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Police State | Occupied Stories

Tag Archive | "police state"

Knowing the Value of Nothing

On May 17th I arrived in Chicago by bus. Then drifted along the el train with the sweet smell of wet cement and electricity; Chicago in the spring. The City is low-­tech beautiful and almost charming.

On May 18th I rallied for health care and ate deep dish pizza. The cops seemed tolerant until the sun went down.

On May 19th I marched with my brothers and sisters through the park and to the mayors home. CPD was once again tolerant until the moon came out, then they turned into werewolves and ran over protesters with vans and ‘bully’ clubs.

On May 20th I Occupied NATO for the ones who couldn’t. I ran through the city streets at night in a fleeting act of defiance toward the merciless Helegalian Dialetic and still have the blisters to prove it.

It’s only been a week but it feels like a year.

It also feels like a bee on my eyeball, nausea and a budding revolution wrapped in a headache. It’s hard to believe a little over a week ago I was in Chicago marching the streets in protest with my arms full with grievances that needed redressing. Good-god we need a revolution or at least a reevaluation of the whole damn thing; the ‘system’ is poisoned.

There were anarchist, socialist, communist, anti-­‐capitalist, Ron Paul Revolutionaries, clowns, vets, charlatans, buffoons, peacers, truthers, birthers and I’m sure some jokers, smokers and midnight-­tokers. As diverse a crowd as I have ever seen. Different races and colors and ages. Professional and nonprofessionals alike; together to protest an entity that some think has out served its purpose. Or worse has become a power so evil it aims to rule the world. Don’t look here for answers – I have far too many questions. (You might want to take a gander at “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins for a truly eye-­opening read).

What exactly is happening with this movement? What does it value? What are the goals? Does anyone really give a shit? And what happens next?

Here’s my honest take: we’re almost completely fucked!

Not exactly what you wanted to read? Okay, here’s why I say that (and yes, ‘almost’ is the operative word):

The Occupy Movement is sliding off the same cliff as the old Tea Party. I say ‘old’ because the Tea Party now is only a shell of what it was and could have been. And the cliff is the co-option of the movement by shaping the narrative to what ever “the powers that be” desire.

For the Tea Party, Neo-cons took over and the left fought it with a racist, old, white and anti-immigrant narrative.

As for Occupy, the leftists are taking over and have been demonized by the right’s dirty, young, drug addled anarchist-Marxist narrative.

Both narratives are, at least, incomplete to a point of irrelevance and, at most total horseshit. But that is what’s hitting the news and like it or not the narrative is important.

Blame it on an educational system gone to hell or social engineering but we are no longer critical thinkers. As a whole we are robots. We haven’t been vigilant. Narrative is a cheap but effective tool to control you and pass along information predigested; we are all on socio­political feeding tubes. Thank you, big brother. And it hasn’t even gotten really bad yet. Is anyone listening?

I’ve been a part of both movements, Tea Party and Occupy, and that’s not the way it is. Before the Tea Party was commandeered by Neo-cons and before what looks to be a potential socialist take over of Occupy, both were/are made up of everyday people pissed off about corruption and a ‘rigged game’. In fact I would go so far as to say they are virtually the same at their core. Just like the Right and Left is being challenged as really being the same thing; I, similarly, see the 1st Tea Partiers, the Occupiers and even the Ron Paul Revolutionaries as the same.

If taken a step further, the right vs. wrong meme, that naturally replaces the right vs. left meme, puts all of the above on the ‘right’ side and the statist pushing us toward one world government (as conveniently illustrated by NATO) on the ‘wrong’ side. Anti-­Corruption, anti-­insider dealings, anti-­nontransparent government – this is the tip of the spear.

Well, it should be.

I’m beginning to doubt weather Occupy can pull their shit together fast enough. I love the fighting spirit but without a center to coalesce around we can’t do it alone. If you haven’t noticed, the militarization of our police forces across the country keeps accelerating. And yet crime is down almost everywhere. So what gives? They’re preparing for you or them or us depending on where you’re sitting. Dissent is no longer tolerable. It’s dangerous. Which I think is how it’s supposed to be.

Why blame us, the 99.9%? For instance we told our representative where to stick SOPA and PIPA. We thought they would get it – hands off the Internet. No censorship! But instead they try over and over to sneak another one of these bills through. Now it’s CISPA. And soon we will be talking about UN mandates. Just who the hell are these assholes representing? Isn’t that a fair question to ask considering the facts? I hope I’m wrong about Occupy but I can see a scenario where Occupy doesn’t finally sharpen its spear with an idea we can all get behind. Like liberty. Or smaller government. Or ending the war on terror. Or breaking up the banks via Glass-­Steagall. Or ending the Federal Reserve. If we don’t make this movement more inclusive we’ll never have the support we need. Less talk about carbon credit schemes and more about our loss of fundamental rights is a step in the right direction.

We need to question everything.

What causes a movement to live or die?

The short answer is simply the people armed with an idea whose time has come… or not. It’s a romantic dream, isn’t it? Underdogs against all odds, fighting the powers that be with an idea that is universally true. Sorry, ‘big government’ anything isn’t going to cut it. The preservation of our natural law rights as illustrated in the Magna Charta, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are to be protected first and foremost.

As Fredrick Douglas said, “power concedes nothing without a demand!” But what are we supposed to demand with a collective voice when so much is broken? Vote everyone out? An armed revolution? Await the spiritual shift in consciousness?

Winston Churchill said:

“Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all odds against you and only the precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.”

