Bjorn Against's Journal
Member since: Mon May 22, 2006, 07:07 PM
Number of posts: 9,853
Number of posts: 9,853
"I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands"
-Former NRA President Charlton Heston
"Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests." … "They've got a big target on there, ATF. Don't shoot at that, because they've got a vest on underneath that. Head shots, head shots.... Kill the sons of bitches."
-Right-wing radio host G. Gordon Liddy
"“Obama, he’s a piece of sh**. I told him to suck on my machine gun." "Hey Hillary, You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”
-NRA Board Member Ted Nugent who was waving an assault rifle in the air as he spoke these words
These quotes represent just three of the many pieces of violent rhetoric that has come from the right-wing in recent years. The people who said these disgusting things were not just random right-wingers, they are people who were given giant microphones by the far right.
The right-wing leaders who uttered these disgusting words were not held accountable, G. Gordon Liddy continued to host his radio show, Charlton Heston's "cold dead hands" line was not only cheered by his supporters but was printed onto bumper stickers by the NRA, and Ted Nugent has continued to be reelected to the NRA Board of Directors and provided a microphone to make other violent threats.
Yesterday a tragedy struck in Boston, it happened on Tax Day just a short distance from the site of the original Boston Tea Party. As of right now we don't know exactly who set off the bombs in Boston, but it is certainly not a stretch to see the symbolism of Tax Day and suspect that it might be right-wing extremists who carried this attack out.
Now people tell me that we should wait for the facts to come in before we voice our suspicions, but I feel that we have been seeing the facts for far too long and I can not pretend that these facts do not exist. They may not be facts that point to a specific individual, but they are facts that do raise a lot of suspicions.
The fact is that we have heard far too much of the "from my cold dead hands" rhetoric, we have seen far too many nutty right-wingers tell us that they need an arsenal of guns to protect themselves from the government. They have made no secret of the fact that they dream of using their guns to violently overthrow the government, they want us to think that their guns are needed to protect us from government tyranny. Of course in their world tyranny means allowing gay people to get married and providing health care to poor people.
When I hear violent rhetoric I suspect that at least some of the people pushing that rhetoric are violent people themselves, and when a Tax Day attack happens they are going to be the first people I suspect. The reason I suspect them is based on their behavior, if they did not promote violence I would not suspect them no matter how much I disagreed with them. I disagree with nearly all Republicans, but the vast majority of Republicans I would never suspect of committing a violent act such as this one. There is a small group of them however that does seem extremely dangerous to me, the people who embrace Ted Nugent's violent rhetoric are the type of people who I believe are likely to be violent themselves.
In recent months we have seen right-wingers openly carrying assault rifles into State Capitol buildings in places like Oregon and Washington in order to intimidate law makers who are working pass gun legislation. We have seen the legislators who have introduced gun control bills sent numerous death threats. This is real and it is happening right now, I can't sit and pretend that this sort of violent rhetoric does not make me suspicious.
Maybe in the end I will be proven wrong, maybe it won't be a teabagger that gets arrested maybe it will just be some crazed teenager who was had a sick idea that he thought it would be fun to unleash chaos. Even if I am wrong however I will not apologize for being suspicious because it is the violent rhetoric of a certain group of people that made me suspicious of them, and if a person chooses to speak that violent rhetoric it is their own fault when the finger gets pointed at them when something happens.
The people who promote violence are not innocent, even if they did not have a direct role in planting these bombs they are still responsible for promoting acts of violence and terrorism.
I suspect this bombing was committed by a right-winger who is a fan of the sort of violent rhetoric that I posted at the top of this post. I am not going to make any apologies for voicing my suspicions before all the facts are in because there are more than enough facts to say that a certain group of people have acted in a way that has caused people to be legitimately suspicious of them. If they don't want people suspecting them of violence then they need to stop promoting violence.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Tue Apr 16, 2013, 07:13 PM (131 replies)
Yesterday I made a decision that I wanted to learn more about who serves on the NRA Board of Directors and I set a goal of researching every last one of them and posting about them here in the Gun Control Activism forum. I knew there were some real crazies on the board, but I must say that even I am shocked by just how nuts this organization is. Today we are going to cover three more members of the NRA Board, one who markets ammo to help people survive in the zombie apocalypse, another who refers to people getting murdered as "taking your lumps", and a third who physically assaulted Al Sharpton. Sadly this is not the Onion, these are actual members of the NRA Board of Directors.
