Category Archives: Political Repression

Direct Action for Climate Justice: Confronting False Solutions to Climate Change

by Anne Petermann,  Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

23 August, 2012, Source: Daily Kos

Over August 9-12, fifty participants and trainers gathered in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom for a Climate Justice Direct Action Training Camp.  The camp, organized by Red Clover Climate Justice and co-sponsored by Global Justice Ecology Project provided essential direct action skills including formation of affinity groups, blockading tactics, legal rights as a protester, a history of non-violent civil disobedience, strategic planning for direct action, and the nuts and bolts of media work to ensure actions and their messages are seen as widely as possible.

Climate justice involves taking real and just action to address the root causes of the climate crisis, and transforming the system that is driving it. Direct action has a rich history of achieving the unthinkable, of changing “the impossible.” It is defined as action to directly shut down the point of production.  In the case of climate change, it would be action to shut down the point of destruction.  With the climate crisis worsening exponentially with every passing day, shutting down the point of destruction is critical.

It was with this in mind that the direct action training camp was organized.  Coincidentally, it came just two weeks after the 36th Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in Burlington, Vermont.  A major focus of that conference was energy.  Vermont, which has an image of pristine greenness, relies on dangerous and dirty energy sources.  This includes its aging Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant; hydroelectricity from massive dams on Indigenous Peoples’ lands in northern Quebec; and large-scale biomass electricity, which dumps more pollution into the air than coal.

Although these various mega-projects do not rely on fossil fuels as the main source of their energy, they are still “false solutions.”  They cause vast ecological and social destruction and can worsen the climate crisis.  Their primary function, in fact, has nothing to do with the climate.  It is to maintain business as usual.  While the climate crisis demands a radical re-think of how we live on and with the Earth, a fundamental changing of the system, “false solutions” are specifically designed to prevent real change.  They enable the Global Elite–“the 1%” –to maintain their power and profits in the face of mounting social and ecological crises.


Activists disrupt the Northeast Governors’ Conference cruise in protest of Hydro-Quebec.  Photo: Will Bennington

Hydro-Quebec plans to build a series of new mega-dams on First Nations land in northern Quebec. They will drown forests, pollute fresh water, and displace villages and release huge amounts of methane–a greenhouse gas 35 times more potent than CO2.
In response, a delegation of Innu people came to the Governors’ Conference to raise awareness about and protest these new mega-dams. When the Innu delegation tried to enter the Governors’ Conference to speak with the decision-makers, however, they were refused entry.

The Governors’ Conference was emblematic of the unjust system that must be changed if we are to successfully address the climate crisis.  A group of privileged white males sat down to make decisions that would irrevocably impact the lives of First Nations peoples in Canada, as well as rural communities throughout the region.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Political Repression, Pollution, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions, UNFCCC

Photo Essay: Paraguay Coup Connections

What will happen to the Indigenous Peoples?

Photographs by Orin Langelle/GJEP-GFC

In the Ayoreo settlement of Campo Lorro, Chaco, Paraguay

Paraguay’s right-wing coup that ousted Fernando Lugo’s government two weeks ago hardly made North American news.  Typical.  And how many people care anyway about that small landlocked nation?

Although the photos in this essay were taken in 2009, they show a community and a people struggling for survival.

To me the coup is personal, because I traveled to Paraguay in January of 2009.  I have friends there. GJEP is the North American Focal Point for Global Forest Coalition  which has their southern hemisphere office there.  I had the opportunity to tour Asuncion, the nation’s Capitol, and see where the poor live several hundred meters from the national government buildings. I traveled on long back roads surrounded by immense GMO soybean fields controlled by agribusiness (the soy mafia) and I visited and photographed the Ayoreo indigenous community of Campo Lorro (Parrot Field) in the Chaco region.

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Filed under Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Political Repression

KPFK Audio Segment: The link between the Paraguay coup and GMO Soy

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with KPFK Pacifica’s Sojourner Truth show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly Earth Segment interview on Thursdays.

KPFK’s  weekly “Earth Segment” this week interviewed Dr. Miguel Lovera, Paraguay’s National Secretary for Plant Safety about the link between the recent coup in Paraguay and what has become known as the Genetically Modified Soy “mafia” in that country.

To listen to the segment, click here

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Earth Radio, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression

Kent State survivors seek new probe of 1970 shootings

Note: Forty-two years ago today, US National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State University who were protesting the Vietnam War and its expansion into neighboring Cambodia.  Four were killed and nine wounded.  Justice has never been served to the victims of this atrocity.

