Protest in Romania against President Basescu’s decision to allow a Canadian company to mine and displace locals in Rosia Montana

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Will have a description of event later in the day

Photos and Interview By Zack Helwa

Too Much Tear Gas on Mansour Street, Near Ministry of Interior: Cairo, Egypt Feb 3rd 2012

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After the Port Said soccer game tragedy, hundreds of anti SCAF protestors–including both Ahly and Zamalek Ultras–gather in front of the Ministry of Defense to demand the removal of the Egyptian military regime. The incidents at the game were considered a clear move by the military: to punish the involvement of soccer fan groups (Ultras) in protesting against SCAF. It was also clear to everyone that, even if the incident wasn’t arranged by SCAF forces, that SCAF did nothing to stop the incident from continuing and getting worse, either.

I went down with my live stream group to gather some footage of the clashes and rioting. We found that the walls that had previously barricaded the roads leading to Ministry of Interior were now scattered blocks of cement–allowing a short line of exit and entrance to Mohamed Mahmoud street. There were people standing and sitting on the blocks; and many photographing the injured coming out. That is, being carried on motorcycles since the barricades did not really allow any ambulances to enter the area. The transport line of injured and possibly dead people exiting was endless. People were pleading with some protestors, including myself, not to enter, saying that we don’t need any more martyrs. Around 1,000 people had been killed since the revolution started and not one military or government official has been prosecuted yet.

Strangely, when I went beyond the barricades and down all the way to the Ministry of Interior, down to the crossings of Mohamed Mahmound and Mansour street, the scene was a very different one. There was anger of course. But many people were cheering and smiling. Some had nervous smiles–yet still stressing that we have to continue to stay positive.

We would gather in the crossings, yelling anti-SCAF slogans and shielding our heads from any tear gas canisters that might be thrown, until SCAF forces would do exactly that. Then what do we do? we RUN!!! Because we were also being shot at with shotgun shells. What amazes me still is that as soon as the gas would start to disappear, everyone was already on their way back; cheering and smiling and carrying flags. Many people were making jokes. Sometimes there would be false alarms and we would run anyway. There were many children there (without goggles or safety masks) who would grab my hands and others when the tear gas would blind our eyes, leading us to safety or to the volunteer doctors. There were both men and women doctors and nurses; and they never seemed to flinch. Some were standing all the way on the front lines, and as soon a person got injured these ones would run to their aid. Any one in need of more serious medical help would be placed on the volunteer motorcycles to be brought back to a makeshift hospital close to the conflict, or placed in an ambulance to be rushed to a city hospital. There were many of those motorcyclists; and it seemed like one of those completely spontaneous creative solutions to a problem they were dealing with.

This was my first experience in such clashes, photographing and reporting, and I must say I found a few things both very inspiring and very strange. I noticed that on the ground there was no fear. I’m not sure whether it was due to the high spirits or the community I was surrounded by, but I soon realized that fear was the inability to help, and in that situation I felt that I was able to help. When you see an injured person in a photograph or on television, you tend to feel an awful lot of sympathy for that person, and that creates a feeling of defeat and fear towards the fate and future of our fellow beings. However, when actually participating in the action, it was very simple to me. If you see some one injured, you try to carry them–or call people to help. You hear bullets being shot, you hide–not out of fear but out of necessity.

There was an overwhelming amount of tear gas around us and sometimes what seemed like a couple of dozens of canisters being shot at us at the same time. My gas mask usually worked, but when the clouds of smoke engulfed me there was no air to breathe. The lack of oxygen would make me dizzy, and, because I couldn’t see well with the goggles I bought, I preferred to go without them. This meant many moments of my vision blacking out and using other senses to escape. Yet no one was alone there. As soon as I was blinded many would ask if I wanted help getting back to the safe areas.

