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'Baird out': protesters in Sydney rally against NSW premier's policies

The Guardian | Protest -

Vocal opponents of Mike Baird call for an end to council amalgamations, Sydney’s light rail development and lockout laws

Waving placards saying “Baird Out” and “Save Sydney from Baird’s butchery”, thousands rallied on Sunday outside Sydney’s town hall to protest a swathe of policies introduced by the NSW premier, Mike Baird.

The vocal crowd included opponents of the NSW council amalgamations, light rail development, nightspot lockout laws, anti-protest legislation and the WestConnex motorway project.

Related: Mike Baird’s forced council mergers are a disgraceful rort | Luke Foley

Loud applause from protesters opposing @mikebairdMP govt @ rally in Syd #AMNnews vid @AdamMarsters #marchagainstmike pic.twitter.com/vygVpupreK

Asked an experienced rally counter, who reckons there are easily 5k people at #marchagainstbaird #marchagainstmike pic.twitter.com/I3wnbVzn8F

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Police officer throws woman to ground during France protests – video

The Guardian | Protest -

WARNING: Some viewers may find the following footage distressing. Amateur footage shows a woman being pushed to the ground by a policeman during a protest in Toulouse on Thursday. The protests are against President François Hollande’s planned labour bill, which aims to make it easier for companies to hire and fire workers, and which was forced through parliament without a vote this month

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‘It makes you want to fight back’: activists on life after prison

The Guardian | Protest -

Charlie Gilmour was sentenced to 16 months for violent disorder during a student riot. He talks politics and punishment with four protesters

The prison wing erupted with joy. People were shouting and cheering and banging heavy objects against their cell doors. It was like everyone’s favourite football team had scored at once. “Did you see that?” my cellmate asked excitedly. “Rupert Murdoch just took a hit to the face!”

Comedian and activist Jonnie Marbles had managed to sneak a shaving-foam “custard pie” into the July 2011 committee hearing about phone hacking, which he launched at the octogenarian media mogul on behalf, he later explained, of “all the people who couldn’t”. Few anticipated that, within weeks, he would be joining us behind bars.

We were like: shall we go to the Tate Modern, or should we attempt to get into parliament where I will pie Murdoch?

I was getting 10 to 20 letters a day. I’ve kept every single letter that was ever sent to me

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Netherlands: The current housing crisis and the repression of squatting

House Occupation News -

The vacancy crunch: The current housing crisis in the Netherlands and the repression of squatting

Recently, an opportunity to discuss the current housing crisis in the Netherlands was wasted. The government published a report evaluating a law realised in October 2010 which both criminalised squatting and suggested a few paltry measures to combat building vacancy (see “From Convicting to Condoning: Evaluation of the Squatting and Vacancy Act” [Dutch]). The report received a few mentions in the media but was accompanied by no real analysis. Whilst the Minister for Safety and Justice writes in a letter to Parliament that “this assessment does not require policy changes,” a careful look at the statistics produced by the report instead indicates that much more could be done (see “Presentation of report evaluating the Squatting and Vacancy Act” [Dutch]). The number of people needing to be housed is increasing, and the best way to solve this problem is to liberate the empty building stock, putting it back into use through both legislative measures and squatting.


Repression of squatting

Squatting, defined here as making use of empty space without the permission of the owner, has been criminalised in the Netherlands since the Squatting and Vacancy Act of October 2010. Yet this was an action which was already sufficiently regulated: previously, the law mandated that a building could be occupied if it had been empty for one year. It was a simple “use it or lose it” demand: if you went away on holiday for two weeks, your house was safe—indeed your holiday home itself was protected by law if you used it only once in the year—but long term emptiness and neglect could be punished and highlighted through squatting. Thus, squatters housed themselves, made space for many kinds of alternative projects and also performed a societal function in liberating derelict space and putting it back into use. But since the recent law change, squatters can be imprisoned for up to a year (two years if threatening violence or acting in a group) and fined up to 18,500 euros. The regulation of vacancy was provided for by the introduction of the option for municipalities to adopt bylaws. As we shall see, this has been completely ineffective.

Today, there are still many empty buildings and thus squatting continues. Unfortunately, some people have been charged and convicted under the new law, leading to the absurd situation in which, in the time between October 2010 and December 2014, 529 people have been arrested for the act of occupying derelict buildings in 213 reported incidents (where the owner made a complaint to the police). Of these 529 people, 210 have received convictions. It is also worth noting that the courts have found 42 people “not guilty” of squatting. Of course, if we were to include the successful squatting actions in which the police were never notified (or were notified but no official complaint was made), the number would be much higher. Likewise, the numbers of people arrested by the police for squatting and then subsequently released—purely as a means to achieve an eviction—would make that number higher still, but they are not recorded. Finally, squatters arrested for other reasons such as criminal damage or resisting arrest are also not considered in these statistics.

