(NEWSER) – To avoid court trials, all many arrested members of Occupy Los Angeles have to do is pay $355 … for a course on free speech. Protesters who opt to take this route will apparently learn that “the First Amendment is not absolute,” as a city attorney explains, adding that the Supreme Court has granted the government the power to regulate the use of free speech in certain circumstances. But considering the fact that arrested demonstrators were exercising “their lawful right to protest nonviolently,” one civil rights attorney who has worked with them tells the LA Times that the class is “patronizing.”
And not just patronizing, but ironic, say protesters, who are not happy about being asked to pay hundreds of dollars to a private company when they have been protesting against corporate greed and privatized public services. Of the 350 arrested in the last three months, only those who have no criminal history and who were arrested on low-level misdemeanors will be eligible to participate in the educational program; if they complete it, the city won’t press charges. This alternative process will save the city money, though LA won’t see any of the $355 fee; the company offering the class keeps the dough.
Posting of LAPD commanders' personal data prompts city action
December 12, 2011 | 8:54 am
Anonymous postings of personal information on more than two dozen L.A. police commanders prompted a councilman to propose supporting legislation that would keep such records confidential, officials said Monday.
Last week, the Los Angeles Police Department opened an investigation into who listed officers’ property records, campaign contributions, biographical information and, in a few cases, the names of children and other family members on sites that allow users to anonymously input data.
Such sites have increasingly been used to post the personal information of individuals who raise the ire of online activists, a practice known as “doxing.”
On Friday, Councilman Dennis P. Zine, a former LAPD officer, introduced a motion calling on the state to mandate that county assessors keep law enforcement officials’ records confidential, similar to protections offered by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
He argued that police could become targets in the course of doing their jobs.
By adopting the resolution, “the city of Los Angeles hereby includes in its 2011-2012 State Legislative Program support of legislation that would clarify and authorize the ability of County Assessors to follow the same guidlines as the California DMV for maintaining confidentiality of records pertaining to law enforcement officials,” according to the draft ordinance.
More broadly, the resolution calls on the LAPD, the city’s chief legislative analyst and the city attorney to review “other types of public records that should be kept confidential for law enforcement officials” but does not specify what other kind of information should be kept out of the public domain.
Last week, several postings were linked to from a publicly available Twitter account, where unnamed activists claimed responsibility for the document dump. Some of the posts referred to the computer hacking group Anonymous, as well as Occupy L.A.
"We stand with OccupyLA," one of the postings reads.
Another message refers to posted documents related to the Denver and Philadelphia police departments.
Los Angeles police say there has been a recent uptick in attempts to hack into the department’s computers and website. None has been successful.
LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said the department could not move to shut the documents site down because officials could not prove the data was illegally obtained.
Still, the LAPD is examining whether some of the actions of those behind the posts could have included illegal acts, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation.
Police said some officers were spit on and one officer was pushed by demonstrators.
All of those arrested were taken away in zip ties and released before sunrise.
It was not immediately clear how the occupiers would respond to the arrests. The Federal Reserve encampment became the largest in the city after police raided the camp at Justin Herman Plaza last week.
"We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day.
We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story. We have accepted the honor to speak up for our brothers and sisters about our working conditions despite the risk of retaliation we face. One of us is a mother, the rest of us fathers. Between the five of us we have 11children and one more baby on the way. We have a combined 46 years of experience driving cargo from our shores for America’s stores.
We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.
Today’s demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible?
We love being behind the wheel. We are proud of the work we do to keep America’s economy moving. But we feel humiliated when we receive paychecks that suggest we work part time at a fast-food counter. Especially when we work an average of 60 or more hours a week, away from our families.
There is so much at stake in our industry. It is one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations. We don’t think truck driving should be a dead-end road in America. It should be a good job with a middle-class paycheck like it used to be decades ago.
We desperately want to drive clean and safe vehicles. Rigs that do not fill our lungs with deadly toxins, or dirty the air in the communities we haul in.
Poverty and pollution are like a plague at the ports. Our economic conditions are what led to the environmental crisis.
You, the public, have paid a severe price along with us.
