activism

Texas Stands With Gaza 2014

Texas Stands With Gaza held a 7,000 person gathering in Austin, Texas Saturday August 2nd, 2014 to march and rally in solidarity with Gaza. Speakers included: Dr. Rania Masri, Professor, writer, human rights activist Minister Jim Rigby, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Jewish Voice for Peace Sheikh Islam Mossaad, North Austin Muslim Community Center Snehal Shingavi, Professor, writer, human rights activist Learn more at: http://texansforgaza.org Videography by Jeffry Zavala, Dalton Zavala, Nathan Blond & Mari Hernandez. Editing by Jeff Zavala & Grace Alfar. Austin Indymedia Production. http://Austin.Indymedia.org Music by Genocide - "Free Palestine" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDxFeDKgDKM http://genociderap.com

Keystone Blockade Update: TransCanada Gets Ugly - Seizes Grandma, Detains Press & Pays Local Police to Arrest Protesters

 The Canadian fossil fuel giant Transcanada (net earnings 2011: $1.5 billion) is encountering increased resistance from the “Tar Sands Blockade” in eastern Texas — now in its 18th day of an extensively constructed “tree sit-in.” And it is employing increasingly draconian police measures to prevent any public awareness of the protests and confrontations.

 

Yesterday (10/11), two journalists from the NYTimes were handcuffed, detained, and then expelled from private property by local police employed as private security by TransCanada. According to eyewitnesses, the journalists were grabbed by the police, physically restrained, and prevented from approaching the blockade site or making any contact with the protesters. The NYTimes issued a statement confirming the detentions.

 

This is the latest in a series of increasingly repressive reactions on the part of Canada’s largest pipeline manufacturer against the blockade — a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and climate justice organizers seeking to halt construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

 

It was previously reported that Transcanada is paying local police $30 per hour to maintain “a police state” at the site of the tree sit-in, including 24/7 surveillance, floodlights, and orders to arrest without question. Senior officers at the site told the protesters that their “mandate from TransCanada is to arrest anyone who sets foot on the Keystone XL pipeline easement.”

 

 

 

On October 10, two independent journalists, Elizabeth Arce and Lorenzo Serna, were arrested after filming Transcanada’s tree-cleareance machinery approaching within 20 feet of the tree blockade — a violation of federal law.  The Transcanada “police” then sealed off the blockade perimeter, confiscated cameras, and are now preventing anyone from setting foot in the area, including journalists.  

 

Police now surround the tree protesters, and have severed the ropes used to get food and water to the protesters in the trees.

 

In late Septemeber two blockaders were put in chokeholds, pepper-sprayed, and tasered by the police — while in handcuffs — after chaining themselves to Transcanada machinery.

 

 

 

Aware of the public relations implications, Transcanada is now taking more sophisticated — if cowardly — measures to prevent public awareness of the ongoing blockade, which is now in its second month. On October 2, police erected a screen around the scene before they moved in to arrest blockader Alejandro de la Torre, who had chained himself to an underground capsule to prevent clearing.

 

In the most high-profile event so far, on October 4, actress Daryl Hannah joined with local property-owner Eleanor Fairchild to put their bodies in the path of encroaching Transcanada clearance machines, in defense of Fairchild’s 300-acre farm — a portion of which was seized by Transcanada against her will via “eminent domain” law. Fairchild, a 78-year-old great-grandmother, along Hannah, was arrested and charged with trespassing — despite it being her own land.

 

Planetsave (http://s.tt/1pQqe)

 

Another blockader, Maggie Gorry, was charged with a felony — “Use of a criminal instrument” — for sitting on top of a 40-foot-high timber pole, which delayed clear-cutting operations for two days. Bail was set at $11,000.

 

 

Despite the efforts of Transcanada to prevent public awareness, the daily confrontations are being reported by the blockaders themselves at their website: www.tarsandsblockade.org.   

