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By Andy Bichlbaum on Jan 28 2012 - 1:23pm Tagged: Project: Patriots for Self-Deportation

January 26, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Megan Hanley, selfdeport@gmail.com

Stranger than Fiction: Romney Steals “Self-Deport” Idea from Satirical Website
Activists furious at GOP Candidate, Exploring Legal Options

New York, NY -- Five months ago, in an effort to draw attention to the bigoted nature of the current debate around immigration in the United States, a group of activists got together to come up with the most outlandish approach imaginable to immigration issues: Self-deportation. The result-- www.SelfDeport.org-- launched last fall, cheerily reminding Americans unsure about the status of their immigrant forebearers that "Stopping Illegal Citizenship Starts with You."

During this past Monday night’s GOP debate, Mitt Romney stole the idea and passed it off as his own.

The “Repatriotas,” a group of artists and activists affiliated with the Yes Lab at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, were shocked when Romney suggested that “The answer [to the immigration issue] is self-deportation.” The group built selfdeport.org as a satirical response to stepped-up deportations and an uptick of extreme anti-immigrant laws like SB 1070 in Arizona, HB 56 in Alabama, and the Secure Communities program, which deny basic rights to undocumented people and their families. And increasingly harsh and punitive responses to immigration are not just a partisan or GOP problem. Under the Obama administration a record 369,000 people were deported in 2011 alone-- far exceeding deportation rates under his Republican predecessor George W. Bush.

“The ‘go-back-home’ rhetoric is so over-the-top that we thought parody was the only sane response," said Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, a Repatriota and a member of the Latina video and satire collective Fulana. "We don't know how Romney first happened upon our website, but given the murky nature of his own family's legal status in the U.S., maybe he was just exploring his options," she says, referring to recent allegations that in the early twentieth century Romney's own family may have crossed the Mexico / US border without first securing the appropriate papers.

“The difference between Mitt Romney’s version of self-deportation and ours is he imagines a country where immigration issues can be solved by making immigrants’ lives so miserable, they’ll give up and leave. We want everyone who lives in this country to enjoy equal opportunity and rights,” said Cristel M. Jusino Díaz, a member of the group.

The Repatriotas work to draw attention to the challenges faced by undocumented youth in the U.S. They support federal and state legislation that would enable undocumented students to achieve their dreams of pursuing higher education and civic service.

The Repatriotas  view “repatriation” as a logical extension of the “anchor baby” debates, or far-right proposals to modify the 14th Amendment with the intention of deny birthright citizenship for children of undocumented people.  The site questions why descendants of European immigrants --many of whom also arrived and lived in the United States without proper documentation-- feel their own immigrant past is "different." The creators of selfdeport.org hope to spark a conversation about the idea of "The Real America" and who belongs in it.

The Repatriotas have contacted Romney’s campaign headquarters for comment. To date the campaign has not responded -- nor properly attributed the “Self-Deportation” idea to its authors.

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Dec 15 2011 - 10:07am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

For those wondering whether Manhattan's wealthiest church will help Occupy Wall Street obtain a space, here's the answer... sort of:

December 15, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WILL TRINITY CHURCH TEAR DOWN OWS NATIVITY SCENE?
Church and lay activists install guerrilla gift in front of Wall St. church

Today at 2pm, prominent New York religious figures along with Occupy Wall Street activists will erect a nativity scene outside Trinity Wall Street Church. The scene—which activists are calling a "peace offering" in advance of this Saturday's planned occupation of a sliver of unused Trinity land—will feature Joseph, Mary, and Jesus within an Occupy Wall Street tent adorned with relevant scripture.

"The story of Christmas starts with Mary and Joseph's search for a home," said Reverend Michael Ellick of Judson Church. "It's thus especially ironic, and tragic, that Trinity Church—one of the largest landowners in New York City—refuses even a tiny, unused piece of its vast land to OWS, which points to the same spirit of transformation that Jesus represented."

"This is truly a theological line in the sand," added Ellick. "The gospel is about real-world transformation, not cosmetic charity. How is it that Trinity's real estate is worth over 10 billion dollars, and all they can do for Occupy is hand out hot chocolate?"