Why? Just like Wall Street doesn’t have to abide by rules, our industry isn’t bound to regulation. So the market is run by con artists. The companies we work for call us independent contractors, as if we were our own bosses, but they boss us around. We receive Third World wages and drive sweatshops on wheels. We cannot negotiate our rates. (Usually we are not allowed to even see them.) We are paid by the load, not by the hour. So when we sit in those long lines at the terminals, or if we are stuck in traffic, we become volunteers who basically donate our time to the trucking and shipping companies. That’s the nice way to put it. We have all heard the words “modern-day slaves” at the lunch stops.
There are no restrooms for drivers. We keep empty bottles in our cabs. Plastic bags too. We feel like dogs. An Oakland driver was recently banned from the terminal because he was spied relieving himself behind a container. Neither the port, nor the terminal operators or anyone in the industry thinks it is their responsibility to provide humane and hygienic facilities for us. It is absolutely horrible for drivers who are women, who risk infection when they try to hold it until they can find a place to go.
The companies demand we cut corners to compete. It makes our roads less safe. When we try to blow the whistle about skipped inspections, faulty equipment, or falsified logs, then we are “starved out.” That means we are either fired outright, or more likely, we never get dispatched to haul a load again.
It may be difficult to comprehend the complex issues and nature of our employment. For us too. When businesses disguise workers like us as contractors, the Department of Labor calls it misclassification. We call it illegal. Those who profit from global trade and goods movement are getting away with it because everyone is doing it. One journalist took the time to talk to us this week and she explains it very well to outsiders. We hope you will read the enclosed article “How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers.”
But the short answer to the question: Why are companies like SSA Marine, the Seattle-based global terminal operator that runs one of the West Coast’s major trucking carriers, Shippers’ Transport Express, doing this? Why would mega-rich Maersk, a huge Danish shipping and trucking conglomerate that wants to drill for more oil with Exxon Mobil in the Gulf Coast conduct business this way too?
To cheat on taxes, drive down business costs, and deny us the right to belong to a union, that’s why.
The typical arrangement works like this: Everything comes out of our pockets or is deducted from our paychecks. The truck or lease, fuel, insurance, registration, you name it. Our employers do not have to pay the costs of meeting emissions-compliant regulations; that is our financial burden to bear. Clean trucks cost about four to five times more than what we take home in a year. A few of us haul our company’s trucks for a tiny fraction of what the shippers pay per load instead of an hourly wage. They still call us independent owner-operators and give us a 1099 rather than a W-2.
We have never recovered from losing our basic rights as employees in America. Every year it literally goes from bad to worse to the unimaginable. We were ground zero for the government’s first major experiment into letting big business call the shots. Since it worked so well for the CEOs in transportation, why not the mortgage and banking industry too?
Even the few of us who are hired as legitimate employees are routinely denied our legal rights under this system. Just ask our co-workers who haul clothing brands like Guess?, Under Armour, and Ralph Lauren’s Polo. The carrier they work for in Los Angeles is called Toll Group and is headquartered in Australia. At the busiest time of the holiday shopping season, 26 drivers were axed after wearing Teamster T-shirts to work. They were protesting the lack of access to clean, indoor restrooms with running water. The company hired an anti-union consultant to intimidate the drivers. Down Under, the same company bargains with 12,000 of our counterparts in good faith.
Despite our great hardships, many of us cannot — or refuse to, as some of the most well-intentioned suggest — “just quit.” First, we want to work and do not have a safety net. Many of us are tied to one-sided leases. But more importantly, why should we have to leave? Truck driving is what we do, and we do it well.
We are the skilled, specially-licensed professionals who guarantee that Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart are all stocked with just-in-time delivery for consumers. Take a look at all the stuff in your house. The things you see advertised on TV. Chances are a port truck driver brought that special holiday gift to the store you bought it.
We would rather stick together and transform our industry from within. We deserve to be fairly rewarded and valued. That is why we have united to stage convoys, park our trucks, marched on the boss, and even shut down these ports.
It’s like our hero Dutch Prior, a Shipper’s/SSA Marine driver, told CBS Early Morning this month: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
The more underwater we are, the more our restlessness grows. We are being thoughtful about how best to organize ourselves and do what is needed to win dignity, respect, and justice.
Nowadays greedy corporations are treated as “people” while the politicians they bankroll cast union members who try to improve their workplaces as “thugs.”
