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Thankful on Thanksgiving

27 Nov

Thanksgiving afternoon, but I can’t stop thinking about the ‪#‎IndictBoston‬ action on Tuesday night. I’m thankful I was able to attend, and I’m thankful white people present seemed mindful of participating in the action without trying to direct it, make speeches, etc. I’m thankful to have been there when Daunasia Yancey yelled “white allies to the front” and that I was able to respond. I’m thankful that my eyeglasses got broken and not my skull. I’m thankful for the painkillers that are easing the back ache I walked away with. I’m thankful to have seen dozens of familiar faces at that march, most of them friends from Occupy Boston. I’m thankful for the honor of participating in that action, and I’m thankful that today I’ll be eating food with loved ones. But I’m thankful, also, that I won’t forget Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, and millions more souls killed or incarcerated by state-sanctioned violence who won’t be eating a Thanksgiving meal today. I’m thankful, also, to be mindful today of this holiday in the context of white imperialism and native genocide. Am I happy? Am I sad? I don’t know, but I’m thankful.

Os Gemeos mural in Dewey Square to be replaced by $17,000 seascape

3 Aug
How do you feel about $17,000 in public resources being used for this?

How do you feel about $17,000 in public resources being used for this? (Photo by Jennifer Taylor for Boston Globe)

A brightly-colored mural by Os Gemeos (Brazilian twins Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo) has looked down on Dewey Square since it’s instillation in July 2012.  Since the site attracted little attention before Occupy Boston set up camp in 2011, some associated the masked figure with a participant in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  More neutral parties simply described him as a kid in mismatched pajamas.  Either way, it’s soon to be painted over.

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston has commissioned Matthew Ritchie to install a 5000′ square abstract seascape to take it’s place, the Boston Globe reports.  It’s scheduled for installation the week of September 16 and is expected to be replaced about a year and a half later, the same schedule as was set for its predecessor.

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, an organization that has come under fire for financial matters, is funding the $17,000 installation. According to Geoff Edgers:

The collaboration, to be announced Monday at a Boston Arts Commission meeting, is part of a residency for Ritchie that will include a multimedia performance with members of the rock bands The Breeders and The National, concerts at the museum and elsewhere, and a video project to be produced with the ICA’s teen program. But the biggest splash for the public will come on the exterior of the Big Dig ventilation building in Dewey Square.

Edgers also notes that Os Gemeos mural now in place “made national news when the local Fox television affiliate posted an image of it to a Facebook page, inspiring comments accusing the brothers of creating an image that resembled a terrorist because of the way the face was partially shrouded in clothing.”

I love public art, but this $17,000 price tag makes me squeamish.  How do you feel about it?  Please comment below.

Can a card-carrying socialist get elected to Boston City Council?

18 Jul
Terra Friedrichs and Seamus Whelan in the studio on July 11, 2013.

Terra Friedrichs and Seamus Whelan in the studio on July 11, 2013.

Seamus Whelan, our first guest on “Banned in Boston” last week, is running for a seat on Boston City Council.  He’s also a member of Socialist Alternative who often mentions the Occupy movement and its ideals.  Seamus, a native of Ireland, had some good things to say and his accent was a nice change from what we usually hear in the studio.

Terra Friedrichs, our second guest, was every bit as interesting.  She wants to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts so that it clearly states corporations are not people and money should not equal political power.  What’s better, she’s identified a specific process that can force such a proposal to come before legislature.  It’s an exciting idea.

To listen, click here.

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio.  John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.

Jill Stein on running to lose, being too political, and whether justice is possible under capitalism

14 Jun

Marisa Egerstrom, Jill Stein and Rene Perez in the space shared by UNregular Radio and DigBoston

Our guest on “Banned in Boston” last night was Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate in 2012. We discussed the protests in Turkey this month centered in Gezi Park and what Stein calls “a general outbreak of justice and democracy.” Then, addressing the question “how do we turn public will into political will?” Stein described being excluded from a recent rally against tar sands in which she was deemed “too political” too speak. After that, we turned to a statement by Slavoj Žižek, perhaps the most high-profile philosopher of our time, in which he alleges far-left candidates run to lose. Before wrapping up, we wrestled out an answer for the big question, “are peace and justice are possible under a capitalist system?”

