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Sat May 02, 2015 at 05:11 PM PDT

R.I.P. A Garden Grew in Oakland Today.

by jpmassar

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Oscar Grant Plaza filled Saturday afternoon with a couple hundred people come to the first #BlackSpring event in Oakland. The organizers came up with a great idea, an its already spread across the twitterverse.

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Sat May 02, 2015 at 06:21 AM PDT

We Are People for Bernie

by clenchner

Reposted from clenchner by clenchner

Right after Bernie Sanders announced his intention to run, grassroots supporters from the occupy, labor, environmental and socialist movements published an open letter endorsing his candidacy.

We are activists and organizers trying to build a broad, effective movement for democratic change. We come from different backgrounds, and were inspired by different issues and fights for peace, rights and the planet. Our goal is a government that carries out the will of the people, and not serve to increase the profits of the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.

To that end we support Bernie Sanders in his bid to become the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.  We stand firmly behind Senator Sanders as the strongest progressive possibility in the race right now. His commitment to our values is one of long standing commitment. Sanders is the bold alternative.

As a truly progressive candidate for the Democratic Party nomination, Senator Sanders has the chance to inspire millions of Americans with policy proposals that put the interests of the 99%, front and center.

Franklin D. Roosevelt called out the “economic royalists” of his day. Senator Sanders is picking up the banner. He answers to “We the People” and not to the corporate and financial sectors. Bernie brings the kind of leadership that is necessary to building a real, living democracy.

The initiators of this letter are veteran grassroots organizers of Occupy Wall Street, and are joined by many energized brothers and sisters we have met along the way. In September 2011, our efforts changed the narrative of American politics, helping to focus it on the issues of our time: inequality, surrender to the power of concentrated wealth, the corruption of our democracy by moneyed interests, and the need for solutions as radical as our problems.

We are signing as individuals hoping to kickstart a small ‘d’ democratic movement. People For Bernie won’t be a corporate-style, staff-driven, controlled-message, top-down enterprise. It will reflect diverse constituencies from a broad range of movements, which in many cases haven’t seen the Democratic Party as a home for their deepest aspirations. It will reflect our commitment to fundamental change, not just a change of faces at the top of the political pyramid. People for Bernie it will reflect the urgency of more and fiercer grassroots political activity at the base.

We call on all other progressive forces to unite behind Sanders so we can have a united front in this important campaign.

Moumita Ahmed
Phillip Anderson - The Albany Project
Betsy Avila - Young Democratic Socialists
Kazembe Balagun - Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
Brett Banditelli - Occupy Harrisburg
Beth Becker - Occupy DC / McPherson
Nadine Bloch - Nonviolence International,(Ruckus Society)
Joe Brusky - Overpass Light Brigade
Melissa Byrne - Occupy DC-Mcpherson, Project Springboard
Isham Christie - OWS
Heidi Chua - Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
Mary Clinton - OWS
Damien Crisp - OWS, Occupy Sandy, @OccupyWallStNYC
Kelli Daley - OWS, @occupywallstnyc
Ethan Earle - Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
Shana East - Meme Against the Machine, Chuy Garcia Campaign
Rick Echevarria - Changer
Michelle Esi - OWS Labor
Caleb-Michael Files - Sankofa
Kim Fraczek - The Peoples Puppets of Occupy Wall Street
Amber Frost - Journalist
Gan Golan - MayDay Space, Movement Net Lab
Priscilla Grim - OWS Media Cleric,
Lane Hall - Overpass Light Brigade
Gabriel Johnson
Aly Johnson-Kurts - Former staff, Teachout-Wu campaign
Howie Klein - Publisher,
Charles Lenchner - OWS Tech Ops, co-founder, RFW
Joe Libertelli - Co-Founder, Progressive Democrats of America
Angela Linneman
Lisa Moline - Overpass Light Brigade
Justin Molito - Ready for Bernie
Larry Moskowitz - Left Labor Project
Jesse Myerson - Occupy The Ballots
Ed Ott - Faculty, Murphy Institute/CUNY
Annabel Park - Filmmaker and founder of the Coffee Party
Mark Provost - Us Uncut
Jeff Rae - OWS, Ready for Bernie
Paul Russell - Occupy Faith, Judson Church
Audrey Sasson - OWS, 99 Pickets
Daniel Sieradski - Occupy Judaism
Andrew Smith - Rockaway Wildfire, OWS
Zak Solomon - MayDay Space, Rising Tide NYC
Nadya Stevens
Bhaskar Sunkara - Jacobin Magazine
Maria Svart - Democratic Socialists of America
Diane Sweet - Blogger, OWS, Occupy the Boardroom, Environmentalist
Robel Tekleab - OWS
David Unger - Labor Organizer/Educator
Harry Waisbren - Occupy Network
Stan Williams - OWS
Winnie Wong - OWS, @OccupyWallStreetNYC, Ready for Warren, Artists for Warren
Ethan Young - Left Labor Project,

I'm kind of excited about this. While the Sanders campaign bigger lift will be to get primary voters in the middle to vote for him (and not HRC), the left shouldn't be ignored. This list includes many who under normal circumstances wouldn't be standing up for any candidate in a Democratic primary, either because they prefer a 3rd party or because they don't think this kind of electoral activity is useful in the long term.