Steve Hornady runs Hornady Manufacturing Company, Hornady markets ammo to be used in the case of a zombie apocalypse. I am not joking this is an actual ad for their ammo...
I guess I really can't blame Steve Hornady for preparing for the zombie apocalypse, if I found myself surrounded by as many NRA members as he has I would probably believe the zombie apocalypse has arrived as well.
Buster Bachhuber is probably best known for having the dumbest name of anyone on the NRA Board of Directors, but in his spare time he refers to mass shooting victims as "lumps"...
Bachhuber pulled out some of the arguments pro-gun people pull out to defend the ability of Americans to carry all manner of firearm: guns don't kill people, people kill people; criminals don't follow the gun laws anyway; the public doesn't want more gun control; allowing people — such as teachers — to carry firearms might be the best defense against mass shootings.Link
Ultimately, it's about freedom, he said, and "maybe you just got to take your lumps when you're free" and accept that every now and then large numbers of people will be shot to death.
Such compassion for the Newtown victims don't you think?
Roy Innis boasted of himself "I am one of the few non-bigoted black leaders", literally seconds after he made that claim he physically assaulted one of the most well known Civil Rights leaders of all time...
Yes, the NRA has a Board Member who has violently assaulted a national civil rights leader on national television, but assault does not stop the NRA from presenting him as a model gun owner.
Despite his violent tendencies Innis does try to present a positive public image for himself, he has ran a "Stop the War on the Poor" campaign. It sounds like a wonderful thing until you realize that Innis is referring to the poor multinational oil companies.
Roy Innis, the head of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), whose group participated in a "Stop the War on the Poor" campaign launched by a lobbying firm connected to Alaskan oil interests in order to push for more oil drilling in the US.
Innis has also taken a great deal of money from chemical giant Monsanto to run his "civil rights" organization, that money seems to have bought some interesting opinions from him my favorite of which is this...
As national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the New York-based black civil rights group founded in the Forties, he has caused a mighty stink with his attacks on greens. Innis thinks that environmentalist thinking is helping to ‘strangle Africa’. He argues that European Union restrictions on the use of the pesticide DDT to combat malaria are ‘killing black babiesLink
It is true, gun's don't kill people but restrictions on the spraying of DDT kills black babies. Apparently DDT is an essential nutrient in black baby's diets, it must be true because the NRA's resident "civil rights activist" says so.
After zombies, lumps, an assault on Al Sharpton, the poor oil companies, and DDT for black babies I think we have had enough NRA craziness for tonight. I will give you a hint that my next installment will cover an NRA member who takes a bold stand against "Jews Blacks and women". See you in the near future, and if you missed Part 1 you can check it out here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1262599
Posted by Bjorn Against | Wed Mar 20, 2013, 11:02 PM (14 replies)
We all know what the NRA is, but there has been far less focus on who the NRA is. We know the NRA is the largest gun lobby in the United States, but how many people know about the people who lead the organization? I have looked at the names of the members serving on the NRA Board of Directors and have seen several familiar names, but there are a number of them that I have not heard of.
