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Evaluating For A Better Minneapolis Police Chief

by Grace Kelly on April 30, 2012 · 1 comment

The Star Tribune is seriously misleading people when they credit Chief Dolan with the drop in crime rate.

“With little doubt, the key accomplishment of Dolan’s years has been the steady drop in the crime rate.”

Overall societal trends mean falling crime rates all across the US in every area . Many people debate the causes for crime, but there is a consensus that police chief is not even mostly responsible. In fact, if you compared the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2005,  just before Chief Dolan’s term, to the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2010, you would find it INCREASED.

What would be better measures of a police chiefs performance?

1) Arrest rates – where the arrests are upheld in court as having a good case.

2) Clearance rates – where cases are solved or cleared not merely shelved.

3) Misconduct rates – where we count all the instances of police conduct.

4) Attitudes of community policing not military policing – where the police have respect for community, where neither victims nor arrestees complain of harsh treatment and where there are few civil lawsuits.
Looking in more detail:

1) Arrest rates – where the arrests are upheld in court as having a good case.

If you compared the Minneapolis portion of state wide arrests from 2005,  just before Chief Dolan’s term, to the Minneapolis portion of state wide crime from 2010, you would find it to be basically the same. On this measure, Minneapolis police performance has not changed.

The calculations, based on MN BCA 2005 and 2010 Uniform Crime Reports:

Grade: OK

2) Clearance rates – where cases are solved or cleared not merely shelved.

A high clearance rate is good, that means crimes are being solved. Minneapolis has gone down in clearance rates (from 29% to 23%) while the state has improved in clearance rates (46% to 48%). One would actually expect higher clearance rates because the science behind solving crimes is getting better.

Perhaps if we compared Minneapolis to other big cities, Minneapolis would fare better. So let’s compare uniform crime reporting by Minneapolis to the FBI federal reporting for cities over 250,000, for the year 2010.  For murders, Minneapolis reports a 64% clearance rate which is better than a 61% comparable national average. For rapes, Minneapolis reports a 37% clearance rate which is less than a 41% comparable national average. For robbery, Minneapolis reports a 20% clearance rate which is less than a 25% comparable national average. For property crime, Minneapolis reports a 70% clearance rate which way exceeds a 14% comparable national average (maybe “stolen property” and “property crime” are not really comparable). For violent crime as a category, Minneapolis reports a 18% clearance rate which is sadly much less than a 45% comparable national average. Overall, Minneapolis still looks poorer than an average big city.

Selected data from the FBI uniform crime reports:

Selected data from theMN BCA 2010 Uniform Crime Reports:

Grade: Poorer than Average Big Cities and the State

3) Misconduct rates – where we count all the instances of police conduct.

A high rating in this category is bad. The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project ranks Minneapolis as fourth in misconduct rates for police agencies of a similar size in 2010. Minneapolis is even the ranked higher than the notorious Oakland who almost killed a protestor with its misuse of force. One might argue the details, like maybe the incidents are really not that bad. So here is the listing of what the project collected in just 2010.

Report published in National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project :

