Monthly Archives: September 2008

#Open the Twitter elections page to alternative parties!

Before the first debate, Twitter launched a new page on their site dedicated to a constant stream of twitter posts related to the 2008 election.

Honestly, I am kind of excited about it. It’s interesting to watch (even though it goes faster than I can read, usually). I guess I should say, actually, that I am excited about it’s potential.

Twitter is a very big change in the way media is experienced, yet their site only includes tweets about McCain, Palin, Obama or Biden. This seems like a lost opportunity to make a gesture towards making our American democracy a tiny bit closer to the supposed democracy it claims to be.

Twitter should add filters for all candidates for president who have gained ballot access on enough states to theoretically win the election. This means a filter for Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party, Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party, Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party, and Ralph Nader as an independent.

In order to voice this opinion on the election page, I had to make a tweet with the word “palin” in it.

The capitalist press does not give any coverage to these candidates because, well, they’re capitalists. At worst, they are in cahoots with the major parties, and at best, they don’t want to dedicate the time and money to these candidates who can’t win and who don’t poll well (of course, that’s because they don’t get press…chicken and egg). They do not even cover the hardships candidates have to go through to get onto ballots (my candidate is not even on the ballot in my home state of Missouri) or their calls to be included in the debates. Of course they don’t question these things. These news corporations make a freaking killing on the two party system pageant as it is. Why do anything that would make it less of a pageant and grand illusion of choice?

But Twitter can make a small gesture to change this. They can continue to lead a change in media by questioning the idiotic standards set by these old-fashioned conglomerates. Twitter should not simply aim to be a new way to look at the same old political and news landscape set by corporate media. It should be a breath of fresh air for voices who can’t get a word in on those other mediums.

Don’t worry, Obama will still dominate the elections page, even after these other filters are added. Most conversation will still be about the two major parties. But every once in a while, you’ll get news or commentary on Cynthia McKinney riling up a bunch of angry, disillusioned people at a rally with her logic and desire for actual justice. And some people will stop and think, “Why am I not voting for her again?”

A quick note about Cynthia McKinney. I was at the rally above in Denver before the DNC, and it was really great to see a presidential candidate who I really felt compelled by. Also, Rosa Clemente, her VP choice, was even better to listen to. During a quick set by Dead Prez, McKinney was in the crowd dancing with the rest of us. I decided right then that I cannot vote for anyone who does not dance to hip hop. Later, after a long day of protests and a very successful reclaim the streets march, McKinney was hanging out with us at Food Not Bombs in Civic Center Park just talking and chilling. She was just about everything I wish our democracy could be.

So tweet your support of the inclusion of alternative parties on the twitter elections page. Maybe use the hashtag #open in the post. And work in either biden, palin, obama or mccain so that it ends up on the actual elections page feed.

Our democracy should not, after all, look like this:

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Denver cops sell t-shirt bragging about their police brutality during DNC

I wish I were making this up. But see for yourself.

Photos courtesy of the Colorado Independent.

This t-shirt comes as the district attorney declined Tuesday to prosecute this brutal cop who slammed a Code Pink protester with his over-sized riot stick while yelling, “Back it up, bitch!” during the DNC.

This of course raises the question: What exactly is grounds for prosecution then? I guess he could have shot her. Is that what it would take?

Will these cops be punished for killing a man with a taser just today in New York?

I bet they won’t. That man died. I know I am not the only one who thinks using a paralyzing “non-lethal” weapon while someone is on a 10-foot high ledge will obviously result in that person falling the 10 feet to the concrete. But he’s a naked crazy man, so who cares, right?

There is no accountability in any of this. Law suit will not help. The government gave them $50 million! Obviously the lost funds will not hurt them. Our only other recourse is to punish the individual officers (though, of course, the cops are just players in a violent, brutal system. Zimbardo’s prison experiment and such).

“That line between good and evil, which privileged people like to think is fixed and impermeable, with them on the good side and others on the bad side, I knew that line was movable and was permeable.” – Phillip Zimbardo,

But we are denied even that inadequate form of recourse now.

All you “peaceful” liberals need to wake up. What are we supposed to do when faced with such violence and control? What are we to do when the soldiers hired by the American government (both halves of the capitalist party) to suppress the American people are so proud of their violent repression that they make a t-shirt about it to rub it in our faces.

Don’t judge the kid with the black bandanna for smashing some windows. Maybe that didn’t fix the problem, but what else are you going to do when the powerful remove all means of recourse for their abuse? It should not be surprising when people want to smash your windows (notice the protesters targeted Macy’s, not Mom & Pop’s Neighborhood Shop).

If you still don’t believe me, listen to my boy Elliot Hughes just last night. It takes all of his strength to tell about the torture he received at the hands of the Ramsey County cops while in prison during the RNC.

Really fucking funny, huh?

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Redefining citizen press at the RNC

I wrote previously about The Uptake and their amazing live video Qik coverage of the RNC. But the citizen and independent press at the RNC was even more impressive the more I got into it.