It was completely clear and proven to me that there were many infiltrators possibly SCAF members who blended in with the crowds or paid the citizens. Earlier that morning there had been people on the roofs of surrounding building, throwing rocks at us. This was before clashes got bad that night. But, the most frightening moment was one of the times we were running on the side street–to escape some military forces who were coming after us. At that point we encountered a group of civilian dressed people making a wall with their bodies, guiding us to what they said was an alley way and escape route. That alley way was a dead-end we realized. If those people were protestors then they would have also gotten beaten and arrested when the military forces arrived. It made no sense. Why would they send us into the alley? Because of my skepticism, I was one of the last to enter that dead-end–leaving me in front, with those suspect “protestors” blocking the way back out from the alley. I asked one man to let me go out, because I had changed my mind and would run elsewhere. He refused.

Right at that moment, I hear the people behind me screaming: “It’s a trap!! It’s a dead-end!” Now, I’m definitely not a big guy, and don’t consider my self one of the strongest, but something took me over at that moment. It was a desperation to survive that night. I found myself somehow, using all my force, successfully pushing three guys onto the ground. After that, everyone followed and it was a flood of people pushing and escaping that dead-end. As I was running one of the guys who had been blocking the rest of us had caught up and was trying to steal my phone while I live-streamed. His hand slipped–he didn’t get a good grasp–but the rest of the group grabbed him anyway and pushed him against a wall. They didn’t hurt him but asked him if he was crazy to be trying to steal a phone while running for his life. The man seemed startled and didn’t respond. And we all continued to run.

In my next edit of photos–photos of my last day in Cairo–I will share an experience of great solidarity. There was a particular group of children running around, joking, asking me to take their pictures while they are being shot at. Those unmasked children saved me several times, including once when I was stuck stepping over barbed wire and being stampeded over by protestors running from shotgun shells.

I will be posting some more photographs of this day’s daytime. soon.

Photos by Zack Helwa

Words by Zack Helwa

Livery Cab Driver

We are speaking of the history of BK, of the areas through which we drive. I try to give the driver directions, but  he’s like, “oh I know. I’ve lived here my whole life. Before Atlantic Avenue was even a thought in your mind, I was riding my bike down it.”

It used to be bad, he says. In the fifties, all middle class white people used to live in these areas. Then they built the projects, and all the white people moved out and all the black and Hispanic people moved in. When my cab driver was growing up in this neighborhood, it was poor. “It was bad, so violent. I used to get real mad.”

He thinks it’s better now. All the artists and students living in this part of BK bring in the attention of police and authority. The crime is kept in check, or at least it’s not in the streets anymore. He says a lot of his younger passengers have parents and aunts and uncles who used to live in these very neighborhoods; but these individuals moved out once they became economically/financially stable. Now the children live here again. Cycles..

We talk about education, cops, the environment; covering an extraordinary amount of ground for such a short cab drive. I do not mention the guilt I feel for taking a car home; this is his livelihood.

As we pull up to my apartment, below the rumbling LIRR, he brings up the subject of Occupy Wall Street. He sees the world changing. The driver has a daughter, and he has her enrolled in a charter school in Harlem. “I don’t want her in any damn public school.” I ask if he knows about the protests in Harlem the other day: 500 people howling in front of a public school being closed down. No, the driver had no idea. I ask him about the #1 Slave Theater; did he know about that? No. How about Occupy Bed-Stuy? Nope.

“I wanted to go down to Zuccotti, but never got the chance before they shut it down.”

Just wait until spring, my friend.

Words by Kathleen Purcell

A great day of celebration will take place April 14th; What will it be?

Two meetings in the past two weeks discuss plans for a celebration and an invitation in the Spring…

January 27 Planning Meeting for a massive, celebratory city-wide gathering

  • One Hundred thirty people: Twenty break-out groups of six or seven people say this is what it should be:

Permits; fun; inclusive; “we” rather than “they”; convergences; speak-outs; how can we make people distinguish this action and feel this is theirs;

focus on communities and building coalition; thematically based groups from different neighborhoods meet; new assemblies formed;

everyone in the city knows that they’re invited;

stadium; build towards May Day; union involvement; changing culture and values; transforming society—physical and non-physical participation—different constituencies-labor, immigrant etc.; not just a General Assembly; art and music and expression; eat-in; potluck; share food; balance between quality and quantity;

