Category Archives: Occupy

Protesters in Vermont Subdued with Pepper Spray and Rubber Bullets

Very good article written by Dylan Kelly on the Vermont Commons blog on the unexpected police action against protesters who gathered against Tar Sands at the Governor’s Conference in Burlington this past weekend. Continue reading at the site, link below…

Peaceful Protesters Put Down by Militarized Police Force

Burlington- Unprovoked, the Burlington Police Department opened fire on unarmed civilians with pepper spray, rubber bullets, and brutal force in order to crush dissent and political opposition to the Northeast Governor’s Conference in Burlington. In addition to Gov. Shumlin, the Conference was composed of Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec Province; and the Governors of New Hampshire, and Maine as well as numerous other delegates who gathered in Burlington to discuss regional economic and security issues.

Arriving in great numbers from locales as far afield as Connecticut, Northern Quebec, and New York City as well as turning out in droves from Burlington itself, the protesters were determined to bring issues such as natural resource extraction, affordable housing, student debt, indigenous peoples’ rights, and a wide array of other issues to the forefront of the conversation between regional elites.

Click here to continue reading at the Vermont Commons site.

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The Occupy Movement – In Purpose and Conflict

Posted on the Occupy New Hampshire General Assembly Facebook today, so well said we couldn’t resist to re-post it here.

by Michael Joseph

I am writing this note for Heather Feather and Theresa Earle who were both disappointed in my stand on Sunday, July 15, 2012. They have expected more words of unity from me than those of division. I am attempting here to lay out what outreach I can do and also outreach that I see as less meaningful to the Occupy process in general.

When the Occupy Wall Street movement started, it had a clear purpose. This mission continues in the present time. Its mission is to draw attention to and to educate the masses in the great imbalance and hording of wealth by the megabanks and therefore the wealthiest 1% of Americans. The movement took off rapidly due to that great frustration with this infringement all over the world.

There has never been attention paid to limited government, but in a strong federal government that is fair and works for everyone. Professor James Pope’s testimony at the Occupy NH trial laid out the clear causes and effects of this power grab by the 1% at the expence of the 99%. His research showed that there is a direct correlation between the strength of organized labor and the ability of the 1% to control national dialogue. When organized labor has been strong, the ability of the 1% to control the agenda was significantly reduced. Additionally, those periods when the government had less power were correlated with those same periods of runaway wealth by the 1%. This note includes a link to his research. I believe that our acquittal on curfew violations and arrest hinges in large part on his testimony. He referred to the moments of change as “republican” with a small “c”, moments when the angry and disenfranchised populous rises up and exerts its full control.

I read “The Lord of the Flies” years ago for an example of how dangerous limited (or free) government really is. I also read Hobbs and Locke in my study of political science as an undergrad music student. I believe that Hobbs’s reasoning, for why society puts self-government in place to be the best argument for the cause of the Occupy Movement. Most of the Occupy participants have been progressives such as me. While the 1% are largely small government, fiscal conservatives and a call back to the old “Golden Age” when the average American could only dream with little hope of obtaining the luxurious pinnings of that elite. Whenever this structure prevails, delights of the wealthiest increase by leaps and bounds while those who struggle to make a living suffer more. The direct change in that old system was the rise of organized labor working for new legislation on work rules and benefits. So the clear remedy to our present situation, is a progressive movement to give the 99% a fair shake.

While the Free State Project aspires to a some of the ideals for opportunity enshrined in the Occupy Mission, its desire to eliminate central government services for the needy, the disenfranchised, the handicapped, the elderly, healthcare and the directed education of the young makes adoption of its principals almost completely incompatible with that of the Occupy Movement. In that there are minute areas of agreement, the free state project members might be consulted with the consensus of the General Assembly of the Occupy Movement. This is however, my singular opinion only and would need to be brought to the table for approval by members of the Occupy Movement embrasing the principals of Occupy Wall Street.

