Archive for October 2011
Nellie Bailey from Harlem Fightback Against War at Home & Abroad can be seen being arrested right after Cornell West in this video from RT via Youtube:
New York Times October 21, 2011, 6:47 pm
Protesters of Police Stop-and-Frisk Practice Are Arrested
About 30 people, including the civil rights campaigner and Princeton professor Cornel West, were arrested Friday outside a police station in Harlem during a protest of the police practice known as stop-and-frisk.
Dozens of activists and people who described themselves as victims of stop-and-frisk began their demonstration in front of the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building on 125th Street, on a corner that Dr. West, an organizer of the rally, said had been “consecrated by giants like Malcolm X.” The group, chanting and holding signs, marched along 125th Street, past the Apollo Theater, to the 28th Police Precinct station house, on Frederick Douglass Boulevard.
The practice of stop-and-frisk, in which the police stop people on the street and sometimes frisk them, has been criticized by minority and civil rights groups that complain that blacks and Hispanics are unfairly singled out. Last year the department made more than 600,000 of the warrantless stops, and it is on pace to exceed that number this year. While the police say there is a valid reason for the stops, including suspicious behavior, opponents of the practice note that very few stops result in arrests.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended the tactic on his Friday morning radio show on WOR.
“It’s used in communities where we have lots of guns and lots of murder victims,” he said. “And we’ve brought crime down 35 percent in the last 10 years. We have — I don’t know — I don’t think we’re going to set a record for low murders, but we’ll have the second best year in the history of the city this year, and there’s a reason for those things, and this is one of the tactics.
“People say, ‘Oh, you can do it without that’; well, you know you have — nobody is ever going to — some people don’t want you to do anything,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
The result of doing nothing, he said, would be “a society you can’t live in.”
The demonstrators, surrounded by officers and fenced in by steel barricades at the police station, voiced anger about the policy, which they said was racist, intimidating and unjust because of its focus on young blacks and Hispanics.
“We have to come to terms with arbitrary police power,” Dr. West said as he kicked off the march, his words repeated, in Occupy Wall Street fashion, by a crowd that consisted of several drumming and chanting activists who came up from Zuccotti Park.
Dr. West underscored the solidarity of the protests, in what he called a unified front against financial and racial inequality, and he said the goal of the uptown rally was to “ensure that the rights of young folks, disproportionately poor and black and brown, are acknowledged and affirmed.”
Dr. West and other organizers had said that they intended to get arrested. Around 2:30, the police began to arrest the protesters who were close to the entrance to the station house.
Also among those arrested were Carl Dix, a national spokesman for the Revolutionary Communist Party; several local religious leaders; and James Vrettos, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Those who were arrested were loaded onto police trucks and vans.
While virtually all of the arrests were uneventful, one activist, a member of a group called the People’s Patrol of New York City, was carried away by officers by his arms and legs — a scene that for a time angered dozens of demonstrators.
The police said that they did not have an exact number of those arrested and that charges were pending.
Occupy Wall Street: What You Can Demand versus What You Must DO
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
Occupy Wall Street activists are under some pressures to come up with demands to make of the powerful. However, “in many cases, there is no point in demanding anything from your enemy, except that he drop dead in a hurry.” If Wall Street is an unadulterated evil as many OWS folks claim – and they are right – then what is to be demanded of the banksters and their friends? That they commit suicide, forthwith? And how do you reform a cancer away? “Well before 1999, Wall Street power had passed the point where it could be controlled by conventional regulation.”
“What does a movement of the 99% versus the 1% mean by democracy, when measured against the privileges of money?”
If the signage at the Wall Street occupation site and its thousands of satellites around the country tells the tale, the dominant sentiment in the nascent movement is that finance capital be ejected from the commanding heights of power. True, there are myriad other issues in the churning mix of leaderless people power, but this is the tie that binds, without which centrifugal forces would have hurled the small, founding band of organizers into oblivion. Washington, DC’s Freedom Plaza, the other pole of the occupation force field, was established by significantly older, veteran activists, some of whom have wished Wall Street dead since the days before the bankers murdered and cannibalized (liquidated!) the last Titan of Industry.
