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International Day of Action – December 25

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Police are members of the 99%.

1% Rule. 99% Serve.

Posted by troublemaker on January 20, 2012

Recently someone presented the idea that the Occupy / 99% movement was somehow anti-military. Although the movement contains members with diverse views, the central concept of the Occupy / 99% movement supports the men and women of the military as they are part of the growing populous movement. This is on top of ridiculous rumors which insist that members of Congress and their families do not have to repay Student Loans that Congress can retire on full pay after just one term, and other unfounded accusations to heighten the differences between the ruling and serving class.

Make no mistake; there are clear differences between the ruling and serving classes. There really is a 99% and a 1%; however the exaggerated claims detract from the facts of the matter. To explain, we will compare and contrast factual information about serving in the U.S. Military and ruling in the U.S. Congress. As a result, they distract from the core message behind the Occupy Movement. In abstract, that core message is that a democracy should be beholding to the people it serves rather than the greed of a select few.

U.S. Congress

Entrance Salary – $174,000.00 (About 10 times U.S. Military)

Student Loans – Congressional staffers may have a significant portion of their student loans forgiven ($60,000 in the House and $40,000 in the Senate) in exchange for a term of service.

Pension – Can draw pension after five years if they are over the age of 62, after twenty years if they are between the ages of 50 and 62, at any age if they serve twenty five years. Pensions can be as high as 80%. (1)

U.S. Military

Entrance Salary – $17,892.00 (About 1/10th that of Congress) (2)

Student Loans – Depending on the branch, there is between $10,000.00 and $65,000.00) available in annual payments of $1,500.00, but only if this is arranged before joining the military, only with specific commitments, and only for specific training / educational requirements. In other words, if you choose the right education, the right branch, and the military is hurting for people with your education; the military will repay a $60,000.00 student loan over the course of 20 years.

Pension – 50% of base pay after 20 years, 2.5% increase per additional year, up to a total of 75%. (3) No matter how many years a person serves in the military, it is not possible to reach the 80% available to members of Congress.

U.S. Citizen (Per Census (4))

Per Capita income: $27,041.00 (average individual)

Average Household Income: $50,221

Conclusion:

$174,000.00 might not seem like an outrageously high salary for a member of Congress. $17,892.00 might not seem like an outrageously low salary for an inexperienced teenager fresh out of highschool. But the issue of actual pay is not in question. What is in question is the difference in pay between those who claim to serve (Congress / 1%) and those who actually do serve (the military / 99%).

During their first year, a Congressman / woman earns almost 10 times what a soldier does in his or her first year. That amount is roughly 6 ½ times the average income of a U.S. Citizen or about 3 ½ times the average combined household incomes. Even without considering the fact that most of Congress was wealthy before being elected to their positions, one has to ask how it is that we can expect these men and women to represent the interests of the 99% when they so clearly are not part of the 99%.

If the United States is truly a country of the people, by the people, and for the people; Congress will agree to accept no more than the average individual income and agree to pay military members no less than that same amount. Congress should also agree to accept no better pension or other benefits than the average U.S. Citizen and offer no less to members of the military.

 

 

  1. http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm
  2. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/militarypaycharts/a/2012basepayenlisted.htm
  3. http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/generalpay/a/retirementpay.htm
  4.  

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Midnight Slaughter – Portland, Oregon

Posted by troublemaker on November 12, 2011

On orders from Mayor Sam Adams (1%), Portland Police (99%) plan to turn a peaceful protest into a violent confrontation this weekend.  Despite police stating Occupy Portland “has been peaceful since it began over a month ago”(1), Mayor Sam Adams claims he must protect the people from poor sanitation by ordering almost certain violence.  Make no mistake.  This is not a parent threatening to spank a child if he or she does not clean his or her room.  Police will likely be armed with live ammunition because reports have been circulated that protesters are arming themselves with spiked clubs and other makeshift weapons(1).

“The statement from Portland police came a day after Portland Mayor Sam Adams, citing sanitation and safety concerns, gave demonstrators until 12:01 a.m. on Sunday to clear out their tents.” (1)

As police have been clear that Occupy Portland has been a peaceful assembly, if Portland police enforce the order of Mayor Sam Adams to end the protest, it seems police will be violating not only Oregon law, but US and International law and convention.  Yes, there are sanitation and safety concerns with any large gathering, however the applicable right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly make no mention of those rights being null and void when they are inconvenient for government.

