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13 Hours in the Hole: Occupying an Oklahoma Jail Cell

 

This is Part II of a series of reports from our traveling correspondent in the American heartland. Part I covered the arrest of 10 Occupy OKC protesters as they “mic checked” a local Walmart on Black Friday. Part II takes them through 13 hours in an Oklahoma jail. Part III will culminate in the occupiers' final standoff against police as they face a forceful eviction from Poet's Park.
 

All Chris Thomas remembers of his arrest was that “Several officers ran past me and tackled Jay first. I was grabbed from behind. I informed the officer that I had a compound fracture and had five surgeries on my elbow. I asked the officer to be careful because my arm does not extend fully. He said, `we will fix that!' – as he forced my arm behind me and cuffed me.

“They left me in the cuffs for over an hour,” said Thomas. “I meditated while I was in cuffs and tried to ignore the pain. The officer that finally un-cuffed me commented that my had was twisted into a weird position. My hands were numb. My arm was forced into a position that my arm can not normally go in.”
(When I interviewed Thomas nearly 36 hours after the incident, he was still in a great deal of physical pain.)

Del City police deny that excessive force was used in handling the occupy protesters. Police Lt. Steve Robinson said that only one of the protesters – Jay Vehige – was “combative.” Vehige and his fellow demonstrators say even this allegation is untrue. Video of Vehige's arrest shows that he was complying with all of the officer's orders. He is lying face-down on the floor and does not appear to be physically resisting. Regardless, Vehige was also charged with resisting arrest.

Other Occupy OKC members arrested that night were Thomas, Agnew, Destiny Smith, 22, David “Cody” Grandstaff, 21, Sean Lovell, 25, Mark Faulk, 55, and siblings Helen Lavictoire, 27, Cassandra Lavictorie, 27, and Griffin Lavictorie, 19. All were charged with disorderly conduct.

“It's a pretty vague charge,” according to Brittany Novotny, an attorney representing the Occupy OKC protesters. She told KOCO-TV, "I don’t think these folks are guilty of disorderly conduct. They were asked to leave by store personnel. They tried to do so and, at that point, a couple of them were tackled and arrested."

“We weren't being hostile at all,” Agnew insists. “We just wanted to raise awareness.”

Bronwyn Agnew and Sean Lovell (photo courtesy Bronwyn Agnew facebook)Bronwyn Agnew and Sean Lovell (photo courtesy Bronwyn Agnew facebook)

Arrested for Supporting Local Business: Occupying Black Friday at the Big Boxes in Oklahoma City

 

Oklahoma City – In the early morning hours of Black Friday, 10 members of Occupy OKC  discovered that chanting “Buy local!” in a crowded Walmart is an arrestable offense in the United States of America. 

Walmart stores were the target of occupations in Oklahoma City last FridayWalmart stores were the target of occupations in Oklahoma City last Friday

It all started with a group of about 20-25 Occupy OKC demonstrators doing “mic checks” at several mega retailers around the Oklahoma City area open on Thanksgiving night. “We hit Best Buy, Toys `R' Us, a Target store, and two other Walmarts between 10pm and midnight,” said Nick Saltzman, 19, one of the local occupiers who managed to avoid arrest. “It was going so well.”

That is, until the group left Oklahoma City limits and ventured into nearby Del City (recently voted “OKC's Worst Suburb” by 41% of Lost Ogle readers.) Unlike the Oklahoma City police department, the off-duty officers working security at the Del City Walmart on Tinker Diagonal were not in a tolerant mood. Maybe they were already unhappy about having to work an extra shift on a holiday when they could have been home with their families. They probably needed the extra dough, and were willing to be on the payroll of the 1%. 

“We have taken a lot of steps in our stores to maintain a safe shopping environment,” a Walmart spokesman told the Daily Oklahoman. “As part of these plans, our store worked with police to have officers at the store during the (Black Friday) event.”

All of the earlier protests within Oklahoma City limits had gone off without a hitch.  A group had walked in, mic checked the assembled shoppers and employees, spoke their piece, and walked out unmolested. But they did notice something interesting as the night went along: With each new store they visited, there was an increased police presence.

Occupy Hyatt: Harassed Hotel Workers (the 99%) Fight Back against Management (the1%)

 

The mainstream media likes to claim that Occupy Movement is comprised of aimless activists without concrete goals. They should go ask Martha and Lorena Reyes, two recently fired Hyatt housekeepers who know exactly why the 1% who run everything need to be occupied and what the 99% is demanding.
Until recently, the two sisters worked for the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, CA. On October 14th, after 30 years of combined service, they were abruptly fired.

According to the Hyatt, they were terminated for “stealing company time.” The hotel alleges that they took ten minutes too long on their lunch breaks. The Reyes sisters explain that housekeepers are assigned so much work that they frequently do not have time to take their legally-mandated, 10-minute break in the morning. It is routine and long-accepted by management for them and their coworkers to take an extra ten minutes during lunch to replace their missed break.

The Reyes sisters believe that they were actually fired for a different reason.

