Seattle May Day Mayhem – Pepper Spray and Flash Grenades

Videos @ Youtube – Free Speech Radio News Reports:
(Including voice of ABC News reporter Hanna Scott on being pepper sprayed.)

Originally Published Wed May 01, 2013 at 10:19 PM PDT
@ Daily Kos

Seattle May Day Mayhem – Pepper Spray and Flash Grenades

by Mark Taylor-Canfield

Thousands of people marched in Seattle on May Day.

Labor unions brought large numbers out to an immigrants rights march organized by the group El Comite.

Although the main march was peaceful, a group of 100 to 200 protesters fought a moving battle with police starting downtown near Westlake Park and ending on Capitol Hill.

SPD officers used large amounts of pepper spray and flash/bang grenades.

A Walgreens on Capitol Hill had a broken window. Other property damage and broken windows were reported.

13 arrests for property damage and assault. 2 juveniles arrested.

Police report bottles, rocks, and metal pipes were thrown at them.

KIRO TV news reports that their reporters were attacked by protesters, and several suffered from the effects of the pepper spray.

These incidents are sure to continue the ongoing controversy over police crowd control policies and anarchist tactics. Last year’s events resulted in a federal grand jury, the jailing of four activists (in solitary confinement), an independent review of SPD actions, an internal investigation and the resignation of SPD chief John Diaz.

(Update: SPD reports 18 arrests.)

Grand Jury Resisters Need Your Support

Friends are in jail. We don’t know how long they will be there. We don’t what criminal activity is being investigated that leads to these folks being jailed for refusing to answer Grand Jury questions.

Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

First they came for the anarchists….

Jump in, you can help. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Compilation Album Created in Support of Grand Jury Resisters

Musical Impressions has created a compilation album called “Black Clothing, Anarchist Literature, Flags, Flag-Making Materials, Cell Phones, Address Books, & Hard Drives” in support of the Grand Jury Resisters.

You can buy it here. Proceeds go to support the legal and material needs of those resisting the FBI investigations of anarchists in the Pacific Northwest.

May Day In Seattle – Mayhem and Media Spin

On May 1st 2012 activists all around the globe gathered to celebrate May Day, a pagan holiday that has become a traditional date for insurrection and revolution.

In 1886 the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago heralded a new era of uprisings by labor unions after a rally against police brutality turned violent. Workers at the McCormick farm machine factory were striking for an 8 hour day. A huge march was held on May Day to celebrate the labor uprising. Two days later a person was killed at labor protests outside the McCormick plant.

On May 4th a demonstration and rally was called to protest police brutality. When police tried to disburse the crowd, a bomb was detonated. Police fired into the crowd and by the end of the melee eleven people were killed, including seven police officers. Later reports suggest that some of the cops were probably killed by bullets fired by their fellow officers.

A controversial trial ensued and four “Anarchists” were hanged. Labor leaders and the famous attorney Clarence Darrow petitioned the governor to grant clemency to three of the prisoners. In 1893 Governor John Altgeld granted them clemency. He claimed the trials had been unfair and were a miscarriage of justice. Altgeld was thereafter forever branded by conservatives as the “friend of Anarchists”. His statement on the pardons:

“It is further shown here that much of the evidence given at the trial was a pure fabrication; that some of the prominent police officials, in their zeal, not only terrorized ignorant men by throwing them into prison and threatening them with torture if they refused to swear to anything desired but that they offered money and employment to those who would consent to do this. Further, that they deliberately planned to have fictitious conspiracies formed in order that they might get the glory of discovering them.”

On May Day 2012 Occupy Seattle responded to a call out from Occupy Oakland and Occupy Wall Street for support for a “general strike”. A day long series of rallies, concerts and marches were staged, and although the general strike idea never really came to fruition, a small group of people practicing “Black Bloc” tactics managed to gain the attention of most of the world’s media by smashing windows in the downtown Seattle business district.

Around noon an independent march against capitalism set off from Westlake Park and headed south on Fourth Avenue. Within an hour, windows were broken at the Jackson Federal Building, the old federal courthouse and at several downtown corporate businesses and banks. Cars were also vandalized in the area. The Federal Building was immediately evacuated and Mayor Mike McGinn declared a state of emergency. Police were given the extraordinary power to confiscate anything capable of being used as a weapon – sticks, flag poles, rocks, hammers, etc.

