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The Cecily McMillan Verdict: Innocent Victim Goes Back To Jail

Justice For CecilyIn a tense courtroom and nearly hidden by a group of over 50 court officers, Judge Zwiebel did the work of the powerful and sent Cecily McMillan back to Rikers Island Prison on Monday. Clearly the absurd zeal in which the prosecution has gone after Cecily is meant to send a chilling signal to all who protest peacefully against the entrenched oligarchy that currently run this country.

Though her sentence of 90 days in jail with 5 years probation was on one level a relief as a harsher sentence was thought possible considering the one-sided actions of this court throughout this process. It is still deeply troubling to see an innocent 25 year old union organizer and community activist being sent back to prison, knowing she was a victim of a sexual assault not a criminal.

Its even more troubling when you consider the executives on Wall Street  who profited and caused the great recession still walk free. Not one of those corporate criminals served any jail time.They never even showed any remorse for the avalanche of economic misery they brought to millions of working people.

New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez spoke to the energetic and passionate crowd of Cecily supporters outside the courthouse and released the following statement.”The US Constitution encourages protest, free speech and a redress of grievances in cases where the government is not properly serving the public interest. This is what Cecily and so many others sought to do; so for any to end up in jail is a travesty from which our country suffers even more. We in government can serve best only when our constituency is engaged and concerned; and we should never seek to stifle dissent, especially when it is as peaceful and impassioned as Occupy was and continues to be.”

As journalist Chris Hedges said in a recent article, “The corporate state, which has proved utterly incapable of addressing the grievances and injustices endured by the underclass, is extremely nervous about the mass movements that have swept the country in recent years. And if protests erupt again—as I think they will—the state hopes it will have neutralized much of the potential leadership. Being an activist in peaceful mass protest is the only real “crime” McMillan has committed.”

Image Gerard Flynn gerard_flynn

Cecily’s lawyer and friend read statements
Image Gerard Flynn (Flikr: gerard_flynn)

The Cecily team released a statement that in part read:”On a broader level, there’s been a tremendous outpouring of public support in the wake of the verdict, for which Cecily and the team are truly grateful. We’re heartened, too, by the outrage this blatant, heavy-handed attempt to quash dissent has elicited from the public at large. The message this verdict sends is clear: What Cecily continues to endure can happen to any woman who dares to challenge the corporate state, its Wall Street patrons, and their heavy-handed enforcers, the NYPD. We certainly think outrage is an appropriate response from economic and social justice activists and allies who are concerned about the silencing of those who push for change. The DA and the courts want to make an example out of Cecily—to deter us, to scare us, to keep us out of the streets. And we won’t let that happen. This ruling will not deter us, it will strengthen our resolve.”

Standing before the Judge before sentencing yesterday Cecily was not backing down. “Whether personal or political, violence is not permitted. This being a law that I live by, I can say with certainty that I am innocent of the crime I have been convicted of,” McMillan said. “I cannot confess to a crime that I did not commit. I cannot throw away my dignity in return for my freedom.”

As a labor movement we must adopt a similar posture. We have to fight for economic justice for all – no compromises!

Please follow justiceforcecily.com for updates and ways to support Cecily.

Click here to share the meme below

Cecily Meme

Cecily McMillan: How A Non-Violent Labor Organizer Ended Up In Prison After Being Attacked By Police

PLEASE NOTE Some of the descriptions, images, and videos may be graphic at times.

The brutal beating and phony charges that has placed Cecily McMillan in a NY  jail could have happened to any one of us. If you dare peacefully protest about income inequality or union busting or Wall Street corruption you could just as easily been locked up in a prison cell as Cecily is. The criminal justice system is not delivering justice in this case and its seems to be viewing this case backwards. When the victim of an assault is instead convicted of a felony it shows to the extreme that the price of speaking truth to power is expensive in our country.

On March 17, 2012 a crowd of hundreds had gathered in Zuccotti Park to celebrate the Six Month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. This was a peaceful crowd which was dancing and singing and enjoying being with each other. Nearing midnight NYPD couldn’t allow this peaceful celebration to continue and suddenly Zuccotti Park had a scheduled “cleaning” that had to be performed that instant.

