News from London squatters:
The old Crown Court in Southwark squatted !
Between the Trinity House estate and the snatch-vans at Southwark Police Station, the old Crown Court was squatted. The building was formerly the Inner-London Crown Court, and was used to convict and imprison primarily poor and working-class inner-London residents. Along with much of the neighbourhood, it is now owned by the Trinity of St Clement, whose redevelopment plans are eerily similar to the violent regeneration elsewhere in Southwark.
Squatting this building is our response to the criminalisation of the poor and deviant in Southwark, London and beyond. This building’s legacy of imprisonment should be written-over and damaged, and the current situation for London’s poor and deviant challenged. Mainstream culture talks of state and prison violence as if they were elsewhere, but being nicked and doing bird are realities in poor, inner-London life. Wherever we steal, work illegally or resist evictions at our council homes and squats, snatch-vans and courts are used against us.
Our response is not only to this system of so-called justice, but to the redevelopment of neighbourhoods such as this. How many must lose their homes to make way for the sanitised city-village? The property owners and developers, the Trinity of St Clement or Berkeley Homes, are fast making the streets of Southwark into the yuppie wastelands of the City. Empty buildings nearby to where three-thousand Heygate homes were demolished is an exercise in extravagance and class cleansing.
At the squatted Crown Court, we want to support struggles against state control and redevelopment. Our last event, a film screening on the Tottenham riots, was a fund-raiser for London Anarchist Black Cross, a prisoner-support group working towards abolition. We look forward to using the building against its former purpose – towards housing for all and prison for no-one.
Fuck the Law – Squat the World!
Amnesty International calls for investigation into death of Abubakar Hassan during march in North Kordofan
Thousands of Sudanese students have entered their second day of protests following the death of a student in North Kordofan, central Sudan.
Abubakar Hassan, 18, was killed on Monday at Kordofan University by a gunshot wound to the head after intelligence agents opened fire on students taking part in a peaceful march.Continue reading...
Anti-Coal Mining Fight continues in the Rhineland in the Hambacher Forest (previously on S!N)for the 4th consecutive year with direct action, forest barricades, and three treesits/treehouse occupations: Oaktown, Beechtown, F*ck Off, and Death Trap. Sending a message to those engaging in exploitation of natural resources in the form of brown coal and other fossil fools that their destruction of natural habitats such as Hambacher Forest and ensuing global mercury and cadmium emissions combined with CO2 dumping and its global climate chaos effects will not be tolerated.
After the previous month’s clearing of barricades the forest once again has been blocked with ditches, ground, hanging and living barricades and continues to be occupied in multiplicity of platforms and treehouses. We call on you to join us and make it possible for comrades who have spent a winter and the cutting season in the forest to take a well earned rest. The Hambi Occupation has also just at the same time celebrated its 4th year of the Meadow Camp and also recovered from one of the most massive police raids (it is an interesting coincidence how events of so many comrades gathering together has had usually that effect) so far with over 60 vehicles, helicopters and approx. 300 officers leading not just to temporary arrest of 7 comrades but also to confiscation of phones, laptops and cameras regardless of the official pretext of acquiring the warrant to look for “weapons” such as slingshots, fireworks and road-spikes. This focus on one type of possible form of forest defense and instead focusing on confiscation of “weapons of mass communication” so essential for press work and videography in time of possible eviction has been a previous police tactic proceeding the coming of actual forest evictions.
This combined with RWE Stockholders Meeting in which a Clima Criminal RWE tethering on a brink of bankruptcy could use an eviction as a distractionary tactic and the only possible piece of “good news” in front of pissed of investors has led to this shout-out for support from all individuals and collectives to support Hambacher Forest, spread the word locally and globally and connect the Hambi Fight with your local projects and Struggles.
