Suppressing Dissent, Liberally
It is a year after the inauguration of trump and not a day goes by without there being a new or escalated assault on the people. ICE menaces immigrant communities, more and more people getting deported, families ripped apart. kkk governmental decrees are signed making a specious Muslim ban. Temporary status for refugees is revoked putting vast numbers of Central Americans and Hai-tians in chaotic limbo. This kkk government is trying expel as many people of color as fast as it can. The list of atrocities is ever expanding and ongoing, from the apartheid wall in Palestine, to the militarized border wall between the u.s. and mexico, to white supremacists carrying tiki torches and guns trying to intimidate people opposing racism. The water protectors arrested at Standing Rock are embroiled in some 700 criminal cases in hostile courts. And then there is the accelerated dis-placement of whole neighborhoods driven by the odious tech boom, and the attempt to end what-ever little benefits people get, like medicaid, medicare, social security.
There have been many acts of sustained rebellion, people disrupting, marching, street theater, street art, and dumpster burning and general carrying on in the streets. The kkk government just hates this, and wants it all to stop so they can carry on with their vicious agenda to enrich billionaires and plunder the earth, in peace and quiet, without pesky demonstrators.
On January 20, 2017 in San Francisco there were a variety of raucous militant actions. One action blocked the caltrain lines in downtown San Francisco in a spectacular statement of NO BUSINESS AS USUAL. Eleven people were arrested for this nonviolent act of civil disobedience.
A year later here in “liberal” san francisco the district attorney is refusing to drop the misdemeanor charges against the 11 SF J20 defendants. The charges, which carry as much as a year in jail plus fines, belie the sacred image of san francisco as a free progressive sanctuary city and fighting the trump administration. Even in La Belle SF, in this veritable so-called bastion of democracy, the city neocon government is trying to squelch dissent, to stop protest and the exercising first amendment rights, to make it scary for people to take a stand. There has been a petition signed by thousands of people telling george gascon the District Attorney to drop the charges. People have packed the courts of several hearings. The city continues to make an example of militant actions which stop the flow of capitalist business. So much for dissent in these liberal parts.
This same long drawn out court process has happened with other civil disobedience actions stop-ping BUSINESS AS USUAL. The Black Seed 25, queer activists who shut down the bay bridge to protest police violence and the unjust incarceration of Michael Johnson for AIDS transmission in January of 2016, did not have their charges finally dropped until November of that year, and only after much petitioning and protesting. The Black Friday 14, a group of Black Lives activists who shut down the bart trains in 2014 in protest of the police killings of Black people and the displace-ment of Black people in the nearby West Oakland neighborhood, went well over a year organizing to get their charges dropped by Alameda County d.a. nancy o’malley.
The district attorneys are just not feeling it when it comes to actions that stop the flow of capital. Alex Bastian from the SF DA’s office said on the news about the SF J20 actions “It’s a balancing act. We find the First Amendment to be very sacred and we protect it at all costs. However, when something occurs where either assaultive behavior or vandalism or critical infrastructure is impact-ed, we have an obligation to do things in a different way.”
We activists don’t have much with which to fight, but we can stop things, put a cog in the wheel!
We cannot let a white supremacist obscenely capitalist government stop our vigorous dissent.
PEOPLE OF THE WORLD UNITE! WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR CHAINS!
Some better news from DC
In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to silence dissent, the first trial of people arrested at last year’s Inauguration Day “Disrupt J20” protests ended Dec. 21st with all six of the defendants found not guilty of all charges. This first case was closely watched as a bellwether for free speech. So far, 42 of the protest-related charges have been rejected at jury trials. But there are still 188 de-fendants awaiting trial.
Six people faced multiple felonies and 50 years in prison for just being in the area where anti-fascist and anti-capitalist protesters were marching. During the protest, police blockaded more than 200 people into a corner in a process known as “kettling” and carried out mass arrests of everyone nearby, including medics, legal observers and some journalists. Many were trapped in the kettle for as long as nine hours, after police had doused them with pepper spray. They were denied food, wa-ter and access to bathrooms.
One of the major pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution was a video showing protesters cheering during the demonstration. The video was supposed to prove the “incite to riot” felony charge. Last month, the judge in the case cited the video when she dismissed this felony charge, saying cheering is not enough evidence to prove incitement.
After the not-guilty-on-all-counts verdict came down on Thursday, supporters gathered outside the courthouse and held a banner that read “Love for all who resist.”