Friday, December 23, 2011
I am proud that OccupyDC joined the rally last Saturday demanding Bradley's freedom. The military wants to put this great gay American behind bars for life. His crime? Reporting war crimes and widespread government corruption, which helped light the fire of the Arab Spring. That in turn inspired Occupy here in the states.
This is a good review of Bradley's case at this point:
Punishing the whistleblower? - Inside Story Americas - Al Jazeera English
Sunday, October 02, 2011
One of the most frequent, and powerful in my mind, themes touched on by this growing movement is the concept that we are the 99% and we are being sold out and exploited by the richest 1% and their enormous corporations (recently given First Amendment rights by the US Supreme Court). The ones who get generous tax breaks and simply want to feed their own greed with no concern for the overall health of the nation. The disparity between the billionaires and the rest of us has increased and is quickly beginning to resemble many third world countries where there is no middle class.
The exciting thing about this movement, and its surprising growth, is the young folks -- the Millenials -- playing such a key role in an open and truly democratic process, which I think is part of an early stage of an actual nonviolent revolution. And about a week ago on NPR I remember hearing a discussion lead by Linda Werrtheimer about this generation (folks in their 20s on down to middle school), and all the talking heads agreed that cooperation and putting the needs of the group ahead of the individual was a hallmark of this generation. They believed that the emphasis on cooperation, far more than the last several generations, would lead to them being able to solve many of the world's problems. Sounds pretty idealistic, but I think it's true.
The media although beginning to cover the occupation, still can't seem to get the messaging right. Here is a manifesto of sorts put forward by the occupiers. I am rather hopeful after what I saw in that park in lower Manhattan. I saw a food station, a medical station, rain tarps, a myriad of progressive causes being advocated, a drum circle, and a engaging nonviolent direct action training. I also saw a lot of mutual respect among the participants, and a determination not to be lulled into complacency by slick and corrupt politicians and mind numbing celebrity-driven TV (as so many of my generation was).
The march to Brooklyn Bridge was also exciting, although a bit scary when Laurel got stuck behind the cops' orange fencing (now a favorite tool of the NYPD when making mass unlawful arrests). Luckily she got out soon enough and we met back at the bus returning to DC, but it was reported that 700 nonviolent protesters were arrested when they blocked east-bound traffic on the bridge. That is a major nonviolent direct action, and didn't get that much press, but it is still a powerful movement. Word on the streets in Manhattan is that the unions will start endorsing, and apparently the New York Teamsters already did. And there is a lot of talk over the weekend how 200 NYC cops refused to show up to enforce crackdowns on the occupation.
"Something has started," Michael Moore simply stated on Democracy Now last week when talking about Occupy Wall Street. And it's something I am feeling extremely hopeful about. It maybe the start of a much needed revolution to secure a better future for 99% of us.
This Thursday it comes to Freedom Plaza, DC -- my hometown. I will be there for a little part of it. And although the first two or three days will be far more programmed (permit, big stage, older group of people on a steering committee) than Occupy Wall Street, it will quickly take on a very grassroots and participatory democratic structure, and a life of its own, when many refuse to leave and truly make this mobilization in the capital city another sustainable occupation demanding greater social and economic justice for all.
Friday, September 02, 2011
A Quaker and a talented singer Rustin became involved in the gay rights movement during his later years. Sadly the dedication ceremony of Dr. King’s Memorial was rained out because of Hurricane Irene. Yet his legacy will never be dimmed or overlooked. However many are unaware of Rustin who played an incredibly influential role in the young Atlantan preacher’s life.
A gay black man from Westchester, Pennsylvania, Rustin was involved in nonviolent direct action against discrimination while Martin Luther King Jr. was still in college. And he was out when precious few gays journeyed beyond the closet. In fact, in 1953, Rustin was convicted and spent 60 days in a California jail for “sex perversion,” which was consensual sex with a man in a car. However, this experience never slowed down Rustin who went on to become an influential advisor to both civil rights and labor leaders.
During his tenure with the War Resister’s League, Rustin met Dr. King and began working directly with him. Beginning in the mid-1950s, he was advising Dr. King on Gandhian nonviolent tactics. In fact, the March on Washington was mainly organized by Rustin with the full support of labor leader A. Philip Randolph. Life Magazine featured the two of them on its cover shortly after the march. Both civil rights leaders and white segregationists disparaged Rustin for being gay. However, we might never have heard “I Have a Dream” if it wasn’t for this persistent and dedicated gay black man.
