PHILADELPHIA, PA- Depending on what you’re here to accomplish at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, pro-Bernie, anti-war, reformist, or disruption, here’s our shortlist of the event sites according to theme.
1. WELLS FARGO CENTER– Main site of DNC, for delegates only, surrounded by four miles of 8ft tall modular steel crowd control barriers.
2. CITY HALL– Most rallies and demonstrations are scheduled to converge here before a 4-mile march to DNC site.
3. INDEPENDENCE HALL– Sunday’s “Clean Energy” march ended here. Its lawn of is the backdrop for MSNBC live convention coverage and was the 2011 site of Occupy Philly.
DENVER, COLORADO- The July 17 Law Enforcement Appreciation Day festivities could barely be heard above the din of bullhorns blasting Denver police for being the second most murderous in the nation. TV reporters hoped to record Occupy Denver’s enthousiasm for that morning’s killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge by disturbed Marine Corps veteran Gavin Long. Law enforcement claimed to be investigating what drew the Micah Johnson second act to Baton Rouge, though their public execution of African American Alton Sterling might be the place to start. Denver attendees didn’t have a clue why ordinary citizens would want to be so disrespectful of their relatives in blue. Blue lives matter, they shouted. Yeah? Blue Lives Murder was the response.
UPDATED: This is a timeline of the legal battle which began in July 2015 over activists’s right to protest in the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse Plaza. It explains why activists with Occupy Denver did not believe they were being given lawful orders when commanded to stop and why activists still believe the DPD were wrong to make their arrests. The city’s charges of “encumbrance” and “obstruction” appeared calculated to circumvent a federal injunction protecting the public’s First Amendment rights.
DENVER, COLORADO- Denver County Court Judge Beth Faragher says she’s never seen such a thing happen. Her courtroom audio recording device STOPPED RECORDING, at mid day, but it didn’t let on, and it was hours before somebody noticed. It was the defendant who noticed the machine’s erratic digital readout. An emergency IT specialist was sent to the courtroom. He confirmed that none of the trial had been recorded. The options were to repeat the testimony or declare a mistrial.
Eric Brandt is accused of interfering with the arrest of two fellow protesters who were being apprehended for felony menacy and assault on September 24, during the occupy encampment of the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse Plaza last year. Judge Faragher has never seen such an electronic malfunction, but she probably can’t say the same for prosecutorial frame-ups. Denver’s machinations are so obvious and they’re not backing down from an arrest they engineered. Will the Denver goons be smart enough to pull it off? They can’t even fool their own RECORDING DEVICE. Unfortunately the human components of Denver’s injustice team are yet showing no embarassment for being party to this sham. Here’s how the city schemers are failing so far:
DENVER, COLORADO- Denver street kids are standing up against DPD harrassment, SITTING DOWN. It isn’t orchestrated, it’s barely organized, a CBS affiliate covered the first arrests, but since last Wednesday, these homeless activists have been defying riot cops and orders to disperse, suffering several citations and arrests every day. As of Tuesday AM, two arrestees remain jailed, one of them bonded with a condition of area restriction preventing him from rejoining the protest.
DENVER, COLO.- Last night Denver police mobbed a demonstration protesting the officer-involved execution of unarmed suspect Dion Avila Damon in front of his wife and child. At the end of Tuesday’s march, Robin Hamm and Nathan Stickel were arrested for obstruction, failure to obey, and destruction of private property. They were still in custody when fellow activist, Joaquin dela Torre-McNeil, arrested at an identically uneventful march last November, showed up for his court date today only to hear the city motion to dismiss his case. Joaquin was charged with interference and resisting arrest, both accusations without merit. This morning the city admitted as much.
MEDIA BLACKOUT ON 400+ ARRESTS AT WASHINGTON DC #DEMOCRACYSPRING –You don’t have to be there to support the work of these activists. You can help by making others aware of their action. Add your voice and share. They are standing up for us. It’s time we stand with them and spread the word of their action.
GET THIS. I heard a reverend-person yesterday lecturing newish activists about their need for nonviolence training, which she was volunteering to lead. She was also offering rubber wristbands for her graduates to wear at demonstrations, so that police could differentiate between protesters. She told us she’d ask officers to scrutinize those not wearing bands as being the potential troublemakers. This, she assured everyone, would make it more difficult for outside groups to waylay the action. I kid you not. And she’s a church leader praised locally as something of an activist! HA! That’s a RAT!
I recognized the Springs “outsider” buggaboo so I thought I’d relate where it came from in a little piece I’ll call The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs. Ready? It won’t take long.
Monk Brown set up a tent on the plaza. It took a SWAT team to take it down. Now a Denver jury took them down.
DENVER, COLORADO- Homeless Adrian “Monk” Brown was accused of “obstruction” for sitting in a protest tent last August 26th on the plaza of the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse. Monk was also charged with “interference” with the riot police sent to evict him. A subsequent charge of “failure to obey” was added by prosecutors pressuring Monk to take a plea. After a two day trial which ended Wednesday, a Denver County jury found Monk Brown NOT GUILTY of either obstruction or failure to obey. Owing maybe to a crime scene video that highlighted the brutal irreverance shown by protesters toward DPD officers, the jury did convict Monk of interference. Except now it wasn’t a crime scene. Monk’s attorney Melissa Trollinger Annis is challenging the inconsistent verdict because it’s unlikely interference will stick without the police having a cause for arrest. Monk wasn’t obstructing.