1. Minneapolis MN police chief accused of only disciplining 5 of 37 officers guilty of misconduct, & then only w/reprimands:
2. Minneapolis MN PD fires yet another ex-cop community relations consultant after finding this one had felony record:
3. Minneapolis MN police chief criticized for only disciplining 6 of 11 cops w/sustained findings of misconduct [1]
4. Minneapolis MN cop shoots dog in fenced yard next to suspect’s home, witnesses say dog wasn’t barking or threatening him:
5. Minneapolis MN police sgt wrongfully threatens to arrest ccw permit holder after disarming & pointing gun at him 3]6. Minneapolis MN police accused of arresting gun rights activist in retaliation for complaint over month-old incident [3
7. Minneapolis MN controversial cop recently rehired is indicted on federal civil rights charges for kicking teen in head:
8. Minneapolis MN police SRO cop charged w/4 counts criminal sexual conduct involving 2 girls age 12 & one since age 5 [1]
9. Minneapolis MN police lieutenant faces theft charges for withdrawing $1500 from women’s police org for a personal cruise:
10. Minneapolis MN cop w/history of misconduct fired again for lying about alleged brutality on now-disbanded task force [3]
11. Minneapolis MN police school resource officer under investigation for use of force while breaking up teen girl fights:
12. Minneapolis MN police must reveal more info on complaints against cops due to court ruling in appeal filed by CUAPB:
13. Minneapolis MN loses civil suit in $1.8mil federal jury award to family of unarmed man shot to death by 2 cops 3]14. 2 Minneapolis MN cops subject of suit after security cam catches them performing body cavity search at roadside [3
15. Minneapolis, St Paul, & Ramsey County MN sued by “Democracy Now” host and two producers over their arrests at 2008 RNC:
16. Minneapolis MN cop sued by woman claiming she was wrongfully tackled & arrested while cop worked security at apt bldg:
17. 2 Minneapolis MN cops sued by man kicked at videotaped traffic stop a month after he reported brutality he witnessed:
18. Minneapolis MN dashcam video shows cops beat and taser man after lying about stopping him for broken tail light:
19. Minneapolis MN cop pleads to robbery charges in Dakota Co, already sentenced for bank robbery & Hennepin Co robberies [0]
20. Minneapolis MN police chief rehires cop he fired for his role in FBI probed Strike Force scandal, gives him 7mo back pay:
21. Minneapolis MN cop who fataly shot teen in high-profile 2006 case ordered rehired by arbitrator after fired on DV charge:
22. Minneapolis MN police SWAT team officer sentenced to 8 years for armed bank robbery, case pending for 12 other robberies:
23. Minneapolis MN cop sentenced to 10yrs for armed robberies, to serve concurrently w/8yr fed sentence for bank robbery 0]24. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $80k to cop claiming he was removed from Metro Gang Task Force for reporting abuses [0
25. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $165k to 7 “zombies” who were arrested & jailed for 2 days w/o charge during protest [1]
26. Minneapolis MN police settle suit for $235k to man punched, kicked, and tasered by 6 cops on dashcam video:
27. Minneapolis MN police settle brutality suit for $125k to man stomped on and tasered on video after he gave up when shot:
28. Minneapolis MN settles suit for $75k to man shown on dashcam video being tasered in neck while cooperating with police:
29. Minneapolis MN police to settle wrongful arrest lawsuit over 2007 arrest of critical mass cyclist for $70k:
30. Minneapolis MN council committee may recommend against city paying for defense of cop in videotaped taser abuse lawsuit:

Grade: Horrible, only three cities of the same type are worst.

4) Attitudes of community policing not military policing – where the police have respect for community, where neither victims nor arrestees complain of harsh treatment and where there are few civil lawsuits.

“We have more cops than bad people” is what you hear on the police video during the arrests at the latest Occupy protest. And what did these people do to become “bad” people? They walked illegally in the street. How many of us have walked illegally in the streets of Minneapolis? Are we all “bad” people?

Derryl Jenkins ended up beaten and bloodied after a traffic stop in North Minneapolis almost two years ago, when he peaceably complied with officers. Luckily it was captured by the dash video cam. The City of Minneapolis paid $235,000 in a settlement. Yet what was clear to the public was not so clear to Lt Mike Sauro, 4th Precinct, who still said :

“As a supervisor at the 4th Pct. I am writing this in response to the request that supervisors discuss use of force with officers under their command, I will start this discussion by telling you that I have worked for the MPD for thirty five years and have attended many, many training sessions on force and been involved in many, many use of force incidents…If the suspect does not produce his drivers license when requested he than dictates that force be used, not the officer….In ending I will repeat that the Jenkins’s arrest incident is a classic applied use of force by highly trained professional police officers”

No one has kept score on the numbers or amounts of civil lawsuits, which is too bad. For if we kept score, then maybe we would have more cause to change the Minneapolis police force. Under Tim Dolan, Minneapolis has paid 1.8 million dollars in lawsuits in just a couple of years.

