NolaAnarcha

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Traffic Camera Scam Continues, Landrieu Chooses Police State Crackdown Over Justice

The notorious scam that is traffic camera system in New Orleans, installed for "free" by a private company, which takes a large share of the fines generated and gives the remainder to the city (in what is commonly understood as a "kickback scheme"), continues to enrage local drivers and many are refusing to pay.

Rather than refusing to pay and exposing oneself to being caught in the sticky spider's web of the criminal injustice system, go out and do a public service by bagging up or otherwise disabling the cameras issuing the most tickets!
Instead of the city recognizing the perverse incentives that drove the implementation of the program in the first place, which by the way does not increase traffic safety, and looking to solutions that actually help increase road safety, the City of New Orleans is relying on it's trusted stand-by of increased policing and harassment to maintain and expand this scam.

Much like the flawed idea that the city can arrest it's way to a lower murder rate, the idea that issuing thousands of tickets will lead to better road safety is just not accurate. Better road safety comes from better urban design and other measures that create roads where drivers feel like they must share the space with other non-car entities, creating alert drivers, slower speeds, yet faster overall commutes for everyone.

The solution of cracking down, being tougher, being more brutal, in short, the default solution looked to since the days of plantation owner sadism during slavery, never works as well as being smarter, more fair, more equal, more humane, and more just in creating solutions that benefit everyone instead of only reinforcing the power and wealth of those already among the elite. It has been wrong-headed for the last 300 years, and it is how Louisiana has become the apartheid police state competing for last place with Mississippi in almost every indicator of a functional system we see in evidence today.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Apartheid Police State of New Orleans, Louisiana

Louisiana has had the distinction of being at, or close to, the #1 spot on all the wrong lists for a long time: lack of education, poverty rate, child poverty, inequality, corruption, nepotism, racism, incarceration rate, illiteracy, lack of health care, etc... It's why the t-shirts and bumpers stickers saying "Louisiana... Third World and Proud Of It" resonate with everyday people in our state.

Here are a few facts about the machinery of oppression that keep us at that infamous #1 position (many from this article):

-The Orleans Parish Public Defenders office used to be infamous before Katrina for things such as attorneys not showing up for trial, or doing puzzles during hearings. A man was convicted because his lawyer didn't bother to track down the video that would have confirmed his alibi. Another man jailed for stealing $50 waited more than 400 days to be interviewed by his court-appointed defender. The old OPD office employed about 45 private attorneys as part-time contractors, whereas post-Katrina they employ 69 full time public defenders, and those lawyers handling felony cases still face the daunting task of having about 150 open cases at any time each!
-Louisiana has the distinction of being the state with the highest rate of wrongful convictions.
-LA has one of the highest reversal rates of capital convictions in the country.
-In Louisiana, district attorneys have 60 days to indict detained suspects for a felony. (New York City DAs get six days.)
-Though the city's population has shrunk by 140,000 post-Katrina, the defenders say their caseload has doubled since the tough-on-crime DA, Leon Cannizzaro, started prosecuting cases at twice the rate of his predecessors.
-LA has more criminal legislation than any other state in the country.
-82% of the state's prisoners are in for nonviolent crimes.
-LA courts hand down life sentences at four times the national rate.
-Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) incarcerates more people per capita than any other city in the US (via OPPRC)
-OPP is increasing it's size from 3,100 beds to 3,400 beds in 2012 (via The Lens) even though experts say a jail with 1,483 is sufficient for New Orleans (via OPPRC)
-OPP Deputies working private, off-duty details pay $1/hour into fund used by mafia boss Sheriff Gusman for questionable discretionary spending (via The Lens)
-As a result of the racist police state in LA, the average life span of an African American in New Orleans is 69.3 years, nearly as low as life expectancy in North Korea, while the life expectancy for a white person is 79.6 years. (via A Great Racial Divide)
-30-41% of US youths will be arrested by the age of 23. (via Democracy Now!) (This percentage is certainly larger in Louisiana. If you know the exact figures for our state, PLEASE leave them in the comments section.)
-The proposed National Defense Authorization Act could usher in a radical expansion of "indefinite detention" by authorizing the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial forever, including American citizens in the United States. (via Democracy Now!)


This apartheid police state keeps us terrified of being ensnared in its web, afraid of the desperation it creates in people all around us and within ourselves, and divided enough to keep us from rising up to demand an end to our state's infamous reputation that has existed since the days of plantations and runaway slaves once and for all.

Until we love our fellow Louisianans enough to demand that they be treated with dignity, be respected instead of hunted down like dogs by the police, and receive equal and just treatment -- until we love all the people of our state with the same fierceness with which we love our own brothers and sisters -- hatred and fear will continue to rule our state.

Such fear and hate are exactly what those whose wealth is protected by the apartheid police state, those who govern our state, and those who profit off our misery want to continue so they can maintain their opulent wealth, power, influence and control. It is why the idea that our city can arrest its way out of every social problem is constantly the first go-to idea.

It's why the murder rate never seems to fall, and why wealth and power disparities never seem to decrease. The two are intricately, intimately, and inextricably linked. It will take the extension of the fierce love we have for our families to our entire communities, a love that demands everyone in our state be treated the way we'd want our own family treated, a truly radical and expansive form of love, to overcome those who've used our own fear and hate and instincts to self-preservation as weapons against all of us to maintain their oligarchy. To love one another is to be willing to fight for one another.

Smash the apartheid police state!

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Orleans Free School January Class Calendar


The New Orleans Free School has released its January calendar of classes. Find one you might like to take!

See the January Class Calendar for dates, times, and locations.
See the Class Descriptions for more complete information about the classes and locations.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Noise Demo against OPP!

Originally posted on Nola Indymedia:

Solidarity Noise Demo at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), New Orleans, LA, USA.


OPP Solidarity Noise...
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A group of about two dozen protesters marched to the fences of OPP at Broad & Tulane November 9th banging pots and pans and shouting chants. The prisoners could be seen inside the prison from stories above waving their arms and pieces of clothing. The event was described as a noise making act to let the prisoners know there are others outside that stand in solidarity with them.





OPP Solidarity Noise...
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OPP Solidarity Noise...
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OPP Solidarity Noise...
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OPP Solidarity Noise...
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A few hundred copies of the following text were thrown about in front of the court house:

We are a group of outraged individuals who are banding together with our collective voice to shout out against the oppressive institution that is Orleans Parish Prison. While funds are being mismanaged, schools underfunded, and community resources are being drained the prison continues to grow. As the length of stay at OPP increases, people are kept from their families and communities for longer and longer.

The city wants us to forget them.

Today we use our privilege by lifting our voices to break through the walls that separate us from our caged brothers and sisters that have been swallowed by this monstrosity that causes more damage than it even thinks
to heal.

We seek to build on the work that has been and continues to be done by the activists in this city, country, and  world.

We are here to speak out against the injustices that occur every hour of every day in the name of false security. Today we may not be able to shatter these divides, but these walls will tremble with the voices of those inside and out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Income Inequality, Violence, and A City's Health

Some haters seem to think anarchists are just some sort of spoiled whiners who just want free stuff without having to work for it. That we are just as utterly selfish and lazy as TV and right-wing economists would have us believe all of America is. That we are self-interested "rational" actors who are trying to "game the system" by complaining or protesting, for our own personal benefit alone.