So NYPD entered the park with riot gear and batons to clear the park of peaceful people. What followed was the typical brutal crackdown of OWS. Over 70 arrests followed including that of  23-year-old grad school student and union organizer Cecily McMillan. Known in OWS circles as the “Queen of non violence” because of her uncompromising opposition to any violent tactics.

Cecily attacked

NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell accused  Cecely of elbowing him as he tried to escort her out of the park. Cecely maintains that Bovell grabbed her right breast from behind and startled she responded by throwing up her elbow striking the undercover officer.Basically her “crime” was reacting to being groped from someone behind her. The photographic evidence of marks on her breast seem to confirm her accusations.

What followed was her being tackled and beaten by multiple NYPD officers that left her dazed, injured bruised and going in to a frightening seizure as shown here.

Unconscionably 18 minutes past before medical help finally arrived and stabilized Cecily.

This video shows the helplessness of the crowd and the attitude of the police.  Both the NYPD and Cecily were fortunate she survived that beating.

“It was total over-policing, the use of brute force,” National Lawyers Guild Attorney Stolar said. “And that is really a hallmark of how police reacted with most Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, gatherings and protests.”(N.L.G. New York City chapter’s Web site shows a different policeman grabbing another female protester’s breasts.)

In a country that sells itself to the world as the model for political freedom how can behavior like this occur? NYPD receives substantial money from corporate giants like JP Morgan Chase (4.6 million in 2010) ,Goldman Sachs and Bank of America and they have in turn acted like the corporate police force cracking down fiercely on non violent OWS. NYPD leadership has seemed to modify their motto and “protect and serve” primarily their financial interests.  If peaceful protest against the powerful is not allowed then what kind of democracy do we actually have?

What followed next instead of police brutality charges were, astonishingly, felony charges against Cecily for assaulting a police officer. Her being groped and beaten suddenly became her fault.

Cecily was convicted on May 5th of the charges by a jury that was allowed by Judge Zweibel to only hear one side of the story. Nine of these jurors sent a letter to the judge on Thursday asking for leniency. Her sentencing hearing will be on May 19th and the whole world will be watching.

This case highlights the vast miscarriages of justice in our country where the powerful and the marginalized live their lives with a much different set of rules.

Over 20,000 people have signed this petition please add your name asking Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio to pardon her. Check out the website www.justice4Cecily.com for more ways to help.

Cecily by all reports remains in good spirits and her latest advice to her supporters comes in the form of a quote from Joe Hill that we in the labor movement are very familiar with “Don’t mourn organize”

OWS Cicly

The Real Wolves On Wall Street — Infographic On Outlandish Wall Street Salaries

We can all agree that Wall Street executives are making the most gains in our current economy.  While the majority of us are struggling to pay our bills, that is not the case for those who work on Wall Street.  Even an intern on Wall Street starts at twice the average American worker, and five times the annual salary of a minimum wage worker.

Let me be clear that I am glad to see workers making good money, I only think that Wall Street can easily afford to pay a little more to help our economy and our communities.  They can easily afford a transaction tax, or a change to the tax rate of the capital gains tax.

Wall Street Wolves

Source: Masters-in-Accounting.org

Nation-wide People Come Out In Support Of Walmart Workers! (IMAGES)

I wanted share a few of the early images that are surfacing as the ‘Black Friday Boycott’ has begun.   There is no way of knowing how many people actually walked out or protested outside of their local Walmart but here are a few of the best images I have found so far. (Special thanks to all the sites where I borrowed images from)

From Occupy NH member MA






Other images from New Hampshire.  Occupy New Hampshire Seacoast had a handfull of protesters at the Somersworth Walmart.  See all of their uploaded images on their Facebook page

Protest against Walmart in Hyattsville, MD

One of many images from the South Central Federation of Labor 

Employee Walk-Outs in at Least Seven States (so far): Occupy Supports WalMart Workers.  Images from a post by Occupy Washington D.C


OLB-San Diego were out last night on I-15 with their new lighted letters.

Overpass Light Brigade – Portland Airport took out the message Burma Shave style last night.