But we believe in the power and potential behind a truly united 99%. We admire the strength and perseverance of the longshoremen. We are fighting like mad to overcome our exploitation, so please, stick by us long after December 12. Our friends in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports created a pledge you can sign to support us here.
We drivers have a saying, “We may not have a union yet, but no one can stop us from acting like one.”
The brothers and sisters of the Teamsters have our backs. They help us make our voices heard. But we need your help too so we can achieve the day where we raise our fists and together declare: “No one could stop us from forming a union.”
Leonardo Mejia SSA Marine/Shippers Transport Express Port of Long Beach 10-year driver
Yemane Berhane Ports of Seattle & Tacoma 6-year port driver
Xiomara Perez Toll Group Port of Los Angeles 8-year driver
There will be busses and cars at West Oakland to transport those who can’t walk and to transport people quickly. We can always use more cars and bikes so if you have one show up at West Oakland Bart and check in with people organizing transit.
Things to bring Monday: Please bring lots of food and water. The logistics and kitchen teams have been hard at work but food and water may run out or not reach your area of the port. We want you to stand strong so bring a backpack with supplies for yourself and others. Print out some maps of the port http://www.portofoakland.com/pdf/mari_map.pdf and charge your phone.
Things to bring for others: The committee tasked with supplies has a lot but can always use more. To lend bike trailers and portopotties and give food and water please bring them to the West Oakland BART in the morning. Also email email@example.com, there will be a food/supplies depot set up near the port. Other things that are useful to the logistics team for the port shutdown: Bullhorns and batteries for them, drivers with cars and trucks, people with bikes, people who show up early to help get us set up.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “Undercover police officers infiltrated Occupy LA’s tent city last month to spy on people they suspected of stockpiling human waste and crude weapons for resisting an eventual eviction, police and city government sources said.
Authorities also used security cameras mounted outside City Hall, where the camp was located, and monitored publicly available Internet chatter and video on social-networking sites such as Twitter, sources said.
Evidence gathered through the surveillance led to more than 40 arrests for drug use, public intoxication and other offenses in the weeks before police shut down the camp on November 30, one senior official in the Los Angeles Police Department said.
That official and most other sources spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because of department policy barring police from publicly discussing undercover operations.
They insisted that covert surveillance of the camp was aimed not at anti-Wall Street activists exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression but at those they considered anti-government extremists bent on violence.
Civil liberties advocates said they were troubled by law enforcement’s infiltration of peaceful demonstrations, although the LAPD’s undercover efforts were not unique.
“We had reports that there were individuals advocating violence against police and taking steps to commit violence,” the senior LAPD source said. “In that vein we investigated that. What we didn’t do was spy or monitor or interact with those engaged with First Amendment activities.”
Elise Whitaker, an Occupy LA organizer, said she was not surprised to hear that police sent undercover officers into the camp but said she believes such surveillance proved unwarranted because the demonstration was peaceful.
I’m not thrilled about it,” she said. “It’s demeaning to the movement. It suggests that we are not who we say we are. It suggests that they don’t trust us.”
Occupy LA was not alone. According to the New York Times, the New York police also sent plainclothes officers into Zuccotti Park in Manhattan to gather intelligence on protesters there.”~Read more: Rawstory
"BEFORE YOU GET THERE: 1. Bring at least one piece of valid picture I.D, and if you have it, official documentation of your legal right to be in the country. 2. Know by memory/write on your arm the phone number of a support person. The Occupy Seattle legal number is 206-403-8741. 3. Let someone know where you will be at all times. Find at least one other person at the action and know where they are at all times. Support and protect each other. 4. Avoid carrying bags, purses, backpacks, which may get stolen/lost if you are arrested. 5. Do not bring drugs, weapons, alcohol. For obvious reasons, do not bring your smartphone.
IN CASE OF ARREST 6. If you need prescription drugs, bring them in their original containers, and bring a copy of the prescription. Don’t risk arrest if you’re going to need to take your own medicine at regular intervals of less than about 48 hrs. 7. If you have outstanding warrants for any reason, your bail may be raised and it may result in you being singled out from other arrestees. 8. Know that if you don’t live nearby, if you are arrested you may be legally required to return to this area to go to court on one or more occasions, and not on your schedule. 9. Don’t risk arrest if you’re not a US citizen; our system is pretty messed up, and regardless of your legal status, immigrants can be put in danger by these arrests. 10. If you are differently-abled, consider the fact that the police and jail authorities are not obligated to give you the level of care and consideration you would receive otherwise. 11. Juveniles (under-18s): the consequences of arrest could include getting schooling impacted or living situations disrupted (e.g. CPS).
