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Free Speech and Assembly

Minneapolis Promised Change After George Floyd

The George Floyd uprising that began in Minneapolis introduced the demand of defunding the police to the general public, empowered Black-led anti-police violence movements across the planet, generated policy changes in cities across the US, and most importantly built new organizations which have the capacity to fight for systemic change for the long haul. The uprising brought a lot of reforms and positive developments to its birth city, too, including a move to actually defund the Minneapolis police department and redistribute funds to services with a larger potential for eradicating both crime and poverty. Now, however, the Minneapolis and Minnesota governments are in the process of undoing that progress and moving in the opposite direction.

‘Pipe Dream’: Enbridge Escalates Local Tensions

Palisade, Minnesota – Even in the bitter cold, the pretty little park along the Mississippi River is inviting, a typical gathering spot for community events with its broad trees and public pavilion. But Berglund Park stood empty recently as families and community members huddled around warming fires in an open field nearby, listening to music and eating Indian tacos as they learned about the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline cutting through their community. A group of pipeline opponents known as water protectors from the nearby Honor the Earth camp organized the small winter carnival to provide information about the impact of dependence on fossil fuels and a future built on renewable energy.

Fences, Protesters Return To Berkeley’s People’s Park

Fences and protesters on Monday again returned to People’s Park, a famous site of resistance on the UC Berkeley campus, as the campus again mulls possible student housing on the site. It was just after 5 a.m. when the fences started going up and dozens of protesters mobilized in response. The University of California, which owns the land, wants to build student housing, while protesters are opposed to the plan. A small section of the park was fenced off to allow soil samples before construction. That means several homeless campers had to be moved. “So, they took down a few tents. Students had heard about it and came out and, about 30 or 40 people, and they were ready to mobilize,” said Aidan Hill, a protester and former Berkeley mayoral candidate.

The Right Wing Is Trying To Make It A Crime To Oppose Fascism

Conservatives in the U.S. have long sought to reframe grassroots political activism as dangerously radical, but efforts to criminalize protests have rapidly intensified since Donald Trump’s election. Most recently, Senators Ted Cruz and Bill Cassidy introduced a resolution that names “Antifa” as a “domestic terrorist organization.” “This was a move designed to punish dissent against both racist groups and policies of the government,” David Rose, a member of Portland’s Rose City Antifa, told Truthout. “The senators are attempting to open the door to illegalizing any form of dissent against racist institutions or groups.” The resolution, S.Res. 279, uses the recent controversy over the clash between right-wing reporter Andy Ngo and protesters in Portland, Oregon, as the impetus to designate antiracist protesters as a criminal operation.

Man Shot At Anti-Trump Rally

By Jim Ryan of The Oregonian. Portland, OR - The fourth round of mass demonstrations in Portland against Donald Trump's election came to a violent end early Saturday morning when someone shot a protester on the Morrison Bridge. Police said the protester, who wasn't publicly identified, suffered injuries that weren't life threatening. The shooter left the area, likely in a car, Portland police said in a news release. The shooting appears to be the only one reported at an anti-Trump protest nationwide. More than 225 people have been arrested at demonstrations in various cities, the Washington Post reported. Most demonstrations across the country have remained peaceful, but some violence has been reported, the Post said. In Oakland, California, protesters reportedly threw rocks and fireworks at police officers, injuring three.

Lane County Continues to Violate Constitutional Rights

By Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. EUGENE, OR: On Friday July 24, 2015, the Assistant City Attorney of Eugene dismissed a criminal case that he filed and prosecuted against Hedin Brugh, a long-time SLEEPS activist who advocated for unhoused people. The Civil Liberties Defense Center’s Lauren Regan had filed a constitutional challenge to the third attempt by Lane County to shut down First Amendment rights at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza located at 8th and Pearl Streets. Regan and the CLDC had successfully challenged two prior attempts by Lane County to restrict the constitutional rights of SLEEPS protestors who occupied the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza as an integral aspect of their peaceful protest. “Each time the Court ruled in our favor and found that the County had acted illegally, the County would attempt to devise another scheme to unconstitutionally restrict First Amendment rights on the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza.”

Baltimore: Arrestees Suffer Human Rights Abuses

More than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. . . The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women's side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren't there for Monday's round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via police wagons (most without seat belts, btw--a real shocker after all that's happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with . . . .

Judge Rules In Occupy Pensacola Lawsuit

Florida - After more than three years of litigation in the Occupy Pensacola v. City of Pensacola case, a federal judge has decided the case in favor of the city. Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson granted the city’s motion for summary judgment on Friday, ruling that the city’s action to limit the time and location of Occupy protests had not violate the protestors constitutional rights. “I appreciate Judge Vinson’s ruling, and I’m relieved to bring this litigation to a close,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward in a news release. “While we have the utmost respect for our constitutional freedoms, the city has an obligation to safeguard public health and safety.” The litigation arose out of local protests, modeled after the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which began in October 2011. In order to call attention to various political, economic, and social justice issues, the “Occupy Pensacola” group held marches and pitched tents in Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza, later relocating to the north lawn of City Hall.

Resistance And Transformation

I applaud the young people who have reinvigorated our movement! I am not among those who will criticize others who are marching, dying-in, walking with their hands up, chanting “I can’t breathe” or setting fires and throwing rocks. It is unintelligent and unhealthy to have a foot on your neck, and not use all means available to remove the foot. All resistance to oppression is healthy for the oppressed. The writings of Frantz Fanon are instructive in this regard. In his classic book, “The Wretched of the Earth,” Fanon, speaking of the oppressed, says, “Once their rage explodes, they recover their lost coherence, they experience self-knowledge through reconstruction of themselves…” I am encouraged by this latest wave of resistance. But, while this activism is encouraging, and protesting is significant, it is clearly not enough. We need a long-term strategy guided by a clear vision of the society that we seek to bring into being. If we are to move this strategy forward, as our revered ancestor Kwame Ture (formerly Stokley Carmichael) advised, we must belong to an organization. “The only way you can help your people is by helping to organize them, and the only way you can do that is by joining an organization.”

Missouri Students Risk Serious Penalties For Walkout Protests

After high school students across the country walked out of class earlier this week calling for greater police accountability, one school district in the very Missouri county where teenager Michael Brown was killed chose to highlight the repercussions for students who left their classrooms. Hazelwood School District in north St. Louis County also consulted with local law enforcement to increase school security. The stricter security measures made Hazelwood West High School feel like “a prison,” one student said. “At lunch there are officers at every exit, and you can’t leave class to use the bathroom without a police escort,” the student told The Huffington Post. After Hazelwood high school students walked out on Tuesday, Superintendent Grayling Tobias issued a statement noting that the district does "not condone disruptive behavior."

Journalists Must Fight Or Become Irrelevant

WATERVILLE — New York Times investigative reporter and author James Risen on Sunday said it is critical journalists continue to expose government activities, despite a crackdown on the press by the U.S. in the name of national security. “Journalists have no choice but to fight back because if they don’t, they will become irrelevant,” Risen said. “I know what Elijah Lovejoy did.” Risen, 59, was speaking at Lorimer Chapel at Colby College after receiving the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award for courageous journalism. The award, given annually, is named for Lovejoy, an Albion native and Colby graduate and journalist who was murdered in 1837 while defending his printing press against a pro-slavery mob in Illinois. While Risen said Sunday he could not discuss the case specifically, he said that he will always protect those who give him information.
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