It is Time We Discussed Abolishing the Police

From CounterPunch:

“If I was an anarchist or even a regular protester,” explained the president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild Ron Smith, “I would probably not want to be infiltrated by the police… Just like the dope dealer on Third and Pike doesn’t want to get busted. That’s the price of doing business. It’s the whole package.” This startling bit of honesty from the Seattle police regarding their imperative to infiltrate and spy on social justice protests came as Ansel Herz, a reporter for the local newspaper The Stranger, questioned Smith regarding undercover cops at a Black Lives Matter protest last December.

For those involved in Left protest movements this is hardly news. I remember my early days in the antiwar movement at Texas Tech University. During the first rallies protesting the invasion of Iraq in 2003 local police with their crew-cuts, wraparound shades, and shirts tucked into Wrangler jeans would “blend effortlessly” into the crowd of college students. Campus police even intruded into a graduate student’s office—much to his surprise—in order to peruse our flyers and posters that were stored there. A year later an investigation by Salon revealed that police had infiltrated antiwar groups in Boulder, Fresno, Grand Rapids, and Albuquerque. A federal prosecutor even demanded Drake University turn over all of its records regarding an antiwar conference held there by the National Lawyers Guild.

Ahead of the Republican National Convention in 2008 Minnesota police in conjunction with the FBI raided the homes of antiwar activists “seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets” according to reports. One of the many police officers who infiltrated antiwar groups prior to the convention would later brag of how protesters “were herded like sheep at the hands of the riot cops.” Ultimately he determined that the “strategy, tactic, and deployments were well planned and extremely effective in controlling [protesters].”

Detective Wojciech Braszczok was one of many undercover cops infiltrating the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, a fact that came to light after his unrelated arrest following the release of a video of him violently assaulting a motorist. Braszczok’s participation in the movement went beyond monitoring protests as he insinuated himself deep into the personal lives of Occupy members even attending birthday parties—all the while collecting “intelligence” for the NYPD. Other undercovers in the Occupy movement worked as agent provocateurs “being paid to go to these protests and put us in situations where we’d be arrested and not be able to leave” as Occupy member Marshall Garrett discovered after his 2011 arrest.

During the 2010 protests against budget cuts and tuition hikes on West Coast college campuses university police sent a spy into meetings of the University of Washington based UW Student Worker Coalition. At UC Davis the administration worked with faculty and police to form the Student Activism Team, a taskforce charged with infiltrating and surveilling Left groups on campus. Even more disturbing, a lawsuit filed last year by the Evergreen State College chapter of Students for a Democratic Society revealed further details of a surveillance ring dating back to 2009 and built around John Towery a member of the Army’s Force Protection Service who had infiltrated the Olympia, Washington student group. According to emails Towery was trying to “develop a leftist/anarchist mini-group for intel sharing and distro” with campus police and police departments in Everett, Spokane, Portland, Eugene, and Los Angeles as well as with various branches of the military.

Last week documents obtained by The Intercept revealed that undercover officers for the NYPD regularly attended Black Lives Matter events. Pictures of activists are kept on file by the department and their movements are tracked. In a statement on these revelations the Metropolitan Transit Authority which has been using its counter-terrorism task force to also spy on Black Lives Matter justified the spying by equating protesters with terrorists. And this is not just the view of local police departments, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force have both been monitoring Black Lives Matter protests across the country showing the dangerous and unfounded link in the minds of police between social justice movements and terrorism.

It is notable that the problem of police infiltration is unique to Left-leaning political groups. Right wing organizations like the Tea Party, the Oath Keepers, and the Ku Klux Klan are more likely to have police as enthusiastic members than moles. Even the FBI’s oft celebrated infiltration of the Klan during the Civil Rights Movement led to more cheerleading for Klan activity than arrests of its members. While police frequently paint Left organizations as violent in order to justify the violation of people’s right to organize politically these right wing terrorist groups are regularly leftunmolested by the supposed keepers of the peace.

There are many people who think the police exist to fight crime. The reality is that the police exist to maintain the status-quo with the rich on top and everyone else fighting for scraps. During the uprising in Ferguson last year comedian Chris Rock commented, “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” The police represent the first line of defense between the rich and the rioters. Those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement—the latest challenge to the racist status-quo—learn quickly the true function of the police as they are shouted at and insulted by police in riot gear who hem in their marches, as they have their photos taken by police surveillance teams for further investigation, as they deal with the never ending stream of plain-clothes cops intimidating, monitoring, sowing seeds of distrust. Knowing the political role of the police perhaps it is time to stop hoping for reform and start imagining a world without the police.