ONCE YOU’RE THERE: When on Port of Seattle land, you are on public land: you are not trespassing UNLESS you enter the fenced sections which are leased to corporations with their own security force. Regardless it is legal to be on the sidewalks and parking lots. You do not need to keep moving as long as you clear a path for others to walk down the sidewalk.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: You do not have to talk to the police. If they speak to you, ask, “Am I free to leave?” If they say yes, walk away slowly. If they say no, you are being detained. If they ask, provide your name; otherwise you do not need to speak to them. Use your current legal name. Only a judge has the authority to order you to answer questions.
You are not required to reveal your immigration status to police officers.** It is better to say nothing than to lie.
If they stop you in your car, provide your license and registration. You do not have to consent to a search or answer questions.
Be aware that police will try to lie to you and intimidate you in order to get you to do what they want.
**There is a Seattle City and King County “Don’t ask” ordinance about people’s immigration status. HOWEVER, if you are booked, the police may find that you are undocumented and hand you over to ICE detention center.
RIGHTS WITH PORT POLICE: - Once you are on “port property,” that is jurisdiction of the Port Police. -The Port Police are teamsters: they ultimately answer to the Port Commissioners. - Folks who are on Seattle streets are subject to SPD and Port Police -Something to keep in mind: they may be working together.
- The larger the group, the more likely port police will be seeking to enforce trespass/dispersal order - Under WA state law, you never need a permit for a sidewalk, parks and other public forums (like lawn of city hall and plaza in front of the jail) -Don’t have to be moving (i.e. marching) but just make sure people a lane to walk through. If we are asked to disperse, the police have to give us proper warning. Police need owner’s permission to give dispersal order on private property.
- They must give an audible dispersal order (we must be able to hear it). After the order has been give we need to: o Make sure everyone can hear/has heard it & note the time/date o Cops need to voice their authority for giving order o Need to give you a time frame o Need to tell where to leave. § We can ask. Where do you want us to disperse to? Which direction is it safe to walk in without getting arrested? - They need to give THREE orders - Sometimes they give the dispersal order only to intimidate; you can choose to hold your ground after an order has been given.
MEDICAL: Occupy Seattle Street Medics have established a site away from the port action where people can come warm up, dry off, and have some down time on Monday, 12/12. This location has internet access, so if people want to stay connected and monitor via livestream, that’s an option.
The location is Jigsaw Renaissance, in the INScape building (former INS building). This location will be staffed by at least one street medic from 3pm to 8pm.
It would be amazing if anyone had connections to large coffee urns for coffee, hot water (for tea/hot cocoa), and maybe cider. Also amazing if anyone has the ability to gift some coffee, tea/hot cocoa, cider and snacks.
Occupy Seattle Street Medics and other medics working the port protest should be able to give directions to this location. The bus service from the port isn’t great, but Jigsaw is only two blocks south of the International District station/transit hub.
Google will lead you astray… The address is actually 815 S Seattle Blvd, but google maps will show 815 Airport Way. It is between 5th and 6th, just south of Uwajimaya. The exterior of the building is always locked, but there will be a phone number posted to call, and hopefully our exterior door bell will be functioning as well.”~OccupySeattle #Solidarity
"On December 8th at about 7 a.m., approximately 100 police from across Santa Cruz County outfitted in riot gear raided the Occupy Santa Cruz encampment in San Lorenzo Park. The City of Santa Cruz and Police Department issued an evacuation notice on Monday, Dec. 5th to cease and desist all camping activity on Wednesday, Dec. 7th before 5 p.m.. Occupy Santa Cruz held a general assembly on Wednesday evening, and only a small number of people remained in San Lorenzo Park overnight.
The agencies conducting the raid included the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, police departments from Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley, Watsonville and UC Santa Cruz. State park rangers were also dismantling tents inside the park. Employees of First Alarm, a private security and policing corporation, were present as well.
