Net Neutrality Activists Attacked At FCC Press Conference

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Above photo: Security manhandle activists Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. By Eleanor Goldfield.

Zeese and Flowers outside the FCC. By Eleanor Goldfield.

Zeese and Flowers outside the FCC. By Eleanor Goldfield.

Net neutrality activists bodyslammed, dragged from Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai’s press conference for holding up this banner: “85% of Republican Voters Support Net Neutrality”

WASHINGTON, DC––Net neutrality activists who support strong free speech protections through Title II reclassification attended a press conference organized by Republican FCC Commissioner––and former Verizon lawyer––Ajit Pai this morning when they attempted to unfurl a large banner reading “85% of Republican Voters Support Net Neutrality,” a reference to a University of Delaware poll from November, reported in the Washington Post.

Zeese and Flowers unfurling banner as police attack. By Eleanor Goldfield.

Zeese and Flowers unfurling banner as police attack. By Eleanor Goldfield.

Click here to see photos (video link below).

FCC security violently attacked Dr. Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance, knocking them to the ground. As they were dragged from the room, they chanted, “Commissioner Pai, don’t you see Republicans love net neutrality? Stop being a mouthpiece for the Telecoms–your job is to represent the public interest. Title II now! The Internet should be a level playing field for all not one rigged for Comcast and Verizon. No crony capitalism for Comcast and Verizon. Equal access for all.”

After the activists left the building, FCC security continued to harass them, threatening them with arrest for standing on a public sidewalk conducting an interview with a camera crew. The head of FCC security threatened to arrest Zeese and Flowers for trespassing in the meeting, even though they were given badges to attend the meeting after security gave their names to Commissioner Pai. The head of security also threatened to charge them with assault, even though it was him and his team who attacked Flowers and Zeese. Fight for the Future put out the following tweet to try to prevent any charges:

The action was organized by PopularResistance.org with support from the digital rights group Fight for the Future. These two groups previously coordinated on the Occupy the FCC encampment last year that helped put Title II reclassification on the table at the FCC. Fight for the Future were also lead organizers of the September 10th Internet Slowdown protest along with Demand Progress, and the coalition website they helped build, BattleForTheNet.com was responsible for more than 1/4 of all the comments the FCC received about net neutrality last year. PopularResistance.org has also organized a series of protests and direct actions on this issue, including a civil disobedience action where they blockaded FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s driveway as well as occupying the FCC this spring.

Flowers and Zeese after being shoved to the ground by police. By Eleanor Goldfield.

Flowers and Zeese after being shoved to the ground by police. By Eleanor Goldfield.

Margaret Flowers said: “This is how the FCC treats free speech now? We were attacked for exposing the truth about a statement read by Commissioner Pai that could have been written by the telecom industry.” Zeese added: “Fear of our message that there is widespread support for net neutrality even among Republicans (where 85% support) resulted in the police assaulting us in an attempt to prevent that message from being heard.”

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said, “Net neutrality is not a partisan issue, but corrupt politicians in Washington DC whose campaigns are funded by the Telecom industry are desperate to make it one.” She added, “Given that Republican voters overwhelmingly oppose Internet fast lanes and support the principles of net neutrality, it’s clear that officials like Ajit Pai, who is a former high ranking lawyer for Verizon, are ignoring the public will and working for the industries they’re supposed to be holding accountable.”

While the action unfolded in Washington, DC today, the battle for the net continued to rage online. Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, Free Press and other groups are organizing a sustained effort called the Internet Countdown, keeping up a constant barrage of online protest between now and the FCC’s vote on February 26th. More than 2,500 sites have joined the effort so far including Bluehost, BoingBoing, Thunderclap, and Daily Kos. Major sites like Tumblr and Mozilla are participating with custom landing pages encouraging their users to take action in support of real net neutrality protections through Title II reclassification. More than 6,400 people have signed up to join the countdown by automatically tweeting every day between now and the February 26th vote.

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Politico reporter Brooks Boliek caught part of this action on video:  https://twitter.com/technocowboy/status/565188240505044992

FCC security immediately tackled the activists as soon as they stood up to speak out and hold up the banner.

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FCC security continued to harass the activists even once they were outside on a public sidewalk. 

1fccout

 

More on Republicans phony attack on Title II and Net Neutrality

‘Net neutrality’ is no government takeover: Our view, USA Today

GOP opposition to net neutrality takes farcical turn, MSNBC

Republicans launch attack on FCC’s net neutrality plan, Ars Technica

Public ‘being misled’ on net neutrality?, The Hill

 

  • PVI

    Well, there’s absolutely no question where this FCC Commisioner’s loyalty lies- and it’s not even with the voters of his own party. A chilling reminder of the deep roots of corruption.