Saturday or weekend; Jubilee; bargaining market; localized potlucks; training events (facilitation, non-violence, anti-racism); April 15 = tax day and the time when state & local budgets will become public; need for vision;

diversity in planning process; coherence, but not too focused in; mini-General Assemblies; combination of militant action and low-risk;

what message to bring to neighborhoods; need discussion of themes; Occupy World Fair; family oriented;

mobile think-tanks;

midnight marches,

candlelight vigils;

keep folks asking questions;

sector-oriented simultaneously in different places; want proclamation; each group have directions and goals; Battery Park (to see the Statue of Liberty);

diverse outreach; help of other working groups and communities; fair; concert; have information tables; social media; local and national; new organizations; Central Park;

pop-up occupations;

plant seeds in community gardens as symbols;

end event with occupation;

mega General Assembly;

organize for May Day on celebration day; Earth Day; this meeting is a spokes for the day;

plant trees in crazy places;

political; rebirth; growth; general strike or move you money; April Fool’s Day; Chicago is doing something big on March 15th; it should be on the 17th of whatever month to continue the anniversary celebration;

discussions of what brought us together; time frame, is it just a day, or a whole weekend; direct action that is an educating act; once a week event to build up; March 17th is St. Patrick’s day; cops will be busy; poorest neighborhoods;

not self-referential themes; one day event is just a starting point; visionary; taking of a public space creatively;

occupy Central Park; open space for new people; empower people to be a part of this day; are we ready for a day? We’ve had some days;

public more than just observers; get that 10% of the population required to create social change; expand to what other people might be interested in; create safe space for the public to come;

immigrants afraid; ex-cons afraid to participate; have both celebration and a General Assembly; subway ride in; ongoing conversation; create system of communication;

teach-ins of “outer” General Assemblies giving training about how they do things;

arts; organizing; General Assembly process; leave space for discussion on the big day.

February 10 Planning Meeting

Task Forces: Outreach, Assembly Exploration/Structure, Facilitation, Arts & Culture, Logistics, Messaging/Media, Interface, Working People’s Caucus

  • Seventy or Eighty people: eight break out groups: (What are some concrete ideas for the day?)

After Zuccotti was evicted, there was an emergency General Assembly which meant new faces–this really prepared people for November 17th, the day of action;

mobile parade to take attention away from Manhattan, something that moves through Queens/Bronx; boroughs have marches into one convergence point, a convergence of ideas and people;

create a place with a sense of the energy and conversation that was Zuccotti;

a festival;

a rally;

a focus of energy;

Sunset Park had a speak-out celebration which started with drumming and ended with food and a march; food makes people stay longer; break out should have the same weight as a speak out;

OWS is out of the media; if people are going to take risks, how do you create a presence which assures people that there are numbers and support; OWS is still here;

April 14 is a coming out party;

April 15 is about tax reform; tax issues will bring out a lot of people; could do April 14 and April 15 back-to-back, to get both festive and direct action initiatives;

get a number of people to refuse to pay their taxes; bringing up tax issues is problematic when attempting consensus—it will be divisive; April 15 people will be at home doing their taxes; the divisive issue could be a way of uniting a lot of different people over a similar but various issue; “the only things inevitable are death and taxes”—how can we create conversation around that; getting large numbers out to protest tax issues is long-term effective?;

how do we disrupt and actually become a problem;

invite discussion of tax reform on the fun day; find a group that can or is already organized for tax protest on April 15 and ask them to organize with us; what empowers us together to create a real world; don’t dodge the tax day; talk about role of money and resources;

branding = spring (Arab Spring?); who can be an occupier? It can be you—even if you don’t want to live in a tent; liquidate fear of striking and marching; how do you prepare people to deal with risky situations; pre-community outreach to people comfortable to participate on May Day;

