Solidarity Sing Along – 9/28/12

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Photos from the sing along at the Wisconsin State Capitol today. Citizens have been singing every weekday from noon to one since March 2011 in protest of Governor Scott Walker and his policies that are hurting many people.

The United Corporations of America

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I re-wrote the pledge of allegiance a few months ago, and finally made it into a graphic.

WI Capitol Police Target Individuals, Block Press Access

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Today in Wisconsin, Scott Walker held a press conference to discuss the new slogan to be used by the quasi-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. I heard about this press conference about 30 minutes before it started, so I went right over there to see if I could get into it to get some photos and report on what happened. Although I am a freelance photojournalist, I also have a press pass through a radio station that one of my friends works at because she uses stories I report on for her show, so I figured I wouldn’t have a problem getting inside.

I walked in, went to the table outside of the room where people were checking in for the press conference, and showed my press pass to the lady who was standing there. She wrote down my name and the radio station I was with, and allowed me into the room. Some Wisconsin citizens without press passes were also there hoping to capture a glimpse of our governor who typically hides in the shadows and rarely shows his face in public. Since Walker is not interested in having to see his constituents, the press conference was then moved up to the 6th floor of the building in an attempt to get rid of any non-press.

Those who were helping run the press conference were doing their best to make sure only members of the press were getting on the elevators to go up to the 6th floor. Although a few people who were not credentialed press were able to get onto one of the elevators right away, I was one of the last people in line for the elevator, and I had to show my press pass in order to even be allowed on. Again, the person checking my press pass allowed me to go through.

Once we made it up to the 6th floor, we had to wait outside of the room where the press conference was now being held. I was in the back of the group waiting to get in, and once they opened up the doors, we all started slowly moving inside. Once I made it to the doors, I saw my friend Arthur being shoved around by cops, so I paused to get photos of this. He doesn’t have a press pass, but has been an awesome citizen videographer and has done a great job of covering stories that the mainstream media has ignored. Below is a photo of officer Steingraeber with his hand on Arthur, even though Arthur was complying with police orders to back up.

After taking pictures of the cops shoving Arthur, I ended up being the last person with a press pass to try to enter the press conference (because, of course, the “real” press doesn’t care to cover a story about a citizen being shoved around by cops.) When I tried to walk through the door, four Capitol police officers stood in my way and denied me access. I told them that I was a member of the press, showed them my press pass, and said that I had already been cleared as press two different times today. When they still didn’t let me through, I asked them why I was being denied access to the press conference, and officer Steingraeber simply said that the answer is “no,” and refused to give me a legitimate reason. You can view a video if it here.

Later, one of my friends asked again why I was denied access, and Steingraeber then said that we would need to bring it up with the Department of Administration, which makes me believe the order to deny me access came from them. My friend, Leslie Peterson, was also targeted during the press conference. The cops know she is a member of the press, but she did not have her press pass on her. She did get into the press conference, but was then singled out and removed from the room.

Once the press conference was over, I approached the lady who had first let me into the press conference, and questioned why she hadn’t told them I was actually allowed in although she had been standing right there the whole time. She said, “You misrepresented yourself.” The only reason for her to think that is because the cops had told her that I was not actually a member of the press, which is a lie. I explained to her that I am an activist and an independent photojournalist, and that the cops know me as a “protestor.” I then went on to tell her that I typically don’t wear my press pass, but that when I decided to use it today, I realized that I was now acting as press and not a “protestor.” At that point, she softened up a bit, and even seemed to feel bad about accusing me of misrepresenting myself.

It didn’t surprise me one bit that the Capitol Police decided to not allow me into the press conference because I have a history with them. I have been very active during the protests in Wisconsin, and the cops all know me by name. But today I was acting as press, and instead of allowing me to cover the event like I have the right to do, they decided to let their personal feelings about me get in the way of upholding the US Constitution. Had they allowed me access to the press conference, I would have gotten some pictures, posted a few updates, and maybe the radio station would have picked up the story. Instead, they choose to target me and deny me access, which gave me an even more interesting story to report on.

