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PUEBLO, COLORADO- 2014 marks one hundred years since the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. A variety of commemorations are planned before the formal anniversary on April 20. I attended one such event on Wednesday, a lecture by a CSU professor to footnote the “Children of Ludlow” exhibit at El Pueblo History Museum. I’m always excitied when attention is paid to Ludlow, a subject regularly left out of American schoolbooks, but I was disappointed to find key elements of labor history excised from the museum’s narrative. Literally. The United Mine Workers of America, the organization central to the strike, which supplied the tent city, and which even today maintains the memorial site, was mentioned only once, IN FINE PRINT! The Ludlow miners voted to strike because the mining companies refused to recognize the UMWA. Unmentioned. The horrors of the atrocity were not tempered, in their explicitness perhaps we think them enough, but there was also the apologist suggestion that some culpability belonged to the miners. I questioned one curator who admitted they were at pains to keep the story “balanced” and that the squeakiest wheel thus far has been the National Guard. Apparently the Guard is offended that its role will be misconstrued. What balance do they want, I wondered. Had they lost children in the “battlezone” too?
COLORADO SPRINGS residents are left to wonder what kind of leverage the public utilities CEO holds over his board of directors. City Council wants to raise Jerry Forte’s salary to half a million in spite of the coal-black hole in which he put the city’s energy portfolio. They won’t consider investing in renewables lest it bump utility rates by 1%, put they will raise the rates by 3% to resolve a payables problem, austensibly, (They want to act quick while higher winter usage means the rate hike will yield more) and I guess for the CEO’s raise.
DENVER, COLORADO- Occupy activists were making their usual cacophony on Friday night when Denver police cruisers began converging into a familiar disproportionate show of force. Experienced skirmishers though Occupiers are, we couldn’t help whispering to each other as we watched more DPD officers accumulate on foot from vehicles yet unseen. The unintended effect of course was that our chanting diminished as the tension rose and Denver onlookers were treated to a literal illustration of the chilling effect of police intimidation. To make matters more embarassing, Occupy was shouting that we would not be silenced! By the time police were trooping upon us there was no sound but DPD boot steps and our “cameras on, everybody, cameras on.”
Colorado Springs is not home to an Olympic Training Center because of our competitive nature, proclivity for classic games, nor certainly athletic bloodlines — it’s our high altitude that draws athletes in training so they’ll hit the games with a competitive advantage against the majority of teams stuck at sea level. Boosters who look to promote the city’s Olympic identity ought maybe admit its true character before taking for granted that people want to celebrate it.
DENVER, COLORADO- Representatives of Occupy Denver met with both owner and manager of The Tattered Cover Bookstore last week hoping to avert taking public action against the popularly lionized bookseller for its passive support of the city’s Urban Camping Ban. There was hope that owner Joyce Meskis could reconsider her “neutrality” on the policy of oppression which has proved disastrous for Denver’s beleaguered street dwellers, at the very least, rescind her membership in the Downtown Business Partnership, the lobbying entity which conjured the ordinance.
A lesson the US forgot about Iraq? Prosecute war criminals like General McMaster, don’t spread their “lessons”
COLORADO SPRINGS– Whose fault is it that America is “forgetting the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan”? We never learned them… Instead of prosecuting war criminals like General “H.R.” McMaster, fans of neoliberal genocide like the Colorado Springs World Affairs Council celebrate the yahoo and let him infect public minds about how the atrocity of TEL AFAR was a victory and not the crime against humanity it resembles. What was this bastard’s kernel of wisdom about his fine-tuning of a counterinsurgency technique which dates to America’s Indian Wars? Don’t be afraid to call genocide a “win”. Uncritical Gazette reporter Tom Roeder quotes McMaster saying Americans should be “unabashed.” Unabashed! Goddamn moral degenerate and we stand him up in front of crowds without a noose and scaffold! We have only ourselves to blame that our blimpneck officers congratulate themselves for their lessons learned.
How about those journeyman activists throwing their social justice experience around like it’s inviolate because they’ve been at this longer than the whippersnappers trying to rock their slow boat to China. They know what works after thirty years of utter failure, and they’ll admit to not a single inkling that their nonconfrontational passivism has only accelerated injustice and war. By what aggrandized blindness to irony can they congratulate themselves for their contribution to justice and peace? I don’t care that they decorate themselves like the dumb soldiers above whom they hold themselves, but hear this: don’t you dare coopt the enthusiasm of your youngers, or obstruct their path because their fresh directions offend you.
