Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

VFP Member Attacked by Cops in St. Louis

Veterans for Peace member Russell Johnson from Asheville, North Carolina was arrested at St. Louis city hall today as crowd was dispersing after sitting on steps to building....he was walking away from the city hall steps and was attacked from behind......more than 100 riot cops attacked the non-violent protest...he's now got a dislocated shoulder

The Black & White Problem

Ferguson: Far From Over

Protests during last 24 hours spreading all over the world.  This one in Atlanta is a winner.

This morning on steps of historic court house in St. Louis

Several of us from Veterans For Peace attended an incredible protest action today in downtown St. Louis within a stone's throw of the famous arch along the Mississippi River.  We marched from a local park to the historic courthouse facing the river that was a place that slaves were once sold.  It was also the courthouse where the famous Dred Scott case was first heard. 

At the old courthouse a moving series of young black speakers shared the many reasons that the Michael Brown case had been a betrayal of justice.  One reason cited - white privilege.  The several hundred there (mostly black with a good smattering of young white activists) then proceeded to march to the larger newer courthouses a few blocks away that are symbols of injustice for the black people that currently populate the jails in this state and across the nation.

At the four-lane intersection by these towering court buildings the organizers had us spread out to block the streets by holding hands closing both two lanes in the four directions of traffic.  One young woman organizer said that we'd have one moment of silence for each of the four hours that Michael Brown's body was left in the street after being killed by the police.  It was a profoundly moving four minutes and my heart swelled with pride to be a part of it.

From there the organizers led us a couple blocks further to St. Louis city hall where people sat on the steps leading into the building.  Immediately more than 100 riot police descended on us, and armed with tear gas, began to rush the steps of the city building.  Most people tried to get away but the police began pushing and tackling some of the crowd.  I tried to move away from the steps and was hit in the chest by a riot cop's thrusting wooden baton.  I saw police slam several young people to the ground and then other cops pounced on them like a football gang tackle.  I was able to get away with most of the others and we reassembled on the street and began heading back to the park where it had all started.

At the park a young black woman concluded the event by saying that this cause would not die.... that revolution in America was needed and was inevitable as the forces of repression escalate their attacks on those who have tried to call for real reform of this corrupt system.

By the end of the action it was snowing and cold and the young woman told us all to go home, have some hot soup, enjoy our family time, love one another, protect one another, and remember that is is far from over.

Checking in from Ferguson

On the streets last night in West St. Louis (I am on the right in the red)

Last night I had the chance to ride around St. Louis and Ferguson with Veterans For Peace (VFP) Executive Director Michael McPherson who is also serving as co-chair of the Don't Shoot Coalition.  I was quite impressed with the planning and coordination that is going around the protests that continue both in St. Louis and nearby Ferguson.

We made stops at several 'safe houses' where food, medical workers, and other volunteers were assembled to give aid to people who are currently protesting or have been released from jail.  The VFP office is real close to the county jail where most of those arrested have been taken.

We also stopped to join a protest of a couple hundred people that were blocking street intersections in a 'trendy' part of west St. Louis.  At one intersection an elderly white couple were in their car and having to wait while the peaceful occupation of the road was going on.  The white man in the car was honking and flailing his arms demanding the blockade be removed.  I moved over and stood in front of their car so they could see a white person was part of the blockade.  At another intersection a black woman was the first car blocked and her reaction was one of solidarity, positive waves, and a smile.  Many cars were honking their support.

Next Michael drove us to Ferguson - the scene of continued protests against the killing of Michael Brown.  Some roads were blocked in the community and the dark sky was dotted with helicopters (likely media and police) making a large continuous circle around the town.  We went to the safe house inside a local church basement that was staffed by about six women and men.  They reported that two nights ago things were busy with young people who were tear gassed coming there for aid and safety.  Last night was different as they police had shut down the road between where the protests were happening at the Ferguson police department and the safe space.  Michael explored with the volunteers whether additional safe houses in Ferguson would be needed as the police made tactical adjustments.

It is clear that the local authorities made the Grand Jury announcement so close to Thanksgiving for a reason.  They knew that it would throw a monkey wrench into the local protest movement planning and it has.  A meeting is being held today (that I hope to attend) to review what comes next.

Two nights ago it appears that virtually the entire greater St. Louis metro area was shut down - mostly needlessly out of over-hyped fear.  

I'm not the only one from VFP to come to St. Louis to show solidarity.  Last night I slept on the floor as did other members who came from across the country to be here.  I am glad to be here and can say without hesitation that the organizers are doing everything they can to keep the protests non-violent and positive.  After watching some police and some private security types last night in action I can say that they are the ones we need to be concerned about.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In Missouri to Show Solidarity

I flew to St. Louis today and was picked up at the airport by folks from the national Veterans For Peace (VFP) office that is headquartered in this city.  I've come to join other members of VFP to support the people of Ferguson in their struggle for dignity and justice.

We are waiting on one more person to arrive and then will head over to Ferguson.  More later.

Isn't it pure irony that the most violent country in the world can't understand when the most repressed, suppressed and beaten down people reach their final boiling point and react with the very violence that the nation is steeped in?  The black community is the conscience of America.