Portland, OR

Framington, MA

Occupy Austin and OLB-Austin out tonight. Check out their angry smiley Wally icon!


What Has Happened To The Middle Class?

There was a time in this country – not that long ago – when almost one-third of all workers belonged to a union.  More than three-quarters of Americans supported labor unions.  And two-thirds of American families had a place in the “middle class.”

But not today.

Today, less than 12% of U.S. workers are members of a union, and public approval of unions is at a record low.

Today, our “middle class” has fallen apart so completely… that no one even knows what it is, anymore.

And America’s economy is uncharted territory: income inequality is at an all-time high.

What happened?

Today, as we mark the first anniversary of the Occupy movement, we also need to take stock of new economic and political realities facing the Labor movement.

Why happened to America’s support for unions?  Have people already forgotten that workers died in the fight for fair wages?  That the families were torn apart – and children’s innocence sacrificed – in the fight for 40-hour workweeks?

So many workplace rights and benefits are taken for granted these days.  Have we forgotten the price that was paid by the union members who fought to win those rights?

Minimum wage, overtime, lunch breaks, sick leave, workplace safety.  None of these rights were given to employees.  All of our workplace rights had to be fought for and won – one by one – and most of these rights were paid for in workers’ blood.

Does America remember that?

Not today.

We must work together to take back our workplaces and our political system.  We need to change the minds of people who have made unions into scapegoats.  We must organize and grow our organizations. We must fight back against the corporate greed (and money) that has destroyed our state legislatures and Congress.   We need to STOP the “race to the bottom” where everyone is losing wages and benefits.

This will not be an easy task, but we are union members, right? We are not afraid to stand up for what is right. We have never been afraid of hard work. We have our entire nation at stake.

We already have some victories.  In Ohio, we helped to gather 1.2 million signatures to overturn SB 5 – and on voting day Ohio repealed SB5 by an overwhelming 61%.  In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker tried to steal away bargaining rights – and the country noticed – and now a judge has ruled Walker’s law unconstitutional.   Last year, hundreds of thousands of people came together at Occupy events, screaming “we are the 99%” and protesting for economic justice.

Are we winning the fight? When the fight is over, we will know who won.

Are we making progress? Absolutely!

Only together can we fight back against the attacks on labor.  Together we can make America the country it used to be – and what we want it be again.

Watch Father Cletus Kiley address the National Building and Construction Trades conference here.

Then, we hit the streets.  See how you can get involved.


Washington Won’t Save The Labor Movement, It Is Up To All Of Us.

The recent Supreme Court ruling on “Citizens United” just about slams the door on free speech for those who can’t afford it. As Bill Moyers so succinctly put it “this gives ordinary citizens laryngitis”. That goes for unions too. You now need a super pac to be heard. Super pacs will drown out any other voice.

A recent example of that was a story out of California rallying against a public sector worker who retired at 62 with a $272.000 dollar a year pension. Public sector workers came under immediate attack as having had too generous a pension system when in fact the pension system was way underfunded. Unfortunately what was missed by the reporter was that this worker didn’t even belong to the union and was actually a state executive. They created a perception that union pensions were destroying our towns.  The truth was never reported. Unions will continue to be the whipping boy in this upcoming election by the right wing super pacs so hold onto your hat. Politicians cow tow to the corporate connected conservative base who, secretively, fund these pacs.

The surge of the union movement in this country was not a political movement but a social movement. There was little help from Washington. It does not appear now that we are going to be able to vote our way out of this mess we find ourselves in. There is a tiny percentage of Americans sitting at the top who are pillaging America. The unions need to identify them and go after them. They have pitted private sector workers against public sector workers by crushing private sector unions. Unions held the moral high ground when they were the champions of economic justice. When a strike occurred nobody crossed that picket line because the workers were right. Public sector unions, who are the strength of the labor movement right now, have to show that demonizing public sector workers is now the final goal for corporate America.

