On May Day, the media was looking for encampments and missed how popular resistance is growing and demonstrating all over the US.
Allison Kilkenny, the movement writer for the Nation, got it right when she wrote, “Now is actually the time when the most exciting grassroots workers’ actions are taking place.” She points to low-wage worker and non-unionized workers actions as examples. As you will see in this weekly report, there are many more. She also points out that the FBI counter-terrorism unit in Washington State remains concerned and was interviewing activists about their plans for May Day.
Single day actions like May Day are a great way to bring a lot of people together in solidarity. Campaigns are also important because campaigns have time to build, educate and energize people. Here is news about a few recent campaigns:
The month-long protests against drones ended with actions on both coasts. At the Hancock Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY the Upstate Coalition Against Drones organized a banner drop, conference, rally and mass protest. Bruce Gagnon, an antiwar activist who works to keep weapons out of space, wrote an excellent summary of all the events and we added photos and a video of the banner drop. Bruce was one of the 31 arrested at Hancock who participated in a die-in after reading the names of victims of drones. And, at Beale Air Force Base in California, protesters closed the base resulting in long lines of cars waiting to get in – five were arrested.
The month long protests against the Guantanamo prison, done in solidarity with the hunger strike at the prison, have raised awareness. They forced President Obama to address the issue, saying he would try again to close the prison (of course, under the law he could do a lot more than “try again”). And a petition put forward by Col. Morris Davis, who served in the US Air Force for 25 years and was chief prosecutor for terrorism and trials at Guantanamo Bay, to close the base already has over 110,000 signers. Here are links so you can sign it.
Related to these war crimes was the dedication of the Bush LIE-bury. Activists showed up in force to let all the presidents know that many Americans oppose their policies of war and militarism. Dick Cheney was arrested! Actually, it was really Dennis Trainor, Jr. who was wearing a Dick Cheney costume. Dennis produced a powerful mini-documentary of the Bush protest events. And, Bradley Manning, the young man who blew the whistle on war crimes in the Bush and Obama administrations, created controversy after his selection as a grand marshal for a gay pride parade was rescinded by the board. The result: protests against the group and pressure to fire the chairman of the board.
Environmental protests continued. In New York, Dr. Sandra Steingraber and dozens of others who protested a fracking waste storage facility that will threaten their water supply and the health and safety of their community were released from jail ten days into their 15 day sentence. It was Steingraber’s first arrest for civil resistance. She said, “I would do it again in a minute. …Being new to civil disobedience, I’m still learning about its power and its limitations… But I know this: all I had to do is sit in a six-by-seven-foot steel box in an orange jumpsuit and be mildly miserable, but the real power of it is to be able to shine a spotlight on the problem.”
The power of protest has been evident in the effort to stop TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline. While approval of the pipeline has looked like a sure thing, the fact that TransCanada has spent $280,000 lobbying for the approval shows it is not a done deal. TransCanada has been bringing in high powered lobbyists connected to the State Department where the decision will be made, including a Hillary Clinton Deputy Campaign Manager for her 2008 campaign and the top grassroots organizer for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. We might be closer to success than we realize – keep the pressure on! Even if they approve the pipeline, that does not mean they will be able to build it if protests continue to escalate. The next direct action training camp is in Utah in July.
Environmental destruction is one of the key issues that has led to a campaign in New York for the 400th anniversary of the first treaty between the Native Indians and European settlers – the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign. The two rows in the wampum record the agreement between two nations – Indian and European – which includes a three-part commitment to friendship, peace between peoples, and living in parallel forever—as long as the grass is green, as long as the rivers flow downhill and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This summer they are planning an epic canoe trip down the Hudson to renew the agreement, which has been violated by the United States.
The annual shareholders meeting of Peabody Coal was protested by a coalition of miners, environmentalists and Indians in Wyoming. Peabody, the world’s biggest coal company, moved its meeting from its headquarters in St. Louis to avoid protests. The protest included a banner drop and the arrest of three people for dropping the banner and for holding a sign in the parking lot that said “Peabody Abandons Miners.”
Here are upcoming actions and events:
- Yesterday, the movie Occupy Love launched its tour in New York, San Francisco, Los Angles, Seattle and other venues.
- On May 8, there will be nationwide protests against Bank of America (Muckrock released FOIA documents this week showing how BoA intelligence worked with DC police against Occupy Our Homes in DC.)
- On May 10 there is a national day of actions against corporate personhood.
- On May 18 to 23, there will be actions by anti-foreclosure groups targeting “Too Big to Jail” banks
- There will be a Stop the Frack Attack People’s Forum in Washington, DC on May 22.
- And, there will be protests against Monsanto everywhere on May 25.