In order to be effective advocates against guns I think it would be valuable to have some information on all of the members of the Board of Directors so I have decided to start a new project for this group, I am going to look up information on all the members of the NRA board and post what I find here. Because the NRA has over 50 members who serve either on their Board or in a key leadership position I will have to compile the information over several installments so it may take me a long time before I get to everyone, but ultimately my goal is to write something about every last one of them. Here are the facts on the first few members on my list of the NRA Leadership:
After Bush secured the Republican nomination, he chose Dick Cheney to lead the process of screening and selecting a running mate. Allbaugh ended up with the responsibility of vetting Cheney himself when Bush focused directly on Cheney as his choice for Vice President, rather than as the man to simply help with the choice. The screening process was subsequently called into question when Cheney's Halliburton stock options, along with his sparse voting record in state and local elections, came to light. A Cheney spokeswoman defended Allbaugh's vetting process, saying it "was as thorough, if not more thorough than what other candidates went through." It remained unclear whether Cheney had filled out a questionnaire he had given the other potential running mates, which dealt with these issues among other topics.Link
When the election results turned into a dispute over Florida ballot counts, Allbaugh went to Florida to run the post-election operation there while other advisers remained behind in Texas. After the legal maneuverings played out with Bush prevailing, he named Allbaugh as his nominee to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency on January 4, 2001.
Yes, our very first member not only was the person who vetted Dick Cheney and completely ignored his corrupt ways in that vetting process, he was also the guy who ran the post-election operation of the Bush campaign that involved the most blatant theft of an election in Presidential history.
Of course anyone who would vet Cheney and find that his corruption doesn't matter probably is not too above board himself and it should come as no surprise that Allbaugh was also involved in the exploitation of the war in Iraq for his own personal profit.
After leaving the government, Allbaugh capitalized on his ties with the Bush administration by going into private business ventures connected with Bush's policy objectives. He became one of several partners involved in New Bridge Strategies, a consulting firm to help clients "evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the US-led war in Iraq", and Diligence-Iraq, a security company providing protection for companies doing business there. Diligence, a company founded by former CIA and FBI chief William Webster and 40 percent owned by a wealthy Kuwaiti politician. Allbaugh is the co-chair of Diligence.
As it seems pretty obvious that our first NRA Board member is obviously a corrupt right-wing tool, it probably won't surprise you that the next member on my list of the Board members is also an obviously corrupt right-wing tool.
Graham Hill is the founder and CEO of a right-wing lobbying group called Ice Miller LLP, he also serves as the Director of the Fifty Caliber Institute.
Prior founding the lobbying firm Ice Miller Strategies, Hill served as the staff director and senior counsel to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. Hill is also the Director of Federal Affairs for the Fifty Caliber Institute. While the Fifty Caliber Institute claims that the .50 caliber sniper rifle is “helping to make our streets and nation safer,” the gun has been criticized by many—including members of law enforcement—as a weapon too dangerous for civilian use. John C. Killorin, a former special agent in charge of the Atlanta field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), called the .50 caliber sniper rifle “a devastatingly powerful weapon against which most troops, most law enforcement, no civilians, have any means of defense.”
Hill also specializes in helping corporate interests to buy out politicians.
One of Graham’s principal Ice Miller clients is General Atomic, which paid Ice Miller $510,000 in lobbying fees between 2007 and 2011. General Atomics has courted controversy for the large amount of money it spends underwriting trips for members of Congress and their families.
And the personal biography of him on Ice Miller's own website brags that he "managed negotiations" on the Patriot Act.
During his time on the Committee, Hill drafted the Norm Mineta Department of Transportation Re-organization Act, which created PHMSA and RITA. He oversaw the negotiations of the port security bill, which contained proposed legislation for port, pipeline, transit and rail security through the Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation. He also managed negotiations for the committee on the REAL ID Act and the Patriot ActLink
Well the NRA may claim to be all about Freedom but the first two board members seem to be closer to Dick Cheney and the Patriot Act than they are to anyone who truly cares about freedom.
Many of us have heard from the gun enthusiasts on this site that there are many Democrats in the NRA, if you believe them then you might hold out hope that the third member on my list of the NRA leadership is not quite so rabidly right-wing. Sadly however, there is not much hope for that wish to come true.
