liberation Collective, a recently organized group led by about 10 student activists – some of whom attend the University of Missouri – have proposed a “radical” set of demands for their counterparts at universities across the country to take up, including reparations in the form of free tuition for black and indigenous students, and school divestment from for-profit prison companies. Missouri and Yale University have been particular flashpoints for recent racial tension on campus.

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In Minneapolis, local Black Lives Matter activists draw on a growing national network

Waging Nonviolence -

by Kate Aronoff

Black Lives Matter protesters shut down I-94 in Minneapolis on Monday night. (Twitter/@micamaryjane)

On Sunday, in the early morning hours, 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot in the head by the Minneapolis Police Department. He passed away late last night after having been on life support since the time of the incident. Dozens of eyewitnesses recount that Clark was shot while his hands were handcuffed behind his back and he was “just laying there” — a claim police and city officials dispute. Some 12 hours after the shooting, demonstrators with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, an affiliate of the 26-chapter Black Lives Matter network, had created a 250-person strong “no police zone” at the intersection where the shooting took place. A full day later, they were cozied up with blankets inside the North Minneapolis’s Fourth Precinct. Protesters show few signs of leaving the precinct. Meanwhile, last night, 51 were arrested while shutting down the I-94 highway.

Within Minneapolis, black residents say there has existed for decades a tale of two cities. While politicians are quick to talk about “One Minneapolis,” stark divisions remain in terms of jobs, education, housing and — of course — treatment by police. A 2015 study ranked Minnesota the country’s worst state in terms of financial inequality by race. What’s more, 62 percent of the city’s black students attend high-poverty schools, compared with just 10 percent of their white counterparts. Of Sunday’s shooting, Mayor Betsy Hodges, who is white, told local news that, “I can’t understand from my viewpoint exactly the frustration,” though her office has already been made to respond to it.

Following the afternoon demonstration on Sunday, protesters banged on the doors of the precinct, chanting “Stop killing us.” Once let inside, 30 or so demonstrators set up an occupation, and began shuttling in food and bedding from supporters on the outside. At the entrance now hangs a banner bearing the words Black Lives Matter alongside black and white portraits of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, each killed last year by police who faced no charges. Tents have been set up outside, along with a few folding chairs, and local support groups have brought everything from snacks to porta-potties. The Black Lives Matter, or BLM, network has helped to amplify news of this week’s actions in Minneapolis, and provided ongoing forums for BLM organizers around the country to workshop everything from on-the-ground strategy to navigating the legal system in the aftermath of arrests.

Activists set up tents outside the Fourth Precinct. (Twitter/@webster)

In response to the protests now gaining international attention, city officials have stated that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will open up an investigation, and placed the two officers involved in Sunday’s shooting on paid administrative leave. Demonstrators, meanwhile, continue calling for an independent, federal investigation into the case, along with the release of police-confiscated footage from the incident captured by cameras at an Elks Lodge just across the street from where the incident took place.

Like many groups, BLM Minneapolis emerged as the wider movement for black lives exploded into headlines last year. In a phone interview from the scene of the sit-in, BLM Minneapolis organizer Michael McDowell told me that the movement, locally and nationally, “is providing the space for people to be unapologetically themselves.” The last few months, the group has been working to further involve community members in their strategizing and decision-making processes, as well as create opportunities to mobilize more broadly around the forces impacting black, Latino and indigenous city residents.

McDowell noted that local organizing around racial justice has provided a common gathering place for communities that are typically divided to come together around shared values, and an opposition to white supremacy. “Black Lives Matter is really breaking down those barriers between communities that have been set up intentionally,” he said. BLM Minneapolis’ full list of demands around Clark’s shooting include community oversight over police with full disciplinary power, media coverage of eye-witness testimony, and for police officers to live in the communities they serve.

Activists are camped the North Minneapolis’s Fourth Precinct. (Twitter/@BLongStPaul)

“Even now,” McDowell said, “people are asking ‘How can we escalate more? What’s our next move if they don’t meet our demands?”

In the early morning on Monday, protesters were gathered at the site of the incident, singing in front of a few bewildered local news crews. Being careful to respond to the needs of grieving families like Clark’s, McDowell emphasized the importance of creating outlets for healing and creative expression in the face of tragedy.

“There are moments when we do need to be solemn, and we do need to have a stand-off with the police,” he said. “And there are moments when we need to be dancing in the streets.”

Paris climate summit march in doubt after talks deadlock

The Guardian | Protest -

French government proposes scaling down protest on 29 November amid security fears following terrorist attacks

Talks between the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and campaigners over the fate of a huge march before the upcoming Paris climate summit have ended without agreement.

