The scene late last night in Chicago
While tens of thousands are in Chicago protesting NATO and many more are marching in the streets of Quebec, the action in your city must not stop! NOW IS THE TIME TO AMPLIFY!
Use the tag #SOLIDARITYSUNDAY to organize! Send your meet up locations to [email protected] or post a comment here to be included in this list. We will update as soon as we can.
Occupy Boston: Action Assembly at 5:00 pm EST at Copley Square
OWS NYC: Emergency DA Meeting – Sun 2pm, Washington Sq Park, NYC
Occupy Denver: Gather at Lincoln Park, Rallying at 5PM and departing at 5:30
Occupy Portland: Meet up 2PM at Director Park, SW Yamhill + Park
Occupy Austin: Pease Park at 2 PM
Last week, Chicago police officers promised ¨billy clubs to the fucking skull¨ to a group of activists they’d pulled over without cause in the South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport. The activists recorded the encounter with a cell phone and the video spread virally across the internet. Now, three of those Occupiers are locked up on charges of terrorism that witnesses, lawyers, and family say are ridiculous. Lawyers for the accused say CPD planted evidence.
This is now the second time authorities have timed high-profile arrests of alleged “domestic terrorists” to coincide with major days of action for the Occupy movement — the other was earlier this month when five Occupiers in Cleveland were arrested on charges of conspiring to blow up a bridge on May Day. In both cases, authorities surveilled and infiltrated activist circles to instigate and supply support for conspiracies to commit domestic terrorism. It seems clear now that these government-engineered “terrorist” plots are more than just a tool to entrap troublesome protesters; they are calculated psychological operations intended to manipulate public opinion and quash dissent with fear.
Since well before the NATO summit, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the Chicago Police Department have worked relentlessly to suppress free speech and the right to protest — presiding over mass arrests of Occupiers, pushing for laws prohibiting filming police (that have since been blocked by courts), and passing Draconian anti-assembly regulations that require over a million dollars in insurance in order to obtain a permit for a peaceful gathering.
Then, last week, CPD (working with the FBI and Secret Service) raided activists’ homes with guns drawn in the middle of the night, without displaying a warrant. They arrested 9 people, who were held in horrific conditions without explanation. Arrestees report being shackled at the feet, verbally abused, interrogated about Occupy and the NATO protests, threatened with conspiracy charges, recruited (unsuccessfully) as informants, and held in solitary confinement for 18 hours. Six have since been released without charges, including two who, according Michael Deutsch of the People’s Law Office, were working with authorities to infiltrate Occupy. Three — the #NATO3 — remain in police custody, charged with conspiracy to commit domestic terrorism. Incredibly, these were the same activists who’s video of being threatened by Chicago police in Bridgeport went viral last week. Further straining credibility, authorities maintain there is no connection between the events.
Across Chicago, activists and bystanders report being stopped on the street without cause and questioned about Occupy Chicago and the NATO protests. In addition to local police, the Secret Service, FBI, and DHS, at least 40 federal agencies are reported to be coordinating the suppression of the NATO counter-protests. The military presence includes blackhawk helicopters and other aircraft that have been openly patrolling Chicago’s skyscrapers for weeks. There have even been several reports of predator-class drone sightings near Chicago, including this one caught on film:
As confirmed by heavily redacted documents recently released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), federal agencies including DHS have been monitoring, infiltrating, and coordinating to disrupt Occupy since at least last autumn. PCJF National Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard says these documents “are likely only a subset of responsive materials,” and only “scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with ‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement.” There is even some reason to believe the White House may have been involved in the crackdown and coordination of evictions of Occupy camps.
Occupations and affinity groups across the U.S. have reported suspected agent provacteurs causing conflict and carrying our character assassinations on organizers. In Florida, a fake openly anti-Semitic facebook group claiming to be affiliated with Occupy was widely publicized by corporate media and right-wing blogs. Across social media, Occupy supporters are reporting unexplained disruptions, and an escalation in “trolling” that appears too pervasive and too persistent to be organic.
Attempts to disrupt and discredit our movement take many forms. In Minneapolis, police from multiple jurisdictions engaged in a policy of picking up Occupiers and random people, giving them illegal drugs, and then dropping them off at Peavey Plaza, where Occupy Minneapolis continues its encampment. The story broke after independent journalists produced a viral 30-minute documentary exposing the practice. Similar stories circulated widely last fall in New York City, claiming the NYPD was dropping recently-released prisoners and potential perpetrators of sexual assault at Liberty Square. Without meaningful investigation, it is impossible to know if such incidents are isolated or widespread.
Suspicious events like this one, however, are not few in number. The night before May Day in San Francisco, a group dressed like the black bloc rampaged through the residential Mission District, causing property destruction throughout the area. Occupiers (including anarchists and black bloc sympathsizers) publicly denounced the action, saying they had never seen any of those involved at Occupy Oakland, SF, or any other Occupation. OSF released this statement:
We share your shock and outrage at the damage to the Mission perpetrated on the evening of April 30. We unequivocally denounce the actions of the individuals who vandalized one of San Francisco’s most beloved neighborhoods that night. The non-violent tactics OccupySF employs are only directed towards the overwhelming economic and political power aligned against us, and we condemn acts of pointless property destruction directed against hard-working individuals and their locally-owned businesses.