Of those charged and subsequently convicted, 39 people have been imprisoned (not 37 as commonly reported). Thus, a total of 39 people have been put in jail for occupying derelict space. This is outrageous yet strangely has not received much in the way of comment. Though the report obfuscates the numbers and declares that only a “few cases” resulted in imprisonment for longer than a month, the figures are as follows:

Alongside this, 27 people received suspended sentences. Others were fined and yet more received community service, bringing the total figure to 311 as shown in the table below:

The total of 311 being larger than the figure of 210 convictions can be explained by people receiving fines in addition to other penalties. The average fine was 1,000 euros. In terms of where squatting is happening, the table below shows that it is still occurring in all areas of the nation:

Out of a total of 529 arrests, there was a noticeable overall jump from 98 arrests country-wide in 2013 to 212 in 2014. The Minister observes that this is “remarkable” increase, which the authors of the government report say they cannot explain. However, it is common for there to be a lull in activity following the imposition of a changed legal situation and equally common for there to be an upsurge when practitioners realise the chance of punishment is in fact rather low.

Another table in the report indicates that between 2010 and 2014 in Amsterdam, there have only been 12 official complaints made to the police by owners. As the Amsterdam police commissioner himself commented, this is nonsense, since some individual housing corporations have made 12 complaints in a single year. The commissioner, himself no stranger to manipulating information to his own ends (as when fictitious claims were made by the police about booby traps at evictions) stated that the figures left him amazed and complained that the police were not consulted for the report.

Anecdotally, it seems that whilst there are probably less squats now than there were ten years ago, many still exist, with new places being occupied. Squatting continues, even it has become a less attractive option thanks to factors such as the demonization of squatters in the mainstream media, juridical repression, and the rise of other seemingly easier options such as anti-squat (see Dadusc and Dee’s “The criminalization of squatting: Discourses, moral panics and resistances in the Netherlands, England, and Wales,”). However, an email list tracking mainstream media stories about squatting across the Netherlands tends to feature two or three stories every day about occupations and evictions. So while the phenomenon of squatting may have been pushed underground by repression, it is anything but finished.

In fact, to drive home the point that criminalising squatting with the express intention of regulating vacancy was from the beginning a doomed project, the government report itself comments that “the investigation could not confirm that the squatting ban has had effects on the vacancy problem or that the vacancy policy has in a direct sense had any effect on the squatting phenomenon.”

The question which immediately springs to mind is: If the law is not working, why not repeal it?

Cleaning up the mess

The evaluation report states that at the end of 2014, the level of emptiness of office space across the Netherlands is running at 17% (with 10% empty for more than three years). It has been increasing steadily since 2009. Also worth stating is the increasing number of empty shops, which by the close of 2014 was standing at almost 9% of the total amount

The academic Hugo Priemus argues that the solution for the housing crisis is that “empty office space should be converted temporarily or permanently into affordable living space for young people, with rental conditions based on temporary tenancy agreements” (“Squatters in the city: new occupation of vacant offices”). This is the obvious solution, but when he goes on to comment that “temporary tenancy agreements provide a much better legal position for occupants than squatting and anti-squatting” I would disagree, since there seems to be no political will to set up these agreements. What we see instead is an anti-squat , capitalist recommodification of squatting. If squatting was again legally permitted (which will only happen if more people squat), an incentive would arise to introduce more temporary residential deals, and then matters would undoubtedly move faster for the requisition of buildings which could then subsequently be legalised as housing.

Should the state not itself be regulating emptiness? Well, the measures suggested by the 2010 law have had a shockingly low impact. As of January 2016, there are 390 municipalities in the Netherlands. The evaluation report states that only seven municipalities had introduced a vacancy regulation by the end of 2014. It is clear that the municipalities are in general very reluctant to force owners towards action regarding their vacant property. Very little is in practice being done to force vacant property back into use, since dominant attitudes on the primacy of private property rights are so entrenched. In contrast, squatting has been made a criminal offence yet still continues to be a practical and useful means to open up property which has been locked up and left empty through speculation or incompetence. For example, the Wilde Heisteeg was squatted in Amsterdam and then evicted in 2011 under the new law. It then stood empty for 5 years, before being resquatted in 2016. Whilst right-wing politicians bemoaned the squatting action, the Socialist Party representative Erik Flengte gave support, commenting that “it’s idiotic there is a vacancy in a city where the housing shortage is incredibly high.”

