Smartphone video footage of police brutality being exercised against black Americans and other ethnic minorities living their lives within the nation’s borders have become depressingly commonplace. While difficult to watch and, most likely for the videographer, difficult to stand by and film, such footage can be an important tool in bringing cops who abuse the power of their office to justice. The news, social media and water cooler talk here in North America often overflows with reports of abuses of power by law enforcement officials. It’s easy to forget that the very same brand of injustice and violence are served up in other parts of the world – a lot.
According to The New York Times, in Australia, a country that’s been marred by institutional racism since its inception, “...aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are incarcerated at 13 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. They make up 27 percent of Australia’s prisoners, compared with 3 percent of the overall population.” Given the disproportionate representation of Indigenous Australians in the clink, it’s safe to say that there’s some greasy shit going on Down Under, of a similar sort to the greasy shit we see going on up here in places like New York City and Ferguson, Missouri.
To help Australia aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples to mitigate this prejudicial treatment at the hands of those meant to serve and protect them, human rights activists are teaching them how to respond to the threat of police violence and to record their interactions with law enforcement, just like we do up here:
From The New York Times:
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The Copwatch workshops, activists said, are intended to teach people their legal rights and how to safely record interactions with police officers.
In 1960, Sister Rosetta Tharpe performed this rousing rendition of "This Little Light of Mine" at France's Festival de Jazz d’Antibes Juan-les-Pins. Most of us are familiar with "This Little Light of Mine" as a lovely children's spiritual, but the 1920s tune, written by Harry Dixon Loes, became an anthem of the Civil Rights movement.
Learn more about the song's history at NPR: "'This Little Light Of Mine' Shines On, A Timeless Tool Of Resistance"
(via The Kid Should See This) Read the rest
For 25 years, my friend Kal Spelletich of Seemen and Survival Research Labs has lived and worked in a San Francisco warehouse studio where he's built myriad robots, fire machines, and sculptures, hosted music, art, and political action events, and provided support for more than 100 other artists, activists, and fringe characters. Guess what. Kal's been evicted. This is yet another gut punch for the Bay Area's creative community that inspired so many technologists but is now being eviscerated by today's big money tech bubble. Kal has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him push through: Save Kal's Robots
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Rented way back in 1995, my space is was one of the last remaining raw warehouse art spaces and I made it into a home for experimental, non commercial art. I hosted jaw-dropping, fire spewing, ear shattering robot performances, music, noise and art events with the likes of Chris Johanson, Johanna Jackson, Marie Lornez and her epic boat, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Matt Heckert.
I did all this without grants or outside support.
No trust funds, patrons or high paying side jobs here. I passed along the cheap rent.
I provided housing and studios for countless artists, freaks, traveling activists and radical journalists like Trevor Paglen, AC Thompson, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, worked on Survival Research Laboratories shows, and countless others.
My life and warehouse were the inspiration for Rudy Rucker’s sci-fi novel Realware. Another book that wouldn't have happened without my warehouse is Streetopia.
I ran my studio as an experimental art/live space that housed and supported over 100 other artists and activists.
The Discharge Petition that cleared the Senate in May is struggling in the House (as we knew it would).
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In times of trouble, people want to do something, but as activist Kat Calvin points out, make sure your time and resources are spent wisely. Otherwise you end up enriching grifters: Read the rest
The EU is mooting a new copyright regime for the largest market in the world, and the Commissioners who are drafting the new rules are completely captured by the entertainment industry, to the extent that they have ignored their own experts and produced a farcical Big Content wishlist that includes the most extensive internet censorship regime the world has ever seen, perpetual monopolies for the biggest players, and a ban on European creators using Creative Commons licenses to share their works.
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We've certainly heard plenty of reporters and cable news talking heads marble-mouthing their way through "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School" over the past week. It definitely doesn't want to roll off of the tongue. But who exactly is the school's namesake, Marjory Stoneman Douglas?
Turns out, Marjory Douglas was a bit of a badass in her own right, a writer of some repute who became a relentless advocate for preserving the Florida everglades. She was also an outspoken suffragist and civil rights advocate. She died in 1998 at the age of 108. Read the rest
From 1989, Fingers Inc.'s beautiful mix of "Can You Feel It" with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech.
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Erica Garner, the daughter of police brutality victim Eric Garner, died early Saturday aged 27. Inspired to activism by her father's killing, she suffered a massive heart attack on Christmas Eve and fell into a coma.
Garner's official Twitter account, run by her family and friends since she became ill, asked that she be remembered as a mother, daughter, sister and aunt with a heart "bigger than the world."