What those critics don't get is that there can be rational self-interest that is not in conflict and opposition to the well-being of others. There is collective self-interest, something that is beneficial to oneself and also beneficial to society as a whole. That what is good for ourselves is good for everyone as a whole.

Wealth inequality is an arena where collective self-interest is more beneficial to everyone, including ourselves as anarchists, than individual self-interest. Where making society more financially equal leads to a better society with less power differentials between it's members, than one in which a few are encouraged to engage in never-ending self-interested greed, which tips the scales of social power and equity by increasing wealth inequality. This TED video explains it well:
New Orleans is no exception to these facts about the harmful effects of wealth inequality. In fact, if you'll notice on the video's graphs comparing US states, Louisiana is mainly near the more unequal, more socially dysfunctional end of the spectrum. So we live in one of the more unequal and dysfunctional states in one of the most unequal and dysfunctional nations. And, I'd venture to guess, one of the more unequal, and certainly one of the more dysfunctional, cities within that state, within that nation. We are likely very near our usual spot at #1 in all the categories no one wants to win, like prison populations, murders, corruption, racism, etc...

Does anyone think those in positions of power in our city are concerned about tackling wealth disparities as a means to solving social dysfunctions like high murder rates, hungry children, mental illness, and addictions? Furthermore, does anyone think they are interested in tackling the racial and gender hierarchies that create even wider gaps in wealth inequality (and therefore power in society) for entire populations of our city? Nope. Not at all. Of course not.

This is why I am an anarchist. Because recognizing that social benefits sometimes come at the expense of letting the rich explore their greediest desires puts one directly at odds with the rich and the nation-states that have been constructed to protect their wealth. Because I know that greed kills, that inequality leads to a violent society. But the rich are insulated from that fact by large gates and security officers and NOPD and surveillance cameras and the court system and white supremacy and patriarchy.

It is those like us, who cannot afford to live in such gilded self-imprisonment, who bear the brunt of the violent society greed has created. This is why all those concerned about crime should also be anarchists. This is why to end crime we must end poverty (poverty meaning relative wealth inequality). Answers to problems often require more than a one-step solution. Many see more crime, and call for more police officers, never asking the question of what social conditions are producing so many more criminals than other places. And when so many problems can be correlated to a root cause such as wealth inequality, we must stop trying to treat the symptoms and take on the disease itself.

P.S.- If anyone has links to good studies of New Orleans area wealth inequality, please post links in the comments, and thanks!

It's Great Being a White Dude

It's so great. When I say "I help publish this periodical" or "I volunteer at that project," everyone assumes that I actually run the shit and am just being modest.

When I say "I am a radical feminist" people congratulate me.

When I speak out against oppression, almost none of which affects me, I am accorded high dignity as a principled freedom fighter rather than a "whiner" or someone "playing the [whatever] card."

In my dignified and principled way, I have been thinking about race lately, due to issues of unaddressed racism within the "Occupy" movement and a recent internet argument about New York City jazz pianists. If you asked me to tell you (and since I'm a white dude, you don't even need to ask) how I conceive the hierarchy of social injustice, my breakdown would basically be

1. Gender (as distinct from sexual orientation)
2. Class
3. Race and everything else

I believe in "intersectionality," but like many, I also have my private notions of where oppression's rubber meets the road, of what the first and deepest cuts are, and the above are those notions. Part of that has to do with the raw numbers-- women get treated like shit in every country on earth, and constitute over half the population. There are even more poor people, percentage-wise, than there are women, but it seems to me that within the subgroup of the world's poor, women are disproportionately victimized and oppressed for their gender, much moreso than the poor are punished for their poverty within a given community of women.

I know that's probably not watertight logic. I'm not a fucking academic.

But lately, I am beginning to feel my analysis of race is faulty and inadequate. Now by that, I don't mean that I'm a racist. I am... but that's not what I mean. I absolutely cop to racism. I am the product of a racist society, and I wrestle with my own prejudices (including racial prejudice) daily, when I can be bothered to wrestle with them at all. Having that choice-- it being optional-- is another great aspect of being a white dude. Resisting my own prejudice is HEROIC, isn't it? Hell, even ADMITTING it is amazing! Where's my award?

I admit I am racist, just as I am sexist, just as I am homophobic, no matter how many cocks I suck... but that's not what I mean. What I mean is that I think I've been lazy and unfair in my own consideration of race's importance within the complex structures of oppression. I think I've been taking race for granted, which is a huge part of how racism works in our society.

That's more than enough chest-beating from me; I just wanted to air out some of this, to help organize my thoughts. Since this is a nola anarchist blog, and I am a nola anarchist who's been sent the password to it, I figured I'd do so in this venue.

Here are the blog posts by Nicholas Payton that are part of what's got me so pompously ruminating:

On Ben Ratliff’s Four Pianists On The Rise . . . .
and
More On The Difference Between Racism And Prejudice . . . .

Because nothing is simple and everything's fucked up, Payton just released a brilliant album titled "Bitches." It's not just good, it's "best of the year" good. He also said that those who object to the title are themselves bitches, so I'll accept that designation, continue to enjoy the intense wonderousness of his music, and continue to be bitchily annoyed that he called his album that. ...because, when all's said and done, I guess I'm not really threatened by it. It's great being a white dude.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is "Yankee" a problematic word?

When I moved to the American South from the American North, lo these many centuries ago, my first job was in a chain convenience store. The whole chain had recently been bought by a Japanese company, and the new corporate overlords instituted a training program for all new hires to implement concepts of mindfulness and a customer-service attitude of "fierce eagerness." They also redesigned the layouts of the stores to be more harmonious.

This was back when Japan was still a mega-super-power. The trainer for our region's (overwhelmingly Mexican-American) group of newly-hired clerks was an old white lady who took the training program's bizarre textbook very seriously and, more to this essay's point, complained to us constantly about what a shame the civil rights movement had been.

At that point in my life, I'd already learned the hard way that it was risky and sometimes counterproductive to distinguish myself by speaking up. Nobody else seemed to object to her gratuitous opinionating on the civil rights era-- indeed, no-one else seemed even to be paying attention. I didn't want trouble. What would arguing with this curdled bigot accomplish? I was young and just wanted a paycheck so I could move off my buddy's couch.

But I'm the son of a Freedom Summer volunteer, and as the trainer got more and more ugly about what scum and troublemakers those dangerous meddlers had been, I eventually broached some objection. Looking back, I wish I could claim my speaking out was grounded in noble anti-racist sentiment, but the reality was I got fed up with her denigrating my Dad. He had been brave to go into Mississippi and register voters. I knew my father wasn't someone who made trouble. To the contrary, he was pathologically quiescent, a nearly silent man who spent his whole life working at a job he didn't like. Participating in Freedom Summer was one of the only things I felt he'd gotten right.

So I objected to her characterization of the voter-registration volunteers, and she dismissed me as a yankee, saying I couldn't possibly understand. I then went on to spend many more years as a white guy in the blue-collar south, and got called and referred to as a yankee often. Sometimes it was meant as an insult, sometimes it was affectionate, mostly it was just a descriptive-- the same way poor whites from Florida were "crackers."

Black people didn't call me a yankee; people from Mexico or elsewhere in the americas didn't call me a yankee; college-educated and economically comfortable white southerners, most of whom seemed neurotically mindful of northern perceptions of the south, didn't call me a yankee... at least not to my face. In my experience of "yankee," it was exclusively a poor-white word, and used correctly it could sting like the dickens, at least as much as any other epithet I've had hurled at me.