Another perspective on the housing crisis is provided by a recent newspaper article in which three housing corporations argue that in Rotterdam there is not enough property in which to house migrants with a right to housing, as the unexpected increase in demand outstrips supply. In 2015, 970 refugees with a right to residence were housed in Rotterdam, out of a total of 1,144. In the first half of 2016 there are predicted to be 906 migrants with a right to housing, with the total across the Netherlands forecast at 23,000 migrants needing to be housed in the second half of 2016. So, clearly a crisis is brewing, yet the previously quoted statistics also make it evident that there is enough property available which could be used. Maria Miller, representative for Woonstad pleads for “unorthodox measures” to be taken. Precisely these methods have been suggested for decades already by squatters repurposing derelict property for housing. The refugee crisis shows that these tactics need to be mainstreamed, since it is not the case that there is nowhere to house migrants, more that there is no political will to do so. Currently refugees are housed in requisitioned buildings and tent camps across the country, in temporary, unpopular fashion.

Future Occupations

We are in a situation in which different voices calling for more stringent regulation of vacancy, yet nothing much is happening. In illustration, the Minister of Security and Justice stated in his letter that, “based on the evaluation, I conclude that municipalities, despite the large amount of vacant offices, are active and successful in every way in fighting vacancy and that the resources provided in the Act are supportive. Therefore, this assessment does not require policy changes regarding the Emptiness Law.” This is ridiculous. There is an urgent need for housing, especially with the increased demand from migrants. Redeploying the huge amount of empty office space is the solution. Thus it seems clear that what is needed to be done is to expropriate unused property and to put it to good use. Of course, regulation would help with this, but the most effective tactic, despite its current illegality, is to squat property.

Of course squatting occurs whether it is declared legal or illegal, and we only have to look around the world to see huge numbers of people living in informal settlements. But my argument here is specifically addressed to the Dutch situation, where juridical measures have repressed squatting with the express aim of preventing vacancy, even though vacancy figures continue to rise exponentially. The statistics demonstrate clearly that the housing shortage situation is getting worse while the amount of empty office space continues to grow.

Dutch squatters have been occupying such spaces quietly and efficiently for generations, housing themselves and others in a manner outside the normal rent relations of neoliberal capitalism. What is staggering is that more people do not squat, instead of entering into bogus deals such as anti-squat in which they sign away all their tenancy rights. It is pathetic that only seven councils have adapted the already very weak proposals in the law regarding the management of emptiness. The growing crisis regarding the housing of migrants with a legal right to residence shows that dramatic solutions are immediately required.

Source

France’s chaos stems from its failure to adapt to globalisation | Natalie Nougayrède

The Guardian | Protest -

A showdown is taking place on the streets. President Hollande must stick firmly to his plans for long overdue reform

Demonstrating is in the French political DNA. It’s almost as if, for each generation, pouring out on to the streets is part of growing up. There is a collective ritual to this – we have a national penchant for cathartic moments. Historians point to a revolutionary narrative harking back to 1789. But if you are looking for some of the romanticism of May 1968 in the latest unrest, don’t hold your breath.

Related: Riot police crack down on Paris protests against labour reforms

Never before, under the Fifth Republic, has a socialist government been confronted with this degree of social unrest

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Barcelona: Third Statement of El Banc

House Occupation News -

We’ll try to enter again
May 27, 2016

Whatever might be said by the City Council about this conflict, it does not take place between private parts, it is a conflict between two ways of living: those who want a common life and to relate through mutual support networks, produced among equals, and those who defend private property – regardless of its use – and the supremacy of some over others.

Barcelona en Comú is not and will not be a representative of those of us who have been here these days, first because we do not have representatives – and simultaneously do not aspire to represent anyone but ourselves – and secondly because their institutional choice is not and will not be our’s neither. We refuse to serve as an excuse for the various political parties, that have been throwing electioneering darts between themselves, while spreading lies about us. We have never negotiated with no one, regardless of the untruths spread by politicians: those who signed a contract to maintain social peace – CiU –, paid over €65,000 of an unjustified fund to the well-known speculator Bravo Manuel Solano, an amount that almost fully covers for the buying cost paid by him for our space.

They justify this contract by appealing to our alleged social work, trying to build a distinction between the Bank and other occupied spaces, but do not be mistaken: we are the same people. We do not do social and humanitarian work, what we strive for is the generation of networks of mutual support and the creation of a world exterior to the mercantile logic. We do not want to cover up the holes of misery that capitalism created, we want to put an end to them. And, to achieve this, all tools are valid and necessary.

Those that are weaving networks, those that retrieve houses for those who suffer evictions, those that occupy to create homes and meeting spaces, those that make parties and other activities to pay all the costs of judicial repression, those that cut off streets so that popular protests can advance, those that face up to the police: we are all the same because these are different paths of a common struggle.

There has been a lot of talking about violence, our’s to be more precise, but whoever pretends to criticize all forms of violence is refusing to recognize that this society is impregnated with violence in its very foundations: the violence that occurs over evictions, the violence of the homicidal Mossos that remain unpunished, the violence of the persecution of street-sellers and of the rejection of refugees, but also the violence that, beneath the unquestionable excuse of anti-terrorism, shatters the doors of our homes at five in the morning, and kidnaps our companions. If someone really wants to talk about violence, let’s talk about it, but basing ourselves on the fact that if the inequalities of this society do not disappear, it’s because there is an organization specialized in acting violently in order to maintain them. This organization is called the police, whatever the country, the color of its uniform, or the government who commands it.

The police is the visible and explicit part of this structural violence. But this violence can also be found in blackmailing in the workplace, when we accept to be humiliated and robed out of fear of misery; it can be found – as we already noted – in foreclosures, when home ownership is more important than the necessity of a roof; it is found in the sexism that denies the feminicide that is taking place; it takes place in this Europe that turns its back on the refugees of the wars that were caused by our own countries. This capitalist society is based on violence, any serious discussion must start from this premise.

The conflict over El Banc Expropiat, that is taking place in the streets, has begun when we got evicted, and it will finish once we get back in. We have nothing to negotiate because we do not aspire to anything else than reopening the Banc Expropriat at the same location where it always has been; if they want to negotiate, they can do it among themselves, Generalitat, City Council and Solano Bravo. It is not our problem. We do not want another space, we want this one, where it is, with its neighbors. El Banc is ours because we have constructed it second by second with all the people that has passed by and have made it vibrate with hundreds of different experiences; El Banc is ours and we will defend it until the end.

It’s quite simple: the only solution to the conflict they have opened is to let us back in.

May 27, 2016
Vila de Gràcia

https://bancexpropiatgracia.wordpress.com/

Barcelona: Second statement of El Banc

House Occupation News -

[May26] These days are being very intense and this is why we’re having difficulties to spread informations as a collective. Within our capacities, we will add more detail to our version of the facts of these last few days and also our opinion on many aspects of the conflict that is taking place.

First of all, we would like to thank all the people that moved from solidarity to explicit engagement with the project of El Banc Expropiat.

Many of you are asking in which ways they can contribute to this struggle, ranging from neighbours of Gràcia that are getting in touch with us to people from elsewhere, sometimes writing from places so far away as the combative neighbourhood of Gamonal, in Burgos.

Here’s some ideas for you:

  • Convoke all sorts of protests that could pressure those responsible of this conflict, grant more visibility to what El Banc Expropiat is or to what is happening these last few days in Vila de Gràcia.
  • Hang banderoles, banners, or posters to your balconies or windows in support to El Banc Expropiat.
  • Spread the information we publish with your nearest relational circles.
  • Participate in the pot-banging actions that are taking place are 22h from your balcony, your window or the nearest square.
  • Send us all the informations, images and videos that you consider that could be useful to us.

Who is behind this eviction?

  • Catalunya Caixa: this bailed-out bank (now absorbed by BBVA) was the owner of the space when we squatted it. If they hadn’t started the legal process to evict us, we probably would not be here today.
  • Manuel Bravo Solano: this individual is the responsible behind the current obscure network of real estate companies dedicated to speculation that legally own the space. Companies like this and people like him are responsible of the gentrification process that we are suffering in Gràcia.
  • Mossos d’Esquadra: we won’t be fooled, the violent interventions of the police are not being a response to the violent actions of the people that are protesting. It became self-evident the second day that the goal of the police is not to prevent disturbances, but instead to prevent us from re-opening El Banc Expropiat. When we manage to enter our space it it will become obvious that the disturbances are taking place because of the eviction and the later interventions by the Mossos d’Esquadra.
  • Government of the Generalitat: The Government of Junts pel Sí (CDC and ERC) are the political responsibles that command the Mossos d’Esquadra. Of the Government of the Generalitat wanted to, the police would walk away, and if they do we will be able to re-open El Banc Expropiat.
  • Media: These actors would not have the strength they have if the media wasn’t acting as a amplifier of their messages. The media manipulation of these last few days is becoming quite obvious, not only because some old footages of disturbances were used, or the desperate attempt of the journalists to find neighbours who talk badly about El Banc Expropiat, but also because of the complete silencing of police violence, notwithstanding the images, videos and testimonies that circulate through social networks in very significant terms. The fact that we don’t do press conferences doesn’t mean that the press does not have access to the huge amount of information that refutes many of the lies that individuals such as Batlle or Collboni [local TV journalists] are spreading.

