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Do Patriots Remain Silent?

By: gnomedigest Wednesday July 4, 2012 6:59 pm
The U.S. Constitution

Image: Caveman Chuck Coker / Flickr

When an immigrant becomes a US Citizen in most cases they must take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. One part of this oath states:

“that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic”

When an new US president takes office this is what they must say:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

When a US Marine becomes a Marine they take this oath:

“I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God”

Over and over you see that the crux of your duties at citizens is to abide by, defend, and support the US Constitution. That is ultimately the single most accurate definition of what it means to be a patriot. July 4th, as a celebration of the United States of America, is therefor a celebration of our collective efforts in abiding by, defending, and supporting the US Constitution. However it most cases it has been warped into being soley a celebration of the exceptional nature of the United States wholey seperate from our duties to our country as citizens. This warped celebration of exceptionalism absolves us of any of our responsibilities as citizens while simultaneously ignoring all the ways in which our country’s Constitution has been under assault.

How can you celerbrate the United State Constitution without aknowledging the myriad of ways it is presently under attack? July 4th should be a rallying cry to the Constitution’s defense rather than a whitewash of all the trouble it faces. To celebrate the exceptional nature of the United States while its Constitutition which we are all duty bound to protect is assaulted is to ignore our very duties as citizens.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Occupy Raleigh, NC (Part 22) Home Defense Action Now!

By: gnomedigest Monday April 9, 2012 9:50 am

Video streaming by Ustream

When people are involved in civil disobedience or other direct actions its often hard to know what sort of effect one has had. Protests movements are the sum of countless actions. Occasionally, though, there are actions that in and of themselves can radically change peoples lives for the better. Home defenses are such actions.

When successful groups have literally saved a person or family’s home. That has a profound effect on peoples lives. It is a tangible success that reinforces the notion that people are more important than profit. It reinforces that the banks have taken many of our houses through rampant fraud and that we are no longer going to tolerate it. If our government won’t do its duty to protect its citizens from criminal banksters then homeowners, neighbors, and fellow citizens are left little option but to rally together and defend themselves.

In support of the home owners groups Mortgage Fraud in NC, Occupy Greensboro, Right to the City National Alliance, Pushback Network, Fund for Democratic Communities, Take Back The Land, Save our Homes, and Occupy Raleigh have begun just such a home defense in Raleigh, NC. The bank has movers scheduled to come to remove the homeowners belongings from the home on Monday April 9th. Brave citizens have entered the home, changed the locks, and plan to resist any attempts the banksters make to secure their illegally acquired property, which involved the use of a well known robo-signer.

The homeowner has spoken to neighbors about their efforts and has the support of many of them. There are also several more houses slated to foreclosure in the same neighborhood so this is just one instance of an epidemic that is hurting this particular neighborhood like so many across the country. Those involved with the home defense are calling for all courageous citizens wiling to come Monday to stand on their lawn to prevent the movers from carrying out the banksters continued fraud. Below is a copy of the press release involving this action and the livestream can be seen here:

When Nikki and her husband purchased their house in Raleigh in February of 2006, the future was bright. They looked forward to raising their 3 children and eventually growing old together in their home . Nikki has been a licensed in-home child care provider for the last 12 years. She and her husband both worked full time to provide for their children. In October of 2007, they were late on their mortgage payment. U.S. Bank National Association, who accepted  $27 million in bailout money, asked that the family “catch up” on payments. In October of 2007, they paid $1156.00; in November of 2007, they paid $1300.00; and in December of 2007, they paid $1500.00.

On December 13, 2007, Nikki’s husband was injured in a head-on collision. In January of 2008, Nikki advised ASC (the servicer of her loan) that her husband was still out of work due to injuries he sustained in the December car accident. ASC advised Nikki that her husband’s condition qualified her for a loan modification. From January to April of 2008, Nikki diligently called ASC monthly to check on the status of her loan modification. She never received any paperwork, but ASC assured her that her case was “under review.”

In April of 2008, Nikki’s grandfather passed away. Nikki took the loss of her grandfather very hard. He had been the man who raised her, the most important figure in her childhood. While Nikki grieved for her grandfather, she received the first acceleration letter in the mail. By May 2, 2008, U.S. Bank National Association appointed a substitute trustee. That document was signed by a known robo-signer, Sean Nix. Nikki felt overwhelmed, but she knew she had to save her home for her family. She took the only option left to her and filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy; that filing automatically stopped foreclosure proceedings. She and her husband kept up with their structured payments for a full 14 months until Nikki’s husband lost his job. In October of 2009, the bankruptcy was dismissed because they could no longer keep up with the payments.