Even local self-proclaimed super hero Phoenix Jones got into the May Day action. He managed to pepper spray a few of the Black Bloc marchers outside the old courthouse where protesters were busy creating new business for local glass makers by smashing out windows with the poles on their black and red banners.

Meanwhile, Westlake Park remained a green zone where May Day participants listened to some of the most talented hip hop artists in Seattle performing live onstage. The atmosphere was joyous as folks danced, partook of the free food and greeted one another with the love that only comes from solidarity in a mutual movement for peace and justice.

The Hip Hop Occupies group held down the home front with a great line up of speakers and entertainers, including former Black Panther member Aaron Dixon.

Dixon stressed the idea of reaching out to the community. “I’m not talking about a violent revolution,” he said. “What we need is a peaceful social revolution that will transform society. We need to feed folks and offer benefits to the community. If we don’t show that we are a benefit to the community, why should they support us?”

The rest of the day remained peaceful as protesters marched and rallied for workers and immigrant rights, but the incidents of property damage were reported by mainstream media as “Mayhem on May Day in Seattle”. If you listened to the local news reports, you would have thought that the anti-WTO riots had risen again. There was tear gas in the streets, small fires on the sidewalk, and black clad anarchists attacking Nike Town and shoving news cameramen to the ground.

The corporate media had a field day reporting on the “Anarchists” and the damage to downtown businesses. A KOMO TV reporter asked “Will companies leave Seattle because it’s not safe to do business here?”

I could only think to myself, “This is exactly what the Black Bloc probably wants to hear in the media.” In other words, the reporter may have been unwittingly supplying encouragement for their next outing…

Within the Occupy Wall Street movement a debate has been sparked once again over Black Bloc tactics as a means of expressing opposition to corporate power. Mainstream liberals and progressives are very worried that these small fringe actions will alienate the 99% and leave the activists vulnerable to police and federal harassment. The radicals however, believe in the concept of “diversity of tactics”. While not advocating or endorsing any property destruction, they see it as the natural result of political and economic repression by the ruling class.

Whatever the case may be, it is clear that even iconoclasts like Chris Hedges are struggling with the idea of riots and breaking windows. While I must admit that Hedge’s February column on the Black Bloc was not well researched, his personal emotional reaction to them does highlight many of the concerns of participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement. While it must be pointed out that no one was seriously injured due to physical attacks from demonstrators, the fact remains that these kind of tactics turn off the majority of people who support the OWS movement in the US.

Unlike their Greek and Italian counterparts, most American activists don’t believe that violence is an effective way to get their message across or to challenge the economic and political system. Instead, they have used occupations of public space, alternative media and political theater to push their agenda for an end to the corruption on Wall Street and in Washington, DC. So far, this Gandhian style non-violent approach has been effective in getting their message out to the world through the global media.

I personally do not condone smashing windows as a way to get the attention of the people. Yes, the media cameras love spectacle, especially if it involves violence and chaos. But if the news coverage turns out to be just another propaganda campaign for corporate interests so they can bash the movement and play into the fearful rhetoric of the right-wingers, then I question whether this tactic can be effective in the long run. Local and federal law enforcement authorities use these incidents of property destruction as justification for the further militarization of police departments.

Having said that, I do understand the frustrations people have with corporations and their monopolistic control over the economy, the government and our daily lives. It is perhaps not surprising that occasionally a few folks decide to take matters into their own hands and lash out at inanimate objects like windows or machines.

But the reality in 2012 is that no firearms were either used or even confiscated during the May Day events in Seattle. People were not interested in directing violence towards human beings. So, in comparison to the Haymarket riots in Chicago, things in Seattle were relatively safe and peaceful despite the media circus. The fact is, the vast majority of the US is largely apathetic or opposed to radical uprisings. They prefer occasional demonstrations and sit-ins.

Mass revolution does not seem to be an imminent threat to the authorities in the United States of America. People are far too passive and apathetic to pay much attention to who’s stealing their future. Most folks only want to live for today, which is why the corporate masters have been getting away with so much debauchery, chicanery, corruption and deceit with any effective opposition.

The bread and circuses of US media has everyone so busy talking about Dancing With The Stars that they don’t have any time to worry about global climate change or the rapid destruction of life in the planet’s oceans. What is needed is actually some kind of planetary or cosmic consciousness that would allow us all to see beyond the borders of our own neighborhoods, cities, countries and planet. Let’s be honest, most residents on earth have very little perspective on what’s happening to the international economy or the global ecosystem. Their knowledge ends when the corporate media picks up the manufactured story.

