Strikers, supporters at Ga Ave Wal-Mart protest as store opens on holiday

The new Wal-Mart stores in DC chose to open on the settler holiday known as Thanksgiving, a day most workers get to spend with their families. As they did, striking Wal-Mart associates backed by community activsts and supporters set up a mock dinner table outside the Ga Ave Wal-Mart to distribute cupcakes and fliers while they picketed. Police tried to intimidate them out of having a table on public space but Rev Hagler stood his ground and it was the police who backed away.

Wal-Mart’s manager or one of his staff even claimed to police to own the sidewalk but police agreed in the end to not attempt to remove protesters from the sidewalk so long as the inner portion was not blocked. This would be a condition with or without Wal-Mart owning public space anyway. Still, this kind of behavior, where police are at the beck and call of private corporations, reminds me of the situation at Cove Point. There, ten extra Calvert County sherrif’s deputies get their paychecks directly from Dominion to protect the fracked gas export project from activists and local residents alike.

After a period of picketing and fliering shoppers, striking Wal-Mart associates and Rev Hagler delivered a letter to the manager of the store.


Video featuring Rev Hagler standing up to police attempts to force removal of the table from the protest

This is the cupcake table the police tried and failed to get rid of at Wal-Mart’s request.

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DC Ferguson marchers take over streets, storm Wal-Mart

On the 25th of November, thousands took to the streets for the second night of DC Ferguson protests responding the the grand jury’s refusal to indict killer cop Darren Wilson. The protest took over the streets and blocked the intersection of NY Ave and 395 before marching south-and storming the Wal-Mart on H st. The only looting was the usual looting by Wal-Mart’s bosses, stealing from their associates with their law wages and terrible working conditions. Protesters made it plain they were after management, not the associates actually working late to put food on their family tables.

Wal-Mart is known to have donated $10,000 to killer cop Darren Wilson’s legal defense fund, so on Nov 25 DC Ferguson marchers “indicted” Wal-Mart for obstructing justice by storming the 1st and H st store!

After delivering this message to Wal-Mart, protesters left the building and returned to the streets. The march now proceeded to Chinatown and blocked off 7th st. While there, marchers were asked to return to the same Wal-Mart to support striking associates on Black Friday. The assembly time and place are 8AM Friday, Nov 28 at Union Station. From there a march will depart for the Wal-Mart on H st. Black Friday in general has been declared by activists to be a target for Ferguson-related protests, with some calling for “no business as usual” in wake of the grand jury’s refusal to even demand that killer cop Darren Wilson stand trial for Michael Brown’s death,

Eventually the main march dispersed from Chinatown, but a smaller march went to the White House from there. Shortly after arrival, the White House security lights came on, something I have not seen since an Occupy protest went there in Jan 2012 and the Secret Service claimed something was thrown over the fence. This time around, a line of cops stood between the main White House fence and the second “protest pen” style fence that now stands in front of it. I did not see any police aggression against the protesters however, here or anywhere else in DC on the night of Nov 25

Video:DC Ferguson storms H st Wal-Mart


Blocking NY Ave and 395 intersection

Inside the Wal-Mart at 1st and H sts NW

DC Ferguson in Chinatown

Protesters outside the White House just after the security lights came on

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“Party at the FCC” demands net neutrality

On the 13th of November, net neutrality activists responded to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s defiance of Obama’s new pro-net neutrality position.They showed up at FCC headquarters for a party under cold rain mixed with snow, then took over the doorway in front of the building.

Interestingly, only three security guards were able to respond to the call for help from the two or three guards inside, with the result that the effort by security guards to repulse the protesters was defeated and the guards gave up. One of the guards became aggressive with other photographers, I kept the camera on these incidents and made it plain that I would back up any photographer who was assaulted. This guard soon abandoned his aggression as well.

Meanwhile, a high drama is playing out behind the scenes. A couple days ago, President Obama announced that he now supported activists’ demands for complete net neutrality via reclassification of Internet service as a common carrier. Time-Warner Comcast stock fell 5% the next day. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler used to be President of the National Cable Television Association, and he chose to do the bidding of his former masters by publicly defying his current boss, President Obama. Tom Wheeler is still pushing a “hybrid” tiers Internet with fast lanes for bug bucks outfits like Netflix and slow lanes everyone else. He is still working for Big Cable, no doubt expecting a golden parachute from Comcast or a similar player if Obama does the right thing and fires him from the FCC. Unfortunately, the FCC has been riddled with Cable TV and phone company lobbyists ever since Obama took office, if not even before then.

Video of the “Party at the FCC”


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Code Pink protests at “Freedom Checkpoints” outside Concert for Valor

On the 11th of November, on the 96th anniversary of the end of WWI, Code Pink showed up outside the police checkpoints and cattle chute fences of the so-called “Concert for Valor” on the Mall. Code Pink was protesting the US return to war in Iraq. During this protest, an incident inside drew a massive police response. I do not know if this was the incident where police pepper sprayed and arrested three people for jumping a fence, or yet another incident. Again, “freedom” American style.

At the time of this massive response by cops on foot and on bike, the checkpoint stopped admitting people and a huge backed-up line formed as a result. There were remarks from some in Code Pink comparing this to the chaos of the first Obama inauguration, which reminded me of the infamous “purple ticket” scandal of spectators left to wait in a tunnel for hours, then not admitted.

Finally, Code Pink headed to a different checkpoint, dropped off their signs with a few activists who were not entering the checkpointed area, and headed inside. I could not follow them there but they seemed to make it in OK. There were reports at the first checkpoint of people who put on Code Pink’s antiwar stickers being refused entry at the checkpoint, while all other messages on T-shirts, etc were admitted. The US Park Police were blamed for this, and in fact an earlier Code Pink team that got inside had been harassed for having any kind of signs or messages.