In the wake of attacks in Paris last Friday, the French government proposed scaling down the protest from a march on 29 November – which organisers had hoped would draw hundreds of thousands of people – to a stationary rally.

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Students skip classes to show support for refugees

The Guardian | Protest -

Nationwide demonstration over government’s treatment of refugees includes mass walkout, talks and demonstration outside Daily Mail headquarters

Students across the country have been walking out of their lectures and classes in solidarity with what they see as the government’s poor treatment of refugees, migrants and international students.

They are holding rallies, demonstrations, talks and stunts in protest against anti-migrant rhetoric and policies in the UK. Students at further education colleges are taking part in the walkout on Tuesday.

Related: A guide to the government's new rules for international students

RCA WALK-OUT outside Daily Mail building 'thanking' DM for changing their rhetoric on migrants #students4migrants

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Open Carry Protest is an “Epic” Fail in Ferguson

Revolution News -

Ever since the Free Thought Project released a bogus article claiming that the official Oathkeepers group were going to organize a march and “arm over 50 black protestors with AR 15s for an epic rights flexing march,” there has been much confusion and buzz over what’s actually going on. What happened was quite different – Read More

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DC Protests the Corporate Coup of the TPP Trans Pacific Partnership

Revolution News -

Washington DC – Three days of protests against a trade agreement recently negotiated among twelve Pacific-rim nations kicked off early Monday morning at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, DC. Protesters restricted access to the building as the business day began, using banners as blockades, and obstructed traffic in the area. Department Read More

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Canada’s climate movement welcomed a new PM and a new era of organizing

Waging Nonviolence -

by Cam Fenton

Three people march in the streets as part of an 80 person action to give the new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, a Climate Welcome. (Survival Media Agency/Ben Powless)

It was going to be “shrill,” “tone deaf” and “too soon” — or at least that’s what my email inbox was saying the week before kicking off four days of sit-ins called Climate Welcome at the residence of Canada’s new prime minister. The plan for the sit-ins, which I helped organize, had been hatched over 11 weeks earlier, days before Canada’s most recent election campaign had started. The goal was pretty simple: Change the conversation on climate change in Canada. We knew that no major political party in the country had a plan that lined up with the science of climate change, which requires that the majority of Canada’s fossil fuel reserves, starting with the tar sands, be left in the ground.

The welcome we had planned started months before we even announced the November action, when we launched an audacious plan to confront the leaders of every major political party on their climate plans during the election campaign. All across Canada, we worked with grassroots groups, students and community organizers to put pressure on Canada’s party leaders. The point was two-fold. First, to make it impossible for climate to be ignored on the campaign trail, and second to soften ground within the climate movement for an inevitable post-election escalation.

Two weeks before the election, we launched Climate Welcome — a pledge to show up, no matter who was elected, and risk arrest to call for bold climate action, specifically, a freeze on tar sands expansion. It was a pretty big gamble, one of the biggest I’ve ever taken in my organizing life, to call for an action without knowing who your target would be. We gamed out every possible electoral scenario and planned as extensively as we could, with strategies to handle everything from a return of a Harper majority to a hung parliament with a dangling question of who would form government. The one common denominator, and the key piece we bet our success on, was that the election, happening 42 days before this month’s Paris climate talks, would create a political pressure cooker — one that we could take advantage of to make the case for civil disobedience, no matter who won the election.

On October 19, we finally had our answer and a slew of new challenges. On the one hand, we had a clear case for our action. Justin Trudeau had been pretty weak on climate change in the election. He had a TransCanada contractor helping run his campaign and had been a supporter of the continent’s most infamous pipeline, the Keystone XL. On the other hand, he had been elected with unprecedented, and unexpected, levels of support. What was more, it seemed like progressives across Canada were so relieved with the ousting of Stephen Harper that the prevailing wisdom was to give the new prime minister a grace period. The idea of civil disobedience out of the gate had gone from raising eyebrows to genuinely raising ire. It didn’t help when the prime minister decided to forgo moving into his traditional residence, the chosen physical target of our sit-in.

As this was happening, people — who just days before the election had unequivocally supported our action — started to question the logic of our plan. While it presented a new hurdle, it also reinforced the necessity of an action like Climate Welcome. We knew that after nearly a decade of Harper in power, a lot of progressives and people in Canada’s climate movement were tired of the Sisyphean task of fighting for any climate action. The truth was, and remains, that Justin Trudeau is miles ahead of Stephen Harper when it comes to a lot of issues, climate change included, and for many that would be enough. The challenge was, and remains, that Trudeau being better doesn’t reset the damage done by a decade of Stephen Harper in power. Nor does being better on climate inoculate him from the influence of big oil, a lesson the climate movement in the United States learned the hard way in President Barack Obama’s first term.