But Bernie Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, makes things different.

Another item of interest has to do with trends in the global left. In Greece, a multi-tendency political party of the left (Syriza) has actually won power with an anti-austerity platform. In Spain, a party barely one year old (Podemos) is now more popular than any other. In both cases, the parties rapid growth is connected to the mass protest movements that began in 2011 - the same year as Occupy Wall St.

You can join People for Bernie here:

Can Bernie Sanders be the umbrella under which American left movements can finally come together and build independent electoral power? Time will tell. But this is a good start.

The author is a founder of People for Bernie

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

A simple tweetpic essay.

Putting the final touches on chalk art at Oscar Grant Plaza before the march arrives. The March in Solidarity Against Police Terror, called by ILWU Local 10 and community organizations united against murder by police, left the Port of Oakland as scheduled at 10:00 AM and arrived at Oscar Grant Plaza outside of City Hall in downtown Oakland at 11:30 AM.

The pre-march rally at the Port of Oakland. Mollie Costello, of the Alan Blueford Center for Justice, revs up a crowd that reached nearly one thousand people.

Out of the Port, into West Oakland.

The post-march rally at Oscar Grant Plaza. I'm in there! One of more than a thousand.

More tweetpics and tweetvideos below.

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

It's hard to know exactly what's going on.  

From the storyline the tweets tell, after Freddy Gray's funeral this morning things heated up considerably.  Various police transports have been set on fire, and the police inexplicably seem to have had a major confrontation with a bunch of high school students who were sent home early because of the protests but were unable to get home because the major public transport hubs in Baltimore have been shut down.

Less lethals have been fired by the Baltimore police; various objects have been sent the other way.  A payday loan store and perhaps a CVS may have been trashed.  And one person decided to exercise his First Amendment rights by mooning the police line.

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Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 10:32 AM PDT

A Photo from Baltimore.

by jpmassar

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar



There is nothing wrong with families framing their struggle solely in terms of their child who was killed; similarly, there is nothing wrong with the community framing their uprising within the context of police murder after police murder with nothing but an increasingly armed and hostile police force killing more young black men on the horizon...

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

It wasn't the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day. Or even the Eleventh Month. It was, though, the 14th Day of Fourth Month of the Fourth Year in the War to Save the Berkeley Post Office and Fight Postal Privatization.

On that day, April 14th, 2015, Federal District Court Judge William Alsup proclaimed a stalemate. He declared that the lawsuit, City of Berkeley v United States Postal Service, which sought to enjoin the Postal Service from selling the Post Office building at 2000 Allston Way, was moot - for lack of there being a buyer. (The prospective buyer, a local developer, had backed out from the purchase in December, 2014.)

But in conjunction with declaring the sale moot, he forced the Postal Service to admit that they were rescinding their decision to relocate Postal Services elsewhere, out of the building. More importantly, he made it clear that should the Postal Service attempt to sell the building at any point in the next five years they must provide 42 days notice and, should the City of Berkeley refile the suit at that point, the case would end up back in court before him.

Two days later, eight god-warrior enemies of privatization sat on the (still public!) steps of the Post Office, relieved yet still wary.

 photo peeps-after-dismissal-4-16-15_zpsgujuwfsx.jpg

From left to right, back to front: Thor, Ares, Indra, Pakhet, Athena, Ku, Kali, Tumatauenga.
(appearing in mortal guise all)

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

In Oakland, California, every McDonald's in the city but one was shut down beginning at 8:00 AM for an hour in a coordinated  show of force to demand $15 and a union.

All the actions then converged on the remaining McDonald's - at 45th & Telegraph - for a final shutdown action.  Robert Reich, UC Professor and former Secretary of Labor, visited the action and may have spoken.

This afternoon at 1:00 PM there will be a march from Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland to Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley Campus, where the largest rally ever in the East Bay for the Fight for $15 will be being held.  Thousands are expected, converging from all over Northern California.

Below are tweetpics from actions around the globe on this International Day of Action in the fight for a living wage.

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

 photo refusal-poster-3-2012_zpsr2u69zhq.jpg

Although Prock finally has the degree,
the only potential job the college helped her find was a janitorial position...

Strike 1:

This morning the Debt Collective announced that a hundred more students and former students have joined a Debt Strike, creating the Corinthian 100.

