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Archive for the 'first they came for …' Category

Joys and Sorrows of Occupy Boston I: It’s Alive!


Occupy Boston in support of outsourced janitors at 31 St. Mark St.

Funeral for Capitalism Copley Square May Day 2012 Anti-Austerity March Dewey square June 16, 2012

Reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated.

With our eviction from Dewey Square on December 10, 2011,  a lot of folks and, of course, the dreaded MSMpronounced us dead. Recent events, however, would indicate – otherwise.

1That’s mainstream media for old world types who believe in complete sentences, grammar, linear thought and other annoyances.

Occupy .* : National Day of Action


Denial, anger, and bargaining1over the loss of Our Beloved OccuSink to the urge to march. @arieloshin met up with the carpenters and continued on to the #99unity rally in Copley Square.

Meeting up with a picket line of carpenters! #99unity on Twitpic    At least 400 people are here at coply for #99unity rally! Joi... on Twitpic

There is a broad range of social justice issues on the agenda for today, including the mother of all social justice issues – abrupt global climate change/climate justice.

1No one is in acceptance. We are confident that the court will realize that it was an unreasonable seizure.

Occupy Boston: You Can’t Evict an Idea


Occupy Boston goes to court tomorrow. A Temporary Restraining Order prevents the Boston Police from removing the tents from Dewey Square Park. Superior Court Judge Francis Mcintyre ruled that tents constitute symbolic free speech. The hearing will determine if the TRO will be replaced by a Preliminary Injunction or simply expire leaving the BPD to do their will. The National Lawyers Guild lawyer representing us is optimistic. Another member of the Guild told me, “the case will be over.”  Folks went out tonight to rally public support. @gvmiii tweeted using a photohost with a less than obvious “intellectual property” regime.

You Can’t Evict an Idea

@LejlaOWS  Boston University ’15 tweeted.

Current police presence at #OccupyBoston on Twitpic    #OccupyBoston march on Twitpic    So many people at the #OccupyBoston march! #ows on Twitpic
#OccupyBoston march. Join us! on Twitpic    Share this widely. This is what patriotism looks like! #occup... on Twitpic    #OccupyBoston marching on Boylston on Twitpic

This is what alternative media looks like.


Legal Question


My arm with the number of the Boston office ot the National Lawyer's Guild on it.

To my Union,  my friends,  faculty, students, and fellow workers:

I wanted to take pictures of the police attack on the folks camping at the Fort Channel portion of Rose’s Greenway. So their was the question as to whether I might be arrested as “collateral damage”.  So when the young woman from National Lawyers Guild suggested that she would lend out her marker to put their number on our arms I went right to her.  It seemed more direct for her to write it directly on my arm than to dictate it. It made me feel cared for. There was not a sexual thought in my head at the time. Mostly it was a twinge of fear at what might be about to happen.  But to those of you who assumed I was having sexual thoughts, thank you. I have left the number on, since there was the question of whether the Boston Police Special Operations Unit would be ordered to attack the folks in Dewey Square. The original order said that if the folks in the Fort Point Channel park did not vacate,  both camps would be cleared. They did not vacate, but were forcibly removed. I have heard no official statement about the dispostion of the original camp except that Mayor Menino has declared that “we have overstayed our welcome”. So I have left the number on for tactical reasons. And besides the young woman from NLG made me feel cared for. I’m 64 years old. It was suggested to me that my age would get me a safe conduct pass from BPD-SOU.  But that was proved wrong in the wee hours of October 11, 2011. Members of the Boston Chapter of the Veterans for Peace better known as the Smedley Butler Brigade, some of them older than me, were pushed onto the ground and arrested for holding their flags in Fort Channel Park. I know some of them guys and gals. I’m not a happy camper.

So here’s the thing. I want to leave the number on, but I have to go to work at Harvard’s fabulous Lamont Library.  I certainly have the right under Federal, State, and Municipal law to keep it on. But Jeffrey Feuer of the firm of Feuer and Goldstein has pointed out to me that most of us sign away a lot of our rights when we sign an employment contract.  An example of this is the disciplinary process of the agreement between Harvard University and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers[hereinafter referred to as the Agreement  🙂  ]. Tim Gray of HCL Operations has made allegations against me.  My union rep and I dispute them and ask for the supporting documents on which the allegations are based – i.e. ‘the evidence’.  He agrees to produce it, and but hasn’t. There doesn’t seem to be any requirement to support an allegation nor any discipline on managers who make false allegations against their employees. I think we need to work on that.

So the question for those of you familiar with labor law and The Agreement and sideletters, can I legally be required to remove the number of the National Lawyers Guild from my arm while I stand watch at the Lamont Library. Simple question. I’m sorry. I forgot. Some of you are lawyers.

Afterthought: There are people who work at Harvard who have tattoos.

“Occupy Wall Street” comes the Boston


Democracy is Messy –

                                                        Donald Rumsfeld

 On Tuesday Sept. 27, 2011 7:30 PM at the Parkman Bandstand aka the Gazebo, 600 people representing the 99% of the American people excluded from political and economic life met in a General Assembly to discuss how they could express solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

The First Occupy Boston General Assembly made an initial attempt to work on the principle of consensus. Ian had been to Occupy Wall Street and introduced some very simple logistical techniques. He noted that applause introduces delays in the proceedings. He introduced a visual signal of agreement. You simply put your arms straight up in the air, hands open and rotate your wrists back and forth. It was used somewhat and when it was, it seemed helpful. Ian also introduced a visual parallel to the parliamentary Point of Order. He called it “raising a point of process”. You simply put your hands together in a triangle. I couldn’t tell how much it was used because Ian presented it as something you do in front of your chest which people behind you can’t see. I propose that in future Assemblies  the point of process triangle be made over your head. There was also The People’s Microphone i.e. everybody close enough to hear the speaker repeats what s|he said. It was used enough that I could see it’s value in some situations, but the assembly realized it wasn’t working for a group of our size, so we voted to turn it off.

