Indymedia Roundup - Week of February 14, 2011
Rally Against Hate in Hastings -- Hastings High School students put on three showings last weekend of The Laramie Project, a popular play about about the homophobic murder of gay student Matthew Shephard in Laramie, Wyoming. That drew the attention of the notorious Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, a group which sees homosexuality as the root cause of the world's evils and regularly protests Laramie as well as the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lately, however, their protests more often turn into no-shows - and that's what happened in Hastings thanks to a quickly-organized local response. Not only did the play sell out in conservative Hastings; hundreds of supporters lined the sidewalks in a demonstration outside of Hastings High. See more photos from the demonstration and a report via TCIMC here, or read more via Bluestem Prairie.
More items below: Scott DeMuth sentenced; Middle East uprisings grow; Indymedia--Africa convergence; Will National Guard be called against labor protesters in Wisconsin? Publish more news and events to Indymedia yourself at tc.indymedia.org/publish
DeMuth Sentenced -- On Monday, Minneapolis activist Scott DeMuth was sentenced in Davenport, Iowa to six months in federal prison. DeMuth had pleaded guilty in September to misdemeanor conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism relating to a 2006 Minnesota animal liberation, in a deal that cleared his name in connection to a high profile 2005 University of Iowa arson. The investigation into the Iowa arson appears to be closed, with the FBI having failed in connecting anyone to the crime. (See all related stories)
DeMuth was taken into custody immediately, but it's not yet known where he will be serving the sentence. The full report on his sentencing can be read at TC Indymedia here.
18 Days in Egypt Only the Beginning - The popular uprising in Egypt which forced out former President Hosni Mubarak late last week has captivated activists worldwide. And the uprising seems to be growing--protests in Bahrain, Algeria, Iran, and Yemen, among other Middle Eastern countries, are already threatening to force systemic reforms even as those governments crack down. Egyptians living in Minnesota and other supporters of the revolution rallied in celebration at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Saturday.
In Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, activists say the real work of the revolution has only just begun, and continued efforts will be needed both in Egypt and internationally to ensure the supreme military council, now in control of the country, will follow through on demands to lift the emergency law, ensure civil liberties, and free all political prisoners - a group which in Egypt numbers in the thousands. Many of those arrested at the beginning of the 18-day revolt have still not yet been heard from. Democracy Now! and Al-Jazeera English continue to be popular sources of reporting from the streets of the do-it-yourself revolution in Egypt.
In his address on the matter, President Obama credited the "moral force of nonviolence" with allowing the Egyptian people to overthrow their dictator. Of course, that "nonviolence" included street battles with pro-Mubarak gangs, barricades around Tahrir Square, and, perhaps most dramatically, the burning and complete destruction of the ruling National Democratic Party headquarters. In the speech about Egypt, Obama also invoked Martin Luther King, Jr., who declared that "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world is my own government."
One gets the feeling that if protesters were to burn down the Democratic or Republican Party headquarters, say during the 2012 DNC in Charlotte or RNC in Tampa, Obama's tune would be different. Remembering the ferocity with which poltiical arsons in the U.S. are classified as "terrorism" sheds light on just how much the statements of politicians differ according to popular sentiment and political convenience.
Indymedia Africa Convergence a Success -- IMC Africa - While the uprising in Egypt was at its peak, across the African continent, the World Social Forum and an accompanying Indymedia--Africa convergence were held in Dakar, Senegal. The Indymedia convergence was organized with support from international media activists, including Minnesota-based IMCista Sphinx (originally from Ambazonia) to facilitate collaborative grassroots coverage and analysis of this historical gathering, while at the same time teaching and learning the technical and media-making skills necessary to make social justice-oriented media from within African struggles. The effort was animated by the participation of a delegation of women environmental activists (organized by Emem Bridget Okon of the Kebetkache Women's Center in Nigeria), many of whom are learning to use the internet for the first time.
Read more about the convergence here, or visit the new IMC Africa website at http://imc-africa.mayfirst.org.
Wisconsin Threatens to Halt Protests with Military - Back in the Midwest, it's again becoming clear that the use of military to intervene in popular unrest is not only a prevelant tactic in the global south. Democracy Now! reported on Monday that Republican Governor Scott Walker has notified the state's National Guard to be on alert for protests by state, county and municipal employees, following his proposal of anti-labor measures incluing eliminating almost all collective bargaining rights and cuts in pay and benefits.
The proposal has already sparked a number of large protests. Wisconsin AFSCME members are fighting Walker's power grab, bussing workers from around the state into the capital, Madison, and set up a website, Not My Wisconsin.
Last November TC Indymedia reported a related secret military plan, USNORTHCOM CONPLAN 3502, entitled "Civil Disturbance Operations," is the Pentagon's primary plan for crushing protests, riots and uprisings inside the United States using FEMA and Department of Homeland Security joint control structures. Seems like Governor Walker has been taking an unnerving interest in policies like these.