Scott Bach is living proof that the Tea Party has absolutely nothing in common with the original Boston Tea Party, unless you think the Boston Party would be fans of King George, the man who Bach apparently wishes was leading America today:
In a July 3 interview with Adam Toxin, the interim communications manager of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFPO), Bach asked, “Are we trending towards more individual freedom, which, of course this country was founded on, or less?” Referring to a recent Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, he answered, “And what I see, and which is, um, echoed and amplified by the recent, um, health care decision is, my conclusion is it’s less … The Obamacare decision is, to me, it’s the final nail in the coffin … It is the ultimate attack on the Republic. The last vestige of freedom that’s left.” Toxin, referring to the King of Britain at the time of the Revolution, stated, “King George wasn’t anywhere near this tyrannical. The Stamp Act was nothing like Obamacare.” Bach replied, “I agree with that … This is a…case of public officials who have an agenda, who have exceeded their mandate, who have violated their trust and Constitution and the principles on which the country was founded”link
Yes, Scott Bach may be a Tea Party guy, but that does not stop him from taking a stand to call for the return of King George just like the original Tea Party from the 18th century would have wanted. Bach has a very deep desire to move us back to the 18th century, a time in which believes our founders were shooting .50 caliber sniper rifles.
In an October 10, 2007 editorial in the Star-Ledger, Bach addressed New Jersey state legislation that sought to ban private ownership of firearms of .50 caliber or greater, like the Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle, a weapon that can take out armored targets up to a mile away. Claiming that the legislation would ban “hundreds of common hunting and historical firearms, including the flintlocks and muskets that won the American Revolution and the Civil War,” Bach mocked the legislation as “a clear solution to the urban problem of drive-by musketeering, no doubt...”
You know, for all the grief NRA supporters have given to gun control advocates over not knowing the technical details of gun features, it would seem the NRA would keep members off their board who can't understand the difference between a musket and a modern high-tech sniper rifle. I wonder how many people George Washington sniped from a mile away with his .50 caliber musket.
These are just the first three members on my list folks, I shudder for what is to come in future installments of this blog.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Tue Mar 19, 2013, 09:13 PM (5 replies)
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
They knew the Delano house far too well. It was where Christian Philip Oberender, then 14 years old, had murdered his mother in a shotgun ambush in the family rec room in 1995.
Now, 18 years later, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson was sending his deputies back to the home where Oberender still lives. Just two days earlier, Olson had scanned the day's shift reports and froze when he tripped over Oberender's name. A scan of a Facebook page then showed firearms spread out like a child's trophies on a bed inside the home, along with notes about the Newtown, Conn., gunman who shot 20 children to death.
Even more disturbing was the letter Oberender had written recently to his late mother, Mary: "I am so homicide,'' it said in broken sentences. "I think about killing all the time. The monster want out. He only been out one time and someone die.''
Even though Oberender killed his mother with a firearm, even though he was committed to the state hospital in St. Peter as mentally ill and dangerous more than a decade ago, he was able to obtain a permit to purchase firearms last May. That piece of paper gave Oberender, now 32, the ability to walk into any licensed Minnesota retailer and buy any assault weapon or pistol on the rack.
Read more: http://www.startribune.com/local/west/187610601.html
Another "responsible gun owner" who passed their background check.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sat Jan 19, 2013, 11:46 PM (26 replies)
I saw that thread and I don't understand why it was locked either.
On edit: Reading the text didn't seem so bad but some of those links do make me realize why it was locked.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:28 PM (1 replies)
I have heard too many people tell me not to blame guns for the violence in our society these last few days, but I do blame guns. People may try to tell me that I am exploiting a tragedy, but I have been too close to tragedy and the NRA assholes sure as hell better not try to tell me that I am wrong to hate guns after they contributed to my friend's death.
Today I am going to tell you about a close friend from my childhood whose life was taken by a couple of gun-wielding teenagers. This is my story, and I know that there are many other stories like this that need to be heard. I am sure that I am not alone on this site, I am sure that there are many other people here who have known people whose lives were ended early because of guns. These are stories that need to be told and I strongly encourage everyone to tell their own story about their lives or the lives of people close to them were permanently altered by guns.
I first met James when I was fifteen years old, I was loner and I did not have very many friends at that time and James had just moved into my neighborhood from his previous home in California. James did not know anyone when he first moved into my community, but he immediately seeked me out as a friend at a time when I had nearly no one else to talk to.
Every single day as soon as I got out of school I would call James up and we would get on our bikes and ride across town, we had great times together and James gave me a friendship that I desperately needed at the time.
