Saturday, December 31, 2011

Police Violence in Chicago

On January 1, people in Chicago will be protesting incidents of police violence here and in other cities. The event is sponsored by Occupy Chicago, Occupy the Southside, and Occupy El Barrio. The event begins at 2 p.m. at the 95th Street Red Line terminal.

The event on January 1 protests the shooting of Michael Pleasance, and is in solidarity with Occupy Oakland and its protest of the Oscar Grant shooting.

I wrote about police violence in a blog post several months ago: "Chicago Justice: Connecting the Dots".

Chicago has a notorious history of police violence and police torture. There will be hearings on a Chicago City Council resolution to make Chicago a torture-free city on Thursday, January 12, 2012.

Police violence and persecution by the police is not just a Chicago issue. Under new legislation, EVERY American can be subjected to the same lawless indefinite detention and torture that has been used on countless people in the so-called "war on terror," initiated under the Bush administration but continued and expanded under the Obama administration.

We can no longer look the other way while members of our community are subjected to police violence. See you at 95th Street.

Photo 1:
Photo 2: Revolutionary Frontlines blog

Related posts

All the cameras and microphones and reporters were out in force that day -- and their appearance suggested to me that it does make a difference to take a stand for justice. And maybe the fact that some of us thought this was important enough to come out, hold signs, chant, and march, helped back up that message.

(See Chicago Justice: Connecting the Dots )

As reported in the June 25 Chicago Sun-Times, "Hauad said police during an interrogation cut off the fronts of his gym shoes with a paper cutter and threatened to cut off his toes next if he didn’t confess. Police photos show Hauad’s gym shoes at first were in normal condition but later had their toe sections severed, just as Hauad said. Hauad also said he was slapped and beaten while in custody."

(See CHICAGO: Home of the Original "Air Jaime" Athletic Shoe )

A campaign exists to bring about a democratically-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) in Chicago. The campaign would involve the people in electing the watchers of the police, and put the ultimate control of (and responsibility for) the police in the hands of the citizens of Chicago.

(See Does a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) need to be part of a "new plan of Chicago"? )

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

SCARRY SIGNS: Protest Art in Chicago (Make them remember you!)

This past fall, a friend said to me, "It's good that you came to the demonstration; it would be even better if you brought a sign!"

That was the start of something I've enjoyed a lot. And a lot of those signs have found their way into my blog posts.

Below are some of my signs - "Scarry signs" -- linked to some of the blog posts that relate to them!

got police state?
indefinite detention

Don't like (encampment)?
How about (revolution)?
Chicago: All Signs Point to Revolution

Welcome to Chicago! You're Under Arrest

Obama Nobel Peace Prize - REVOKED!

Solidarity January 25 Tahrir Square
Can Chicago Walk Like an Egyptian?
Arab Spring

Raytheon . . . General Dynamics . . . Boeing
USA: Proud Sponsor of T E R R O R in Gaza!

protest art from West Bank wall
Completed "Wall" sign boards
for Good Friday event (April 18th, 2014)

on the Working Group on the Middle East (MCS, ELCA) site

I was hungry and you fed me
Occupy Food Justice!
hambre y me disteis de comer

Related posts

Here's something that would be courageous and valuable, in my opinion: zero in on the handful of people in the world who have their fingers on triggers of the massive nuclear arsenals that threaten us, and bring them to heel. That would be impressive.

(See The Wrong 3,000,000 Covers: Quel dommage! )

From the paper, and the typefaces, and the inks, the love of the beauty and antique quality extends inward to the subject matter -- not surprisingly, hand-printing is often used for special editions of poetry -- and outward to the covers and bindings made of marbled paper and leather and other materials.

(See "Antique," "Literary," "Natural," and Other Subversive Terms in America )

2011: Scarry Thoughts That (Maybe) Made A Difference

Looking back over my blog posts for the past year, it's interesting to discover that some definitely had a bigger impact than others. Is it because they were on subjects people care a great deal about? Or because they were well-written? Or simply because they were well-promoted? Food for thought ....

Here are the blog posts that got a lot of traffic and/or on which people spent a lot of time:

I'm A Tuesdayista!
Afghanistan Protests
Chicago: All Signs Point to Revolution
Oldies but Goodies
My Personal Favorites

(1) #NoIranWar - Published just a few weeks ago, this blog post about seven big reasons people should be wary of the growing talk of war with Iran has been the sixth most viewed post over the past four months. The high level of traffic may have to do with active promotion on Twitter, and with links from

More interestingly, the average time spent reading the post is over 6 minutes. Clearly, people are deeply interested in the threat of U.S. military action against Iran.