Washington is not going to save the labor movement. We can go out with a roar and possibly rebuild the labor movement through massive demonstrations very much like Occupy Wall Street has done to show financial irresponsibility on the part of the banking industry. People not politicians built the labor movement. I was recently in Minneapolis and participated in a spontaneous demonstration of thousands of letter carriers marching on Verizon. We were protesting Verizon for not bargaining in good faith with their workers. You did not need press coverage. Every worker in downtown Minneapolis was cheering and hooting in appreciation of outside workers supporting Verizon workers in their plight. That has to happen everywhere!

NH Letter Carrier Explains Why We Must Mobilize and Occupy The Elections

Fact: The Labor movement will be vastly outspent by the conservative right in opposing any gains working stiffs like you and me deserve for all our hard labor.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, what can we do?

Activism today is a very daunting task. In the sixties mass movements, like the anti-war movement were pretty much reported on by the main stream media, by and large, as a noble cause. Today’s media is a different entity. Most of corporate media is either owned outright by conservatives or is bought outright through ads dominated by these people and groups. It runs along the lines of “total information dominance” as is asserted by some propaganda theorists. It’s based on a military theory that we’ve been hearing about called “full spectrum dominance”. This is when one force exercises not only superiority, which means they will win the battle, but dominance, which renders the battle obsolete.  We are not at total media dominance yet as witnessed by you being able to read this blog, but we are damned close.

In this environment, activists and democracy itself is ridiculed and small demonstrations of political activism, with the help of local law enforcement, are harassed, threatened and even beaten as I have personally witnessed at peaceful Occupy Wall Street events. I am not talking about rioters, but peaceful protesters. It takes a really huge commitment to subject you to this humiliation.

But take to the streets and get involved we must. Congress has totally failed us. They are bought and paid for and totally indebted to their sponsors. The Supreme Court in 2010 nailed the coffin shut with their Citizens United Ruling allowing corporations and billionaires to dump unlimited amounts of money to candidates and “dark money” groups, spreading disinformation and out and out lies.

Even though these people can write checks for tens of millions of dollars they can’t put a million or twenty million feet on the ground. Labor can potentially still do that. I witnessed a demonstration last spring in Manhattan that was the width of Broadway and sixteen blocks long. Unfortunately the media said there were a few thousand. There had to be thirty thousand. Not bad for the middle of the week.

I do not condemn anyone for their apathy or despair. I understand their disengagement. But overcoming this we must. I witnessed a local spark last fall when four or five hundred Letter Carriers and Postal workers and some labor affiliates “Occupied” City Hall Plaza in Manchester one Thursday afternoon. It was a beautiful thing! The seed has been planted.  My contribution to this blog will be how we can “Occupy” politics.

Busted! Memo Shows Boehner Aides Pitch Million Dollar Anti-OWS Attack Campaign to Bankers

Over the past few months we have talked about the Occupy Wall Street events and how they relate to labor throughout the U.S.  Now it is coming out that the Republican Party is afraid of the OWS movement and fears it will lead to a re-election of President Obama.  A well known lobbying group connected to Speaker Boehner send out a memo to the American Banking Association, explaining how that need to stop OWS or they will loose support in Washington from both sides.  Ultimately leading to a financial loss.

I encourage you all to read the article first and get an explanation as to what they are trying to accomplish and then read the Letter to ABA.  

OpEdNews – Article: Busted! Memo Shows Boehner Aides Pitch Million Dollar Anti-OWS Attack Campaign to Bankers: “On Saturday morning, November 19, Chris Hayes, broke the story on his weekend show, Up With Chris Hayes, that the Washington D.C. lobbying firm of Clark, Lytle, Geduldig and Cranford (CLGC), sent an unsolicited memorandum to the American Banker’s Association outlining a plan to neutralize any impact the Occupy Wall Street movement might have upon the upcoming 2012 elections. “

Occupy New Hampshire Gets great media coverage.

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Photo by Arnie Alpert 

Yesterday started the Occupy New Hampshire movement. I wanted to share with you all the local media coverage on the OccupyNH events. If you are interested in attending they are currently at VICTORY Park. Mayor Gatas has told protesters that they can stay in Victory Park through the entire weekend and would have no trouble from city officials. The real question is how long the OccupyNH protesters will stay in Victory Park.