But this isn't about my sensitive hurt feelings-- really, I promise it isn't! This is about the word yankee. I know many people who are deeply weary of hearing it, although to be fair, most of those are people weary of being called it. For those who aren't comfortable just saying "Hey, that hurts my feelings, why are you being a jerk?" the common complaint is that "Yankee" carries connotations of the Civil War and, by extension, regional white resistance to racial equality.

It'd be hard to argue it doesn't. The word can and often does mean what my convenience store trainer meant by it; snarled correctly, it can evoke not the underfed, grey-suited ghosts of the Confederate Army but the white-hooded terrors of the Klan. No matter how it's used, it always brings with it a whiff of Dixie.

I'll be the first to acknowledge all that. But it's also a "power word" used by poor people against affluent outsiders. It's one the few epithets that can make a sanctimonious and well-off white flinch. It's a useful word, because, let's face it, the majority of college graduates from the Northeast really are insufferable, condescending snobs, incurably arrogant, pious know-it-alls who wonder sadly why the rest of the country hasn't reached their lofty plane of enlightenment... and who've reached the private conclusion that it's due to inherent inferiority.

Are there exceptions? Of course! But you know I'm right-- you've met these people, had to endure them professionally, and quietly witnessed their Jane-Goodall-like manner towards those who weren't born into advantage. Some aren't from New England, but whatever coast they hail from, they share that same attitude: firm, paternalistic do-gooderism masking a rock-solid, burn-the-witch conviction that those who disagree are defective, ignorant, or evil. These are people who know what's best for everyone, especially the poor, the same way they know the sky's blue. They only want to help-- and saints preserve anyone who stands in their helpful way!

Now, that mindset is not the most pernicious form moral surety takes in our society, but it is a specific and noxious form of it, and it's rooted as deep as any religious fanatic's. What the fuck do we call these people, if not Yankees? It seems to me that's exactly what the word means.

Of course, calling one another mean names isn't really progress-- it's divisive, it's alienating, etcetera, and the word does carry ugly historical echoes. But why should anyone be in such a hurry to strip away and condemn a word that is a way for poor people to identify and call out bullying and coercive attitudes among the better-off? I also hold geographical words that mean "outsider" to be important and useful, however much outsiders may hate them.

I don't think my own opinion on "yankee" matters THAT much, but I wanted to at least put in a stroke towards its defense. Am I misguided? Do I, born in the north, have Stockholm syndrome? Has my own self-loathing led me identify with the southerners who've oh-so-cruelly oppressed me with the word's usage? Am I myopic, too hasty to brush off the word's associations?

Look, it sucks that bigotry exists. It sucks that when someone with a southern accent speaks, northerners make assumptions about them. That bigotry, which is a bigotry of privilege against a region with less privilege, is real, and I contend-- mildly, with a total willingness to be wrong-- that within a specifically white milieu, "yankee" as commonly used constitutes a reaction and resistance to that particular historically-rooted class and regional bigotry.

You might disagree. If you do, you're probably a yankee.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Cult of Convenience -- the Mall on St. Claude

It's an age of microwaves and internet-enabled pocket telephones. Those of us who haven't recently lived in real want and deprivation have been conditioned to expect convenience as our due. We are taught by media to demand it, to expect it, and that we deserve it-- why wait 12 minutes for some slow-ass to make a po'boy when you can get 2 Big Bufords in 60 seconds for $5? Why indeed... why indeed. Why go to a show when you can stay home and download an mp3 at the click of a button? Why indeed.

And now, with the opening of the orange-purple Mall on St. Claude, the crunchy-granola convenience cavalry has arrived downtown! Now your college friends back in wherever-the-fuck won't look down their noses at you any longer for getting spinach at MGZ or Sav-A-Lot! Now you too can buy into the trappings of the prefab identity your peer group has been sold. Slip on your yoga pants and get voodoo-yoga-wicca centered over a fair-trade smoothie... it's the NEW St. Claude.

But wait... is there some reason you shouldn't? Why wouldn't you? Are you hearing some tiresome murmurs suggesting you're not supposed to? What the fuck... who are these muttering spoilers, these haters trying to make YOU feel bad about your glorious Mall On St. Claude shopping experience?

The recently opened Mall on St. Claude is essentially a roach motel to attract and trap affluent whites. If you don't believe me, look who's excited about it, and who's staffing it, and who owns it, and who's on the board, and who shops there.

It is part of a deliberate and overt plan to remake the region, a trap baited with Reiki and Pilates and Sushi and World Music and Organic $5.89 packs of hotdogs... and a credit union, and a gym, and a bunch of other nonsense designed to delight and reassure the ruling-class "new-creatives" and any post-political burnout artistes willing to lend legitimacy in exchange for a foot rub.

Pres Kabacoff, the same megadeveloper who holds the contract to tear down the Iberville, used $1.8 million of scarce CDBG disaster dollars-- community money-- to build this day-glo Johannesburg Fortress. Of course that's nothing compared to his earlier $55 million backroom deals with city hall-- He built the gross Saulet apartments, Wal-Mart, and a vinyl-sided cheaply-constructed suburban townhouse neighborhood on the former site of the St. Thomas projects. St. Thomas' displaced residents, including those few originally permitted to stay in the townhouses but since evicted for violations of "community rules" like sitting out on their own stoops, have been cast to the winds to survive without their former tight-knit community and its health center. Some of them have died fending off violence from the wardies into whose unfamiliar neighborhoods they were forced to move. Lives lost... to gentrification.

But oh, "gentrification," what a complicated and loaded word. I mean, it's like gravity, right? Gentrification has no agents; it's really all of us, like the air. There's no power analysis possible. If you can pronounce the word, then YOU're part of the problem, so get off your high horse! Gentrification just happens... blamelessly... it's just change. Change happens. There are no rich people pulling the strings. Gentrification has no real meaning as a word.

Now, you may already have negative perceptions of NOPD-- I say "may," because who am I to judge? But the Guardian Angels who Pres has given a City HQ inside the mall are an actual self-described paramilitary group. What a blessing Sallie Ann's fake-priestess ass has wrought upon the 9th ward with her Healing Center... I mention the ninth ward specifically, since that's the neighborhood the Guardian Angels described to the media as being "Uzi-toting, dope-sucking, psychopathic killing machines roaming the streets."

Question:  How effectively will the Mall's co-opted co-op (for example) feed the community when it's guarded by these violent, racist thugs?

Answer:  It will only serve the tiny (but growing) stratum of the neighborhood that Pres Kabacoff WANTS it to serve. Are you part of that slice?

Will you stand in solidarity with your "dope-sucking" neighbors, or will you use your privilege and money to enjoy the organic kombucha and the safe, sanitized atmosphere of the healing center while the Guardian Angels patrol to keep you and your fellow-shoppers safe from the rest of the neighborhood?  Which side of the windows are you on?

But oh my god, what-EVER. I see you rolling your tired eyes. Of course you disapprove of these bad things. You're not pro-Mall, but at the end of the day, you just want organic hotdogs and a yoga sesh. At the end of the day, basically, you don't care.

I mean, surely those making the criticisms above don't appreciate how much YOU personally have suffered and sacrificed to live here. Jesus you've been in this miserable neighborhood for, like, multiple years. How dare anyone wag their finger at you for taking advantage of convenience, for cashing in a little of your privilege chips and enjoying some amenities of the consumerist alterna-culture you've so valiantly forgone 'til now? Don't these haters WANT the neighborhood to have access to Reiki?