Legendarily, this police force has beaten up the victim (not the attacker) who called for help.

Grade: Horrible, the police consider us all to be bad people.

The Solution

The solution is more than a good police chief, although a good police chief is key. The next police chief should be local. If the police chief’s teenage son could possibly be the person beaten up, then I think policies will change. The next police chief should embody community policing and enforce it in every way. More importantly, I think the public, the Mayor and the city council have to be united in call for change.

Here are some changes that need to happen beyond the police chief:

1) The chief, the mayor and the entire city council needs to testify to get rid of arbitration. The chief should be able to fire cops who kill unarmed people and other violations of the use of force. Once this law changes, multiple people need to be fired.

2) The civil lawsuits should come out of the same budget line as the police salaries.

3) Every Minneapolis police officer needs to re-trained in the safe use of force.

As a last resort, we should all consider disbanding the Minneapolis police force and starting a new organization with a different name with entirely new hires to do policing for Minneapolis. Serious consideration of this option, with the passing of appropriate laws to enable it, may force the Minneapolis police force to actually change.

The real question is – does this matter enough to you to make it an issue in every city election? Only if you demand change, will change happen. Do you have to wait until a family member or friend is a victim of Minneapolis policing before you act or can you act now?  

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“We have more cops than bad people”

by Grace Kelly on April 14, 2012 · 1 comment

On Saturday during a protest in Minneapolis,  a police officer is caught on the official police video shoving a KSTP cameraman’s camera off his shoulder and then proceeding to attack another camera man. The official video shows the Minneapolis police first taking out a National Lawyer’s Guild observer and then arresting the whole group of Occupy protesters trying to cross the street for “blocking” the street. On the official video, it shows one-tent-carrying group as moving on to the street, while the others stayed on the sidewalk as instructed. Even by the toughest interpretation, only that one tent carrying group should have been arrested. But truly, does innocence matter? It is clear from the official video, that they planned arrest and that they were only looking for an excuse.

The supposed crime is Minnesota statue 609.74 PUBLIC NUISANCE. This is a return of using the public nuisance law to stop free speech. In 1925, Minnesota used the public nuisance law to shut down a newspaper.

Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 (1931), was a United States Supreme Court decision that recognized the freedom of the press by roundly rejecting prior restraints on publication, a principle that was applied to free speech generally in subsequent jurisprudence…

“Olson filed a complaint against Near and Guilford under the Public Nuisance Law of 1925.[3] Also known as the “Minnesota Gag Law”, it provided permanent injunctions against those who created a “public nuisance,” by publishing, selling, or distributing a “malicious, scandalous and defamatory newspaper.”… a scandalous publication “annoys, injures and endangers the comfort and repose of a considerable number of persons,” and so constituted a nuisance just as surely as “places where intoxicating liquor is illegally sold,” “houses of prostitution,” “dogs,” “malicious fences” “itinerant carnivals,” “lotteries,” and “noxious weeds.”


The Occupy protestors were complying with what had been worked out before with the police. The understanding was that tents with nothing in them were legal.

So here are the important questions, “Why are the police doing this?” and “Who made the decision to make a change?” The city council had supported the Occupy Movement through a resolution. It had to be the Mayor who changed policy. After the arrest, the Occupy group went to city hall. Eventually, on Tuesday at 1 PM, they were granted a meeting with the Chief of Police Rick Nolan and Mayor RT Rybak. The videos do not show any satisfactory resolution. The real question is why would the mayor make a decision against his own interests. The Occupy movement has supported the policies of taxing the rich, a major tenet of the DFL platform. The Occupy movement has been key in improving support for Obama and the Buffett rule. The mayor could have negotiated to have the plaza kept cleaner and neater. Instead he went with the stealth police attack that is sure to infuriate all peace and civil rights activists. Instead of talking about Democratic issues targeting Republcians, now everyone is talking about targeting a Democratic mayor about civil rights. So is why is RT Rybak doing this?