Holding up my press credentials while standing in front of the cops who had denied me access to the press conference. Photo by Craig Spaulding.

Thank an Anarchist

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I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard people talking about anarchists like they’re just these horrible, immature kids who are only concerned about causing chaos and smashing windows. Yes, maybe some people who identify as anarchists fit that description… but the anarchists I’ve come across have been some of the most kind, thoughtful, and intelligent human beings I’ve ever met in my live. And many people don’t realize it, but I, myself, identify as a social anarchist. Now, I’m not here to discuss positives and negatives about anarchism, or argue about whether it actually works or not. I’m simply hoping that those of you out there who have a negative view of anarchists will think twice the next time you consider talking bad about us.

At this point, I will only speak of my own views as an anarchist, but from the conversations I’ve had with other anarchists, I know many of them who hold very similar views. Without getting into specifics, I am anti-state because I believe its existence will always cause extreme inequality and oppression, and will cause those who resist conforming to this way of life to be considered “trouble-makers.” When those of us who are resisters (trouble-makers) speak up about the inequality and oppression, we are met with police in riot gear, ready to beat us and throw us in jail. In my opinion, the only way to crush the inequality, oppression, and police brutality is to crush the state that causes it.

Many of us anarchists are on the front lines of the protests nationwide and worldwide, facing this police brutality in order to fight for equality, freedom, and justice for all. We’re being thrown in jail for speaking our minds so that in the future, people may be able to speak their minds without being scared of the consequences. We’re giving up the “normal” comforts of life in hopes of making sure that you, your children, your grandchildren, and so on, can live a comfortable life.

You may see anarchists as bunch of hooligans wearing black clothes and masks, but underneath those masks are human beings, and I urge you to get to know us before judging us. Besides, many of us don’t wear black clothes and masks…  But, the next time you run into an anarchist, I ask that you start a conversation with us before assuming anything about us. Many of us, including myself, are not just running around, yelling at authority figures and smashing windows like the media portrays us. Like the sign says below, many of us just wish to live  free, and hope that you can, too. If everybody lived their lives like the anarchists I have gotten to know, then the world would be a much better place.

Overpass Light Brigade in Milwaukee – 9/22/12

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I had the pleasure of heading out to a bridge with the Overpass Light Brigade in Milwaukee last night. Check out a few of my photos below:

S17 – Happy Birthday OWS

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Below is a compilation of Tweets, Facebook updates, and photos that I posted while in NYC on September 17th, the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall street.

6:00am: Heading downtown. See you guys in the streets, and everybody please stay safe.

7:17am: People are gathering at the red cube across from zuccotti for the people’s wall.

7:56am: Protestors sat down in front of a checkpoint into wall street to keep people from getting in. Multiple arrests

7:58am: Cops just grabbed a photographer who was doing nothing wrong and arrested him.

8:03am: Multiple people arrested at wall and broadway. Now at pine and nassau where people are shutting down an intersection.

8:38am: There’s a group walking around in an intersection at beaver and broad, blocking traffic.


8:49am: Blocking intersection at broadway and bowling green. Cops drive through with mopeds, and then we take it again.


8:57am: Police corralled protesters in the intersection at morris and broadway. We chanted “let them go”, and they released them.


9:00am: Traffic in lower manhattan is super backed up.

9:28am: Protestors in wheelchairs just blocked broadway and liberty.


9:42am: Protestors blocking william and beaver. No cops around. They’re obviously having a hard time dealing with us.


9:47am: Yeah, the cops are definitely unable to keep track of all of the clusters moving around the financial district.

9:50: We still have the intersection at william and beaver. Only a couple of cops around.

9:52am: We just left the intersection at william and beaver. Moving towards the wall st bull.

10:20am: People were already forced away from the bull. Now we’re gathered in the park near there.