Rev. Ellick and other participants will also deliver a petition from over 12,000 Faithful America members urging the church to offer sanctuary to the protesters. Faithful America is an online community of people of faith taking action for social justice.

"Trinity is faced with a choice: are they a church or are they a real estate company with a religious storefront?" said Andrew Huckins, one of the organizers of this Saturday's planned occupation. "We truly hope that Trinity moves beyond charity and joins the Occupy movement in its quest for social and economic justice."

According to Max Page, author of The Creative Destruction of Manhattan, in the early 20th century Trinity "offended the sensibilities of elite New Yorkers by ignoring the squalor over which it was landlord... and unjustly redistributing the wealth of the church to its uptown parishioners." In short, the book notes, Trinity acted "like a big business and not a religious institution."

"Trinity can use this opportunity to act according to the beliefs we all espouse," said Ellick. "We deeply hope that they do so."

Contact:

Rev. Michael Ellick (Judson Church): 646-734-0162
Andrew Huckins (OWS): 413-522-1129
Sean Devlin (Yes Lab): sean@yeslab.org

For more information: http://occupyfaithnyc.com/

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Dec 7 2011 - 10:02am Tagged:

The inside story. For more information please visit http://occupyourhomes.org/. High-resolution version is available here (control-click to download).

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Dec 5 2011 - 1:03am Tagged:

December 5, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OWS ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT ARMS FINANCE CONFERENCE
Activists had handed fake agendas to dozens of defense industry executives

Video: below
Contact: Jerry Goralnick, 917-450-6301; José Martín, 773-307-1929, josemartin@riseup.net

OWS activists, indistinguishable from conference-goers thanks to thrift-store power suits, walked past the police security perimeter and handed out fake conference agendas to dozens of participants in the 7th annual Aerospace & Defense Finance Conference at Credit Suisse last week. The conference brought Department of Defense officials and Wall Street bankers together with defense contractors to hear pitches about the latest and greatest in military and civilian-control technology.

The fake agendas listed DoD presentations such as "Preemptive Elimination of Fetal Enemy Combatants" and "Neutralization of Peaceful Social Disorders Through Asphyxiation Expectorants," and ended with a quote by Maj. Smedley Butler, an opponent of war adventuring who died in 1940: "[War} is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious [racket]ÉIt is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the very many."

It is unclear which conference participant first realized the agenda was fake. Embarrassed organizers quickly commanded police to seize and arrest two of the activists; they were released the next day.

"54% of our taxes go to the military-industrial complex, while vital social services like education and health care are on the verge of collapse," said JosŽ Mart’n, one of the activists. "It's not us the NYPD should have arrested." The NYPD was famously called the world's "seventh largest army" by New York mayor Bloomberg.

"I was arrested for highlighting the tragic absurdity of our government's spending priorities," said Jen Waller. "At my arraignment, the District Attorney said: 'It's not about what she did, but where she did it and who she did it to.' I guess you can play a joke on people, so long at they're not part of the world's financial or military elite."

The fake agendas were distributed as part of a day of action coordinated by Occupy Wall Street, the New York City branch of the War Resisters League, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, and many other organizations. Morning and afternoon marches greeted conference attendees with props, signs, chants, songs, as well as a banner drop, and eighteen people were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience actions intended to bring attention to the violent agenda of the conference.

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 29 2011 - 10:16am Tagged:

Dear New Yorker,

The Occupy movement has moved into a new, very exciting phase as it gears up for the December 6 day of action on home foreclosures. Sign up for updates and get involved! With your help, this can be really interesting.

Meanwhile, if you're an early riser, arms dealers are meeting with bankers tomorrow to discuss the profitability of, well, killing people. Meet tomorrow (Wednesday) starting at 6:30am in the middle of the park next to Credit Suisse, One Madison Avenue, 12th Floor. Why not wear a business suit? We hear bankers like them.

Then, this Thursday at 7:30pm, come giggle at the revolutionary humor that Anonymous uses as one of its key tactics: 34 Stuyvesant St., Room 105.

Finally, a plug for No-Space, a base for art and activism in NYC that has been very busy in the Occupy movement. A few months ago, a 240% rent increase forced them out of Williamsburg; they've now moved to Greenpoint, but need some help setting up. Check out their Kickstarter video, and if you can, please give today!