Details below the fold.
Warning, I am using the police video here but I do not consider it a neutral point of view. Police make plans. This view of police is entirely under the control of the police and could be entirely scripted. This is NOT an independent video person capturing the events of the day. Furthermore, the footage is broken in a few places in way that might indicate editing.

There are reports that the police first took out the legal observers, then the mainstream press cameras, and then the independent cameras which to me shows deliberate intent to hide what was really going on.

On this official video, you can see where the police took out the legal observer (27:22). A video posted later in the article shows the take out of the KSTP video.

There is an accusation of the streets being blocked by Chief Nolan which you can see in the video is just people occasionally walking in the street with a tent to avoid an obstacle. More importantly this walking in the street in Minneapolis is commonly accepted behavior. Why isn’t everyone who does it being arrested, hmmmm? One rumor was about blocking an ambulance, which was an encounter quickly cleared that happened an hour before the arrest, according to participants.

From the Minneapolis police video, it is clear that the tents and protesters would move whenever they were requested to move. The police notification was done via a bullhorn that could not be heard above the crowd noise or via a car speaker where the person in front of the car turned and said “what.”

The great thing about the Minneapolis police provided video is that you can hear the radio, with the clear plans to arrest before cause.

4:27 Strike team moved to 12th and Nicollet

20:19 actually I think we are going to pinch them here

26:50 “Go ahead,  those people who moved back onto the street. let’s take them OK we are on the wrong side of them, do you want to arrest them or not? we have more cops than bad people…  

27:19 all strike teams come  in on this, were going to take these people into custody

And yes the police really do say

We have more cops than bad people

Which demonstrates the incredible bias of police. For simply protesting, these were bad people. Note that the police wanted to have overwhelming numbers to overcome peaceful protestors.

Let’s pretend that police were actually arresting for cause. According to the police video, it was this group of people who should be arrested if you think that moving on to the street is an event worthy of arrest. It is common accepted practice in Minneapolis. On the video, the radio calls in all strike forces WITHOUT SPECIFYING WHO TO ARREST.

When the police respond, they also arrest two totally innocent groups who are just trying to cross the street. This is the classic mass arrest including many innocent people.

Also notice that police video is turned away from the action during very critical moments.

The stories from the perspective of Occupy participants:

A closer look at the police taking out the KSTP camera:

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Last October, nine members of the Minneapolis city council supported the right to peacefully protest in a resolution, “Peaceable Calls for Reforms to the Income Tax, Financial, and Electoral Systems.” Today, City Council President Barb Johnson, from the Lowry Park area ward, proposed a resolution that basically would shut down public plazas between midnight and 6AM. It also was going to make heavy use of trespass to ban people. Since this seems more like an ordinance change rather than a resolution, Council Person Schiff made a motion to refer the resolution to the public safety and civil rights committee, which easily passed. A few council people wanted to just vote it down directly and mentioned that their vote to “refer to committee” should not in any way be perceived as support.

It looked like the resolution was basically only the intent of the City Council President Barb Johnson. So I put in a call request to Barb Johnson.

City Council President Barb Johnson graciously gave me a call back. Johnson said her basic intent was “to make sure that the plaza can be used by everyone.” She is opposed to people sleeping in public places. She wants the plaza available to the public, not just a specific group. She does not want to provide public bathrooms. She does not want to provide police protection to people sleeping in public places.