Having challenged the plutocrats and all their minions – and gaining majority support of the American people in the process – the “movement” is called upon, from inside and out, to make specific demands. Of course, Old Fred taught us that power concedes nothing without a demand. But the wrong demands can undo a popular project, so this is not something to rush into. And, in many cases, there is no point in demanding anything from your enemy, except that he drop dead in a hurry.
It is by no means clear to me that all of the folks who claim to be bankster-slayers really want to kill the beast, or merely attempt to shrink or tame it. The logic of political economy, historical experience and common sense dictates that, if the vast wealth and power that flows from concentrated private capital is what allowed Wall Street to achieve hegemony over every important aspect of U.S. society, then concentrated capital must be vanquished; that it be given no space or opportunity to regroup to make further war on democracy.
“The wrong demands can undo a popular project, so this is not something to rush into.”
Ah, democracy, the other dominant current in the occupation conversation. What does a movement of the 99% versus the 1% mean by democracy, when measured against the privileges of money? Is it acceptable that any human being wield a million times as much influence on society as the average Josephine, by virtue of his wealth or connections to money? What about the only somewhat rich, with a few thousand times as much societal clout? Would they be prevented, like parolees, from fraternizing with their peers, lest they combine to exercise mega-clout? And, what about when these rich guys put on their masks and call themselves “The Markets.” Will we allow them to run around freely, buying and selling stuff to make millions (and then billions and derivative trillions) for themselves while, as a byproduct, affecting the terms of life for all the rest of us, wholly outside the democratic process or any civilized notion of development?
Does anyone seriously believe that today’s Masters of the Universe will allow themselves to be shut out – as a class – of the electoral pathways to state power, without wreaking havoc on an impudent society through their current control of every lever of power and the sheer crush of their money? One cannot simply leave the hegemon intact, allowing him to retain all the powers of concentrated capital that made him Master, and expect him to accept the new limitations.
The idea that the plutocrats can be quarantined from power, while remaining plutocrats, is absurd. And no, there is no difference between Warren Buffet, the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, the Walton (Mal-Mart) family and the late Steven Jobs. Their very existence is an insult to any legitimate concept of democracy. Every one of them would kill a million people to preserve his billions. They already do.
“The idea that the plutocrats can be quarantined from power, while remaining plutocrats, is absurd.”
A movement must be prepared to break the plutocrats’ power – confiscate his fortune or make it impossible to spend – or find themselves like Lilliputians trying to tie down a huge and vicious unchained Gulliver while he stomps on you like roaches.
There is a nostalgia and romanticism in some neighborhoods of the movement – understanding that anyone is welcome to wander in and claim membership – that has echoes in the Tea Party. A Washington Postcolumn by Barry Ritholtz, an author and head of a quantitative research firm, offers advice to the OWS movement. He wants to “bring back real capitalism,” with no bank bailouts. His closely related position is to end “too big to fail” banks in order to “restore competition.” None of this works, however, if the “real” finance capitalism at this stage in its development is exactly what we have experienced: an inherently unstable system that inexorably moves toward further consolidation, suborning every social institution along the way as a consequence of its very nature. If capitalism is in deep crisis – which is the case – and if the nature of that crisis compels finance capitalist institutions to search for ever-increasing returns through rigged markets, derivatives, systematic looting of vulnerable communities, overseas plunder under U.S. military protection and wholesale privatization of public assets in the developed capitalist countries, all of which requires massive corruption of the political and moral life of the home society, then we have simply experienced late-stage finance capitalism as it actually exists. Ritholtz would have us send the banks back to some previous era, where they will regain the vigor and moral uplift of youth.
Ritholtz clearly loves banks, or the idea of banks, and would never transfer their societal functions – which they no longer fulfill – to public entities under democratic direction. He thinks “competition” will solve the problem. However, Ritholtz does support a constitutional amendment to keep corporate money out of congressional elections, which I suppose gets his nose under the broad OWS tent, so to speak.