Their story begins in September during “Housekeeping Appreciation Week.” On arrival to work, Martha was greeted with a collage of her and her coworkers’ faces digitally altered onto the bodies of women in bikinis. She was horrified and took down the picture of herself and her sister, Lorena.

Though it’s commonplace to see images of scantily clad women in the media, Lorena explains, “In my culture I was raised to be conservative with my body. I don’t like bikinis… I felt very uncomfortable knowing my male coworkers were looking at that.”

Shortly afterwards, both women were fired.
 Marta (l) and Lorena (r) ReyesStanding up to the boss: Marta (l) and Lorena (r) Reyes

The First Fatality: The Death of Street Poet at Occupy Oklahoma City

 

You say you feel my pain
But
You don't even know what pain is.

– Untitled final poem by Street Poet
 

Oklahoma City -- After spending the last three weeks in Oklahoma City covering the Occupy OKC encampment, I was shocked to learn of Street Poet's passing yesterday. It just didn't seem possible that this talented, loving young man whom I had known for just ten days could be taken away so suddenly.

The man we all called “Street Poet” was about 18 years old and homeless. He said he had spent a lot of time in foster care growing up. In his final days, he had complained about asthma attacks in the morning. He showed no other signs of physical or mental health problems, drug addiction, or suicidal tendencies. He was a joyous presence in Occupy OKC.

Gone but not forgotten, Street Poet died, apparently in his sleep, at the Oklahoma City occupation (photo courtesy Occupy OKC)Gone but not forgotten, Street Poet died, apparently in his sleep, at the Oklahoma City occupation (photos courtesy Occupy OKC official Facebook page)

Street Poet was discovered unresponsive in his tent by another camper around 2:45 on the afternoon of Halloween. There was no blood, or signs of trauma. No alcohol, street drugs or drug paraphernalia by his bedside. It is generally believed that Street Poet passed sometime during the night, as rigor mortis had already set in by the time his body was found.

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UPDATE:
Street Poet's family has been identified and located, so we can finally release his name: Louis Cameron Rodriguez, age 18.

His mother and sister live in Clarksville, TN and want to fly to OKC to claim his body. Occupy OKC is trying to raise donations for Louis' family, who cannot afford airfare. Please spread the word.

Anyone out there who wants to donate either frequent flier miles or cash can contact Occupy OKC. Beth Isbell is coordinating this effort. Her email is roxybeast@hotmail.com. Local readers can just drop by the camp in Kerr Park to donate in person.
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Occupying America: Sowing the Seeds of a Second American Revolution

 

"There are combustibles in every state which a spark might set fire to."
-- George Washington's letter to General Henry Knox concerning the
Shay's Rebellion, 1786

 

One month ago, a group of some 1000 demonstrators gathered in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to protest the pillaging of the nation's economy by powerful corporations and international houses of high finance. While these young activists were entirely peaceful, they also made it clear that this would be no hippie-dippy flower-twirling love-in, sit-in, teach-in, or even a camp-in; this was an occupation. The demonstrators announced that they intended to Occupy Wall Street 24/7, staying until hell freezes over if need be.
 
The New York City police welcomed them warmly with pepper spray and more than a few violent smack-downs, even going so far as to arrest some 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge who werelured into a position where they could be charged with blocking traffic.
 
After video of these outrages went viral on the Internet, a wave of righteous indignation swept the land. Hastily-formed Occupy groups proclaiming themselves in solidarity with the NYC protesters began to spring up in big cities and small towns across America. At first it was just a handful: 20-30 groups in the first week, growing to a few hundred in the second week, then rapidly mushrooming to today's current total of 1,947 cities around the globe.

The most common critique leveled against the Occupy demonstrators is that they don't seem to have a plan. “Disorganized,” “unfocused,” and “aimless” are buzzwords the movement's detractors -- both liberal and right-wing -- like to toss around. Last week former President Bush's key political adviser Karl Rove cynically opined in the Wall Street Journal that Democrats should distance themselves from the Occupy Wall Street movement to avoid alienating potential voters in 2012.
 
And it's true that even those Americans who are in fact part of the 99% and generally support OWS's principles are themselves unclear as to what the protesters ultimately want and how exactly they are going to accomplish it. What are their demands? How long are they going to keep this up? Have they proposed any concrete solutions? But that's an awful lot of pressure to put upon a spontaneous social movement that is only little over a month old.
Sign on the side of a tent at the Occupy Oklahoma City encampment (photos by Lori Spencer)Sign on the side of a tent at the Occupy Oklahoma City encampment (photos by Lori Spencer)

Video Animation: Tax Dollars at War

Check out this cartoon by Portland, Ore. film company Softbox of Dave Lindorff being interviewed by Flashpoints host Dennis Bernstein on how the US spends 53% of the annual budget on war and the military.

Tax Dollars at WarTax Dollars at War

Mike Caddell Interviews TCBH!'s Charles M. Young on the Wall Street Occupation

Check it out on Radio Free Kansas

They Torture Horses (too) Don't They?: Graphic Exposé of How the BLM is 'Managing' America’s Wild Horses

Click on this image to go to the videoClick on this image for the video

This appalling video shows what the Bureau of Land Management is really doing in its euphemistically-named “round-ups” of America’s wild horses.