On November 22, 2010, Nikki’s home was sold back to the bank at a foreclosure auction. On December 5, 2010, a Wells Fargo representative offered Nikki $3,000 in a “cash for keys” scam. Nikki refused the offer and stayed in her home with her family. Nikki was told she should consult a HUD approved housing counselor. With the assistance of Freedom Financial Services, Nikki filed a “motion to set aside judgment and cancel sale” on Dec. 20, 2010. Two days later, her motion was denied by the Wake County Clerk of Courts.

The eviction date was set for April 24, 2011. Nikki did not want her children to witness a forcible eviction by the police. Instead, she and her family packed up their belongings into a “POD” that weekend and took shelter at a neighbor’s home.

When Nikki left her home, she also lost her livelihood. She had been running a licensed day care out of her home. She dutifully followed every step the bank, servicers, and housing counselors told her would save her home. When all of those efforts failed, the prospect of no home for her family and no income to provide for her children was simply overwhelming. In July of 2011, she and her family sought refuge with relatives in Washington, D.C.

Nikki and her family returned to Raleigh on Feb. 2, 2012. They have been staying at Nikki’s mother’s home. She received a notice from GMAC on March 15 stating “anything left within the premises after 4/8/2012 will be considered trash.

”This notice did not close the book on Nikki’s struggle. Instead, with renewed determination, Nikki decided to fight to save her home. When Nikki’s family was evicted, her community lost more than a neighbor. Nikki provided a valuable child care service to her community. The property taxes and state and local taxes that create revenue were lost. Every time a house is foreclosed upon, the property value of the surrounding houses is reduced. Nikki and her family are not alone. There were 66 thousand foreclosures in the state of North Carolina in 2011. How many homes must be abandoned, how many neighborhoods torn apart, how many families must be displaced, before the public wakes up?? The time is now. SAVE OUR COMMUNITIES: FIGHT FORECLOSURE!

Please call US National Bank and tell them to back off on the foreclosure, allow Nikki and her family to stay in their home, and to not request the police to arrest the concerned citizens gathered there.

Occupy Raleigh, NC (part 21) Statewide GA

By: gnomedigest Monday February 27, 2012 1:45 pm

Video streaming by Ustream

Last weekend Occupy Raleigh hosted a statewide gathering of NC Occupations which included a General Assembly. A small group from Occupy Raleigh spent weeks planning and preparing for this gathering. They made contact with the various occupations. They got permits to use the State Capitol grounds for the main portions of the event on Saturday. They contacted local progressive groups with two general goals. The first was a meeting that happened on Friday evening where Occupies and other local activists groups gathered to connect and coordinate.  There is a feeling that we all need to start making each others fights our own fights so we can grow an even larger coalition of resistance and change. Secondly the planners secured financial support to help pay for the meals during the Statewide GA weekend.

The planners figured out a schedule, set up the Occupied NCGA website, and tirelessly made sure throughout the weekend that everything ran smoothly. And smoothly it ran. Saturday was one of my favorite days since I started with the Occupy Movement. Lately at Occupy Raleigh we have been struggling with some conflicts which bred division, negativity, and pessimism. The Statewide GA was the exact opposite. It overflowed with enthusiasm and positive energy. People were excited to connect with one another, listen to each others concerns and experiences, and carry on a dialogue exploring possibilities.

Saturday for me started bright and early at 8am at the Occupation for a facilitation meeting to prepare for the General Assembly later that afternoon. Since as an Occupation the early morning has never been our strong suite, I told my girlfriend when I left that I bet that I would be the only one at the meeting. When I got to the Occupation people were already up preparing for the days events, but I had been correct, I was the only one there for the facilitation meeting.

I had already spent time leading up to the weekend thinking about how the schedule of the GA would look and what adaptations to process we might need to make to handle a group larger than we are used to so I spent part of the morning going over some of those ideas in my own mind. While I was doing that the morning breakfast arrived so I got some coffee and bagels and spent the next hour sitting around the fire pit talking with others.

Occupy Raleigh, NC (part 20) 99+1 Weekend

By: gnomedigest Tuesday January 24, 2012 4:59 pm

This weekend we celebrated our 100th day of Occupation. Occupy Raleigh’s events were on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday there was a nationwide event to Occupy the Courts in recognition of the 2 year anniversary of Citizens United. Occupy Chapel-Hill spearheaded the organization of that in our area with the support of other local occupations.

Saturday was Occupy Raleigh’s “Drum out Citizens United” in front of the NC Supreme Court. Around 50 people gathered in the cold rain with a range of drums to improvised percussion to draw attention to the need to overturn Citizens United. People toughed it out in the nasty elements to bring attention to an issue they felt strongly about. Afterwards they held a eulogy for our rights which included a mock coffin and a short speech. I was sick over this weekend so I chose not to tough it out in the rain but this video gives a good representation of the action.