Each of these actors have their share of responsibility in the conflict that we are suffering, and for this reason we invite everyone to make their role visible and to pressure them to change their attitude.

Stay tuned for more information

May 26th of 2016
Vila de Gràcia

https://bancexpropiatgracia.wordpress.com/

Barcelona's Gràcia district braces for more riots

The Guardian | Protest -

Protesters refuse to accept defeat in row over eviction of squatters from former bank in fashionable neighbourhood

Barcelona’s fashionable Gràcia neighbourhood is braced for a weekend of violence after three nights of rioting this week.

The trouble began on Monday when police evicted squatters from an abandoned bank which has served as an informal civic centre for the past five years. Running battles between protesters and police followed for the next three nights, resulting in numerous injuries and widespread damage.

Related: Is this the world’s most radical mayor? | Dan Hancox

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Scores arrested in Democratic Republic of Congo clashes

The Guardian | Protest -

One protester killed in Goma during opposition-organised protests against President Joseph Kabila’s plan to delay elections

Police and demonstrators have clashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid growing fears that elections scheduled for later this year will be postponed.

One protester died during running battles in Goma, the largest city in the east, while security forces in the capital, Kinshasa, fired teargas at an opposition march.

Related: Fears DRC president's push to keep power will spark major violence

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A fond farewell to New York’s Peace Pentagon

Waging Nonviolence -

by Frida Berrigan

The Peace Pentagon, at 339 Lafayette Street, in January 1991, during the Gulf War. (WNV / Ed Hedemann)

Nearly 20 years ago, as I left the War Resisters League, or WRL, offices in lower Manhattan for the first time, I noticed that my fingertips were covered in black soot and ink. My hands were full of tracts and leaflets, and I had been looking through nonviolence training materials for the last hour. I tried to rub the dirt off onto my jeans, but it wouldn’t budge and later even soap and water had to work really hard.

A few weeks ago, I went back to 339 Lafayette Street to say goodbye to the appropriately nicknamed Peace Pentagon. The visit reminded me of that sooty, inky afternoon, when the late great and gentle Karl Bissinger gave me a tour of the WRL workroom — teeter-towered floor to ceiling with books, pamphlets, leaflets, posters and signs from every demonstration of the last half century (almost).

Back in that same workroom, sun streamed in the huge loft windows — even though they were caked with lower Manhattan’s finest smog particles. There was a hole in the floor large enough to swallow both of my small children. I was supposed to be taping historic photos on a large poster board for display at the party later that evening, but instead I was trying to keep two WRL staff members from throwing away or recycling a single piece of paper. They shot daggers at me and kept stacking things for the recycling bin. Turns out that one person’s poorly-lettered sign about a campaign 15 years ago, is another person’s recycling.

My hands were filthy again (because someone keeps stealing the hand soap from the bathrooms), but I managed to save what I could: a roll of wrapping paper (not sure why), a ripped “Shut Down Guantanamo” poster and an awesome “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need” poster in Spanish with a perfect sneaker print marring the bright yellow. I rolled these treasures up and went back to my project, knowing that everything genuinely historic and important had already been sent to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection archive for some dedicated intern wearing acid free gloves to sort through.

From the first time I was buzzed into 339 Lafayette Street — huffing my way up 20 uneven, steeply-pitched concrete stairs (no elevator, no way, no how) to the heavy red metal door that the New York Times found so iconic, and stepping into a packed, bustling office — I was in love. There were dust bunnies, paper clips and tumbleweeds of cat hair everywhere. The desks were huge and pocked, the chairs off kilter and prone to wheeling off on their own over the wavy pitched floors. Every flat surface was covered in bumper stickers and notes. I always had to move precarious piles of papers to carve out a place to sit and work.