Food! A potluck, or find organizations willing to donate food; you can have barbecue in Flushing Gardens or Sunset Park, but not in Central Park; food means positive media attention;

day should be large turn out to reignite OWS; April 15 is effective because it focuses on the taxation issues surrounding the 1% versus the 99%;

stay downtown to stay true to OWS; Battery Park;

set aside time and space for those who want to join into the movement; recruit and develop organizers on that day; celebrate the people of OWS who have worked so hard—a relief from burnout; time consideration—we did so much in five months, let’s celebrate; OWS 2.0;

this should be a movement building day and not a direct action day; the day should feed our existing general assemblies and working groups;

it might progress like this—feed into the decided site with actions and outreach while traveling, have a short rally, break out by neighborhood/borough/issue, report backs in the spokes model that can become an ongoing model, a “next coming” event, a big party;

this day should be distinct from May Day; energize our existing general assemblies; go to your general assembly or community and identify the issues that they want to bring to the big day; movement building not direct actions;

city-wide picnic; we should be in Washington Square Park in case of bad weather;

have an assembly to introduce people to the general assembly structure; hand out programs and maps on the day to show visitors what is going on; there should also be spontaneous pop-ups; specific colors for specific boroughs; re-create Zuccotti; there should be both planning and autonomous action; spirit of Zuccotti;

if you’re in an OWS working group, you should plug it into the corresponding task forces for this day;

a fair; broad scale; what is OWS?; reach out to different general assemblies and groups to get involved with this fair thing; working people and family friendly; there should be arts and entertainment;

April 15 OWS is back; theme of spring;

April 14!;

April 15 might restrict faith-based groups because it is a Sunday; the day should be big sexy and awesome but create movement structures as well; people should go into neighborhoods;

concert? big names?;

first neighborhood assemblies, then food, next issue-based groups/assemblies; there should be a welcoming group and an information group that wear identifying t-shirts;

messages may be “another world is possible”, local election involvement/voting, resisting alienation and restriction, civil right issues, training;

activities may be a carnival, tables, arts, a concert, de-centralized discussion, themed groups, spontaneous and planned speak outs using the people’s mic;

some concerns are bathrooms, permits, the proximity of the day approaching;

we should lie about Radiohead coming to the day;

performance elements must be democratic and not status-based; there should be no stage with officially sanctioned performance; instead there can be roving prosceniums and performers can call out to it to come to them if they want to perform something; the performance guild has a library of hundreds of ten minute plays;

focus on concrete issues and ongoing struggles, like foreclosure and stop-and-frisk;

faith-based groups and unions should be more involved; big fun and family oriented; a “no jobs fair”; there should be a service aspect with tutoring and teach-ins;

various groups are voting for endorsement of OWS but have no outlet;

thinking big and long-term in order to inform the day; use the power of OWS to incite people and create long-lasting structure (an example would be encouraging people to create more of their own neighborhood assemblies);

start simple and big, then break out into smaller and neighborhood groups; there should be a section of time/space devoted to issues.

 

 

Words by over two hundred people from all five boroughs of NYC

Transcribed and formatted by Kathleen Purcell

And we’re live from Cairo!

notNOTjournalism live-streamed in Cairo January 25, which was a major day of action for Egypt. There will be widespread rallies and protests in response to military action against citizens, and to address elections which many people view as futile or even false. Our correspondent and co-founder Zack Helwa will be video streaming the protests live all week from Tahrir Square (adjust for time zones, Cairo is seven hours later than New York).

 

Stay tuned for updates of when Zack will be live, but also check out the link below to view archives of video from the past few days:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nnjlivestream

#J17: Class of 2012

Washington D.C. January 17, 2012

“Occupy Congress was the public forum spectacle that Zuccotti was–which I, and many others, were nostalgic for.”

On the green of Capitol Hill, hundreds of protesters gathered to total roughly two thousand keen on Occupying Congress. I took the 30 minute walk through the mall to congregate with them at 10 am. There, friends and families were greeting each other in a way that was reminiscent of Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst shaking hands in Hercules— everyone was passionate and determined. It’s a pretty long walk uphill, so I had a lot of time to revel amongst the camaraderie and love being exhibited around me. I witnessed the embracing of old friends, interviews about people’s protest signs, their adventures, and sharing stories and information. Mostly, people were getting pumped for the day of action, J17.

