We are calling on comrades around the world to help raise awareness of the NATO 5 cases and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests. Please read the call-out below and start planning your action or event today!
On May 16, 2012, Chicago cops raided an apartment in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago in an all-too-common attempt to scare people away from the imminent protests against the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit. With guns drawn, the cops arrested 11 people in or around the apartment and quickly disappeared them into the bowels of the extensive network of detention facilities in Cook County, Illinois.
After a few days, a few things started becoming clear: 2 of the arrested “activists” were actually undercover Chicago cops who had targeted the real activists for arrest, 6 of them were illegally held and released at the last possible minute before court action could be taken to force their release, and 3 had been charged with trumped-up, politically motivated terrorism charges. These three—Brent Betterly, Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase—are now known as the NATO 3. They were ultimately charged with 11 felony counts, including material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and creating Molotov cocktails. They face up to 40 years in prison and are expected to go to trial in September. Their lawyers recently filed a motion to dismiss the terrorism charges for being unconstitutional.
Two other Chicago-area activists—Mark Neiweem and Sebastian Senakiewicz—were also preemptively arrested. Mark was arrested in a spectacular snatch-and-grab as he was leaving a restaurant. He was charged with soliciting materials for an explosive device and is facing up to 30 years in prison; his trial date has not yet been set. Sebastian was arrested in another spectacular house raid and charged with falsely making a terrorist threat for allegedly claiming that he had explosive materials and wanted to use them during the convention. Facing 15 years in prison followed by deportation to his native Poland after serving his sentence, he took a non-cooperating plea deal last November. He was sentenced to 4 years with a recommendation of 4 months in boot camp. He is expected to begin his immigration proceedings immediately after completing his sentence.
As the one-year anniversary of these preemptive, politically motivated arrests draws near, we are calling for a week of solidarity actions and fundraisers for the NATO 5. All five defendants have been incarcerated since their arrests last May. Being held hostage in jail is extremely expensive for prisoners, as they are forced to purchase all their hygiene products, writing supplies, additional food to supplement the starvation portions given to them each day, and other basic necessities from the jail’s commissary at exorbitant prices. The legal defense costs for the defendants is also mounting, as their lawyers are working hard to help them win their freedom and there is a ton of evidence to sift through and other preparations to make.
This May, stand in solidarity with the NATO 5! Organize a house party, bake sale, silent auction, cabaret, raffle, rally, noise demo, art auction, street theater performance, concert…whatever you and your friends want! Send us an email at nato5solidarity(A)gmail.com to let us know what you have planned and then send us photos afterwards! You can also write the defendants to let them know what you have planned (https://nato5support.wordpress.com/contact/).
The NATO 5 cases are linked by a few common threads. People around the world have come together to protest NATO’s role in worldwide military expenditures and operations, the organization’s penchant for wantonly killing civilians for the benefit of its member nations—particularly the United States—and its disregard for human rights. Additionally, undercover Chicago police officers targeted and entrapped the activists because of their politics, which is part of a broader pattern of state repression against political activists, in which charging activists as terrorists is one of many strategies being used to silence dissent and dismantle activist communities. Other recent cases in which activists have been targeted include the Cleveland 4 (http://www.cleveland4solidarity.org/), the Green Scare cases (http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/), and the Pacific Northwest Grand Jury resisters (http://nopoliticalrepression.wordpress.com/).
WE DEMAND THAT THE IRRESPONSIBLE AND THE UNPUNISHED GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, BANKERS AND CEO’S WITHDRAW FROM THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS WE ARE CREATING AT THIS MOMENT IN SLOVENIA.
We know exactly what we don’t want. Let us speak to each other what we want; what we desire as individuals, what we desire as a community. We need to open all the possibilities, all channels, all flows to talk about pain, oppression, violence, as well as hopes and visions. We need to listen to each other and to know that we are able to take the steps and enter the path of building such a democratic society, where even the weakest voice is heard, and one’s pain everyone’s pain.
Violence, injustice, intimidation and arrogance can no longer find refuge in our country. Theft and economic looting must be punished, and undue oppression of the people put to an end. We have to put the concepts of equality, reciprocity, fairness and dignity into action. Only through action and activity we can find our way to where we want to go and how to get there. Strategy and vision development can not be generated or delegated by the few; we must all make an effort to determine our collective future.
We have risen! We have conquered fear. In exactly two weeks, Slovenia has had a total of 54 uprisings in 28 cities: Maribor, Ljubljana, Ptuj, Gornja Radgona, Jesenice, Kranj, Bled, Koper, Nova Gorica, Novo mesto, Velenje, Ajdovščina, Trbovlje, Celje, Dravograd, Ravne na Koroškem, Krško, Brežice, Izola, Murska Sobota, Bohinjska Bistrica, Lendava, Trebnje, Slovenske Konjice, Litija, Kočevje, Radenci. Over 77,500 people took the streets, according to reports from all over Slovenia, though of course media, police and politicians counted our numbers several thousand less. They trivialize our fight and they will continue to do that. They can’t hide our numbers, because the streets belong to those who care about the country and want to change what has been forced upon us over the last 20 years. In order not to lose the future, we have to take back the freedom and power of our votes!