We gathered Sunday on the Capitol grounds for which we had a permit. It was again cold but at least this time we didn’t have to deal with rain. As we gave time for people to show up a variety of people took turns soap boxing. Some talked about why they Occupy. Some told the story of their life that led up to occupation. Some talked more generally about values associated with occupation. Eventually we headed out on our scheduled march with many signs describing why people occupied.

The march started on the sidewalk as we crossed the street that bordered the Capitol grounds with the chant “One Hundred Days. We’re not going away!”. Immediately after that though a small contingent moved into the street chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”. Some, including myself, followed them into the street. Others remained on the sidewalk. Then the chant of those in the streets changed to, “Safety on the Sidewalk, Power in the streets!”. I joined in that chant realizing it was an attempt to convince people still on the sidewalk to join us in the street. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten people to stop the chant. It was basically calling people in our own occupation for their decision to remain on the sidewalk. Not much solidarity in an action like that and its basically like having a squabble in public. I have always argued each person must make their own, personal decision about the risks they are willing to take and I don’t see the point in calling allies out for making a different decision than you.

So we continued down the road, some in the street and some on the sidewalk, sometimes chanting the same chant, sometimes not. As the Raleigh PD had already been stationed near the Capitol grounds to watch over our event, very quickly there was a squad car in the lane next to us ordering people to leave the street and return to the sidewalk. I think most ignored the one officer. Within a couple of blocks though the rest of the Raleigh PD arrived and a confrontation ensued. Everyone got on the sidewalk but where none the less confronting the police verbally. Some were angry. Some where telling the cops that we were doing this for them too and that their pensions were not safe.

Occupy Raleigh, NC (part 19) Occupy Supply

By: gnomedigest Thursday December 29, 2011 2:07 pm
Occupy Raleigh Pic  from Linda C.

Occupy Raleigh Pic from Linda C.

As I mentioned before, we received a small starter pack of supplies from the Occupy Supply a couple weeks ago. Yesterday we received our first large shipment. It included hats, gloves, fleece jackets and pants, masks, scarves, and blankets. We were immediately impressed by the quality of the clothing. Along with all that, Occupy Supply also sent some money to our wonderful delivery person Linda to go buy a few additional supplies for the camp. As we took inventory of our new supplies we gave Linda a list of a few odds and ends and she went and picked up everything that she could. We really appreciate people like Linda, who does not even live in Raleigh, jumping at the chance to help and be involved.

Occupy Raleigh is thrilled to receive this support package from Occupy Supply. Today we will begin handing out the clothing as is needed. Those staying at the camp the most will have priority for the warmest supplies first, however everyone will be able to have something to help fill in whatever winter clothing niche is most lacking. This kind of support does wonders for morale. It gives a tangible reminder of how widespread this struggle is. Its reinforces the notion that many of us are banding together in this struggle. I often say that one of the great advantages of the 99% is that there are so many of us with different ideas, abilities, talents, resources, and knowledge. Not everyone can occupy but everyone can find some way to support the movement. Occupy Supply is a wonderful example and reminder of this.

From a couple others at Occupy Raleigh:

My hands, feet, and other body parts thank you! – Chris

‘Thank you’ is not enough to express Occupy Raleigh’s gratitude for the warm gifts sent our way via Occupy Supply. The winter gear we’ve received has met a critical need, and lifted the spirits of those encamped. Many thanks to all involved! – Tayloe

Our resources and funding has its ups and downs. OccupySupply is a wonderful up.
We still have people occasionally dropping off food and other supplies. We have a few occupiers who are very generous in bringing us wood for the fire and helping us keep water jugs full. We still get some cash donations brought to us at the camp.

Occupy Raleigh, NC (Part 18) Walkupy Defiance & Arrests

By: gnomedigest Monday December 19, 2011 2:30 pm

Saturday became the unofficial shift back toward resistance. We still have a myriad of issues to work out at the occupation site but those are no longer going to distract us from other activities. There were three activities planned for the day I was excited about so it promised to be a long, productive day.

The first was marching on the banks for some good old fashioned protesting and picketing. I had put an announcement up on the forums that any interested would meet at the occupation by 10am and we would then march up to Wells Fargo and then a little later to Bank of America as they are both open on Saturday mornings. I got a PM from one person concerned with if we had followed city procedures of notifying certain police officials of the march. If you have more than ten people that is required. I responded letting them know we had not informed them. While I realize some limits or rules surrounding the expression of free speech may have some merit, I don’t see that particular rule as being one of them. As we often say at the occupation, “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

Unsurprisingly (we are not a very early morning occupation) we got off to a little of a late start but by 10:30 or so we were in front of Wells Fargo with signs and a couple of guitars. There were 10 of us so we didn’t even violate the city ordinances. I was really glad the guitars where there. I’ll be honest I get a little tired of the chanting sometimes and the guitars allowed for a different style of picket. We engaged people interested as they walked by as well as called out for people to move their money to credit unions.