See you soon!
The Yes Lab

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 22 2011 - 9:28am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

November 22, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WOMAN LOSES JOB FOR BLOOMBERG/WARLORD COMPARISON
"Bloomberg rep" fired from market research firm for performance highlighting absent mayor's violent tactics

Video: www.yeslab.org/drumcircle

An actress who played a Bloomberg representative in a satirical performance a block away from the mayor's E. 79th St. residence this past Sunday was fired from her job as an independent contractor at a market research consulting firm.

"They said my performance had put the company in an uncomfortable position," said Mary Notari, who learned of her firing from a phone call Monday afternoon. "The mayor has said ‘No right is absolute’—including, apparently, the right to poke fun at him for using violent force against his own people and for bending the law to do so.”

In Notari's performance, she asked the recently-evicted protesters how they would "feel if someone came to your place of residence and prevented you from moving freely." She also announced that the protesters had "put the mayor under siege" and had "reduced him to behaving like a medieval warlord."

Police prevented protesters from entering the E. 79th St. block where the mayor spends weekdays. When asked if the mayor was there at the time, a police officer answered: "No, he's in Bermuda. He goes there every weekend. He's a billionaire, he goes where he wants. Learjet."

"What the police have done is made 79th Street between 5th and Madison a no-First-Amendment zone," said Norman Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer. "The Constitution doesn't say you have First Amendment rights except where Mayor Bloomberg lives."

“Don’t get me wrong, I find drum circles just as annoying as the mayor does," said Notari. "But the beating of drums is nothing compared to the beatings his police officers have delivered to peaceful protesters this past week.”

Video of Notari's Sunday performance can be seen at http://www.yeslab.org/drumcircle.

 

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 21 2011 - 4:29pm Tagged:

Last week, on the mayor’s order, police violently raided a peaceful community in the middle of night, discarding thousands of books, excluding witnesses and press, etc. "Public safety" has been the excuse to continually restrict the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and freedom of speech of those who disagree with the mayor and the 1% he represents.

On this unseasonably warm and bright autumn day, a group of these same individuals and their supporters came to express their complaints against the perpetrator of last Tuesday’s injustice—again, in a peaceful and constitutionally guaranteed way. They were met with yet more steel barricades and armed police, and the woman in the above performance found herself jobless.

The comparison of Bloomberg to a medieval warlord is, if anything, too kind—medieval warlords weren't usually this systematic.

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 19 2011 - 3:48pm Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

Now, finally, a drum circle you don't have to be high to enjoy: this Sunday at 2pm, for 24 hours, bring the love to Mayor Bloomberg's personal townhouse: 17 East 79th Street.

Tie-dye, didgeridoo, hackeysack welcome! No shirt, no shoes, no problem! And if you don't have talent, don't worry: FREE DRUM LESSONS offered! Also on offer: collaborative drumming with the police!

Even though this is a 24-hour drum circle, don't be late! The mayor loves evictions. Who knows what'll happen? But no matter how long it lasts, there'll be an afterparty and love-in in world-famous Central Park just next door.

Please spread this announcement (www.yeslab.org/drumcircle) as far and fast as you can!

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 15 2011 - 1:10pm Tagged:

Thanks to Bloomberg's insane attempt at eviction, things have heated up very dramatically in advance of this Thursday's mass non-violent direct action in New York City. This Thursday was already going to be epic—now, we can only expect the mindblowing. Visit http://occupywallst.org/action/november-17th/ for the partial schedule of events.

Towards the end of the day, if you need a short break to discuss what's happening, come see former Weather Underground member Mark Rudd, live, in "GRAMPA WAS A TERRORIST," at NYU's Steinhardt Auditorium, 34 Stuyvesant Street, Room 105, at 7:30pm. Then head back into the fray, together with Mark.

Mark Rudd led the legendary 1968 occupation of five buildings at Columbia University, a dramatic act of protest against the university's support for the Vietnam War. As charismatic chairman of the Columbia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, the largest radical student organization in the United States, Rudd became a national symbol of student revolt, and went on to co-found the Weathermen faction of SDS, which helped organize the notorious Days of Rage in Chicago in 1969 before going underground. Mark will speak about the intended and unintended humor of '60s activism.

