Tag Archives: protest

#Occupy Vancouver: Out of Sight, Out of Media

Less than two months ago, the #occupy movement captured the hearts and minds of people around the world. Tent cities sprang up in cities everywhere, and idealistic videos like “Women of #Occupy Wall Street” (above) wistfully showed articulate young people to be quite the opposite of the entitled, apathetic losers the media often likes to paint them as. The positive public reaction was sincere, widespread and powerful.

But somewhere around the beginning of November, public opinion began to change. As Naomi Wolf’s excellent Guardian article points out here, there was a concerted effort to discredit the tent city occupiers, and turn the general public against them. Vancouver city officials and police admitted to being privy to continental-wide conference calls between #occupy cities, which were organized by the US Department of Homeland Security, about how to deal with the tent cities. Clearly, there was serious concern in high places, if Homeland Security was getting involved. The fact that our “progressive” civic officials took part in this, and, after some delay, caved in and went along with this propaganda effort against the most progressive movement in decades, speaks volumes about how progressive they really are. (Quisling comes to mind.)

So not coincidentally, during Remembrance Day week, police departments across North America began issuing form letter-like media press releases claiming that violent, Black Bloc anarchists had infiltrated the tent cities (supported by no evidence whatsoever). The media in every #occupy city in North America lapped it up without ever bothering to check to see if it was true. Fire and public health concerns were constantly raised. Drug use and overdose deaths were signs that anarchy was prevailing. Surrounding businesses were reportedly losing money. This peaceful, non-violent protest was suddenly being portrayed as a dangerous shit show, and calls for it to be shut down grew louder by the day.

It was, undoubtedly, one of the best-orchestrated propaganda campaigns of recent decades.

Regardless of who actually was in the protest camps, those tent cities were a symbol of the seething discontent prevalent today, and the possibility and hope that maybe, just maybe, the pendulum of avarice, greed and conspicuous consumption that has dominated the west since the 1980s had finally reached its extreme, and was about to swing back hard.

And as long as those tents remained, the debate about what they represented went on. The media, slow on the uptake at first, began pumping out stories and column inches debating the movement. People from all strata of society were engaged. Everyone had an opinion and seemed to care, one way or the other.

And for the corporate agenda, that is probably the scariest world imaginable: people questioning their ethics, the ponzi scheme they have created, the corruption that has infiltrated the pillars of democratic society.

People talking about change.

And so the symbol of the movement — the tent cities — had to go.

It’s been barely two weeks since the #occupy Vancouver tent city was dismantled, and, not surprisingly, media stories about income disparity, Wall Street ethics, campaign finance reform, progressive taxation, have all but completely vanished. #Occupy might as well have happened in 1968 it seems so distant now, since it has been virtually expunged from the public discourse.

It was swift, often brutal, and entirely effective. Erasing the key symbol was like dropping a nuclear bomb to end the war for public opinion. Time will tell if it really was a death blow to the movement.

Why I’m Voting for “Good Guy Gregor”

I have to admit, amidst all the violent crackdowns in #occupied cities, Mayor Gregor Robertson – despite taking a lot of flack from conservative pundits (and the opposition NPA’s mayoral candidate, Suzanne Anton) for not quashing Vancouver’s tent city – is starting to look like one of the more civilized mayors in North America.

While New York City’s Mayor Bloomburg called in bulldozers, pepper spray, water cannons and riot police in the dead of night to address “fire and safety concerns”, our own city officials went in and had a chat, negotiated the removal of a few obvious problem structures, and got the VAG grounds cleaned up nicely. No trampling of Charter Rights, no barring the Free Press, no mayhem or arrests.

So yeah, I back the Juiceman.

Wordsworth Retweeting

“On the day when you again allow abominable men to confiscate your freedom, your money, your lives, your private property, your manhood and your sacred honor, in the name of “security” or “national emergency’” you will die, and never again shall you be free.

If plotters again destroy your Republic, they will do it by your greedy and ignorant assent, by your disregard of your neighbors’ rights, by your apathy and your stupidity.

We were brought to the brink of universal death and darkness because we had become that most contemptible of people — an angerless one.

Keep alive and vivid all your righteous anger against traitors, against those who would abrogate your Constitution, against those who would lead you to wars with false slogans and cunning appeals to your patriotism.”

— Taylor Caldwell, The Devil’s Advocate (1952)

The 99%

It took three days for any mainstream TV or news media outlet in Canada to even do a story on Occupy Wall Street. A friend of mine trades stocks, and monitors the business news daily. About a week into the protests, as her portfolio shrank daily, I mentioned that maybe the New York traders were getting jittery with the demonstrations outside gaining momentum. Her response: “Huh? What protests?”

It has taken weeks for the story to filter its way into into regular news cycle, and only then the corporate anchors and columnists begrudgingly report the unions joining, the Ground Zero heroes they used to lionize marching on the street. They were once the symbols of patriotism, now they are treated like children who have lost their way.

What is it that the corporate news outlets don’t want us to see? Perhaps just how terribly awry the post-war dream has gone; the failure of a meritocracy that rewards greed and consumption, that eats itself.

And, after nearly three decades of political rhetoric about “Family Values”, look at how just how little value families have left in this world:

Is it any wonder there is so much anger and frustration?

Art as Propaganda: The BC Spirit Festival

Today, I’m mourning an anniversary of sorts, as it was one year ago today that the BC Liberals sent the mass emails around the province announcing the massive raiding of BC Lottery Corporation and cutting off funding to thousands of arts and cultural groups. Having started this blog only two weeks before, I hadn’t expected to be suddenly thrown into a spiral of poverty and bitterness, which admittedly has only grown worse as the months passed. Like so many others, I was forced to Stop All Art.

