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Occupy Riverside Challenges Indefinite Military Detention

by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

Friday, December 23, 2011
RIVERSIDE (CA) - Occupy Riverside demonstrated at the offices of Ken Calvert and Barbara Boxer to protest their support of the latest effort to codify the police state.

Occupy Riverside Cha...
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Calvert and Boxer are both agents of the 1% who shamelessly claim to represent the interests of voters in Washington D.C. Their actions, however, are an integral component of an oppressive economic and social system that disempowers the vast majority of people, concentrates wealth and power in very few hands, and is near to destroying the planet.

One means the world's ruling class has of preserving its privilege is the use of the state for political repression, and, while some states are overtly autocratic and have no need for delicately-worded legal rationalizations, the United States government has an image to protect (mostly among white folks with middle class values who continue to think within the narrow parameters sanctioned by television) and must therefore engage in these legislative rituals to justify the ever-increasing imposition of government power over the individual.

The as-yet unsigned1 "National Defense Authorization" act is a nefarious piece of legislation that is annually meritorious of opposition because for the past 48 years, it has been the means by which the wars and war preparations have been funded. This year, however, certain senators and congresspeople have included provisions that allow for the indefinite military detention of anyone the president deems has "supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces."2 It is left to the president to determine what procedures to use to determine who fits into this category.

If signed into law, the act's passage would erase a long tradition, oft associated with democratic governments, of allowing those accused of crimes to challenge the accusers in public trials. This right is supposed to be guaranteed by the sixth amendment to the Constitution.

Additional concerns about the act arise from the trend of criminalization of dissent. Police abuse, infiltration by authorities, the compilation of "Red files," and outright harassment, intimidation, deportation, and assassination have historically been used to weaken movements for social change. There are already laws on the books that criminalize "interference" with economic activity (i.e., your exercising your right to not work), and the London police department's inclusion of Occupy London on a recent list of terrorist groups3 sets a precedent that other agencies and governments are likely to follow.

Nationwide, the occupy movement has taken the lead in opposing the act and its provisions. Eleven comrades were arrested in Washington DC for standing against the bill4, and Occupy Tampa marched on Obama's campaign reelection headquarters, promising the candidate that "If you fail to veto this bill in its entirety due to these provisions, you can expect members of occupations all over the country to dedicate ourselves to act against your political interests in the 2012 election and beyond."5 And out in Colorado, our creativity shone through the dramatic funeral Occupy Fort Collins held for the Bill of Rights.6 Occupys held actions in Minneapolis, Houston, Des Moines, and Portland.

Occupy Riverside has been urging the community to call Obama and ask him to veto the legislation since it passed. We produced a flyer that showed the Constitution going through a meat grinder and handed it out to spread awareness, and on Friday held rallies outside the offices of the politicians. Noon saw a march to Calvert's office that drew about 40 people, and a 5:30 march on Boxer's downtown headquarters featured angry speeches, spontaneous chalk expression, and the requisite encounter between the city's official "Festival of Lights" and Occupy Riverside's Festival of Rights, which took on the task of informing the citizenry about the act using the people's mic.

At both rallies, protesters also expressed concern about SOPA, another legislative proposal, which could open the doors to further censorship of the internet, and Bradley Manning, who is currently in military detention and is being tried by a military tribunal for allegedly blowing the whistle on US abuses in Iraq.

One young woman was among the first speakers:

"I'm a little angry [...] I think that this has everything to do with what we're doing here. I think that this has everything to do with the effect that we're causing in the world, we're making people think again, and that's scaring people. And I think that--honestly, I think that's good."

She ended with a word to the apathetic or incredulous:

"This isn't about being a terrorist. This isn't about being a criminal. This is about being a person who has free thoughts, and who can think for themselves, who has actions that they'd like to do for themselves, and will no longer be able to."

One man spoke about the military and its role in the trial of Bradley Manning.

"The military is losing respect in my eyes. I do not support the troops. The troops who are running this kangaroo court get no support. The only troops I support are those who have renounced Bush's and Obama's wars. I don't see many of 'em. Where are they? José--José renounced the wars. He's a member of Occupy Riverside."

Another man spoke about a similar law in his home country:

"What I would like to share with you is what happened in my country, in El Salvador, during the war. When the fourteen families, the rich people in the country, felt that htey were threatened by the popular movement, they introduced this famous word that we are all very familiar with: terrorism. So--you know, rich people is very creative when they strt defining who is a terrorist, because as soon as they felt that the system of privilege that they have been living through so many years, hundreds of years. My teacher, all of a sudden, was a terrorist. A few days later when they defined that he was a terrorist, he was killed. Community activists: they fell into the category of terrorist, and they were killed. I was already a union activist back there, so I fell into the category of terrorist because I was fighting for better wages for my coworkers. So you know what they did at my home? They sent a death squad to my home to look for me and my brother. I was not there, but they still killed three people in my home. Several members of my family were badly injured. And that's the reason why I left the country, because this kind of law are the road that these governments follow to persecute people with impunity. Because anyone who keeps the title of terrorist, then, you know, there is no consideration. There're no laws! They are put in jail, and eventually, if they can, they kill people. So it's quite--this new legislation, is threatening civil liberties in this country so bad."

It is likely due to this sort of popular pressure that Obama has refrained from signing the bill up to this point, but despite the stalling, few entertained any genuine hope that he would veto the measure. Nonetheless, inland empire activists felt the need to take action in order to demonstrate to our neighbors that the occupy movement on the frontlines and will remain there in defense of fundamental human rights, whether they be the right to earn a dignified living or, in this case, the right to habeus corpus and trial by jury.

1. White House. "Pending Legislation" 26 December 2011.

2. US Senate. "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Engrossed in Senate [Passed Senate] - ES)," Subtitle D--Detainee Matters.

3. Malik, Shiv. "Occupy London's anger over police 'terrorism' document." Guardian, 5 December 2011.

4. Associated Press. "US Park Police arrest 11 protesters outside White House, including some from Occupy DC." Washington Post, 20 December 2011.

5. Levey-Baker, Cooper. "Occupy Tampa to march on Obama office to protest National Defense Authorization Act." Florida Independent, 16 December 2011.

6. Buczynski, Beth. "Occupy Fort Collins Holds Funeral For The Bill Of Rights" Care2, 22 December 2011.

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Outside of Calvert's office

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Who would Jesus detain?

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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National Defense my ass!

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Stop kidnapping and torture Stop the NDAA

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Defend my rights no the NDAA

Stop torture


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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Indefinite Detention Do Not Speak Do Not Occupy

Be Human

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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National Detain America Act

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Outside of Boxer's office

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Veto the NDAA

This could be you!

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Detain Wall Street Terrorists

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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NDAA is war against free speech

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by Rockero Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:11 AM

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Throw away the NDAA!

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