While ignorance reigns, change may be impossible. As activists spend their valuable time arguing over protest tactics, the planet will continue to suffer under tyranny, corporate greed and rampant militarism. The dying shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico don’t give a damn about whether anarchy or socialism is preferable, but they sure as hell are going to need our help if the planet is to survive!

Meanwhile, the US government is still eavesdropping, building its prison/military/industrial complex and pursuing plans to use drones to assassinate US citizens in other countries. Folks are still shopping, using their credit cards and going into debt at alarming rates while homelessness increases to staggering poroportions. Yet professional sports teams and Hollywood celebrities still reign supreme with no end in sight to their all powerful dominance of American culture.

May Day 2012 was definitely not the revolution the radicals are hoping for…

National Occupy Movement Conference In Olympia – Another Boycott By Corporate Media

Occupy Solidarity Social Forum

Although it was not reported by US news agencies, the Occupy Wall Street movement managed to create an unprecedented moment in American history earlier this year. The first national occupy movement convention was held in Olympia, Washington Feb 18 – 20th. The Occupy Solidarity Social Forum ( was organized at the state capitol, and despite the arrival of hundreds of occupy delegations from all across the nation, corporate news media reporters were conspicuously absent from any of the proceedings…

My professional “colleagues” in the news media collectively failed to cover one of the most important events in recent US history. With the exception of my article for the Huffington Post, and a report I helped produce for Free Speech Radio News, you will find no mention of the national Occupy Wall Street movement conference anywhere in the US news media.

Where were the reporters?! Was this a politically motivated boycott, or was the lack of news coverage simply a result of ignorance and incompetence on the part of commercial editors and journalists? In any case, this is exactly why the alternative media exists!……

Is it any wonder that even a relatively conservative think tank now ranks the US as 26th on the list of nations in terms of freedom of the press?

This low ranking is not necessarily due to the fact that the media is state-owned. The lack of press freedom in this country results from the complete corporate dominance of our news sources, accomplished through unregulated ownership and monopolistic media consolidation. The FCC may regulate what words can be spoken on the public airwaves, but the agency doesn’t seem to care about who actually owns the broadcast stations! A handful of powerful companies own almost the entire US media market.

Let’s face it, large corporate interests and government agencies now control our access to some of the most important information about the inner workings of our society and government. Thomas Jefferson stated that democracy is impossible when information is kept from the general public. I agree with him whole-heartedly! In my opinion, the “dumbing down of America” has become one of our greatest national tragedies!

The corporate news media has become nothing but one large propaganda machine for the exclusive use of the one percent. Stolen elections, illegal wars and unconstitutional laws are now largely acceptable to the public because the corporate news media tells us it’s all OK. Although most of the truth about our recent history has already been purposefully flushed down the proverbial memory hole, some of us still remember the truth. George Orwell’s “Big Brother” and “doublespeak” have now become simply business as usual for government and multinational corporations.

But there is still hope for a possible societal transformation in this country! In February, the Amtrak coming in from California had so many activists on board that conference organizers in Olympia began to refer to the train as the “Occupy Express”. It was met by an exuberant welcoming party at the station. The feeling in the air was certainly uplifting and joyous. After experiencing several months of political repression (including the loss of their encampments), people from the various occupy groups were just happy to see one another and share common ground. There was definitely a deep mutual sense of commitment and solidarity among organizers and participants at the Occupy Solidarity Social Forum.

This diverse group of folks worked together to create a grassroots conference that was both educational and inspirational. Keynote speakers at the gathering were two internationally recognized iconoclasts – rebel economist David Korten and Occupy Seattle superstar Dorli Rainy.

Korten is on the editorial board for Yes! Magazine. He’s also the author of “When Corporations Rule The World”, a critical review of the abuses of global corporate power. He told those assembled that the occupy movement represents an organized opposition to what many in the US have believed for a long time – that corporate money and power have taken complete control of both our economic and political institutions.

David Korten began life as a typical international globalist, but after working inside the belly of the beast and dealing with predatory financiers at the World Bank and IMF, he eventually had a revelation which changed his entire life. Now Korten is calling for a populist uprising against the corrupt power brokers on Wall Street and in Washington, DC. His goal? – To force the one percent to accept accountability measures that will finally get the dirty money out of politics, out of the elections, and out of our government.