What are active duty soldiers doing in veterans day parades? It’s premature isn’t it, and self congratulatory? They’re being deployed to a public relations stint designed to admonish the public to remember their sacrifice, except present day recruits weren’t drafted. They’re economy dodgers. Yeah hardly voluntary and I don’t envy the straw they drew, but it’s hard to sympathize for signing up to kill and bully lesser armed people. Anyway, Veterans Day parades are a perfect example of soliders demonstrating their non-contribution to productive society, a chance for antiwar protesters to share an inside joke: GET A JOB!
LOOK OUT DENVER! There was no birthday cake this year for Occupy Denver, though the second annual #S17 OWS anniversary celebration did not go unmarked. Subgroup offshoots of Denver’s notorietous Occupy deployed themselves with the usual rowdy spirit. Denver Homeless Out Loud, advocates for the homeless where traditional “advocate” kapos leave off, defied the city’s no-sleep no-shelter ordinance by setting up tents on the eve of S17. Police kept the activists awake all night and forbid them to enter the tents, but the encampment hung on until morning for a scheduled solidarity action. At noon Colorado Foreclosure Resistance picketed the offices of Castle Law Group, responsible for 90% of the state’s foreclosures. Occupiers moved on to protest the Westin’s Palm Restaurant (Boycott the Palm) for its stand on criminalizing Denver’s poor. Other Occupiers couldn’t join in because they were in Boulder organizing Occupy Flood Relief. Armed with megaphones, drums, the capability to mobilize at often a moment’s notice, and an attenuation level pegged at disruptive, Occupy Denver acts every bit its age, prepare for it Denver, a year of the terrible twos. Happy Birthday Occupy!
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO- International news headlines read “G-20 Summit Overshadowed by Syrian Crisis” but not in Colorado Springs! Here every politically active Democrat was working to defeat a recall of state senate leader John Morse, a democrat though barely. Morse is a duly elected, if unlikely, representative of conservative El Paso County, being assailed by a mutinous GOP majority angered by his stewarding of gun control legislation. The NRA has backed a blitzkrieg recall campaign, aided by local Republican officials and judges who connived election parameters designed to coax a recall victory. But who’s on the side of right, presumably with the people?
“In the footsteps of Martin Luther King”, as if he’d lead a meaningless ask-for-nothing commemoration
Another million pawn march, to nowhere, commemorating the corporate brand of “MLK” sterilized of instructional efficacy, sanitized of King’s ultimate demands: jobs, economic justice, peace. This weekend’s 50th anniversary of the dream speech was the usual reminder that professional organizers abound who will gladly wear out would-be activists until they have no energy for real demonstrations. Of course there’s “work that remains to achieve King’s Dream”, who knows that better than the assholes waylaying it, then every year genuflecting before their sainted fictional MLK.
Want to know where you can find Prince Harry on his war cheerleading US tour? Half of it is in Colorado. On Friday he’ll be at a UK Consul-General’s reception at the private Sanctuary Golf Course in Sedalia. Between Denver and Castle Rock, that’s the Castle Pines exit off of I-25. He’s staying overnight in Colorado Springs and leads the opening ceremonies of the Warrior Games at the US Olympic Training Center at Union and Uintah. He concludes his Colorado visit on Sunday at the Air Force Academy on Sunday before flying east for a polo match. How unseemly for American media to be fawning over a British royal, and what a slap in the face for Colorado Springs Tea Partiers, if they weren’t so uniformly stupid, to celebrate a monarch for which they claim so much credit for having expelled. Nathan Hale would have hung a second time and a third and forth presumably to have had the chance to show smug twits like Prince Harry the door. Harry pretends to continue the work of his mother Lady Diana, ridding the world of land mines, yet how much credit does he get when he advocates for their root cause, war?
I’d tell you I’ve had it up to here with moderate turncoats, but of late I’ve resolved to keep them well underfoot. Take the local fight against FRACKING.