 

The increasingly draconian measures being taken by one of the world's largest fossil fuel corporations, however, don't seem to be swaying the determination of the blockaders.   They are planning, in fact, to expand their actions - and are organizing a training camp for incoming blockaders, near Dallas, on Oct 12-14, open to the public.

 

Original article, with edits, here: 

Planetsave (http://s.tt/1pQqe)

 

 

 

 

MindfulVotes - Send Mindful Leaders of Color to the RNC / DNC

MindfulVotes

We're going into the belly of the political beast to help people reconnect to their fundamental sanity in an election year that has felt insane.

MindfulVotes is a dynamic campaign to galvanize ALL people that aspire to bring mindfulness into every aspect of their lives - and the resulting values of love, compassion and inclusivity - to the fore of American politics. No matter where we stand on the political spectrum, HOW we vote and engage matters.

Where?

To kickoff the campaign, Transformative Change,* with the support of all who value mindfulness, in just two weeks, is sending a team of four leaders of color to the Democratic and Republican Party National Conventions to teach meditation, yoga, tai chi and other mindfulness practices there and sign people up to pledge to vote mindfully on Election Day.

They will be teaching at an "Oasis" - a space at the conventions sponsored by Arianna Huffington and Huffington Post.

*Transformative Change and YogaVotes, are anchoring the MindfulVotes campaign.

Why Does This Matter?

It's time to liberate our politics from negativity and closed-heartedness. And, by bringing an anchor team of people of color, we will change the way mindfulness practices and embodiment are represented in this important and highly visible venue.

Meet the MindfulVotes Crew


Rev. angel Kyodo, Muki, chandra, Zochi
This committed team are trained in leading meditation, yoga and tai chi. This same team anchored the Transformative Social Change Track at the 2010 US Social Forum in Detroit. 

Read their bios here.

ACTION ALERT: Transfer Mumia Abu-Jamal to General Population!

 Last month, following the Philadelphia DA's decision to not hold a new sentencing hearing, Mumia Abu-Jamal was transferred to SCI Mahanoy, in Frackville, PA, where he as since been held in "Administrative Custody." His present conditions are actually worse than they were on death row at SCI Greene. Please join us in our call for Mumia to be immediately transferred into general population.

Medical Self Defense and the Black Panther Party --An interview with Alondra Nelson

 

By Angola 3 News

Alondra Nelson, a professor of sociology and gender studies at Columbia University, is the author of a new book released last month, entitled Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination. By documenting the multifaceted health activism of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and critically assessing the BPP’s strategy and tactics in a respectful and appreciative manner, Body and Soul presents an analysis that is rare and badly needed in US colleges and universities today. In this interview, Nelson discusses how the Panthers’ legacy can both inspire and provide important strategic lessons for today’s new generation of political activists

In her book, Nelson writes that “the Party’s focus on health care was both practical and ideological.” On a practical level, the BPP provided free community health care services, including preventative education. Simultaneously, the BPP railed against the medical-industrial complex, declaring that health care was “a right and not a privilege.” Ronald “Doc” Satchel, the minister of health for the Chicago BPP, wrote in the BPP newspaper that “the medical profession within this capitalist society…is composed generally of people working for their own benefit and advancement rather than the humane aspects of medical care.” A newsletter published by the Southern California chapter argued that “poor people in general and black people in particular are not given the best care available. Our people are treated like animals, experimented on and made to wait long hours in waiting rooms."

By 1970, People’s Free Medical Clinics had become a requirement for every BPP chapter. In 1972, the BPP revised point six of the founding ten-point-platform, adding a demand for “completely free healthcare for all black and oppressed people…We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventative medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide ourselves with proper medical attention and care.”

While citing Martin Luther King’s 1966 declaration that “of all forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane,” one chapter provides an important historical context for the BPP’s health activism by detailing what Nelson calls “the long medical civil rights movement,” that began long before the BPP. “Mobilized in response to the distinctly hazardous risks posed by segregated medical facilities, professions, societies, and schools; deficient or nonexistent healthcare services; medical maltreatment; and scientific racism, activism challenges to medical discrimination have been an important focal point for African American protest efforts and organizations. The Panthers were heirs to health activism that directly reflected tactics drawn from this tradition,” writes Nelson.