It makes you angry, maybe, that anyone suggests you should care. So what if the Mall on St. Claude blasts loud music late into the night, disturbing long-time neighbors, and threatens to have those who complain evicted? So what? How does that concern you? Why should YOU care? It's not really your problem, is it?

Your life is so difficult, so demanding. The dues you've paid as a bohemian transplant roughing it in the wilds of downtown New Orleans are immense... people calling for accountability, using the term gentrification, those are just guilt peddlers. Guilt is so last-century. You don't even consider yourself white, really, not deep down.

The gaudily, perpetually brightly lit, thunderously air-conditioned, aromatherapized, McDonaldland-Massacre-paintjob Mall on St. Claude is there. What's done is done. It's there, and my lord, is it convenient!  Plus now, if the people hanging around Hank's annoy you or get in your face, you'll have a safe place to run to... thanks to Pres Kabacoff, who created it for that very reason.

No joke; you'll be SAFE inside the Mall, surrounded by the symbols of material success, guarded by NOPD and the Guardian Angels. It's like a beautiful other-world in there, a mini-vacation (from poor people). Standing in its carnival-vomit-hued belly, you'd never know you were in New Orleans at all! You're safe... breathe out, breathe in... relax. You're safe from the realities the rest of the neighborhood has lived with for however long. You're safe, and the red-bereted paramilitary and NOPD cops who guard this tiny oasis of affluence will never bother YOU, will never beat YOU up. They'll smile at you, they'll be unobtrusive and obsequious, because they know, same as you do deep down: You belong in the Mall.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

#OccupyWallStreet Expands Across the U.S. to Include #OccupyNOLA

Protesters that have been occupying a Plaza in NYC near Wall Street against the greed, corruption, and inequality of the Wall Street financial oligarchs for 2 weeks now. They have inspired occupation movements to organize themselves around the world, including over 60 cities in the U.S. to have general assemblies and figure out how the 99% can get out from under the boot heel of the top 1%.

To that end, #OccupyNOLA is organizing an occupation to join this worldwide movement. They have called for an organizing meeting in Washington Square Park at Noon on October 2nd. The occupation will begin on October 6th. Get involved. Here's their contact info:
Website: http://www.occupynola.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OccupyNOLA
Twitter: @OccupyNOLA
Email: OccupyNOLA@gmail.com
Email List: http://groups.google.com/group/occupynola
Send an email to the group at occupynola@googlegroups.com

So, why do the bottom 99% need to get together and organize themselves to end the stranglehold of the top 1% have on the rest of us?
Everyone has their own reason. But it all comes down to the top 1% having the economic power to capture political power, leaving the other 99% out of real democracy.

Here is a good video about how that happened, about the squeeze put on people in America in the last 30 years (this is from just months before the financial crash of September 2008), and a couple graphics:

Monday, September 26, 2011

William Watkins, Krewe of Eris Arestee Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail

Willy should be on a beach, not in prison! Write him!
Only a few of us heard, mostly by chance and at the last moment, that one of the 12 Eris arrestees had his trial last Friday. We showed up and watched his lawyer try the case in fine style. The charges against Willy were ludicrous, and fortunately there was clear video evidence showing Willy's arrest-- showing that at no time was he anywhere near the officer whom he's alleged to have shoved, which single fabricated shoving originated all 3 of his charges -- battery of a police officer, simple criminal damage, and resisting arrest.

So the lawyer presented the case well, and then NOPD took the stand and contradicted themselves and each other and their own written reports, and the video showed it all unambiguously, and the lawyers summed everything up in their closing arguments.

But none of it mattered, because Willy got a really bad judge. The judge rolled her eyes and looked away in boredom-- closed her eyes, even, during the presentation of evidence. She sneered at Willy, berated his lawyers, and huffed in impatient adolescent exasperation at each motion or objection from the defense. As soon as protocol permitted, she declared Willy summarily guilty on all three counts.

The lawyers pleaded for clemency in sentencing, citing Willy's clean record, and she shouted at them some more and bared her teeth like a cornered possum and gave Willy 45 days in the House of Detention for his three bullshit misdemeanors. He was cuffed right where he sat, his lawyer was given the chance to take off Willy's bowtie and empty Willy's pockets, and then we were all kicked out the courtroom, just because, and Willy went in shackles down the back stairway to the prison bus with all the other poor orange-jumpsuited bastards who had the misfortune to be in Judge Robin Pittman's courtroom that day.

I know we all know the system is fucked, it's unfair, etc., but I really do need to specially mention that Robin Pittman is vile and literally, medically, provably insane. She is not just a "mean judge," she is a mean judge who is off her rocker. Her jaw-dropping displays of viciousness, paranoia and immaturity, her talking on her cell phone and reading her bible during trials, her ugly, unprovoked and unprofessional insults towards the defense (not just Willy's, everyone's) and above all her histrionic savagery towards the human wreckage dragged before her in chains daily make Pittman not merely a bad judge, but a sad, bad, mad judge, the most pathetic and repugnant specimen among the whole twisted pantheon...  the unhinged and monstrous Queen of Hearts holding forth in her bizarre, Kafka-like crawlspace courtroom, a "blind and aimless Fury" ruling the rafters of our criminal courthouse's nightmarish Wonderland.

So that's Pittman, and that's why Willy is in prison right now.  I can't speak for Willy, but I would rather do 45 days in prison than have to spend a single day inside Judge Pittman's head. Being her is a terrible punishment, and it's HD video crystal-clear how deeply unhappy she is. She is not the smug patrician haughtily handing out hell, she is the deranged sufferer, the clawing ravening sufferer who is frenziedly punishing the rest of the world with every drop of power she's permitted. I don't believe in karma, but I do believe we have the means to make ourselves miserable, and Pittman is a horrifying living example of that-- raving and grimacing, shrieking and glowering, embarrassing and delegitimizing not only herself but any system that would make her its representative.

There is a great deal to be said about this whole Eris debacle, and how it's been handled (or not handled). I personally feel there is enormous and genuine goodwill towards the arrestees from the community at large, goodwill that has gone frustratingly untapped. There have been so many missed opportunities, to get help, to tell the paraders' side of things, to form alliances with the street musicians and Mardi Gras Indians and others who've been fighting this same battle for far longer. People WANT to help, people WANT to know what's going on, but they haven't been given the means, which compounds everyone's alienation... the result is the disempowering sense of being stuck outside a tragedy, unable to be of use. But that is a different topic.

Let's help Willy!
This sweet young man, a homeowner from Missouri who visited us for Carnival, who dressed as Peter Pan for Eris and doesn't have a mean bone in his body, has been absolutely screwed over by our system. He's certainly a lesser victim compared to the lives our justice system grinds up and throws away daily, but he's still a victim, and he's one I've gotten to know and like. He wasn't one of the "bad elements" using soap to draw penises on cars; he was just in the wrong place in the wrong time, and, as shown in the video, did nothing worse than turn and face one of the police officers attacking the crowd. For that, he was tackled, stomped, tazed, and falsely charged. Yes, he was foolish to turn and look at the police when the fleeing crowd had been commanded to face the other direction ("I don't wanna see no faces, I wanna see backs!") but it was only ignorance; he didn't know how our NOPD is.

Anyone who witnessed the quiet dignity, earnest goodwill and courage with which Willy conducted himself in the face of Judge Pittman's violent imprecations and bullying would be moved.