Nevertheless, the Climate Welcome sit-ins came under a lot of scrutiny. Our team spent hours replying to messages, writing blogs and talking on the phone, going over our plans in excruciating detail to adapt to changing situations. It felt like we spent more time defending our plans than actually executing them, and I personally had started to seriously question what we had gotten ourselves into.

The Trudeau honeymoon was in full swing, and one night, while obsessing over how to respond to the latest email questioning our plans, I took to searching for someone else’s words to make the case for our plans. I was confident in them, and believed the basic underlying premise of our action was true. We knew that most politicians remembered as progressive by history were only so because people-powered movements forced them to be. The examples were many but it was the case of John F. Kennedy and civil rights that brought it home.

Specifically, it was Kennedy referencing how Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” had impacted his view of the civil rights movement, and how it had convinced him of the case of civil disobedience, in general. I had read the letter before, but this time I got stuck on one paragraph that explained the decision by King and the Souther Christian Leadership Conference to engage in civil disobedience so quickly after the election of a new mayor, Albert Boutwell, in Birmingham. King responded to critics questioning the timing of their acts by arguing “that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act … While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than [the previous mayor] Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo.”

Change the names and the issue, and the scenario was close to our own. Similar too was our argument for the need for action to King’s own, that “we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure.” King’s argument was so perfect that we eventually used a whole section of it (which you can read in full here) as the definition for nonviolent civil disobedience during our nightly action trainings.

We genuinely had no idea what was going to happen on the first day of our actions. We hoped that we had made the case for Climate Welcome well enough that people would show up and risk arrest, and in the end they did. Over the course of four days, more than 200 people from all across Canada risked arrest, and many more showed up in support. We delivered reports making the case for freezing tar sands expansion, a million messages gathered over nearly a decade of tar sands resistance from around the globe and over 50 samples of water from rivers, lakes and streams threatened by pipelines and tar sands development across Canada that people brought or sent via mail to Ottawa. On the last day, we brought a final gift of solar panels for the new prime minister with a request that he install them on his residence as a symbolic commitment to real climate action. He declined to accept most of our gifts, and refused to give a clear answer to our demands, but over four days of action, we changed the conversation on climate change in Canada, and we learned a lot of important lessons for the next four years.

Young people chant and sing songs during a sit-in at Prime Minister Trudeau’s house to urge him to to freeze tar sands expansion. (Survival Media Agency/Ben Powless)

Lesson 1: Justin Trudeau is not Stephen Harper

To a lot of people on the left, Justin Trudeau is little more than Stephen Harper with a better coat of paint — a gloved hand instead of an iron fist. Whether they’re right or not doesn’t really matter because if the climate movement, and people fighting for justice as a whole in Canada, treat Trudeau like Harper, we’re probably going to lose.

Many within the climate movement, myself included, have spent their entire organizing lives dealing with a Harper government. In some ways, this has made our lives pretty easy. When you have an intractable target on your issue, the moral high ground is easy to maintain. With a prime minister who was one step shy of an outright climate denier, we didn’t really have to worry about how we were perceived. With Prime Minister Trudeau, that era is over.

Whether it’s legitimate or not — and that remains to be seen — Trudeau has cultivated an image that he is a different kind of politician. He is young, he listens to people and he has a very talented public relations team backing him up.

Case in point: During the lead up to Climate Welcome I was floored by how quickly Trudeau, who only two years ago was the subject of great derision by the climate movement for his positions on tar sands, won people over. He did it without taking any action, but simply by showing up as the polar opposite to Harper and appealing to a sense of Canadian identity that, whether a true reflection of our character or not, resonates with a lot of people.

Lesson 2: It’s not about what we say, it’s about what they hear

The work of the climate movement going forward will be a tightrope walk between co-optation and dismissal. We will need to be ambitious enough, and grounded enough in a vision of real, transformative change to resist the gravitational pull of co-optation. This is especially true in the climate movement, where for many in the mainstream, Trudeau’s election has signaled a return to a bygone golden era of access to government, appointments to committees and ambitious promises. It’s no secret that the environmental movement has often valued access over influence, and so we will need to continually remind ourselves that solving the climate crisis will require a transformative shift, the kind that can only be achieved by a mass movement pushing government outside of its comfort zone.