Then I questioned her more closely. The enforcement mechanism of this “resolution” was trespass. Trespass is banishment from public property BEFORE any possibility of a hearing. A person can be totally legal and within their rights, yet be perpetually banished through the use of trespass.  When I asked about the trespass effect of immediately excluding people without a hearing, Johnson said she didn’t know about trespass. She didn’t know, even though she is proposing the use of trespass in her resolution and as a city council person, she makes ordinances (the city law) that control trespass.  A quick call to the Minneapolis First Precinct police confirms that effects of trespass happen immediately before a hearing. The use of trespass has already been used to banish people from public spaces without even a hearing.

Then I asked about where are homeless supposed to be, if no one can sleep in public places. Johnson said the homeless can sleep in shelters, but had no answer about what to do when shelters are full. Basically, I had a strong “we/them” feeling about the conversation, particularly when Johnson would say “not dominated by a particular group”. I had the feeling that Johnson’s view, that when the public had rights, that word “public” did not include the homeless or Occupy. Apparently, in Johnson’s perspective, public spaces are only for the privileged public.

There were only 18 hours of notice on this resolution, so there was a huge call out this morning to alert people. Clerks at city hall said that there was uncertainty about the process even among city council members. Given the previous resolution of city council support, I don’t think this resolution represented anything more that the views of a small minority, possibly just one person.  


Capitalism Based on the Wrong Incentives

by Grace Kelly on January 23, 2012 · 1 comment

Capitalism is based on individual incentives working best to motivate people and find solutions. When carrot/stick motivations fail, when money fails, then basically capitalism is a failure. This could easily be the important reason why so many of our national problems have been getting worse instead of better.

This video explains why intrinsic motivators work better for solving problems that are not simple.

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Forget Rhetoric, Watch Republican Voting

by Grace Kelly on January 6, 2012 · 0 comments

All rhetoric can be thrown away, just look at what the Republican candidates support and what they work for in actual legislation. When the Republicans fought the working people’s tax cut, it should have been a huge wake up call that Republicans work for and only work for a small part of the 1%.


Changing Capitalism Corruption With Grains of Sand

by Grace Kelly on January 4, 2012 · 0 comments

In my Business Ethics class, I learned that 85% of people are ethical but everyone cheats just a little, like taking a little off the weight on a driver’s license. The gradual incremental cheating can eventually led to incredibly ethical wrong paths from Jamis Hollis’s book, “Why Good People Do Bad Things.” Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, “The Tipping Point”, demonstrates that ethics is very situational. Little changes can make a huge difference in ethical choices. For example take this classic ethical choice:

Situation 1: A runaway train is coming down the track. You are standing next to the track switch. Five men are working on the current track and one man on the other track. Anyone on the track in front of this train will be killed. Do you throw the switch saving 5 men and killing one man?

Now many people will say yes. It is the same principle of an airline pilot steering a falling plane away from the school and into a park.

Situation 2: As before, the train is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you – your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Do you proceed?

Now most people will say no. Yet, really, how different are these situations?

This applies very directly to the business ethics that we have set up in capitalism.
In every way, our executive decisions are divorced from consequences. Companies pick low-cost suppliers irregardless of what social consequences they cause. Little did I know when I purchased my Apple computer that I was also purchasing people driven by working conditions so bad that suicide was a better option.

Reuters’ Jason Lee captured this picture where nets were installed to prevent suicides from poor working conditions at a Chinese Foxconn factory. The plant made parts for customers such as Apple, HP and Del.

Remember the 85% of people who are ethical. What if we are only rewarding the 15% who are unethical? Clive Boddy makes that very case in his book, “Corporate Psychopaths.” Truly, one only has to listen to Enron traders to hear how unethical our businesses have become.

By picking only the highest performing numbers for 401Ks, are we begging for cheating? Is Enron the exception or the rule? I would claim that Enron is the rule for we have no way of screening out cheating. Our government controls have been defanged and corrupted. The FBI shifted all of its manpower from white collar crime into terrorism. We have no checks and balances, so cheating is handsomely rewarded until economic circumstances just happen to expose the inner workings.