DENVER, COLORADO- Local activist Amanda Chilton flipped off a municipal court judge. Yes, it’s not done, but the consequence was more severe than even the judge intended. Amanda was attending a motions hearing of a fellow protester accused of disobeying a cop. During DPD testimony an officer was narrating a surveillance video which the audience was unabe to see. Amanda tried to shift seats but was told to sit down. After two admonishments, Amanda complied in silence but made a disrespectful gesture where she sat behind the flat screen monitor, where she thought the judge wouldn’t see. But a clerk did see the gesture and told the judge. Judge Nicole Rodarte, no friend of political activists and facing a roomful of them, immediately had Amanda held in contempt of court for the remainder of the hearing. Contrary to instructions, Amanda was taken across to the jail to serve a sentence of ten days. We’re not sure yet who was complicit with the mixup. Here’s what happened:
350.ORG disowns Paris sans-culottes, opts for boot-counting passivist shtick, figures to storm the Bastille shoeless.
HOLY CRAP, Bill McKibben sells out the activists again, agreeing not only to cancel planned protests at the Paris Climate Conference, but distancing 350.ORG and its collaborator NGOs from real demonstrators upset at the protest ban. After leading hundreds of thousands in New York City on the World’s Largest Climate March TO NOWHERE, Bill McKibben flushes the Paris demonstrations and the climate they hoped to save with them. Nothing says silence like a streetful of shoes. Antiwar activists resorted to staging shoe die-ins at every surge of the Iraq War. The result? Crickets. We used army boots to represent mounting American war casualties. As pacifism lost popular traction, the disparing passivists cobbled larger and larger “demonstrations”. Activists came to call them exercises in BOOT-COUNTING. It’s a well-trod path, and as you might expect of shoes without wearers, they march nowhere.
10TH US CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, DENVER, COLORADO- By 9:00 this morning I had been arrested by federal police for asserting a person’s right to enter a federal courthouse and observe an open court proceeding where the federal government denies any person without a valid state or federal ID.
DENVER, COLORADO- Andrian “Monk” Brown was observed on HALO camera “erecting a tent” on the spot he’d been arrested two days before inside a similar tent. He was arrested escaping the scene of the crime and or walking his dog around the block. This week Monk was tried for obstruction, the deputy city attorney prosecuted the case herself but was unable to overcome the jury’s inclinations that the charges were “silly”. Monk’s defense attorney rested her case without presenting a thing. Essentially the closing argument was this: did a three-man tent obstruct anyone in a large public plaza? NOT GUILTY.
DENVER, COLORADO- The occupiers of the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse Plaza were thrown a curve on Friday afternoon when city workers were observed installing signs closing the grounds to the public from 8:30pm until 7:30am. Was this an affront to US District Court Judge William Martinez who had affirmed in federal court that the courthouse plaza was a free speech zone “24/7”? There wasn’t time to consult a legal opinion, so when a DPD cruiser interrupted the Occupy Denver GA at 8:25pm to announce the curfew and threaten arrests, the occupiers retreated to the public sidewalk north of the courthouse, where the higher profile of Colfax Avenue would make up for having to time-share their 24hr encampment. DPD swept through the park at 8:30pm to assure it was vacated and activist spent the next hours making a ruckus on the street, egged on by Friday night traffic. At bedtime a civilian dupe came over from the jail to warn that deputes told her everyone would be arrested. Laughs. At 2am a DPD platoon paid the habitual visit. Warnings that the activists were in violation of the trespass order were laughed off, and the officers told off for abusing their authority telling lies, so police could only force sleepers off the public sidewalk and mandate that signs be untied from the trees. From their beachhead on Colfax Activists promised to retake the plaza at 7:30am where they intended to catch up on their lost sleep in broad daylight.
Denver restricts public access to Lindsey-Flanigan Plaza, to circumvent federal injunction protecting protest.
DENVER, COLORADO- The 24hr protest in front of the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse was on its 31st day when city workers installed signs declaring a curfew on the courthouse grounds. Will the ongoing demonstration be grandfathered or will Denver police evict the Occupy Denver activists without notice? Occupiers meet tonight at 7:00 to decide a course of action.
The signage cites trespassing ordinance “D.R.M.C. 38-115” which would halt overnight occupations of the plaza. It cannot but seem to be calculated to restart arrests of the “Jury Nullification” activists, who won a court injunction to prevent the city from making further arrests.
DENVER, COLORADO- Occupier Adrian “Monk” Morningglory draws unwanted attention at the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse protest camp as nearby detention center personnel continue to deny activists access to the public bathrooms. Meanwhile the Colorado Attorney General has filed a motion to vacate the injunction barring the enforcement of a court order banning protest in the courthouse plaza. The AG argues that protest denigrates the decorum necessary for a functional justice center, exhibit one, evidence encountered that a protester defecated in Lindsey Flanigan’s expensive landscaping. It’s unlikely to fly but a Denver chief judge thought he could ban free speech from the entire complex and city administrators behave like it’s written in stone: give ’em an inch and they’ll shit in your park.