Regardless of the oppression the state throws at the Hambacher Forest like the microbes, insects, plants, birds, and animals cohabiting all of our living barricades, that remain alive with the spirit of resistance, Hambacher Forest will remain as not just a reminder but also a call to action. Louder so the more disproportionate resources of the state apparatus are directed towards it.
Spread this call!
by Ken Butigan
The atmosphere of an unprecedented gathering on nonviolence at the Vatican — where change-makers from every part of the globe deliberated with priests, bishops and the Catholic Church’s top officer for justice and peace — was electric from beginning to end.
The “Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence” took place in Rome, from April 11-13. Eighty-five lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests, and five bishops traveled from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania to take part in this landmark gathering, which I helped to organize. Many participants live and work in contexts of extreme violence and injustice, and came seeking a bold new direction from the global church.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International and other Catholic organizations from around the world sponsored the first-of-its-kind assembly.
The head of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal Peter Turkson, opened the conference with a warm message of support from Pope Francis, who said, “Your thoughts on revitalizing the tools of nonviolence, and of active nonviolence in particular, will be a needed and positive contribution.” The gathering ended three days later with a dramatic consensus process that called on the pope to issue an encyclical — a major Catholic church document — on active nonviolence.
Taking the pope’s words to us seriously, the conference’s final text urged the church to integrate nonviolence at every level of the global institution — including in the dioceses, parishes, agencies, schools, universities, seminaries, religious orders and voluntary associations — and also called on it to no longer use or teach the so-called “just war” theory.
The conference’s final document — An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence — was delivered to Pope Francis shortly after the conference concluded. Confessing that we and the Catholic Church had betrayed Jesus’ nonviolence many times, including by “participating in wars, persecution, oppression, exploitation and discrimination,” we concretely proposed that the church “promote nonviolent practices and strategies (e.g., nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, trauma healing, unarmed civilian protection, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding strategies); initiate a global conversation on nonviolence within the Church, with people of other faiths, and with the larger world to respond to the monumental crises of our time with the vision and strategies of nonviolence … continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons; and lift up the prophetic voice of the Church to challenge unjust world powers and to support and defend those nonviolent activists whose work for peace and justice put their lives at risk.”
This landmark gathering had been in the works for over a year. In March 2015, I joined the planning committee, which involved those of us from El Salvador, the Philippines, Japan, Italy, Australia, Britain and the United States working with the Pontifical Council to craft an agenda that would be interactive and productive. Marie Dennis, the co-president of Pax Christi International, drew on her considerable experience of organizing international gatherings to create a process where everyone would be heard.
The “Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference” was an astonishing experience, and we hope that it will bear great fruit in the Catholic Church and the larger world. As José Henríquez, a member of the planning committee and recent past secretary general of Pax Christi International from El Salvador put it, “We live in a complex world where armed conflicts are pervasive and where violence has become the first — and many times the only — way to address those conflicts. As a global community, we need to foster the creative imagination to build merciful societies where nonviolence is the norm and not the exception.” At this historical turning point, we invite people everywhere to spread this call for “nonviolence and just peace.”
The living-and-working collective Vestbredden Vel Vel which resides in Hausmannsgate 40 in Oslo, is under threat of eviction.
Oslo municipality are close to ending a long term sales process that, if it is approved by the city council which everything points to, will result in eviction and demolition of Scandinavia’s oldest existing squat.
You are more than welcome to write back if you publicly want to support us or in other ways contribute!
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April 13th 2016
Yes, it was not nice!
Politics meet money. But who really decides and is it ok?
One doesn’t really have to be a great political or economical genious to see that there is something wrong and that party politics in all it’s simplicity only wants to facilitate the market forces, at the expence of human, environmental and cultural aspects.
With the information that the housing giant Urbanium A/S, with Espen Pay as administrating director, has plans to demolish Vestbredden if the sale of Hauskvartalet (the Haus neighborhood) would be approved by Oslo city council, it became crystal clear that the politics the city advisory leads is giving them a parlamentary free card for annihilation of Vestbredden.