Theoretically, a stock should be valued based on the net present value of its expected returns. Actually, stocks are speculatively valued based on what people are expected to pay for it. Structurally our stock market is one giant speculation bubble!

And what do we do as customers? We diversify as we are told to do.  Since we don’t want to do that diversification ourselves, we purchase funds that do it for us. Our retirement 401Ks are so removed from our decision making that we don’t know what we purchase. We invest blindly. So that allows all kinds of fraud and social irresponsibility. So how many suicides is your retirement fund causing?

Now, I am not making the case that capitalism is bad or good. Just like any human enterprise, it is HOW one does it that matters. One can be a good parent or a bad parent.  A business or a government entity can be run well or run poorly. Humans are very goal orientated and malleable. We can change our institutions for the better.

It us awhile to create this situation and it is going to take tremendous amount of effort over time to fix it. Get over the desire for quick fixes. And it is work that will fix it, not just demonizing labels like “capitalism” or “socialism.” If you just have a corny label or phrase, then all you have is fixes like Tim Pawlenty painting the bridges so the need for repairs would not show. You do need the social movement, but then real change has to happen.

Each and everyone of us count, and here is how we can start that change journey of thousand steps:

1) Look at your own investments. Find investments that are local where you know the lowest person during the worst task is treated well. Find and verify green standards. Convert and inform your friends.

2) Bring the “pushing the fat man” lesson (from situation 2 above) home to decision makers. Let’s identify decision makers and give them the information that puts them in the “pushing the fat man” scenario. We have video to bring the pain home. We have email. We could even leave stories and pictures on those very expensive executive cars. Let luxury cars become the symbol of living on other people’s pain and suffering.

3) We can change who is in our government and what the rules/laws are. We can make it illegal to go from a government job to a government influence or direct regulated industry job. Sure it is hard. But if I as one person could make a difference in a Sheriff’s race, what could you do? Recruit help and organize.

4) Forget perfection, and go for better. Incrementally we got to a bad place, incrementally we can get to a good place again. Yes it will feel like compromise. But we change things by picking the better of two realistic choices, not by wailing about impossible perfection.

5) Every ethical study shows that it is social respect and standing that we really work for, not just greed. We choose our heroes. Let our heroes be the leaders who stand up for creating business and government that is transparent, socially responsible, environmentally responsible, and fiscally responsible to all stakeholders. Let our villains be the leaders who would push workers to suicide, especially those who do it unknowingly.

I am sure you can come up with your own list. This is a grain of sand problem, where we all move grains of sand until the world changes. Let’s start!


Dollars to the 1% Go Out of the US

by Grace Kelly on January 3, 2012 · 0 comments

In Part 2 of Economic Failure by Design, I want to show you that dollars going to the richest 1% are basically going out of the country. The greatest lie is that lowered taxes lead to employment growth. The truth is actually the opposite, that higher taxes bring employment growth.

The underlying truth to this chart, is that given an extra dollar, the richest one percent are likely to invest in a foreign country, since they already have all the spending money they need. Current smart investment analysis advice is that 50% of investment be directly spent in foreign investments. And even in US investments, most of those investments are also abroad. So for a dollar given to the top 1%, it is likely that 20 cents stays in the US in the first round. An ideal investment of a dollar returns more than a dollar. This “tax break for the richest” investment gradually diminishes to a total lost dollar. This is the worst possible investment for job growth in the US.
Wall StreetJournal shows where the money given to the actual 1% really goes. Note the US is not on the list and US growth by the Journal is described as “sluggish.”

And in fact the outflow of US dollars to foreign investments is very well documented as strong and increasing.

Now to be fair, one has to look to see foreigners are investing in the US more than the US is investing abroad. That is not the case.

Note: Now before some drive-by commentator places lies about the causes, let me tell you that in a future article I will again show that it is business picking up the cost of medical that is a primary cause of our lower returns. Foreign investment also comes with much higher risk (remember junk bonds).