Four decades later, the US is sending men and women overseas to fight wars for oil at the same time that the very life-support systems of the planet are on the verge of a complete meltdown from fossil fuel-induced global warming and its resulting climate chaos.  These wars enable the 1% to continue their grossly unsustainable lives of privilege at the expense of the rest.

After the Kent State massacre, students rose up across the country.  Hundreds of colleges and universities were shut down by student protests and outrage.

Today the stakes are higher than ever.  Can we share and  learn from the experiences of the movements from the 1960s and encourage a new era of global direct action–a new era of outrage?

The 1% will not change with niceties, permitted marches or orchestrated mass-arrests.  They will not change through the corporate-owned electoral process.  As Frederick Douglass pointed out:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

I would add to this that it is not enough merely to demand.  The demands must be backed up by action: action in the form of general strikes, student shut downs and the total obstruction of business as usual.  After all, it is literally our future that is at stake.

–Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Reuters

FILE PHOTO 4MAY70 - Students dive to the ground as the Ohio National Guard fires on faculty and students at Kent State University in this May 4, 1970 file photo. MMR/AA
 By Kim Palmer

KENT, Ohio | Thu May 3, 2012 11:23pm EDT

(Reuters) – Survivors of the shooting of 13 students by the Ohio National Guard during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in 1970 called on Thursday for a new probe into the incident that came to define U.S. divisions over the Vietnam War.

Four students were killed and nine wounded in the shootings on May 4, 1970 that followed days of demonstrations on the campus after disclosures of a U.S.-led invasion of Cambodia that signaled a widening of the war in Southeast Asia.

Kent State was shut for weeks after the shootings and student strikes closed down schools across the nation.

On the eve of the 42nd anniversary of the shootings, four students wounded that day asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate digitally enhanced audio evidence they believe proves an officer ordered the guardsmen to fire on the unarmed students.

A command to fire has never been proven and guardsmen said they fired in self-defense. Criminal charges were brought against eight guardsmen, but a judge dismissed the case. Wounded students and families of those slain later received a total of $675,000 after civil lawsuits.

The shootings also spawned an investigative commission, numerous books and Neil Young’s song, “Ohio,” which became an anti-war anthem. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a teenage girl kneeling over the body of one of the slain students became an enduring image of the tragedy.

In 2010, Alan Canfora, one of the wounded students and director of the nonprofit Kent May 4 Center, asked the Justice Department to review the enhanced recording, which was taken 250 feet from the guardsmen when they fired their shots in 1970.

Canfora and other audio specialists say the enhanced recording shows a clear military order to fire seconds before the shooting. The troops fired 67 shots over 13 seconds.

A Justice Department official closed the matter last month, finding the recordings were still inconclusive.

Canfora, and other wounded students Dean Kahler, Thomas Grace and Joe Lewis, asked Holder on Thursday for a new probe, saying anyone involved in the shooting should be offered immunity to provide information. They asked any surviving guardsmen to come forward with information.

“I was an angry young man for a number of years,” Canfora said. “We have to work within the system. I’ve learned a lot since we were younger. I believe they were ordered to shoot us.”

Kahler, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since the shooting, told Reuters: “We want justice in a sense, to have the truth. It would be nice to know what actually happened.

If the United States does not open a new investigation, the May 4 group plans to appeal to the International Court of Justice, the U.N. Human Rights Council or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Canfora said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Peter Cooney)

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April Photo of the Month: Kent State Massacre Protests in 1972

Protest against the 1970 Kent State Massacre during the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

Orin Langelle is co-founder of Global Justice Ecology Project and Board Chair.  He has been shooting photos of the movement for social change for forty years.  Langelle’s first professional photo assignment (St. Louis Outlaw) was covering the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, FL.  It nominated the incumbents Richard M. Nixon for President and Spiro T. Agnew for Vice President.
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This photo is from one of the many protests against the Vietnam war during the Convention.  It concerns the tragedy at Kent State University when on May 4, 1970 members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine. The impact of the shootings was dramatic. The event triggered a nationwide student strike that forced hundreds of colleges and universities to close.
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This Friday, May 4, is the forty-second year since the murders at Kent State.
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The Republicans will meet again in Florida this year for their Convention, forty years later after the major protests in Miami Beach.