A month ago the Debt Collective, the brainchild of Strike Debt, itself an offshoot of Occupy, organized the Corinthian 15 - a group of students who went to a cheating, lying, and now bankrupt for-profit university and were willing to announce publicly that they were refusing to pay their student loans. The announcement garnered national and even international attention.

The Corinthian "debt strike" ... has expanded from 15 to 100 former students... The strike is part of a broader effort to pressure the government into forgiving the debt of former students of the controversial college chain, which is in the process of shutting itself down in the wake of lawsuits and investigations. The strike has gained supporters in Washington and nationally, with several prominent legislators criticizing the Education Department for bailing out the struggling for-profit college operator last summer, but continuing to hold students on the hook for their loans.
 photo still-owe-45k_zps9f447a25.jpg

Strike 2:

Representatives from the Corinthian students, along with organizers from the Debt Collective, have been invited to talk to an official from the Department of Education at a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, March 31st) between people from the Consumer Financial Protection Agency and the Department of Education. DoE has so far refused to do anything about Federal loans Corinthian students obtained after being told fraudulent claims on Corinthian's part.

Protesters representing about 100 current and former Corinthian students are meeting on Tuesday with officials with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as well as the DOE. Though the financial watchdog agency lacks direct regulatory authority over the DOE, it has expressed general concern about unjust financial practices that have fueled the for-profit college model.

CFPB's student loan ombudsperson Rohit Chopra has written to the strikers, stating that the CFPB would like to discuss potential "ways to address the burden of their student loans."

 photo refusal-everest_zps298fid3o.gif

Strike 3:

The Debt Collective has initiated another tactic against Corinthian: a legal manuever called Defense to Repayment. This involves asserting fraudulent representations on the part of Corinthian representatives as they convinced people to sign up and take on student loans, legally rendering the debt so incurred dischargable without payment.  Tomorrow (March 31st) they will be sending hundreds of Debt to Repayment demand letters to the appropriate state officials on behalf of Corinthian students and former students, some debt strikers, others not.

Under a little-known regulation called the Defense of Repayment law, students are eligible for a full discharge on their loans and refund of money paid if the schools they attended have violated state consumer protection laws. To date, 300 people have filed Defense of Repayment forms under the Debt Collective banner, which will be turned into the Department of Education in advance of the strikers’ meeting on Tuesday. The department will have 30 days to respond.
Those exploited by Corinthian's tactics (attendees of Everest, Heald and Wytech colleges) can fill out a form to create a Defense to Repayment letter courtesy of the Debt Collective.   

These are tactics in an overarching battle against all student debt, and even more generally, against all unjust debts.

The central principle is that if you want to pursue a higher education, you should owe nothing to anyone. The education-debt crisis reflects the financialization of the education system - whether through usurious for-profit institutions, or high-risk private student loans that finance both public and private schools, or the student loan industry in general. The push to marketize college not only drains resources from public institutions and core instructional programs, but also potentially hampers long-term social mobility for lower-income students.
Strike Debt has calculated how costly it would be to make all higher public education free (answer: almost nothing per year, when looked at as a fraction - 0.3 percent - of the Federal budget).

Many countries have made their higher education free. Student debt in the United States has reached epic proportions, and it is both ridiculous as a concept and a drag on the economy.  

It should be abolished, and the first step in doing so is fighting back. May the Corinthian 100 grow into the Debt Strike 1,000,000!

 photo never-pay-off-my-debt_zpsd9orhxeg.png
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar


 photo berkeley-post-office-generic_zpsa20d581c.jpg

For at least two and half years The City of Berkeley and its residents have been fighting the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way. They even went so far as to rezone land in the Historic District the Post Office is a part of to preclude commercial use of the properties within it. (This would theoretically make it less attractive for the United States Postal Service (USPS) to sell the property.)  The saga of this fight, the ensuing Occupation of the downtown Post Office, and the national fight against the privatization of Postal Services has been documented in numerous diaries here at Daily Kos by yours truly. (references herein and at the bottom).

In early November, 2014, the City of Berkeley and the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed suits in tandem to stop the sale of the downtown Post Office, immediately after USPS announced that they had a buyer under contract for the property. The suit claims that USPS has failed to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA), bypassing proper procedures (such as an environmental review and proper protection mechanisms for New Deal artwork inside the building) in its haste to sell.

 photo polb-stop-the-sale_zps0e6df9c3.jpg

Several weeks later the buyer backed out of the sale, and, to make a long story short, the Post Office then filed a "Motion to Dismiss" on, among other grounds, the claim that since the Allston Way Post Office was no longer under contract to be sold, there was no case. Berkeley countered with the assertion that the Post Office still intended to sell the building, as evidenced by its April 19th, 2013 "Final Determination" to relocate services out of the building and ultimately sell it, the USPS's July 18th, 2014 decision on appeal to uphold its April 19th decision, and the fact that the property was still listed for sale on the USPS's website of available-for-purchase buildings.