The fact that this information knowingly has been witheld and that they as “responsible” politicians continue their lies unabated, to defend an eviction and demolition of a functioning urban ecological user run living- and working-collective, can only be seen as a militant escalation where it’s the municipality’s top elite that unfortunately act as the driving force.
Espen Pay says he wants to create something lasting in Hauskvartalet. To demolish an appartment building with a 130 year old history, Barrikaden, one of Oslo’s most important underground stages, and at the same time throw the capitals longest living user run collective on the street, can not be called creating something, it’s called destroying!
Vestbredden takes distance from the use of violence and will in no way take initiative to any form of violent actions. But we have absolutely no plan to leave our home voulentarily and any form of power use to achive this will be acknowledged as a further attack on the whole culture in itself.
That they conciously choose to go in this direction, where conflict is nearly inevidable, seems uncomprehensible and it should be completely clear that it’s the municipality-elite itself that has to bear the responsibility for the after effects of this kind of action.
It’s sad to see labour partists in the pocket of the big businesses, but we’re happy for all the support that’s beginning to take shape in contrast to this advancement.
The financial comittee will the 28th of April come with their position to the city council about wether they should sell Hauskvartalet or not. The city council vote is going to happen, from what we can see, earliest May 11th or June 15th. If the financial comittee would choose to follow the city advisory’s wish to sell, we encourage insistently all city council representatives to study the case further before giving their “judgement”.
British documentary I Am Chut Wutty has been watched tens of thousands of times online following the government ban
A documentary about the murder of a rainforest activist has been viewed thousands of times online after being banned by the Cambodian government.
The film I Am Chut Wutty was due to be shown this week in a Phnom Penh cinema to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the killing of the environmentalist by an unidentified military police officer in April 2012.Continue reading...
“Austerity kills” is printed on placards in block, black lettering, as crowds start to gather on Euston Road in London. It’s been six weeks since I first spoke to Ramona McCartney, one of the organisers behind Saturday’s national demonstration against austerity by the People’s Assembly, and this is the accumulation of what she describes to me as “months and months of planning”.
More than 100 buses are due to arrive in the capital from up and down the country. Junior doctors in scrubs move between grey-haired, seasoned activists, as parents with children at their side, prams in front or babies over their shoulders walk next to Unite members with red balloons. McCartney has heard the National Union of Teacher’s “block” of attendees alone is 10,000 people. “We really feel the whole of the left are united behind us,” she says.Continue reading...
Berta Cáceres’s daughter urges Europeans to suspend aid and investment in hydro projects until human rights are respected
The daughter of murdered environmental leader Berta Cáceres has called for a suspension of European aid to Honduras and investment in its hydro projects until the country complies with human rights norms.
Cáceres was shot as she slept on 2 March, after her family say that Honduran authorities failed to adequately respond to a slew of escalating death threats.Continue reading...
by Shane Burley
As Marsha Breuer took the microphone in front of the Multnomah County Commission in Portland, Oregon earlier this month, emotions were already running high. When she began to tell the story of the home she has rented for 21 years, her face moved quickly from appreciation to tears born of stress. After her first landlord died, she received a $365 rent hike while all but one of her neighbors were forced out with “no-cause” evictions.
“The climate of apathy and disregard of fellow neighbors and renters in this city now is intolerable and totally unacceptable,” she declared, her voice punctuated by the growing cheers of approval from the crowd.
“This demolition of our neighborhoods, our city, our communities, and our people and our very lives is appalling. And that is why, in the very least, we are demanding a rent freeze today and no more [no]-cause evictions!”
The rally was organized by Portland Tenants United, or PTU, a group that — in less than a year of its founding — has galvanized the spirit of resistance that was already forming inside of Portland. As one of the most popular urban centers in the country, Portland has hit critical mass with the highest rent increases in the nation.