I am a regular user of Twitter (@tfooq), and I’m intrigued by the medium’s potential. But following users like @notq, @theuptake, @coldsnaplegal, @webster and @mnindylive completely opened the RNC to me in a way no live media experience ever has.

Many users around the protests, mostly interested in keeping track of police brutality and helping the protesters keep track of police movements, would send out Twitter posts with bits of information or commentary on experiences. Nathan Oyler (@notq) was one of the best people to follow because, sitting in his Arizona home, kept track of the massive amount of RNC protest-related posts (while also watching the live video from The Uptake) and re-posted each interesting bit. When the action on the group heated up, this was not a small task. Here is an example of just a couple minutes:

The following are posts by Twitter user @notq:

Shot after shot protestors being pounded with gas. Cannot see close enough to give details.

“Firebombs! They grabbed me and said move!”

hitting us over and over. Split us up firing flashbangs into other group.

Chants are back..”who’s streets..our streets!”

people are starting to not be able to see to tweet.

A friend emails: “isn’t using snowplows to block peaceful protesters the mn nice version of tiananmen square?”

tear gas all around the capitol. stay safe.

crowd mostly scattered. They are firing grenades at individuals.

Reporters form the Daily Planet and the Uptake in custody at Ramsey County detention center

cpatton this is fucked no reason for this

Are we no longer Americans? Are we no longer people?

“It’s all happening in the Sears parking lot right now”

i’m just putting in reports, none of this is me, this is all people on the ground.

is natl media covering this?? THIS IS A BIG FUCKING DEAL

police calling for more masks! They are gassing he small peacful crowd. More flashbangs.

Uptakers minus Corrine and friend in car and safe in sears parking lot. Attempting to get to the office.

Ppl are told to go on bridge..everyone is afraid if they do they will be arrested

Several people have been writing about @notq (including this one by Nancy Scola at techpresident.com). What fascinates me is not just the insight it gave me as a follower of the events from my home in the then-recovering Denver, but also the ability of the medium to help those on the ground.

As a protester of the DNC in Denver, I remember turning around to suddenly find a large group of riot cops trapping us into a city block around 15th and Colfax. The first thought I had was, “Man, we should have radios.” After all, they not only have the weapons, but they have the radios. We can have radios and still be peaceful protesters.

But what about iPhones or BlackBerries? I guess it’s kind of unlikely for an anarchist to have a $100/mo data plan and an iPhone, but they proably should. If we had the kind of information delivered at the RNC, maybe we would not have been taken down so quickly.

But who all is following the tweets? Besides medics, protesters and journalists on the ground and people like me following from home, surely the cops, FBI, Secret Service, Halliburton, whoever cares are following also. Like ideal journalism, very good, specific, live citizen journalism like this puts information into the open. It makes the events transparent to all with access to it (so, people with fancy phones or computers). I felt that between The Uptake and the people I followed on Twitter (and my personal experience in Denver) I really had a good grasp on what was happening at the most intense events of the week as they happened.

This brings me to corporate “journalism”. I did like some of the coverage coming out of the Pioneer Press (but the Star Tribune had no concept of what was happening). The PP really seemed to want to get the word out to their readers (which would have included the Republicans at the convention) what was happening in the streets while they were schmoozing at some expensive party or doing whatever it is they did in the Xcel Center. Sure, they trusted the police more than I would have liked them to (they lie constantly, after all), but I guess that’s standard “balanced” journalism or whatever.

But other corporate press had nothing. More coverage inside the staged, phony convention, and no or next-to-no coverage of the real people in streets getting their asses blown up by a $50 million army of violent, heavily armed police. But Cindy McCain’s outfit totalled $313,100! (OK, that is pretty ridiculous. Didn’t they just get ripped on about some houses they lost count of?) Oh, and Sarah Palin. Do you think she has enough experience?

What a joke.

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Elliot Hughes tortured in jail during RNC

I don’t even know what to say about this. I am seriously shaken up by Elliot Hughes’s account of what happened to him in a Ramsey county jail after being arrested during an RNC protest. Just, listen: (video courtesy of The Uptake)

That is way worse than even I thought was going on, and I thought they were doing some fucked up stuff. But torture like this is insane and unbelievable.

I can’t help make the link to the John McCain video showed later at the Convention. It spends a lot of time talking about McCain’s torture experience during Vietnam. All this while an American prison tortures a 19-year-old after arresting him at a protest so that John McCain’s video about him being tortured could be shown without interruption by concerned Americans demanding freedom and democracy.

I don’t know what more to say about it. It really does not need explanation.

UPDATE: Help the abuse get attention by Digging the video.

Also, here is the video of his arrest. As you can see, the cops ran into him, knocking him off his bike, then arrested him for assaulting them…

UPDATE 2: Here is another video of people who experienced police brutality at the RNC along with Elliot.

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Protest planning is now a felony

Free Robert Joseph Czernik, Erik Charles Oseland, Garrett Scott Fitzgerald, Max Jacob Specktor, Monica Rachel Bicking, Nathanael David Secor, Luce Gullen-Givins, and Eryn Chase Trimmer!