After several months James started to meet some new friends and I was still a loner, sometimes he would start picking on me to impress his other friends and our friendship started to fall apart. We did not talk for a few months, but then we started hanging out again and having some great times. Unfortunately those times did not last forever because stole some money from me and at that point I stopped hanging around him altogether. About a year later I moved out of town and never saw James again, but then one day I got a phone call that I will never forget.
James had just graduated from High School two days before I received the phone call that a police officer found his dead body in a ditch on the side of the road. James had been shot, stabbed, and beaten with the butt of a rifle until his throat swelled up and caused him to suffocate.
Most people thought I did not like James anymore because of our falling out, but deep down inside he was still a close friend and he will always be a friend even though he is not with us anymore. While I tried to hold my emotions in I was devastated by his death, and writing this has made me realize just how much his death still effects me to this day.
James was not perfect, he could be a total asshole and I was not the only person he stole from. Despite his imperfections however he was a good person inside, he made some dumb choices but it was always clear that he regretted his dumb choices. He may have been a petty thief and a jerk from time to time, but he was not a violent person in any way. I may not have trusted him with my possessions, but I knew he would never physically harm anyone. I fully forgive James for any wrong he ever did to me, but I can never forgive the people who took his life because they were mad at him over a petty theft.
The thing that pains me the most however is that some people will only look at his problems and think he had it coming to him. They will focus on the petty thefts and ignore the human being that he was, we want to think that because people do bad things that makes them bad people. James was not a bad person, he was a good person who did some stupid things but aside from taking some items of small monetary value and making some rude comments he never did anything to harm anyone.
When I see people who spout NRA talking points suggesting that it is acceptable to shoot people who commit minor crimes in “self defense” it sickens me. To be clear James was not shot by anyone who was defending themselves, he was taken to a city park and murdered in cold blood. Yet I know that there are some who would try to pretend that he deserved this, I know this because I have heard it with my own ears.
When I see the reaction from the gun nuts to the Trayvon Martin murder it reminds me of those who suggested that James deserved to die. I am sure we have all heard the gun nuts defend George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, of course they don't claim it was murder instead they try to tell us that it was justifiable self defense. You see Trayvon Martin used marijuana, he got in trouble at school a couple of times, to the gun nuts this provided evidence that he deserved to die.
For those of you who wonder why we don't trust people with concealed carry, just take a look at the comments of those who support George Zimmerman. If people believe that George Zimmerman used his gun properly then I don't want those people carrying a gun because they are clearly telling us that they believe murder can be justified on the flimsiest basis.
As disgusting as the massacre in Connecticut is I believe the Trayvon Martin case provides an even bigger reason for gun control. I have not heard a single person defend the Connecticut shooter, but many NRA allies did come out in support of George Zimmerman and suggested that it is proper to kill in the way that he killed.
The gun nuts have given us good reason not to trust them with guns after their expressions of support for a murderer like George Zimmerman. When I see those people I think of the people who justified James' death and it makes me sick to my stomach.
Now maybe some people will understand why I hate guns so much, but before any of the gun nuts try to tell me that I am basing my argument on emotion I want to remind them what brought about my emotion. It was a murder that involved a gun, and you can try to pretend that guns are no threat to us all you want but a person who I consider one of the closest friends I ever had despite his problems is dead because of a gun and if you try to tell me that I have nothing to fear from guns I will think about his body that now lies beneath the ground.
It is time to take the NRA and their allies to task, too many people have died and those who are working to prevent change will have the blood of people like James on their hands.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Mon Dec 17, 2012, 10:29 PM (5 replies)
The battle for equal rights for all Americans has been going on for as long as America has existed, it has been a very difficult battle but we as a nation have come an enormous distance towards the dream of full equality for everyone. Before we saw the gains our nation made however we saw numerous examples of what appeared to be major setbacks. Make no doubt about it that during the Civil Rights Movement many supporters of that great movement felt beaten and discouraged when they saw the fire hoses turned on their supporters. Many of them no doubt felt helpless when they saw that the majority of the population strongly supported segregation and voted in racist politicians. When blacks southerners saw their neighbors lynched, when they saw the KKK burn their homes to the ground, when they saw the "white's only" sign on the door of countless businesses, when they were told they could not sit in the front of the bus, and when they were constantly held back they no doubt felt defeated on many occasions. No matter how many times they felt defeated however they kept fighting back and eventually they won a victory that most people thought impossible, they got the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. While the Civil Rights Act did not come close to fixing everything it brought us closer to equality than we had ever been at any point since Columbus first landed in America.
