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Respect authority. Just kidding.

8 Jun
John Ford, Nelson Terry, Rene Perez, Marisa Egerstrom and Marisa Egerstrom

John Ford, Nelson Terry, Rene Perez, Marisa Egerstrom and Rob Potylo in the UNregular Radio studio with Jackie Soriano as technical producer.  Photo by John Stephen Dwyer.

A superior episode of “Banned in Boston” went out June 6, 2013 on UNregular Radio. Musician and comedian Rob Potylo was back on the panel to entertain and tell us why he’s been banned from so many other radio stations. We discussed the release of Cameron D’Ambrosio, aka Cammy Dee, the Massachusetts teen arrested and charged with “communicating terroristic threats,” and then remark on how the Obama administration has been collecting millions of telephone records from Verizon customers under a secret court order. After a break in which we enjoyed some of Rob Potylo’s new music, Marisa Egerstrom of the Protest Chaplains interviewed Derin Korman, a friend from Turkey who helped us understand the violence in Istanbul this month. The show was tech produced by Jackie Soriano with co-hosts John Ford, Rene Perez, Nelson Terry and me, John Stephen Dwyer, in the studio. I hope you like it. Click here to listen.

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Chris Dorner, the pope, capitalism, and the case against Occupy Boston

15 Feb

Listen to the “Banned of Boston” gang as they argue, rant and joke about topics including Benedict XVI, the execution of Chris Dorner, Obama’s State of the Union Address, Suffolk County dropping its case against Occupy Boston activists, the possibility of peaceful revolution, the problem of capitalism, the problem of fascism, the problem of racism, and the problem of -isms.  Thanks to co-hosts Rene Perez and Nelson Terry, guests Ruth Garcia, KC Hoye, Garret Kirkland, Mass Krawitz, Jeff Nunes, and technical producer Liam Sherry.   To hear the February 14, 2013 episode, click here.

You might also want to read “Charges against Occupy Boston have been dropped.  So why aren’t we celebrating?”

Charges against Occupy Boston have been dropped. So why aren’t we celebrating?

8 Feb
Boston Police arresting Occupy Boston protestors on October 11, 2013. Photo by John Stephen Dwyer.

Boston Police arresting Occupy Boston protestors on October 11, 2013. Photo by John Stephen Dwyer.

Five activists from Occupy Boston were scheduled to begin trial this Monday.  But today, without warning, the Suffolk County District Attorney dropped the charges against them and 22 others who refused to take the deals offered by prosecutors.

When I heard this, I thought it was time to celebrate.  I was there at the Boston Police raids in October 2011 and December 2011.  I’ve seen how looming legal action has taken its toll on good people from Occupy Boston.  Urszula Masny-Latos, Executive Director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and a woman I’ve grown to trust, even said the following in a press release:

We believe that the DA’s decision amounts to an acknowledgment of the unconstitutionality of the arrests and criminal charges that had been brought against hundreds of Occupy Boston participants, and shows that the state has finally admitted that the demonstrations by Occupy activists were legal and constitutionally protected.

But this dropping of charges isn’t being done to exonerate the activists involved.  It’s being done to avoid giving the arrestees and their attorneys a platform.  Reading more of Nation Lawyer Guild press release, it’s easy to see why the District Attorney wants to unlock horns with Occupy Boston and the NLG:

Fully ready to contest the charges at trial, the defendants and their representatives from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) had subpoenaed Mayor Menino, Police Commissioner Ed Davis, and Nancy Brennan (former head of the Greenway Conservancy) to explain why the City of Boston and its police department unconstitutionally applied the Massachusetts trespass and unlawful assembly laws to impinge upon Occupy Boston participants’ rights to assemble, to express their protected speech, and to petition the government.  In addition, they had also subpoenaed Joshua Bekenstein and Mitt Romney (of Bain Capital), and Robert Gallery (CEO of Bank of America) to address their role in constructing and perpetuating excessive corporate power and an economic system that favors the wealthiest 1% of the population at the expense of the remaining 99%– an undemocratic system in which the voices of the people are ignored. The police action in arresting occupiers demonstrated that voices of conscience that speak out against social and economic inequality are not only ignored, they are unlawfully silenced by the state’s use of violence, fear, threat, and repression.