On March 26th, after submission of written arguments and rebuttals, Judge William Alsup of the United States District Court, Northern California heard oral arguments on the Motion to Dismiss.

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Another day, another young black man riddled with police bullets. Seven officers shot
at a Nicolas Thomas as he was fleeing in his car. Allegedly running from a warrant for parking tickets. The Officers apparently shot from the side and into the vehicle as determined by the side window's glass being shattered - and not the windshield; evidence that, despite police claims of fear for their lives, that they were not in the immediate path of the vehicle.

One witness says the car was not even moving when the shots rang out.

It happened across the driveway from a busy Starbucks where witnesses inside took cover as it all unfolded.

"They were standing behind the car, opening fire. He wasn't driving towards them," Goodyear customer Brittany Eustache said.

Eustache told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman what happened. She said she watched from inside the store, just feet away.

"The car was not moving when they begin to shoot at him. The car had been stopped he hit curb he could go any further," she said.

"So at no point was he making any aggressive moves?" Stockman asked her.

"None, none at all. They immediately opened fire on them," Eustache said.

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Will the dominos continue to fall as happened recently in Ferguson? Or will Nicholas Roti, the chief of the bureau of organized crime, operating out of the now-infamous Homan Square police warehouse, be the fall guy?

According to the Guardian, which weeks ago reported how the Homan Square facility was used by Chicago police to "disappear" people for many hours, subject them to illegal questioning, and leave them chained and handcuffed for hours in isolation

A senior Chicago police commander in charge of a major unit operating out of the controversial Homan Square police warehouse has resigned...

Nicholas Roti, the chief of the bureau of organized crime, resigned from the Chicago police department last week, Chicago police public affairs officer Mike Sullivan told the Guardian...

Roti took charge of the organized crime division in 2010... the organized crime bureau was cited by the Chicago police "fact sheet" released on 1 March, attempting to refute the Guardian's reporting about a complex where 11 people thus far have told the Guardian they were effectively disappeared.

"Sensitive units housed at the [Homan Square] facility include the Bureau of Organized Crime (including the narcotics unit)," the fact sheet reads.

(I can't help but remark how 'the Bureau of Organize Crime' is a fitting description of many police departments, but especially Chicago's)

Some of the men "disappeared" at Homan Square are in the process of filing a civil rights lawsuit.

The civil rights lawsuit, expected to be filed on Thursday evening in the US district court for the northern district of Illinois, comes on behalf of two Homan Square victims the Guardian wrote about on 4 March: John Vergara and Jose Garcia...

Vergara and Garcia told the Guardian that masked police police officers "kidnapped" them from a Humboldt Park deli; held them and three others in a Homan Square "cage" without booking or access to counsel for eight to nine hours...

"The plaintiffs would like the facility to be shut down," said attorney Blake Horwitz."

Amen to that.

The resignation and the lawsuit may not be the end of it, even.

The lawsuit comes a day after US congressman Danny Davis and Cook County commissioner Richard Boykin hand delivered a letter to US attorney general Eric Holder requesting a Justice Department investigation into Homan Square.
And with the behavior of Republicans in the Senate, Holder may still be around if and when the results of the investigation get published.
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Tuesday night, March 17th, to a packed crowd, the Berkeley, Californa City Council voted 6-3 on a plan to banish the homeless from O'Berkeley declare war on the homeless.

 photo berk-homeless-march-3-17-15_zps9ympaazt.jpg
Homeless, advocates and supporters march before the City Council meeting.

Ignoring testimony from academics who had done research on homelessness and criminalization at UC Berkeley, ignoring references to studies that repeatedly showed that criminalizing the homeless did not work, ignoring pleas from those who serve the homeless that criminalizing homelessness would only make their jobs more difficult by denying services to those with warrants and/or arrest records, ignoring reference to Federal recommendations such as

"the Obama administration has cautioned cities against trying to cope with homeless populations by passing laws against 'act of living' crimes like sleeping or sitting... 'Criminalization policies further marginalize men and women who are experiencing homelessness, fuel inflammatory attitudes, and may even unduly restrict constitutionally protected liberties.'",
despite threats of lawsuits, ballot initiatives and the fact that Berkeley Measure S, a measure to criminalize the homeless in 2012, had been defeated, despite testimony from formerly homeless people stating that what they needed to get off the street was assistance, not fines and jail time, despite the fact that the use of police to enforce these laws will inevitably lead to selective enforcement and tragedy (such as the murder of Anthony Hill in Georgia, a mentally disturbed, naked and unarmed man, by an officer), despite the callousness demonstrated by the measure, which would make it a crime to "deploy a blanket" and prevent the homeless from cooking, and despite questionable (at best) parliamentary procedure, the resolution, proposed by Council member Linda Maio, was enacted.
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