PTU, founded as a metro-wide tenants union, is now demanding that the county intercede before the next stage of mass rent hikes and eviction notices by taking emergency actions. In 2015, after a campaign from the local non-profit Community Alliance of Tenants, the mayor’s office had declared a “Renter’s State of Emergency” and passed minor legislation extending the notification period for rent increases from 60 to 90 days. This ignores those outside of city limits, which is only a fraction of the neighborhoods affected by Portland’s rental crisis.
“Our rents went up by 14 percent in a month this year,” said Eric Eisberg, an organizer with PTU. “We’re also seeing thousands and thousands displaced from their homes. We’re seeing a severe and enormous increase in our homeless population.”
The rally heard from Portland renters and organizers who told stories of devastating rent increases, sexual assault and lost friends from living on the streets after evictions, and a women who may lose her home once her placement on a liver transplant list precludes her from working.
The event comes on the heels of a sudden announcement from the Oakland City Council, which approved a 90-day moratorium on rent increases. This decision, which will bring the costs down to the rate of inflation, came after more than 200 people told stories in the chambers about being forced into homelessness after their community of decades had become unlivable.
A housing crisis that never left
As the financial crash and subsequent housing disaster of 2008-10 becomes further embedded in the past, it has been easy for many to frame the narrative around housing as one of recovery and triumph. The rate of displacement from foreclosure has slowed, yet much of this housing instability was transferred to a rental market that had to absorb huge numbers of people. As tech and creative industries draw high-paid positions into popular urban areas like Portland, Brooklyn and the Mission District of San Francisco, we are seeing the crisis of housing shifting back onto working-class neighborhoods where affordable housing is being obliterated by hip gentrification. Organizers argue that the situation has been further exacerbated and exploited by a caste of developers, landlords and property management firms that have forced a massive transfer of wealth from tenants as they fight to remain housed.
It is out of this situation that a movement of necessity has grown for many who are battling just to stay in their cities, as the costs preclude all but the wealthy. Portland has seen this burst in just the last few years, as the result of a conscious effort towards branding — where the climate, the arts, liberal politics and a new tech resurgence — has made Portland a city romanticized throughout the country.
“[Housing groups] are not just simply fighting against the material conditions of low-wages and high rent, it’s in fact fighting a war over the image of Portland itself,” said Kevin Van Meter, who teaches social geography at Portland State University and is an organizer with the Portland Solidarity Network. Started in 2010, the network uses direct action campaigns to confront instances of wage-theft and tenant exploitation. Over the last year the number of tenant requests have dominated, and the need has allowed the Solidarity Network model to expand to a huge swathe of major cities.
The new growth of a tenant movement comes as other parallel struggles, such as the peaking Fight for $15, attempt to expand and re-examine their focus. Rhetorically, rental and housing costs have been one of the driving arguments in favor of a $15 per hour minimum wage in Portland and around the country. Oregon recently passed a more moderate wage bill, one that was backed by many unions and will graduate the city to $15 per hour by 2022. This leaves many of the smaller urban areas at $13.50, and rural Oregon at $12.50, yet both of those include regions that share Portland’s rental prices.
In Northeast Portland, where rents have jumped the most rapidly, the historically black neighborhoods have become almost uniformly whitewashed as lower income residents are pushed out to east of the city. The Mission District in San Francisco is now seeing a battle with tech workers in Silicon Valley, as well as Airbnb finding a new way to unseat sustained housing developments and turn them into exaggerated profit centers.
The crisis extends to the unhoused population of each city as well, which has led to an even more controversial policy from the city and transportation officials. In Portland, the growing number of houseless encampments began to see “sweeps” from the Oregon Department of Transportation, leading to a growing movement out of environmental and housing justice groups to defend the camps from authorities.