New York City: More than 180 arrests at Occupy Wall Street Anniversary demonstrations

From Capitalist Media:

NEW YORK — Occupy Wall Street protesters celebrated the movement’s anniversary on Monday by clogging intersections in the city’s financial district, marching to the beat of drums that were a familiar refrain last year.

Protesters roamed around the lower Manhattan financial district all morning in groups of a few dozen each, from one intersection to another and back again, chanting loudly about the ills of Wall Street. In total, there were a few hundred protesters scattered throughout the city. More than 180 of them were arrested by early Monday evening, mostly on disorderly conduct charges.

Full story at the Washington Post
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OPEN LETTER IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE OCCUPY WALL STREET MOVEMENT FROM THE JERICHO AMNESTY MOVEMENT TO FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS

The Jericho Amnesty Movement (JAM) is in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS)!  We come to you at a time when the corporations, which run our government, place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality.  As we gather together in solidarity to express opposition to mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We want all the people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world to know that we are your allies.  We acknowledge the reality that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and that upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect our own rights, and those of our neighbors. Corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth. No true liberty is attainable when the process is determined by corporate economic forces.

Those who are imprisoned are locked up because of the same economic forces that fund Wall Street.  For example there are private prisons and ICE detention centers that are run by companies such as GEO Corporation who are funded by big banks such as Wells Fargo.  There is also a struggle to free people who are incarcerated for their political beliefs and actions and who have resisted this monstrous economic system. And it is the same economic system that locks them up. This is our struggle for u.s.- held Political Prisoners (PPs) and Prisoners of War (POWs) and invites your participation.  Continue reading

PART’s Perspective: Occupation, Liberation, and Overcoming Contradictions Among the 99% by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against Racist Terror (ARA-LA/PART)

Which way forward for the Occupy movement and ideas on how to get there by embracing decolonization.

From “Turning the Tide: Journal of Anti-Racist Action, Research & Education”, Volume 24 Number 5, December 2011. Feel free to forward with contact information intact at end.

PART’s Perspective:
Occupation, Liberation, and Overcoming Contradictions Among the 99%
by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against Racist Terror (ARA-LA/PART)

Somewhat akin to the occupation of Alcatraz Island more than four decades ago, Occupy Wall Street has stood the concept of “occupation” on its head. Groups on the left that were chanting “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation” have had to change the last word to “corporations.”

The occupation of Alcatraz, however, was a clearly anti-colonial insurgency that helped spark the on-going struggle for indigenous sovereignty and self-determination that continues to this day and has reached global proportions. The Alcatraz occupation liberated both the shell of an imperial prison and the conquered and colonized land on which it was built. It occurred within a countrywide and worldwide upsurge of colonized and oppressed people and of a new generation claiming its place in the world. Though there are both generational and global parallels today, Occupy Wall Street distinguishes itself from the Alcatraz occupation in having neither explicitly anti-colonial nor categorically anti-capitalist politics.
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Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPD

The Occupy Wall Street protests have been going on for a month. And it seems the FBI and NYPD have had help tracking protesters’ moves thanks to a conservative computer security expert who gained access to one of the group’s internal mailing lists,and then handed over information on the group’s plans to authorities and corporations targeted by protesters.

Since the Occupy Wall Street protest began on September 17, New York security consultant Thomas Ryan has been waging a campaign to infiltrate and discredit the movement. Ryan says he’s done contract work for the U.S. Army and he brags on his blog that he leads “a team called Black Cell, a team of the most-highly trained and capable physical, threat and cyber security professionals in the world.” But over the past few weeks, he and his computer security buddies have been spending time covertly attending Occupy Wall Street meetings, monitoring organizers’ social media accounts, and hanging out with protesters in Lower Manhattan.

Read the rest here.

The cops are not allies: Over 700 arrested during Occupy Wall Street march across Brooklyn Bridge

Protesters declare arrests were “set as a trap”

In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

The police said it was the marchers’ choice that led to the enforcement action.

“Protesters who used the Brooklyn Bridge walkway were not arrested,” Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said. “Those who took over the Brooklyn-bound roadway, and impeded vehicle traffic, were arrested.”

But many protesters said they believed the police had tricked them, allowing them onto the bridge, and even escorting them partway across, only to trap them in orange netting after hundreds had entered.

“The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway,” said Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street who marched but was not arrested.
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