Did the NYPD Lead Protesters Onto the Bridge?

shift the blame - C&L

Hundreds of participants in an “Occupy Wall St” march over the Brooklyn Bridge appear to have been lead off the pedestrian walkway and onto the roadway by NYPD, and then arrested by the NYPD.

The video appears to be genuine.  During a protest – especially during a march – protesters by and large obey the directions of police officers regarding where they are allowed to walk.  If the NYPD did in fact lure participants onto the bridge only to turn around and arrest them by the hundreds it would raise several important questions:

  1. Can protesters trust the NYPD in the future when they are told where and where not to walk?
  2. If protesters can no longer trust the NYPD to direct them, what implications would that have for managing large protests within the city?
  3. Was this police action pre-meditated, and if so, what was the goal?

The Occupy Wall St movement has already been hit hard with police brutality and a mix of mockery and inattention from the press.  The message this sends the protesters is loud and clear:

We will ignore you.  We will laugh at you.  We will hurt you.  We will arrest you without cause.

 

Advertisements

Silsbee Texas: Apologists for Rapists

A girl was raped in the Texas town of Silsbee by a student athlete.  Since the rape, she has been ordered to “lay low”, kicked off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer (when ordered by superintendent Richard Bain Jr) for her rapist.  The community turned against her, supporting the rapist (and his accomplice), calling her a slut, and a bitch (one cowardly family even going so far as to put their 2 year old up to the task) and even threatening her life.  The Supreme Court of the US has shown brazen moral bankruptcy in refusing to hear her free speech case (rape victims don’t rate as high on their priority list as corporations seeking to influence elections).  As a result she now owes school district $45,000 in legal fees.  (You can donate directly here, or commission comic art with all proceeds going to help pay the fees here (via)).  Trigger Warning: Full Details Here.

While it is worth calling attention to the heroic actions of the two young men who broke down the door (putting an end to the attack) and even attempted to chase down and confront her attackers (in one case succeeding), on the whole the town of Silsbee and its citizens have shown themselves to be the very worst sort of people.  There is a vile rotting husk of flesh where there ought to be a heart, and their actions epitomize so much of what is deeply wrong with our country.  They need to be taught a lesson in morality.

I’m not sure what form that lesson ought to take, whether a boycott will have any meaning for instance.  Given the campaign of shame and harassment aimed at this young woman, I think it only appropriate to respond – legally – in kind.  Below the fold is contact information.  For the superintendent of schools.  For city hall.  A link to a google search with a list of Churches.  Call the superintendent and let him know what kind of person he is.  Call city hall and let them know their town is no longer the home of “Tiger Pride”, their new public face is “Rapist Pride”.  Call the churches and ask ministers and priests to work their thoughts on rape into their sermons.  Clearly communicate both what you think of the people you call, the community at large, and what it is their moral responsibility to do: Regardless of their court victory, the school district owes the rape survivor and her family an apology – and to absolve them of any responsibility for paying the district’s legal fees.

Continue reading

Selective and Brutal Enforcement

Some thoughts about my last post…  I’ve been on subways where NYPD officers ignore people breaking the law in a number of ways.  They’ve done nothing.  Which leads to a situation of selective, yet brutal, enforcement of laws.

What does that do to citizens, knowing that the police might beat you and arrest you for something you’ve previously seen an officer walk by like it was no big deal?

Outlaw Arbitration

The recent Supreme Court decision against arbitration was yet another victory for corporations over the rights of citizens.  The case was decided along partisan lines, with Republican nominated justices providing the majority pro-corporate opinion.

It is time we fight back.

Arbitration is, in essence privatized justice where the legal ball is always in the corporation’s court.  It is essentially being forced on consumers in a manner strangely reminiscent of price fixing and collusion.  This will not stand.  We live in a time where corporate rule has led directly to the entirely preventable disasters in Japan and in the Gulf of Mexico.  They have been granted ever more power to directly influence our government with their massive financial resources.  This is not about drawing a line in the sand.  It is about recognizing that corporations now have far more say in our system of government than we do, and resolving to fight back any way we can.

One way to fight back would be to campaign to outlaw arbitration.  We need a coordinated, grassroots campaign to provide consistent and compelling communications to convey how arbitration puts citizens at risk while allowing corporations to get away with crimes.  We need legislation prohibiting the use of arbitration clauses to lock consumers into a lopsided means of conflict resolution.

