Prosecution Of Inauguration-Day Protesters Is A Threat To Dissent

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By Chip Gibbons for The Nation – Late next month, the first mass trial will be held for some of the roughly 200 people facing years—or even decades—in prison after being arrested during an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist protest that took place on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. The “J20” cases, as they are known, offer a glimpse at the treatment of dissent in this country, and the story they tell is one of overreach and criminalization. Defense lawyers have described the government’s approach as “unprecedented,” its indictments as “littered with fatal irremediable defects.” Sam Menefee-Libey of the DC Legal Posse, a group of activists who provide support to the defendants, was more blunt, criticizing the cases as “blatant political prosecutions” designed to “chill resistance.” The story of the J20 protesters should frighten anyone concerned about the future of both free assembly and dissent in the United States. The charges—which include felony rioting, inciting or urging others to riot, conspiracy to riot, and property destruction—all stem from the same mass arrest, during which police indiscriminately swept up protesters, journalists, and legal observers. What makes the charges all the more troubling is that prosecutors then failed to allege that the bulk of defendants did anything specifically unlawful; rather, merely being at the protest was a crime.

Vancouver Environmental Group Stand.Earth Cries 'Corporate Intimidation'

On October 17, a pair of B.C. sheriffs visited the Vancouver headquarters of an environmental nonprofit named Stand.earth to collect money related to a failed court challenge.
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By Travis Lupick for The Georgia Straight – A Vancouver-based environmental group received an unwelcome visit by police today (October 17). “At this moment sheriffs are waiting outside the Stand.earth office at 207 W Hastings on Enbridge’s orders to seize all assets of the organization,” reads a media release issued by the nonprofit organization. “This morning our staff was served a notice of writ of seizure and sale, and two sheriffs showed up at our door, demanding to take all of our assets.” Stand.earth was previously known as ForestEthics and has operated out of a Vancouver office since 2000. This morning’s visit by police relates to a court challenge the organization mounted against the National Energy Board’s 2014 approval of an Enbridge pipeline that was planned to run from Alberta to eastern Canada. Enrbidge acted as an intervenor in the case. The challenge was eventually dismissed and Stand.earth was ordered to pay the oil and gas giant’s legal fees, which amounted to $14,000. Stand.earth never paid. Next, Enbridge obtained a court order concerning damages. Then, today, police officers responding to that court order visited Stand.earth’s headquarters in order to collect on the debt.

Repression Of Mutual Aid In Puerto Rico

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By Staff of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief – Several police vehicles, an armored tactical vehicle, and law enforcement personnel including swat team pointed their guns at relief workers while surrounding and then entering our base of operations in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico in the early hours before dawn of October 16th, 2017. Law enforcement communicated that they were acting from a call that Mutual Aid Disaster Relief volunteers were engaged in “kidnapping”. After checking everybody’s belongings without consent, they forced volunteers out of what was the Mutual Aid Disaster Relief Puerto Rico hub at gunpoint and the threat of arrest. Law enforcement intimidation also included aggressive questioning of our purpose there and whether or not we were protestors or Antifa, had we ever used the raised fist, if we were distributing propaganda, and if we were planning to overthrow the government.

Judge Orders Limitations On Sweeping DreamHost Warrant Seeking Info On Anti-Trump Site

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By Kate Conger for Gizmodo – A judge ordered the web hosting company DreamHost to redact identifying information about visitors to a website used to coordinate a protest during President Trump’s inauguration, imposing further limits on an extensive warrant obtained by the Justice Department that initially aimed to collect visitors’ IP addresses. Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the Superior Court of D.C. had previously ordered DreamHost to turn over information about the operators of the website, disruptj20.org. The Justice Department alleged that the site was used to privately communicate plans for a riot, and that it needed the IP addresses of the millions of visitors to the site in order to discover who had incited the violence. After resistance from DreamHost, the Justice Department narrowed the scope of its request. In an order issued today, Morin said that the government would need to submit a report explaining the minimization procedures it would use when searching DreamHost’s data—in short the government would need to explain why it needs everything it needs. Only then would Morin allow the DoJ to review redacted data, and the government would again have to provide the court with its justification for removing any redactions. “Because of the potential breadth of the government’s review in this case, the Warrant in its execution may implicate otherwise innocuous and constitutionally protected activity,” Morin wrote.