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Not Just One Voice

Some Occupiers meeting for sandwiches after.

Since apparently some who opposed the Occupy NH break-off over the gun issue have attempted to point the finger at a few more outspoken Occupy NH participants, we have posted here some of the comments and statements of solidarity concerning the break-off decision:

Read the Declaration of Occupy Wall Street that Occupy New Hampshire resolved to stand in solidarity with.

We welcome you to submit your statement, we will transfer this over to the Occupy website once we have re-established one.

Why I decline attending the Occupy NH GA.

This issue of gun toting yahoos has gotten out of hand. I was a police officer from 1977-1980. I open carried a Smith and Wesson 357 magnum for purposes of protecting myself and the community from gun toters who would use them for their stated purpose. I trained and know how to use it for those purposes.

I equate the notion of carrying any such weapon on a bright and sunny Sunday to pure arrogance. Arrogance carries its own punishment. What goes around will always come around. An innocent teenager was killed in Florida last winter by this same arrogance. George Zimmerman is going to get what he deserves. I will not acknowledge this sham!

– Michael A. Joseph

The Choice for Occupy

As a gun owner and outspoken advocate of an armed population, I would like to clarify that my opposition to the Free State Project (an umbrella term I will use to represent all FSP, Anarcho-capitalists and related ideologies) does not rest upon their insistence that they will bring guns to the statehouse today.  My rejection of their twisted ideology is systemic and my call for them to be ejected from the Occupy movement in NH is without qualification.

The “gun issue”, as it has become known is but a convenient porthole which we can use to inspect and criticize the greater movement.  The fundamental insistence on the primacy of individual sovereignty will forever cause the group to reject making their individual wishes secondary to the community.  It is because of this fundamental tenet that the FSP can never stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

There are no solutions to the problems of the world we live in today which do not involve the combined work and sacrifice of all people toward the progress of humankind.  The degree of that sacrifice must be democratically determined by all people (and by people alone) and cannot be voluntary or subject to the trump of any individual.

It is for this reason that Occupy New Hampshire must not call for “change”, but must call for specific and pointed change that confronts and combats the myriad abuses of rampant greed and selfishness in our society.  It is praise for this selfishness, which Ayn Rand called “rational self-interest” which sits at the heart of the Objectivist worldview that informs modern Right-Libertarianism.

It is self-evident that a revolutionary movement cannot succeed by including those who disagree with the aims of that movement and who work against those aims.  There is no “common ground” in these circumstances because the mere inclusion of members of this ideology in the steering of that movement will limit the scope of that movement and prevent it from reaching its revolutionary potential.

For this reason, if Occupy New Hampshire does not issue a statement which sets itself clearly on a path opposed to selfish and abusive individualism, I can no longer participate in Occupy New Hampshire.  This will not be because I will abandon the movement, but because the movement will have abandoned solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, a worldwide movement of people struggling against greed, and the historic significance of this moment.

– Shawn Girard

Choosing Nonviolence

Originally I planned on going to the GA but then changed my mind when I saw the various feeds on FB blow up with gun language. I didn’t involve myself in the feeds because of the vitriol; I didn’t want to become a target. But I was convinced by respectful members of ONH to attend and it was the right decision.

Being surrounded by the armed citizenry was terrifying, more terrifying than being surrounded by thousands of police and their weapons of mass destruction, aggressively trained dogs and horses, LRADs, and snipers on rooftops. It more terrifying than being assaulted by the police as I was in Chicago. ONH members comforted me, helping me to ease my fear; not a single member of FSP tried to comfort me, to ease my anxiety. Rather, they strutted with their weapons, some out for all to see others (vaguely) concealed in attempts to intimidate ONH members into silence or compliance (I’m not sure which). Instead of actually engaging in dialogue, they brandished their weapons and dodged eye contact yet expected the peaceful to sit next to the armed as if we were all friends working toward the same goals.

