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:
Twitter: @OccupyNOLA
Email List:
Send an email to the group at

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.


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: 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.


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 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.


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, 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) 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.


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:  
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?