This important fact (that blows my mind) should be remembered:  The Ferguson police let Michael Brown’s body lie in the street for four and a half hours after he was shot by the cop.  The rage in Ferguson has a long track record.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Some of the Inside Story

United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down from his post atop the Pentagon, the Obama-appointee said Monday from the White House. Hagel's departure could both signal the White House is ready to carry out a more aggressive foreign policy.

Patrick Henningsen writes:

History will eventually show (we hope) that the elephant in the room isn’t ‘how to deal with ISIS’, but how to conceal and whitewash Washington’s integral role in building up, funding, training and arming today’s extremist ISIS fighters.

Stop the Pipeline

"They've Been Tested"

The film is Yotam Feldman‘s The Lab, which was released in North America in August.  Feldman writes:

    The Lab is a cinematic investigation into the lure of Israeli weapons in the international arms trade. Why are countries all over the world lining up to buy Israeli arms? And how did such a small country become one of the biggest military exporters in the world? Israeli salesmen and executives in huge arms corporations seem eager to promote their products and pride themselves on their booming business. Profits have never been better — sales are doubling every year, and the potential seems unlimited.

    But the product they are selling is unique. Rather than rifles, rockets or bombs, the Israeli companies sell their experience. The long-running conflict with the Palestinians has created a unique and unrivalled laboratory for testing technologies and ideas relating to “asymmetric warfare” — a conflict between a state and civil or irregular resistance. In this manner the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians may be seen as a national asset — rather than a burden…

    While making the film, I witnessed the relationship between a network of military generals, politicians and private business; the use of current military operations as a promotional device for private business; the brutal employment of the Israeli experience, and the blurred lines between what is legitimate and forbidden in this line of business.

Great Short Film: The war Inside Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern province a 3-year uprising has been raging, hidden from the world. With unprecedented access, this report explores the growing protest movement - the biggest in Saudi history.

In scenes reminiscent of Libya, Egypt and Bahrain, masked protesters fill the streets, fling rocks and chant "martyrdom is better than oppression" as police bullets fly. In the Shia-dominated Eastern region of Qatif, there has been growing resentment that despite "standing on top of oil fields that feed the world", local communities suffer poverty, sectarian discrimination and no political freedom. Figureheads of the protests have been added to government wanted lists, been arrested and several have been killed in dubious circumstances. Saudi filmmaker Safa Al Ahmad risks arrest and worse to get inside this troubled region. In secret meetings protesters share their accounts of the growing state violence against them and their families. One leader's disabled sister tells of how security forces "came while I was sleeping and threatened me with a gun".

The movement insists it is nonetheless growing, but a few incidences of violence by protesters have alienated many locals and given the state justification for their crackdown. After protesters fire on security forces, police funerals are broadcast on public television and the rioters are officially labelled "terrorists". Both sides are now entrenched. "It is very dangerous for the future. The state just want to show the iron fist. The only reaction is apathy or violence."

- BBC Arabic

Interview with Regis Tremblay

The latest edition of This Issue features Regis Tremblay who shares his views on the recent elections and U.S. military and economic policy.  Regis is a filmmaker from Woolwich, Maine and is the creator of the award-winning documentary The Ghosts of Jeju.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

News Reminder: Biden Admits U.S. Allies Funding ISIS

And do we think the CIA is not involved in this funding, directing, and training ISIS as well?

This serves two primary purposes:

1)  Helps take down the Syrian government which is an ally of Iran and an enemy of the brutal regime in Saudi Arabia

2)  Creates the vicious new boogey-man ISIS that then allows the US to re-send thousands of troops back into Iraq and to further justify destroying Syria.

This whole bunch is as corrupt and evil as can be.......

Sunday Song

Saturday, November 22, 2014

U.S. Encourages Nazism in Ukraine

Poroshenko and Biden pushing war with Russia

The US, Canada and the Ukraine voted against a UN Resolution condemning the heroization of Nazism. The EU was not much better: it abstained.

This from the Vineyard of the Saker:

The US, Canada and the Ukraine refuse to condemn the heroization of Nazism 


It is often argued whether the Ukrainian junta is Nazi or not.  I would strongly argue that even though Poroshenko did not come out, make a Nazi salute and declare "I am a Nazi" all the signs point to the conclusion that the regime in Kiev has its ideological roots in the Nazi past.  The latest example of that "filiation" can be found in this absolutely amazing event last week:  only three countries - the US, Canada and the Ukraine voted against a UN Resolution condemning the heroization of Nazism.  The EU was not much better: it abstained.  This development is so crazy, so insane, that it is important to have access to the original document which was voted on.

Here is the official voting record:

To me, this is disgusting beyond belief.  Here we have two countries who try to positions themselves as the most pro-Israeli on the planet (the US and Canada) and the EU which has even passed laws making not only Nazi propaganda illegal, but jailing those who would dare investigate the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis (the so-called 'Holocaust').  And yet these putatively anti-Nazi and "democratic" countries are now refusing to condemn the heroization of Nazism not so much because they particularly like Nazis, but because they want to "protect" the Ukrainian junta.  As for the Ukrainians themselves, they have suffered more from Nazis then any other country or ethnic group, and yet they also refused to condemn the heroization of Nazism.  This makes a mockery not only of all their so-called principles and values, it also is an act of obscene disrespect for the millions of Ukrainian murdered by the Nazis.  There is one good thing about all this: it shows clearly and unequivocally how much the western elites truly hate Russia and that this hate clearly trumps any other considerations or values.