The conclusion of this is every dollar that went in a tax break to the richest 1% was a dollar sucked out of economy that went to help foreign countries.


Economic Failure by Design Part 1

by Grace Kelly on January 2, 2012 · 0 comments

When American had a healthy balance between the richest 1% and the rest of us, the economy was healthier in every way. Now our economy is using up every safety feature and still failing. The richest 1% are killing the golden-egg producing goose of their prosperity. All the riches in the world will do nothing if the world economy collapses. So many lies have been sold over the years, that it takes a while to see and digest the truth.

The Economic Policy Institute has a book, Failure by Design by Josh Bivens, and a website that has the story behind our economic failures today. The first truth is that economic growth used to be shared, where every class used to do better. As of the last 30 years, the top 1% instead of grabbing 1% of the additional wealth grabbed 38.7%. An interactive feature demonstrates this as well.

Where did the growth go?

We are well on the way to have a class of working people who have no health care, no social security, no housing and even no food. I guess from the Republican viewpoint, defending the greedy part of the 1%, people dying would be a greater incentive to work harder and more.  


Gmail – FW: [West Coast Port] Seattle Press Release –

From: “Marianne M.”

Sent: 12/13/2011 6:23 am
To: interocc-west-coast-port-call
Subject: [West Coast Port] Seattle Press Release
Press Release

Occupy Seattle

December 13, 2011

[Note: This article was written by several members of Occupy Seattle who
were closely involved with organizing for the December 12th West Coast Port
Shut Down. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect all of Occupy
Seattle, or Occupy Minneapolis.]

Occupy Seattle: A New Phase for the Workers’ Movement

SEATTLE, Wash – Monday, December 12th, Occupy protesters and allies shut
down several major ports along the West Coast. In Seattle, we stopped all
evening work at Terminals 18 and 5, causing millions in profit loss to
major corporations Stevedoring Services of America, American President
Line, and Eagle Marine Services.

Yesterday’s actions drew a wide swath of the 99%. Protesters of all ages
demonstrated, and people of color turned out in large numbers. The protests
included a coordinated city-wide high school walkout, a rally emceed by Hip
Hop Occupies, and a three mile march to the ports. The shutdown was
organized by members of Occupy Seattle in solidarity with Occupy Oakland
and with the struggles of LA, Oakland, and Seattle port truckers and
Longview longshoremen. Occupy Seattle’s People of Color caucus
produced need-to-know guides for the action.

The shutdown was solidly an Occupy action, funded by the heartfelt
donations of occupiers and their supporters, and a hefty donation from
Occupy Oakland. We received absolutely no material support from any union.
This was a direct action in the truest sense of the term: it was
rapid-fire, organized on a shoestring budget, bypassed stalling
bureaucracy, and mobilized the energy of an inspired community united
against economic injustice.

The actions were planned with special attention to the long tradition of
democracy and direct action within the ILWU. We picketed Terminals 18 and 5
in light of the longstanding ILWU principle of respecting other pickets.
Union policy dictates that if arbitrators rule that picket lines are too
dangerous to cross, ILWU workers will be compensated for the work they

The protests were wildly successful. Truck drivers and port workers
repeatedly expressed support for the protesters, waving and honking as they

Terminal 18-the Port of Seattle’s largest and busiest terminal-was the
first to be shut down. Protesters took the main intersection, swiftly
forming a blockade of roadside debris to stop the incoming shift, while
redirecting outgoing traffic onto one lane. This effectively blocked three
gates, while the fourth had been shut down by the port in anticipation of
the action. The Seattle Police Department, not protesters, temporarily
stopped workers and truckers from leaving the port by forming a bike chain
as protesters yelled at them to “let the trucks through.”