This blog post has become closely associated with the #NoIranWar tag on Twitter, and I hope it continues to be an important part of the movement to resist war with Iran.

(2) I'm A Tuesdayista! - This page -- about being one of the dedicated participants in #AfghanistanTuesday -- was viewed more than any other page over the past four months. I think this is mainly because many people were invited individually via Twitter messages.

Considering the large number of views that seem to be attributed to direct invitations, it is somewhat surprising that people spent an average of over 3 minutes reading the Tuesdayista blog post. I think it is because people understand how important it is to not just participate in tweeting about ending the war in Afghanistan, but also to attract additional people to do so, too. That's what being a "Tuesdayista" is all about.

(3) Making an Impact on #AfghanistanTuesday - This was the page that launched a thousand tweets -- or, anyway, became the explanation for #AfghanistanTuesday back when it was a new idea. Since this page was first published in August, I've published dozens of other #AfghanistanTuesday pages. But this is still one of the most viewed -- and, if the length of time people spend on the page is any indication, most thought about -- guides to the topic.

Here are two other posts about #AfghanistanTuesday that people have viewed a lot:

#AfghanistanTuesday - Top Tweets List - Understandably, this gets viewed a lot, because it is a growing list of the top tweets for each list, AND a list of the top tweeps, AND a list of important #AfghanistanTuesday hash tags.

#Occupy Tuesday! #UNoccupy Afghanistan! - This is one of the newest posts, and is taking #AfghanistanTuesday to the next level: how do we go beyond Twitter?

(4) The Hour is Approaching: Make a Commitment! - This was one of many posts that dealt with protests marking the 10th Anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. It asked, "What can YOU do to be an active participant in driving toward COMMITMENT on the part of millions of people to end our wars?"

Many people clearly have been -- and continue to be -- asking themselves, "What am I prepared to do?" Other big traffic pages involved the actual October 8 protests themselves, and other similar protests:

Chicago Antiwar March: October 8, 2011 - This post included links to information about all the speakers on October 8, plus press coverage and follow-up activities.

Chicago - Dec 10 Human Rights Day Protest - This post talked about the main protest on December 10, plus film screenings and talks taking place later the same weekend.

(5) Chicago: All Signs Point to Revolution - Ever since October, the Occupy movement has been a growing subject of blog posts. This one got an especially large amount of attention, and it seems to have made people think (judging by the fact that they spent an average of more than five minutes on the page!).

This was one in a series of blog posts associated with hand-drawn "Scarry Signs" that I made for protests in Chicago.

(6) Oldies But Goodies - Several posts continued to get views long after they were published. They deal with issues that people continue to be curious about, and frequently search on Google.

Holocaust Museum: "Those Nazi Bastards!" - This is a heavily-viewed piece, with a lot of organic traffic generated by the search terms "Nazi" + "dog".

Drones, 1984, and Foucault's Panopticon - This continues to get a surprising number of hits. Apparently, a lot of people search on the terms "Foucault" + "panopticon"! (Who knew?)

Flag Symbolism in Hong Kong - This was one of a series of posts about protest images from Hong Kong that I wrote about in early 2010, and they continue to get traffic!

(7) My Personal Favorites - My favorite posts aren't always the ones that are viewed most heavily. These five are very close to my heart:

Why Weren't People Talking About It? - What I learned from my mom. (I need to write a lot more posts about Mom!)

Never Try to Silence a Tuesdayista - A rare opportunity to combine two of my greatest loves: activism and botany!

Obama Nobel Peace Prize - REVOKED! - People seemed to have no trouble believing that the King of Norway made a special trip to Chicago to revoke the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Barack Obama in 2009.

Seven Little Words in Kuwait I've been involved with the film, "The Response," for several years now. This piece described the most exciting development yet.

WWJD? Occupy! - The last shall be first? Expect to be hearing a lot more on this subject in 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Can Chicago Walk Like an Egyptian?

Yesterday, people in Chicago marched in solidarity with protesters in Egypt and other countries that are part of the Arab Spring - including Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and Palestine.

Tadamon/Solidarity -- January 25 -- Tahrir Square
Arab Spring
(Photo courtesy FJJ)

It was a day for sharing the message of solidarity with the Arab Spring with people up and down Michigan Avenue.

We stand in solidarity with
 * Egypt

(Photo courtesy FJJ)

It was a day for interrupting the flow of Miracle Mile shopping with a rally in front of the Egyptian Consulate.