Mark's talk is part of the "Revolutionaries Live!" lecture series, that examines both the successes and failures of revolutions and moments of social change by speaking with those in the thick of it. (RSVP on the Facebook page if you like.)

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Nov 13 2011 - 9:18am Tagged: Project: Occupy Wall Street actions

November 13, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APEC World Leaders Dinner Gets Occupied
Within secure zone, musician sings on behalf of the many

Video and photos below
Lyrics

Honolulu - A change in the programmed entertainment at last night's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gala left a few world leaders slack-jawed, though most seemed not to notice that anything was amiss.

During the gala dinner, renowned Hawaiian guitarist Makana, who performed at the White House in 2009, opened his suit jacket to reveal a home-made “Occupy with Aloha” T-shirt. Then, instead of playing the expected instrumental background music, he spent almost 45 minutes repeatedly singing his protest ballad released earlier that day. The ballad, called “We Are the Many,” includes lines such as “The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw.... And until they are purged, we won't withdraw,” and ends with the refrain: “We'll occupy the streets, we'll occupy the courts, we'll occupy the offices of you, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few.”

Those who could hear Makana’s message included Presidents Barack Obama of the United States of America, Hu Jintao of China, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, and over a dozen other heads of state.

“At first, I was worried about playing ‘We Are The Many,’” said Makana. “But I found it odd that I was afraid to sing a song I’d written, especially since I'd written it with these people in mind.”

The gala was the most secure event of the summit. It was held inside the Hale Koa hotel, a 72-acre facility owned and controlled by the US Defense Department; the site was fortified with an additional three miles of fencing constructed solely for the APEC summit.

Makana was surprised that no one objected to him playing the overtly critical song. “I just kept doing different versions,” he said. “I must’ve repeated ‘the bidding of the many, not the few’ at least 50 times, like a mantra. It was surreal and sobering.”

Makana’s new song is inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has taken root in cities worldwide. Last Saturday, eight protesters were arrested when they refused to leave the Occupy Honolulu encampment at Thomas Square Park. Occupy Honolulu has joined other groups, including Moana Nui, to protest the APEC meeting, and while Makana performed, hundreds of people protested outside.

After facing large-scale protests in South Korea, Australia, Peru, and Japan, APEC moved this year's event to Hawaii, the most isolated piece of land on earth. In preparation for the meeting, homeless families were moved out of sight and millions of taxpayer dollars were spent on security—including over $700,000 on non-lethal weapons for crowd control. In a bitter twist, the multi-million dollar security plans backfired when a local Hawaiian man was shot and killed by a 27-year-old DC-based federal agent providing security for dignitaries.

Makana’s action was assisted by the Yes Lab and Occupy the Boardroom. In recent weeks, Occupy protesters have been showing up at corporate events, headquarters and even on the doorsteps of those in power. “Makana really raised the bar by delivering the Occupy message inside what is probably the most secure place on the planet right now,” said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Lab.

“My uncle taught me to feel out the audience and play what my heart tells me to,” said Makana. “That’s what I did tonight.”

Contact:
    Mike Bonanno: music@yeslab.org, 917-209-3282
    John Sweeney: hawaii@yeslab.org, 808-230-0799

 

Video:

Photos (click some for high-res):

 

Lyrics to "We Are the Many":

Ye come here, gather 'round the stage
The time has come for us to voice our rage
Against the ones who've trapped us in a cage
To steal from us the value of our wage

From underneath the vestiture of law
The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw
At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw
And until they are purged, we won't withdraw

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

Our nation was built upon the right
Of every person to improve their plight
But laws of this Republic they rewrite
And now a few own everything in sight

They own it free of liability
They own, but they are not like you and me
Their influence dictates legality
And until they are stopped we are not free

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You enforce your monopolies with guns
While sacrificing our daughters and sons
But certain things belong to everyone
Your thievery has left the people none

So take heed of our notice to redress
We have little to lose, we must confess
Your empty words do leave us unimpressed
A growing number join us in protest

We occupy the streets
We occupy the courts
We occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You can't divide us into sides
And from our gaze, you cannot hide
Denial serves to amplify
And our allegiance you can't buy

Our government is not for sale
The banks do not deserve a bail
We will not reward those who fail
We will not move till we prevail

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We are the many
You are the few

 

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