Today leaders of the gay rights movement are fighting a similar battle to the one that was fought by the Civil Rights Movement of the 50's and 60's, like the Civil Rights Movement they have suffered numerous setbacks but have slowly started to win over public opinion. The gay rights movement has not quite reached their Civil Rights Act of 1964 moment yet, but that moment is coming and when that moment comes all the setbacks that were suffered in the past will no longer seem like setbacks.
Today the bigots threw a "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" and it appears they were very successful at getting long lines of homophobes to spend their money in support of a corporation that donates to hate groups. This "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" was obviously designed to counter the boycott that gay rights advocates have called against Chick-Fil-A, and at least in terms of dollars it will probably appear that they were successful. Let's be honest, most of the people who are with us in boycotting Chick-Fil-A did not eat at Chick-Fil-A to begin with. Chick-Fil-A has been known to be a homophobic company for a long time and most gay rights supporters probably stopped eating there a long time ago, sure they lost some customers but the number of customers lost is more than offset by the number of bigots who will start eating there or going there more often to prove their homophobic credentials. Today's profits will almost certainly be the biggest single day profits Chick-Fil-A has ever seen in their company's history, my guess is the annual profits will also more than likely be the biggest numbers Chick-Fil-A has ever posted. As much as a setback as this may seem to those who have been advocating a boycott I can not say it loudly enough, DO NOT LET THIS DISCOURAGE YOU!
In the end Chick-Fil-A's profits this week or this year do not matter to us, what matters is that we are able to reach our Civil Rights Act of 1964 moment and we bring about permanent and lasting change that spreads well beyond any fast food chain. Once we reach that moment I can assure you that there won't be any more lines at Chick-Fil-A like the ones you saw today. Once we reach that moment all those people who posted the pictures of themselves with their Chick-Fil-A bags on Facebook today will be forced to explain those photos to their children and grandchildren some of whom will no doubt be gay. Once we achieve equality many of the people who chose to stand in line at Chick-Fil-A today will hang their head in shame that they supported bigotry just as many of the blatant racists of year's past now like to pretend that the were big Martin Luther King supporters when they were really attending KKK rallies. History is moving in our direction and while Chick-Fil-A may be showing big profits today their name is going to be severely tarnished by this in the long run.
That is why you must keep the boycott going no matter what the quarterly profits say, even if it appears that Chick-Fil-A is profiting off the controversy you can not give up because those profits won't last forever. Victory is not going to come overnight and there will be days like today that appear to be setbacks but in the end they will just be bumps on the road to victory. Just a few short years ago a vast majority of the country opposed gay rights, today it is pretty much split 50/50 and things are moving rapidly in our direction. The bigots are still a powerful force in this country but we have all the momentum on our side in this battle and a couple years of increased Chick-Fil-A profits are not going to change that. We need to show that we are not going to back away from a battle that needs to be fought because of the first sign of setback, we need to show them that however much they may want to believe they are winning we are going to keep fighting and we will be the ones who determine the future. Let the Chick-Fil-A boycott continue for as long as it takes to bring about equality.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Wed Aug 1, 2012, 11:13 PM (34 replies)
Last night the Walker Methodist Church in Minneapolis burned to the ground in what may have been arson. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation there are reports that a neighbor witnessed two people running from the church right before it became engulfed in flames.