We consider these acts of vandalism and violence a brutal assault on our community and the 99%. Many Occupiers are your neighbors. We, too, live and work in the Mission, and were saddened and angered by what happened. So, we offer you our hearts and, most importantly, our hands to help repair the damage to your homes, your businesses, and your trust.
Similar events were reported in Seattle and other cities on and around May Day. Perhaps most shockingly, packages containing white powder meant to appear like anthrax were sent to banks in NYC with text referencing May Day. Although cops and corporate media were quick to blame OWS, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest Occupiers had anything to do with it. It could just as easily be another attempt to discredit OWS, cause the public to associate Occupiers with terrorists, and distract from a major day of mass nonviolent protest.
Throughout the week of protests leading up to NATO, protesters have been overwhelmingly nonviolent and peaceful. And while we have not seen mass arrests on the levels seen last year, police have arrested numerous people for civil disobedience on unfounded charges like assaulting a police officer, contradicting both video evidence and eye-witness evidence from the National Lawyers Guild.
After earlier reports that officials might interfere with cell phone towers, dozens of livestreamers and others in downtown Chicago area reported widespread service disruptions, unlike anything seen in the U.S. since the #N17 day of action in Manhattan. Mysteriously, our website (OccupyWallSt.org), along with NATOprotest.org and other Occupy-related sites that were used to organize the NATO protests, was taken offline early Friday morning by severe Distributed Denial of Service attacks — a common tactic often used by online activists such as Anonymous to overwhelm website servers. The perpetrators are unknown. Earlier this month, in the midst of major Occupy actions in Moscow and at the Bank of America shareholders meeting in Charlotte North Carolina, major video streaming services including Bambuser and Ustream went down simultaneously due to DDoS attacks targetting streams of Russian dissidents.
Back in Chicago, CPD is targeting more than movement-based livestreamers. Earlier this week, The Nation’s Allison Kilkenny described ¨a memo allegedly from the Chicago Police Department Office of International Relations, marked not intended for general distribution . . . The three-page document outlines press behavior that will and will not be tolerated, including normally acceptable media maneuvers that will no longer be considered acceptable and actually might be grounds for arrest.¨
Last night, CPD stepped up their harassment of peaceful protesters. Despite there being no sign of a riot, police went all out with riot gear — even their horses wore armor. Police reveled in excessive force as they assaulted a nonviolent anti-capitalist march with blunt force weapons, leaving several bloodied and badly bruised. Multiple sources report that Chicago Police scanners described cops going undercover dressed as part of a black bloc. In what could potentially have been a lethal attack, police deliberately struck a protester with a van, who was taken away by an ambulance before being handcuffed, arrested, and later let go without charges. Later in the night, police stopped several well-known livestreamers, handcuffed them at gunpoint before tailing them trying to leave. Many other activists report being followed and initiated by uniformed and nonuniformed police on their way to and from protests.
Also interestingly, the company under contract with 99% Solidarity buses to carry hundreds of passengers to the NATO protests from cities like New York, Washington DC, Oakland, and Portland have suddenly decided not to transport protesters to rally points today. The decision breaches prior agreements with organizers that the buses would be used to take people to protest sites all weekend, including today. According to @99Solidarity (who also had protesters sign explicit nonviolence agreements before taking the bus), a representative of the bus company stated: “I have been restricted by my company from talking to you directly at this point.”
We must not allow this type of intimidation to continue. We must rise up and nonviolently resist. We must take our justifiable rage and use it to grow our resistance and solidarity. We will not turn against one another, and nor will we sacrifice our values. We will not be terrorized; our numbers will only grow as we expose the brutality of the system we oppose. The attacks on activists in the U.S. are but a fraction of the seemingly endless warfare imposed by NATO and the G8 countries on the nations they occupy across the world. We have exposed a tiny fragment of the true terror that is NATO. We will resist.
Today, Occupiers in cities across the U.S. and the world are encouraged to gather in their squares and plazas to show solidarity with #noNATO activists in Chicago. As three anonymous comrades from OWS said earlier:
We enter the stage with a righteous fire in our hearts at the injustice done to us and our comrades on these streets just a day before. Yet we will not be overriden with heightened emotions that cloud our judgement. We recognize this attempt at coercion as yet another manifestation of systemic oppression, and remain autonomous individuals who will not be ordered around, explictly or implicitly. Instead, we channel our anger, our pain, our compassion, our despair, and our passion for a better world without this oppression into our messaging and our actions.
More on #SolidaritySunday via Occupy Denver:
The Occupy Denver Direct Action Committee has endorsed the call out from Occupy Wall St. for solidarity actions in response to massive repression against protestors in Chicago. We will be meeting in Lincoln Park and Rallying at 5PM on Sunday May 19th and departing at 5:30. This is very short notice, so please tell a friend, tell a dozen friends, bring signs, noisemakers and new chants. We invite everyone in Denver to stand up for our brave brothers and sisters on the front lines in Chicago marching against the war machine.
We are marching in solidarity with our Occupy Denver comrades who were beaten on the front lines in the Anti Capitalist March. We are marching in solidarity with the journalists who have been detained & harassed. We are marching against the war machine. We are marching in solidarity with the protestors who were illegally disappeared on Friday night. We are marching against a state that uses violent force to silence our first amendment rights. If the violence continues, we will keep marching. See you tomorrow.