New Hampshire Labor News: We are the 99% here in New Hampshire!!!!!: “The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has caught on like a wildfire in Texas. What started as a group of out of work college students on facebook and twitter has become a nation wide phenomenon. Occupy events have popped up in Boston, Los Angeles, St Louis, and almost every major city in the U.S. Today marks the first day of the Occupy New Hampshire.”

InZaneTimes: “More than 250 critics of corporate greed and extreme inequality gathered this afternoon in Manchester’s Veterans Park as the “Occupy” movement that started in New York reached the Granite State.”

Photo by Arnie Alpert

Occupy NH: Richest 1 percent have too much power | New Hampshire NEWS06: “Occupy New Hampshire, the group organizing the protest, is part of a grass-roots movement whose participants say they are among the “99 percent” of Americans who are being stripped of power by the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.”

A great video article from WMUR on Occupy New Hampshire
‘Occupy’ Movement Arrives In Manchester – New Hampshire News Story – WMUR New Hampshire: “The now-global movement involves people who identify themselves as “part of the 99 percent.”

Updated with addtional message from Howling Hill of the Lakes Region’s personal account of the event in Manchester through this morning.
OccupyNH « Howling Hill: “As I understand it, the City of Manchester and organizers for OccupyNH came to an agreement about the rally, march, and sleeping. It’s my understanding the Mayor of Manchester, Ted Gatsas, is very supportive of the goals of the Occupy Movement. If this information is wrong please politely correct me in the comments.

About 300 people were there at the peak.

After we marched down Elm Street twice, we made camp at Victory Park. We welcomed everyone who came in including many of Manchester’s homeless. Most were polite, accepting and supportive of our reasons for the occupation, and willing to help with clean up.”

We are the 99% here in New Hampshire!!!!!

Written by Matt Murray
(updated with pictures on bottom at 3:45pm)
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has caught on like a wildfire in Texas.  What started as a group of out of work college students on facebook and twitter has become a nation wide phenomenon.  Occupy events have popped up in Boston, Los Angeles, St Louis, and almost every major city in the U.S.  Today marks the first day of the Occupy New Hampshire.
At noon today over one hundred people showed up to Veterans Park in Manchester NH to show their support for the OWS and show that they are also part of the 99%.  One of the people who help to organize this ONH event is Howling Hill (name unknown, she asked us to refer to her as Howling Hill). She is currently working a $12 job in Boston. She commutes from the Lakes Region to Boston, because there is now work.  (http://howlinghill.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/occupy/)
Using social media as they did in New York Howling Hill and others have built a following of over 1000 people.  They have already created a website (http://occupynh.org/) to help people gain information about why they protest and rules for public protesting.  As I write this message over 100 people have already shown up.
So why am I talking about this? Because if you are a laborer, a teacher, a firefighter, or street sweeper they are protesting for you.  They want to restore the middle class.  They want an America where people graduate from college with good jobs not $100,000 dollars in debt to Wall Street banks. The want to be able to get good paying jobs here in New Hampshire. They want healthcare for all Americans.  They want to return to a time where Americans worked hard and retired happy, not to be forced to work until they die because they have no healthcare or retirements anymore.  These are they same fights that Labor Unions have been fighting for since they began.  This time it is not Labor is talking it is Labor who is standing in solidarity with these people.  Many of them would like to have a good Union Job, but cannot find one.
Too long have millions of Americans watched idly by as wages continued to get lower and lower while the bosses get more and more. Too long have we stood there while companies take away our healthcare and retirements benefits.  Too many times have we seen our friends and neighbors get laid off so a corporation can make a higher profit and pay better dividends on their stocks.  America needs help and the wealth Wall Streets Executives have not done their part.  Wall Street needs come out and help Main Street now.  We bailed them out when banks were going under because of high foreclosure rates.  Now they want us to reduce taxes because they have not created new jobs.
Watch the Occupy New Hampshire live here via Ustream.
Look for me, I will be there showing my support whenever I can. Follow all the news about Occupy New Hampshire by following @howlinghill on twitter as well as the #occupyNH (click link to view tweets on OccupyNH) or on facebook OccupyNH FB Page. You can also check here for more news on OccupyNH!!!   
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