The darling of the occupy movement convention in Olympia was 85 year old Dorli Rainey. SHe became the international face for the occupy movement in 2011 when she was attacked with pepper spray by Seattle Police. The picture of her taken by photo journalist Joshua Trujillo went viral on the web and soon she was being barraged by media requests from all over the world. Rainey told the conference attendees that her personal story is an example of how the efforts of one “small” person can affect people globally.

Dozens of workshops were held during the three days of events. Topics included non-violent civil disobedience training, how to respond to “security culture”, and a teach-in on professional accounting techniques. The subjects were wide-reaching and pretty much all-encompassing. When folks weren’t taking part in the workshops, they were conducting discussion groups, attending music concerts or marching in protests and rallies.

Fortunately, due to a sympathetic federal judge, many of the folks who had been banned from state property at previous demonstrations were now allowed to participate in conference events at the state capitol campus. US District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan honored my request for a restraining order. The judge’s order stopped the Washington State Patrol from continuing their practice of banning protesters and press from state capitol property without due process of law.

The WSP has now agreed to rewrite its policies on dealing with protesters and media. Without this successful civil rights lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol, many of the folks from Occupy Olympia and Occupy Seattle would have been subjected to arrest for criminal trespass while attending events at the national occupy conference.

Future of The Movement

The Occupy Solidarity Social Forum has discredited any previous claims by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times that the occupy movement is dead. The truth of the matter was evident for all to see in Olympia. I met delegations from all around the nation and even folks from Europe. There were participants in attendance from the original Occupy Wall Street group in New York City. I also met folks from Detroit, South Carolina, Tucson, Missoula, San Francisco, Barcelona, etc.

I witnessed very little of the kind of dissension within the movement that the corporate news media has tried to stir up. Despite people’s various political, economic, racial or ethnic backgrounds, we all agreed on one thing – the occupy movement is part of a global uprising against the abuse of power and the widespread corruption in financial markets and in the government.

The spirit of the international movement for social and economic justice is much larger than any one individual, group, or nation. I quote Dr. Cornell West who told the occupiers in Seattle – “I agree that this movement is a response to over 300 years of colonialism and economic oppression. It has been a long time coming and it’s not going to go away anytime soon!”

In reality there are currently demonstrations and marches taking place every single day of the week somewhere in the US. Indeed, Dr West is correct – the occupy groups are not going away. In fact, they are getting more organized and effective. Occupiers have taken on local and federal governments and corrupt “banksters” across the nation, from Seattle to Sanford, Florida.

Panel discussion at City Hall in Seattle – What is the Occupy movement?……

The occupy demonstrators have become very effective in pressuring local political officials to do the right thing on a number of issues including healthcare, education, home foreclosures, tax reform, worker’s rights, police brutality, poverty and the environment. Some local city councils (Seattle, Los Angeles, Eugene, etc.) have supported the occupy movement with sweeping endorsements and legislative proposals. In Washington State, occupy activists are lobbying for Representative Bob Hasagawa’s bill to create a publicly owned state bank.

The movement’s current activities include:

1)  Efforts to stop home foreclosures
2)  Ending the massive outsourcing of US jobs
3)  Reversing the deterioration of our industrial infrastructure
4)  Stopping the government bail outs of major corporate interests
5)  Withdrawal of US troops from foreign military conflicts
6)  Major tax reforms including closure of loopholes for corporations and the wealthiest members of society
7)  Campaign finance reforms – (getting big money out of politics)
8)  Investment in local economies – (including investment of public money in local community and publicly owned state banks and credit unions)
9)  Tax breaks and economic relief for the middle class and unemployed
10) Accessible and affordable healthcare and education for all
11) Financial reforms and public accountability on Wall Street
12) Protection of our fundamental constitutional rights and individual liberties
13) Energy independence from fossil fuels including middle-eastern oil reserves
14) Economic opportunity for all Americans;

There are numerous examples of the occupiers’ influence on local government and economics. One of the goals of the occupy convention in Olympia was to bring the groups together to create a nationally coordinated political movement. There are already occupy activists who have declared themselves as candidates for public office. In Philadelphia’s 13th district, Nathan Kleinman is running for congress. He is a self-described “occupy candidate”. Kleinman is receiving support from a retired police chief who has now joined the occupy movement.

Some of the activists who attended the conference in Olympia agreed to travel to St. Louis for the Mid-west occupy conference scheduled for March 15th. Regional gatherings have occurred in Des Moines and Gainesville. There will be more regional and national conferences as the Occupy Wall Street movement develops into a highly coordinated group of organizations. A major national occupy convention is being planned for July 4th in Philadelphia!