Continuing my eavesdropping, I walked uphill the muddy grass awed at the mud collecting underneath my boots.. I was thinking of when I first arrived at Occupy DC. Samuel, from Media, met up with me at the train station at four in the morning to walk me to the camp. The walk felt brief and was filled with talk about impressions, expectations, the functions of our occupations, and comparisons. Memories of the all-nighters I’d pull at the OWS Comfort Station flooded my mind. Soon enough, we neared McPherson Park. It was quiet and only the sound of rain on tarp was to be heard. I ended up crashing in a friend of a friend’s tent for a couple of hours. I woke up early, cold without a sleeping bag, to a mic check. Turns out I was sleeping next to the Kitchen tent. I sat up and noticed dress shirts were hanging from the ceiling and a makeshift bed-stand had a single overused candle. I guesstimated about five hours of use left. I had never officially lived in Zuccotti, but I got a taste of it that night in DC.

Once I reached the top of the hill, I awoke from my daze thanks to someone jumping on my shoulders. It was a friend I worked with in Comfort. I walked five more paces to a confrontational position up against a line of police officers. They made an L-shape in front and to the left, along the sidewalk downhill. At this point they were pushing people off of the sidewalk and had made two arrests: one that was half-assed and unsuccessful (of Officer Ray) and one actual arrest. I looked up to the Capitol building, past the police officers, tracing the weaving staircases, and my eyes rested on two men, tiny in size, high and far because of the distance, just starting back at all of us.

http://soldiersforthecause.org/2012/01/17/interview-with-captain-ray-lewis-at-occupy-dc-video/

Between this time and 6 pm, when the sun set, there was the occasional arrest, attempted unrest, and some flat-out napping. This sort of downtime was balanced between a national general assembly, marches, and some discussion groups. The facilitators at the start of the GA wanted to encourage discussions where everyone would speak. Its rare occupiers would have the opportunity to have a sense of a nationwide–and in real-time–conversation amongst occupiers. Some visited the offices of their representatives and senators. In the lobby, I heard different people looking at the office directory asking aloud “Alright, where’s that son of a bitch at?”

On the lawn, there were tables of working groups and special interest groups unaffiliated with Occupy. A stage was set for musicians and speakers. When I noticed the stage, at the other side of the lawn I noticed a woman with an amp and microphone. She was talking about the dangers of corporate personhood and current progress of LA’s denouncing of Citizens United. I was leaning on a ledge where a family was playing with their dogs, awaiting the march at 6pm. To my right a Think Tank was discussing What does Democracy look like? There were other think tanks scattered around. Occupy Congress was the public forum spectacle that Zuccotti was–which I, and many others, were nostalgic for. The sun set and all the group activities were broken up with the arrival of those that were on the afternoon march.

Everyone on the lawn ran to those on the march to welcome them back. A congestion of hyper bodies gathered in the entrance to Capitol Hill. The crowed pushed back and forth chanting and cheering. Photographers were taking pictures of protesters, who were listening earnestly to individuals standing on park fixtures, rallying the crowd. There were flashes of cameras against the sky that was half of a warm red sun and half starry blue. The buzzing murmur preluded the much-anticipated 6pm march to the white house.

But first, dinnertime!

I left with an Occupy Wall Street crowd as it dissipated back into the main lawn to the food line. Around the stage a group gathered for musical performances. I watched it as I ate my vegetarian macaroni and salad. Someone came up to me asking me to write in his journal Why I Occupy. It was full of dozens of entries from J17. After inscribing a piece of my mind, I wandered over to the stage to see what all the commotion was about. There had to have been 500 people in that one cluster, and there were many clusters scattered about. They weren’t playing early Bob Dylan this time around; the guy that had the stage was reciting some of his writings. I was standing there nodding and smiling at those I caught eyes with until someone came up to me to engage in small talk. He was asking me first why I was there and secondly if I was going to vote for Ron Paul. I chuckled at his blunt outreach tactics and we talked for a hot minute until a great MIC CHECK interrupted.