I walked myself out out of imposed circle and sat across the lawn so I could observe from afar. I had to get away because I was afraid of my fellow “occupiers”, that is those who identify as FSP or are formulating that identity, of those with firearms strapped to their hips. I was not afraid in Chicago of my fellow Occupier. I found comfort from them, kinship. I did not find that with the FSPers today. I never have in the decade I’ve lived in this state, no matter how many I’ve met and engaged with Freestaters over the years.

What I saw today, their show of aggression and disrespect was deplorable on the part of the FSPers. Aggression and disrespect are not Occupy traits. I have sadness this occur because, like many Occupiers, I want peace and harmony and to work together building bridges. Whether the FSPers and Occupiers can work together has became moot.

I made my choice. I am comfortable with choosing peace and nonviolence. It is the choice I will *always* make.

– Michelle Cunha

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Not A Minute Too Soon

Beggar running after carriage

Just found this image online in a small grouping of pictures. Featuring a man running alongside a carriage; a near-extinct scene that was once a common feature of American life unfolds.  The caption with the picture said, “Rich Men in carriage and Poor Man running along side.”

With his hat out to the men in the carriage it is abundantly clear that a transaction is proposed — by the running man — the beggar we like to say in this instance.

Immediately my mind came back to the Occupy New Hampshire split with the libertarian and Free Stater wing of the group today.  The divide for the most part occurred on the issue of guns.  Apparently some in the group chose to open carry at meetings and proposed open carrying at events.   Those who open carried in early Occupy NH events, particularly actions during the NH primary last year were never challenged.  Some brought their weapons, unconcealed to meetings.  While a gun fight never ensued and no one attempted to remove these individual’s right to bear arms, the Occupy movement lost some very key supporters and activists as people in near droves left, citing their disparagement that Occupy lets their General Assemblies turn into “2nd Amendment Show and Tell”.

The issue of guns and their presence at Occupy or their association with Occupy caused a heated debate that lasted for months and presented such an organizational challenge that the core members begged that the discussion cease.  Pressed to take a stand on the issue, ONH  decided to not decide and tabled it with the result that those who wished to open carry could do so.  The result was immediate; people left the movement.  At one General Assembly people literally ran out, vowing never to return when an individual came to the meeting with a hulking semi-automatic gun strapped to his side.

In trying to please everyone by making no statement, the Occupy made a statement anyway and the carry advocates won.  As a result, Occupy NH gained a few self identified Free Staters or libertarians which soon dwindled down to about two or three.  But the capitulation remained regardless.  Some Occupiers seemed to have some inherent problems with identifying where they stood on most issues, but would suddenly awaken and find their voice that seemed more often than not to swing libertarian and thus confusion would ensue.  Do we talk about this? Do we make a stand on that? Shall we? Shan’t we?

As a result, further and deeper analysis of oppression — discussion around who holds the power, that this type of work demands,  never ensued.  While some proposed that Occupy NH have some direction or mission, many, mostly Free Staters or their sympathizers blocked this decision repeatedly.  Direct disagreement occurred about the cause of our present corrupt political system, stymieing the process yet again.  Libertarians seemed no less reluctant to delve further into the meaning of the marketing phrase “Get money out of politics” than a cat to swim.

Also, when an effort was made by many to bring more structure and organization to the meeting process by bringing in the use of consensus and move the organization further forward, the obstruction began again in earnest.  Why have structure? the libertarians would ask, isn’t that mimicking the process of the state? Every decision had a stall; aren’t we turning into the enemy if we bother to take notes, record them and (gasp!) put our money in a credit union, register our name? So Occupy NH  came to a halt with funds from the primary stored in a can.  Movement forward on decisions and planning took a nosedive.

Efforts to have discussion around core issues such as white privilege, racism and all the other ‘isms’ — that is systems — that divide and thus oppress everyone gasped and choked for air as they were beaten down with heated vitriol by online libertarian warriors, resulting in the issues never playing out at meetings.  “Get Money out of Politics” remained a hollow catch-phrase.  While the earlier statewide GA’s, such as Nashua’s with their workshops, started the discussions on such issues as the NDAA or ALEC, actions never materialized as discussion evolved into disagreement and disagreement to tabling and tabling to stagnation.