Along the way we touched upon austerity, the Black Agenda Report, breaking up the banks, eviction blockades, the Economic Bill of Rights, fair trade, the Forward on Climate rally, Greece and Latin America, fracking, the Green Shadow Cabinet, the Green New Deal, Left Forum, lesser evils, Noam Chomsky, Occupy Wall Street, parliamentarianism, police brutality and intimidation, predator politics, presidential elections, suppression of free speech, tar sands blockades against TransCanada, tree hugging, wars for oil, unions and the labor movement, Barack Obama, local Socialist candidate Seamus Whelan (misidentified as “Sean Whelan”), Chuck Turner of the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts, Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada, the perceived lack of ethnic diversity in the Green Party, and even FDR’s New Deal.

This episode was co-hosted by Marisa Egerstrom of the Protest Chaplains, Rene Perez who is known to some as the “man in the Yellow Hat,” and me, John Stephen Dwyer. Thanks to Noah Evans, Chris Faraone, Liam Leahey, and Jeff Nunes for submitting questions , Evan Greer (our guest on next week’s show) for the music, and to Occupy Boston for their support . To stream or download the mp3 file for this episode click here.

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio. John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.

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.

Political protest as an “adults only” activity

9 Mar

To all the parents out there? How can protests and movements better cater to you? What would you like to see at rallies, meetings, marches, etc.?”

That was a question asked today on the Facebook page of Occupy Boston. “Kids corner…lots of juice, diapers, non-MSG and non-sugar snacks” was among the typical responses. I disagree and don’t think the presence of children is appropriate at a real protest.

The purpose of a protest isn’t recreation, or socializing, or fresh air and exercise, or spending quality time with children, or making us feel a false sense of “having made a difference.” These needs can be better filled by other activities.

The purpose of a protest should be to create a shock that demands a response. Political will isn’t created until people without power do something that makes people with power break a sweat and say “oh damn, either we react or this will get worse for us.” Shock and response is the pattern of history.

Are you sad now because I said you shouldn’t take your kids to protest? Don’t be. You can still attend pseudo-protests like the “Forward on Climate” rally held on February. They called it a protest, but it was nothing but a polite, permitted march through the deserted streets of DC on a freezing Sunday afternoon. Vis-à-vis the false sense of accomplishment it created, it was literally worse than if people stayed home.

If you want take your kids to a parade disguised as a protest, be my guest. They’ll be plenty of them in 2013, organized by well-scrubbed, college-educated folk with plenty to lose. Tear away the social and recreational aspect of one of these farces and there’s almost nothing left. They are fun, however, for those who think you can make an omelet without breaking any eggs.

How do you know if you’re at a real protest or not? Ask yourself if civil disobedience is involved, and if it feels like someone might be pepper sprayed by the police. If the answer is “no” to both of these questions, then I hope you and the kids enjoy playing your theater roles. If the answer is “yes,” then congratulations. You’re probably at a real protest. Now get your kids the hell out of there as fast as possible.

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.

Dissing the DHS on Blog Talk Radio

5 Feb

 

Annie Lindstrom disguised as a wise old owl.

Annie Lindstrom disguised as a wise old owl.

I met Annie Lindstrom, a cheerful Florida resident who hosts a show called “Talkupy” on Blog Talk Radio, early last year. Today was my second time on her program and we began with a brief discussion of some of the projects that have grown out of Occupy Boston since its eviction.  We then turned our attention to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) activities in Massachusetts ranging from a US Customs service raid at Westgate Mall in Brockton last weekend to the ongoing intensification of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints on the Boston’s public transit system, the MBTA.  We ended with conversation about the tar sands pipeline situation in Portland, Maine.  Here’s a link.

Rita Sebastian and Ned Paschene on “Idle No More”

18 Jan
Nelson Terry, Rita Sebastian, Sage Radachowshy and John Murphy in the studio.

Nelson Terry, Rita Sebastian, Sage Radachowshy and John Murphy in the studio.

Rita Sebastian never fails to impress me with her rare combination of bravery, compassion and tenacity.  She was in the Banned in Boston studio last night as we talked to Ned Paschene, a Cree activist involved with the Idle No More protests erupting across Canada.  A direct link to the episode is here.

Rita has a tendency to get where the action is.  Last week, Rita headed up to Ottawa in answer to an invite from Ned Paschene.  On Friday, January 11, she joined a call for women to prevent Chief Matthew Coon Come of Quebec and others from attending a meeting with Stephen Harper since certain people were excluded. Here’s video of that.

Here’s a clip I shot of Rita last night outside UNregular Radio.  In this second clip, Rita talks about Idle No More, Chief Theresa Spence, and what happened outside Stephen Harper’s meeting.