Eric Garner was choked to death by New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who had attempted an illegal chokehold while arresting Garner for selling untaxed cigarettes. Pantaleo was not charged with a crime despite the death being ruled a homicide, and video of the attack being recorded by a bystander. The NYPD settled the family's lawsuit for $5.9m to avoid a civil trial.
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On the latest Webby Podcast, my pal and Webbys exec director David-Michel Davies has a rollicking and provocative conversation with the great activist lawyer Lawrence Lessig. In 2014, Lessig won the Webby Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award and damn he deserved it. Listen:
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Consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen's Amanda Werner, dressed as Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly game, sat behind former Equifax CEO Richard Smith this morning during his testimony to the Senate Banking Committee about the company's breach of 45,500,000 Americans' private data . From Public Citizen's statement:
Make no mistake: Arbitration is a rigged game, one that the bank nearly always wins. Shockingly, the average consumer forced to arbitrate with Wells Fargo was ordered to pay the bank nearly $11,000. Bank lobbyists and their allies in Congress are trying to overturn the CFPB’s rule so they can continue to rip off consumers with impunity.
(The Hill) Read the rest
Freedom of information requests for public records are getting harder to complete, especially now that some governments are suing requesters. Read the rest
Four fans were kicked out of Boston's Fenway Park during a baseball game yesterday after unfurling a banner reading: "Racism Is As American As Baseball."
Here's what one of the planners of the stunt had to say:
There were originally about eight people involved who had this idea, and those eight people come from various organizing groups in the Boston area. Mostly groups that affiliate with racial justice causes. And the banner came in response to the racist comments at the beginning of the season at Fenway [that Adam Jones spoke of].
"But overall, we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that it's actually an extremely segregated city. It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that."
And according to the Boston Red Sox:
"During the fourth inning of tonight's game, four fans unfurled a banner over the left field wall in violation of the club's policy prohibiting signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark. The individuals involved were escorted out of Fenway Park."
(Bleacher Report) Read the rest
On August 24, 1967, guerilla theater activist Abbie Hoffman and his pals dropped a slew of dollar bills off the balcony of the New York Stock Exchange onto the trading floor below. As Hoffman later said, "“If you don’t like the news, why not go out and make your own?” From Smithsonian:
Participant Bruce Dancis recalled, “At first people on the floor were stunned. They didn’t know what was happening. They looked up and when they saw money was being thrown they started to cheer, and there was a big scramble for the dollars.”
The protesters exited the Stock Exchange and were immediately beset by reporters, who wanted to know who they were and what they’d done. Hoffman supplied nonsense answers, calling himself Cardinal Spellman and claiming his group didn’t exist. He then burned a five-dollar bill, solidifying the point of the message. As Bruce Eric France writes, “Abbie believed it was more important to burn money [than] draft cards… To burn a draft card meant one refused to participate in the war. To burn money meant one refused to participate in society.”
For Hoffman himself, the success of the stunt was obvious. “Guerrilla theater is probably the oldest form of political commentary,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Showering money on the Wall Street brokers was the TV-age version of driving the money changers from the temple… Was it a real threat to the Empire? Two weeks after our band of mind-terrorists raided the stock exchange, 20,000 dollars was spent to enclose the gallery with bullet-proof glass.”
"How the New York Stock Exchange Gave Abbie Hoffman His Start in Guerrilla Theater" (Smithsonian) Read the rest
Josh writes, "This morning Fight for the Future launched crowdfunded billboards targeting members of Congress who have publicly supported FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to gut net neutrality." Read the rest
The Southern Poverty Law Center's guide, The Alt-Right on Campus: What Students Need to Know basically advises you to network with everyone on your campus who isn't a closet Nazi, meet with the Young Republicans (or whatever) and remind them that they're inviting Nazis to come speak, and then to throw a big, fun event far from whatever Nazi is addressing your school and starve them of publicity and attention. Read the rest
My friend Gabe created these fun "Fuck Trump" and "Immigrant" hats! All profits go to the American Civil Liberties Union! Gabe says:
On a personal note, making these hats has been a profound and grounding exercise in connecting with others from across the world that I would not have connected with otherwise. I know that the issues we face are complex and that Trump represents much greater forces than just him alone. I also know that this is but a small way to make a difference, but I do believe that it's important to express our dissent and let people know where we stand; that we will not be bullied by him or his supporters.
(And yes, that's Helena Christensen rocking the "Immigrant" hat below.)
Buy "Fuck Trump" and "Immigrant" hats
And follow Fuck Trump on Instagram!
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