One thing’s clear – there is certainly strength in numbers. Imagine how millions of occupiers could affect our national elections, help define our federal budget priorities, or promote the protection of our civil rights… Even our corrupt electoral system and our government’s interventionist military policies could be influenced by large numbers of people who are highly organized and vocal.

It’s happened in other countries around the world – so why not here?

Originally posted at Daily Kos

On Imperfection, Or, How Do You Choose A New Bank?

Like a lot of people these days, we have come to the conclusion that it’s time to change our lousy bank.

And it wasn’t even like we chose badly, either – we were customers of Washington Mutual for almost two decades, and we loved ‘em: they were nice people to deal with, they didn’t constantly hammer you every time you came in to the branch with desperate sales pitches, and they didn’t even charge you for using another bank’s cash machines.

It turns out, however, that all that beneficence came at a cost: WaMu made a lot of money making sketchy mortgage loans, and when it all came crashing down, we found ourselves customers of JPMorgan Chase, who we now hate with the fire of a thousand suns.

But it turns out choosing a new bank ain’t all that easy – and that’s where you come into today’s conversation.

“I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras “right” for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested…Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents.”

–From a speech delivered by General Smedley Butler to an American Legion Convention, New Britain, Connecticut, August 21, 1931

We had a chance to do a refinancing deal which would lower our mortgage interest rate quite considerably at about the same time that WaMu went down, which we did, and although we thought we’d be doing business with our old bank, we got the news of the Chase takeover in all the confusion as the bank collapsed.

Our new friends at Chase were quite anxious for us to set up an “autopay” arrangement, which we did; three months later they were threatening to take our house for failure to make the payments.

When we had to explain to them that the money was right there, sitting in the account, and that they were failing to collect the payments every month, we knew we were going to have a problem with Chase.

Remember this scene from Seinfeld?

Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?

Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.

Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the

Agent: I know why we have reservations.

Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to
take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and
that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.

I actually got to have a variation of that same conversation with the Loan Officer who set up the autopay in the first place, when he asked why we hadn’t been making sure they were collecting the money more carefully, which was a lot of fun, if I might say so myself, even as he clearly hated it. I also made him call Chase Customer Service, in our presence, to fix the problem, which he hated even more.

As you might guess, we don’t have autopay anymore, and from time to time a teller will ask if we want it…and that gives us a chance to tell the story to any other customers who might be nearby, which they always seem to find, shall we say, “relatable”.

But what with all the new fees and the generally lousy atmosphere in the branches these days, not to mention the fact that we’ve come to view Chase as essentially pirates on a financial sea, looking to rob us blind, it’s time to cut ship and move on – and up to this point, that’s actually been a bit of problem.

See, the thing is, we’re having as much trouble finding a bank we like as the Tea Party is settling on a Presidential Candidate – and for the same reason: every one of ‘em has some sort of fatal flaw.

Fun Fact: the NYPD arrested 700 or more people today for marching in the traffic lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge – and in this video, you can see the NYPD leading the marchers onto the traffic lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The standard answer to this question is to choose a Credit Union, but that doesn’t work for us very well as the local Credit Unions don’t really have a presence outside the local area. (We live in Seattle and travel up and down the West Coast from time to time, so this is a bit of an issue for us.)

We have the same problem with banks like Sterling Savings or Umpqua Bank, which seem to have nice reputations, as banks go – and that leaves us having to choose from one of the banks we all hate.

At the moment, the “candidate banks” are basically down to The Usual Suspects: Bank of America, US Bank, Key Bank, and Wells Fargo.

Now we have some personal opinions of our own about each of these banks, but what I want to happen today is that you give us your opinions about each of these admittedly flawed choices: in other words, which one might be the least of the worst?

Think of it as a chance to vent – and if you have a bit of inside dirt on one of these banks that would tell us about fees or cutbacks, or anything else, for that matter, let it fly.

Think of this as an exercise in community “comment carding” – and keep in mind that with Occupy Wall Street and all, there are going to be a lot of folks like us who want a different bank, but won’t be able to make what might be the best possible choice, so let’s see if we can’t also comment to that larger audience as we go along.

Monday’s coming, and that’s a good day to get out of a bank…so let’s see if we can’t get a discussion going that helps a few folks do exactly that.