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The Crackdown on Chalk (#Chalkupy Austin)

12:53 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

“No reasonable person could think that writing with chalk could damage a sidewalk.” Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Mackinney v. Nielsen 69 F.3d 1002, 1995)

What’s happening in this country?

Two activists in handcuffs with State Troopers on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol.

Audrey Steiner and Corey Williams are processed on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol after being arrested for chalking a public sidewalk nearby (Photo: Kit O'Connell, all rights reserved).

I know this is a question we ask frequently on these pages. Every day, some new offense against basic freedoms comes to light, further shaking faith in the basic principles of our constitution. I thought I was jaded, but what happened in Austin last Thursday shook me — not just because chalk merits police response, but because of the intensity and overwhelming force being used to strike at one of the simplest, most transient forms of expression possible.

By now most of us have heard of the crack down on chalk which occurred in Los Angeles in July, when Occupy Los Angeles passed out chalk to a monthly Artwalk event and the gathering found itself under attack by violent riot police retaliation. Activists decided to pass out chalk at the Artwalk in the first place because of almost two dozen arrests for chalk in public places just in Los Angeles. Not a single one of these arrests has resulted in charges.

From an Occupy Los Angeles press release:

Participants of Occupy LA’s Chalk Walk wonder why the Los Angeles Police Department continues to arrest them for chalking when the City Attorney has declined to prosecute any of the chalking arrests.

One Occupier wonders, “If the so-called crime is not worth prosecuting, then is it worth making the chalk arrests in the first place?” and then adds, “LAPD harasses us with these arrests to intimidate us.”

Occupy activists say that LAPD had made nearly twenty arrests for chalking related to Occupy but has failed to make chalking arrests at non-occupy events including an event the Mayor handed out boxes of yellow chalk to be used on the “sidewalks,driveways, and any blank canvasses” including the streets of Sunset Blvd in traffic at night for a fundraiser for Lance Armstrong’s art campaign, “Hope Rides Again”, sponsored by Nike.

The crack down is not limited to Los Angeles, but appears to be occurring nationwide. Activists in Orlando recently won a lucrative lawsuit against the city for wrongful arrest in a chalk-related arrest of an Occupy Orlando member. Occupy New Orleans members fled from police during their chalkupy event. While the crackdown may be political in nature, not just activists are getting caught up in it — a mother in Richmond, Virginia faces 50 hours community service because her daughter chalked some rocks, and two teens in a Philadelphia suburb were ticketed for drawing a sea turtle and a whale in chalk. Which brings us to Austin, where two people were arrested Thursday and face uncertain charges for expressing their right to free speech.
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LIVE: 99 Mile March Reaches Liberty Square (updated 7:25pmEST)

11:42 am in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

The 99 Mile March, led by Tom Morello’s Guitarmy, began in Philadelphia in honor of the National Gathering. They also marched to honor the great folk music hero Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday.

After marching all the way to New York City over several days, the march from Staten Island has grown into a massive crowd that is now singing and dancing in Zucotti Park, a.k.a. Liberty Square, the birthplace of Occupy Wall Street.

More information on Twitter: @99MileMarch #99MileMarch #Guitarmy #OWS

Update 7:25pmEST Music, voices and eating in Liberty Square while police continue to watch. Feed is live again.

Update 6:35pm While celebrating being in Liberty Square, an occupier asked the crowd to help clean up the park. At least one more drummer is present.

Update 6:20pmEST More song and live music in Zucotti. Pizzas have arrived, reportedly ordered by someone in Amsterdam (global pizza solidarity!). We are now watching JRozLive.

Update 6:00pmEST @OccupyEye is offline and I have switched to a new streamer, @Codeframesf. Police presence is increasing. More food sharing is scheduled, and a brief standoff occurred when security discovered someone sleeping on a bench. It is relatively calm now but the NYPD mobile command center was spotted onsite.

Update 5:15pmEST 35-40 police arrived in attempt to threaten protesters food supply, but backed down after protesters locked arm around the food.
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Watercooler: America

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Happy Independance Day, y’all.

You’re hearing it from me a little early because instead of editing MyFDL tomorrow, I’ll be with Occupy Austin for our Occupy Your Capitol event. We start at 9am at the Texas State Capitol and spend all day learning, sharing food & music, and writing our own Declaration of Independence using the same process as the Philadelphia National Gathering.

Like David Byrne in the song, I love America. These days I often actually feel patriotic. That wasn’t always so; I am a cynic about our government and even our whole political system. I don’t believe elections will make a difference. I don’t think anyone in power has or ever will have my interests at heart until we make radical changes.

It is Occupy, and all the other rich, recently tapped veins of activism and direct action that make me feel this way. What I love about this country is its people: the ones who are awake, the ones who stand up and speak and are unafraid — or do not let their fear keep them quiet. We might not always agree on the solutions, but we know things have to change.

What makes you feel patriotic (or not)?

P.S. I will liveblog tomorrow’s events here as much as possible, but follow me on Twitter for the most complete coverage.

What’s on your mind? This is our latest open thread.