As with the May Day mobilization, "terrorism" charges have emerged from the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago—or so the media are playing it, with headlines sporting the T-word. But it seems Sebastian Senakiewicz was charged with "terroristic threatening" for bad-assing that he had explosives hidden in the hollowed-out interior of his "Harry Potter" book (which he didn't). Mark Neiweem was charged with "attempted possession of explosive or incendiary devices"—basically, he was asking around for material to make Molotov cocktails. So neither of them have actually been charged with terrorism. (Chicago Tribune, NYT, May 20)
The Occupy movement made an impressive return on May Day, with marches held in most cities around the US—although it was by no means the national "General Strike" it had been billed as. Some marches were marred by violence. In Seattle, a Black Bloc smashed windows and the glass doors of the city courthouse, while in Oakland police used tear gas to clear a downtown intersection that had been taken over by protesters. The violence came days after Robert Warshaw, a monitor appointed to review Oakland police conduct by a federal court following a suit over brutality 10 years ago, issued a report decrying the "overwhelming military-type response" to last fall's Occupy protests. Brief clashes with police were also reported from San Francisco and Los Angeles. But the worst debacle was in Cleveland, where media reported the May Day march was cancelled after five young men apparently involved in the Occupy movement were arrested by the FBI on charges of plotting to blow up the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge. The Occupy Cleveland website appears to make no mention of the bust, but also no mention of any May Day protests.
A special event in New York City April 26 will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the arrest of the late Palestinian activist and Homeland Security detainee Farouk Abdel-Muhti, in the room where his supporters regularly met to organize the fight for his freedom. The event will feature a screening of Enemy Alien, a first-person documentary on the campaign to free Abdel-Muhti, who was arrested at his home in Queens in the post-9-11 sweeps of Muslim immigrants and held for almost two years. He died of a heart attack just three months after he was finally set free in 2004. The screening will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Konrad Aderer, the grandson of Japanese Americans interned during World War II. Others who were involved in the case will also be on hand, including Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Shayana Kadidal, who has since served as senior managing attorney for the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative; and MacDonald Scott, legal representative with No One Is Illegal Toronto.
UN Special Rapporteur on Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya will visit the United States from April 23 to May 4 to launch the UN's first ever investigation into the rights situation of Native Americans. Anaya will be looking into the rights of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, and meeting with government officials throughout the nation. One main goal of his investigation is to determine how the Unites States' endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in December 2010 has affected the rights of these groups, and what improvements may still be needed. Anaya will report his findings and make recommendations to US federal and state officials during his trip.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) and Department of the Interior (DoI) announced a $1.023 billion settlement with 41 American Indian tribes April 11. The announcement comes following a 22-month negotiation period after the tribes charged in a class action that the DoI and the Department of the Treasury mismanaged money held in a trust account from natural resources on tribal lands. The DoI holds nearly 56 million acres in trust for Native American tribes, and leases much of these lands for various uses including timber, mineral, oil and gas extraction. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the settlement "fairly and honorably resolves historical grievances over the accounting and management of tribal trust funds, trust lands and other non-monetary trust resources that, for far too long, have been a source of conflict between Indian tribes and the United States."
The US Supreme Court on Feb. 17 blocked enforcement of a Montana Supreme Court ruling, which upheld a state law limiting the amount of money corporations can spend on campaigns, until it can consider an appeal from the corporations challenging the law. The Montana court ruling in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Montana appears to conflict with the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , which struck down a regulation that prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds for "electioneering communications" aimed at supporting or opposing a political candidate. The 1912 Corrupt Practices Act upheld by the Montana Supreme Court prohibits the same activity. The plaintiffs will now have to apply for a writ of certiorari to have the case heard by the Court. If cert is granted, this case is likely to play out as an attempt to narrow the scope of, or overrule Citizens United.
Two of the last remaining Occupy encampments left in the USA have met with setbacks in recent days. Two members of Occupy DC remain jailed on charges of assaulting officers during a Feb. 4 clash with US Park Police who razed their encampment at McPherson Square. A second encampment at nearby Freedom Plaza was raided the next day, although many tents were left standing. (Huffington Post, Feb. 7) On Feb. 1, police cleared out the hearty souls who had stuck it out in frigid Buffalo. The raid came three hours after Occupy Buffalo held a press conference in which they stated their refusal to sign a contract with the city that would have required them to decamp by March 8. From a first-hand account in Buffalo's ArtVoice:
Us old-school lefties have been wondering for a quite some time, which is more annoying—the legions of "Anonymous" hacktivists who think that faceless adventurism is the cutting-edge of revolution, or Ron Paul supporters who think that this ultra-reactionary Republican crank stands for progressive change? Well now, much to our amusement, they appear to be at each other's throats! And we have to give an editorial tip o' the hat to Anonymous for uncovering more dirt on Paul's ties to real live neo-Nazis. In their latest cyber-attack, they apparently hacked the website of some nimrods calling themselves American Third Position, or A3P—a Southern California-based outfit that is seeking to mainstream white supremacism by running candidates, in the style of David Duke back in the '90s. The hackers evidently splashed a bunch of the A3P crew's internal e-mails on the group's homepage—and, lo and behold, it turns out they are a well integrated into Paul's political machine! This account from the UK's International Business Times, Jan. 31: