Popular Resistance Newsletter: Internet Emergency
Above: Hungarians protest Internet tax. Source: András Hajdú of abcug.hu.
Emergency Alert! The future of the Internet will be decided in the next few weeks.
The FCC meeting on December 11 is likely to be the day they vote on new rules for the Internet. We’ve made a lot of progress in ensuring net neutrality, but now the FCC looks like it is going in the wrong direction. We still have time set them back on track, but we need you to act now. Take two immediate steps:
- Take a photo of yourself holding a sign that says #RealNetNeutrality, #ReclassifyTheInternet. You can add other messages, e.g. Save the Internet, Equal Access for All, My Voice Matters. Then upload a photo to the campaign page: My Voice Matters to show that there is a broad national consensus for Net Neutrality. If we lose Net Neutrality, our freedom of expression on the Internet will also be lost.
- Sign up to join or organize an action this Thursday evening. Check the action map at our campaign page or submit your own. The action is very simple. On Thursday evening, gather at a local Verizon, AT&T or Comcast office or a gathering spot in your community (e.g. college quad, park, government building…) and hold your cell phone in the air to symbolize the Internet and show we are shining the light on the corruption of government. If you don’t have a cell phone, shine flashlights or candles. Bring signs calling for Net Neutrality. Send photos of the action to firstname.lastname@example.org and tweet them to @FCC, @TomWheelerFCC. @MClyburnFCC, @JRosenworcel. Sign up now so we can quickly show momentum and build the day of action; and people can learn about your event and join you. You don’t need to have all of the details worked out to submit an action. Sign up here.
These are the first two steps of an escalating plan to win Net Neutrality and show broad and deep national consensus for reclassifying the Internet as a Common Carrier so there can be no discrimination and equal access for all, in other words — the real Net Neutrality that millions of people have demanded.
All of us rely on a free and open Internet to educate and mobilize people. The future of the Internet is now threatened by the Chairman of the FCC, the former top industry lobbyist, who is leaning toward new rules that would allow discrimination and unequal access based on fees. We know we can’t trust Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Just this week we saw how Verizon thinks when it was revealed that its new tech blog is prohibited from covering net neutrality or Internet surveillance.
Ensuring net neutrality is a campaign we can win. Between now and the next FCC meeting on December 11, the future of the Internet will be decided.
We have come a long way. Originally our position, reclassify the Internet so it is a common carrier where there is no discrimination, was not even being considered. People said it was politically impossible. After we occupied the FCC in May – 8 days before the FCC announced their proposed rules – and our allies in the net neutrality movement energized their base, our solution was included in the proposed rules. Then the FCC received record comments – over 4 million – with more than 95% supporting our view. Now the trade journal that covers the FCC reports “some form” of reclassification is inevitable.
But “some form” is not good enough. We issued an action alert this week putting forward a plan of action in response the FCC Chairman’s “hybrid plan” reclassification of some aspects of the Internet. Our ally, Fight For The Future, immediately submitted a petition of 75,000 people call for Tom Wheeler to be fired. Together we called for a national day of action for net neutrality this Thursday.
This protest is modeled after the incredibly successful protest in Hungary against a proposed Internet tax. People in Hungary, who have been quiet in the face of a kleptocratic government, rose up and protested by the thousands. The photos of them holding their lit cell phones in the air inspired us. Some went further and threw broken cell phones and computers at their party headquarters. We wrote about Hungary as a warning to the FCC. We need to demand better Internet service, the US currently pays more for worse service than other nations. The lit cell phone national day of action on Thursday night is the first step in escalating protests up to the next FCC meeting on December 11.
Climate and Energy Protests Escalate
The People’s Climate March and Flood Wall Street are behind us, but climate and energy protests are escalating. This past week, those arrested refused to plead guilty and are planning a necessity defense. This week there will be a series of protests outside of the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) – called Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE).
FERC has approved numerous dangerous energy plans, including the export terminal for liquefied methane gas at Cove Point. Already over 100 people have signed up to risk arrest at a daily sit-in at FERC. The week began on November 1 with BXE protesters meeting up with the Great Climate March which crossed the continent. Other actions will draw links between extreme energy and other issues, e.g. a protest at NPR for their poor reporting on methane gas and fracking while taking money from the industry; at the Democratic National Committee, the day before Election Day, focusing on the terrible climate record of the Democrats; a protest linking the climate issue to the nation’s largest polluter the Pentagon which keeps fighting wars for oil; and a day of action linking racism and environmental destruction.
Popular Resistance organized the DNC protest on Monday – join us, meeting at 1:40 outside of Union Station, and sign this letter to the DNC here.