 M-A-A-A-R-C-H!!

At most, it took three seconds for everyone to turn towards the entrance/exit of the lawn and begin the much-anticipated trail to The White House. I glanced over at my new friend, Eric, and it was understood we were marching buddies. We walked, with big steps, over the concrete barricades, around light poles and random sidewalk obstructions, in between bodies, onto the middle of the street. We didn’t know where we were going, nor did it cross our minds at all; Eric and I were still in the process of challenging each other’s ideals.

We lost each other at one of the sharp turns. At some point I looked forward and saw from fifty yards back that people were climbing up a huge set of stairs; like an upwards avalanche of bodies. I bolted towards it, snaking through and ran up, two steps at a time, to what were the steps of The Supreme Court!

Reaching the top, I looked up to about ten people hanging off a fence-like structure fisting the air and dancing. All around me people were dancing to the noise we were creating. In the middle was the Statue of Liberty puppet. I started moving towards her, trying to take a photo. Her dancing hands looked like they were cradling The Capitol Building.

I don’t remember what people were saying or chanting, I only remember asking myself: How could this NOT work? How could our leaders turn their heads to this?!

As we descended, we yelled, “We’ll be back! We’ll be back!” It was picturesque, and it would’ve made a magnificent family portrait of +2,000 that ought to be captioned – J17: Class of 2012.

There were posters, four giant puppets (yes, courtesy of the infamous OWS Puppet Guild!), bicyclists, wheelchairs being pushed, people with cameras, laptops, in fantastical costumes (i.e. Captain America in a worn or rusty full body suit. a guy with a tent hanging on his body, and a Guy Fawkes weaving through proclaiming “AARG!”) Individuals, with their chin up, walked in solemn solidarity immersed in the electricity of the crowd. I saw a gang of four snapping their fingers in a forward moving circle, looking into each others wild eyes, chanting:

¡A-A-TI-A-TI-CAPITALISTA!  ¡A-A-TI-A-TI-CAPITALISTA!

 

And everyone was singing…

♫♫♪♫

MONEY FOR JOBS AND ED-U-CA-TION

            NOT FOR WAR AND CORP-OR-A-TIONS

♫♫♪♫

NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION

♫♫♪♫

WHO’S STREET? OUR STREET!

♫♫♪♫

HEY! THIS IS NO TIME TO HANG AT THE BAR!

(at spectators on the sidewalk entrance of bars we passed by)

♫♫♪♫

There was so much singing and chanting and rushing past each other; and then halting, saying “Wait up!”, and recommencing of the march. It was like a leaderless school of fish down the stream of Constitution Ave. We stopped to read aloud altogether this, on a large plaque on the side of a building along our path:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

 

And then cheers! I keep on saying we “walked”, but our high spirits were in fact skipping. We passed by Freedom Plaza demanding people to get out of their tents. There, I waited for the back of the line to pass. I saw only four police cars behind our trail. The march remained peaceful as we reach our destination in front of The White House. One guy climbed the fence to get center stage yelling, “We are Occupy DC! We are Occupy Wall Street! We are Occupy New York!” etcetera. We rallied there for about twenty minutes until individuals started to make speeches at The White House, at the media present, and at the symbols of our government. One such:

We will not make that mistake again!

No kings!

No saviors!

If Obama won’t do it, we’ll do it ourselves!

And then cheers! I moved away from the rallying group, and sat next to my friend Jason. The day of action was complete and I was tired. Jason was amusing us, talking about the pizza that he thought was supposed to be served at the end of the march. It reminded me of Occupy Wall Street the first weeks at Liberty Plaza, when every night after each day of protesting, we’d have a pizza dinner waiting. It was a gift for the revolutionaries, ordered from supporters all around the world feeding the engine, patiently and lovingly, which would someday change the world.

Words by Christine Rucker

Images by Christine Rucker