APARTHEID IN DETROIT: WATER FOR CORPORATIONS, NOT FOR PEOPLE
Carl Gibson, is a spokesman and organizer for US Uncut, a nonviolent, creative direct-action movement to stop budget cuts by getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Contact Carl on the Commons or read his other articles on www.occupy.com
After forgiving millions of dollars in medical debt, Occupy Wall Street is tackling a new beast: student loans.
Marking the third anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the group’s Strike Debt initiative announced Wednesday it has abolished $3.8 million worth of private student loan debt since January. It said it has been buying the debts for pennies on the dollar from debt collectors, and then simply forgiving that money rather than trying to collect it.
In total, the group spent a little more than $100,000 to purchase the $3.8 million in debt.
While the group is unable to purchase the majority of the country’s $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt because it is backed by the federal government, private student debt is fair game.
This debt Occupy bought belonged to 2,700 people who had taken out private student loans to attend Everest College, which is run byCorinthian Colleges. Occupy zeroed in on Everest because Corinthian Colleges is one of the country’s largest for-profit education companies and has been in serious legal hot water lately.
Following a number of federal investigations, the college told investors this summer that it plans to sell or close its 107 campuses due to financial problems — potentially leaving its 74,000 students in a lurch.
Police often provoke protest violence, UC researchers find
Violent protests can often be unintentionally provoked by aggressive law enforcement tactics like approaching demonstrators in riot gear or the use of military-style formations, according to a team of researchers at UC Berkeley.
"Everything starts to turn bad when you see a police officer come out of an SUV and he’s carrying an AR-15," said Nick Adams, a sociologist and fellow at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Data Science who leads the Deciding Force Project. "It just upsets the crowd."
The researchers found that some law enforcement agencies are taking less provocative measures to calm the crowd.
During the Occupy protests, for example, police in some cities deployed officers in small clusters rather than in skirmish lines. Such cities tended to see fewer clashes between demonstrators and police, the researchers said.
"When it’s two or three officers, protesters don’t get intimidated," Adams said. "They may even talk with the police."
University of Birmingham students have paid a heavy price for their peaceful student protest July 24, 2014
We have both just been suspended from the University of Birmingham for nine months because of our part in an occupation that took place last November.
This year the university has collectively had us arrestedthree times, taken out an injunction banning us from occupational protest for a year, put us through a stressful nine-month-long disciplinary process,suspended us for two months, reinstated us briefly just to suspend us again only one month away from graduation.
Another student, Hattie Craig, has been given a six-month suspended sentence, meaning that if she breaks any university regulation between now and when she graduates she will immediately be suspended for six months. Publicly stating opposition to the actions of the University of Birmingham could end up with her being suspended on the basis that she brought the university into disrepute.
The University of Birmingham is trying to hide behind the quasi-legal process that it uses to conduct disciplinary actions. We were denied access to legal representation, despite us submitting multiple requests. The hearings were not held to any of the same evidential standards that would be required in a court: decisions were made on the balance of probabilities, and the outcomes shielded from scrutiny because the university does not allow recordings or take full notes.
That hyper-selective retelling of events mirrors the popular narrative of Occupy Wall Street – and how one woman may serve seven years while the NYPD goes free
May 5 2014
The verdict in the biggest Occupy related criminal case in New York City, that of Cecily McMillan, came down Monday afternoon. As disturbing as it is that she was found guilty of felony assault against Officer Grantley Bovell, the circumstances of her trial reflect an even more disturbing reality – that of normalized police violence, disproportionately punitive sentences (McMillan faces seven years in prison), and a criminal penal system based on anything but justice. While this is nothing new for the over-policed communities of New York City, what happened to McMillan reveals just how powerful and unrestrained a massive police force can be in fighting back against the very people with whom it is charged to protect.
McMillan was one of roughly 70 protesters arrested on March 17, 2012. She and hundreds of other activists, along with journalists like me, had gathered in Zuccotti Park to mark the six-month anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street. It was four months after the New York Police Department had evicted the Occupy encampment from the park in a mass of violent arrests.
When the police moved in to the park that night, in formation and with batons, to arrest a massive number of nonviolent protesters, the chaos was terrifying. Bovell claimed that McMillan elbowed him in the face as he attempted to arrest her, and McMillan and her defense team claim that Bovell grabbed her right breast from behind, causing her to instinctively react.
But the jury didn’t hear anything about the police violence that took place in Zuccotti Park that night. They didn’t hear about what happened there on November 15, 2011, when the park was first cleared. The violence experienced by Occupy protesters throughout its entirety was excluded from the courtroom. The narrative that the jury did hear was tightly controlled by what the judge allowed – and Judge Ronald Zweibel consistently ruled that any larger context of what was happening around McMillan at the time of the arrest (let alone Bovell’s own history of violence) was irrelevant to the scope of the trial.
In the trial, physical evidence was considered suspect but the testimony of the police was cast as infallible. Despite photographs of her bruised body, including her right breast, the prosecution cast doubt upon McMillan’s allegations of being injured by the police – all while Officer Bovell repeatedly identified the wrong eye when testifying as to how McMillan injured him. And not only was Officer Bovell’s documented history of violent behavior deemed irrelevant by the judge, but so were the allegations of his violent behavior that very same night.
To the jury, the hundreds of police batons, helmets, fists, and flex cuffs out on March 17 were invisible – rendering McMillan’s elbow the most powerful weapon on display in Zuccotti that night, at least insofar as the jury was concerned.
That hyper-selective retelling of events to the jury mirrored the broader popular narrative of OWS. The breathtaking violence displayed by the NYPD throughout Occupy Wall Street has not only been normalized, but entirely justified – so much so that it doesn’t even bear mentioning.
Still, it is the protesters who are remembered as destructive and chaotic. It is Cecily McMillan who went on trial for assault but not Bovell or any of his colleagues – despite the thousands of photographs and videos providing irrefutable evidence that protesters, journalists and legal observers alike were shoved, punched, kicked, tackled, and beaten over the head. That mindset was on display during the jury selection process at McMillan’s trial, when juror after juror had to be dismissed because of outright bias against the Occupy movement and any of its participants.
It’s impossible to understand the whole story by just looking at it one picture, even if it’s McMillan’s of her injuries. But that is exactly what the jury in McMillan’s case was asked to do. They were presented a close up of Cecily McMillan’s elbow, but not of Bovell, and asked to determine who was violent. The prosecutors and the judge prohibited them from zooming out.
This is, of course, how police brutality is presented to the public every day, if it is presented it at all: an angry cop here, a controversial protester here, a police commissioner who says the violence of the NYPD is “old news”. It’s why #myNYPD shocked enough people to make the papers – because it wasn’t one bruised or broken civilian body or one cop with a documented history of violence. Instead, it was one after another after another, a collage that presented a more comprehensive picture – one of exceptionally unexceptional violence that most of America has already accepted.