There’s power in a union
Rent control, long on the chopping block for neoliberal economists, is being resurrected as a tried model of sustainability that can buffer explosive rental situations. This was foundational to the quickly growing Trotskyist political party Socialist Alternative and its campaign with Kshama Sawant, who used an explicit anti-capitalist platform targeted at working-class neighborhoods in Seattle that were finding their city unaffordable. The $15 per hour minimum wage was first on the agenda, and with that achievement much of the energy has moved in the direction of rent control. This is syncing up the low-wage worker battles that were expanding out from the SEIU’s original campaign in New York City, with rent control as the next logical step towards stabilizing working-class areas of metropolitan centers.
Rent control still exists in areas of New York and Los Angeles, and implementation could provide a breather for a city that is being completely reshaped by rent gouging. In states like Oregon, rent control is illegal statewide, which means taking the fight far beyond the Portland city limits, as well as looking into alternative tools for rent stabilization.
The flip side to the rising rents is no-cause eviction — a policy whereby landlords can order a tenant to vacate without providing a verifiable reason. This is seen often in lower income housing with few long-term leases, where large swathes of renters can be evicted suddenly so that they can remodel the unit and double the rents.
The antidote to this is often called “just cause evictions,” meaning property management companies and landlords are restricted to issuing evictions only for the violation of certain policies. This notion is used by groups in combination with rent control campaigns, noting that rent control matters little if you can be evicted at any time, and just-cause evictions provide no protections if your rent can be tripled suddenly.
In East Boston, tenant organizations like the long-standing Boston City Life/Vida Urbana are using “home-rule” petitions to city council to institute a just-cause eviction policy. Landlords have not bent to this demand without a fight, and business organizations like the Small Properties Owners Association are labeling it as just another attempt at rent control.
Both rent control and just-cause eviction are noted as partial methods, or stepping stone goals, that are only part of the potential outcome of a tenants movement. It is only in periods of extreme turmoil that organizing projects with the potential to fundamentally reshape the nature of tenancy actually emerge. And that is exactly what’s happening in Brooklyn with the Crown Heights Tenants Union, or CHTU, and its attempt to use collective bargaining power for its tenants in the same way that labor unions do in a workplace.
Although often mentioned as a radical concept, this practice actually has a long history in European housing policy and even in many parts of the United States. Boston City Life/Vida Urbana collectively bargained for two buildings with 435 units into what was labeled “affordability agreements.” This is the model that mobilized public housing tenant union projects like Buffalo Tenants United, which took on two public housing complexes in the fifth poorest city in America. There, as in most instances, it did not achieve its long-term goals for active bargaining, and most “tenant union” projects become member-driven renter advocacy non-profits instead of bargaining units. CHTU has yet to meet these goals themselves, but using a democratic-union structure it is doing the hard work of organizing building-to-building, unit-to-unit.
What gives the unionization project its power is the same thing that gives workers and labor unions power in the workplace: the ability to strike. Rent strikes are the tool that organizers argue can shift the balance of power, whereby groups of unionized tenants engage in rent strikes collectively so that they cannot be evicted as a group. This harkens back to the Great Depression and the tenements of New York City, where Lower East Side renters often went on rent strike to force repairs or much needed upgrades. Martin Luther King Jr. used the rent strike to confront oppressive landlords in Chicago in the 1960s, and with the recent five-month rent strike in the Midtown building in San Francisco, the idea of using direct action as the crux of the tenant justice movement is building steam.
“What the landlord model depends on, what their profitability depends on, is receiving the rent,” said Margot Black, a founding member of Portland Tenants United. “And because we don’t have just cause evictions or anything, we have no bargaining power except our rent. If a single person doesn’t pay their rent, they face eviction. If five or 10 people all don’t pay their rent, they’ll all be evicted. But if we can really make this a mass movement, they can’t evict us all.”
A movement of tenants, as tenants
When Portland Tenants United was first formed by a group of renters and activists out of last year’s Portland Renters Assembly, it was the goals of rent stabilization, ending no-cause eviction and creating a tenants union that mobilized them. Rent strike was discussed as an available tool from the start. In January they led a rally and march with other housing and social justice organizations calling for housing for all.