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Also check out the GJEP Photo Gallery, past Photos of the Month posted on GJEP’s website, or Langelle’s photo essays posted on GJEP’s Climate Connections blog.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Political Repression

Another witness of UN security violence to photographer during Durban Climate Convention

Note:  This official statement below, from Kevin Buckland, was sent to the UN today regarding Orin Langelle’s Formal Complaint Against UN Security and the response Langelle received from the UN’s John Hay, UN Media Relations Officer.  [See the response from the UN that Climate Connections posted last Friday: UN denies security used undue force when smashing camera into photographer’s face]  Langelle was on assignment for Z Magazine and he is also the board chair for Global Justice Ecology Project. We will continue to keep you posted as things develop.-The GJEP Team

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing to submit an official statement regarding an act of violence that occurred inside the ICC on December 8th, 2011 in Durban, South Africa by a member of the UNFCCC  Security. As mentioned in the official complaint filed by Orin Langelle, I was being escorted by security after giving an interview wearing a traditional clown costume (at this moment, I will not raise question as to the legitimacy of this expulsion). Upon descending a staircase, a reporter, Orin Langelle, began to loudly question the security officer asking (I do not recall the exact wording): “Is this man being expelled from the conference? What rules have been broken? Are you arresting him?” At which point the security officer very quickly approached Mr. Langelle and grabbed the front of the lens of his camera covering it so he could not photograph. The officer did not attempt to remove the camera from Mr. Langelle, but instead decided to very aggressively physically pushed the camera into his face. Mr. Langelle was notably distraught after such an unwarranted act of violence. In the next 30 meters, from the bottom of the stairs to the security office, the same officer aggressively but nonviolently confiscated two more cameras of two other conference attendants who began to photograph the incident. The officer did give a warning to one of the photographers who was photographing immediately before taking his camera, but no warning was given to Mr. Langelle or the other photographer. The officer arrived to the security office with no less than 3 cameras he had confiscated (these were shortly returned).

As I was being informed of my expulsion from the conference. I commented to UNFCCC official Warren Waetford on the surprisingly aggressive attitude of the officer – considering there was absolutely no aggression besides his own. (I had been walking calmly behind him as I am sure he will acknowledge.) I recommended to Mr. Waetford that this unprovoked act of aggression be addressed, and would like to reiterate that recommendation now to the UNFCCC secretariat, and formally.

I also asked why any security officer had the right to confiscate cameras at will, and was informed that UNFCCC Security Officers have the right not to be photographed, but are required to ask photographers to stop photographing, and only if the photographer refused could the officer confiscate their cameras. In the case of Mr. Langelle and another unnamed photographer, no warning was given.

Finally, I would like to comment on the official response issued by the UN regarding this incident. It stated: “Our investigations indicate that it was necessary to clear a passage within the conference center that was being obstructed, in the interest of the safety of all participants and in the interest of the smooth operation of the conference.  At no time was undue force applied in the exercise.” I would like to attest, as a witness to the incident, that this official statement is not true. If this statement derives from testaments by the arresting officer, then he has then both committed an act of violence and lied. No passage was blocked. It was the Security Guard who first approached Mr. Langelle because of his loud questioning, straying from the most direct path to the security office, and without any verbal warnings violently and aggressively took his camera. Undue force was very clearly applied.

I believe this incident should call into question the UNFCCC’s prohibition on documentation of its own security forces. As this case demonstrates – a clear violation both of the policy of giving warnings before confiscation of cameras, as well as an unwarranted act of violence, occurred. If we are denied even the freedom of press to protect ourselves against violence by armed officials inside a space under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, then the UN itself is complicit in the tyranny it was founded to confront.

Sincerely,

Kevin Buckland

Barcelona, Spain

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Filed under Climate Change, Independent Media, Political Repression, UNFCCC

UN denies security used undue force when smashing camera into photographer’s face

Admit clown involved in incident

Official UN response below

Note:  The controversy regarding the incident of an unidentified UN security officer assaulting accredited photographer Orin Langelle with his own camera continues.  As you will see in the official response from UN Media Relations Officer John Hay below, the UN is engaging in the same sort of coverup we have seen from the city of Oakland and elsewhere, where security forces have reacted violently to nonviolent protesters or journalists.

It reflects what we at GJEP have asserted in the past and continue to.  The UN is controlled by the corporate elite–the 1%–and do not want unruly protesters or independent journalists interfering in their attempt to snow the global public into thinking they are addressing the climate crisis.  They are not.  The are laying the groundwork for enhanced corporate profit at the expense of the rest of the planet.

This particular battle with the UN is not over.  We refuse to allow the UN’s repression of journalists to go unchallenged–especially when the UN insists that they “are keen to facilitate media reporting …[and]… to treat all participants with respect.”