I have visited the Walker Church on several occasions as did many other Twin Cities peace activists. The Walker church was known as a place that opened its doors to activist groups that were organizing peace and justice campaigns, groups such as the Welfare Rights Committee and Communities United Against Police Brutality had offices located there and their organizing materials were destroyed in the fire. Michelle Gross who serves as the director of Communities United Against Police Brutality says that the fire started near her group's office and she believes they may have been a prime target of the arsonists. While she does not rule out the possibility that the fire could have been caused by lightning, the circumstances around the fire do appear very suspicious.
The loss of this church is a major blow to the Twin Cities activist community, the people of Walker Church have been absolutely great about accommodating those who were working for change and it will be difficult to find another good meeting place that will be as open as they were. While they were a Methodist church people of many different faiths as well as atheists gathered there because they were so welcoming of so many different people. They are saying they are going to rebuild, but this is no doubt a major blow to their community.
If this was arson the people responsible are apprehended very quickly, five firefighters were injured trying to put out the blaze and people could have easily been killed. This was a serious attack on our community and its effects will be long felt, we can not allow this to slip under the rug.
Three of the five Minneapolis firefighters who were taken to a hospital after battling a raging blaze that destroyed a historic church Sunday night have been released, authorities said.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Mon May 28, 2012, 12:13 PM (5 replies)
One thing every activist realizes eventually is that when you stand up for justice you will witness injustice. Many of us were raised to believe that in America people can state their beliefs without fear of getting our heads bashed in by police, that is something that is only supposed to happen in dictatorships it is not supposed to happen in the so-called land of the free.
I am sad to say that the America I learned about in school is a myth, I was aware it was a myth for quite some time but today I witnessed the effects of police brutality with my own eyes and once you actually see people with blood gushing out of their heads after participating in a peaceful protest it effects you in a way that no book or video can prepare you for.
I have been involved in dozens of protests over the past several years, I have marched on the past two Republican National Conventions, I have marched on the School of the Americas, I have marched with Occupy, I have crashed our former Governor's fishing opener, I have been in many marches both permitted and unpermitted and I have certainly seen my share of police abuses but still nothing could prepare me for what I witnessed today.
Last night I got on a bus that left Minneapolis to arrive in Chicago at 5:00 am this morning. Not too many protesters were out yet at that hour as the rally to protest the NATO summit would not begin until much later in the morning, but there was already a heavy police presence. At that point the police were leaving us alone for the most part, but when you see police with batons and homeland security vehicles cruising the streets that early in the morning you know to expect police intimidation, but that still does not prepare you for it.
Despite this intimidation on the streets however police largely left the rally itself alone and I was having a great experience. I got to meet a few people I consider heroes, and I don't use the word hero lightly. First I met Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin who has been one of the lead figures in the anti-war movement over the last decade. Shortly after meeting her I caught Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello practicing for his performance and after waiting a bit I was able to meet him and have my picture taken with him. Tom Morello's music was instrumental in influencing me to become an activist, before I started really trying to understand Rage's music and reading their web page as a young adult I actually held some pretty right-wing views, Rage Against the Machine got me to question those views and I would have probably never became a lefty much less an activist if I had never heard their music. Being able to thank Morello personally for influencing me was something I always wanted to do so meeting him was enough to put me on what I thought would be a permanent high.
A while later I saw a long haired man in brown camouflage walk by and it was a face I was not expecting to see but who I recognized immediately. It was Scott Olsen, the Iraq Veteran and Occupy Oakland protester who became a national symbol of the movement when he suffered brain damage as a result of unprovoked police brutality. I thanked Olsen for his activism, the fact that he keeps fighting despite the suffering he has faced makes him worthy of being called a hero and I let him know that. Little did I know that a few hours later I would witness seeing a couple protesters bleeding from the head and the images of Scott Olsen that I remember seeing on the internet last fall would become all too real.
We marched through the streets of Chicago with hundreds of police officers lining the streets, a few were in riot gear and holding their batons at the ready but most were in normal uniforms and just casually watched as we marched by. We made it to the end of the march without incident and I started looking for where our bus was parked thinking the big events of the day were over and I was about to come home.