Which brings us back to the picture posted above. The man in the picture runs after the carriage.  He knows his target well.  He is the hunter and all his last energy and strength will propel him forward, running fast enough to keep up with the men. Keeping up long enough hopefully to gain some change.  Out of options, if he doesn’t get the means for sustenance, he goes without. Long enough and he’ll die.

To many who propound the libertarian viewpoint, such suffering should concern no one.  In fact, sufferers, they say, need to look back inside themselves for their solution.  If this fails then obviously the individual did not deserve to participate in society.  They would say that the hungry and the starving possessed an incurable personal deficit that caused such failing.  Therefore, having proven their unfitness to belong in society, they had to expire.  No more thought required.  No social contract exists they say, to compel the men in the carriage to give up a small sum to a starving man.  To the libertarian, the unequal power balance that exists between those who have resources in abundance and those who haven’t, defines a concrete balance of nature.  Going so far as to equate taxation with theft, the libertarian serves the owner/wealthy class by ignoring the simple metric that labor  produces the wealth.  While labor seeks through taxation, agitation and other means, to take back the fruits of their labor, the wealthy seek instead to preserve the unequal balance.  By refusing to admit the power created through ownership and inequality, libertarians support the oppressive system in our culture.

Unless one has suffered the type of  desperation that would drive someone to run along a carriage like a dog or has experienced being pursued by hungry children in a developing nation, running to catch up around any American, they can never understand the cruel injustice of poverty.  Until one has worked everyday only to find their efforts simply make the rich richer, can one never understand where the real crime of theft occurs.  Cushioned as they are today, with the web of government programs to alleviate at least the most visible effects of capitalist greed, libertarians rarely get to see first-hand the brutality of that greed left to its own devices.  Nor are they challenged to see how their own lives depend upon the inter-relationship of government and citizen interest.  Ignorance is bliss.

Today those at the Occupy New Hampshire General Assembly  got to see live the many libertarians who espouse views favorable to the elite class.  Amazingly its clear and most libertarians will be the first to say, that they are not part of the 1%.  Why then protect their interests so fervently? What particularly came to this writer’s observation was the presence of those with visible disabilities and some with the infirmities of age.  What would happen to many of the people at that park, if the austerity measures they wish on others ensnared them?

Libertarians claim they have these issues in common with Occupy:

Gay marriage: To libertarians, a freedom issue.  To Occupiers, a human rights and justice issue.

Anti-war: To libertarians, a mix of xenophobia, isolationism and budgetary concerns.  The core issue of American imperialism, the military/industrial complex and the threat to human rights that military might and guns empower, never gets discussion.  Simplistic and shallow notions of the state remain.  Analysis of the deeper connection between the melding of corporate power and state power never occurs, with demand that the simplistic notion of the state as a rogue remain unchallenged.  Hidden then is the fact that the real unaccountable rogue force is the corporate state, that would grow like algae in a fetid pond, if not controlled somewhat now by the government structures the people put in place.

Occupy New Hampshire finally broke away from the libertarians, stating for once that the values of Occupy throughout the country do not align with libertarianism.  While flame wars carry on on Facebook unabated, the real issue on the ground is settled; Occupy can now move forward.  Arming itself with education, knowledge and awareness, the development of effective and strategic methods of messaging and direct action can begin.  We have a long battle before us and the time to start was yesterday.

We at Occupy have no desire to have a country of desperate beggars running alongside cars hoping for the voluntary generosity of those who horde the wealth of the people.  Possibly the only similarity between Occupy and libertarians is the claim of “taking it back”.  But it ends there; we wish to take back the people’s power, the people’s resources and the people’s voice.  The past is what we wish to leave in the dust like a speeding carriage wresting loose from the grips of the parasitic disease of corporate/government entanglement.