Nelson says the central focus of her scholarly work is on “the intersections of science, technology, medicine and inequality.” She has co-edited Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (2001) and Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (scheduled to be released in March, 2012). To learn more, please visit www.alondranelson.com.

 

 
 

Angola 3 News: In our recent interview with Billy X Jennings from It’s About Time BPP, one theme explored was how, with rare exception, the mainstream media has misrepresented the BPP. However, it seems that the even the radical and anti-capitalist media has generally underreported the health activism that is the focus if your book. How did the BPP’s health activism relate to their better-known stances against white supremacy, capitalism, and police violence?

Alondra Nelson: Yes, it’s true. The Black Panthers’ health activism has been under-reported across the ideological spectrum. Their critics obviously did not want to cast them in a positive light. And, as your question suggests, even the Party’s supporters said little about this important aspect of the BPP’s work. I think its plausible to say that many on the Right and some of us on the Left--in very different ways and for completely opposite reasons--were captivated by a vision of the Party that did not include its health politics. Depictions of African Americans working in their neighborhoods, wearing white medical coats, was unspectacular compared to images of Black radicals wearing leather jackets and carrying guns.

It is ironic that our collective memory of the Panthers remains so incomplete because their health activism—from their political writing about medical issues in The Black Panther newspaper, to their practice of DIY healthcare—exemplified the anti-racist, anti-capitalist stance for which they are known. In fact, the reality of health inequality brought the BPP’s political perspective into sharper relief because it offered stark and specific examples of how economic and racial oppression literally damaged bodies, families and communities.

As you know, the BPP was originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, a name that reflected that protecting communities from police brutality was a primary motivation for the group’s founding. The BPP exposed the misuse of power whether it was at the hands of police officers or physicians. So, it’s also useful to think of the Panthers as being engaged in medical self-defense.

In Los Angeles, Party members Ericka Huggins and Elaine Brown, nursing professor Marie Branch, Dr. Terry Kupers, and others established that chapter’s People’s Free Medical Clinic. But, like all of the BPP’s health activism, this work extended beyond the clinic, including in this case, confronting police brutality. (Branch shared meeting notes with me from the 1970s from her personal archive where the formation of BPP health programs and prisoners’ protection from medical discrimination were seamlessly discussed). The LA Panthers advocated for and provided health care for incarcerated persons; some of these men and women needed medical attention because they had been abused while in police custody.

A3N: How does the story of the BPP’s health activism, as presented in your book, contribute to and challenge the traditional presentations of the BPP by both the mainstream and alternative media?

AN: Body and Soul offers an account of the BPP that moves away from the narrow confines of the so-called “culture wars,” in which the Party can only ever be a positive force or a negative element. Paying attention to the Party’s health activism calls into question the inaccurate stereotype of the activists as aimless thugs.

We also gain a different perspective on things we thought we already knew about the BPP, like the fact that the Panthers were avid followers of Fanon, Che and Mao, whose writings were required reading for all members. Through the prism of health, one can see very clearly the influence of Fanon’s dissection of colonial medicine in Algeria on the Panthers’ understanding of medical discrimination in the U.S. We can take seriously the fact that Fanon and Che were physicians as well as political thinkers. We can appreciate that Mao, who established the “barefoot doctors” lay health worker program, made available to the Party not only broad revolutionary principles, but also specific ideas about health care as political practice.

A3N: What do you think were the most successful tactics employed by the BPP as part of its health activism? Strategically speaking, what lessons from the BPP’s health activism do you think are most applicable for today’s activists to learn from?

AN: In addition to setting up their own clinics, they used legal approaches not dissimilar from the NAACP to voice their opposition to problematic biomedical research. The Party leadership realized early on that “policing the police” would not be the only method they used in their effort to topple racism and capitalism. The Panthers were pretty flexible tacticians.