10:52am: Just popped into a cafe to grab some food and upload some pictures. People are still roaming around blocking intersections, and it’s working even better than I expected. Pictures soon…

12:56pm: There have been 104 arrests today so far for the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.

2:11pm: going on 27 hours without sleep, yet somehow still feel energized. Today’s been awesome so far, so it’s pumping me up.

2:29pm: Zuccotti is packed. It’s almost impossible to walk in some places.


3:33pm: Leaving on a march from zuccotti to wall st.

3:48pm: Awesome march going on. We’re heading down Wall St right now!

3:55pm: Our march slowed a bit. Cop told us we needed to keep moving or else we would all be arrested.


4:16pm: We took to the street, cops chased us and one protestor was arrested.


4:18pm: Two more protestors arrested for being in the street. At least one thrown down roughly.


4:21pm: We stopped on the sidewalk. Cops told us we needed to move, but didn’t have room. Cops aggressively grabbed several people.



4:25pm: I somehow narrowly avoided arrest. Cops grabbed people around me, pushed everybody back, but I stuck around to get pictures.

4:35: Cops circled a bunch of protestors on the sidewalk and arrested a few. Letting some go now.

4:38pm: Multiple good friends of mine have already been arrested today, and I think more of them are kettled right now.

4:42pm: Okay, my friends who were kettled were let go without arrest.

4:45pm: A bunch of us just made it back to Zuccotti.


7:03pm: At least 160 confirmed arrests in NYC today.

7:35pm: Back in Zuccotti after gettin’ food and charging my computer. Still tons of people in the park.


9:07pm: Cops are setting up floodlights all over zuccotti park. Not turned on yet, but they’re ready to go.


10:08pm: Cops trying to clear zuccotti park right now!!

10:20pm: Protestors sitting down in a circle in zuccotti park, holding hands. Super calm. Most cops are back outside the barricades.

10:32pm: The cops did come into zuccotti and tried to sweep us out, telling peopole they had to be out within 3 minutes. Then they backed down.

10:37pm: Cops just turned on one of the flood lights at zuccotti park.

10:52pm: I’m leaving zuccotti park. People are still there, but I haven’t slept in 36 hours, and I still have more photos to edit/post, so it’s gonna be a late night.

September 18, 3:31pm: One of my favorite parts about yesterday was that even though there were times where things would get tense, and people would be arrested brutally or shoved around by cops… we still kept a festive spirit throughout the day. People were constantly cheerily saying “happy birthday” to people they passed by, confetti was being shot into the air, and people were just overall having a good time celebrating the first birthday of Occupy Wall Street.
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I am an independent activist/photojournalist, and I don’t get paid for what I do. If you enjoy getting my updates from the front lines, please consider donating to help out with living costs. You can donate here. Thank you.

CTU – Taking it Into Their Own Hands

Photo from the Chicago Teachers Union Facebook page

There had been talk of a possible teachers strike in Chicago for awhile now, but today, the strike officially started. I always get overly giddy when I see workers going on strike. Why? Because they’re taking things into their own hands instead of relying on the politicians who let us down time and time again. Our government is owned by the wealthy elite, so most democratic and republican politicians don’t give a fuck about the working class. All they care about is keeping their wealthy backers happy… which involves enacting policies that benefit the rich and shit on the poor.

No more relying on our “elected” officials to stand up for the majority of Americans! In order to create the change we want to see, we need to use direct action.

Organize!

Mobilize!

Occupy!

Strike!

Takeover!

As long as we, the people, are willing to stand up for ourselves, and get our hands a little dirty, we CAN be the change we want to see… without relying on bought and paid for politicians. Chicago Teachers Union, I applaud you for taking things into your own hands. Hopefully the rest of the nation will follow…

 

Photo from the Chicago Teachers Union Facebook page

 

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I am an independent activist/photojournalist, and I don’t get paid for what I do. If you enjoy getting my updates from the front lines, please consider donating to help out with food, transportation costs, and other necessities. You can donate here. Thank you.

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