Despite this disorder, I always felt like stepping into the office was putting my feet into the continuum of nonviolent resistance; even when I was there for the most mundane reason — to pick up a package that had been sent to me there by mistake or to borrow a pen and legal pad on my way somewhere else. I felt a part of something bigger, older and more powerful than myself and whatever occasion required that pen.

The War Resisters League’s offices occupied most of the second floor of the Peace Pentagon — a warren of leftist, progressive, artistic and anarchist groups — for almost half a century. But now, WRL and the other groups sheltered by the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute are moving from the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette Streets on the Lower East Side to rented offices on Canal Street. WRL began renting space in the building in the late 1960s and bought it for $60,000 in 1974 — the year I was born. Many of its staff were war tax resisters and anti-war activists, and they worried about having an asset that could be seized in lieu of fines or taxes. So, they sold the building to the newly formed A.J. Muste Memorial Institute in 1978 for $91,000. The Muste Institute ran the building, acting as a very generous landlord to an ever changing clutch of radical causes, in addition to providing fiscal sponsorship, grants and technical support to many progressive organizations.

I joined the War Resisters League National Committee in 2000 and got my very own key to the building (which I very grudgingly gave up when I moved to Connecticut in 2009). But for those nine wonderful years I had a home at the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette — a respite from the consumer madness and constant striving of Manhattan, a refresher in what really matters — people, progress, pacifism and posters!

Like in any relationship, it wasn’t all perfect. A group of us learned of the building’s shortcomings and structural needs, as well as the Muste board’s interest in selling 339 Lafayette in 2006. We organized ourselves into Friends of 339 and tried to come up with ways to keep the building in the peace movement — lots of meetings, lots of creativity and a great architecture competition. The result: failure and heart break.

Nevertheless, my favorite time of all in my relationship with the office was the almost-full year I spent living at the New York Catholic Worker in 2010. I would finish up a shift of cooking and serving lunch to dozens of hungry women, take off my apron in the now quiet and relatively clean kitchen and walk several blocks over to the WRL office. Once there, I would help plan the anti-nuclear activities we held during the United Nations nonproliferation meeting or our anti-torture work with Witness Against Torture for the afternoon. I would still smell like bean soup, old coffee and bleach as I warmed up the computer and started making phone calls.

This short walk across a few blocks of rapidly gentrifying Lower Manhattan would bring to mind the long and close relationship between two very different anarchist non-institutions. And it was more than our mutual affection for old papers and genial tolerance of disorder. The Catholic Worker and the War Resisters League share a belief that it is people power not power over people that is going to change our politics and our priorities. We are Catholics and atheists alike, who believe that more often than not it is the still, small voice that needs to be heard. We both believe that it is not more leaders or better rhetoric, but rather principled, strategic action, vision and sacrifice that is needed.

I checked in with longtime War Resisters League member and once-executive director David McReynolds about this friendship of conscience. He lives sort of equidistant between the WRL and the Worker in a rent-controlled apartment amid $4 cups of coffee, $15 burger joints and more dog accessory stores than laundromats. He told of how Catholic Worker co-founder and now Catholic candidate for sainthood Dorothy Day decided to non-cooperate with air raid drills in Manhattan in the late 1950s. Picketing in front of the jail where Day was being held afterwards, McReynolds thought that resisting these air raid drills was something that could involve masses of people. He and others in the War Resisters League worked on a three-prong strategy designed to protect people who wanted to register their dismay and outrage at this Cold War cooption exercise, but who couldn’t or wouldn’t get arrested.

Catholic Worker folks and the WRL worked together to organize mass sit-ins during the drills, which were compulsory under New York City law. WRL put out the call (even printed up special match books with information). Five hundred people showed up at the appointed time to expose that there is no running from a nuclear war, there is only disarmament and peaceful coexistence. Many were arrested.

“In 1961,” McReynolds recalled, “we repeated the process, again a WRL event, and drew 2,000 people. Over a hundred of us were arrested, including the entire WRL staff. All of us got 25 days in jail (the longest term I ever served). But it was the end of the civil defense drills in New York. There was a dialectic between Dorothy Day’s witness, and my somewhat more cautious, quasi-Marxist approach — it was the picketing that led to my eventually doing something. And it was my concern about involving as many people as possible, which led to the three-level strategy.”