Call your legislator today.  Let’s outlaw arbitration and snatch this victory back from the jaws of SCOTUS.

Exposing Tort Reform as a Sham

It sounds reasonable: “People are suing for crazy-pants reasons!  Its out of control and we all pay for it!”.  Except its all bullshit.

Pajiba is more of a place for excellent movie reviews than politics, but when they do dive in damned if they don’t get it perfect.  On Tort Reform:

Tort reform is a sham, folks. It was something dreamed up by huge billion dollar conglomerates in order to increase their profit margins. Really, all you need to know is that one of the major engineers of tort reform law in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s was Karl Rove. Guess who benefits the most from tort reform? People like Karl Rove. Big oil. Credit card companies, The insurance industry. Tort reform was basically designed to take the jury out of the equation.

Dead on (emphasis mine):

There’s such a huge corporate-funded marketing campaign behind tort reform that few people understand the reality: It mostly benefits corporations at the expense of taking away a jury’s right to make a decision. A jury can still decide if someone can get the death penalty, of course, but apparently, a jury is just too wild and unpredictable to be allowed to decide how much an insurance provider has to pay if 1,000 kids get sick because of lead in toys. They tried to give Stella Liebeck $2.7 million, or two day’s worth of profit on McDonald’s coffee as a message to the restaurant to lower the temperature of its coffee (it has since done so) and to improve the lid design so that even more people don’t end up with severe burns. How unreasonable!

Support for Tort Reform is unapologetic class warfare favoring the corporate class over the rest of us.  So how do you respond when your “reasonable” centrist or republican friend brings up tort reform?  How do you respond when they complain jury awards are “out of control”?

First – make the above point clear – “How are juries responsible enough to determine the death penalty – but not to determine a fit punishment in a “Company poison’s water” case?”.

Next, you have a few options.

Are you dealing with a numbers person?  Go into the incredibly small size of the largest jury awards when compared to actual income for the guilty company. Ask what is going to give a company incentive to stop their criminal behavior if the penalty is small enough to be considered a minor tax increase?

Are they concerned about frequency?  Ask what it means for consumer protection in this country if so many companies are successfully sued?  Just what the hell is going on here?  If they are truly liable for doing this much damage – why the hell aren’t they being regulated more?

Tort Reform opens the discussion to how the American public is largely left unprotected from the abuses of corporations.  This is the corporate world’s attempt to strip away even that last remaining shred of protection.

What Police Murder Says About Us

The Police Officer who murdered an innocent man on San Francisco’s public transit system gets a lenient verdict – essentially concluding that the fear of black people is legally defensible.  As Digby notes:

He was just trying to teach the little bastard a lesson by swearing at him and then shooting him full of electricity while he was already on the ground. People have to learn to obey transit police officers unquestioningly and when they curse you out and threaten you out of the blue you have an obligation as a citizen to take whatever they mete out — including death if they accidentally pick up their torture device instead of their killing device. Shit happens.

Its not enough that we live in a police state.  We live in a racist, sadistic police state.  What does that say about us as a country?

Ignorance and Incompetence Mar Sex Crimes Battle

This article at the BBC bears reading:

“Ignorant” officials are obsessed with punishing victims of trafficking rather than targeting those behind the crime, a report claims.

They cite specific examples, this looks like more than mere claims.  Until we make viciously and effectively prosecuting slavers, pimps, and rape organizers a priority over attacking sex workers and immigrants without documentation, we will not make progress stopping slavery.

Articles like this engender a certain natural rage and helplessness.  How can we help?  There’s a lot we can all do to help fight slavery and human trafficking.  In addition we can organize campaigns from the grassroots to start dialogues and set the tone.  Criminals who force adults and children to have sex for their gain, and who bring in slaves to do unpaid or low paid work under threat, should face the same penalties as cross state kidnappers and murderers.  The crimes are that serious.  We need to recognize their victims as just that, victims.  Thus make every effort you can to set the priority to supporting trafficking victims and taking down slavers.  Every tool for PR is open to you: letters to the editor, blog posts, emails, word of mouth, and social networking status updates.

We need to electrify public opinion so that there is a real demand to end these crimes, rather than the current status quo of prosecuting the victims and letting the criminals escape to prey on more innocents.