Russian disgust

For the past few days, or weeks, really, I have seen more and more signs of total Russian disgust with the West.  If, in the past, Russian diplomats and politicians were mostly trying to sound polite, now they are openly expressing their disgust.  For example, they are now openly saying the Europe does not have a foreign policy or an opinion, that Europe is just a subservient colony of the US.  As for the US, the Russians are now openly saying that this entire Ukrainian crisis was just a pretext and that the US are really out there to submit Russia.  Putin said that openly last week, adding that nobody had every succeeded in subduing Russia and neither would the USA.  This goes further than words, Russia has already announced that she was going to boycott the 2016 Summit on Nuclear Security.  This became known when the Russian informed the other members of this Summit that Russia would not participate in its preparatory work.

Sergei Lavrov also made a remarkable speech today, but since the pathetic website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not even bother providing a translation on the same day,  we will have to wait before I can post it here.

The Saker

We Shall Overcome (reflection from Jeju)

Breakwaters for the Navy base on Jeju

Dear Friends,

I am home and feeling overwhelmed emotionally. Gratitude, outrage, solidarity, humanity, pain, sadness, celebration, beauty, resilience, change, military and corporate power, faith, truth......

I woke last night with Gangjeong [village] overflowing my head and heart. Physically one circle away-- connected by spirit. What resonates loudly is the powerful ritual, of art, music, dance, faith, the struggle of indigenous people to protect heritage, life and place.

A large chunk of sacred shoreline has been taken -- a tall white fence with barbed wire separates the naval base from the village and its people. On the west sea side there is a river estuary and a rock jetty. It is a beautiful spot- heron, egrets feeding in the river, gentle fresh water flowing into the sea, Tiger island arising from the sea close by..... a group of stored kayaks-- a peace fleet. The west side of the naval base dissects the scene. There are protest flags and paintings all along the river path from the sea...and an encampment supporting the struggle.

Walking north along the riverside fence line arrive at the bridge, the main road into town. It is another site of significance, heavily decorated with anti-base flags and flowers. A few hundred feet up the road from the bridge is a shrine and large permanent peace tent, one side set up for Mass, all decorated with logs carved with prayers.. The other side of the road the base fence line is adorned with illustrations, peace poetry , flags, murals up to the new main gate.

Six days a week mats are placed on half of the main gate road at 7am with activists and sisters bowing with peaceful intentions spoken over a loudspeaker "as I hold in my heart....I make my 1st, ..30th..88th.. 100th bow. Later, at 11am a full mass with communion and rosary is celebrated both in the tent with villagers and extended along the road over a loudspeaker to priest and activists in chairs blocking the gate- stopping construction trucks. Police interrupt every 10-15 minutes to remove and contain resisters to the side for 10 minutes of truck flow...  After mass is a human chain, and 3-4 dances in the street.

From the gate walk on a path decorated with murals and flags on the fence side depicting Gureombi rock, the imprisoned activists, and lined with several greenhouses. Arrive at the communal kitchen, the residence for sisters, and several living/storage containers abutting the north side of the fence. Resume walking along the continuously protested fence line to the road where the fence turns south toward the sea along the road to the marina. The unfenced side of the road has a large 24 hour peace encampment and campfire blocking the proposed naval housing construction.. The last of the fields on this eastern side of the naval base were still being bulldozed and fence erected during our visit.

The walk ends just past the marina --a large crucifix where Father Moon was pushed off the rock by police at the end of a high cement dyke facing west toward the base -- an evocative shrine.

Every centimeter of land that was taken is a passionate colorful tragic place of resistance -- a cry for peace...

Mira Leslie

War Crimes in Palestine

In September members of the European Parliament called on the European Union to break diplomatic ties with Israel and implement sanctions against the country because of the war crimes it has committed against the people of Palestine. 

90% of the water in Gaza is now undrinkable after the recent Israeli 'shock and awe' attack on the Palestinian people.  This kind of 'collective punishment' of innocent civilian populations is a war crime worthy of the Third Reich. 

Last night here in Bath we had a wonderful concert and fundraiser for the Palestinian people.  Fifty people turned out and we raised $643 for the Middle East Children's Alliance.

Stepping Up Resistance in Okinawa

Citizens in Okinawa recently threw out politicians on their island who had betrayed the people by supporting US military base expansion.  Now they are increasing the pressure by organizing blockades of these bases.  In the case of Henoko (northern Okinawa) the US wants to build an airfield that goes right out into the ocean where endangered species are found.

People all over the world are saying NO to the string of more than 800 US imperial bases.  We need that same spirit back here in the USA.

If we could ever end the US war machine's global dominance we would have money for jobs, health care, education, infrastructure repair and more in this country.  See the links - make the connections.