We’ve built a pretty determined group of fractivists in Colorado Springs, with healthy allies statewide, and in the interest of growth began to make alliances with less hardy participants who have unseemly strong opinions considering their otherwise unproven skills, stamina, and motives. Their most common denominator however is that they do not hold firmly oppositional positions to the oil & gas industry; they consider themselves more diplomatic than radical which by their own assumption will prove more successful. Except, no.
Haven’t we seen this countless times before: a nonprofit buys bigger britches forgetting that there was a reason it wore tight pink shorts, esthetics being the governing factor in neither case. Local Pride organizers may tell you they needed a larger park, but for what? The world’s loudest private barbeque? Over the span of two decades the annual Colorado Springs pride festival became the preeminent outdoor festival, dwarfing Spring Spree and Cinqo de Mayo in attendance and charm. The city even tried to dislodge it with its own “Diversity Fair” in lieu of formally endorsing Pride. And the authentic pride event took place where this traditional homophobic city had to look at it, smack dab in the middle of downtown, at town center, the square block of Acacia Park. This was also convenient for the pride parade which marched to it from blocks away. Convenient because the Springs gay community may fill a park, or a parade, hardly both, with barely enough leftover to be spectators. This year the festival is installing itself into America The Beautiful Park, formerly Confluence Park, formerly the unpaved ramshackle neighborhood in the lee of the coal power plant, adjacent too, as recently profiled in the local newsweekly, a toxic cleanup site. But mostly it’s a park invisible to anyone not going there and nearly inaccessible to them, by virtue of its single entrance and minimal parking. To ameliorate and confound access it’s going to be surrounded by police cruisers, so gay pride will be a guarded closet. Will enough of the gay community turn up to man the booths, trek 1.5 miles to the parade staging ground, and or attend along the parade route? Crowd enough to leave everybody feeling pride? Let’s hope so, this year of victory for gay marriage.
I haven’t been a loud advocate of gay marriage, not while grievous inequities mount worldwide, and especially as American gays clamor for the right to join the war making not end it. I was also disappointed by pride organizers in San Francisco who declined to name Bradley Manning as honorary grand marshal in response to the brilliant campaign by Bradley supporters: “Parade Marshal not Courts Martial!” What are the chances of that flying here? Last year we marched with a sign saying “I am Bradley Manning” and they took it literally, asking “And?”
BUMMER. I was thrilled a documentary would tell the world about Tim DeChristopher. You might think his achievement would be more widely know. It’s a testament of the power he’s up against, added to the meager support he has received, that even here I have to explain who he is and what he did. Tired of the futility of outdoor protests to prevent BLM land sales to the extraction industry, Tim DeChristopher attended an auction of particularly dubious legitimacy and successfully thwarted it by posing as a bidder and buying many of the lots. This happened at the close of Bush’s presidency, but Obama’s administration pursued a successful prosecution. DeChristopher has just been released after serving two years in federal prison. The documentary “Bidder 70″ recounts the ordeal in a manner that provides neither encouragement nor inspiration, and leaves me to question how DeChristopher might have been better represented in court, publicized in actions, and celebrated in film. To say Bidder 70 reduces Tim DeChristopher to a number distorts the idiom. No mere number, DeChristopher is the important but solitary number one, among a casualty count always rising. In the sea of ineffectual activism that prompted his improvisational escalation, DeChristopher emerges more singular than when he started, but that’s to judge based on a flawed documentary. Hardly an surprising result.
COLO. SPRINGS- I told the gentleman from Atmel who trolled the city council meeting, this would be my headline: ATMEL KILLS SOLAR IN COLORADO SPRINGS. Prompted by his threat to ship Atmel jobs to Malaysia if a 0.25% utilities rate hike went into effect, the Colorado Springs City Council voted today, inauspiciously the day after Earth Day, to rescind their minuscule subsidy of a community solar farm program. Apparently Atmel is the city’s largest utilities customer, so when Atmel whines, CSU grovels. Actually their rep turns up at every discussion of renewable energy or water restrictions and he’s against everything. Colorado Springs is the coal ash belching, Fountain Creek polluting, burnt foothills, diminished community services, low-tax haven it is today thanks to Atmel and its Tea Party posse.