Mitt Romney and Robert Gallery?  That could have been a very interesting day in court.  I’ll be watching closely to see what happens next.  Some folks are talking about the possibility of a civil trial.  In the meanwhile, take a look at the rest of the NLG’s press release here and this intense post by Allison  “Una Spenser” Nevitt at the Daily Kos that points out some serious problems with a report given by the Boston Globe.

If you are sympathetic to the ideas that fueled the Occupy movement, please donate to the NLG.  Without their constant and continued assistance, we basically would have been at the mercy of the cops and the courts.  A direct link for that is here.

Is the blizzard travel ban in Massachusetts authoritarian?

8 Feb
travelban

Talk of the Nero travel ban in the Twitterverse.

Yesterday, media hit the panic button and people rushed, well-trained, to purchase merchandise.  Today, Deval L. Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts, announced a ban on motor vehicle travel beginning at 4 pm and continuing until further notice.

The proclamation, called Executive Order No. 543, cites authority “pursuant to the power provided by Chapter 639 of the Acts of 1950.” Motorists are threatened with a $500 fine and up to one year in jail if they violate the governor’s order.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone is comfortable with the travel ban.  Bet Power, an outspoken Northampton, MA resident and longtime activist, wrote on Facebook:

I live in Massachusetts where it is snowing today as it typically does in winter in New England. I have never been ordered by law not to drive my car before, not even in the Great Chicago Blizzard of 1967 where 2 feet of snow fell every hour for 8 hours! Is it just me or does anyone else (especially in the western part of MA) feel weird about the total travel ban?

The ban doesn’t apply to safety people, public works people, healthcare workers, the media and those “that provide critical services to the public, including gasoline stations, food stores and hardware stores.” 

According to Patrick, “the point is not to figure out how to come down hard on people…it is to emphasize how critical it is that non-essential travel on the roads cease during this storm and the immediate aftermath. We will be flexible.”

Bet Power opined, “I wouldn’t want a cop figuring out if he can be ‘flexible’ with me while I’m sitting in the police station…I would prefer our government advises us to stay off the road for safety reasons, plowing by the DPW, etc. but not impose jail time and a fine if we, as free citizens, choose to drive our cars.”

This comment appeared on Occupy Boston's Facebook page.

This comment appeared on Occupy Boston’s Facebook page.

The Massachusetts travel ban wouldn’t bother me so much if there weren’t so many signs that authoritarianism is encroaching on our daily lives.  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is doing random searches on the MBTA. Obama signed NDAA 2013 with all its frightening implications.  B. Manning is still in jail.  The list goes on.

I have no special gripe against Deval Patrick.  He’s no worse than any other politician who builds their career propping up a dirty system.  When Occupy Boston was camped in Dewey Square, he came down and walked through it.  That’s more than Mayor Menino did.  I’m willing to believe Governor Patrick’s primary motivation here is to save lives and save money.

But this executive order still normalizes heavy-handed use of government power.  Over the next few years, expect more travel bans, checkpoints and other prohibitive authoritarian tactics from the people at the top.  Expect people will be fighting back, too.

I know what’s in my bag!

25 Jan
Look at all the good people we had in (and, as shown here, outside) the UNregular Radio studio on January 24, 2013.  It's John Ford, Nelson Terry, Matthew Krawitz, Frank Capone, Garret Kirkland, Patrick Doherty, Tamarleigh Grenfell and Rene Perez.

Look at all the good people we had in (and, as shown here, outside) the UNregular Radio studio on January 24, 2013. It’s John Ford, Nelson Terry, Matthew Krawitz, Frank Capone, Garret Kirkland, Patrick Doherty, Tamarleigh Grenfell and Rene Perez.