The goals of collective action and solidarity have been key to even their early campaigns, starting by halting the pending eviction of a 79-year-old tenant in Portland who was confronted with a sudden 90-day notice in January. By drawing on a huge pool of disaffected renters to rally, PTU pushed the property management company to reverse the eviction order and negotiate for the tenant to stay. This has worked with subsequent evictions over the past several months, where PTU’s calls for collective action have had enough pressure to sway landlord decisions simply by a call for community support.
Their growth, along with public campaigns from organizations like the Portland Solidarity Network, created a climate that state politicians could not ignore. A renter protection bill was introduced in the state legislature, which was eventually weakened through negotiations. This came, in part, as a result of influence by the landlord lobbying group Oregon Rental Housing Association, which even sent newsletters to its membership noting that it was able to “defeat” restrictions on no-cause evictions, tenant moving allowances, and penalties on landlords for violations. The weakened bill was passed alongside the watered-down minimum wage bill, which was hailed by progressive organizations as the most significant in the nation. Organizers with $15Now Oregon and PTU challenged this portrayal, dropping a “Renter S.O.S.” banner during the legislative session and occupying Gov. Kate Brown’s office.
“After we saw how unresponsive they were to these issues, and how unwilling they were to talk about things like rent control, just cause eviction, and security deposit reform, it just became clear that this was not something that was going to get fixed by the people we vote into office to fix things,” Black said. “It’s really on us to show that we are an organized group with a voice.”
Now the group is calling for a rent freeze and a moratorium on no-cause evictions, a demand that is intended to halt displacement until long-term solutions can be implemented. Inside of the County Commission, renters filled the speaking docket, continuing their stories and demands for action. The anger in the room was palatable as the room erupted into chants, overwhelming the commissioners as protesters took over the space in a show of collective strength.
The following week, PTU organizers met with Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury to further discuss the demands. In a statement put out by PTU, the group said that while the commission was sympathetic, the commissioners turned their attention to the 2017 state legislative session instead of emergency intervention.
“Tenants need immediate relief and long-term solutions. Anything less will fail to stop the displacement of valued and vulnerable residents,” said PTU, in a public statement put out after their meeting with Kafoury. “We are prepared to support elected leaders who take bold action and will join with other advocates to highlight those who show inaction.”
The call has been become a populist rallying point by some, with Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone actually taking up the call to institute an emergency rent freeze in the model suggested by PTU.
The growth of these organizations has seemed to match the rent increases as well, with last month’s projections indicating that this is not a temporary trend that the market will reverse on its own. Beyond any specific solution, the movement of tenants identifying as tenants is one that will reshape the battle over who owns America’s cities and how neighborhoods will progress decade after decade.
For Marsha Breuer, who passionately addressed the Multnomah County Commission earlier this month, the results of this organizing cannot come soon enough. After rallying out front she joined dozens of others who spoke to the county commissioners, explaining that she has been forced to work six days a week at two jobs into her late 60s just to afford her climbing rent.
“I want to invite everyone who is not experiencing this now to imagine having their rents and mortgages doubled and tripled,” she said to the county commissioners, already pushing past her allotted time. “I invite you also to live in homeless camps for a very long time to experience that. I invite you to walk many miles in our shoes without the privileges that are so taken for granted.”
by Eric StonerEmbed from Getty Images
Last week, I was arrested in a sit-in to get big money out of politics and protect voting rights in Washington, D.C. With more than 1,400 people arrested on the steps of the Capitol since April 11 — including The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur, Harvard law professor and former presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig, Ben and Jerry’s cofounders and actress Rosario Dawson — the Democracy Spring campaign has pulled off one of the largest acts of civil disobedience this century.