At the same time, we will also need to be disciplined enough to not give our targets or opponents just cause to ignore or delegitimize us. The public perception and media honeymoon for Trudeau is real, and ignoring that would be courting disaster. Tactics that may have worked with Harper in power may need to be re-thought, or at least presented in new ways, with a new tone. That’s why we showed up for Climate Welcome with the Prime Minister’s own quotes, dressed formally and with gifts. On paper it was civil disobedience, but in the streets it was a welcoming committee. It’s also why the action was designed to bring new people on board with a tactic many had never considered. We half-joked that this was the “politest act of civil disobedience in history.” By taking that tact, engaged people who likely never would have considered risking arrest — let alone on day one of a new government’s mandate — felt empowered to do so.

There’s an old saying that when you treat every problem like a nail, the best tool is always a hammer. With Harper, we were always dealing with a nail. Now we’re not — and that means we need new tools. In less metaphorical terms, it means that the climate movement needs to re-examine not only our relationship to the government, but the public’s perception of that relationship. We can’t be the apologists for this new government, nor can we be it’s harshest critics. Instead, we need to force the government to pick a side between people and polluters, and for that to work we need to be the side of the people.

A group of citizens walks down Sussex Drive in Ottowa to delivery solar panels to Justin Trudeau’s home during the fourth day of the Climate Welcome. (Survival Media Agency/Robert van Waarden)

Lesson 3: Make them pick a side

We know that a choice between real climate action and the fossil fuel industry is one that Prime Minister Trudeau doesn’t want to make. Trudeau’s administration wants big oil to hear their talking points on building the economy and protecting the planet and hear that business as usual will continue. At the same time, they want us to hear that line and infer a commitment to real action. We know that when it comes to climate change, and especially fossil fuel reserves like the tar sands, the math just doesn’t add up. We also know that the fossil fuel industry already has an inside track to this government, and that we can’t afford to underestimate the power that big oil has, even over the most well-intentioned government.

We need to force the prime minister, over and over again, to pick a side. It needs to be people or polluters, real climate action or big oil. With Harper, we knew which side he was on, but now we have the potential to start a tug of war, with Trudeau in the middle.

This will take as many sticks as it will carrots. We need to be ready to congratulate the prime minister if he does the right thing, but be no less ready to hold him accountable when he steps out of line. Remember too that baby steps won’t be enough to change Canada’s course on climate — we need bold action, and we can’t be afraid to demand it. That means that small, symbolic acts are good, but we need to consistently articulate the size of the gap between where the government is and where they need to be.

Lesson 4: We can’t forget who is leading this fight

If it were not for indigenous resistance — on the land, on the street and in the courts — there wouldn’t be a climate movement to write about, and it’s imperative that we remember that. This government has come to power with big promises on reconciliation and respecting a nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples. Simply put, if the climate movement has any hope, we can’t let the government do better at working with indigenous peoples than this movement.

The work of decolonization and supporting indigenous and frontline community-led organizing is more important than ever, especially when it comes to talking about the emerging clean energy economy. Now is the perfect moment to define what a justice-based transition really looks like, and that it starts with communities on the front-lines of extraction being the first to make the transition to 100 percent clean energy. We need to make sure that while we’re driving forwards with the work of keeping fossil fuels in the ground, we’re remembering that doing so is part of a broader fight for a more just Canada and world.

Indigenous women leaders from different parts of Canada came together to help carry the sacred water to Prime Minister Trudeau’s house on November 7. (Survival Media Agency/Ben Powless)

Lesson 5: It’s time to be relentless

There are a lot of lessons from the Keystone XL campaign that can be applied to our work in Canada, but perhaps the most important right now is to be relentless. Keystone XL activists dogged President Obama at every chance they got, calling on him to pick a side to secure his climate legacy, and now it’s our turn. This is not the moment to wait and see, but rather for what Naomi Klein has called “relentless pressure from below.”

In “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King explains that their plan was to “create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation,” and that too should be our goal. If this government does not follow through on its proposed overhaul of the National Energy Board review, we should be prepared to shut it down with joy and resolve. If they do announce a new environmental assessment plan, we need to be ready to ensure that that plan is accountable to people and not polluters. We have to hold Prime Minister Trudeau to his oft-repeated line that while “governments grant permits, people grant permission.”

Part of being relentless is also about pushing our movements to be bold and creative with their tactics and targets. That is exactly what Climate Welcome aspired to be. Risking arrest during a positively-framed mass action targeted at the prime minister’s house represents a departure from the run of the mill marches to Parliament Hill and created new experiences, as well as a new level of commitment, for many activists in the climate movement.

Perhaps most of all, we have to believe in the new prime minister’s own words that “a better Canada is always possible.” We have to believe in those words so much that we refuse to let this new prime minister fail them, whatever that takes.