In addition, Rustin quickly recognized King’s leadership and helped build the Southern Christian Leadership Conference around him. Later he was forced to resign, despite Dr. King’s support, from the same organization he was responsible for forming due to his being out.
Other activities Rustin engaged in before King even appeared on the landscape, included travelling to California to help protect the property of Japanese Americans imprisoned in internment Camps during WWII, and co-organizing the Journey of Reconciliation, which was the first of the Freedom Rides – directly testing the Supreme Court ruling which banned racial segregation in interstate travel.
Every August 28th America pauses and remembers Dr. King’s eloquent and visionary words from the steps of the Lincoln Monument. Perhaps we can also begin remembering the gay man who was influential and prominent behind the podium, Bayard Rustin.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
The time is now to act (before it is too late)! We just need enough people to stop business as usual in DC, the capital of the empire.
Here are some videos about October2011 made by Dennie Trainor Jr.:
Why I will be in Freedom Plaza
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Rep. Kucinich and eight other brave members of Congress are currently suing President Obama for Peace. Their case states that the commander-in-chief is in violation of the War Powers Act when it comes to the War on Libya. Obama absurdly contends that our military is not engaged in "hostilities" when it bombs buildings and kills people in this North African nation. Therefore, the pres claims the law does not apply. The War Powers Act was passed in order to further clarify Article 1 of our Constitution (that Congress and the President need to make such war-making decisions jointly). Passed in 1973, it was designed to check unlimited presidential military actions. Sadly, it has been ignored by presidents and Congress for at least a couple decades now.
I doubt this lawsuit, although a very honorable step, will gain much ground. If folks haven't noticed things have not gone well for the peace and justice movement for the last few years... The American people, however, are getting increasingly angry with the lack of jobs, the continued bailout of bankers and the wealthiest of the wealthy, and endless wars which cost us trillions of dollars we simply do not have.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. Government has spent more than $1.2 Trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. If we break that down for Fiscal Year 2011 alone, that sum of money could have been used to provide healthcare for 86.8 million low income children, or 73.7 million households with renewable electricity (wind power), or 15.5 million one-year university scholarships for one year. Where are our priorities?
On October 6th of this year my affinity group will be gathering in downtown DC and then marching to the huge mobilization at Freedom Plaza. The organizers of this mobilization intend for the mass of peace and justice loving people to not leave until some demands are met. Chief among those demands are to remove U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which will be entering its second decade (the longest U.S. war ever) that month, and redistribute these funds into relief for the poor and programs to protect our fragile environment.
We, the people, can change the direction of our country. We need to have faith in our own power. Just as the people in Tahrir Square, Cairo had faith in their own collective power. We must remain united and strong and beautifully nonviolent, but not passive. Yes, positive social change can happen in our lives. Are you ready to be a part of it?
My affinity group will be taking the name Camp Agape. You can join if you are committed to nonviolence, and are willing to put the groups needs above your own during your time at Freedom Plaza. We need to look out for one another, comfort one another and share food and water with one another. We also hope to be a place of hospitality to those more vulnerable than us who typically make the streets of downtown DC their homes. We hope to share some of our food and water with them.
Camp Agape also hopes to be a place of listening, sharing wisdom, and supporting one another during some stressful days. If you want to play a part in a great change with other people who believe (and live) in love of their fellow humans, join us.
Here's some more information on this massive mobilization!
Thursday, June 09, 2011
There has been a call put out to the entire peace and justice movement to assemble in Freedom Plaza (downtown DC, along Pennsylvania Avenue), and to not leave until the U.S. Government begins withdrawing all it military forces from Afghanistan (this will be at the same time our nation completes a decade of war in this Third World country) and begins to redirect war funds to desperately needed social programs and protections for the environment. The original organizers are encouraging people not to leave until the demands are met. I think this does need to happen. But I also realize that those leaving their homes and camping out on the concrete slabs of Freedom Plaza will need support. They will need food and water brought into them. Folks will need to begin to organize themselves, as did the courageous protesters in first Egypt and Tunisia, and now currently in Spain.
So will it last longer than a couple days, will the mass media largely ignore us? Again, I will repeat, this needs to happen. The U.S. Government no longer truly represents the people -- it represents Wall Street's interests and private companies. It continues to pursue endless wars, while now embracing austerity measures. Will the American people finally stand up for themselves and speak out loud and clear, saying "Enough is enough -- bring the war dollars home!"?