Now Willy's in prison, and will be for some weeks. As a visitor, he doesn't have a lot of close friends here. The House of Detention can be a scary place, and everything scary is worse when you are, or feel, alone.

If you could write him a letter, donate money towards his fines, and/or put some cash in his commissary so he can have an occasional magazine to read or a meal that isn't baloney sandwiches, you would be doing something worthwhile for a guy who needs it.

45 days isn't a long sentence until you're the one serving it, in the round-the-clock deafening, round-the-clock floodlit uniformly hard-surfaced mouldering medieval cages of our parish prison, in windowless fluorescent-flickering metal crates where time and the cycles of day or night lose meaning, where there is only one harsh, cacophonously echoing endless eternal now, a blur of unhappy angry people in an untenable and inhuman situation. Boredom, discomfort, hunger, thirst, heat, cold, fear, uncertainty, exhaustion, and nothing ahead but more of the same. What if they DON'T let you out when they're supposed to? What if someone attacks you, and you defend yourself, and you get hit with additional time? What if you get sick? What if one of the times you get stored down in the peeling-paint transitional cells in the basements where no-one can hear you, they forget about you?

The house of detention is no vacation, least of all for someone who lacks local connections and support networks. Willy needs our support.

WRITING TO WILLY

This would be lovely. Wouldn't you want a letter from the outside world, some personal note to let you know you're not as isolated as you feel? Something inane and friendly, cheerful and encouraging, something from a friend or from a stranger taking the time to let you know that you're missed and valued... think what that would mean to you.
You may send Willy mail at this address:

William R Watkin
Folder 2303771
3000 Perdido Street,
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70119


There is a big list of what you CANNOT send Willy here: http://www.opcso.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=58&Itemid=182 Basically, nothing but letters, money orders, and photographs (!) . No books, magazines, or 'zines, no toiletries, food, or tobacco, no clothing, no envelopes, no stationary, stamps or writing utensils... any of those things Willy wants, he must purchase, if he can, at exorbitant profiteering prices from the prison Commissary.

PUTTING MONEY IN WILLY'S COMMISSARY

Willy, an avid and ambitious leisure reader, can't be sent reading material besides personal letters. He will not have the means to write letters to his loving sweetheart back in Missouri or his frantically worrying parents, nor will he have access to remotely wholesome or even pleasurable, good-tasting food, unless money is put in his commissary account.

You can put money in his commissary by mailing Willy a signed money order with his name (William Watkins) and his folder number (2303771) on it, or more easily by visiting the Sherriff's office (that same "temporary" trailer behind the jail where you go to bail people out) and using one of their anti-ATM devices there on-site, or most easily of all by visiting http://www.tigerdeposits.com/ and following the fairly straight-forward steps. "Watkins, William R." is of course in Louisiana >> Orleans Parish >> Orleans Parish Prison.  Note that in accordance with the standard predatory capitalism of our privatized prison system, the helpful folks at "Tiger Correctional Services" will charge you a 7.0 percent fee.

If your experience with Tiger Correctional Services really turns you on, you'll no doubt be gratified upon the conclusion of your transaction at the opportunity to follow them on twitter or "like" them on facebook. They just posted a picture album of their staff enjoying fresh-caught trout at a fishing tournament. I bet that trout was delicious! Delicious, and yet not half as delicious as the roaring blackout nihilism viewing the photo gallery engenders.

DONATING MONEY TOWARDS WILLY'S FINES.

Judge Pittman assigned Willy a grand or so in fines and fees, but additionally, at the request of NOPD, she has sentenced him to pay reparations. Apparently Willy "shoving the officer" didn't merely send the officer to the hospital and require the officer to take several days off, but the same single shove destroyed the officer's new and (apparently very expensive!) eyeglasses and police radio. So, Willy has to pay for replacements, which are hundreds of dollars.

Willy ain't got that kind of cash. Please make a donation via paypal or credit card at http://eris12.org, or if that link doesn't work for whatever reason, or you don't want to use plastic or paypal, you can email nolaanarcha (at) gmail.com and we'll figure it out. In the blessed but unlikely event that the amount thusly donated exceeds Willy's fines, it will be applied to the thousands of dollars of lawyer fees the other equally nice Eris arrestees have paid & still owe.

VISITING WILLY

After fruitless hours on the phone and web, I have been unable to nail down exactly how to visit Willy, because he's not in the state system yet the way he needs to be for me to get the ball rolling on visitations. This may be because he has not yet been assigned a DOC number, and may still be down in holding rather than up in the 96 tiers of the prison itself.

Rest assured, I will figure this fucking shit out (or the lawyers will, and will let me know). In the meantime, if you'd like to visit Willy, email Nola Anarcha. One proactive step you could take is writing to Willy and giving him your full name so that he knows to put you on his visitor's list. Willy gets along with just about everyone, so don't be shy! I am sure he would love to see you, whoever you are, just for the chance at being reassured in person that people here in New Orleans know and care about his situation.

Thanks for your time, and perhaps your money. Willy may be a stranger to most of us, but he is the first of the arrestees to get actual prison time. I hope he is the last. I hope the whole rotten prison cracks open like an egg, RIGHT NOW, and that all the unjustly imprisoned human beings inside can return to their families and loved ones. Willy doesn't deserve to be in there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homeless in New Orleans: You have to fight the entire city just to survive

 
The way the City has dealt with homelessness in New Orleans has generally been to try and abuse, starve, and threaten the homeless until they leave the city or end up in jail (where the City makes money off of them) for a long time. As stated in this video, they've forced compassionate people providing free food to the homeless under the Mississippi River Bridge to stop. 

They previously shut down the people feeding the homeless at "the wall" where Elysian Fields Ave. meets the river levee wall. They even arrested the Christian food providers multiple times when they refused to stop feeding the homeless. The operation was ended when NOPD started threatening to arrest the homeless people in line to eat the food, and the homeless stopped coming. There is now a fence erected around that area. 

The homeless are regularly arrested for sleeping in the many abandoned buildings in New Orleans. They are arrested for looking homeless in the French Quarter, especially if they are black, which is why many homeless black people will tell you they don't dare enter the French Quarter at night.

This is how the City of New Orleans deals with homelessness. This is how they deal with poverty. This is how they show compassion for those who have less than themselves. They do all this despite the evidence that those approaches do not work. Why do they continue with failed approaches? Because those are the only approaches that the white, racist, rich elites of New Orleans will approve of. Apartheid is alive and well in America. It is going on in the very city you live in.

One approach that has proven to be much more effective, both in terms of costs and outcomes, than the solutions of repression, harassment, and brutal indifference is called Housing First. I wonder if anyone in City Hall has ever heard of it? I wonder if any of the racists and classists who hate the homeless and demand police attack them at every turn as "criminals" have ever heard of it? Do they even care to consider it? Do they even want to consider any alternatives that do not satisfy their thirst for vengeance against those who remind them that poverty exists? Their base, disgusting desire to destroy anything that reminds them that people are suffering, that their is a world much more cruel and brutal taking place than what they see on TV sit-coms and Real Housewives of Gated Communities every day? Their bloodlust against the poor?

Probably not.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Crime Summit: Searching for Solutions With His Head in the Sand

The Mayor is holding a "crime summit" this weekend. Everyone in New Orleans is concerned about crime. But, the concern seems almost exactly inverse to those who are actually the majority of the victims of it. Those who fret the most over crime are generally those with the most to lose, those hoarding the most wealth in a vast sea of poverty and desperation, not the ones who are the most victimized by it. The rich live lives of fear created by their own greed. 