Kathryn Talbert, Progressive Action NH

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Dismissed!

Originally published on Occupy New Hampshire’s website.

Back in May I wrote about my experiences after being arrested at the #noNATO rally in Chicago on May 20th. Yesterday was my court date. My case was dismissed.

In the weeks leading up to the hearing, I spent the time gathering pictures of my wrist, getting the injury treated at the Concord Community Acupuncture, finding myself a place to stay, booking plane tickets, contacting the lawyer, and attending a fundraiser by OccupyNH to help pay for the NLG lawyer. To say I was busy is an understatement.

As much as I was working on gathering what I needed to be prepared, I was trying hard not to think about the actual hearing. I knew if I allowed myself to think on it too much I’d start getting really apprehensive so I focused on the details and some other work I have as a way to ease the apprehension.

I was so grateful to OccupyNH for hosting a fundraising dinner for me. The NLG wanted $100 in payment (though they didn’t require it) so I wanted to make sure I gave them some compensation. That ONH was able to come together and gather that amount, plus a bit more for, as Ryan put it, “a burger at Ruby Tuesdays”, moved me almost to tears. I announced at the end of the night that it was in the top 3 of “the best nights of my life, ever.”

Will Hopkins, Executive Director of New Hampshire Peace Action put me in touch with Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She provided me with a warm, dry bed, a shower, and some food. I was so grateful I got to meet someone I’ve been admiring from afar for a really long time.

Kathy is so kind, warm, and generous and really really busy. I could see how hard she works and did my best to stay out of her way while I was there. I also got to meet Brian Terrel and Joshua Brollier. Brian was especially influential on me because he gave me a perspective of Catholicism I had never seen before. Though my paternal side of the family is Catholic and my inlaws are also Catholic, I had never heard of the Catholic Worker. The flavor of Catholicism preferred by those I’m related to by blood and marriage is of wealth at any expense. To meet a male Catholic who was not partriarchal, demeaning, disrespectful of women and their choices, and chose to live a life of poverty in keeping with the tenets of “voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and foresaken.” (source) had a profound affect on me. So much did Brian affect me, when the announcement for Catholic Mass came over the loudspeaker at the airport while I was waiting to go home, I attended Mass.

It was the first time in years I’d been to church. I’m Pagan so going to Mass is something I only do at weddings and funerals and only because I have to. Catholicism, and Christianity do not call to me. While I believe in “God” I believe him to be a minor god in the pantheon and one I only pray to when I need money since he has always been a god of greed to me. That’s my own personal opinion. It is not my wish to start a faith debate here.

The airport chapel was pretty devoid of character, I assume to accommodate every Abrahamic faith. There was me and one white man, about 40ish. Late in the service a young Latina joined us. The priest, an elderly white male of the Passionist sect talked of how a beautiful flower may grow on a garbage heap. I took the metaphor to mean the Occupy movement is the flower on the garbage heap of environmental and economic devastation imposed on us and Mother Earth by the Industrial Revolution which has continued to this day leaving nothing but destruction and the wealth of a few in its wake.

Father MacDonald also spoke of bringing together those who don’t always agree. He spoke of Matthew and how, as a tax collector, he wasn’t well liked by the Jews. Jesus brought Matthew to an event and everyone was pretty pissed at Jesus for doing so. But Jesus just wanted to show the tax collector was human (I’m totally paraphrasing here). I took the sermon to mean the Occupiers, police, and city leaders (any city or town) can come together to solve problems even if we don’t like and trust one another.

But I digress.

I left from Manchester-Boston Airport on July 4th. My flight left at 6a so I got to the airport around 4a which meant I got up around 2a. As horrid as this sounds, I hadn’t been sleeping through the night for the last couple weeks. Each time I went to bed I’d be up by 3a at the latest. This is totally out of my norm. But the hearing and my other work has really been weighing on my mind so sleep just wasn’t staying.