Repressive authorities have detained 254 people in Slovenia, some of them still remain in custody. Young people are locked in jail because Minister of Interior Gorenak claims they will return to the protests. Thousands return regardless, for we are not all in jail! We are the mothers of the arrested children, we are all the friends, families and supporters who will return to the streets and participate in the uprisings until we achieve change. As long as there are children confined, no one is free! Young people can not be criminalized by the very people who have stolen all the prospects of their future, by those that violently choke the protests that are the only channel available for the people to express their collective will. The never ending violence of capitalism goes unchecked, and meanwhile the attacks of rulers and marshals continue in impunity, without responsibility or accountability. What they call riots have emerged from the state of fear and poverty, into which we as citizens were pushed. We demand tears of joy, not tear gas!
Update: 12/11: This is what Lansing looks like this morning as around 15,000 people have converged on the capitol:
“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped.” —Martin Luther King
Last Thursday, nearly a thousand union members and supporters gathered inside the Michigan capitol building in Lansing to protest lawmakers' decision to ram through "right to work" legislation. The day ended abruptly when police began assaulting and pepper-spraying protesters, provoking an evacuation and lockdown of the capitol building. The protests have continued, and at least eight people have been arrested. This Tuesday, thousands more will descend upon Lansing to protest the 1%-backed "right to work" legislation, the most extreme anti-union law Michigan has ever seen. Nurses, teachers, autoworkers, service sector employees, iron-workers, and many other workers (including the unemployed), plus their families, allies, and communities, have already spoken out. Many have also received training and are preparing for nonviolent civil disobedience.
Occupy stands staunchly in solidarity with these days of action. The unfolding events in Michigan are the latest assault on workers' rights in the U.S. and across the globe. Government policies such as the cynically-named "right to work" legislation will lower living standards for the 99% and benefit the elite who profit from our labor. In the face of these blatant attacks on low-income and working people, we must show sustained and escalating resistance. Together, we can defeat the Wall Street, corporate agenda of consolidating wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.
Therefore, we call on all Occupiers in Michigan, the Midwest, and beyond, to join in solidarity and Occupy the Capitol. Now is the time to activate the networks we've created and begin organizing for mass action. The lesson of Wisconsin's failed recall vote was that election politics are not enough — we need to put everything on the table: sustained physical occupation, mass civil disobedience, even the option of general strike. From the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-37, to the West Coast Port Shutdowns of 2011-12, history has shown time and time again: direct action gets the goods.
When: Tuesday, December 11 @ 4:30pm Where: Harold Pratt House, 58 East 68th Street, New York, New York 10065 RSVP on Facebook
Just weeks after the massive demonstration of the #WalmartStrikers Black Friday day of action, Walmart CEO Mike Duke is visiting NYC on Tuesday, Dec. 11 to give a speech for the Council on Foreign Relations entitled "The Responsibility to Lead" - talking about women's economic empowerment, food security & the global middle class.
That's ironic, since Walmart represents the epitome of corporate greed: from use of sweatshop labor, to the poverty wages it pays associates, to discrimination, to illegal retaliation against workers who organize. Mike Duke has no right to speak about the "global middle class", and IT'S TIME WE TAUGHT HIM THE MEANING OF RESPONSIBILITY.
Join ALIGN, 99 Pickets, Walmart Free NYC, Occupy Bergen County, Retail Action Project, MoneyOut/VotersIn, and allies for an afternoon of action -- picket lines, street theater, and more.
Text "@pickets" to 23559 for day-of text message alerts.
We will publicly hold Mike Duke accountable for:
The deaths of 120 workers from a fire at Bangladeshi sweatshop producing clothing for Walmart in incredibly unsafe conditions.
Paying Walmart workers poverty wages, forcing many to file for public assistance, and for retaliating against workers when they began to organize and speak out about working conditions.
Mistreatment of workers across Walmart's supply chain, especially warehouse workers and immigrant workers at Walmart suppliers
According to the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, 1,000 protests occurred at Walmart stores across 46 states, with hundreds of workers walking off the job in an unprecedented decentralized, open-source strike at the retail giant. Nine people, including three Walmart workers, were arrested in Los Angeles for blocking traffic. Local Occupy groups supported actions in dozens of cities. OWS joined with 99 Pickets, ALIGN, the Retail Action Project, and others to show solidarity to Walmart workers in Secaucus, New Jersey. Despite attempts by Walmart's propaganda department to downplay the events, the latest massive wave of strikes and solidarity actions at Walmart forced even the corporate media to pay attention, and put the 1% on notice: When we work together, another world is possible. We do not have to accept poverty, low wages, or unfair working conditions with no benefits while six members of the Walton family are worth more than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
However, the struggle is far from over! Today's inspiring actions point the way forward. Please continue to support OUR Walmart and all low-wage workers in the struggle for economic justice and show support for the courageous workers and unemployed people on the frontlines against income inequality.