Stop exporting TEAR GAS
(Photo courtesy FJJ)

It was a day for delivering a message to the representatives of the current government in Egypt.

Leading chants in front of the Egyptian consulate, Chicago
(Photo courtesy FJJ)

It was a day to hear the latest updates from Tahrir Square.

Call for solidarity with Palestine
(Photo courtesy FJJ)

It was a day to express respect.

(Photo courtesy FJJ)

On the day that Chicago was standing in solidarity with Egypt, Egypt was once again standing up for its rights.

Egypt: Tahrir Square, December 2011

By coincidence, the day before had seen a press conference about threats to civil liberties in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanual has introduced changes in local law to sharply limit the rights of Chicagoans and others to express dissent.

In Chicago, we talk a good game. We talk as if we're not going to let anyone push us around. But when push comes to shove, will we insist on our right to free speech and free expression, or will we cower in our our homes and apartments?

Walk like an Egyptian
(Photo courtesy FJJ)

Chicago can talk the talk. Now it's time to find out: can we walk the walk?

Related posts

When Chicagoans fully succeed in fully connecting the dots -- especially to the crimes being committed in their name with their tax dollars and the weapons produced by their favored corporate citizen, Boeing -- I think there will be some new and different phone calls taking place . . .

(See What's New in Chicago: Connecting the Dots - US Aid, Boeing Weapons, Gaza Massacre, Chicago Complicity )

Chicago was the site of major protests against U.S. detention practices in Guantanamo, as well as in Bagram, other prisons throughout Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world, on and around January 11, 2012. We called for an end to indefinite detention, unfair trials, and torture.

(See Chicago Protests Guantanamo Detention

A major focus of the demonstration was an undeclared U.S. war: the killing of hundreds of Pakistanis in secret attacks, principally using drones. Yesterday, people from throughout Chicago -- and especially from the Pakistani-American community -- stood up to say the drone attacks must end, and we must hold those who are responsible accountable.

(See Making the Chicago-Pakistan Connection )

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chicago Protests Guantanamo Detention

Chicago was the site of major protests against U.S. detention practices in Guantanamo, as well as in Bagram, other prisons throughout Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world, on and around January 11, 2012. We called for an end to indefinite detention, unfair trials, and torture.

Rally and action in Federal Plaza (Wed Jan 11)
Teach-in and related activities (Sat/Sun Jan 7/8)
Daily vigils (Jan 2-11)
Andy Worthington - film screening & talk (Sat Jan 14)
January 11 in D.C. & the rest of the world
"The Response" - a film about Guantanamo
See also actions in OTHER MIDWEST CITIES

On January 11, 2012 -- the 10th anniversary of Guantanamo -- we met at 3 pm in Federal Plaza (Dearborn and Adams) for a rally, march and human chain.

VIDEO: January 11 rally - Federal Plaza, Chicago
See full description and photos of the January 11 Chicago demonstration!

The January 11 action in Chicago was sponsored by Chicago World Can't Wait, Witness against Torture, 8th Day Center for Justice, the Midwest Anti-War Mobilization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and Amnesty International.

TEACH-IN: Saturday
A teach-in was held on Saturday, January 7 2012, at Grace Place (637 S. Dearborn) in Chicago. Topics included:

* Torture in U.S. and Illinois Prisons, with ICAT and Gregory Koger
*Torture laws and State of Guantanamo, with a viewing of the film “The Response” and lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees.
* Stories from Victims and Survivors of Torture
*Political repression and Prosecuting war criminals, with Chicago World Can’t Wait.

View the full report about the January 7 teach-in.

Gregory and Mario shared some of their reflections and experiences as survivors of torture. Melinda and Eldon gave us a history, update and opportunity to sign the petition for a Torture Free Chicago Resolution (info for the hearing is below). We had a viewing of the Reponse with a discussion led by Joe and two Guantanamo detainee lawyers: Len and Candace. We got to hear in detail how the Habeus Corpus hearings work and what conditions are like for prisoners interacting with their lawyers. After a vigil on Michigan Ave and meal of soup, we reconvened through songs, led by Chris Inserra and Jim Manzardo. Matilde then shared her heartbreaking/hopegiving journey of healing and activism. To end our day, Jay, Gregory and Bill engaged us in a conversation about the prosecution of war criminals and it's historical precedents, an update on the grand jury subpenoas and raids that happened last year in Chicago and Minnesota, and the NDAA. It was an amazing day of learning and sharing information and confirming our urgency to gather on Jan 11.