As was reported in ThisCantBeHappening! earlier, the contractors hired by BLM to run horses off of public lands, so that those so-called “dual use” lands can be taken over by mining, timber or agribusiness-owned cattle interests, are not only destroying a part of the heritage of the American West, but are doing it with a cruelty that is both astonishing to behold, and also that is being hidden as much as possible from the public.

Laura Leigh, founder of the organization Wild Horse Education, who has been fighting to protect the wild horses, notes that contrary to the claims of the BLM, which has the responsibility for managing some 260 million acres of federal lands, federal law does not “force” the agency to “cull” these horses. Rather they are required to “manage” them. But through a duplicitous process reminiscent of how the “Indian problem” was “solved” during the 19th century, the agency has been shrinking the horses’ range areas, and then declaring them to be over-crowded, and then coming in and driving them out of their remaining land, often running the terrified animals until their hoves literally fall off. Many of the “round-ups,” as Leigh has written, are deliberately done during the foaling season, leading to many deaths among the young horses.

Everyday is Flag Day

 

(Third in a series of Rediscovering America)
 
“How are you?” a perky, young female clerk asked me as I walked through the front door of the odds and ends shop in Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia.

I was taken aback by her forthright question. I hadn’t been back to the US for a dozen years and had just arrived the night before from Denmark, where one is not ordinarily asked such an intimate question by strangers. I had come to visit my friend Dave and partake in a reunion of the 1970s alternative weekly, the Los Angeles Vanguard, and the new online newspaper, This Cant Be Happening!.

“Not so well; kinda sad,” I ventured timidly.

The questioner’s jaw dropped. The three women customers stopped talking and looked at me inquisitively.

“Why’s that?” asked the clerk.

“Do you really want to know?” I asked incredulously.

The clerk nodded her head. “Yes, I do.”

“Well, I’m sad about this country killing so many people in the world through their wars of aggression.”

The three customers immediately rushed out the door, one waving her gloved hand to the clerk while averting her eyes from my perplexed face.
Old Glory is everywhere in today's AmericaOld Glory is everywhere in today's America

Denmark's Election: The Left Wins, but Country's Militarism and Backing of NATO Actions Continue Unabated

 

Hvalsoe, Denmark--It was with joy that I watched television coverage of election day, September 15. According to all the nine political parties running, and the mass media, there were no wars in the world and Denmark no longer was involved in three wars—Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya--alongside the USA.

In fact, all through the three-week long election campaign, none of the parties spoke of war, or of that most fundamental of moral questions a society must ask: do we kill other people who do not attack us?

There were eight political parties in the 179-member parliament before election day. The right-wing coalition of liberals (Venstre, middle-to-large farmers’ traditional party) and conservatives (Konservativ, businessmen’s traditional party) held power for a decade but to achieve a parliamentary majority had been compelled to rely on the far right, racist People’s Party (DF).

These eight parties form two blocs: red (center left) and blue (center right).Two in the red bloc declare themselves to be socialist: The People’s Socialists (SF) and the Red Green Alliance (Enhedslisten/Unity List or EL). Another is the traditional majority party, Social Democrats (SD). The fourth “red” party, which shifts between blocs, is the Radical Liberals (Radical Venstre/RV, small business employers and self-employed).

In this election, significant shifts in the numbers of parliamentary factions occurred. EL went from 2.2% of the vote to 6.7% for a gain of eight MPs, 12 in all. The Conservatives lost ten of their 18 (from 10.4% to 4.9%), with most of those votes going to the RV (from 5.1% to 9.5%), which went from nine to 17 MPs, and the laissez faire, libertarian capitalist party, Liberal Alliance, which went from five to nine MPs (and from 2.8% to 5% of the vote).

The red bloc now has 89 MPs and the blue 86. Semi-autonomous Greenland and the Faroe Islands each have two MPs in the Danish parliament. These four are usually divided between the two blocs. So the red bloc, despite lacking one vote for a majority, can form a government and rule only if the Red Green Alliance does not oppose its three new partners over principled anti-war morality or pro-socialist economic policies, which is not likely to happen. In the past ten years, several billion dollars has been used for war and new billions are slated to buy more killing machines. Other billions have been used to bail out the banks here, just as in the US. EL’s new partners have supported these policies and continue to do so.

Since its founding, in 1989, EL has opposed aggressive wars. But in this election, it decided to join the red bloc and negotiate with it, if victorious, for a state budget based on a capitalist economy.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, 44-year-old leader of the Social Democrats, will become Denmark's first female prime ministerHelle Thorning-Schmidt, 44-year-old leader of the Social Democrats, will become Denmark's first female prime minister

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This is the video tape of Davis in Lahore police custody


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Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

Live Stream of the Occupation of Wall Street! The Revolution will be filmed after all! (Courtesy of Globalrevolution)
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Fightin' Cock FlyerFightin' Cock Flyer

Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

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