I am laying the groundwork (Alice G. is the first one to join me!) for my own affinity group for October 6, 7 and 8. I do have tentative plans to fly out of DC on Oct. 9 with my college buddy Matt. I will finally visit the great state of Arizona and visit Sedona and the Grand Canyon. If the people's revolt continues until the time I fly out of town, I will consider this action a success. Because by then, it can't simply be ignored. The people's voices will be heard in the halls of power.
It will be a positive experience, and I want to organize my affinity group around positivity; around the creative powers of love and the full commitment to community. Even if the revolt's demands are not met, people will begin to notice that people are exercising their own power, and more will be inspired to follow suit. This could be the beginning of something great and long-lasting.
My two suggestions leading up to Oct. 6 is that we reach out to Unions -- such as what we saw in Madison. That we in the peace and justice movement fully embrace those struggling for labor rights. That we accept that there can be no lasting peace without justice. I would also like to see us embrace and highlight local causes -- such as DC Statehood (Taxation Without Representation) and the hospitality of the homeless we will encounter in DC. We need to follow the lead of our brave brothers and sisters in Food Not Bombs, and provide food for free. This is a part of the world we want to create.
Are we ready? I hope so. It's going to be an exciting time in DC by the time October rolls around. Let's make a difference in our lives and communities, let's be part of a paradigm shift away from violence and uncontrolled consumerism, toward peace, justice and a greater sense of responsibility to our communities.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
My current activism remains almost exclusively focused on courageous whistle blower, Bradley Manning (now moved from Quantico to more humane Leavenworth). The prosecution and persecution of Bradley and other whistle blowers reveals the repressive nature of Barack Obama’s presidency. Although he claimed “hope” and even pushed “government transparency” during his campaign, the reality of his time as president has proven to be the opposite.
We (the Bradley Manning Support Network) had a tele-press conference for Bradley (exactly one year after his arrest) recently which featured Pentagon Papers’ Daniel Ellsberg and WikiLeak’s Julian Assange. It proved to be wildly successful. Here are a couple news stories that emerged from it:
I promise to write more very soon. This week will be Ray’s birthday! He’s a wonderful guy who is now in my life. And on Monday announcements will be made about a very important action taking place in downtown DC in October…
So, I promise, more very soon. Right now I’m dealing with a severe toothache that the dentist will help take care of Monday morning. Bruno is doing well, but kind of detests the heat and humidity.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Here is the latest on Bradley Manning (securing his freedom is my focus now)...
Mistreatment of Manning Criticized by UN Torture Investigator, Hundreds of Legal Academics and Hundreds of ThousandsBy Kevin Zeese
Colonel: "Obama Could End Torture with One Phone Call"
For Immediate Release
For Further Information
Kevin Zeese (301-996-6582 cell)
Bradley Manning Support Network
Email address removed
Mistreatment of Manning Criticized by Leading Law Professors & UN Torture Investigator
Hundreds of Thousands Write Obama Urging End to Manning Abuse
Washington, DC: The eight months of solitary confinement of Bradley Manning at Quantico has drawn national and international criticism in the last week. Support is growing for him around the world with 500,000 writing President Obama in the last few days and with hundreds of top U.S. legal scholars criticizing his conditions of confinement.
Lawyers representing every leading law school in the United States have written an open letter to President Obama criticizing the conditions of Manning. Among the law professors is Lawrence Tribe who was President Obama's law professor at Harvard and served in his administration until recently. The letter, Private Manning's Humiliation , raises questions about President Obama saying: "President Obama was once a professor of constitutional law, and entered the national stage as an eloquent moral leader. The question now, however, is whether his conduct as commander in chief meets fundamental standards of decency."
Col. Ann Wright (ret) who served 29 years in the military noted that "President Obama could end the treatment of Manning with one phone call. As Commander-In-Chief he is responsible for the actions of the Marines at Quantico. Certainly he understands the constitutional right to be convicted before punished and that the condition of Manning violates protection from cruel and unusual punishment."
The UN Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez reprimanded the United States for blocking an official visit with Manning to investigate his treatment. The UN torture investigator has been reviewing Manning's case since December but the United States will not allow a private meeting with no tape recording. The military has also refused a U.S. Congressman's request for an official visit to Manning, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, as well as a visit from Amnesty International.
Daniel Ellsberg, a veteran who graduated from Quantico and is noted for leaking the Pentagon Papers commented: "It seems likely that the Pentagon's refusal to allow Amnesty International and the UN Rapporteur on Torture to hold unmonitored discussion with Bradley Manning (as the UN mandate demands) reflects well-founded fear that such experts on abusive conditions and torture could conclude that Manning's treatment is not only "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid' -- as State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley was forced to resign for saying-- but criminal."