“Finance capital preys on the real economy and is most responsible for devouring and privatizing the public sector.”
What about bringing back Glass-Steagall, the 1932 law that separated investment banking from commercial banking, but was repealed in 1999 under President Bill Clinton? Would reinstatement of Glass-Steagall fit the bill for meaningful reform worthy of OWS? I don’t think so. If the power of Wall Street was such in 1999 that a Democratic administration would collaborate in repeal of a foundational New Deal economic pillar, then finance capital was already hegemonic. Well before 1999, Wall Street power had passed the point where it could be controlled by conventional regulation. Rather, the struggle is to free society from its fatal embrace. There is no reforming Wall Street, only its dismantling and simultaneous replacement by public institutions for allocating capital for human needs and development.
The crisis of capitalism is the hegemony of finance capital, which is beyond repair. $16 trillion dollars in infusions from the public sector under President Obama – more than the gross domestic product of the United States – have failed to cause Wall Street to function as a social asset of the nation or the global economy. Quite the opposite; finance capital preys on the real economy and is most responsible for devouring and privatizing the public sector, leaving the people naked to the predations of a dying and parasitic system.
People can choose to be ruled by rich men who call themselves “markets” or they can trust themselves to erect public institutions that are responsive to human needs. For four weeks now, the swelling OWS movement has claimed to be contemplating how to harness democracy and end plutocracy. Since it is patently clear that plutocrats and democracy cannot coexist, the project is to rid us of the plutocrats, while there’s still time to save our world. Once that’s understood, the rest is in the details.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
OCCUPY HARLEM MOBILIZATION!!!
We stand in solidarity with Occupiers of Wall Street
Friday, October 28, 2011
6:30 – 9:30 PM
St. Philip’s Church
204 West 134th Street
(Adam Clayton Powell Blvd)
A call to Blacks, Latinos, and immigrants to occupy their communities against predatory investors, displacement, privatization and state repression. Let us assert our Dignity! WE MUST DEFEND OUR COMMUNITIES! THIS IS OUR STRUGGLE, THIS IS OUR MOMENT IN HISTORY. THIS IS PEOPLE’S POWER!
We stand in solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters occupying cities, towns and neighborhoods in the United States. We stand in solidarity with poor and working class people across the globe rising up against criminal predatory finance capital that has no regard for humanity, that has no regard for Mother Earth.
Wall Street, the epicenter of international finance capital, began its financial prosperity with slave profiteering firms, JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia Bank and Bank of America. In fact, Wall Street and most of the city’s financial district were built on the burial ground of captured Africans forced into genocidal free labor for centuries, a crime against humanity. The legacy of that crime against humanity manifested today in Jim Crow mass incarceration, a crisis of massive Black unemployment and the greatest loss of wealth for people of color from subprime lending frauds estimated between $164 billion and $213 billion.
Finance capital plutocrats have always controlled the US political system. They threaten and received a $16 trillion bank bailout, the greatest thief of taxpayers’ money in modern US history. And it’s only the tip of the iceberg because the banks have an estimated $700 trillion of worthless derivatives, the BULL in the china shop that might very well bring down Wall Street.
Let us, the 99 percent, build a united people’s movement of the poor, the working class and the middle class to reign in the one percent. ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE!
Join us for this Occupy Harlem mobilization with guest speakers and the occupy site to be announced.
NO MORE BANK BAILOUTS! NO MORE WARS! WE WANT MONEY FOR JOBS, HOUSING, EDUCATION AND MEDICAL CARE.
Endorsements: Harlem Fightback Against War at Home & Abroad, People Organization for Progress, International Action Center, United National Anti-war Coalition, All African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC), Kwame Ture Institute, Jersey City Peace Movement, Pakistan Solidarity Network, Pakistan USA Freedom Forum, BAYAN USA, DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) and more to be announced.