I got to the airport and immediately after checking in, the TSA bullied me. I had to dump out a bottle of water and throw away two oranges, and I wasn’t allowed to eat what I brought with me. The TSA agent followed me to the bathroom, pretending to wash her hands. When she asked what was wrong I said “we’re in the middle of a drought and you’re asking me to dump out water.” She then said she didn’t make the rules she just enforced them. Then she called me by my first name. I responded with “how presumptuous of you to call me by my first name. You can call me Mrs. Hill.” Then I told her the Nazi’s were just following orders and that she was acting like a predatory bully. I’m sure I’m on the TSA watch list now.

Getting to Chicago wasn’t an issue once I got past the police state. My time in Chicago was spent just trying to stay cool. The temps were in the high 90s the whole time I was there. Brian and I walked to the lake for a small BBQ Joshua was having. The lake is so very beautiful but the trash that littered the beach and park, and in the water at times, was really disconcerting. It was July 4th yet I only saw four trash barrels that were totally overflowing. And while I believe in the “leave no trace” philosophy of outdoor events, I do believe the City of Chicago should’ve provided more trash and recycle barrels for residents to use. Also, I noticed there were only two bathrooms with long lines. Being a very hot July 4th, it would seem someone in City Hall would’ve thought to add porta potties to the park as a way to accommodate the thousands of people that were there. The trash barrels and porta potties may have been lacking but the police were highly visible. About every five minutes a large CPD SUV drove the strip. As a tourist, the litter, lack of bathrooms, and high police visibility didn’t make me feel safe or welcome and certainly didn’t inspire me to return.

Thursday I spent at the house trying to stay out of everyone’s way. Kathy and Brian had a lot of work to do so I didn’t want to be a bother. I read quietly and engaged them when they would come out of the office for a break. I tided up the kitchen a couple times. As the day wore on, it got mildly cooler due to some brief showers. I decided to take a walk around 4p. As I was walking I found a used bookstore and picked up two classics I never read: On the Road and The Idiot; I also got Brave New World, something I haven’t read since high school. Then I got myself something to eat and went back to the house.

I had finally connected with the lawyer on Thursday. Jeff Frank who works for, or with, the NLG called me before I went for the walk. We talked about my case. He felt the City would be offering me community service though he did prepare me for a mini-trial if it came down to that. Mr. Frank said we wouldn’t know who the arresting officer was until he saw the paperwork which is something he wouldn’t see until we arrived at the courthouse in the morning. I told him my story about how I tried to move off the street but wasn’t able to, how a male officer took me by the right hand and put me in a control hold then handed me over to a female officer who was very polite, courteous, and gentle with me. I also asked him what I should do with my backpack. “I doubt the bailiffs are going to let me in with it” I said to him “it’s got all my clothes. As soon as I get out of court I have to head to the airport so I don’t know what to do.” He said he would bring his car and I could put it in the back. We then described ourselves physically so we’d be able to recognize each other come morning.

Morning came and I made my way through the Chicago’s subway system to get to the courthouse on W. Fournoy Street. I got there before the building opened so I milled around outside with about 20 other people. I wore a long black dress, with teal jewelry. I stood out like a sore thumb for a three reasons: 1. I was dressed up. 2. I am white. 3. I had a big yellow backpack with me. My fellow defendants — not occupiers, rather victims of a broken system — where mostly young black or Latino men. They looked at me with confused curiosity for a minute or two then totally ignored me. Their loved ones, closer to my age, also looked at me with confusion and curiosity though no one spoke to me. I was curious about them too. I wanted to engage in conversation but none would make eye contact with me so I didn’t press the issue.