These eight protest organizers, arrested before the RNC even got started, have been charged with “felony conspiracy”. Here are some of the things they did to receive this charge, according to the Pioneer Press:

  • One of the pieces of literature found at the office used by the group, at 627 Smith Ave. in St. Paul, read, “Okay, here’s the plan, it’s really quite simple: On September 1st, don’t let them get to the convention.”
  • When officers executed the search warrant on the office, they found 68 people, most from out of state, along with sector maps of St. Paul, flares, PVC pipe, slingshots and a 6 foot by 10 foot map with color-coded entrances and exits to downtown.
  • At 3:25 p.m. on Monday, as clashes between violent protesters and police raged, an informant told police that Czernik was inside a rented office at 287 E. 6th St. in St. Paul monitoring activities. When they arrived, officers found six police scanners, and they believed Czernik fled out a window.
  • Several of the eight went on tours to numerous cities and attended dozens of meetings to plan the protests.
  • That all sounds an awful lot like … protest planning!

    Let’s see, rounding up support in other cities, organizing with interested Americans all across the U.S. That sounds like an excellent protest planning strategy. Actually, that’s above and beyond what your standard American would do for his/her beliefs. Political action from the ground up…isn’t that a good thing?

    They were listening to police scanners during a protest. Is this illegal? The dude at the gas station down the street from me does this all the time, and the media has those things going all day, too. If I had friends who were trying not to get shut down by police, a police scanner would be a great tool to help them out. Hell, if the reports generated from the police scanner move a crowd before cops get there, isn’t that a good thing? Less clashing means less violence, right? Oh wait, these cops love throwing their concussion grenades and tear gas. So charge them with conspiracy to prevent a cop from having fun by hurting a bunch of protesters and press with mass crowd control weaponry.

    When the officers executed their illegal search warrant, they found maps marking different entrances and exits to the city and a bunch of smelly kids who were staying there. No crime yet (unless you take fire codes really seriously in the Twin Cities. Even then, it might not even be against fire code). Oh yeah, and some PVC pipe. You can see that in action holding up banners in just about any protest video or photo. Just a tool of the trade for protesting. Nothing illegal yet.

    They had some literature that read, “Okay, here’s the plan, it’s really quite simple: On September 1st, don’t let them get to the convention.” Here’s a good question, what law protects this convention, anyway? I’m sure there is a law about it, since the people going make the laws, but why should people be allowed to get to the convention? Sure, any person should be free to go wherever they want, but is that worth an army of cops to protect? I say, if your political party has pissed people off so badly that they are willing to risk their bodies shutting down every entrance to an entire city in order to keep you from getting to your big bash, then you don’t deserve to go to your party. Big deal. If you want a party next year, don’t piss the masses off. Democracy in action.

    All this aside, I am confused how having literature that talks big really counts as illegal here. Literature ain’t illegal. If I want to write something that gets people wanting to do something illegal, that is not illegal (unless it urges violence against a group). Shutting down every single entrance to a city with a mass of protesting bodies is not violent, no matter how you spin it. They are not throwing people from cars or anything. They are stopping traffic with dancing and a sweet marching band. (video courtesy of The Uptake)

    So, give them tickets for conspiring to commit a traffic violation, charge them $25 each and let them go. Anything more than that, and the cops will officially be declaring protest planning illegal.

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    Name that sci-fi movie …

    courtesy of the Pioneer Press

    courtesy of the Pioneer Press

    If you said “Real fucking life”, CONGRATULATIONS!

    This is in the Twin Cities as the cops take on protesters with massive crowd suppression weaponry. There’s just something terribly wrong with the image of a bicyclist with a gas mask (let alone an army of them).

    Police is a terrible use of a bike.

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    Live citizen video journalism at the RNC

    I have been captivated by the live video coverage of today’s RNC protests by The Uptake. It has been emotional, scary, tense, funny and informative throughout the day (and still continues as of this writing).

    TV news better be frightened, because now regular people can do everything they can (except, of course, for the giant paychecks).

    The Uptake has two reporters with the ability for live feeds (though the technology limits them to doing bursts of video instead of a consistent stream, it seems). They have one video window embedded in their main page that is powered through Qik. When one person stops transmitting, it will switch to the other stream, if it is going. So you can just sit and wait for video to start. It’s pretty nice. I am sure with a little more organization, this will truly be the new way to cover live events.

    Let’s just say that capitalist media is not really doing this yet. Compare the coverage by the Star Tribune with the coverage at The Uptake and you’ll see what I mean.

    In other news, the cops keep spraying big media photojournalists. In Denver it was New York Times photographer Christian Hansen, and in the Twin Cities it is an AP photographer. Here it is, first-person:

    courtesy of the AP

    courtesy of the AP

    Seems like a bad tactic to me, but it hasn’t really backfired quite yet. Come on, big media, get mad. That pepper spray hurts

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