Beyond the militarized policing and bag searches, there is also the hypocrisy that the Obama government would rather spend money on a concert to honor returning war veterans than on housing homeless veterans. Just like after Vietnam, employers are discriminating against war veterans and in fact, having served with US forces in Iraq is regarded by many as an explicit risk factor for becoming homeless.

Video-Code Pink at checkpoints

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One arrested in 3ed fracking/gas export protest at Dominion pier site in Solomons, MD

On the 10th of November, opponents of exporting fracked gas out of Cove Point, MD returned to Dominion’s pier construction site in nearby Solomons, MD site for the 3ed time in 8 days. Protesters arrived at 6AM and confronted trucks entering the site. Near the end of the protest, Leslie Garcia from Lusby, MD was arrested for attempting to deliver an eviction notice to the site. Lusby is immediately south of Cove Point and caualties there are expected if there is a serious accident with the proposed LNG export plant.

Several interesting demographic facts have emerged about this “megaload” landing site being built by Dominion. First of all, exactly ONE person working on the site for the primary contractor is reported to be a Calvert County resident. In other words, the project has delivered exactly ONE job so far! The majority of the workers are from Texas, as is the main contractor. They have all been staying at a Holiday Inn, whose parking lot is filled nightly with cars bearing Texas license plates. A security guard had to be hired to watch over their cars due to the local unpopularity of the project.An upcoming beauty pageant will force the relocation of the Texas workers to another motel.

Second of all, it is being reported that Dominion is spending $1,500,000 to hire an extra ten Calvert County Sheriff’s deputies, apparently available to Dominion on an as-needed basis. That’s $150,000 per cop for one year, and there are further reports that their paychecks are being signed by Dominion. This gives new meaning to earlier reports that the Sheriff’s Dept was “bought and paid for” by Dominion.

The purpose of this pier is to provide a point for “megaloads” of large scale equipment meant for the Cove Point LNG export plant to be unloaded from barges onto trucks, then to traverse Route 4 other narrow roads of far sourthern Calvert County on their way to the gas plant.

Work is reported to be 6 days a week at this site to make a Dec 15 deadline to finish construction or wait out a moratorium on working in the water until mid-March. That moratorium is for environmental protection, I believe of oyster beds. They just started construction, and have been hampered by civil disobedience protesters on three of the last 7 days of work. The first of these protests, on Nov 3, delayed the start of work that day for hours, I don’t know if they were able to start at all or had sent the workers home when the loader that was at that time the site’s front gate was found locked down.

Video of the picket, civil disobedience, and die-in


Protesting at the Dominion pier site in the dawn fog


Confronting one of the few vehicles entering the site between 6 and 9 AM on Nov 10


The eviction notice Leslie Garcia was arrested for attempting to deliver in both poster and legal paper format


Cops stop Leslie Garcia from approaching anyone on-site, then refuse the notice


Leslie Garcia arrested for refusing to abandon her effort to serve the eviction notice


Picketing the site

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FERC employees kept out by lockdown, blockades on Day 5 of fracking protests

On the 5th day of fracking and gas export protests at FERC, activists locked down in the driveway and blockaded all doors. The result was a huge crowd of FERC rubber stampers kept outside watching the protest. It took police at least 2 1/2 hours to clear just the driveway blockade, and someone at FERC was reduced to herding their employees like sheep as cops made and changed plans to try and get through the protesters.

There were reports of angry FERC employees trying to push their way past protesters. There was also a report that cops tasered a protester by FERC’s back door. The driveway lockdown did not achieve surprise and had to set up the blockade while cops were attempting to stop them. Two confirmed injuries to protesters resulted from that confrontation, but in the end the lockdown crew prevailed and the violent police reaction was defeated. For the next 2 /12 hours they prevented all cars from reaching FERC’s garage. Probably many of the FERC rubberstamp crew that showed up on foot paid top dollar to park somewhere else, thus the angry spirit of entitlement as a few tried to push past blockaders. I personally witnesses some of them climbing over the barricades cops set up in an attempt to keep protesters back from the doors, but which simply were incorporated into the blockade strategy.

Video of the 5th day of blockades at FERC focussing on the driveway lockdown

Same video in full HD 1080p resolution


The locked-down activists who blocked FERC’s driveway for 2 1/2 hours


John Zangas phots of huge crowd of blocked-out FERC employees, the ones who usually spend their day rubber stamping proposals for new fracking and gas export projects.


The police response to the driveway lockdown


The blockaded side door at FERC


Somebody really wants to get to their rubber stamp today!


This is what they do at FERC when they are not being herded like sheep around protesters against fracking and gas export

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Net Neutrality protesters demand Obama fire FCC chair Tom Wheeler

On the 6th of November, net neutrality protesters showed up at the White House demanding Obama fire or demote FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a former Cable TV company lobbyist

In the face of extreme public opposition to his plans to allow “paid prioritization” or website-paid Internet fast lanes, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is attempting to use a “compromise” to reclassify Internet Service Providers as something other than neutral common carriers.

Net Neutrality is a crucial strategic issue for social activists, as the bandwidth for paid prioritized Netflix and Youtube would come from somewhere. That somewhere would be the bandwidth required to watch non ad-supported video from sites like archive.org or this one. In addition, a future of rigidly capped monthly bandwidth with exemptions for paying providers could prevent people of modest income from accessing non ad-supported websites. That, in turn, would give both paying sites like facebook and the online advertisers who finance them veto power over what people see over the Internet. Only people able to afford top-tier service would be able to reach unsubsizided content, as what they pay per GB of bandwidth would have to be “competitive” with what Netflix,Google and Facebook are willing to pay.

Video of the protest


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