One of the lessons that the BPP offers today’s activists is that they should be more loyal to the desired outcome than to the tactic. The sit-in came to be associated with the southern civil rights movement just as the mic check is now emblematic of the Occupy movement. But these groups also used other tactics: marching, occupying, sermons, etc. Social movements are dynamic phenomena; circumstances are constantly changing. So too should tactics.

One of the BPP’s more fascinating tactics was what I call, after sociologist Lily Hoffman, the “politics of knowledge.” Working in this vein, the Panthers engaged and reinterpreted scientific ideas about race and disease. They reinterpreted scientific theories about the causes of sickle cell anemia, for example, by placing the prevalence of the disease in the context of the history of the transatlantic slave trade, the medical-industrial complex and contemporary racism.

The Panthers use of this tactic—the politics of knowledge—should remind today’s activists that “framing” matters. It is important to be able to translate political arguments—health-related ones and other ones—into language, into stories really, that resonate with the broader public. The Party could be expert at this.

The Nixon administration and mainstream philanthropies would ultimately coopt the issue of sickle cell anemia. But the BPP played a key role in raising awareness about the disease and in situating it in a powerful political language that could mobilize communities.

A3N: Along with chapters focusing on the BPP’s free medical clinics and the campaign to educate the Black community about and test for Sickle Cell Anemia, another chapter focuses on the BPP’s involvement with a diverse coalition that successfully organized against the formation of the Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence at UCLA in 1973. You write that BPP felt that the Center’s “biologization of violence” line of research would ultimately “craft a narrative of Black and Latino violent pathology” that would serve to “make already marginalized populations more vulnerable to medicine as a tool of social control,” and “effect the further criminalization of social groups—black males, the incarcerated—and in turn justify calls for increased surveillance and social control.”

While writing that the defeat of the Center was a “notable triumph,” you note further that it “was somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory for Newton and his allies, as blocking resources to the center as an entity would not prevent individual researchers from pursuing other sources of support for their investigations.” With this in mind, how has biologization of violence research progressed since the 1970s? How much influence has it had on public policy?

AN: Attempts to attribute the causes of violence to biology (and closely related to this, criminality) are a very old story. In the late 19th century, the influential Italian criminologist Lombroso, claimed that new methods (e.g., phrenology) and theories (e.g., social Darwinism) showed that the tendency toward criminal behavior was inherited.

More than one hundred years later, similar ideas persist. In the 1990s, during the first Bush presidency, Louis Sullivan, the Secretary of Health and Human Services set-up a “violence initiative” to explore the biological models of social unrest in urban settings. Your readers may recall that around the same time another Bush official, referencing studies on violence among non-human primates, said that disproportionately black and brown “inner cities” were like “jungles.” (The initiative and controversial commentary around it would recall to the heated debate the Panthers were engaged in over plans to form a “violence center” at UCLA in the 1970s that may have had an especially harmful impact on black and Latino youth and men).

Recently behavioral researchers have aimed to link the presence of what has been called the “warrior gene” to violent, criminal behavior. At a time when we are learning even more about the complexities of genetic inheritance, about the epigenome and the systems biology, it simply does not make sense that one single genetic marker could have such a dramatic, determinative effect.

A3N: What role has biologization of violence research played in justifying the mass incarceration explosion that began in the 1970s, increasing the prison population from 300,000 to 2.4 million today, giving the US the highest incarceration rate and the largest total prisoner population in the world?

AN: To the extent that the longstanding efforts that I have just described have kept in circulation the fallacy that there is a definitive link between human biology and violence, theses ideas have indeed served as a justification for the expansion of the carceral system.

This is where the policy implications of the biologization of violence come to the fore: If violence is “in your genes” or “in your blood,” then one can justify policies that lock people away because these people are “lost causes.”

And, in turn, the idea that there is a innate predisposition to violence contributes to the decline of support for rehabilitation and reparative justice programs.

