Mayday reportback from DC and around the world

On Mayday (May 1), there were two marches in DC. One was the annual march from Malcolm X Park to the White House, which included demands that ICE be expelled from DC, that the TPP trade deal never be ratifed, and that area stores respect the Driscolls Berries boycott. The other march began at Marbury Plaza where Alonzo Smith was murdered by “special police” in Anacostia and ended at the 7D police station.

The march from Malcolm X Park included an antifascist contingent due in part to prior counterprotests at the White House by neo-Nazi groups against the Mayday march, This time around, the fascists were a no-show. The antifascist contingent did meet up with a group of protesters at the White House opposed to Turkish president Erogden’s imprisonment of members of the Alevi religious minority there. As the antifascists explicitly support the PKK and YPJ/YPG against both ISIS/Daesh and Erogden’s Islamist government there was an initial misunderstanding that was quickly reversed after the words “fascist Erogden” were heard spoken by the Mayday marchers. Many of the Alevi protesters had been cheering for the incoming march, having already heard similar things from others in the march. At this point the two groups seemed to merge together. One of the speakers at the Mayday rally focussed on the Kurdish fight against both Daesh and the Turkish government.

In multiple cities around the world Mayday protests ended in street battles against police, somewhat like what happened here in DC back in 2013 when protesters stormed the Gap and police tried to counterattack but lost the fight. In Montreal marchers attacked a police station itself with rocks, fireworks, and smoke flares.In Berlin protestrs and riot cops duked it out. In Manili, the Phillipines protesters took on riot cops in front of the US Embassy. In Istanbul, Turkey youth took on riot cops defending Erogden’s far-right theocratic presidency. There was ugly news from Baltimore, where police shot yet another person, the 5th police shooting in Baltimore in the last 32 days. A year ago on Mayday Baltimore saw one of the largest of the Freddie Gray marches and the beginning of the nightly protests and civil disobedience that killed the curfew. Now the Baltimore Police are back to killing people.

Video of the Malcolm X Park to White House march

Empower DC’s video of a speaking stop during the Anacostia march on 7D

Marching down 14th st

The Mayday rally at the White House

Marchers in Anacostia remember Alonzo Smith, murdered by so-called “special police” at Marbury Plaza. Still image from Empower DC video

Protesters in Montreal took direct action against a police station

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Dissent limited at Offshore oil/gas Drilling “open house”

On the 26th of April, members of a number of environmental organizations held a rally outside the Marriot on 12th st near Metro Center denouncing the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Afterwards they sought to enter the “Open House” being held inside for a draft version of the environmental impact statment. The person in a polar bear costume was denied entry to the building, security guards collected people’s signs on the way in-and they moved to interfere with anyone shooting photos or videos in the lobby.

Another photographer was able to get into the event and bring out the photo of their “welcome” sign and a few others. The entire “open house” was supposed to be about accepting public comments, yet hotel security interfered significantly with opponents of offshore oil and gas drilling making these comments. After all, not everyone is going to trust leaving their signs or other property with security guards.

Before the ugliness at the hotel gates, a series of speakers outside denounced plans to open up the continental shelf for more oil and gas drilling. One speaker was an Indigenous Alaska Native explaining how poisons from offshore drilling could end the way of life her people have known since beyond living memory.

Video showing an Alaska Native speaker followed by what happened when the polar bear and then an Indymedia photographer tried to participate in this “public event”

The scene at the rally outside the Marriot

The polar bear is blocked from entering the “open house” that is supposed to be open to the public

This was supposed to be a public open house

But this is as far as one photographer was able to enter the building while shooting video, given that this was a peaceable entry and not a storming of the building.

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People of faith disrupt FERC meeting over gas fracking

On the 25th of April, members of a number of churches and religious groups answered a call by Interfaith Moral Action on Climate to speak out and disrupt the April monthly meeting of FERC, infamous as the fracked gas industry’s rubber stamp. FERC is also the agency that gives the builders of gas and oil pipelines the power to resort to eminent domain.

Yes, “there is a situation” at FERC! An agency that until two years ago had never seen a protest now gets their meetings disrupted every month, and had been the target of multipe week-long sieges of civil disobedience and the month long September 2015 hunger fast and vigil in the run up to the Pope’s visit last year. At the meetings it seems to rarely be the same protesters twice, making it almost impossible for security to pre-empt the speakouts that are now routinely disrupting FERC’s normal “work” of applying the rubber stamp to permits for gas fracking and export pipelines. Speaking of “work,” one of the recurring themes is that FERC in fact doesn’t work, it is supposed to be a regulatory agency but has been entirely captured by the oil and gas industry.

More Details at Beyond Extreme Energy’s Website.

