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Researchers: Police likely provoke protestors — not the other way around

New research from Berkeley shows that police are often the agitators of violence

Aug. 22 2014

New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that police are often the provocateurs of violence during demonstrations.

The Deciding Force project, who has been studying clashes between law enforcement and protestors in 192 cities during Occupy demonstrations in 2011, said that attacks by police against protesters in Ferguson, Mo., are part of a disturbing trend of law enforcement playing the role of agitator.

“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 has been heading the research at the Deciding Force Project. “It just upsets the crowd.”

During the Occupy protests, some of the most violent scenes occurred in Oakland, California, the research finds. According to the San Francisco Chronicle,

In one October 2011 protest over the clearing of an Occupy encampment outside Oakland City Hall, officers fired tear gas and projectiles into crowds, injuring several activists. One of them, Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, was critically hurt and settled a lawsuit against the city in March for $4.5 million.

“We’re finding police have a lot of capacity to set a tone,” Adams said during a recent radio interview with Sacramento’s KFBK. “When police show up in riot gear you get a different kind of interaction than when they show up in their regular uniforms.”

In Ferguson, police in full tactical gear have shot tear gas at protestors, pelted them with rubber bullets, and utilized smoke bombs to clear crowds. Numerous arrests have been made, including more than a dozen journalists covering the demonstrations.

Police say looting, violence, and armed “instigators” have provoked these actions, though accounts of such incidents vary.

President Barack Obama has held two press conferences to quell tensions, condemning police for attacking peaceful protestors and arresting journalists:

"Let me also be clear that our constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble, and to report in the press must be vigilantly safeguarded: especially in moments like these. There’s no excuse for excessive force by police or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully,” the president said, adding that violence and looting from protestors was unacceptable.

“Giving into that anger by looting or carrying guns, and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos,” Mr. Obama said. “It undermines rather than advancing justice.”

Michael Brown was gunned down by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th. An autopsy commissioned by Brown’s family, released earlier this week, concluded that Brown was shot at least six times, twice in the head.

Wilson, whose name was not released for nearly a week by Ferguson police, has not been charged with any crime.

Read more at SFGate.

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”

Richest 1% to own more than half world’s wealth by 2016 - Oxfam

As global movers and shakers head to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam is warning that an increasing wealth disparity is “leaving ordinary people voiceless and their interests uncared for.”

The collective wealth of the world’s richest 1 percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent of the global population next year, unless steps are taken to address the inequality, Oxfam warned ahead of the annual Davos meeting. 

Don’t get distracted - the truth is the truth- by @mospoon_mpac “Now this that bull! by @prettyboy314 “We won’t forget these moments St. Louis! U are abusing your power when u do this bs!! @shaunking #ripmikemike #ripmikebrown #anonymous #ferguson #stlouis #occupy #enoughisenough #pbp #msnbc #cnn #ows #iammikebrown #handsupdontshoot #chitown #chiraq #un #unitednations #geneva #genevaconvention”” #mediablackout #huffpostlive #cnn #abc #nbc

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Ultra wealthy making survival plans for peasant revolt - leading economist

Wall St. has both Democrats and Republicans in their pockets. We need a party by the people, for the people.

Voting should be a critical part of democracy, however, the current two-party system does not allow the population to express its true intentions for the future of this country. The system props up politicians from the Republican and Democratic parties who are figureheads for an oligarchy becoming ever more entrenched in the global security state industrial-complex, which seeks to maintain American dominance throughout the world.

The true expression of the people comes from those at the grassroots level resisting homeless feeding bans, fighting for a living wage, disrupting war criminals as they speak on stage at community centers for the elite, blocking construction of pipelines that will exponentially increase the disastrous climate change, relentlessly confronting police officers and privileged white Americans for not valuing the lives of black people, and from government officials who risk it all to expose the truth of what their government is doing in our name.

When those people act, I feel something. When the powers that be try to crush them, I feel angry. When the people of this country fail to support them, I feel frustrated.

I feel none of these feelings when the Democratic Party fails miserably. When it fails, these days, I just feel it gets what it deserves. They knew what the Republican Party would do to them and they accepted their fate. But we as a people do not have to be the Democratic Party. We know we are capable of fighting back.

It's really depressing reading articles written during the Occupy movement

OWS had its fair share of problems, but its message was honestly needed. It was a huge inspiration for me and spurred me to a lot of political growth. Reading these articles is thoroughly depressing because they are so full of hope that OWS is going to change everything, it’s finally making us wake up and is going to make the world a better place for the 99%!!

We woke up, and we were squashed. The police served their purpose. And while the movement has certainly planted seeds, its effects are not as far reaching as anybody hoped. They are buried deep in the psyche of the people, but nowhere near as explosive as it had been or needs to be.

But social media’s use as an incredibly effective tool for social movements as it was during OWS is always fascinating to me. And I think that its importance is often downplayed in mainstream media for fairly obvious reasons.