This comes at a time when the U.S. and China are challenging each other on human rights. China issued a lengthy report regarding human rights violations in the United States this week. As PJ Crowley, former Assistant Secretary of State said when he resigned the Manning case would be an embarrassment to the U.S. internationally, highlighting "the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today's challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values."
Around the world there is growing anger at the treatment of Manning. Five hundred thousand people have sent letters to President Obama urging him to "immediately end the torture, isolation and public humiliation of Bradley Manning." The petition was put out by Azaaz.org and is addressed to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates.
"A half million people have taken a stand in support of Bradley Manning. It's certainly a challenge to President Obama to get on the right side of history here and finally put an end to the extreme and illegal pre-trial punishment," said Jeff Paterson, a veteran speaking on behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network. "After he ends the mistreatment of Manning, he could then ensure that Bradley receives the fair and public trial that is guaranteed under the Constitution."
Call the White House and tell President Obama end the torture of Bradley Manning: Comments: 202-456-1111. Switchboard: 202-456-1414.
# # #
Sunday, February 27, 2011
March 13th we have the fundraiser for Bradley Manning's Legal Defense Fund. Location: Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Streets NW.
March 19th Veterans for Peace lead a big protest and civil resistance action at the White House.
March 20th we have a rally and march to the gates of Quantico (similar to what was done on MLK Day). Buses have been reserved to take folks from Union Station.
Meanwhile, the resistance to union busting and the further destruction of the Middle Class intensifies in Wisconsin. Hundreds of protesters have reclaimed their state capitol building in Madison, staying overnight in the rotunda. This same beautiful resistance is now beginning to spread to Indiana and Ohio.
I really don't think the corporate servant boy, Gov. Walker of Wisconsin will be re-elected in three years from now. It must also be pointed out that this beautiful show of people standing up for themselves and fully participating in democracy owes a lot to the successful anti-government revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. I think many Americans are getting sick and tired of bailing out huge banks while their incomes have shrunk were inspired by our colleagues in North Africa.
So, anyhow, March will be a busy month and I am ready to work on making links between transparency, truth, justice, peace and accountability. These themes run through Cairo, Madison, and here in the belly of the imperial beast.
My thoughts continue to be with Bradley Manning every day, and I leave this entry with the following: "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." ~George Orwell
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
In late May 2010, Private First Class Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst with the US Army in Baghdad, was arrested, suspected of providing the “Collateral Murder” video to Wikileaks. This video was covered widely in the mass media and has been viewed as revealing a war crime.
On June 6, 2010, he was charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including eight criminal offenses and four noncriminal violations of Army regulations. The full charge sheet is available at www.bradleymanning.org/3163/charge-sheet-html.
Bradley's arrest was precipitated by an alleged online chat confession to convicted felon and hacker Adrian Lamo. The details about and circumstances around this online chat are unconfirmed and somewhat dubious.
The military held Bradley Manning in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait until late July, 2010, at which time they transferred him to U.S. Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Virginia. They have continued to hold him there in solitary confinement. If convicted Manning could spend 52 years in prison.
On the 3rd of November, 2010 agents from Homeland Security and the F.B.I. stopped David House, a developer and friend of Bradley, while on his way back into the United States from a short vacation. They seized his laptop and other electronic devices, then proceeded to question him regarding his visits to Manning at Quantico. They did all of this without a warrant or charges.
On the 15th of December Glenn Greenwald published a key article concerning the inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention at Quantico. Articles and interviews followed confirming Greenwald’s story, including one by David House and a blog entry by Bradley’s lawyer, David E. Coombs.
Coming swiftly behind these articles, the office of Manfred Nowak, United Nations special rapporteur on torture, confirmed that they received an official complaint about Bradley’s situation. Two other United Nations special rapporteurs also released a joint statement meant to “recall a number of international legal principles”, point number three being protection for so-called “whistle blowers” when they release information about wrongdoing.
At the same time several outlets reported that Bradley’s prosecutors were attempting to incriminate Julian Assange, co-founder of Wikileaks, by offering deals to Bradley. It should be noted that the prosecution of whistle blowers is increasing during the Obama administration (ie: Tom Drake, Shamai Leibowitz).
