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Chat I Just Had With Homeland Security

After publishing this report I was contacted by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).  The individual involved never returned my call.  Instead I heard from Brian Hale who said he had been with Director Morton at the event recently held at the University of Virginia and discussed in my report.  He told me that ICE in fact had nothing to do with contacting activists, that in fact Ed Ryan (who had contacted local residents from an ICE email address) actually worked for Federal Protective Services which used to fall under ICE and still has some ICE email addresses.  I asked Hale, regardless of department, why any branch of Homeland Security was using our money to contact us in a manner that intimidated people out of exercising their First Amendment rights.  Hale told me to ask Federal Protective Services (FPS).

I reached Rob Winchester at FPS.  I asked him about the January 20th "Occupy the Courts" events held here in Charlottesville, Va., and around the country.  He said that FPS inspectors had tried to facilitate events in order to get them permitted and make them legal.  Some of the events, he said, were on federal property.  The intent had been dialogue and not intimidation.  If people were intimidated, he said, he apologized for that.

I told Winchester that the street corner where the Charlottesville event was held is routinely used for demonstrations without permits or authorizations beyond the First Amendment, and that we have never had a problem, but that the FPS contacts instructing people to inform authorities of their plans by certain deadlines and so forth had in fact intimidated people out of exercising their rights. 

Winchester replied that at one location elsewhere in the country some people had "been pushing against the barricades."  I didn't ask what the barricades were doing there.  In another location, he said, "our folks were laughing and joking with the people there."  Mine was the first report of any intimidation, he said.

I pointed out that people who are intimidated by FPS contact do not phone in to the FPS to report that they feel intimidated.  Winchester said that he understood and would pass this along as "lessons learned."  I thanked him for his apology and for understanding.  But this is clearly a work in progress.  Many would like to be free to hold rallies without the presence of a militarized federal force, regardless of whether that force is joking and laughing with us.  Many would like to be left alone to exercise their First Amendment rights undisturbed rather than fund Big Brother to the tune of $75 billion per year, no matter how benevolent the intentions.  The problem is not Ryan or Winchester but the system they have made themselves a part of.

My advice to intimidated activists is to not leave me the only person phoning in to complain.  Phone in.  Phone every day.  Ask for a meeting to discuss the problem.  Call 202-282-8000.

Defense of "Anarchism" in Oakland Occupy or Anywhere Unconvincing

This reply to Hedges and defense of violence completely fails to persuade.

The primary argument seems to be that if you are not in Oakland and familiar with every detail you shalt not offer your advice.  But knowing whether the person who smashed a window was wearing a mask or not hardly eliminates the possibility of usefully commenting on whether it helped or hurt to smash that window.  The defense article describes violent clashes with police and concludes "No one can agree on who attacked first." So, even being there results in important ignorance.  But in a movement publicly and convincingly committed to nonviolence we would all know who attacked first.  It would have to have been the police.  In fact, there would be no "attacked first" but simply "attacked."  In a movement hollowed out by acceptance of "diversity of tactics" (as euphemism for violence) nobody could ever be sure, even if we had witnesses and videos.  Quoting MLK in arguing against what he so persuasively denounced every day for years is a new low.

ICE Director Confronted on Intimidation of Nonviolent Citizen Activism

John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, spoke on Monday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  Here's the University's report.  Here's the local newspaper's. Both report only on what Morton said, without mentioning what he was asked about by members of the audience following his opening remarks. 

He could have been asked about record breaking deportations and the recklessness that has deported U.S. citizens.  Perhaps he was. I wasn't there.  But Erin Rose, who was there, sent this report:

Constitutional Amendment to Create Public Financing Introduced by Kucinich

I recently recommened a comprehensive Constitutional amendment addressing the corruption of our elections.

The largest piece of it, largely inspired by an amendment drafted by Russell Simmons, had not been introduced in Congress . . .  until now.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just introduced HJRes100 which proposes this Constitutional Amendment:

Corporate Personhood Cannot Withstand Organized Persons

There are many schemes now for undoing the doctrines under which corporations claim constitutional rights and bribery is deemed constitutionally protected "speech." Every single one of these schemes depends on a massive movement of public pressure all across the homeland formerly known as the United States of America. With such a movement, few of the schemes can fail. Without it, we're just building castles in the air. Nonetheless, the best scheme can best facilitate the organizing of the movement.

January 20, 2012 – Move to Amend Occupies the Courts!

Jan 20, 2012: Occupy the Courts!Call to Action

Inspired by our friends at Occupy Wall Street, and Dr. Cornel West, Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark the second anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision!

Occupy the Courts will be a one day occupation of Federal courthouses across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday January 20, 2012.

Move to Amend volunteers across the USA will lead the charge on the judiciary which created — and continues to expand — corporate personhood rights.

Americans across the country are on the march, and they are marching OUR way. They carry signs that say, “Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT Speech!” And they are chanting those truths at the top of their lungs! The time has come to make these truths evident to the courts.

Occupy the  Federal Courthouse, W. Main and Water St.,
Friday, January 20, 2012 from 2pm to 5pm.
Bring signs and make some noise against the judiciary that created and is expanding corporate personhood rights.

For notice of other upcoming local actions send a blank email to:

Learn more:

Corporate Personhood Worse, Ending It Easier, Than You Think

Don't take it from me.  Take it from the book being published today that will mainstream the movement to end corporate personhood: "Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do, And What You Can Do About It," by Jeff Clements with foreword by Bill Moyers.

I Just Got Banned From Capitol Hill for Speaking

This is where I can't go because I spoke.

And three of my friends got the same deal.

And in the next courtroom over our other friends were convicted by a jury of opposing torture.

And right across the hall our other friend completed her probation for having interrupted Netanyahu even though he thanked her and bragged about how she'd be treated worse in Iran, even though the assault she suffered in the US Capitol put her in a neck brace.

It was a great day for the First Amendment in Washington today.

Now, we're only banned for 6 months, and we can get invitations in writing from Congress or the Supreme Court to come and protest them as a way around the ban (I wonder how that's going to work).

We did happen to be in a Senate committee hearing when we spoke, but they were speaking quite endlessly about corporate trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea.  They said they'd try to help some of the people they threw out of work.  I asked why they didn't just leave them their jobs. I was arrested.  Then they spoke a lot about Korean tariffs vs US tariffs on beef, and one of us criminals asked why we really needed to ship beef back and forth across the Pacific. Handcuffs on her.  This was in October.  Here we are in January finding out what is to be done to us to protect the Homeland.

It turns out we're not a threat to the Homeland at all, just to one little hill.

Occupied Territory

From HERE:

We're all terrorists now-- a discussion, with David Swanson, of the NDAA (National Defense Appropriations Act)--signed into law on New Year's Eve... It certifies President Barack Obama's secret powers of torture, indefinite detention without trial and the ability to wage perpetual war everywhere--including our own country!

Say goodbye to the Constitution, it's now merely a historical document. The country is still ours though--time to take it back.