They tend to be less likely to be the victims of crime, with their private security patrols, gated communities, security cameras, alarm systems, etc... but this does not decrease their fear. Those on pedestals always fear that pedestal being pushed over. When they speak of crime, they don't mean all crimes: they mean crimes of those more disenfranchised against those with more privileges. By "crime," they really mean attacks on privilege. They are not concerned with the crimes of bosses withholding wages, not paying over-time, women being victims of sexual crimes (which has been a largely ignored epidemic for decades), landlords who rent out sub-standard buildings, Entergy price gouging customers, etc...

If we want less crime, we must keep this one idea central:  
END POVERTY TO END CRIME.
While Mayor Landrieu and other such hereditary oligarchs of our city refuse to recognize this, our crime problem will never be solved without us overturning the very system they've conveniently succeeded within. We are the 5th poorest state in the Nation. The summit is a farce. At the same time they are pretending to care about our safety and lives, they are making us less safe by making life harder and more desperate in our city by doing everything from destroying affordable housing, privatizing (instead of fixing) schools, helping businesses succeed that just drain money out of our local economy and pay slave wages (Less than 2% of French Quarter businesses are owned by african-americans, while they make up 60% of our city), and using the prison system to extract wealth from the poor at an incredible rate.

Poverty, in the last Great Depression, was spread amongst blacks, european immigrants, and all other races. Since then, poverty has become increasingly racialized, with poverty reaching new highs among non-white people, who make up a large part of our city, making poverty here even more concentrated, and making poverty even more central to ending crime.

Until we force the Mayor, political leaders, and wealthy oligarchs in our city to recognize that the city won't be safe until politicians stop giving into the insatiable greed of the rich who fund their campaigns, and tackle poverty by doing things like legalizing squatting (when we have many empty buildings, houseless people, and disgustingly high rental prices), repeatedly fining empty commercial properties until they are put to use, ending the racist, sexist incarceration machine of OPP, increasing affordable housing units instead of decreasing them, providing free child care (or paying the women who do it for their relatives already for free) to help women be able to secure jobs and independence, increasing the poverty wages paid to many people for their entire lives in the service industry, etc... These are the ways to build strong communities with dignity and end the desperation that leads to hopelessness and violence.

But, considering the fact that this city is a cesspool of institutionalized violence and a racist, patriarchal, caste society, violence will likely to continue be imitated on crumbling, darkened, sewage filled streets as the best way to survive by those who are on the receiving end of institutionalized violence everyday. That violence comes from a greedy oligarchy of parasites who protect their wealth and privileged positions with a giant machinery of control and repressive violence (police, prisons, poor wages, high rents, etc..).

This crime summit is a joke. Crime could be ended tomorrow, but it would require the dismantling of wealth and the systems that re-produce and extend its existence at the expense of our daily lives, from $5 a minute phone calls from inside OPP to $5 for carrots at Rouse's.

There is a reason there are no murders in gated rich neighborhoods: because people with money have access to solving problems in ways that don't include immediate violence (lawyers, courts, MONEY, etc...). Those options are not available to many people in our city, both because courts and lawyers are too expensive, because we don't have the money to buy all the things we need to survive, and because the outcomes within legal systems have proven to us over and over again that they protect the interests of power and wealth. Those outcomes make perfect sense considering the wealthy have always funded politician's campaigns and gotten those politicians to write laws in their interests. That is how, for instance, it becomes illegal to sleep in an abandoned house, but not illegal to leave a house abandoned while people sleep on the streeets and pay exorbitant rents in a market with less housing supply.
"Before the law, beggars and kings are equally forbidden from stealing bread or sleeping under a bridge."

The law exists to protect the rich and the violence the law commands is how the rich maintain their power while keeping their own hands clean of blood. The poor have no other options but to use violence ourselves to settle our disputes when we've been shown that no one is interested in doing it for us if we don't have any money! Our estrangement from social institutions, a result of the greed of the rich, has created the violence on the streets. To end it, we must end the poverty that creates such estrangement.

This post dedicated to the 14 year old girl who stole a cell phone with a stun gun. Do kids who come from rich homes and go to Country Day school steal cell phones? No. Well, why not? Because they can just have their parents buy them one! And thus, as outcomes beget outcomes, 2 very different life paths reproduce class society.

Really Really Free Market organizing meeting Sept. 30th

 
The New Orleans Really Really Free Market is having a planning meeting for volunteers, tablers, interested folks, etc. at Flora's coffee (2600 Royal St., at Franklin Ave.), at 6:30pm on September 30th. Mark it in your calendars now and help make this irregular event a more stable , central hub for gathering, networking, sharing, and hanging out for locals interested in alternative economies and shared wealth.
 Here is some background on RRFMs:
RRFM Wikipedia page
RRFM in New Orleans a Success

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Healing Center Attacked For Role in Gentrification

The New Orleans Healing Center, center of controversy since it's inception, was attacked the night before it's opening day by opponents of it's impact on the neighborhood with stickers and the breaking of trees in ridiculous planters. The Healing Center was funded by a combination of notorious anti-poor developer Pres Kabacoff and the government give away of tax-payer money. It houses services oriented towards liberals and rich people compared to those who have historically lived there.

The centerpiece of the Healing Center, and an apparent target of the vandalism, was the New Orleans Food Co-Op. A consumer co-op to deliver Whole Foods style food tastes to an area where some rich people might be reluctant to move to because of it's lack of access to yuppie groceries (or any grocery stores at all, really). So the issue is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it will be providing access to a fully-stocked grocery store to an entire half of the city that is lacking one. On the other hand, a consumer co-op grocery store full of items only hippies and liberal yuppies would appreciate isn't much consolation to most people who just want a normal grocery store with decent prices and a selection of foods familiar to most New Orleanians. This is not to mention the context of the Healing Center around the Co-Op, which will be filled with services and goods that most people who've been long term residents of the Bywater, Marigny, or 8th and 9th wards would have no interest in at all.

Only time will tell how much of a gentrifying impact this latest project from one of the chief architects of privatization-development schemes that destroy services for the poor will play out. But for now, at least some people are taking action to make the point clear that the Healing Center is looking more like a outpost colonizing the the wild west than a project that doesn't seek to dominate and re-shape a neighborhood that has already seen plenty of colonization up until now. What do you think the outcome of the Healing Center development project will be?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hurricane Katrina 6th Annual Commemoration Secondline/March August 29th, 9am-1pm

 
Join the Katrina Commemoration Foundation for a secondline/march Monday, August 29th. The march begins each year from where the levees broke in the Lower 9th ward at Jourdan & North Galvez, where people gather at 9am to remember those who died and carry on the call for justice.

Then at 10am the secondline heads up Claiborne Ave. into the city and ends at Hunter's Field around 1pm. Hunter's Field is the park on the corner of St. Bernard Ave. & N. Claiborne.