The timing, in many ways, couldn’t have been better. Not only did the Panama Papers drop while more than a hundred were on a 10-day march from Philadelphia to Washington preceding the sit-ins, but the corrupting influence of money on elections has been a major focus of the media spotlight. It’s estimated that by November $10 billion will be spent this election cycle, which would make it the most expensive election in history. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has been under fire in recent days for earning more in one speech — from corporations like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and General Electric — than Bernie Sanders and his wife made in all of 2014, according to his recently released tax return.
Democracy Spring is the culmination of years of hard work by 99Rise, which has organized a number of other smaller actions — including a historic disruption of the Supreme Court — to raise awareness on the issue and build the movement. And the extensive planning for this latest campaign was evident. Anyone participating in the action had to attend at least one training by organizers, which involved preparation for dealing with the media, learning how to maintain nonviolent discipline and roll-playing the sit-in. This was necessary, as many who took part had never engaged in civil disobedience before.Embed from Getty Images
The campaign also distinguished itself by articulating concrete goals, calling for the passage of a series of already-introduced bills that would set up public financing of elections, overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and protect and expand voting rights and voter access. Another smart feature of Democracy Spring’s design was giving each day a particular focus — from racial justice to labor to the environment — which not only brought activists from a wide range of struggles into the movement, but also showed the difficulty of affecting real change on those issues with so much money in politics rights now.
While most major media did report on the campaign, many of the movement’s supporters were disappointed that the coverage was not more extensive. One factor, from my experience, that likely played a role in the lack of attention by the mainstream media was how the Capitol Police responded to the sit-in. Given that protest is so common in Washington, the police have developed sophisticated mechanisms to handle symbolic actions like Democracy Spring. The officers were unusually restrained, which minimized the drama of the action itself. This no doubt was by intention. In some ways, nonviolent action is theater, and the Capitol Police were much savvier in playing their role than is often the case.Embed from Getty Images
This raises an interesting question for organizers of campaigns like Democracy Spring. When an action begins becoming predictable and routine, and media interest starts to fade, how do you maintain momentum? How do you reintroduce drama and spontaneity into the campaign, while not loosing control? One way to do this is to shift tactics in a way that the opponent is not expecting. Activists with Democracy Spring tried this on Friday, when 12 people got inside the Capitol and tied themselves to the scaffolding beneath the dome in the rotunda. While this did generate some new coverage, there would likely need to be a higher degree of disruption over a more sustained period to recapture the media’s attention. This would be a challenging maneuver for any movement already in the thick of a campaign.
Nevertheless, Democracy Spring has taken the campaign against big money in politics and voter suppression to a new level. It reached millions with its message, activated thousands to get involved in the movement for the first time and put the issue on the radar of Congress to a new degree. The question that needs to be answered now is what the massive coalition that came together for this historic action is going to do to absorb that energy and momentum in order to take the struggle to new heights.
Renowned ice cream duo arrested along with 300 others for taking part in Democracy Spring demonstrations against the influence of money in politics
Police arrested the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at the US Capitol on Monday as they protested against the influence of money in politics.
Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen were arrested while participating in the Democracy Spring protests, a two-week series of demonstrations at the US Capitol. Since the protests began on 11 April, 12 people have handcuffed themselves to scaffolding in the building’s rotunda and more than 1,200 people have been arrested.Continue reading...
Maxima Acuña de Chaupe has won a major environmental prize for defending her land from the biggest gold-mining project in South America
Environmental activism may not have been what Maxima Acuña de Chaupe had in mind when in 2011 she refused to sell her 60-acre plot of land to the biggest gold-mining project in South America.
She did not belong to any movement or organisation but she doggedly held on to her land in spite of her claims of beatings, death threats, intimidation and court proceedings, becoming a symbol of resistance in her native Peru and above all its northern region of Cajamarca which rejected the $4.8bn Conga gold mine after five demonstrators were killed in clashes with the police in 2012.Continue reading...