....LMB: "Pre-Emptive Strike"....

May 19, 2003

In St. Louis this week, a protest and conference were planned to raise awareness to the issue of genetically-engineered foods. It would take place shortly before the World Agricultural Forum meeting in that town (the directors of the WAF seemto be primarily involved in investment, commerce, and the AG industry). The counter-forum called itself Biodevastation 2003.

According to reports from the St. Louis Independent Media Center, the STL police raided the headquarters of two different organizations involved in the protests and arrested 20 people on trumped up charges before any of the protests got underway. The most egregious of these offenses is when the cops arrested one woman for having a "controlled substance," that might actually just be a bottle of Vitamin C. They have also "confiscated 20 bicycles, camping gear, puppets, construction materials, tools, circus equipment and many more items."

The police chief has explained that these raids were necessary because the protesters were planning violent attacks on the WAF meeting. He pointed to the "weapons" found on site. The protesters point out that the "weapons"-- rocks, nails and "circus whips," were used in construction (well, the last presumably as props during the protest). Bottles with rags in them were "molotov cocktails" according to the cops. That last one pisses me off something fierce, because 1) protesters are often making props for their events shortly before the event, and rags and bottles are easy ways to store and manipulate paint and turpentine, and 2) how hard is it for cops to fabricate this "evidence" by finding an open bottle inside a house and stuffing a rag/sock/paper towel into the opening? One alleged witness claims to have seen one of the cops doing just that.

Long story short, it seems that the police in St. Louis tried to scare the city into believing that a bunch of violent protesters were going to raze the city, and the only way to protect the good people of STL was to take down these "eco-terrorists" in advance (probably not mentioning that what they're going to do is kinda illegal). Then they make some arrests and maybe bust some heads. And when there's no violence, they can take credit for Saving the City.

That's a neat trick, actually. Watch.

Unless I type the word "banana" in the next ten seconds, the Earth is going to explode.

...
...

Banana

The Earth didn't explode! Hooray, I've saved the world! Love me and shower me with gifts!

Sadly, I can't verify much of this story. The folks at Independent Media Centers are usually pretty reliable folks (I can't say the same for the random folks who post the articles that appear in the right-hand column of all their sites), so I tentatively believe their version of the story. In addition, I can think of at least three different occasions when cops have done this pre-emptive activist raid in the past (IMF/WB protest in DC in spring 2000, RNC protests in Philly in Summer 2000, G8 protests in Genoa, Italy in summer 2001), so I know that it does indeed happen.

These are the sort of things that really try your patience with Democratic or liberal plans for saving the world. Law enforcement is breaking the law. People's dissent is being criminalized. Personal property is entered. Personal possesions are taken. Free speech is being suspended. You only have the rights that people with power decide not to take away. And they're going to get away with it.

Knowing all that, I'm supposed to believe that the way to positive social change is voting for Al Gore and chanting a political slogan at a legally-permitted rally?

Anyhow, more info on all this at the STL IMC site and at the Biodevastation site.

If you want to get involved, the Biodev people recommend that you "call the Chief of Police Joe Mokwa, at (314) 444-5624 and demand their immediate release and stop their harassment of the movement against genetic engineering and corporate agribusiness. We understand that the police may hang up as people try to call the above number. Other numbers for police are (314) 444-5555 and (314) 231-1212."

Posted by Jake at 03:59 PM | TrackBack (0)
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I reported on this a few days ago. You can find alternate sources at St. Louis Today and Infoshop, although neither one mentions the "weapons."

Posted by: madprophet at May 21, 2003 01:07 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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