Indeed if a citizen has a right, let say the right not to be raped, then his or her government is obligated to ensure that right.  The same would seem true of both freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.  This is why police, despite expense, have a mandate to promote a person’s right not to be raped.  This is why police, despite expense, have a mandate to promote a person’s right free speech and assembly.  Rather then creating what many feel is the pending violent confrontation, Mayor Sam Adams should take measures to facilitate the safe and sanitary expression of these rights.  This is why police (99%) should stand down when ordered to clear the protest by Mayor Sam Adams (1%).

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America (2)

Although at first glance, the First Amendment seems to apply only to Congress, since Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925) the Supreme Court of the United States of America has ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution etends the First Amendment to all US States via the mandate for due process.

Freedom of Assembly is recognized by the American Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (3).

What Mayor Sam Adams and other officials who seek to end Occupy encampments fail to realize is that one can not use force to stop an idea.  While they try, actions against peaceful protesters will do nothing more than to enrage the public.  In the case of Occupy Portland, it is clear that even the police feel the protest has been peaceful.  While a handful of people might blame protesters for the violence that will take place if police follow the mayor’s orders, many will recognize that prior to the order to end the protest even the police said the protest had been peaceful.

All of this over the Mayor Adams concerns for sanitation?

As it seems Mayor Sam Adams will not stand down, we urge police to arrest the lawless but stand down from any general order to act against peaceful assembly and protest.  You are part of the 99%.  You are the people.  Do not tread on your own right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.  Refuse, I beg you, refuse any order to clear the encampment.  Let freedom be your Christmas present to this country and let dignity be a gift to your self.  Stand down.

1) Teresa Carson at Reuters

2) Wikipedia on the First Amendment

3) Wikipedia on Freedom of Assembly

 

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An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland from the Oakland Police Officers’ Association

Posted by troublemaker on November 9, 2011

1 November 2011 – Oakland, Ca.

We represent the 645 police officers who work hard every day to protect the citizens of Oakland. We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. We are severely understaffed with many City beats remaining unprotected by police during the day and evening hours.

As your police officers, we are confused.

On Tuesday, October 25th, we were ordered by Mayor Quan to clear out the encampments at Frank Ogawa Plaza and to keep protesters out of the Plaza. We performed the job that the Mayor’s Administration asked us to do, being fully aware that past protests in Oakland have resulted in rioting, violence and destruction of property.

Then, on Wednesday, October 26th, the Mayor allowed protesters back in – to camp out at the very place they were evacuated from the day before.

To add to the confusion, the Administration issued a memo on Friday, October 28th to all City workers in support of the “Stop Work” strike scheduled for Wednesday, giving all employees, except for police officers, permission to take the day off.

That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against “the establishment.” But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?

It is all very confusing to us.

Meanwhile, a message has been sent to all police officers: Everyone, including those who have the day off, must show up for work on Wednesday. This is also being paid for by Oakland taxpayers. Last week’s events alone cost Oakland taxpayers over $1 million.

The Mayor and her Administration are beefing up police presence for Wednesday’s work strike they are encouraging and even “staffing,” spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for additional police presence – at a time when the Mayor is also asking Oakland residents to vote on an $80 parcel tax to bail out the City’s failing finances.

All of these mixed messages are confusing.

We love Oakland and just want to do our jobs to protect Oakland residents. We respectfully ask the citizens of Oakland to join us in demanding that our City officials, including Mayor Quan, make sound decisions and take responsibility for these decisions. Oakland is struggling – we need real leaders NOW who will step up and lead – not send mixed messages. Thank you for listening.

Posted in Police and Military | 3 Comments »

Rape, vandalism, violence.. what should police do?

Posted by troublemaker on November 9, 2011

“We, too, are the 99% fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families. ” – Oakland Police Officers Association (3)

Make no mistake, the 99% movement is a world wide phenomena.  As a result, the same question is being raised by law enforcement around the world.  What should the police do? 

“Paralysis is occurring across law enforcement. It’s becoming a Catch 22.  To go in there to clear the park is going to cause confrontation. To not do so is detrimental.” –  said Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City, USA (1)

Virtually the same question is being asked in New Zealand.  There, in Dunedin, the police have refused to enforce a trespass notice issued on October 15, 2011.  Why?  Because the police are concerned that it might violate the nation’s Bill of Rights Act.

“The protesters have the right under the Bill of Rights Act to protest peacefully.” – Inspector Dickie (2)

What then should law enforcement do in the United States?  What should they do in New Zealand?  As the 99% and Occupy Wall street movements grow, what should police do elsewhere?  The answer is simple: They should protect the lawful from the lawless.