A3N: Since the 1970s, has the US come any closer to realizing the BPP’s public health goals? If BPP co-founder Huey P Newton were alive today, what do you think he would say about President Obama’s “Affordable Care Act?”

AN: The revised ten-point platform was prescient in capturing one side of the recent debates about widening health inequality in the U.S. and what to do about it. If I had to venture a guess, I would say that Newton and the Party would have appreciated the historic nature of what President Obama accomplished—a feat that many administrations before his had variously tried to accomplish and failed to do. Perhaps Newton would have even observed that the Affordable Care Act is a very small step in the right direction.

However, some journalists and pundits have noted the similarity between President Obama’s historic Affordable Care Act and the national insurance plan that former President Nixon backed unsuccessfully. Given the animus between the Party and Nixon, and the way this administration and its agents worked to destroy the BPP, it is hard to imagine that Newton would have been in strong support of recent healthcare reform legislation. There would have certainly been opposition to the fact that President Obama’s plan is a boon for insurance companies because the Panthers demanded, “healthcare for the people, not for profit.”

--Angola 3 News is an official project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. Our website is www.angola3news.com, where we provide the latest news about the Angola 3. Additionally we are also creating our own media projects, which spotlight the issues central to the story of the Angola 3, like racism, repression, prisons, human rights, solitary confinement as torture, and more. Our articles and videos have been published by Alternet, Truthout, Counterpunch, Monthly Review, Z Magazine, Indymedia, and many others.

Simple but POWERFUL activism idea!

 

U.S. Boat to Gaza: Austin Solidarity Launch 6/26/11

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_FQO4qnfOw

CodePink Austin, along with other friends and supporters of the U.S. Boat to Gaza, held a symbolic "launch" on the Pfluger Bridge over Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. Participants read excerpts from writings by Alice Walker and Kathy Kelly and the letter... to President Obama regarding the reasons for the trip to Gaza. Austin citizens were asked to stop and write messages to the passengers and participate in other symbolic actions.

This event took place on June 26th, 2011. Organized by CodePink Austin (http://www.codepinkaustin.com).

To learn more about the voyage please visit: http://ustogaza.org/

To read about US activists who prepare to break Israel's blockade on Gaza, please visit: http://electronicintifada.net/content/us-activists-prepare-break-israels-bloc...

Video produced for Austin Indymedia by Jeff Zavala.
http://austin.indymedia.org

This video is a ZGraphix production.
http://zgraphix.org

Thomas Jefferson Dance Party in Austin & Police Violation of U.S. Law

 

Watch in HD on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1bqZ2WZ284
Watch on blip.tv here: http://blip.tv/austin-indymedia-center/thomas-jefferson-freedom-dance-party-in-austin-police-violation-of-u-s-law-5253199

June 4, 2011 Austin Activists join forces to form a solidarity dance party in the Texas State Capitol Building, exercising their constitutional rights when Agent Harris from the Capitol Police harass and use unreasonable force against Austin Indymedia reporter Jeff Zavala. The Police Agent Black also refused to help a victim of assault.

Facebook event invite: May 28 2011 Adam Kokesh and friends were wrongly assaulted and arrested at the Jefferson Memorial for dancing. They will be back out next weekend and here in Austin we are planning a similar event in solidarity. Come out and dance to make people aware of the recent ruling making it "illegal" to dance at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. and also the brutality of police against peaceful protesters on May 28, 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jUU3yCy3uI 

-And remember WE CAN DANCE IF WE WANT TO! “Dancing is a healthy and elegant exercise, a specific against social awkwardness.” ~Thomas Jefferson.

 

This is a zgraphix production.

Produced for Austin Indymedia by Jeff Zavala.

http://zgraphix.org

Calling All Activists - Join Us on the Ground in Palestine!

Activists Pull Down Settlement Fence in Beit Ommar, Palestine

 

Palestine Solidarity Activists Protest Zionist Propaganda in Austin

 

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