There will be food and live performances at Hunter's Field by: Young Sino, Sess 4-5, 5th ward weebie, Team SNO, Y. luck, Shack Brown Drill Team, Mia X, Partner's in crime, Mr.tony, Detroit, Kourtney Heart, Roi Anthony, Pallo DA Jiint, Asia Rainey, Zion Trinity, and Shawt.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Civil Disobedience Planned for Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Meeting in Biloxi, Aug. 30th

Continuing on the momentum begun with the acts of civil disobedience in New Orleans on August 4th, people trying desperately to hold BP and the Federal government accountable for the toxic Gulf nightmare coastal communities are dealing with have organized another action to take place on August 30th. Their announcement follows:

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (GCERT) was created by President Obama through an Executive Order on October 5, 2010, with concerns to long term recovery following the 2010 Deep Water Oil Catastrophe.

Although the Task Force is charged with development of a restoration strategy that proposes a Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration agenda, from the first meeting, advocates and citizens from the Gulf coastal communities... have been attending in hopes of finding aid in not only the area of ecosystem recovery, but also safe and effective industry concerns, and health related impacts from the event.

Of the latter issue, we have repeatedly been told by the GCERT that they are not here in response to the health issues that have arisen since the event. And yet, they are who we have been consistently directed to when speaking to officials of the continuing health, economic and human rights violations across the nation.

At one point, through collaboration with the GCERT, the Health and Human Services, "the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans," convened a meeting of what we thought would be a responsive address. We were at that time, by HHS a well as the Center for Disease Control, directed back to the GCERT with our concerns.

So, here we are 16 months later, and not one single piece of legislation (state or federal), nor one governmental entity, is adequately nor actively responding to the urgent and direct needs of the people on the Gulf for the basic human right of health.


THE TIME FOR NEGOTIATIONS IS OVER.

On August 30, 2011, beginning at 10 am, ill people, fishermen, workers, community organizers and residents will be in the chambers of this meeting. And we will QUIETLY and conscientiously assemble, with blown up photos of our beaches and signs depicting the issuance of our demands.
You are invited to join us in solidarity during these proceedings. We will come with determined respect and resolve, taking our rightful place among those who have historically answered the call for the endless struggle for moral requisite on behalf of country and humanity.

PLEASE BRING A LARGE BLOWN UP RECENT PHOTO OF OUR AFFECTED AREAS, AS WELL AS PROPER SIGNAGE AS TO THE FACTS OF THE SITUATION IN THE GULF AS IT STANDS TODAY.

THIS WILL BE A CALM, YET RESILIENT SHOW OF SOLIDARITY. THIS EVENT HOPES TO BE BOTH EMPOWERING AND IMPACTFUL.
 

Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force Meeting - MS Coast Coliseum & Convention Center
2350 Beach Boulevard
Biloxi, Mississippi

For more information on the meeting, including a map: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e4aekwljefe91ecc&llr=lpkzsjfab

"The question here is not just about one of the numerous individual cases in the struggle between a truth powerless to act and a power that has become the enemy of truth. It is really a question of the absolutely concrete demonstration of the point at which this struggle at any moment becomes man's duty as man.…"
— Martin Buber "Man's Duty As Man" (1962)


Please RSVP and get more info on the Facebook event page.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Local History: Sugar Cane Workers Strike and Massacre of 1887

 One of the most interesting, and probably least known events in Louisiana history is the Thibodaux Massacre of 1887.The Thibodaux Massacre of 1887 was the second most bloody labor dispute in U.S. history.

In 1886, the newly-formed railroad workers union decided to help the sugarcane workers organize themselves, and held a racially integrated union meeting in Shreiver, LA. Sugarcane workers were basically indebted serfs for plantation owners at this time.

The cane workers were paid in coupons reedemable only at the company store, and the store's prices were marked up so much the workers had to go into debt to buy goods they needed. Of course, plantation owners couldn't get away with this without the help of the law and police, so there were laws that made it a crime to leave an owner's land if one was indebted to the owner. Obviously, these workers needed some help.

In 1887, after organizing a union, they presented 3 demands to plantation owners: the elimination of the coupon system, a small increase in their daily wages (which were $13 per month), and payment every two weeks. When their demands were not met 10,000 plantation workers went on strike during the crucial harvesting season. Most of the strikers were black, but nearly 1000 were white.

The workers prevented the local sheriffs from evicting any of them from the plantation owned cabins they lived in, so the state sent in the Louisiana militia to break the strike. The militia, armed with rifles, evicted the workers and helped scab replacements get safely to the fields. The strikers, with nowhere to go, gathered in Thibodaux and other towns in St. Mary, Terrebonne, Assumption, and Lafourche parishes. After hearing "reports" of strikers firing into scab-run sugar mills, whites in Thibodaux organized vigilante squads to guard the town, apparently afraid of strikers "burning it down."


The strike turned bloody when, while attempting to cordon off the black section of Thibodaux that black strikers had gone to after being evicted, 2 white vigilantes were shot. This enraged racist whites in the town, and they rode through the neighborhood firing their weapons and wreaking havoc.

Strikers and their family members were rounded up by vigilantes. Many were told to "run for their lives" and then executed. On the morning of November 23, 1887 anywhere between 30 to 300 black strikers were killed. Non-local militiamen known as the Shreveport Guards (from an area known for white supremacist ideology to this day) were thought to have taken part in the massacre.

This strike took place at a time when the labor movement was a completely new idea, and anything must have seemed possible to those workers who began to dream of a better life. Their dreams, not yet dimmed by cynicism, recuperation, or fear, could only be destroyed by barbaric brutality on the scale of the Thibodeaux massacre.

The next attempt to organize sugarcane workers in southeast Louisiana came in the 1950´s, long after this first bloody battle in cane country, because they cannot kill an idea.

The bosses (and white supremacist traitors who do the sell-out job of keeping working people divided by making whites fear people of color) have been trying to force us to give up on dreaming dreams like those of the sugarcane workers, but the desire for freedom, justice, and dignity is something that cannot be shot down.

They rely on spectacular violence to instill fear in us, hoping to scare us out of demanding the realization of our dreams, or even daring to dream at all. But ideas are bulletproof, and so despite the seemingly inhuman capacity for violence that the rich and the government it owns have shown, in the Thibodaux Massacre and a million other heinous acts since then, we're still here, motherfuckers!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"If a Tree Falls" documentary: Showing today only, in Chalmette

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front. Showing tonight, August 16th at 7:30 p.m. at Chalmette Theatre (8700 West Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette, LA 70043)


On December 7, 2005, federal agents conducted a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)-an organization the FBI has called America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat.” If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front is the remarkable story of the group’s rise and fall, told through the transformation and radicalization of one of its members, Daniel McGowan.

Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thriller, the film interweaves a chronicle of McGowan facing life in prison with a dramatic investigation of the events that led to his involvement with the ELF. Using never-before-seen archival footage and intimate interviews-with cell members and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them-If a Tree Falls asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism and the way we define terrorism. Winner of the Documentary Editing Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Tickets:
General Admission: $8.50
N.O.Film Society Members: $6.50


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marie-Grace and Cecile

Sometimes you come across a story your heart moves you to share. The friendship of Marie-Grace and Cecile is just such a story, because (as author Denise Lewis Patrick explains) "the friendship of Marie-Grace and Cecile is very special. They are friends of the heart."

While not all readers of this blog will be familiar with the American Girl® series of dolls, storybooks and films, perhaps just as few will be acquainted with the important New Orleans history embodied in Cecile and Marie-Grace, an exciting new pair of dolls and storybooks from American Girl®.