Video combining both clips published by Beyond Extreme Energy

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Vigil demands release of Purvi Patel, jailed for self-induced abortion

Purvi Patel is serving 20 years of a 46 year “feticide” sentence in Indiana over a use of pills ordered online for a self-induced abortion that left her in the hospital. Donald Trump has called for, then tried to retract his call for imprisoning women like Purvi for illegal abortions. The Susan B Anthony List and other antichoice groups have been attempting to distance themselves from Trump’s call for prison terms. On the 21st of April the Susan B Anthony List held a high-profile dinner at the Andrew Mellon Auditoriam on Constitution Ave. Outside, protesters held a vigil demanding the “walk the walk” by issuing a statement falling for Purvi Patel’s release.

Purvi Patel’s case shows that these “feticide” laws pushed by antiabortion groups do in fact put women in prison for abortion. In addition, many have cited the danger that women would be imprisoned after miscarriages if alcohol use, drug use, or even smoking or not following doctor’s advice is suspected of contributing to loss of the pregnancy. Both these situations are a strong incentive to entirely avoid medical care if pregnant. Certainly this is an incentive to avoid hospital treatment even at risk of death after complications from any self-induced abortion, out of state abortion where locally illegal-or after a miscarriage by anyone using legal or illegal drugs. Courts that have overturned such prosecutions in other states have noted that already some women are avoiding doctors entirely while pregnant for fear of criminal charges. Speaking of drugs, the burden as always will fall on the poor and on people of color. Purvi Patel is from India, and no doubt racism made it easier for prosecutors in Indiana to bring charges and get a conviction.

Feticide laws and laws governing the conduct of pregnant women are spreading like a plague, driven by “pro-life” groups that deny they intend to put women in prison. In Missisippi abortion in a (hard to find) clinic is still legal but self induced abortioh is specifically criminalized. Indiana’s case against Purvi Patel is not that state’s first offense, they also prosecuted Bei Bei Shuai in 2011 for a suicide attempt that caused a miscarriage. In Amarillo, Texas a district attorney asked doctors to report women for drug use while pregnant. Nationally over 200 women have been prosecuted for doing something while pregnant deemed bad for the fetus.A Federal report noted that some women who use drugs now deliver their babies at homes as seeking medical attention is deemed too risky given not only criminal prosecutions but civil commitment orders, loss of child custody, and other punitive sanctions,

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Developers gentrifying “space finding” bus tour blocked in Anacostia

On the 19th of April, some of DC’s gentrifying developers held a “space finding” bus tour of Anacostia looking for convenient places to displace local people and build new settlements for the wealthy. Like the settlers who came before them, they found they were not welcomed by those they seek to evict from their homes. Protesters from Empower DC and Black Lives Matter blocked the streets and forced them to turn back. Cops ordered the bus driver to reverse out of the trap, then arrested one of the activists to retaliate for driving off the condo builders and their bus.

The Washington Business Journal reported that the gentrifiers found their bus getting a pounding from outside while one activst tried to board it.That was not visible in the first 8 minutes of the video posted to a Black Lives Matter Facebook account, but that was all I was able to download (over Tor using a dedicated machine) due to the size of the half hour video. Thus I cannot confirm or deny whether anyone actually tried to board the bus or pounded on it. Google Busses in San Franciso have received such treatment, due to their use in allowing Google’s upscale workforce to bid up rents in distant neighborhoods.

From the video it is clear that there was great fury that developers would have the nerve to enter Anacostia with an eye towards planting their upscale settlements in one of the last places in DC where people of limited income can live. As the confrontation continued, police were unable to get the protesters to abandon their blockade, and more and more bystanders started building up. Police claimed they needed to get “emergency vehicles” through but they ALWAYS say that in a street blockade. Perhaps they wanted reinforcements but more cops could not get there through the traffic? Certainly any use of police force against the activists blocking the street could have driven bystanders to intervene, thus sparking a larger confrontation.

The bus tour charged developers $85 apiece for seats on the bus. Some of those blocking the bus reported feeling like they were the subject and targets of a safari. One commentor went so far as say “we are people not pelts!” Chants as the bus was blocked and pounded included “This is not a zoo. We are not a safari” as well as “Stop this gentrification bus” and “Get out of our community.”Activists held the bus for about half an hour before police ordered the bus to drive out in reverse, abandoning that target area.

The declared targets of the bus tour were listed in developer’s neighborhood names as The Wharf, DC United Stadium,Former USCG HQ redevelopment, Sheridan Station,2010 MLK Ave redevelopment / Busboys & Poets, 11th Street Bridge Park, Hill East / Reservation 13, Capitol Riverfront, and The Yards.

Things are getting rough: on the one hand police are hunting African-American youth over riding dirt bikes, on the other hand the condo builders are lusting for the homes of Anacostia residents. Of this sort of thing are long hot summers and urban uprisings born.