How CIA Got Away With Murdering Revolutionary Che Guevara

Latin American revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara is seen in 1964.

By Ramona Wadi for Mint Press News – Che Guevara’s body was uncovered from beneath a Bolivian landing strip 10 years after his death, but the truth behind how his body ended up in that secret burial location wouldn’t surface for several decades. Ernesto Che Guevara’s words on guerrilla warfare become particularly resonant on the anniversary of his death on Oct. 9, 1967, when he was murdered at the hands of the CIA and the Bolivian government. At the time of Che’s murder, U.S. intentions were to stifle the internationalist aspect of the Cuban Revolution – an attempt not only to destroy Che, but also to weaken Fidel Castro. Decades later, Che remains a source of inspiration evoked by many including Fidel, and the Cuban Revolution remains committed to its aims and anti-imperialist ideology. Che’s dedication to internationalist revolutionary struggle had been evident from the early years of the struggle to bring down the U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. His inclusion in the revolutionary 26th of July Movement headed by Fidel was based upon an understanding that when the Cuban Revolution was consolidated, Che would earn the freedom to impart revolution wherever his efforts were needed. The sentiment was expressed in his farewell letter to Fidel, dated April 1, 1965, in which Che formally renounced his leadership positions and Cuban citizenship in order to pursue internationalist revolution elsewhere around the world.

US Government Declares 'Black Identity Extremists' A Threat

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By Sam Levin for The Guardian – The US government has declared “black identity extremists” a violent threat, according to a leaked report from the FBI’s counter-terrorism division. The assessment, obtained by Foreign Policy, has raised fears about federal authorities racially profiling activists and aggressively prosecuting civil rights protesters. The report, dated August 2017 and compiled by the Domestic Terrorism Analysis Unit, said: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.” Incidents of “alleged police abuse” have “continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement”. The FBI’s dedicated surveillance of black activists follows a long history of the US government aggressively monitoring protest movements and working to disrupt civil rights groups, but the scrutiny of African Americans by a domestic terrorism unit was particularly alarming to some free speech campaigners. “When we talk about enemies of the state and terrorists, with that comes an automatic stripping of those people’s rights to speak and protest,” said Mohammad Tajsar, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

D.C. Police Threw More Than 70 Grenades At Inauguration Protesters

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By Baynard Woods for The Real News Network – MPD deployed the weapons during massive protests of Donald Trump’s inauguration. At some point around 10:00 a.m. on the morning of the inauguration some protesters began breaking windows of major corporations on 13th Street NW between Logan Circle and Franklin Square. The protesters who engaged in vandalism were dressed in all black as part of a so-called “black bloc.” In the statement of notice for an expert witness set to appear in the first trial related to the case, which begins on Nov. 20, the prosecutors argue that the “‘black bloc’ tactic involves participants dressing in all black clothing and concealing their faces with masks, bandanas, and other clothing items. This tactic makes it difficult for law enforcement to identify the individual perpetrators of violence or destruction within the larger group.” Shortly after the police encountered the group, they began to deploy weapons, spraying large amounts of pepper spray (I was covering the event and was hit with spray). Platoon 32, for instance, emptied four large MK46 canisters and seven smaller canisters of the irritant.

DOJ Seeking Info On 6,000 People Who ‘Liked’ Anti-Trump Facebook Page

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By Alberto Luperon for Law Newz – The ACLU-DC is trying to stop three search warrants that’d let the Department of Justice snoop around protesters’ Facebook accounts over Inauguration Day protests. They filed in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday, saying the government’s demands violate the Fourth Amendment because they are so broad, and threatening First Amendment speech. These warrants ask for too much information not directly relevant to the federal probe, argues the ACLU. This includes information on the plaintiffs’ friends, associates, and the approximately 6000 individuals who just “liked” an anti-Donald Trump Facebook page. Requested data would go back to Nov. 1, 2016, a week before the presidential election. “The warrants make no provision for avoiding or minimizing invasions into personal and associational/expression information, for preventing such information from being shared widely within the government, or for destroying irrelevant material when the investigation is concluded,” said the ACLU filing. In other words, this might chill First Amendment speech by giving the government means to observe anyone who were simply linked to anti-Trump protesters. This fight stems from arrests made Jan. 20. Demonstrators came to Washington D.C. to protest President Donald Trump‘s inauguration, and over 200 ended up getting charged with felony rioting.