Joanne Sheehan (my mother-in-law) first came to 339 Lafayette as an organizer with the Catholic Peace Fellowship, or CPF, in 1970 and recalls the building as an incubator for the peace movement. “CPF was pretty male dominated and sexist,” she explained. “As a young and developing feminist, I was challenged and educated by the women in the building to stick it out and have the hard conversations about the kind of world we want to create. War Resisters League chairs like Norma Becker and Irma Zigas were strong women and committed activists who mentored me. They did so much of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work that every movement needs. The building was also home to One Big Union, a collective of women typesetters, who were inspiring.”

Long before social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, just opening the door to the building was a chance to network, learn, connect and appreciate the intersections between different struggles and movements. “Just inside the front door, the walls were like a huge bulletin board crammed with flyers and posters,” she said. “That was the starting point. I picked so much up by osmosis, just being in the building with people holding so many different pieces of our work.” On Friday nights, people would step out of their offices and cubicles and help prepare copies of WIN Magazine for mailing. “We would drink beer, eat pizza, label magazines and talk about what was going on in the world, in the movement and in our lives. We built community.”

We live in a different world today. Bulletin boards? Flyers? Mailing parties? Offices with doors? In a stretch of Manhattan that is almost entirely gentrified, 339 Lafayette seems like a tiny brick-and-mortar relic smooshed between massive spires of steel and glass. It makes me think of a picture book that my kids love called “The Little House,” in which a small rural home is subsumed into an ever-expanding metropolis. The descendants of the original owners eventually move the house to a new stretch of country road amid apple orchards and everyone lives happily ever after.

The WRL bathroom in 1969 (left) verses 2016 (right). (WNV / David McReynolds and Ed Hedemann)

I am so sad to say goodbye to the Peace Pentagon. I am holding on tight to an image of the Peace Pentagon at 339 Lafayette Street that is now totally obsolete: as a constant, visible, rough-around-the-edges home to activists and artists in the heart of Manhattan’s manic, gold-plated, empty-headed boomtown. But then I remember the bathroom. It is hard to be sepia-toned nostalgic about bombed out bathrooms where someone is always stealing the soap.

The War Resisters League and the other residents of 339 Lafayette are in the process of moving to newly remodeled offices at Canal and Elizabeth. I am pretty sure the soap dispenser is attached to the wall. And after four decades of having to scale the stairs every day and turn away people who can’t handle them, the building’s elevator will mean a new kind of accessibility and intersectionality is possible. Onward War Resisters League! Cue the bagpipes, pull out the tissues, and let’s get moving.

The man behind #ThisFlag, Zimbabwe's accidental movement for change

The Guardian | Protest -

What started as personal rant has quickly become a rare way for citizens to vent anger against Mugabe’s government, the Daily Maverick reports

Pastor Evan Mawarire was sitting at his desk in Harare, worrying about how he was going to pay his children’s school fees, when something inside him snapped.

The Zimbabwean, who isn’t paid a salary by the church, decided to film himself venting his frustrations with the Zimbabwean flag around his neck, explaining to camera: “When I look at the flag it’s not a reminder of my pride and inspiration, it feels as if I want to belong to another country.”

This flag represents my hopes and my aspirations. The realisation of dreams that i have been robbed of #ThisFlag pic.twitter.com/FCBQT7zX9D

Imagine what we could do with $600 000.
Food aid
School fees help
Etc #ThisFlag
pic.twitter.com/y0GgeBOpmZ

Oh. Very revealing. So #ThisFlag thing is a pastor's fart. How stinking! https://t.co/dMmpRJoNk9

First #ThisFlag was a "fad" then they said it was "politics" now they say its funded by the west. The citizens movement is surely alive.

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Interview With An Activist About The Eviction of Idomeni’s Refugee Camp

Revolution News -

The situation has devolved since our last interview, and almost every scenario became worst case. The refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece was brutally evicted, and roughly 10,000 refugees have been re-located. Where are they now, and what conditions are they living in? They were brought to several “camps”, most of them are around Thessaloniki. InRead More

Zimbabweans show support for Robert Mugabe in 'million man march'

The Guardian | Protest -

Thousands turned out to celebrate leader and his Zanu-PF party in response to rally organised by opposition last month

Several thousand Zimbabweans joined a march through Harare in support of President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday after the main opposition party staged its own rally last month.

The marchers, many of whom were transported to the capital by bus, sang songs praising Mugabe and wore T-shirts displaying his image as they gathered at a central square to hear him address the crowds.