So it perhaps comes as no surprise that the Campbell government and Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Kevin Krueger – one of the more worthless and imbecilic politicians in this province, and that’s saying something – recently announced that they would be “restoring” about 10 million worth of “arts” funding on a sham annual propaganda event called the BC Spirit Festival.

This funding program is an attempt by Campbell to milk the success of the Olympics for the next three years every February, which, not coincidently, will take us to the next election in 2013.

Needless to say, the arts community is once again enraged, as most organizations are barely clinging to life as it is, as they just recently learned that funding will be cut again this year. And now the only hope to access any provincial funding is to sell out their artistic freedom and put on some sort of pseudo-Olympic celebration that pays homage to the assholes who crippled them. It really is sick.

So sick, in fact, that BC Arts Council chair Jane Danzo finally decided to resign 10 days ago, slamming the government for their latest cuts while simultaneously announcing the Spirit Festival fund with absolutely no consultation with the Arts Council.

The last two weeks have seen numerous arts community heavyweights weigh in on the matter and condemn the government for what some have labelled a fascist view of the arts as state propaganda. In a blog post that was subsequently published in the Georgia Straight, John McLaughlin had these choice words:

“But outside of economic and political arguments, the real slap in the face comes from the arrogance of the Spirit Festival scheme. The government has slashed the arts community in half — then spoon-fed back a shadow of its previous funding in such a way that creative control is ripped from the hands of artists themselves. They are now expected to act as mouthpieces championing a legacy of debt, excess, and political misdirection — and we’re expected not to notice.”

“That’s not “belt-tightening” — that’s premeditated murder by strangulation.”

And they wonder why 705,000 signed the No HST petition? It has very little to do with the actual tax, you fools. People simply hate this government, and everything Gordon Campbell stands for.

And with so many underemployed but highly creative people kicking around the province these days, Recall in the Fall is going to be a nasty, dirty fight. But hey, they brought it on themselves.

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Signage Olympics

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Lazy, Compliant Media?

It’s amazing to me that Vancouverites, who have been griping about the 1 billion security cost of the Olympics for months now, are suddenly almost universally adamant that the VDP should have done more to quash the anarchist thugs. All first-hand reports noted that on Saturday morning, the VPD basically stood by and watched as the provocateurs started breaking windows and throwing paint. While TV cameras and pedestrians snapped photos of the scene from a few feet away, the cops did virtually nothing to the worst of the offenders. They could have stopped them in their tracks, but they chose not to.

Why?

Could it be that, faced with a huge PR nightmare and public outrage over the security cost, the police decided to stage a riot to justify all the money being spent? I mean, we all know that the police have infiltrated every group. So what’s to stop these infiltrators from turning the PR battle in the favour of the security forces?

Anyone wonder why the pro-Olympic protesters who showed up with bullhorns to protest against the protesters on Friday looked suspiciously like cops? All six feet tall, well-cut, white guys with short, military haircuts? Hmmmn.

So now the blogosphere buzzes for days with almost universal disgust of these black-clad thugs in masks smashing windows. Pacific, intelligent people are arguing vehemently for the cops to crack skulls and pull out the pepper spray. Within an hour of the event, the police issued a press release that was posted virtually everywhere with no context or attempt to provide a balanced view. The media are turned into dupes.

Instead, we have people calling the black bloc “fascist thugs”, and references to the Nazi Brownshirts and Kristallnacht are popping up everywhere. Huh?

Apparently, no-one remembers the Reichstag Fire, an event many historians believe was staged by the Nazis to justify the subsequent loss of civil liberties and systematic pogroms that would escalate into the holocaust. It is a fascist trait to create recognizable scapegoats to crystallize public support, is it not? Geez, hasn’t anyone in Vancouver read Orwell?

Maybe they were thugs, maybe they were police provacateurs. No-one in the public knows for sure. But these police tactics are well-known and tried and true. And hey, when you’ve got 1 billion dollars to spend, it’s hard to imagine that someone on the receiving end of all this money didn’t put this tactic on the table to consider when faced with public outrage over the largesse.

The Number One threat identified by the VPD and RCMP was not terrorists, it was riots. That’s a fact. But if no riot occurred, would the public not remain outraged at all this money being wasted? Now that a “riot” has occurred (and let’s face it, it was hardly that at all) it appears all the money spent is justified.

All I’m saying is that I’m second-guessing if our media isn’t being far too accepting of the Police version of events, which looks to me like a well-orchestrated PR campaign more than a big threat to the public. And our media is playing right along.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s one of the few reports I’ve heard that flies in the face of both the VDP version of events, and the media’s pathetic job of reporting it without any attempt to dig a little deeper. Of course, it is by a Seattle reporter, not one of our own:

“I noticed another event, the Insite protest at the Chinese Cultural Centre, where the police announced that people were trapped in the Centre and the doors were chained.

“As someone who was there reporting for a Seattle radio station I can say, the police report was false and made to produce a negative view of the protest…none of the fire exits were blocked as those doors cannot have handles on the outside, this is a National Building Code requirement. The ‘chains’ on the other door handles were so loose one could take them off by hand, but the most interesting point here is three police officers had bolt cutters in their hands for more than an hour and never once tried to use them on the chains. Why?

“Was this orchestrated by the police?

“I have photos of all of this which shows police holding bolt cutters but never used them and of the chains so loose I was able to remove one of them.

“So now I begin to wonder if the police are orchestrating these events by their inaction?

“If you or I broke a window in front of several police officers what do you think would happen to us? So why did the police look on? To allow the TV cameras to show the action in progress and to frame public opinion against even the legitimate protests?

“I am beginning to wonder about the local media’s ability to tell a story. Why hasn’t one of them taken on the police and their inaction and why hasn’t one of them questioned the facts at the Chinese Cultural Centre?”

Food for thought, eh?

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