Date & Time: Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 10:30 am-8 pm
Location: Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, 615 W Wellington

10:30am-noon: Special worship service on the theme of torture, followed by coffee hour
1:00-4:00pm: Nonviolence training for social movements with Pace e Bene and the White Rose Catholic Worker
5:00-8:00pm: Planning for the January 11 National Day of Action with Christian Peacemaker Teams and 8th Day Center for Justice

Read more about Sunday worship service on the theme of torture followed by non-violence training.

We gathered for an moving worship service at UCC Wellington. We sang a White Rose favorite (Woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Justice) to start off. Susan and Dan took it from there, incorporating poems from the men in Guantanamo, a reading from Matthew about the massacre Herod ordered, and a history of Wellington's activism around ending torture. After a great meal, prepared by Gerald, Ken and John led us in a nonviolence training, asking us to explore our motivations, fears and hopes in direct action, but also teaching us about the stages of a social movement and the different roles we must play in our movements. After diner, we got down to planning our action on Wednesday with our Christian Peacemaker Team friends, which Kryss and Julia facilitated. We came up with some creative and awesome ideas so please join us on Wednesday for the rally to witness them!

Dates: January 2 through January 10
Daily Times & Locations:
Monday, Jan 2: We had our opening vigil at State St. and though only a small group of us, had some good interactions with passersby there by DePaul. We also had the opening of our exhibit at Mess Hall: "A Movement to End Torture". Come make your own art project, or write a letter to a detainee. It's all set up, and we hope you come check it out this week (every day from 3-5pm, Friday until 8pm). We also survived our first day fasting! We are mindful of those who have been on hunger strike while detained.
Tuesday, Jan 3: We enjoyed joining 8th day and some Occupiers on a frigid morning in front of the Board of Trade to say no to war and terror, as people were rushing to work. It felt good to be with other folks, and who have been doing a weekly vigil for more than 10 years (since 9/11)! Afterwards we gathered at 8th day for a refreshing discussion, where we got to learn about the history of this sustained vigil from some who have been there since the beginning, and shared reflections and encouraging words on the importance of faithfulness not effectiveness, the karma of small numbers, persistence, and how, because of these things, the Tuesday vigil has been able to reach out to folks in a personal way, and connect with them and even get to know them in a way that is not possible in a larger one-time rally. People come to expect them to be there.
Wednesday, Jan 4: noon - Boeing Headquarters (100 North Riverside Plaza) Profound apologies for the mix-up of Wednesday's vigil. I know several of you came to 400 S. LaSalle and we missed each other! We were confused trying to find the Boeing sign-- turns out there isn't one because it has moved, which we weren't able to put together until later. They are now located at 100 N. Riverside, at Washington + Canal (on the river). Don't know if we can blame that one on the fasting. Sorry for the inconvenience. Nonetheless, when we were finally settled into the wrong place, we made a good witness I think. Some good conversations with security guards and police- one said "I do not trust the government" when hearing about rendition flights. Another passerby said, "what the hell are rendition flights?" and then continued a 20 minute conversation with John and was very supportive of what we were doing. Lots of people asked what rendition flights were, in response to our sign that said "Boeing: Stop Rendition Flights".
Thursday, Jan 5: noon - Metropolitan Corrections Center (Clark & Van Buren) Several people joined us in handing out leaflets and holding signs calling for an end to torture, islamaphobia and the closing of Guantanamo. In the evening, a dozen of us gathered with John Neafsey and Meg Marshall who are therapists at Kovler (Center for victims of torture), for some time to reflect on the crucified Christ and our 10 days of fasting and vigiling. "Why is this issue so important to us as citizens, as human beings, and also as Christians?" and "How does it move us to witness?" were some of the questions we sat with during our time.
Friday, Jan 6: 7:15 a.m. Broadview Detention Center We then joined UCC Wellington for a conversation about the history of this vigil and the work they have done to create laws that provide for some sort of human dignity and push for their implementation in Chicago. In the evening, 8 of us participated in a dramatization of a play relaying the stories of 3 men in Guantanamo, as well as their family members, lawyers, and other policy makers. It was followed by a powerful discussion on the existence of Guantanamo Bay and the NDAA.
Monday, Jan 9: noon - Illinois Building (Randolph & Clark) We had a great vigil at the Illinois State Building where Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office is. It was probably one of our most interactive vigils- lots of people who had never heard of the Jon Burge torture cases, others who were very supportive, many with questions- one woman asked if we were here to end torture by police in their homes- John said we are against that- it turns out she was married to a police and abused for 20 years- and said it ruined her. A telling remembrance that all suffer when torture happens. Tuesdaywe joined 8th day and friends at the Occupy site, it was great be in the presence and be there to say 'good morning' to people rushing to work and their days, hopefully putting a little pause in their step or at least their mind.