Corporate Media Analysts’ Indifference To US Journalists Facing 70 Years in Prison

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By Adam Johnson for FaIR – For over two years, many in corporate media have been trumpeting the looming threat to a free press posed by Donald Trump. “Would President Trump Kill Freedom of the Press?” Slate (3/14/16) wondered in the midst of the primaries; after the election, the New York Times (1/13/17) warned of “Donald Trump’s Dangerous Attacks on the Press,” and the Atlantic (2/20/17) declared it “ A Dangerous Time for the Press and the Presidency.” Reporter Aaron Cantu’s press credentials. It’s strange, then, that the attack on the press that kicked off the Trump administration—the arrest and subsequent threatening of two journalists with 70 years in prison—has been met with total silence from most of these same outlets. Aaron Cantú, Santa Fe Reporter staff writer and editor at the New Inquiry (and a contributor to FAIR.org), and professional photographer Alexei Wood are both facing decades in prisonfor the act of covering the January 20 unrest in DC—charged with felony rioting for little more than being in the proximity of window-breaking and brick-throwing. (Prosecutors initially brought and then dropped felony charges against six other reporters, though how their cases differ from Cantú and Wood’s is unclear.)

How Profit Deals With Protest: Disappearance Of Argentinian Activist Santiago Maldonado

Top photo | Demonstrators hold photos of missing activist Santiago Maldonado, during a protest at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

By Ramona Wadi for Mint Press News – The Maldonado case has exposed state repression of Mapuche resistance and activism. Digging deeper, we find linkage of the activist’s disappearance to capitalist exploitation — and to the clothing company, Benetton, which owns the largest share of territory allocated to a foreign company in Latin America. Over 40 days have passed since the forced disappearance of Argentinian activist Santiago Maldonado. President Mauricio Macri’s government appears to be more preoccupied with protecting the impunity of the Argentine Military Police, also known as the gendarmerie, than with listening to the demands for Maldonado’s release — or at least for information on his whereabouts and condition — being made by a mobilized populace. Maldonado was detained and disappeared on August 1 while participating in a protest in Chubut calling for the release of Mapuche leader of the Ancestral Mapuche Resistance(RAM), Facundo Jones Huala. Jones had been detained upon extradition requests by Chile. Both Argentina and Chile have labeled Jones a terrorist, on account of his resistance activities against capitalist exploitation of ancestral Mapuche territory.

Police Tactics Kettling, Mass Arrests Questioned In St. Louis

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By Doug Moore for St. Louis Post-Dispatch – ST. LOUIS • Police used a technique called kettling on Sunday night to box in about 100 people at a busy downtown intersection and arrest them for failing to disperse. It’s a tactic used to corral a group of people who fail to follow police orders. St. Louis police took the action after several windows were broken and concrete planters and trash cans overturned. But some of those caught in the box made by rows of officers said police overstepped their bounds, using excessive force and chemical spray on people who were not protesting, including residents trying to get home and members of the media. As police closed in from all sides, they struck their batons in unison on the pavement, in a cadence march. Tony Rice, an activist who goes by Search4Swag on Twitter, said he was shocked by the police behavior. “It was the most brutal arrest I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Rice said. “I thought I was going to die.” He said he could not lie prone on the ground, as ordered, because he had his bike with him. Rice said his neck was being pressed against part of his bike, and he told the officers: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Those bused to the jail seemed confused by what was happening, Rice said. Pedestrians were arrested along with legal observers, protesters, a freelance photographer and a doctor, he said.