Related: Thousands march in Harare in rare mass protest against Robert Mugabe

You can't beat this #millionmanmarch #Mugabe pic.twitter.com/81xnsbHZmt

How much of hundreds and thousands of $s spent on this could have gone to paying long-suffering unpaid civil servants? #MillionManMarch

Related: Alleged Mugabe cronies kept offshore firms years after UN alert raised

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Barcelona: Statement of El Banc

House Occupation News -

WE WILL RETURN TO EL BANC

Yesterday, May 23th, El Banc Expropiat was evicted by the Catalan police, after more than 160 days of resistance (more than 100 during the first campaign, and 87 days this time). The first time, the City Hall secretly decided to pay over 65.000EUR to Manuel Bravo Solano, who owns the bank, in order to avoid another Can Vies before the municipal elections. After this shady deal was exposed, the City Hall justified itself saying that they believed that the Banc had an important “social” role. They then admitted that this rent was being paid to avoid breaking the social peace, because they knew that the eviction of El Banc would imply all sorts of responses. This is what finally happened yesterday. First of all, we would like to thank all the solidarity that we have received, a solidarity which has taken many different forms and that has also meant a form of support to all the other struggles which are currently taking place.

Yesterday’s outburst of rage is not only due to El Banc, it is a consequence of recent arrests, of raids on squats and libertarian spaces, of the assassination of Juan Andrés Benítez that exposed police impunity.

We understand that some neighbours are annoyed because of the situation that the neighbourhood is going through, or the physical damages that might have suffered. But, as we’ve said many times, we will defend the Banc in every single way we can.

Anyone who has seen the police interventions can attest the violence that they have produced. Over 50 people have ended up with broken heads, knees, hands or arms as a result of their actions. This is another reason to stay where we are and try to get back to the Banc.

We will return to the Banc.

Solidarity actions can be sent to elbanc [at] riseup [dot] net or to the squat’s page “With Love

DAY 2: BRIEF RE-OCCUPATION OF BANK BEFORE POLICE ATTACK

House Occupation News -

Ephemeral re-squat before heavy police charges in a second night of protestscops stop reoccupation
On Tuesday evening a new series of demos converged on the evicted autonomous social center, the ‘Expropriated Bank’ in Barcelona’s Gracia barrio. A group of protesters opened the welded steel plates and re-occupied amid wild cheering, just before the Riot Police commenced a series of brutal charges, that resulted in 19 injured. Fresh demonstrations are called for tonight, Day 3.

continue reading + video here: ..http://wp.me/pIJl9-7XS

Donald Trump could face chaos as he heads to ‘riot-happy’ California city

The Guardian | Protest -

California continues to put up the noisiest resistance to the Trump campaign; by holding a rally in Anaheim, the Republican nominee is ‘wishing for chaos’

If Donald Trump is eager to avoid the large, impassioned, noisy protests that almost derailed his last visit to California – and maybe he’s not – he has certainly picked the wrong location for his return trip on Wednesday.

Anaheim may be the home of Disneyland and a reliable source of affluent, conservative white voters in the suburban tracts an hour south of Los Angeles, but it is also bubbling over with tensions, as a restive and growing Latino minority clamors for greater political representation, a less repressive police force and a more tolerant environment for immigrants and their families.

Related: Reality stars and xenophobes: Trump's California delegates mirror their maker

My stomach turns when I hear the man’s voice … he provokes a very bad feeling among the communities he has stepped on

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The First Trial Against Anonymous in Spain

Revolution News -

The first trial against Anonymous in Spain finally moved forward last week. The three defendants known as RTS, YLDI and JMZF were arrested in simultaneous raids in June 2011 in Barcelona, ​​Valencia and Almeria. The #JuicioAnon trial has been dragging on for five years. The defense team and supporters of those arrested have stated unwaveringlyRead More

Brussels anti-austerity protesters clash with police – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Police in Brussels fire water cannon during clashes with protesters at an anti-austerity demonstration. Fighting broke out at the end of a peaceful rally on Tuesday that saw around 50,000 take to the streets. Around 100 masked protesters starting hurling objects and firecrackers at the police, who responded by firing jets of water. Photograph: AP/Michel Spingler

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Brussels police fire water cannon at anti-austerity protesters

The Guardian | Protest -

About 100 masked protesters reportedly broke away from main rally and started hurling objects and firecrackers at police

Belgian police have fired water cannon during clashes with protesters at a demonstration in Brussels against the centre-right government’s austerity measures.

A 100-strong group of masked protesters broke away from the peaceful main rally of about 60,000 people in the Belgian capital and started hurling objects and firecrackers at riot police, reporters at the scene said.

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