The assembly also realized the difficulty  of achieving consensus in a group of our size.  Ian proposed modified consensus which was adopted by Occupy Wall Street. If any person objects they can block. A block can be overridden by a specified substantial majority vote. OWS adopted 90% and OB did the same. What Ian did not mention in the proposal, but which he did to very good effect, is to call on the blocker(s) to see what the objection is and more importantly look for a settlement without going to an override vote.

The Assembly broke up in to working groups. I visited three – media, legal, and tactics. They were messy within their own contexts. They also had different assumptions about what the other groups were supposed to do. More mess. When the General Assembly reconvened, I was concerned that the mess was beyond repair. Discussion moved to where and what would be occupied. The where went rather smoothly – Dewey Square next to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The when was more contentious. Some people wanted sooner to strike while the iron is hot. Others wanted to have more time to prepare. The Assembly seemed to move towards sooner. One of the folks from Wall Street pointed out that they had work out a lot of things after they had taken up position. When the first assembly came to an end, because we weren’t ready to break the law just then, there was a significant majority  for sooner, but there were still a few blockers. The assembly decided to reconvene Wednesday night. I could not go, but I learned from Open Media Boston that it took a third General Assembly to reach modified consensus.


Ballerina on the Wall Street Bull: Occupy Wall Street.

[Wikimedia Foundation]

A Message From Occupied Wall Street (Day Ten)

[Wikimedia Foundation]

Connecting the dots.

Socialism Art Nature

NYC IndyMedia


FBI Raids Anti-War Activists: Boston Responds.


Protesting FBI raids outside JFK Federal Building 9/27/10
Democracy Now reported FBI Raids Homes of Antiwar and Pro-Palestinian Activists in Chicago and Minneapolis.

Boston May Day Coalition called for ACTION: MON SEPT 27 4:00-6:00 PM JFK Federal Building.

Amy Goodman interviewed former FBI special agent Coleen Rowley, the woman who blew the whistle on FBI incompetence leading up to 9/11.

A few days after the raids in her hometown of Minneapolis, she told me, “This is not the first time that you’ve seen this Orwellian turn of the war on terror onto domestic peace groups and social justice groups … we had that begin very quickly after 9/11, and there were Office of Legal Counsel opinions that said the First Amendment no longer controls the war on terror.”

Amy also mentions FBI surveillance of activists groups including Green Peace. To my young friend campaigning for them in Harvard Square, I offer a link to the ACLU of Massachusetts website. The woman with the lovely white hair above is Nancy Murray from ACLU. The eye candy with the moustache and hat on the extreme left is Geoff Karens of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers.

Amy’s column, “FBI Raids and the Criminalization of Dissent“.


For the love of a transgender child.


From Mass Trans Political Caucus: Ken and Marcia Garber were on Greater Boston with Emily

Rooney, talking about the Mass Transgener Civil Rights Bill.

C.J. Garber was born a girl.  She became a boy. He was bullied for years in the Quincy Schools. C.J. committed suicide. Hear C.J.’s parents, Ken and Marcia.

THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

I cannot resolve the ambiguity about exactly what Reverend Niemoller actually said, but there is very little doubt he said something of this form. There is debate about exactly which groups he included. No one has suggested that he included transgender people, but the question is should they be included now? I say yes. I want someone to speak up for me.


For Jillian who is a transgender person and Alex who loves one.

The Future of Housing and What to Do About It.


The Future of Housing Under the Current Regime:

Homeless man sleeping in the Harvard square T

[Photo: Courtesy of Direction Home]

What to Do About It?

Some muckahs from the Law School and;

some real people1 from City Life/Vida Urbana

Steve Meachem et al being arrested


Logo of the protecting Right to Housing Conference

I had hoped they would say what I have been saying all along. We need a moratorium on foreclosures and we need to write down the value of these predatory mortgages.  Steve, who you can see above being arrested for Harvard labor, has lead a number of eviction blockades. He provided a very concise [ 10-minute] summary of market failures in real estate.  Melonie was one of the foreclosed upon homeowners. The lawyers represented people in both foreclosure procedings and in post-foreclosure eviction proceedings.  Law student Nicholas Hartigan, said that his hope was to get enough  homeowners resisting foreclosure and eviction to force the banks to change their way of doing business.  This is better than letting the tide of foreclosures go unopposed, but a change in bank policy is more easily undone than legislation. But in the current environment, legislation is also harder to get.

1Anything but a One Dimensional Man, when Steve Meacham was a tenant organizer in Cambridge, between arrests, he did radical stuff like driving the truck for the food pantry. Walking the walk – it’s a good thing 🙂

National Coming Out Day


The upside of growing old at Harvard is that you have young people to remind you of all the important things going on in the world. [The downside is the constant reminder that i’m not the guy i used to be.] Anyway, thanks to some Harvard Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance [BGLTSA] folks tabling outside the Harvard Science Center, i am now aware that today October 11 is National Coming Out Day. i’m thinking that the ‘Supporters’ thing means that even if you are not BGL or T, but just a boring old het, you can still wear the rainbow ribbon. You could view it as a King Christian X of Denmark thing. Or maybe you want to avoid the regrets of Pastor Martin Niemöller. Just a thought.