Violence, vandalism, and other crimes do take place within Occupy encampments.  Violence, vandalism, and other crimes also take place on subways.  Violence, vandalism, and other crimes take place where ever people gather.  As the presence of people is required for the presence of crime, one could clear out the people and in so doing clear out the crime; but at what cost?

Although commonly manipulated by the 1%, police are clearly part of the 99%.  As such, they should facilitate freedom of speech by protecting the overwhelming majority of lawful protest from the few who choose to be lawless.   In the United States, they take an oath to do just that when they swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.  What then should they do when they are given clearly conflicting orders from that 1%?

Consider the challenges of the Oakland, California police department.  Although many feel they have clearly crossed the line with their use of tear gas, flash bangs, bean bag rounds, and other less than lethal force; the police claim they were ordered to do so by Mayor Jean Quan (3).  A day later, Mayor Jean Quan welcomed the protesters back and even gave city employees time off to join the protest. 

Protesters, recognizing police officers as members of the 99%,  have asked law enforcement to leave their guns at home and join the protest.  Some protesters believe the Occupy encampments are now capable of policing themselves (4).  We at Occupy Christmas think there is a much better solution.

Like authorities in Dunedin, New Zealand police should refuse to evict encampments.  But instead of leaving their guns at home, they should join and support the protest by enforcing laws in place to prevent violent crime and vandalism.

Many thanks to Inspector Dickie.  Occupy Christmas.  Occupy the world.

Foot Notes

1) Fox News

2) Otago Daily Times

3) An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland from the Oakland Police Officers Association

4) Hot Air

 

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Generators Seized

Posted by troublemaker on November 7, 2011

I owned and operated a retail store for enough years that I am very failure with safety and code enforcement.  Once a year, our retail store was inspected by the Fire Department.  If they spotted something unsafe, they would issue a statement that we had 30 days to remove the safety violation.  The best example is the misuse of extension cords.  We would roll them up, put them away, and thank the Fire Department for explaining the rules to us.  At no time did the Fire Department, Police, or other officials SEIZE an extension cord or other items. Why?  Because their goal was not to destroy business nor to violate protections found in the Constitution of the United States of America and its associated Amendments.  In New York City, the government seems to have taken a very different stand on Occupy Wall street.

Exigent circumstances do allow for seizure of property without warrant.  Such might be the case when an automobile is seized by police after an OMVI arrest.  However, what exigent circumstances exist when expensive and necessary generators are used without fences which mandate seizure to protect the public welfare?  Why not just demand a fence be erected?  Why not just demand guards be posted at the generators?

When police can seize property without warrant, one has to wonder what this country has become.

Despite Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable seizure and Fourteenth Amendment protection which guarantees due process, New York police seized generators from the Occupy Wall street encampment without warrant to do so.  Although they claim the generators consisted of a safety threat, they could have ordered them removed rather than seizing them and further violating constitutional rights. 

As weather turned cold, generators in New York’s Zuccotti Park encampment of Occupy Wallstreet have been seized by the police and firefighters departments.  New York claims the generators are a safety hazard.  Washington DC simply asked protesters to put a fence up around their generators:

“Park Police have advised us to erect some kind of fence around it, which we’re taking as tacit permission to keep it,” – Justin Smith (1)

Although police in New York claim the seizure was for safety reasons, Marie Fehlig explains that warmth is a medical necessity while treating cases of hypothermia.  Maria Fehlig and others from the National Nurses United union staff the medic / first aid tent which was previously heated by those electric generators.  Fehlig seems to believe the generators were removed as a tactic to force Occupy protesters to withstand the bitter temperatures.

“The temperatures drop and that’s when they decide to take the generators,”  – Marie Fehlig (2)

After the generators were taken, Maria Fehlig commented on the ongoing threat of hypothermia:

“We saw 25 cases of hypothermia last night. You can’t warm someone up in the elements.”- Marie Fehlig (2)

 Of course safety is important.  According to Iana Dikidjieva of Occupy Wall street, each group has at least one fire extinguisher.  It seems that rather than risk further cases of cold weather injuries, if safety had been their real concern the city of New York could have explained that a fence need to be erected around the generators. 

If the city of New York has an honest interest in safety, they will meet with Occupy Wall street and find a solution.