DENVER, COLORADO- Organizers of an annual oil and gas industry conference held at the Grand Hyatt on Monday and Tuesday tried to prevent public interruption of their let’s frack Colorado discussion. They tried to ignore protesters outside. They revoked the admissions passes granted to activists who wanted to attend the open segment of the conference designed for public consumption. They didn’t count on the COLORADO EXTRACTION RESISTANCE to successfully negotiate the heightened security and deliver gas balloons to gas frackers convening in the ballroom.
DENVER, COLORADO- The first Colorado BDS Conference on April 13 held on the Auraria campus in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel to restore rights to Palestinians, end Israeli Apartheid, and end the occupation of Palestine.
DENVER, COLORADO- Protesters from AIM, Idle No More, 350 Colorado, Deep Green Resistance, and Occupy lay siege to the Suncor Energey refinery, where what Canadian Tar Sands oil isn’t processed is spilled into Denver’s Sand Creek.
DENVER, COLO.- It’s day three of the 2013 NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MEDIA REFORM and I haven’t heard one mention of perhaps the media story most pertinent to this gathering: the tar sands oil spill in Mayflower Arkansas that is and isn’t in the headlines. Because the media is being denied access to the story, because the media isn’t making a story of that censorship, and because most relevant to the media reform crowd, the scarce images that are emerging are coming from activist video streamers breaking the law to get the story. I’m especially excited by that development because it renders my exhortations mute, that journalists look with skepticism on the oath of “objectivity” which binds them to the corporate spun narrative. “You can’t be neutral on a moving train” was Howard Zinn’s entreaty. “Neutrality helps the oppressor never the victim” said a Zionist without irony. But when reporting means having to break the law, then wanting to tell the story means becoming an activist.
I use the expression “illegals” in accordance to the AP’s new stylebook, to connote an illegal act, and to poke fun. “The I-word” is no longer acceptable to describe undocumented immigrants, but speaker after speaker at the conference heralded the announcement as if it had not just been explained by the previous. It was apparently “the applause line” of this year’s conference. Too bad, because in a year of unending Obama betrayals, the victory is meager cause for celebration.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.- While secularist crusader Richard Dawkins was delighting evangelical atheists at a nearby college campus, addressing how the charter school movement is subverting public education with religious indoctrination, the local District 11 school board was selling off another two primary schools –to charter school privateers! Flipping moribund neighborhoods to the Christian Soldiers.
COLORADO COLLEGE- How do you protest having to seek permission to protest? Do it without. But Colorado College students learned on Wednesday that protesters risk arrest for trespassing: trespassing on the private property of a private college ostensibly protecting the non-dissenting students from having to see dissent. It would be interesting to see college administrators have to explain that on their campus, the freedom to speak didn’t include the freedom to hear.
MANITOU SPRINGS- Idle No More organizers from Denver and Pueblo woke the sleepy local Native American community with a spirited gathering on Saturday, smack in the middle of Manitou, neath the town clock, only blocks from the CS Indian Center.
DENVER, COLORADO- Downtown eatery co-owner Jon Schlegel thought the homeless were defenseless when he led an effort to criminalize sleeping or seeking shelter out-of-doors last year. Instead Schlegel incurred the wrath of Occupy Denver, who’ve maintained a now seven-month long Boycott Snooze protest opposite his trendy restaurant. Yes it’s personal, Schlegel opened SNOOZE in a depressed area adjacent to a homeless shelter, now he wants to gentrify his digs by running out the homeless. So every Sunday occupiers bring signs to sway potential customers from supporting Snooze’s war on the homeless, and every Sunday Schlegel calls the police. But there have been no charges, officers remind Occupiers they are within their rights, yet Snoozegoers are treated to the illusion that the boycott’s legality may be borderline. You know, it’s that phony paradox promoted by our corporate media, that free speech means having to tolerate another’s opinion however offensive. (When free speech offends you, you are likely the offender being protested.) The real question is how Denver Police justify juxtaposing their intimidating armed presence against a citizen’s First Amendment rights.
(As best we could determine, Facebook was refusing to aggregate this article so long as “Snooze” and “Jon Schlegel” were mentioned in the headline. The article you are looking for is above at this link. Target of Occupy Denver boycott expects DPD to roll protesters like they’re homeless sleepers. Facebook still won’t allow the photo.)