Very intense 3 min video cut from Empower DC’s half hour video

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NAACP, Greenpeace presidents among 300 arrested at Democracy Awakens sit-in

On the 18th of April,Democracy Awakening marched to the US Capitol for the culminating sit-in of a series begun a week ago by Democracy Spring. At the head of the march were NAACP and CASA contingents, including familes with small children. There appeared to be considerable overlap with the immigration rights protest at the Supreme Court. The march took over a good part of the Capitol Plaza upon arrival. During the sit-in, the presidents of the NAACP and of Greenpeace were among those arrested.

The final arrest total was reported at around 300, but police avoided predictions of even more arrests by pushing support protesters back rather than attempting to arrest them. They taped off an area surrounding the support protesters, then pushed them under the tape. During previous sit-ins last week, there were threats of arrest against the same part of the protest, unknown if some of the very large arrest totals were from arresting the supporters.

Democracy Awakening appears to have been organizationally separate from Democracy Spring, thus the two different schedules that were published, one for a week after the march from Philly and one just for the April 16-18 weekend. There was a lot of “celebrity” involvement in the Democracy Awakens march, notably the arrests of the presidents of the NAACP and of Greenpeace. The march seemed to draw from a wide cross-section of society and many new to protest

To the “one percent” and big corporations, politics perhaps can be thought of as lawn care. Fertilize liberally with folding green fertilizer, apply “police repression” brand weedkiller as needed. Intention is something just like astroturf. The only thing is, discontent can spread like dandilion seeds. A breath of air to spread the seeds, manucured lawn becomes bed of weeds!

One break the cops caught at Democracy Awakening was this: due to much of the crowd being new to protests, police were able to push crowds back with relatively small forces. The police line that pushed back the support people was only one cop thick. These same protesters after a year of experience might easily break through such weak police lines. The skirmish line used today would not have been able to stop a 100 person Occupy contingent from charging straight through it, and back in 2007, a mixed SDS and anarchist contingent pushed the US Capitol police as a whole from 3ed st all the way to the top of the Capitol steps. That kind of capability comes from experience and training, and always begins with exactly the sort of thing that the first Occupy protests and Democracy Spring represent.

The Nation magazine declared that the April 18th sit-in against money in politics may by the most important protest of the entire 2016 election cycle. If this is so and Trump, Cruz, or Hillery takes the White House, these same protesters may be back with far more experience and many more options. Certainly it will be an interesting counterinaugural on Jan 20, 2017 against any of those three.

Video of the march and sit-in (3 min)

Leading the march

The Capitol steps as the first warning goes out

Cops pushed supporters sideways out of a huge taped-off area, then under the tape

The sit-in isolated by cops pushing supporters away

Sit-in participants being arrested. Many were permitted to walk under their own power without being cuffed to a processing area. After all, carrying someone who has gone limp is like carrying 3-4 sacks of concrete

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Huge protest for immigrant rights as Supreme Court hears US vs Texas

On the 18th of April, pro-migrant protesters took over much of the area in front of the US Supreme Court as the court heard Texas’s challenge to Obama’s deportation relief program. Texas and other GOP controlled states are trying to block implementation of Obama’s DAPA/extended DAPA programs, which “defer” deportation for those whose children were born on US soil and are thus considered citizens even by the flatly illegal settler regime that controls the part of Turtle Island called the “United States.” The GOP gains votes on racism and hate, thus is trotting out every possible excuse to attack Latino families.

At the Monday protest picked up steam, police tried to keep demonstrators on the sidewalk and off of the street. They totally and completely lost control of the street when the Democracy Awakens march passed through on the way to the Capitol and their sit-in. Pro-migrant marchers filled in behind them and held the street, and as of a little after Noon the police had not retaken it.

The Monday, April 18th protest was the final of 4 days of protest around the Supreme Court’s hearing of US vs Texas. A fast and vigil for DAPA had been in place in front of the court in daylight hours since Friday, April 15th.

In terms of objections cited by GOP states, NBC News cited complaints about of all things the cost of issuing more driver’s licenses for migrants as grounds for states objecting to the program! If that is really the issue, Texas and other states could save a lot more money by abolishing driver licensing and auto registration entirely. All of the objecting states including Texas are GOP controlled. This is not about the cost of issuing documents, its about the cost to the GOP of letting people of color vote, it’s about nothing less than a continuation of the Indian Wars. Almost all of the migrants in question are of Native American descent, while the GOP, CBP, and ICE are literally a bunch of settlers who illegally occupied Turtle Island by armed force. In other words, the anti-migrant campaign of hate and all of the US immigration laws are nothing more than settlers trying to limit where Native American people are permitted to travel on Native American land.

Video-immigration protesters hold the street after Democracy Awakinging passes through

The rally at the Supreme Court before the Democracy Awakens march passed through the area

The Supreme Court well after the Democracy Awakens march had passed through. Even though all of the sit-in at the Capitol had been arrested, the migrant rights protesters were still holding the street between the Capitol and the Supreme Court

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