See also the transcript of the wrap-up roundtable.

Chicago World Can't Wait was excited to bring to Chicago for the first time independent journalist and renowned expert on American detention practices and issues relating to Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, Andy Worthington, on January 14, 2012. He screened his film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo".

Read the full description for the Chicago Andy Worthington event.

See the Witness Against Torture January 11 page for complete information about the D.C. actions and others across the country and around the world.

"The Response" is a courtroom drama based on the actual transcripts of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals [officially known as Combatant Status Review Tribunals, or CSRTs]. In the film, three military officers must decide the fate of a suspected enemy combatant. Is he guilty of providing material support to Al Qaeda and responsible for the deaths of several American soldiers? Or is he an innocent victim of circumstances as he claims?

For complete information -- including official movie trailer and DVD purchase info -- see the official website for "The Response".

You can also read my blog post about how I became affiliated with "The Response" -- and how we all need to get involved in rectifying the abuses represented by Guantanamo and U.S. practices of indefinite detention!

Related posts

The Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo holds weekly vigils at Dearborn and Jackson in Chicago every Friday at 4:30 p.m. to support the Guantanamo Hunger Strikers and to demand that Guantanamo be shut down.

(Learn more about weekly vigils by the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo.)

NOW THEREFORE, by the power vested in me, and on account of the actions on the part of the recipient today described, as well as others, I hereby declare the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize award to Barack H. Obama officially revoked.

(See Obama Nobel Peace Prize - REVOKED! )

“The worst thing is the administrative detention regime the Afghans are adopting is exactly the same as what the U.S. government has been doing for the last 10 years .... The legacy left here by the U.S. is people disappeared into legal black holes.”


Welcome to Chicago! You're Under Arrest.

It's hard to imagine someone aspiring to rerun Mayor Richard J. Daley's 1968 playbook, when he unleashed police repression on antiwar protesters and others. Daley's actions made "Chicago" synonymous with "brutality" for a generation. And yet that seems to be exactly what Rahm Emanual is doing.

The mayor has arranged for NATO and G8 to hold their summits in Chicago in May, 2012.

Emanual has now introduced changes in local law to sharply limit the rights of Chicagoans and others to express dissent. (See list below of specific measures being taken to limit free speech in Chicago.)

Chicago City Hall, December 2011: "Rahmenezer! We want our rights!"

There is a silver lining. Emanuel's obvious disdain for civil liberties is obvious to everyone, and it is bringing out the best in the activist community. Watch this tremendous performance at yesterday's press conference at City Hall, in which Ron Schupp updated "A Christmas Carol" to show what a modern day Jacob Marley would be telling "Rahmenezer" Scrooge.

Watch for more updates on the plans for free expression in Chicago during the May, 2012, NATO/G8 summits in Chicago at the website of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda.

The more they try to shut us up, the louder we're going to get!

Abandon free speech
all ye who enter here.



* Raise fines for resisting police or aiding someone escaping arrest, minimum fine from $25 to $200 and double the maximum fine to $1,000;
* Close parks, playgrounds and beaches from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am, from the current 4:00 am opening;
*Empower Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to “deputize law enforcement personnel,” including members of private security companies;
*Empower McCarthy to make cooperative agreements with a host of state, federal and local law enforcement agencies;

Welcome to Chicago. (You're under arrest!)

*Empower McCarthy to forge agreements with “public or private entities concerning placement, installation, maintenance or use of video, audio telecommunications, or other similar equipment.” Participating agencies and their personnel would be “held harmless.”
*Empower the mayor or his designees to purchase “goods, work or services” needed to host the event without City Council approval, so long as there’s no existing city contract that could be used;
*Loud noise, amplified sound and music at parades, athletic events and public assemblies would be allowed only between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Rules on the use of sidewalks and streets also would be tightened.

Photos 2 and 3 courtesy FJJ
Check out more Scarry signs!

Related posts

Rahm has a simple formula for free expression:




(Got a problem with that?)

(See Rahm's Three "NOs" )

Posterboard and markers: $21.79
Leaflets: $7.50
Bullhorn: $99.99
Standing up for peace and justice when everyone around you is saying "Get a job!" and "GO F**K YOURSELF!": PRICELESS!

(See Dissent: PRICELESS!)

How's this for a New Year's resolution? What are YOU going to do in 2012 to #RESIST US #NATO #war #murder #torture #detention #Afghanistan #Iran etc etc etc RSVP

(See #resist2012 )