Protests of excavation, pipelines and oil trains are having an impact. This report describes how tar sands protesters are undermining the profits of the tar sands industry. Our colleagues in Utah are continuing to protest tar sands excavation in the United States and are making a difference. When one path is blocked, the industry announces another but immediately there is resistance like with this Eastern pipeline that protesters say “will not be built”, and this united resistance against pipelines going through British Columbia to the Pacific, joined by Indigenous peoples from the United States.
There was an inspiring protest in Vermont this week against a pipeline approved by Governor Peter Shumlin. In the end 63 were arrested for sitting-in the governor’s office. Some have described the protest as a turning point and game changer in the fight against extreme energy in Vermont.
The corporations fear protests. We saw that this week when Duke Energy, a massive coal polluter, reacted to a “Pitchfork Protest” by hiring increased security. We also saw it when the corrupt Komen Foundation, which takes money from polluting corporations, was being protested over their “Pinkwashing” of fracking. Out of fear of protest they cancelled a ceremony at a football game where they were to receive a check from an energy polluter. They knew that the boos from the crowd would have been more costly than the check was valuable. These corporations have a lot of power due to their corruption of democracy, but we should not underestimate our power.
People are getting angry for good reason. A report this week demonstrated how oil and gas wells are spewing cancer causing chemicals and will result in the people living near wells getting cancer. People are worried about how close their kids schools are to cancer causing agents. And, Friends of the Earth sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for hiding earthquake risks near nuclear plants. The energy polluters do their best to hide the significant health and environmental effects of their extreme extraction.
Ferguson Protest Grow as Grand Jury and DOJ Decision Nears
It has been over two months since Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson. The movement continues to grow in size and sophistication in Ferguson and the movement against police abuse nationally is also growing. People are not only demanding justice for Michael Brown but are also seeking a transformation of American policing. Communities need to be empowered to control the police in their neighborhoods. They need to be able to fire police who abuse their citizens and show racism and disrespect. They need citizen review boards that have the power to indict police for illegal actions.
St. Louis County and the Ferguson police are preparing for mass protests, spending hundreds of thousands on new riot gear and more military equipment. They have been in conversation with other cities as this could develop in a groundswell of national protests as every community seems to have stories of police abuse. There are reports that there will be no indictment from the grand jury in St. Louis; and reports that there will be no action taken by the US Department of Justice. Businesses in St. Louis are being warned to expect unrest after the grand jury decision.
Even without the grand jury and DOJ decision there are already protests. You can see in this Youth Rising report that youth across the country are organizing around the issue of police abuse. Families are organizing to protest on behalf of their loved ones being held in solitary confinement, like this mother.
There is good reason for people’s anger. It is not only the killing of Michael Brown but similar killings across the country. And, it is abuse – we’ve had ‘driving while black’, ‘stop and frisk,’ – now the latest from NYPD – Bicycling While Black! And, this leads to the world’s largest prison population, which is mostly black and brown people even though they are a minority in the population.
People are starting to realize that police are not the appropriate response to many problems of youth. Too often issues that used to be handled with common sense, not with police, are now handled by the police, especially in communities of color. It is time for a radical reduction in the reliance on police to solve social and economic problems.
Protests Make a Difference: You Can Make a Difference
People mobilizing for change make a difference. For all of the issues we have covered in this newsletter, people making demands from the government have been a path to success.
And, we have also seen how the power structure responds trying to stop protest with aggressive police force, with mass arrests and with laws to try to make protest more difficult. They fear protest. In Montreal a few years ago, there was a mass uprising led by students. They not only challenged tuition increases but also challenged austerity. One of the responses to those protests was to pass an anti-law, P-6. What is proving to be the best response to undermining the anti-protest law? More protest!
With the release of Laura Poitras’ film, Citizen4, Edward Snowden has been doing a lot of interviews. It is great to hear his side of the story after so much character assassination in the corporate media and from political officials and the intelligence community. Now we can understand his real motives – end violation of law by the NSA – and why he took the action he did – the political system was dysfunctional and unable to respond the mass dragnet surveillance of the NSA.
Snowden makes some important points in these interviews about protest. First, for civil disobedience to be effective it must be disobedience. And, he points out that the United States is rooted in direct action and “that is enshrined in our Constitution and values.” And, revolution is also in our founding roots. Revolution, he points out, is not always about war and weapons, but can be about “revolutionary ideas. It’s about the principles that we hold to be representative of the kind of world we want to live in.”
That is our task and why there is Popular Resistance; Popular Resistance is you.
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