Under pressure from protesters, police backed away, but later stopped
traffic once again, stating that they were trying to clear the road for
police convoys to enter. In solidarity with the protesters, the truckers
honked their horns loudly and persistently, and the frustrated calls of the
crowd forced the cops back off the road. Occupiers then continued to direct
traffic out of the port, delivering flyers of Scott Olsen’s statement to
drivers as they passed (see below).

At 5pm, reports came through that the union arbitrator had ruled in favor
of protesters, deeming the picket too dangerous to cross. The ILWU called
off work at Terminal 18 for the evening. In accordance with union contract,
dispatched longshore workers were nonetheless paid for their time.

Protesters then proceeded to Terminal 5, the location of the Port’s only
other ship that day, chanting “Whose Ports / Our Ports.” Approximately one
hundred protesters formed a human barricade and moving picket line at the
terminal gate, while another hundred stood by in support.

Some protesters who remained at Terminal 18 were herded onto the sidewalk.
When they tried to maintain the blockade, conflict escalated. The police
used pepper spray and flash grenades to disperse protesters, in one case
forcibly pulling back the head of a protester to spray him in the face. A
few protesters flung road flares and a bag of paint at the police in
retaliation. In the resulting chaos, a number of protesters were arrested.

The crowd of Terminal 18 dissipated and joined Terminal 5. After two hours
of picketing, the union arbitrator once again ruled in favor of protesters,
calling off work at the terminal.

At the time of this writing, however, workers dispatched to Terminal 5 will
not be receiving their expected compensation. In an unprecedented move,
terminal operators American President Lines and Eagle Marine Services have
denied compensation to longshore workers despite contractual obligations.
What will come of this contract violation is yet to be seen.

The Occupy Movement Strikes Back

Many of us showed up to this action having learned from the experiences
we’ve had in the short months since we began assembling together. Having
previous engagements with the police, we knew to protect ourselves. Legal
observers and medics were interspersed through the crowd, and the majority
brought bandannas and scarves to cover their noses against flash bombs and
other chemical weapons utilized by the police. Some of us sported the
goggles that we learned to use after pepper spray incapacitated activists
during the march on Chase Bank.

Occupy Seattle’s action was one of the last in the day, following
successful port shutdowns in Longview, Portland, Oakland, and other places.
A hundred of our friends in Bellingham continued to break the flow of
capital by protesting on the railroads, some locking themselves to the
tracks in defiance. Solidarity was extended to us even from Japan, where
the International Labor Solidarity Committee of Doro-Chiba made a statement
of support.

We send our sincere thanks to Oakland and Portland for extending their
protests in response to the police aggression in Seattle that left several
of our friends with stinging eyes and ringing ears. We extend our support
and love to Houston and San Diego, where the police have used similarly
aggressive tactics.

Today, we stand in solidarity with the unemployed, the underemployed, the
incarcerated, and the 89% of the working class who don’t belong to unions.
We stand in solidarity with students protesting education cutbacks and
rising debts, with low-wage workers protesting union-busting, with those
facing foreclosure, and with the unemployed. We believe that a workers’
movement does not merely belong to the unionized, nor does it recognize
imposed political borders. This is the building of a new movement. We rise
from our roots in the labor movement, the civil rights movement, and
anti-colonial struggles across the world.

For ongoing updates on the West Coast Port Shut Down action:
Truck Drivers Statement:
More information on Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) and Goldman
ILWU Guiding Principles (See in particular #4 regarding community picket
Appeal from Scott Olsen to Longshore Workers:…



Nomination for Best Holiday Video

by Grace Kelly on December 13, 2011 · 0 comments

This season I truly feel like the only ones who get to celebrate are the richest corporations. And then I found this stunning video of “HALLELUJAH CORPORATIONS.” One conservative classmate told me that what most bugged him about us (progressives) is how we could make such great fun at his (conservative) expense. So money is not enough for the conservative richest of the rich, they want respect and adoration too. And we peasants (the 99%) just poke fun, even through our suffering. Poor rich people, begging for a crumb of respect. They should trying do without,  just to see what that really feels like.