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Countdown to Jail?

11:59 am in Uncategorized by bgrothus

When I was in high school, opposed to the Vietnam “war” and impressionable, I read Emma Goldman and discovered Peacemakers.  I believed in anarchism and embraced civil disobedience.

I modified my thinking over time, but I remain politically active and call myself progressive.  Among the more difficult of my struggles personally has been the line I’ve walked between art and politics, not because they don’t go together but because I never fully committed my life to art.  But that’s another story.

Politically, I have become increasingly disillusioned, and I embrace OWS, in my case (un)Occupy, as one of the few movements in my lifetime in the US that addresses the broad and disparate crises of our failing economy (and capitalism), the horrors of climate change and perhaps most important, exercises a methodology of equality and inclusion.  It has inspired young people who are smart, tech-savy and committed to change and the future.

I was arrested with (un)Occupy in Albuquerque in October 2011, defending our space.  In August 2012, I was arrested in Los Alamos at the annual anti-nuclear event that commemorates the bombing of Hiroshima.  I did this in part to honor my father, who died in 2009 and was the most visible anti-nuclear activist in Los Alamos for decades.  It was easy to be arrested.

What is not so easy is the aftermath.  There were 6 of us arrested that day, and we are in solidarity about our reasons for being there and our unity going forward.  We are in a different court than those who have been arrested since 1999 in Los Alamos.  Our trial will be held in municipal court, the judge is the former police chief.  We were taken into custody by a private security force and turned over to the local authorities.  All of the witnesses against us are police, who may have relationships with the judge.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory was run by the University of California until 2005 or so.  At that time, a public/private partnership was demanded (in part due to hyped up post-9/11 security incidents), and UC partnered with Bechtel to win the contract.  From my perspective, the arrangement has been a disaster.  The workers at the Lab despise Bechtel, the yearly cost of running the lab (to taxpayers) has gone from under $30 million to $100 million, and the fabric of the community has been damaged by the short-term contracts and job insecurity that seem to be the SOP of the corporatocracy.

The cost of maintaining the nuclear arsenal continues to climb, and of course the weapons themselves are unusable no matter what, unless we want a truly ruined planet.  Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was the brilliant strategy that got us to this point, and we continue to operate from that basic framework today.  To that end we destroyed communities and homelands in the Pacific with testing, we poisoned communities, lands, water and air from Nevada to New Mexico and beyond.  The LANL 6 stand against all of this.

The work of the Laboratory could be useful if we harnessed all the brainpower for climate change, for example.  It is not hard to fight for a better future, and I have no regret for going to Los Alamos that day.  I am proud to stand with others who believe the same.  We are fortunate to have lawyers who have supported resisters throughout their careers.  They have been volunteering their expertise and have given us their time unstintingly.

On January 9 we will be on trial in Los Alamos.  The charges for each of us carry possible fines of up to $1500 and maximum jail time of 179 days.  (We are denied a jury if the possible sentence is less than 180 days/6 months.)

I have some kind of a platform here, and I wonder how to make the best use of it.  We are dreamers here,  I think.  My father used to say, “Do good.”  How do I best do good next week?  What say you, esteemed community of FDL?


(Un)Occupy Albuquerque, Day 17

11:35 pm in Uncategorized by bgrothus

I finally attended my first GA at (Un)Occupy Albuquerque.  Why (Un)Occupy?  Because the people know that Albuquerque has already been occupied for too long, and it is past time to come to terms with that and (Un)Occupy now.

The (Un)Occupation has been at the University of New Mexico, on Central Avenue/Rt. 66 and has moved from one park at UNM to another in response to the University’s concern regarding too much foot traffic on the roots of the old trees at the first site.  I visited the first camp a couple of weeks ago, but I had not been back, and I decided to hit the street and attend the GA tonight.

The City Council was in session downtown preparing to issue a proclamation (ultimately signed by only three of nine Councilors) in support of the (Un)Occupation, and a contingent of about 25 people had gone to the meeting to stand and/or speak about it.  There was a circle of people meeting in advance of the GA, an information table and a big food tent.  There were piles of signs available for anyone to pick up.

I was immediately impressed that other people introduced themselves to me as we stood on the sidewalk with our signs during the end-of-work-bound-for-home traffic.  I could tell there were a number of people who were variously inebriated, but everyone seemed to be involved in the action.

When the announcement was made that the GA would begin (on schedule), most of the people on the street and from around the camp joined in.  The group of about 60 was quite diverse; people of all ages including students and community members.  A number had clearly been participating for some time, but a show of hands indicated a lot of new folks, like myself.  It was clear that everyone had some sense of the protocols, including the various hand signals that are used.  I loved the democracy of it.  It was very organized.

The rules of the (Un)Occupation were read one at a time, and the group repeated each one.  The agenda was proposed and accepted.  Announcements were made and the time and date for future actions (still to be determined) was set.

There was business.  The camp has had trouble with violence both physical and verbal due to people who are inebriated.  The police have been called a number of times, and participants felt this was a direct threat to potential eviction by the University.

Solutions were proposed so the (Un)Occupation could deal with the problem itself instead of calling the police.  The discussion was animated and the language was revealing, encompassing and ultimately compassionate.  I am sure other groups have had similar issues.  I was so impressed by the true democracy of allowing everyone to speak.  Some speakers had been or were currently homeless and/or had struggled with drugs and alcohol.  A suggested action that had a lot of support was blocked.  Agreement, even if temporary, was reached.

After the GA, a group of about 30 people continued to discuss the matter for at least another hour.  People talked and listened to each other on an issue that is complex and threatening but truly requires action that is compassionate, constructive and firm and that provides safety and security for the movement and individuals.

At (Un)Occupy Albuquerque I found respect, love and solidarity.  This gives me hope today.  Visit and support your local Occupation.