Foot Notes

1 – Washington Post

2 – http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2011/10/28/fdny-seizes-occupy-generators-in-safety-sweep/?mod=google_news_blog

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Mayor Bloomberg blames victims

Posted by troublemaker on November 6, 2011

Lauren DiGioia
Lauren DiGioia
“I was more victimized by the NYPD who handled my sexual assault case than I was by the assaulter.” – Lauren DiGioia (1)
 
The Constitution of the United States of America recognizes certain innate rights.  Neither the Constitution or the laws which emanate from that Constitution establisher those rights.  Instead, they affirm that each man, woman, and child possesses these rights as a natural part of life.  Among these rights are those defined by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
 
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America (2)
 
What good are these affirmations, these words on parchment, if the government is not willing to support them?  What good are they if victims are treated so poorly by authorities that they feel they become unlikely to report crimes because they feel the authority will be further victimized by police rather than perpetrator?  Lauren DiGioia feels that is exactly what took place when she reported being sexually assaulted.
 
“I’m a perfect example of somebody who went through the process. I followed all the steps of the law, and I felt victimized by it. I felt like I was a criminal, too,” – Lauren DiGioia (1)
 
As if crime is something new in New York city, Mayor Bloomberg indicates the problem is with the victims among the protesters. 
 
“Instead of calling the police, they form a circle around the perpetrator, chastise him or her and chase him or her out into the rest of the city – to do who knows what to who knows whom, I think it is outrageous and it really allows the criminal to strike again making all of us less safe” – Mayor Bloomberg (1)

 Adding fuel to the fire, the New York Police Department is reportedly recycling criminals.  Upon release, criminals are told by NYPD to go to Zuccotti park where Occupy Wallstreet is currently based.

“I have to say…the rumors are true… police are telling people who were recently released from jail to go to zuccotti park.”  – From an Email to Occupy Wall Street’s Facebook Page (3)

 
What Mayor Bloomberg and supporters of the established system for responding to crime seem to be missing is that the business as usual / criminal recycling system simply is not working.  While I do not believe simply casting a criminal out such that he can victimize others is the proper response, the current method of dealing with crime seems to be doing little more than sending people to prison where they learn to become even more proficient criminals.   In essence, the current system does the same as Occupy Wallstreet’s rebuking except to add a time out and further criminal education.
 
So while I do not believe the solution reportedly in use by Occupy Wallstreet is the answer, the very fact that the question remains shows that the current answer (business as usual) just isn’t working.  That, my friend, is what the protest is all about.
 
Occupy Christmas!  Occupy the World!
 

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Oakland Mayor Jean Quan

Posted by troublemaker on November 2, 2011

It has been said politicians speak out of both sides of their mouth.  In the case of Oakland, CA mayor Jean Quan the statement could be no more accurate.  First she orders the police to take action against protesters.  Then, after horrific consequences, she makes statements to the press which seem to indicate the police were themselves at fault, assuring the public that the event will not be repeated.

“The pro-99 percent activists — whose cause I support — will have the freedom to get their message across without the conflict that marred last week’s events…” Mayor Jean Quan (1)

What Mayor Quan seems not to anticipate is that many police officers feel they are part of the 99%.  On one hand, City Administrator Deanna Santana announced that city employees may take paid leave to participate in November 2nds general strike(1).  On the other hand, the city has announced plans to increase police presence.  As Oakland police are themselves city employees, this means the city has made sure there is a strong pres sense on both sides of the potential conflict.

On one hand, police were ordered to clear protesters encampment on Tuesday, October 25.  That ordered turned into a cloud of tear gas, bean bag rounds fired at protesters, multiple injuries, and the hospitalization of marine veteran Scott Olsen who was protesting peacefully.  On Wednesday, October 26, Mayor Quan allowed protesters to return to their encampment just 24 hours. 

“What was last Tuesday all about?  The mayor is painting us as the bad guys in all of this.  We get one order one day and then she flip-flops the next day. We’re going to be seen as the establishment, and it’s not fair to the police, it’s not fair to anyone.” – Sgt. Dom Arotzarena (1)

The day after those ballistic bean bags flew at protesters, many of the barricades around City Hall came down and police presence was drastically reduced. (2)  Protesters were assured they could continue to occupy Frank Ogawa Plaza until 10 PM each night.  Protesters responded by general assembly where they voted on a call for a general strike for November 2nd in support of the Occupy movement(2).

Mayor Quan announced: “If it remains a peaceful demonstration, we will maintain a minimum police presence.” (2)  However, it seems to most that the protest was peaceful until Mayor Quan ordered police to clear the park.  Although  interim Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan defended the use of tear gas, beanbag rounds, and other less than lethal force used against protesters, one wonders if he might not have forgotten events which took place in his city during the anti-war protests of 2003.