Six people were arrested and are being held in jail. Arrestees are reportedly being held on $25,000 bail each (one exception being held on $50,000) for various charges, including failure to leave the park.
Supporters of those who have been arrested write, “These people urgently need support! There will undoubtedly be court and lawyer fees, along with the possibility of posting bail, so please donate to the legal support fund.”~Indybay
#OccupySF presents Sleepless in San Francisco #D7 #OSF
The city of San Francisco leased an abandoned school for protesters to use as an alternative campsite [Reuters]
"The city had repeatedly warned the protesters to move from the public plaza at the foot of Market Street in recent weeks and tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a move to another location.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said there were about 100 people in the camp when the police moved in shortly before 2:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday, and about 100 officers took part in the action.
About 50 people were arrested, he said. Two were arrested for felony assault after hitting a policeman in the face with a chair, but the action was otherwise mostly free of violence.”~Continued: Reuters
Local reports say there were 70 arrested and truckloads of items were confiscated from the camp. (SFGate)
"Department of Public Works workers remove debris from Occupy San Francisco’s encampment at Justin Herman Plaza during a morning police raid in San Francisco, California December 7, 2011." (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)
According to OccupySF official page not only was debris removed but also, occupier’s property: “Bicycles, books from the library, tents, and people’s belongings were thrown directly into trash crusher trucks. Many occupiers were trying to leave the area and were arrested anyway. Many more elected to get arrested as a form of peaceful protest.”
"As pressure builds for the Dec. 12 West Coast port shutdown, the capitalist owners and their media began a battle of ideas to blunt this powerful threat to their profits and control — even for a day.
Two International Longshore and Warehouse Union members — Clarence Thomas, who is a third-generation longshoreman in Oakland, and Leo Robinson, who is now retired — spoke with Workers World reporter Cheryl LaBash. Both men have held elected office in ILWU Local 10 and have been key labor activists during their years of work in the ports.
WW: The Nov. 21 ILWU Longshore Coast Committee memorandum states, “Any public demonstration is not a ‘picketline’ under the PCL&CA [Pacific Coast Longshore & Clerk’s Agreement]. … Remember, public demonstrations are public demonstrations, not ‘picketlines.’ Only labor unions picket as referenced in the contract.” What is your reaction?
Clarence Thomas: A picket line is a public demonstration — whether called by organized labor or not. It is legitimate. There are established protocols in these situations. To suggest to longshoremen that they shouldn’t follow them demands clarification. It is one thing to state for the record that the union is not involved, but another thing to erase the historical memory of ILWU’s traditions and practices included in the Ten Guiding Principles of the ILWU adopted at the 1953 biennieal convention in San Francisco.
Leo Robinson: The international has taken the position somehow that the contract is more important than not only defending our interest in terms of this EGT [grain terminal jurisdictional dispute] but having a connection to the Occupy [Wall Street] movement in that when you go through the Ten Guiding Principles of the ILWU, we’re talk about labor unity. Does that include the teachers? Does that include state, county and municipal workers? Those questions need to be analyzed as to who supports whom. The Occupy movement is not separate and apart from the labor movement.
CT: Labor is now officially part of the Occupy movement. That has happened. The recent [New York Times] article done by Steven Greenhouse on Nov. 9 is called ‘Standing arm in arm.”
The Teamsters have been supported by the OWS against Sotheby’s auction house. OWS has been supportive of Communication Workers in its struggle with Verizon. Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees, has called for expanding the Occupy movement by taking workers to Washington, D.C., to occupy Washington particularly Congress and congressional hearings demanding 15 million jobs by Jan. 1.”~Read more: workers.org
LOS ANGELES, CA – Next week the Los Angeles City Council will vote on a resolution that calls on Congress to amend the Constitution to clearly establish that only living persons — not corporations — are endowed with constitutional rights and that money is not the same as free speech. If this resolution is passed, Los Angeles will be the first major city in the U.S. to call for an end to all corporate constitutional rights.
The campaign in Los Angeles is the latest grassroots effort by Move to Amend, a national coalition working to abolish corporate personhood. “Local resolution campaigns are an opportunity for citizens to speak up and let it be known that we won’t accept the corporate takeover of our government lying down,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, a national spokesperson for Move to Amend. “We urge communities across the country to join the Move to Amend campaign and raise your voices.”