Tag Archives: denver

#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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Cops illegally raid RNC protesters

If there is a lesson to be learned from these convention protests, it’s that security culture is more important than anyone had previously thought. Infiltration lead to the illegal arrests of many at an Unconventional Denver action August 25, and now infiltration has led to a series of illegal raids and arrests of members of the RNC Welcoming Committee.

“We are making sure that people here to legitimately protest have the right to do that, but people engaging in criminal activity are not going to be able to do that,” said St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman. So Coleman now feels he can define “legitimate” protest? I guarantee these Americans in jail considered their protests pretty fucking legitimate. Free speech does not mean free speech that the mayor thinks is OK.

Here is an excellent submedia.tv video about the raids:

Let’s be clear here. These people have been arrested in suspicion that they might do something illegal. And, of course, they just so happen to be leaders of an organization that is critical of the police and our government. The police are claiming crazy things, like that they were collecting urine to throw on cops. Here in Denver, that sounds awfully familiar. Did they find any urine or feces in Denver?

Of course not!

Police are using the time they have before they allow their prisoners a chance to tell their side of the story to try to win support from the public by painting the protesters as crazy, urine-collecting sociopaths. It’s like kindergarten, except the bullies have guns and pepper spray instead of crayons.

The submedia video above is really great for this exact purpose. It juxtaposes the police misinformation about anarchists with the obvious truth that these are regular people, too. They shower, brush their teeth, have senses of humor, drink coffee. In fact, they are not only human, but many spend their time feeding people FOR FREE through Food Not Bombs. How many cops do that?

A legal observer at the DNC made an interesting observation during a Denver Open Media interview about the August 25 police violence. As these anarchists were running away from the cops’ pepper spray super-soakers, he noticed that all of them made sure to avoid stepping on the flowers in Civic Center Park. Somehow, that image sums up everything.

Bill Johnson of the Rocky Mountain News wrote a column about the police state that could not be more spot on.

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Cop hits a biker and runs in Denver, among other violent, suppressive actions

A cop on a motorcycle, going the wrong way on a one-way street, ran his motorcycle into a couple bikers who were part of a critical mass bike ride through the city. After the collision, which was unquestionably his fault, the cop and his cop friend rode off quickly as angry bikers started yelling irately at him. He did not come back or report the incident.

As far we can tell, nobody got his badge number, a good photo or video of the incident.

This is why people hate cops, and why the world would be so much safer without them (or with incredibly few of them). None of the protests would have been violent if the cops were not there, and all the violence has flowed cop to protester.

I dare you to find any protester doing anything close that to a cop. It has not happened. They do it because they know there will be no retribution. There can’t be. They have the guns, and the batons, and the pepper spray, and the body armor, and the pepper guns, and the tasers. We have words, some clever signs and some bicycles.

Code Pink is bad ass, and their tactics are not intimidation tactics at all. Their stickers (which I have been sporting proudly) say “MAKE OUT NOT WAR”. And while I may be kind of put off that we no longer make love in war’s absence, making out is cool, too. They embarrass police by dressing in lots of pink, and riding innocent bicycles with pink parasols, making their guns and riot gear look ridiculous. And they do everything they can to make sure they are embarrassed for wearing it all. It would appear that this cop solved his embarrassment by clubbing one of them.

Now, he has been pulled off the lines and is under investigation, but that is only because it was caught on camera. That is the only reason whatsoever. This is happening all the time here. I see it everywhere I go. These cops are out of control. They are like a roving gang with free reign to beat up on whoever they want without retribution.

After the motorcycle cop hit the bikers and drove off, another biker yelled, “Someone call the cops!” That’s the point.

The cops also singled out a New York Times freelance photographer and sprayed him with a giant burst of pepper spray even though he was backed against a wall and was holding a camera (obviously not threatening).

courtesy of Rocky Mountain News

courtesy of Rocky Mountain News

courtesy of the Denver Post

courtesy of the Denver Post

I used to think cops were good people with hard jobs that make them a little cranky. That’s understandable. They deal with a lot of tough realities of our society, and that can wear on you. But after this week, I really don’t think they are good people. No good person could stand in that riot gear as this overwhelming violence and intimidation against American citizens takes place. A good person would step out of line and quit (or at least disobey orders and risk punishment).

