The Stifling of Dissent and the Legacy of Occupy

photo by Occupy Global / flickr

The use of the law to keep people from protesting and assembling did not start with the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011.  In fact, for hundreds of years, since the birth of the United States, there has been a slow but steady effort to keep people from being able to lawfully protest and organize.  During the occupy movement there were extensive discussions about democracy, freedom, economics, and our future. Somewhere behind it all, there was the issue of laws and what protesters can and cannot do.  In the end it was the police armed with tear gas and legal ordinances who were able to clear people out of the public squares they had peacefully occupied.  In this podcast we speak with attorney  Joshua Dratel, the first civilian defense lawyer to have worked with prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.  His recent article “The Evaporation of American Political Dissent” talks about the long running degredation of the right to protest and assemble in the United States.

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ctrp399 Madge, Live in Paris

MAdgeMadge Weinstein is an internet celebrity, a culinary pioneer, and an extremely irritable elderly lesbian. Beyond all that, she is an inspiration to several generations of children around the world.  After surviving many tragedies, including 3 Bush presidential terms and the current socio-political disaster that has gripped the United States, this podcasting diva has moved her life to Paris where she is sharing her talents with the people of France who already hate her.

A long time friend of citizenreporter.org, we went to visit her in her tiny Parisienne home where the water had suddenly been cut off.  There we had the chance to ask her about her decision to leave the United States, the political and social reifications of that move, and her interest in the global occupy movement.  The discussion spontaneously evolves into topics like dominance of mainstream media, the human centipede 2, and yeast.

Listen to Madge’s legendary Podcast: Yeast Radio

 

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ctrp397 Voices from Occupy Amsterdam

Occupy Amsterdam has just entered into its 3rd week. 3 weeks of building a community where people have come together and occupied a public space, where debates are an almost 24 hour phenomenon and cooperation is currency.

Over the first 7 days of occupyamsterdam I was there checking in with people and observing how things developed.  During those days I observed meetings of the General Assembly, as well as work groups that are dedicated to different aspects of the movement.  I observed teach-ins or education lectures. At the weekend I listened to and even participated in speeches and musical performances.  By the beginning of week two it had become a fully functional camp where some people could live and anyone can and did stop by to participate or look around.

The following 4 interviews are taken from week 1, they were carried out with people I saw regularly participating and attending events. My goal in these conversations was not to do what the mainstream media does: asking people why they are here as if I don’t understand. Instead, my goal was to hear about the details of how the movement functions and how it deals with a dysfunctional press that is unlikely to communicate their message with much accuracy.  Of course during these interviews opinions, experiences, and statements lead to a number of topics popping up beyond how occupyamsterdam functions. We also get into the feeling or spirit of occupy, the outside perception and challenge the group faces when it comes to being understood and heard, and of course the lesser known facts about how the banking system has impacted the very core of how nations function and how people live.

Lastly you’ll hear from legendary musician and activist Michael Franti.. as he walked right by me and climbed on stage to give a surprise performance and words of support for the occupy movement.

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Don’t Just Take a Picture

Occupy Amsterdam is officially one week old. Occupy Wall Street is now over a month old. Around the world masses of people occupy their public spaces to discuss and demand big changes in how governments and business have been conducting themselves for the last few decades.  Many do what they have always done: watch it on TV, read about it in the press, discredit the idea of taking action on such a broad scale.  Still the whole world is watching, the authorities are scared, they seek to find ways to diffuse the energy and passion that has been unleashed and seems to keep growing.  They’re counting on the weather, the entertainment industry, costs of living, and sometimes elements of public safety to shut down this dangerous movement.  After all, those in charge have built their careers on this system. They’re power and lifestyle depends on it.

Today at #OccupyAmsterdam, as I’ve been doing each day this week, I was speaking with people, interviewing, collecting information and testimony to report to you the audience.  Being the activist- journalist that I am, I climbed up on stage to say something.

My Buddy Marc took video that includes crowd shots. If you’re interested in seeing more of the atmosphere today.

 

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