Occupy Raleigh, NC (Part 17) Loss from the 19

By: gnomedigest Thursday December 15, 2011 1:53 pm
Tariq James Taylor

Tariq James Taylor

We received a starter kit from the Occusupply at the start of the week. When I arrived the following day at the occupation I quickly spotted the logo on various hats and scarves. The larger order is soon to follow and once we have people decked out in full Occusupply gear we will take some group photos and I will post them in a subsequent post. We really appreciate the support from Firedoglake and all the people who donated to the Occusupply to make it possible. Resistance naturally includes an ebb and flow of emotion in regards to ones efforts, their effect, and the direction one is headed. Support from outside the occupation does a great deal to bolster our conviction and invigorate our efforts. And re-invigoration is just whats on the menu.

The occupation site is largely set up now. We have a new, larger tent that the library was moved into. The library is easily over 500 books now. The old library is now reserved for human needs and working group meetings. The kitchen has a new floor that’s more stable, new shelves, and there is even talk of setting up a system of running water. There are three meals a day and people are taking turns doing dishes. As in most groups, there are those more willing to volunteer to aid in the work than others, so it might be necessary to figure out more defined schedules for things like doing the dishes to make sure the burden doesn’t fall on just a few people.

The downside to the comforts of the campsite is that it has led to a bit of complacency. Part of the reason is simply because energies were focused on getting the place set up. Most occupations probably build up infrastructure little by little from the start. As we were on the sidewalk for over 40 days we could do almost none of that, so once we moved onto the resource center we had a lot of catching up to do. I have been amazed at how much has been accomplished by some of our most dedicated occupiers in such a short time. But now most seem to be realizing that we have neglected aspects of direct action and outreach so it’s time again to refocus.

All of us are new to occupation and all but 2 or 3 of us are new to activism in general. It doesn’t surprise me that we hit pitfalls now and then. Frankly it’s expected. However the longer we spend together and the better we get to know each other the easier it seems to change directions. The trust we build up between us makes the conversations easier. We can say things that some of us may find hard to hear and its ok. We are learning who we can rely on in different capacities. So while I think Occupy Raleigh is experiencing a brief lull in some expressions of its activism, I feel we will come out stronger once we shift our energies away from building our infrastructure and back toward the task of resisting.

I haven’t been sure how to discuss the following but I feel strongly it needs to be mentioned. On the first day of our occupation, October 15th, we had 19 of us arrested attempting to hold the State Capitol grounds. We recently lost one of those people. Tariq James Taylor was a young, gay, black man who chose to stand up to the 1% and when ordered by police to leave the grounds he refused to retreat, knowing full well he would be arrested. I mentioned those adjectives in describing him because I think it speaks to his courage. Our legal system is proven to be more draconian to young, black men so he took a greater risk than any others of the 19 in choosing to defy the police order.

Occupy Raleigh, NC (Part 16) Hoorah

By: gnomedigest Tuesday December 6, 2011 8:08 am

I often wonder how the 1% will expand their crackdowns if the Occupation Movement continues to grow. Police brutality and disruption are just the first step. If that continues to prove ineffective things will escalate. One possible sign is the latest measures passed 93-7 in the Senate that allows the military to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge. While the defense bill still needs to be reconciled with the House version and Obama is threatening he may veto, (though not because its wildly unconstitutional, but rather mainly because he doesn’t feel its the place of the Congress to decide these sorts of matters and instead maintains it should be left up to the Executive itself) I think ultimately it will pass.

I don’t think the government would suddenly use the law in mass against occupations. Most of the time these measures creep in. For example they would find the most unsavory character who they think they could tie to the movement, claim they are allied with a terrorist group somehow, and use it on them. Since they would pick someone naturally repulsive to most Americans they would probably get away with it, making it easier to use it a second time on people perhaps not quite so repulsive. This way little by little it creeps into being common practice.

Or perhaps a new war or a false flag creates the atmosphere the government feels it can use to wholesale start calling many occupiers terrorists during a time of national crisis. A sort of Shock Doctrine effect that could allow them to indefinitely detain many occupiers. If the unrest gets so large though that they try to use our military to pacify us, and not just as an end around to due process, I think that could be a fatal mistake to the 1%. I have felt this way for a while and that feeling was reinforced late last night.

I was on night watch and around midnight 3 young men called from the road at the edge of our camp asking what the tents where about. We invited them to our small fire in the barbecue promising not to bite. I asked if they had heard about OWS and they said they had not. They were marines who had just finished boot camp so had been completely out of contact with the rest of the world. They were in Raleigh on a 6 hour lay over before heading to the next stage of their training and had been wandering around trying to find something interesting to do until their bus left around 5:30am. Since they were all under 21 the bar scene was out and until they came across our occupation they had found little of interest. Not all that surprising on a Monday night.