The aftermath of that protest included 52 lawsuits against the city as well as an agreement that the Oakland police department would not use non-lethal weapons to break up crowds of protesters.  In that agreement, after attempting to negotiate with protesters to disperse them the police are allowed to drop tear gas at the edges of the crowd only. (3)  Photos and video show clearly that this was not what the police did eight years later at the Occupy Oakland protest.  Again, city officials rather than police did not keep their word.

According to Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland police union, the first raid on Occupy Oakland cost the city over one million dollars.(1)  Individual lawsuits resulting from similar actions in 2003 were as high as $500,000.00 (4).  As those lawsuits were awarded by a jury of the 99%, one has to figure the action against Occupy Oakland will prove itself to have been much more expensive than the million dollars spent to create those potential lawsuit. 

It seems the people have spoken against such conduct in 2003 and we are willing to bet they will speak even louder in response to like actions of 2011.

External Links / Foot Notes

1. Washington Post

2. SFGate.com

3. http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-28/wall_street/30331764_1_opd-rubber-bullets-oakland-police-department

4. SFGate.com

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Protesters now Armed

Posted by troublemaker on October 31, 2011

When reading about armed protesters involved in various Occupy gatherings, ask yourself if you have heard about these armed protesters on the evening news.  Oddly, even Fox News which seems intent on painting Occupy in the worst possible light does not seem interested in letting its viewers know what dangerous grounds we now tread.

Claiming Second Amendment rights protect First Amendment rights, J.T. Ready and other members of the militia group US Border Guard have been patrolling Occupy Phoenix with loaded AR15 assault rifles.  These are virtually the same weapons carried by many police officers.  An example of the weapon can be seen in the hands of a police officer at Occupy Denver (click here).  Although Second Amendment rights were affirmed by the Bill of Rights in part to protect First Amendment rights, one must question the logic and course of the decision to go armed to a peaceful protest when tensions between police and protesters are already taxed.  Just what would happen if the police at Occupy Denver (guns raised) were to encounter the armed militia group of Occupy Phoenix?

Phoenix isn’t the only city to see protesters with assault weapons at the ready.  Occupy Atlanta was lawfully violating park rules by camping over night because Atlanta Mayor issued an executive order allowing them to do so.  This lasted until the mayor became aware of a protester who was armed with an AK47.  Although the open carry of a firearm is perfectly legal in Atlanta, the mayor withdrew his executive order fearing the worse.  Although I do not agree with his decision, I too fear for the worse.

As if high tension between police and protesters have been deliberately orchestrated, literature was reportedly discovered at Occupy Phoenix which asks “When should you shoot a cop?”  In response to what was probably the actions of a single individual, the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Information Center issued a bulletin warning every law enforcement officer in the state. 

Reading the literature reportedly found at Occupy Phoenix, I can understand why police would be concerned.  Could this really be the opinion of large numbers of the protesters?  Reading the bulletin issued by the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Information Center, I would surly believe the literature was more than an Internet hoax. 

On the other hand, looking down the barrel of the AR15 that a Denver police officer aimed at the picture taker, I do find myself wondering when in fact a person should shoot a police officer.  The obvious answer is before s/he shoots you.  I imagine police officers are asking themselves the same question of the protesters. 

We are smoking a cigarette while standing in a puddle of gasoline.

 

External Links:

Occupy Atlanta – Protester with AK47 assault rifle causes Mayor to revoke executive order.

Occupy Phoenix – Uniformed and armed militia group patrols with AR15 assault rifles.

When is it OK to shoot a cop? – The original document.

Counter-Terrorism Information Center response to: When is it OK to shoot a cop?

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Police raise Guns – Occupy Denver

Posted by troublemaker on October 31, 2011

AR15 / M16 pointed at photo taker

At Occupy Denver, taking a photo might get you shot by police.  Although police claim to be using great restraint, this photo shows a completely different story.  While 15 people were being arrested for illegal camping, an officer levels his / her assault weapon at the person taking this photo.

 
The weapon in service is an AR15 / M16.  It fires a .223 caliber (5.56mm) bullet faster than the speed of sound.  It is typically equipped with either a 20 or 30 round magazine.  The one in the photo appears to be an after market 40 round detachable magazine.  In select fire configuration, this is the current battle rifle of the United States military.  It appears to be leveled at the chest / abdomen of the person taking the photo per police training to aim center mass.
 
For more information: Click Here

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