The bailiff, an African-American male about 45ish, came out and made this 5 minute long speech about how to get through security, what to do, where to go once you’re in the building, and about being polite and courteous. He then looked at me and said “ma’am you cannot bring that bag in there.” I responded with “The lawyah said he’d put it in the trunk of his ca’ah but he’s not he-ah yet.” The bailiff then smiled this broad, beautiful smile full of white teeth and said “HELLO BOSTON!” Everyone laughed, myself included, so I responded with “Hello Chicago!” The problem of my bag was solved as soon as Mr. Frank showed up.

Mr. Frank is a very handsome man of 60. He’s well dressed and well groomed. He worked as a corporate lawyer for 20 years which he described as “intensely depressing.” He said he lived with the depression until he made the money he needed so he could do the work he wanted, that is to work for the NLG. He said the cop who is on the paperwork as being my arresting officer always shows up to court, that she is really dedicated. I was surprised the woman was my arresting officer. I’ll remind you she was the one who treated me with dignity and respect and who said to the Paddy Wagon officers “you don’t need to worry about her, she’s been cooperative the whole time.” I said to Mr. Frank “she’s not the one who assaulted me. That was a man.” He then went into some legalese about how that actually works to our advantage.

My name was called and I went up. The City prosecutor said “Can I have a few minutes Judge? The officer isn’t here yet.” Mr. Frank got all excited. I sat back down as the judge gave the minutes requested. Then, about 15 minutes later, I was called back up. The prosecutor said “The officer was here on June 6th.” The judge then asked “what was she told to do?” The prosecutor then said “She was told to come back on July 6th. I have one piece of paper that says June 6th.” The judge then said “the bail slip clearly states July 6th. The officer was informed to come back. She’s not here. Dismissed!” I was jubilant.

Despite being jubilant, I was a little disappointed. Part of me wanted to go to trial so I could employ the advice from Kathy: “speak a little louder than you normally do, be sassy, and remind the court you have a right to free speech and the right to assembly both of which you were doing in an orderly fashion.” I live by the theory that everyone is entitled to my opinion and I was willing to give everyone in that courtroom my opinion loudly and sassisly. Alas, that was not my fate.

I have the opportunity to have my arrest expunged now that the case has been dismissed but I don’t think I will. This is my first arrest and something I’m proud off. I’m thinking of making a badge for my old Girl Scout sash, one with #noNATO on it and some handcuffs.

The day just didn’t end there though. My good fortune continued as Mr. Frank chose to drive me to the airport so I didn’t have to take the subway (though I love taking the subway). It gave us a chance to talk and get to know each other a bit. I invited him to NH. He gave me a hug as I was leaving and thanked me for being an occupier and for agitating for change.

At Midway Airport, I got myself an earlier flight home. The wicked nice security guard at the airport received my CTA pass because it still had money on it and I didn’t want to waste it. I sailed though the TSA this time, who didn’t make me pour out the water in my water bottle and let me keep an orange I had in my bag.

I got on the plane, got home, and had an impromptu celebration at Margarita’s in Manchester. A bunch of my fellow ONHers came when I called and texted and we hung out for a while. It was another fantastic day and night.

I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me: my husband, mother, brother, the NLG, Jeff Frank, Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Joshua Broiller, Will Hopkins, and, of course, OccupyNH. To all those I don’t know who tweeted and Facebooked* support to me let me say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I could not, nor would not, have done this without you. Your support is valuable and I really, really appreciate it.

xo,

Michelle

*When did “facebook” become a verb?

__

Here is a copy of the note I wrote to my arresting officer.

Dear Officer ____,

The tension was heavy in the air, our emotions all ran high on May 20, 2012 at the #noNATO rally in Chicago. Protesters tried to remain calm, officers tried to control their fear. It was that day you arrested me.

It was the first time I’ve been arrested despite being on the front lines of progressive activism for 25 years. I was very nervous to say the least. Over the years I’d heard and read in the paper stories of how badly protesters are treated by police and feared I would be treated the same. And I was. A male officer put me in a control hold bending my right wrist to control me through pain despite my compliance with him. He handed me over to you. You leaned in and quietly asked me “why didn’t you disperse when you were told to”? I wanted to respond but I know anything I say can and will be used against me so I remained silent. What I wanted to say was “I was trying but there was no where for me to go. I was kettled by the police.”