EVICTED! Denver police conduct sixth raid on courthouse protest camp, this time seizing signs, flags & tombstones.
DENVER, COLORADO- Occupy Denver’s Jury Nullification Education Protest Camp had gathered steam Labor Day weekend, overnight participation growing to thirty sleepers Monday night, but at 4:30pm Tuesday DPD riot cops swept through the camp in force. Activists were allowed to save only what they could carry. All other items were considered “abandoned” and then removed by the officers as “encumbrances” as outlawed by notices recently posted by DPD. Nearly a hundred police officers in riot gear, including two vehicles carrying SWAT soldiers, swooped upon the Lindsey-Flanigan Plaza encampment when the afternoon camp security team had dwindled to four. Only one camera was on hand to record the police raid. Over the course of 45 minutes, homeless contingents were able to scramble to preempt the DPD confiscating their personal items. Once again the police appear to time their raid when most of the protesters have stepped away. Will Occupy Denver have the stamina and resilience to stand against the constant stealing of its resources?
Denver authorities have chosen a weak strategy to clear the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse Plaza of public protests. They are relying on a vague city ordinance to declare that the plaza must be kept clear of “encumbrances/obstructions” without specifying what those might be. Last week they put up signs. By definition, a public demonstration aims to be an obstruction of the offending mechanisms of injustice, ergo, “No Justice, No Peace.” Encumbrance is direct action is a people’s last recourse. By definition, a protest is trying to encumber oppression. When the people are seeking redress, the police are our encumbrance. Fortunately the US Bill of Rights forbids the encumbrance of dissent.
Judge rules Denver Police harassment was not in contempt of injunction, but he doesn’t know the four fifths of it.
DENVER, COLORADO- US District Court Judge William Martinez found action taken by the Denver Police Department against an Occupy Denver protest to be NOT IN CONTEMPT of his federal injunction to halt arrests of Jury Nullification pamphleteers, although the judge based his ruling on only the first DPD raid, not the four next raids that happened in the interim. Obviously justice system reform needs JUDGE NULLIFICATION literature for jurists whose purview is hindered by purposefully limited scope. Judge Martinez heard only about the DPD confiscating a canopy, he wasn’t allowed to consider the eviction of our tents which included four arrests, the second seizure of our canopy, the loss of another tent with two more arrests, and the raid on three more tents, pictured above. The police based their actions on the activists lacking a permit from the Denver Manager of Public Works although no such permit exists beside which that manager’s authority doesn’t extend to the Lindsey Flanigan Plaza. Judge Martinez wasn’t informed of any of that.
Police in St Louis had to arrest protesters because they were blocking a major street instead of “protesting peaceably”. Other protesters were teargassed and authorities were frustrated that the clouds of gas and spray and people scrambling obscured documentation of rock-throwing which provoked the police officers’ pushback. No heed being paid to what “provoked” the protest in the first place. Not merely the anniversary of Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, but the police killing of another black teen.
WESTMINSTER, COLORADO- Eric Brandt was so sure he was going to jail he got a tattoo. The one-man-band of protest movements had court on August 3rd before Westminster Associate Judge Paul D. Basso, who’d declined on a technicality to give Brandt a jury trial. Eric calls him “Judge Fatso” and lampoons Basso on the courthouse steps and so didn’t expect more than a brisk push into jail. Knowing they’d take his “Fuck Cops” t-shirt, Eric got a hasty tattoo. “It hurt. A LOT” said Eric, who did not intend to cease his protest behind bars. It’s the identical logo, placed just below the sleeve-length of a jail smock, faced forward on the arm he extends to shake hands. Eric’s lawyer, the formidable David Lane, joked that he was stung by Eric’s lack of faith in his attorney.
Requiring activists to “make space” for black or brown voices, if apolitical or reformist, is a counterinsurgency trap.
OFF-STREET ACTIVISM floweth over with do-gooders begging for a seat at the table, literally, tables, where the powers-that-be want them. Street protest organizers are berated about providing forums for disenfranchised voices, as if indoor choir-singing yields redress of grievances. Leaders of disadvantaged communities mistake cis-gendered, white activists for their actual oppressors, because that’s easier than facing down the police. But the dynamic is disingenuous subterfuge and it’s not coming from the allies who matter. The people of Ferguson did not wait for white social justice groups to “make space” for their protest. You’d think the lesson of Ferguson is obvious.
DENVER, COLORADO- Denver police have shown they can kill with impunity, be they black lives or latino. But the latest officer-involved murder of a Lakota man brought the American Indian Movement into the street and that’s an escalation no council of ministers can reverse. When police victim Paul Castaway asked his killers “What’s wrong with you?” he was echoing the entire Denver community exasperation as officers continue to murder unarmed men and women of color, as if outrage over police brutality isn’t on everyone’s lips already.