Turkey: Show Trials Of Journalists Are A Travesty Of Justice

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By Staff of RSF – This week, ARTICLE 19 and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) are monitoring two trials of journalists in Turkey. On Monday 18 September they attended the first hearing in the trial of 30 journalists, columnists and staff working for Zaman newspaper, including Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Ahmet Alkan Turan and Mümtazer Türköne. Today, on Tuesday 19 September, they are attending the second hearing in the case of 17 journalists and columnists including Ahmet and Mehmet Altan. ARTICLE 19 and RSF call for the journalists to be released from pre-trial detention and for the charges to be dropped. In both trials, the defendants are accused of involvement in last year’s failed coup. They face charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through violence or force”, “attempting to overthrow or interfere with the work of the national assembly through violence or force” and “attempting to overthrow or interfere with the work of the government”. In the Zaman case, the defendants are also charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, which refers to the Gülen movement, the organisation the Turkish government blames for the coup attempt. In the Altans’ case, the defendants are charged with aiding a terrorist organisation without being a member, which carries the same sentence as membership.

The Silencing Of Dissent

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By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of “fake news.” No dominant class can long retain control when the credibility of the ideas that justify its existence evaporates. It is forced, at that point, to resort to crude forms of coercion, intimidation and censorship. This ideological collapse in the United States has transformed those of us who attack the corporate state into a potent threat, not because we reach large numbers of people, and certainly not because we spread Russian propaganda, but because the elites no longer have a plausible counterargument. The elites face an unpleasant choice. They could impose harsh controls to protect the status quo or veer leftward toward socialism to ameliorate the mounting economic and political injustices endured by most of the population. But a move leftward, essentially reinstating and expanding the New Deal programs they have destroyed, would impede corporate power and corporate profits.

Harvard Kennedy Succumbs To CIA Pressure, Revokes Chelsea Manning’s Fellowship

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By Kevin Gosztola for The Guardian – The Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School revoked an invitation for United States military whistleblower Chelsea Manning to serve as a visiting fellow after intense pressure from the CIA. According to the Harvard Crimson, the school newspaper, “high-ranking current and former CIA officials” convinced the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government to reverse course. Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, canceled his appearance at the school on September 14. He wrote a letter to the director of the Intelligence and Defense Projects at Harvard Kennedy that declared, “Ms. Manning betrayed her country and was found guilty of 17 serious crimes for leaking classified information to Wikileaks. Indeed, Ms. Manning stands against everything the brave men and women I serve alongside stand for.” Former CIA director Mike Morell resigned from his position as a senior fellow at the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School. His statement bore a distinct similarity to Pompeo’s statement. “Please know that I am fully aware that Belfer and the IOP are separate institutions within the Kennedy School and that, most likely, Belfer had nothing to do with the invitation of Ms. Manning to be a fellow at IOP,” Morell stated. “But, as an institution, the Kennedy School’s decision will assist Ms. Manning in her long-standing effort to legitimize the criminal path that she took to prominence, an attempt that may encourage others to leak classified information as well.”

Chelsea Manning Hung Up Phone On Harvard Dean Who Delivered Fellowship Snub

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By Ed Pilkington for The Guardian – Chelsea Manning, the former US soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of state secrets and served seven years in military prison, abruptly terminated a phone call with the dean of the Harvard Kennedy school in an expression of her dismay at his decision to revoke her visiting fellowship in the face of severe pressure from the CIA. Manning ended the conversation on Thursday as the dean, Douglas Elmendorf, tried to justify to her his decision to cancel the fellowship only a day after it had been announced. The dean had said he needed to talk to Manning “urgently” after CIA figures first raised their objection to Harvard offering the whistleblower a place among its 2017-18 visiting speaker program – raising the prospect that one of America’s most prestigious academic institutions had kowtowed to pressure from the intelligence services. Manning’s invitation to address students of the school’s Institute of Politics was denounced by Mike Pompeo, the CIA director who cancelled an appearance at Harvard on Thursday, and by former deputy director of the agency Mike Morell, who resigned his own visiting fellowship in protest at what the two men described as the honoring of a “traitor”. Details of the phone call were shared with the Guardian by a source who was present at the time of the conversation. Manning had just stepped off stage in San Francisco where she was receiving a global freedom of information award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).