On Martin Luther King Day 2011, Approximately 150 concerned citizens marched to the front gates of Quantico base demanding Bradley's freedom. A couple days later, apparently in retaliation, the brig commander took additional punitive steps toward Bradley. His clothes and his eye glasses were taken from him for a couple days. Within a week this brig commander was replaced by a new one.
Now, at the start of the second decade in the second millennium, Bradley Manning has a growing list of supporters, including famous whistle blowers, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and Colleen Rowley (a TIME "Person of the Year" for 2002) who retired from the FBI. We hope that you will join us as well, and act in support of justice in this historic time.
To learn more: http://www.bradleymanning.org/
Many of us return to Quantico on March 20th.
And here's the petition for Marylanders only...
Investigate punitive holding conditions of Bradley Manning Petition
Sunday, February 06, 2011
Maryland fight against militarism in schools 2/1/2011 - GreenTeaParty | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio
Maryland fight against militarism in schools 2/1/2011 - GreenTeaParty | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Happy Birthday to Dr. M. L. King Jr. (his actual birthday was Saturday); we are given a federal holiday for a great man! A man of amazing vision, a revolutionary (on a spiritual/ethical plane) leader, and someone with a prophetic message.
Here's one of his quotes, as some of us will be protesting at the FBI Building (due to crack downs on nonviolent peace activists in the Midwest) and Quantico (where Bradley Manning has been held in solitary confinement for more than 7 months): "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere..."
I have come to realize that much of this nation -- especially the government -- has reached the spiritual death that Dr. King warned about in his 1967 Riverside speech. This speech was made when King was being criticized for denouncing the war the U.S. waged in Vietnam.
Below is an e-mail exchange I had with a devout liberal Democrat. This shows you that many still believe pleading with the politicians of the two wings of the corporate-dominated party is the way to go. I am afraid we are well past this now. I am removing his name out of respect. But first, here is another King quote I am remembering, as I honor this great man today...
"We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must ... shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered."
Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:08 PM
This is an honest dialogue. I am not sure why you are trying to use Dr. King's great legacy (one in which he truly believed in the power of THE PEOPLE) to win an intellectual debate. My aim is to help people realize the power they have when they create communities of resistance and form grater circles of solidarity. We don't need to be reminded of the power of those in government (the reason for the two protests tomorrow).
Kennedy did not want King to march on Washington. And nowadays many in power don't want folks to know about when King spoke out against Vietnam and the entrenched militarism in our society. We get a sterilized version of "I have a dream." To truly honor Dr. King is to try and learn from what he was teaching and the truly prophetic message he had. Personally, I believe this nation -- especially the government has reached the spiritual death that King warned about. And if we don't choose people over property and profits (which he also warned about) we are sealing our own doom.
I hope to see you tomorrow. I am glad you are fighting for what is righteous and just. We both want many of the same things -- we are simply taking different routes. I honor Dr. King by the contributions I have made (including going to DC Jail for speaking out against war) and continue to make (fundraising for Brad's legal defense and financial contributions to Courage to Resist and Coal River Mountain Watch).
In peace and understanding,
On Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 10:54 PM, Liberal Democrat wrote:
Votes, contributions, and most of all being known for doing the right thing. That's what's in it for them. These are just people after all.
Hope arises where it will. It's not an either or situation--believing in ourselves and those in office who deserve belief in them.
Have a great MLK day--a holiday we have thanks to politicians, honoring a man who worked with then and future politicians to achieve great things.
On 1/16/11 10:48 PM, Pete Perry wrote:
> Mike, You didn't answer my question. ;) What's in it for them?
> I am not trying to discourage. Just trying to help people realize what many of us in the peace and justice movement have come to realize: The system is broken and needs to be completely replaced. That's where I would like to spend my long-term energies.
> The hope is in we the people with vision. Not politicians. I want people to believe in themselves, not a certain clique controlled by corporate interests on Capitol Hill.
> "Right of the People to alter or to abolish it..." ~Declaration of Independence
> On Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 10:37 PM, Liberal Democrat wrote:
> There's a lot in it for them. Dr. King warned against cynicism. In his honor, let's not expend any energy discouraging each other, OK?
> On 1/16/11 10:27 PM, Pete Perry wrote:
>> What's in it for them? The same old political calculation holds true -- they don't want to lose the more conservative votes. And they won't lose most "liberals," because they are still democrats afterall...
>> On Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 5:40 PM, Liberal Democrat wrote:
>> I'm not sure the electeds need to do anything public, just a few phone calls to the right people could help get attention for the motions.