You see, Marie-Grace and Cecile had superficial differences-- Marie-Grace was an aristocratic free person of color, and a native New Orleanian, while Cecile was a merchant-class American, part of a wave of Americans from the North who came to New Orleans and built what's today known as Uptown. They had different backgrounds, different complexions-- even spoke different languages! (Marie-Grace spoke French)

Their inspirational story, set in 1853, shows that even individuals from different backgrounds can form understandings-- and friendships, through the universal language of friendship and respect. "At the moment they speak, and she looks into Marie-Grace's eyes, they feel a connection," Lewis Patrick says, explaining a key moment of the series. "It's a possible friendship connection."

They both have to make this little gap, this little jump," says Sarah Masters Buckley, author of the Marie-Grace series. "The fact they're willing to take this little jump makes all the difference in their lives... both girls learn from that."

No matter what age we, or our children are, couldn't we all stand to learn from that too?

I urge all readers and subscribers of Nola Anarcha to learn more about this powerful and inspirational new series by visiting http://www.americangirl.com/fun/agcn/cecile-mariegrace/. There you can watch a magnficent and weirdly soothing video presentation, read excerpts from the books themselves, pre-order the dolls and books, download a new song performed by young New Orleans musician Kate Connick, and participate in fun "Flash Games" that will give you, the visitor, a peek into the wonderful and intriguing lives of these two charming heroines... these two brave friends... these two American Girls®
Pre-order now and receive a FREE gift! Receive a 34-piece paper doll booklet with every pre-order of a C├ęcile or Marie-Grace doll.

Killer Danziger Cops NOT GUILTY of Murder. What?!?

The cops who shot and stomped 2 innocent people to death and shot several others were found guilty of shooting them and violating their civil rights in a verdict handed down by a jury last Friday. However, the officers were found NOT guilty of murder.

What does it take for a police officer to be found guilty of murder? Apparently a jury made up of other people than 11 whites and 1 black person. Apparently more than testimony from other cops, eyewitnesses, and admissions by officers involved and those involved in the cover-up. What does it take? If these were not cops, but instead were rappers or other young black men, all it would take is uncorroborated testimony from a jailhouse snitch without any real evidence at all. This verdict does nothing but support the obvious conclusion that in our system, justice is a fraud, a charade, and a farce.
IT WAS MURDER. 
This statement must be repeated over and over so that we don't allow this "justice" system to get away with such an insult to New Orleanians who were terrified, shot, and killed on that awful day, and for those who will continue to die at the hands of the police in the future unless we stand up and say something about it now.


The sentencing is set for December 14th. Meet at 8pm at Canal and Rampart on that date to speak out and the demand the changes to the police you think our city needs to stop this from happening ever again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Anonymous Hacks Police Websites in LA & MS


via Sun Herald --
Mississippi and Louisiana sheriff’s offices on a hackers’ list appeared unaware on Saturday that any sensitive information on their websites might have been published online -- or even that their websites were down. At least seven sheriff’s offices in Mississippi and one in Louisiana were among about 70 law enforcement websites that the group called Anonymous said it hacked, stealing data in retaliation for arrests of its sympathizers in the U.S. and Britain. But Tishomingo County, Miss., was the only one of those eight where someone on duty Saturday knew the website was down. Officials also knew about the hacking allegations. Other sheriff’s office sites on the group’s list that were not working Saturday were in Cameron Parish, La., and Adams, George, Jefferson, Prentiss, Tate and Tunica counties in Mississippi. 
Anonymous published officers names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and the names of informants and tipsters from police departments around the country. Have a look.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

ALEC Conference Protested in New Orleans, 1 Arrest

So, ALEC came to town. Anarchists decided it was worth going to, even though their is some group of rich conservatives or businesspeople meeting in our city every week, and ALEC is no worse than other lobbyist activity to us. The difference between lobbying and ALEC that got liberals excited to protest it was that their unions and progressive lobbying groups are not allowed a seat at the table inside ALEC.  They want equal access, naive to the reality of increasing corporate money, and therefore power, that makes the liberals easy to brush aside.

Flier handed out at the ALEC march.

Anarchists came with fliers in hand and flags waving in the air to protest the very existence of politicians and corporations in our world, not to beg for a seat at their table. The protest organizers, almost exclusively out of town liberals and member of the academic and non-profit class, created guidelines only a few days before the march which demanded everyone stay on the sidewalk, not be confrontational, and listen to the "peace marshals" in orange shirts. Things didn't go exactly as the way they planned from afar.

There are several problems with the guidelines the organizers set forth. First of all, New Orleans has a centuries-long tradition of people taking to the streets for jazz funerals, parades, secondlines, and Mardi Gras Indian events. This tradition has been fiercely defended by protest groups from civil rights organizers to the anti-war movement. To ask a New Orleanian to stay on the sidewalk while at a protest is to ask us to give up a freedom we've secured over time. And when you don't use your freedoms, as liberals probably know from bumper stickers, you can easily lose them.

So naturally, we took the streets during the march. Someone even managed to spraypaint a couple circle-As on the front of the Mariott while stunned ALEC delegates stood mere feet away. A smoke bomb was also lit off in the streets as the march wound it's way around the hotel. Unfortunately, the police did make one arrest for the graffiti. Anarchists stood protesting in front of the hotel, where delegates could hear and see us, while the organizers led people in circles around the building, afraid of being told to stop loitering, I guess, passing empty alleyways and hotel loading docks over and over.

And as far as the "peace marshals" go, we aren't living in a peaceful society. Maybe college educated middle class liberals don't experience the violence of this society first hand very often, but the threat of a police officers gun being pointed at your head is very real if one refuses to submit to the unfair rules that keep the rich in power. If they wanted to ensure "peace," maybe they could have asked the NOPD officers in attendance to go put their guns back at the police station, or they could have stopped some Sheriffs from evicting a family who couldn't pay a mortgage to Bank of America. The threat of massive violence is all around us every day; it is the only way this society keeps functioning as it is. How about stopping some of that? Instead of trying to discourage the people who are victims of it to stand up against such threats, threats manufactured into laws by groups like ALEC and enforced by the police and court system, why don't the "peace marshals"confront the on-going institutional violence all around us?

The out of town organizers' fliers even had a map with the wrong locations on it that didn't include the streets the march was going to go down. And, the people handing them out had no idea where the Mariott Hotel even was on the map! They also disrespected a veteran anti-police organizer in the city by calling him "Michael Suber" instead of his name, Malcolm Suber, while introducing him to speak at the rally. Despite their own fumbling around, some of them are blaming anarchists for "ruining" their protest. Ha, they didn't need any help! (And just for the record, in the linked article it says the arrestee has something to do with Nola Anarcha. This is not true, we don't know him, but he was our hero for the day for his brave actions! Yet another excellent example of "journalism" by slimy non-profiteers)

This march gave anarchists the rare chance in our city to feel united and in solidarity on the streets together. The feeling was wonderful, hopeful, and strong. It felt really good. Hopefully we'll see more local anarchists the next time we stand up to those who've stolen so much from us, so we can build those special bonds that come from confronting our oppressors together and create a stronger community of resistance.



This is what violence looks like, peace marshals: men with guns and handcuffs using violence. Spray-painting an anarchy symbol on the Mariott Hotel is not violence. Considering that half their rooms are empty every night while 100 homeless people sleep under the bridge by the over-crowded New Orleans Mission, the with-holding of a safe place to sleep for corporate profit is institutional violence committed daily by the Mariott against the homeless. Not to mention their hosting of ALEC, which writes laws that result in massive waves of violence against people of color, immigrants, women, and the poor. Peace? There is no peace.