  • floodWALLSTREET

    SHAME!
    SHAME!
    SHAME!
    SHAME!…..

  • Bruce 7

    We Love you Kevin and Margaret! Thank You for your Peaceful Non-violent protesting! I know you are making a difference and we all benefit from what you are doing. I hope you’re both ok. Thank you! Wish I was there with you today! Bruce Chapman – Concerned fellow activist.

  • Roland Petit

    Wow! Those in charge ain’t foolin’ around. Power to the king.

  • Margaret and Kevin —Well done! You guys are awesome!

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
    change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead

  • easywriter

    Apparently both Kevin and Margaret are very scary people…

  • kevinzeese

    It is our message that scares them.

  • easywriter

    They are frightened by your words to which many of us listen and take very seriously.

  • Susan Lindsey

    Correct, a large majority of Republican votes support net neutrality. But Title II is but a solution proposed by the FCC and the wrong avenue to achieve net neutrality. It harkens back to 1934 utility type of regulations, point to point stuff like the telegraph and water flowing in pipes. And the railroads.

    What we need to protect net neutrality is a NEW law passed by congress that protects equal us of our multidimensional, rapidly evolving Internet ecosystem.

    FCC Commissioner Pai is experiencing a locked in body reaction, and thank god he has the fortitude to react. He’s an Obama appointee. He’s read the 332 pages of regulation and is appalled that what Mr. Wheeler has stated different from what’s coming down the pike.

    Read about Pai’s background. He’s an extremely bright, well educated, well-qualified man, and he’s shocked because Title II is completely the wrong solution to achieving net neutrality. He’s shocked because we Americans, once again, must wait until after the act is passed, this time by the FCC Co-missioner votes, before we can find out what’s in the act.

    Evan Greer, you’ve you’re dead wrong about this FCC Title II being the only way of achieving net neutrality. Your focus has become too myopic. The irony is that throttling has been occurring and it won’t be stopped by Title II. We need to protect net neutrality, but we need a different solution.

    By the way, after big gov’t takes control of the Internet via the FCC Title II, they want control of the FEC (political campaigns). The executive branch wants to charge for political content, just like TV (yes, another utility). Both you and I as political activists would never have been able to exercise our Amendment 1 rights these last two years had this been in place.

    Following the FCC Title II passed, it’s highly likely to be litigated for 5 years or more. Regardless, expect $15 billion fees followed by additional, untethered taxes at the state and local levels, more triple taxes that will hinder the disadvantaged from accessing the Internet. As litigation and the effects of treating the Internet like a utility and the imprecision of forbearing 48 criteria take hold, we’ll see a halt to innovation.

    This administration fell way short of fulfilling Obamacare promises. Just imagine the Internet running at the speed of our US government. Just imagine scores of bureaucrats taxing, regulating, and controlling our Internet.

    New reports out how the closure rate of smaller business is exceeding the start-up rate. There’s a reason why all the smaller Internet of things and competitors are against the FCC Title II.

    Expect job loss if smaller biz continue to close as is happening. The Obama administration has done little if anything to help small business owners. The US has never gained its economic legs so as to recover from a recession without small business hiring.

  • kevinzeese

    Actually, without a new law Title II is the only way to achieve net neutrality. That was made clear by the DC Court in the Verizon case. As to the rhetoric about a 1934 being applied — you are just spouting the nonsense of the telecom industry. Title II is very flexible and allows the FCC to regulate appropriately. Pai is bright but his bias, like yours, is with the telecoms. He was a Verizon lawyer. The fact he was appointed by Obama means very little. The law requires the president to appoint three from his/her party and three from the minority party. So what? I’m a net neutrality activist and that does not mean I support Obama (I don’t).

    As far as passing a new law. The Congress has such deep corruption and the telecom industry is one of the major polluters of corruption in Congress that my preference is to get the best law possible under the Telecommunications Act and then leave it to the courts to decide. Passing a new telecommunications law requires much more than net neutrality. That is going to be a big issue, requiring years to pass.

    From what we have heard this sounds like an excellent rule — not a government takeover of the Internet — government regulation to ensure a level playing field so small businesses have equal access to the Internet with big business, so start-ups can compete with established business, so citizens media can have equal access with corporate media. There is nothing in these rules consistent with your fears of government controlling content. Quite the opposite it require all lawful content be treated equally.

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