While I was in your custody you treated me with dignity and respect. You were gentle and kind to me. And I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You restored some of the faith I’ve lost in the police with your warmth.

I was hoping to thank you in person at my hearing on July 6th – I came back from NH despite the financial quagmire I am in due to chronic unemployment and overbearing student loans – but you were not there. I wanted to hug you for your kindness. Since I cannot do that, I write this note to you in thanks.

We are the 99% (even police!),

Peace, Love, and Happiness,

Michelle

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Yes, Direct Action Works

Detailed here, and all over Facebook, on some local radio shows and throughout the country, a student of Texas A & M learned that the lunatic group Westboro Baptist Church planned to heckle a funeral of a fallen soldier nearby.

As the story on Huffington Post details, the student decided to take action and using Facebook and Twitter, managed to coral as many as 600 students and alumni of the university to form a human wall against the Westboro harassers.

Apparently feeling outgunned by the opposition, the Westboro loons never showed up.

The power of the show of solidarity underscores the power of the American people to come together for a cause they feel passionate about.  With all that’s happening around the country, the calls for actions, the hopeful flurry of protests and events, many nod their heads in hopeless despair, feeling that the people will never have the ability to arise against their oppressor.

But as evidenced by this display of force, the people can indeed come together and when they do, people take notice, most especially the opposition.  This underscores also the fact that lies, propaganda and misinformation by the corporate machinery of this country persist only because we allow it to.  Like the Westboro fringe group, once people come together in a silent, strong show of force, the propagandists wither away like the wicked witch, crushed by the power of truth.

The capacity of people in this country to act against wrong can and should never be underestimated.  Direct action, whether banging a drum and chanting or just standing in silent solidarity does work; it does send a message and it can make change.

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Reflections on the Occupy Hearing – Making History

Arnie doing his thing…

Arnie Alpert, of the American Friends Service Committee of NH, put together an excellent summary of the Occupy hearings that occurred last Friday.

For those who live under a rock or thought this didn’t matter to them — it does and it was a fascinating hearing.  Barbara Keshen of the NH-ACLU,  assembled a relevant, cogent defense, based on the “right to revolution” clause Article 10 of the New Hampshire state constitution.

Barbara served the prosecution their lunch, complete with appetizers of Occupier testimony on their motivations for joining Occupy, a tasty soup to nuts from a local legislator on the inaccessibility of the political system and the Grand Entree from a Rutger’s professor on the state of our economic/political climate and how that effects the agency of the average citizen and Arnie’s finishing with a description of his work in teaching Occupiers peaceful not violent direct action.

A must-read for anyone who cares about the current state of things,  civil liberties, democracy, constitutional law and the power of government.

Without further ado: http://inzanetimes.wordpress.com/

This just in: interview of Barbara Keshen, the ACLU-NH attorney who took on the Occupy defense with Arnie Arnesan

Arnie podcast 6-25-12 – News, Views and Blues

BTW…

I intend to order audio of the hearing to post up on this site so people can hear the whole hearing themselves.  We at Progressive will fund the fee for this.  We can expect the CD in a few days and it will be uploaded here by someone with more tech savvy than me (probably Martin Pfahler, thanks in advance Martin).

But, we would like to be able to post the entire .pdf transcript of this and related motions, arguing memos and final decision.

This costs; costs bundles.  An outside contractor does the work and one has to pay ahead and it could take weeks.  If you are interested in helping to make them available, please let us know,  we will post the exact dollar amount required for the .pdf files and how long they will take.  Our treasurer, Matt Lawrence can provide a tracking of donations for this.  Any small amount will help to make this important case available to all.

please email me directly with any inquiries at: ibuildfuru at yahoo dot com

Thanks,

Katie T.

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