As I gathered with some of the fellow Minnesotans I traveled out to Chicago with a fairly large group of what appeared to be Black Bloc anarchists suddenly marched by us. I should make it clear that none of these Black Bloc members were doing anything violent, I had been in the city the entire day and did not witness any violence from any protester it was a very peaceful day. Many people believe that wherever the Black Bloc goes there is violence, but this is quite simply a myth. I have been in many protests the Black Bloc has shown up at and not a single one of them has ever turned violent. As much as the police might want to use the fact that several Black Bloc members marched into the area as an excuse for their actions, the truth is that the entire march was peaceful and wearing a black mask and endorsing anarchism is protected speech as long as there is no violence involved and there was no violence.
That did not stop the police from greatly overreacting however and jus minutes after the Black Bloc marched by a huge line of what seemed to be hundreds of police in full riot gear marched right by me. They lined up right between me and my friend's isolating me from the rest of my group. I started filming with my camera so I could show people just how much overkill there was, but right when I thought I got them all on video another huge group would show up. There were even a small group of them wearing Army green one of whom was wearing a black face mask, they appeared to be military.
A few minutes later I saw my friends who were allowed to leave from behind the police lines and we headed towards a much more quiet street where our bus would meet us. We were far enough away from the riot police that I finally felt safe and things were quiet for a few minutes until I turned my head and saw medics walking two men to the corner where I was sitting with blood streaming down their heads after getting hit by police batons. The medics asked us to form a circle around them with our backs turned to provide a privacy wall so I helped out, but the whole time I stood there I was deeply disturbed. There were hundreds of police in the streets, but the only people helping were the street medics. Hundreds of police to harass protesters, but not a single one to assist a couple of injured demonstrators who appeared to be peaceful protesters (If they were not peaceful they would have been arrested for sure with that large of a police presence so it is a very safe assumption that neither of them committed any crime. As far as I could tell neither of them appeared to be Black Bloc). Eventually a police official did show up when the ambulance was called and that officer was very professional, the rest of the force however deserves no praise at all. Intimidating peaceful protesters is wrong, and beating them over the head is even more wrong. Unless some Chicago police officers face assault charges over this then we need to hold the entire force accountable for allowing this sort of behavior within their ranks.
As for mayor Rahm Emmanuel, he needs to be pressured to resign immediately. His actions are indefensible, he allowed this police state in his city to happen and he needs to lose his office. I know he is not likely to leave on his own, but people need to put enormous pressure on him until he is forced out.
Democracy requires the right of people to speak their mind without risking violence at the hands of the state, until police are held accountable for these sorts of abuses I can not pretend that we live in a democracy.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sun May 20, 2012, 09:53 PM (118 replies)
Video documentation by local activists and independent media shows that police officers and county deputies from across Minnesota have been picking up young people near Peavey Plaza for a training program to recognize drug-impaired drivers. Multiple participants say officers gave them illicit drugs and provided other incentives to take the drugs. The Occupy movement, present at Peavey Plaza since April 7th, appears to be targeted as impaired people are dropped off at the Plaza, and others say they’ve been rewarded for offering to snitch on the movement.
Local independent media activists and members of Communities United Against Police Brutality began investigating police conduct around the Plaza after witnessing police dropping off impaired people at the plaza and hearing rumors that they were offering people drugs. We videotaped police conduct and interviewed participants, learning some very disturbing information about the DRE program.
Officers stated on record the DRE program, run by the Minnesota State Patrol, has no Institutional Review Board or independent oversight. They agreed no ambulances or EMTs were on site at the Richfield MnDOT facility near the airport where most subjects were taken. Multiple times, participants left Peavey Plaza sober, returned intoxicated, and said they’d been given free drugs by law enforcement. We documented on more than one occasion, someone being told they were sober by one officer, and then picked up by a different officer, and returning intoxicated.
The 35 minute video contains interviews with several witnesses and video of a State Patrol Officer offering drugs to Occupiers, let's make sure people know abou this and that the police are held accountable for once.
Update: I want to point out that the witnesses in the video are not just saying the police were giving away pot, they were giving hard drugs like heroin, cocaine and meth as well.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Wed May 2, 2012, 08:15 PM (32 replies)