Last night’s episode of “Banned in Boston” was a really good one. First we talked about Aaron Swartz and his unjust prosecution by Carmen Ortiz. Then we explored the dark implications of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) conducting recent random bag searches on the MBTA. This is one of my favorite episodes so far and I hope you like it too. The direct link is here.

“Super Glue” action against TransCanada leads to 8 arrests in Massachusetts

8 Jan
January 7, 2012 action against TransCanada in Westborough, MA; photo via Students for a Just and Stable Future

January 7, 2012 action against TransCanada in Westborough, MA; photo via Students for a Just and Stable Future

Eight young adults were arrested yesterday after they glued their hands together with cyanoacrylate adhesive during a sit-in protest at TransCanada offices in Westborough, a Central Massachusetts town about 28 miles (45.47 km) west of Boston.

This direct action against TransCanada was one of six this same day across the US.  Protests also took place at TransCanada offices in Milwaukee, WI and in two locations in Houston, TX.  In Maine, activists targeted TD Bank, an important financier for Keystone XL, while people in Detroit, MI went after Chase bank, another major source of money for the project.  The protests are part of a nationwide week of action against the tar sands pipeline that is snaking its way across North America.

The people arrested at the Massachusetts sit-in range in age from 20 to 22 and are students or graduates of local universities including Brandeis, Boston University, Harvard, Tufts, and University of New Hampshire.  Their names are Emily Edgerly, Devyn Powell, Lisa Purdy, Shea Riester, Ben Thompson, Benjamin Trolio, Dorian Williams and Alli Welton.  They’ve posted bios about themselves online.

While members of the group have said they acted independently, all are affiliated with 350 Massachusetts and some have connections with Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), an organization described on their website as “a student network fighting to ensure a just and stable future for our generation and the generations to come that are threatened by runaway global warming.”

They entered the building at 2 pm.  A post from Chris Faraone describes how they “marched up to the energy behemoth’s third floor office, sat in a circular formation with their backs touching, and began to click-in. By 2:10, crew members were fully chained and glued to one another, with fast-drying adhesive dripping from their hands and their bike locks.”  A contradictory report from someone involved with the action says they did not apply glue to their locks although that was their original plan.

They were inside until a few minutes after 5 pm, having successfully locked down the office until close of business.  By 6 pm, the protestors were at the police station, some of them still attached by chains.

Later, a comment on Facebook from 350 Massachusetts assured, “Students are now in jail being processed. Their chains and superglue have been removed.” Another post later in the night reported, “Students released!”  The Boston Globe reported that they each paid $40 bail and that nail polish remover intended to dissolve the glue wasn’t really needed.

Marla Marcum, an activist involved behind the scenes, told me that the protestors were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct and that the Boston Globe report of “disturbing the peace” is incorrect.  Marcum said that the police thanked them all for being so positive and cheerful when released and added, “They were the nicest group of police I ever experienced. We told them we would be coming back…one said with a big smile on his face, ‘You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.'”

The protestors will face arraignment in Westborough District Court at 8:30 am tomorrow and have  issued a statement that begins:

Today we stand together as representatives of a desperate generation who have been forced into this position by the reckless and immoral behavior of fossil fuel corporations such as TransCanada. Our political leaders have failed countless times to stand up to the tyranny of fossil fuel giants and take the necessary steps to solve the climate crisis. Their failures have disrupted and destroyed millions of lives.

The eight arrestees show their release papers in this image posted on the 350 Massachusetts page on Facebook

The eight arrestees show their release papers in this image posted on the 350 Massachusetts page on Facebook

This text regarding the January 7 action will be updated as more facts are available.  I’m expecting some phonecalls, and tonight starting 6 pm at First Church Cambridge (11 Garden Street, Harvard Square) there’s a gathering that includes a 350 Massachusetts meeting and preparations for the big protests taking place later this month in conjunction with Tar Sands Free Northeast.  It looks like some of the arrestees will be there, and I’ll try to have some of them on Banned in Boston this Thursday to say more about what happened and why.

In the meanwhile, please donate to the fund that helps make attention-getting actions like this possible.