Walking up to a photographer, grabbing his camera and shoving it into his face is an odd way to demonstrate “respect.”

-Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team

For a description of the incident and the UN’s “facilitation of media reporting,” go to: Addendum: Formal Complaint Filed Against UN Security Actions in Durban

Official Response from the UN Climate Change Secretariat

Date: 2 February, 2012

Dear Mr. Langelle,

Apologies for the late reply.  We take any allegations of undue use of force on the part of UN security staff seriously.  After undertaking a thorough investigation, we are unable to confirm that there was at any time undue use of force by UN security personnel directed against members of the media in Durban.

We have been made aware of an incident involving a participant dressed up as a clown; an incident which you have also mentioned.  Our investigations indicate that it was necessary to clear a passage within the conference center that was being obstructed, in the interest of the safety of all participants and in the interest of the smooth operation of the conference.  At no time was undue force applied in the exercise.

It is not the policy of the UN Climate Change Secretariat to obstruct the reporting of journalists in any way.  On the contrary, the secretariat is keen to facilitate media reporting in the designated public spaces, as long as safety concerns are respected.  And it is the policy UN security to treat all participants with respect and not to apply undue force in the dischare of their functions.

We continue to take any such allegations seriously, and thank you for your letter.

Yours sincerely,

John Hay

Media Relations Officer

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January Photo of the Month: Windsor Star Photographer Pepper Sprayed at FTAA Protest

Windsor Star photographer, Ted Rhodes, treated in the streets by Shutdown OAS Coalition street medic after Rhodes received blast of pepper spray while documenting protests against the Free Trade of the Americas in Windsor, Ontario.  (2000) Photo: Langelle/GJEP 

Recently, on this blog we have run several articles concerning repression against journalists in their attempt to document efforts by the 1% to keep the truth from the eyes of the people.  Both Orin Langelle and Jeff Conant from GJEP carry official press accreditation and we feel that is important to inform people about some of the dangers involved in reporting incidents the authorities want kept quiet.

Langelle recalls that on his first assignment as a photojournalist during the 1972 protests during the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, he was billy-clubbed by the police.  More recently he was assaulted by an unidentified uniformed UN security guard during the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa last month.  The security guard slammed Langelle’s camera into his face because he took a photo of that guard ejecting an accredited participant of the conference from the UN compound as he was being interviewed by the media immediately following a Global Justice Ecology Project press conference.

 As the situation on this planet worsens ecologically and economically, the dangers of documenting the plundering of the Earth and the repression of people who try to stop it will increase.

History of the January Photo of the Month: The actions in Windsor in 2000 were the first major protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.  Others followed in Quebec City in 2001 and finally in Miami, Florida in 2003 where the FTAA ran aground.  The following article was written immediately after the Windsor actions:

Windsor, Ontario anti-Free Trade Area of the Americas
and Organization of American States Actions, June 4-6, 2000

by Orin Langelle

Windsor, Ontario–The shutdown of the OAS/FTAA meetings in Windsor were successful as business was unable to proceed as usual.  The FTAA is the southward expansion of NAFTA and intends to bind all countries in the Americas (except Cuba) to another trade agreement. Although the meetings took place, it was only with armed protection. The Windsor Star reported prior to the actions, “…the protesters have already won.  Without throwing a single rock or unfurling one banner, they’ve turned the OAS delegates and their entourages into diplomatic birds in a gilded cage.”

There were around 70 arrests in three days of action.

Delegates met behind 15 foot fences and concrete barricades as a ten square block perimeter was enforced by the Windsor police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP in full riot gear.  The Detroit River was patrolled by police boats.  Across the river, Detroit was also militarized.

On Sunday between 3-5,000 protesters led by labor rallied and marched.  The first pepper spray incident occurred during the labor rally when demonstrators attempted to unfurl an anti-FTAA banner over the OAS cage.  Pepper spray continued throughout the afternoon as other protesters blocked a bus with delegates bound for the meetings.

Monday found high school students walking out of their classes in protest of the meetings.

More high school students did the same on Tuesday, when the OAS delegates met regarding next year’s Summit of the Americas where the FTAA will be the key topic.

Although the OAS said that the Windsor meeting had nothing to do with trade, Canadian Prime Minister Chrétien welcomed the delegates by endorsing the FTAA.

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 Also check out the GJEP Photo Gallery, past Photos of the Month posted on GJEP’s website, or Langelle’s photo essaysposted on GJEP’s Climate Connections blog.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Political Repression