Right now, this massive police force is just a mercenary army hired by the Democratic party to suppress dissension and keep their big party from getting crashed by concerned citizens. The fact that the Dems have not said anything about the outrageous actions of this police force (which, of course, they voted to fund with $50 million), proves that at best they don’t care, and at worst, they are happy with it.

We truly live in a police state. You are allowed to protest, so long as it is by their rules. And they set the rules. And if you do not obey their rules, they hurt you with overwhelming power. The only reason there have not been massive riots is because the police have intimidated us. They consider that a success. I consider that fascism.

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Cops have violently occupied Denver

courtesy of the Denver Post

courtesy of the Denver Post

Our country truly is a police state. Anyone who says we are free is a liar.

I just moved to Denver three days ago, and knew it would be exciting with the DNC in town and all. But after watching the actions of the $50 million police force against unarmed American dissenters, I am thoroughly convinced that we are not free. Just look at the photo above. And this is from the Denver Post, who have not exactly been supportive of the protesters. But there is no way to hide the fact that these cops are violently subduing dissenting opinions with massive, overwhelming “Shock and Awe” force against American citizens who do not agree with the government and demand change.

And all this force is needed to secure the power of the “good” party. This is our supposedly anti-war party. This is our “hope”. Jesus.

I watched a protester run out of the conflict with the cops screaming and crying, drop to her knees, grasp her face, medics running to help her. If you wear contacts when you get pepper sprayed, the contacts can fuse to your eyes and blind you. Volunteer anarchist medics are the only reason there were not permanent injuries during the clash. The cops brought absolutely no medical help with them. Medical help is not their concern, only violence against the dissenters.

If you choose to ignore what is going on here, then fuck you. People are getting the shit beat out of them fighting for your freedom. Either come to Denver and join the ranks, or do what you can to support them at home.

The amount of money ($100 million, $50 million for each convention) required to maintain a large enough police force to subdue dissenters in this nation is rising quickly. Our “two” party capitalist fascist government is showing a slight sign of weakness. Too bad our capitalist press does not give favorable coverage to anticapitalists getting the shit beat out of them. I wonder if that’s because they make their money off the corrupt system the police are defending…

Denver is under attack. We need back up, however you can give it.

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Launched web site, had a hearing, graduated, working for the KC Star …

Well, it’s been a while since I updated on my life. I guess it’s been a pretty crazy couple months.

I graduated from Knox College in June, but not without a fight. I started some controversy over an editorial I wrote for The Knox Student and was taken in front of the Broadcast, Internet and Publications Board on bogus charges of irresponsible journalism (my second time in front of the board). It was pretty awesome, actually. I ended up not only winning the case, but the board charged the faculty executive committee with changing how faculty committees handle a free press at Knox (because right now there are no rules, which is bad for us). So I feel pretty good about that.

If you want, you can read all about it on TKS’s new fucking web site. This site is probably the reason I stopped writing on this blog (well, that and a Hemingway class I took where I read pretty much everything the guy ever published). It’s built on Django, which seems to be working out spectacularly. @mattbaker really worked his ass off on the site, and he now has a crack team of programmers going at the thing. A lot of interesting web journalism ideas floating around TKS these days. I mean, what school of 1,300 has a student press this active? I wish all those folk the best of luck next year (I probably made their jobs a lot harder in a lot of ways … oops).

Also, I got an internship at The Kansas City Star for the summer writing features. Their (our?) site has a pay wall still, but you can read what I’ve written until it all goes away. It has been a great experience, and there is nothing like getting paid to talk to interesting people and write about it. That is just the best job someone could hope for. And this is just so cool:

Also, my grandfather has died. Not only was he my grandfather, but he was my name sake. I wonder if the family can hold together without him. Maybe it’s already too late. Over half of us have moved away from St. Louis already.

My internship will be over at the end of August. Then my plan is to move to Denver. Because why not? For the first time ever, I don’t have anywhere to be.

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