The struggle has begun. Where we are in Churchill’s quote I do not know but the thought does chill me.

On May 20th I woke up with pangs in my stomach and a light hangover. I took the red line with a bagel to Lake and walked to Grant Park from there.

On May 20th Chicago was in lockdown but corruption was put on notice. The zeitgeist was with us. Hell, it was us.

On May 20th roughly 40 vets threw their metals over a fence in downtown Chicago in a brave act of defiance to regain a little of the humanity the war on terror had taken from them. One former soldier, Greg Miller who served in Iraq in 2009, said, clutching one of his metals, “The military hands out cheap tokens like this to soldiers, to service members, in an attempt to fill the void where their conscience used to be before they indoctrinated it out of you.”

Maybe we should begin to think about the metals we get in return for our complacency and capitulation of conscience. Maybe it’s part of what Oscar Wilde was talking about when he spoke of “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Occupy Everything. Tea Party Forever. Ron Paul Revolution. The time is nigh. Hang together or hang separately.

-Winston Smith-

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Against NATO: Blood and Solidarity

Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story.

Chicago, IL-When I woke up on Friday morning [May 18] I had no idea that I would fly to Chicago the next day to protest the NATO summit; but spontaneous actions are often the most inspiring kind.

My girlfriend Nicole asked me if I wanted to go and after watching some live streams from the various marches in progress I thought: why not? When we told Rachel, a comrade in Chicago that works on the Occupied Stories project with us, that we were coming she sent out a tweet asking for any available couches, and less than twenty four hours after we decided to go to #noNATO, we were picked up at the airport. Theresa was an old friend that Rachael hadn’t seen in years—and we had never even physically met Rachael—but she wanted to support the movement any way that she could. Theresa explained to us on the drive to her house on the north-side of Chicago that “I can’t be out in the streets because I so badly need to keep my job. My husband had a heart transplant thirteen years ago and had an accident just a few months back. He is right now in the hospital re-learning how to walk, so if I lose my insurance it would be devastating.”

I flew a thousand miles to be on the front-lines and show opposition to the NATO war machine, a violent military organization that drains tremendous amounts of energy and money from our government. Theresa is on the front-lines every day, living in a world where there is always money to train soldiers and build better bombs but never enough to care for ourselves when we fall ill.

After a huge rally and march down toward the NATO meetings, Nicole and I split off with Harrison, another New Yorker working on the Occupied Stories project, for some much-needed food and drink. We lost the group and missed the big clash between the black bloc and riot police. We started walking south toward NATO and where we heard the remaining protesters were being kettled. We couldn’t get anywhere close. Rows of riot police blocked every street and looking beyond them all we could see were flashing lights and more police in heavy combat gear.

We walked north, back toward the city center, not sure what we should do. We met another small group wandering around and joined them. The ten of us decided that it would be useless to try to join the group behind the police lines, and when we heard that some NATO delegates were meeting at the Art Institute we made that our destination. There were small groups of protesters scattered around and we grew quickly. When we were two dozen, we began to chant and sing; it started to feel like a protest and we grew faster. There were about 50 of us when we decided to take the street. The spontaneity of our protest created an incredible energy that would be difficult to plan. Once we were in the street, filling out all three lanes on our side and chanting loudly, we almost literally doubled in size with each minute. We had live streamers now and created enough noise to draw people from all directions.  A block after we took the street, we spotted another large group of occupiers coming toward us on the sidewalk. They took the street when they saw us and we ran toward each other and met at an intersection in between with wild excitement. The sound of our voices yelling “Whose streets? Our Streets!” never rang as true as that moment as it echoed off the buildings and blended with the horns of passing drivers holding out their hands for high fives.

We tuned left and ran down the street and became a magnet for every protester milling around downtown. Within a few minutes there were well over a thousand people; then two; then three. For a while, it felt like the city was ours. I’ve never been a part of a march that grew so quickly, or had as much raw visceral energy that was devoid of anger. Harrison and I caught eyes and smiled. “This is fucking amazing. This is the best march I’ve ever been on,” he said, and we slapped hands and brought them to each other’s chest.

The scene outside the Art Institute

Police were assembling and began to set up blockades in front of us. Some we were able to run through and others forced us to make abrupt turns, but there were no arrests or major physical clashes. When we reached the Art Institute, the front of the march, unaware that we were at our destination, kept going. A few people toward the back were able to mic check that NATO delegates were inside and while the bulk of the march went on, about two hundred people sat down in the street. Harrison was with the group that kept marching; Nicole and I stayed at the Art Institute. Eventually the march got word that we were locked down in the street in front of a meeting of NATO delegates, demanding an audience with them, and they came back to join us; but Harrison wasn’t there.

An organizer from Occupy Chicago mic checked that they were receiving reports that a protester had been killed by police and our spirit immediately changed. The level of tension between us and the hundreds of riot police that had assembled and stood in rows in front of the Art Institute skyrocketed. Everyone tried to reach out via their phones to confirm or deny the report, but all the joy had left. While this was going on, I received a message from Harrison. He had been attacked and beaten by police a few blocks away. Three blows from a police baton on the back of his head sent blood down his neck and sent him to the hospital for five staples to close the wound.

A few minutes later we all learned together that the reported death was rumor, and I learned from a new message on my phone that Harrison would be okay.  Since I’ve joined the occupy movement many months ago, there have been moments of both exuberance and dismay. There was no shortage of either in Chicago this weekend.

John Dennehy

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