Author Archives: lennygolightly
Today, we can celebrate the resignation of the former media team of Occupy Melbourne. Although there is a group of people that still clings to the public webspace of OM as gatekeeper for the 1%, those still interested in continuing the experiment of building a new society within the shell of old dying one have decided to keep the movement moving with a different swinging media team.
How has it all begun? In 2011, the wind of change blew the seeds of the occupy tree around the world. When it started sprouting in Melbourne, it was detected by a control freak, ambitious for a political career. Let’s call this person Nick (similarities to real existing persons are purely intentional) for now. When Nick saw the sprouting happening, he called some friends to help transplanting this wilding growing movement into a tiny flower pot.
He called this flower pot ‘media team’, and he and his friends swore to each other to tend this movement, to water it, let nobody close to it, and tell everyone what a beautiful fruit tree is growing in their tiny flower pot. After a short while, they stopped believing their own lies about the massive orchard quelling from their flower pot, and even stopped watering their catch at all.
So they told everyone that couldn’t change the topic fast enough how dead OM is – they must know, their captured seedling withered away long ago. And while the media team managed to transplant some more wild seeds into their flower pot, it was certain that all that was occupy in Melbourne was dead and gone. Viciously they guarded the online corpse of ‘their’ movement, and trampled on anything grassroot like that still held the Occupy banner held up proudly.
So let’s call them agents of Monsanto. That’s probably as wrong as calling them government spooks, still funnier and closer to the truth. The media mafia was more interested in success within the corrupt system than bringing it down. One of the incapable gardeners, let’s call him James, couldn’t wait to announce the death of OM, and now makes a buck from selling his obituary as lecture at the University Melbourne. Kudos to James to commercially exploit an ‘anti-capitalist’ movement.
As the media team spend most time lamenting the death of the movement, and started a campaign of shameless self-promotion based in their decisive position within this movement, they blessed the occupiers continuing the ideas of the global movement with ignorance.
The ‘official’ OM sites and facebook pages are currently maintained by a bunch of trolls. They have created a cyber zombie designed to wreak havoc among the activist community. However, the cold, icelandic polit bureau times are as good as gone. A movement that aims to change society and culture cannot be impeded by some self-obsessed, potentially sociopathic political amateur ideologues, at least not for long.
As Occupy Melbourne continued to win hearts and minds of the Melbournians, without any support of the media team (which hijacked the funeral procession of Rob Doyle’s career for more self-enlargement and media whore moments). Without the polit bureau, the movement consolidated.
Only time can tell whether the Icelandic heroes let go of their prey. However, if you want to study disinformation strategy follow the ‘official’ Occupy Melbourne fb page, still hijacked by the media team.
How can a group of people bring about a fundamental shift in society? Can we analyse civil movements with mathematical metrics to improve the efficiency of strategies and the definition of goals?
The occupation in Melbourne is still in its Early Adaptor stage, although it seems to resonate enough with a potentially ‘critical’ mass that can bring things to a tipping point. Allow me to set out some hypothetical numbers while forgetting about ideological bullshit. Melbourne has roughly 4 million citizens, which means if 5% of the population constitute a ‘critical mass’, it would take 200.000 Melbournians to liberate this city from its oppressors (if the same thing happens globally).
200.000 sounds like a lot, it’s probably more than the ‘alternative’ parties count as members in whole Australia. But occupy isn’t a political party, it’s more like a life style choice. So metrics from other areas of life might better reflect such a number can be achieved or not. For simplicity’s sake and inspired by sometimes shaky optimism, I assume that theoretically 200,000 could be convinced to commit their alliance to the idea of leaderless, consensual direct democracy.
Between now and 200,000 Melbourne occupiers lies the growth of the movement. Growth happens cyclical, linear or exponential. Although most systems and structures based on exponential growth constitute a big part of the problem, a phase of exponential growth is required to save this planet before the greedy few have wrecked it entirely.
Time for some calculations. Let’s take 100 people, committed to contribute to the growth of the movement. The goal for each of them is to find a single ally per week. Even for people with a daytime job this sounds like an achievable target. In a linear model, it takes 2,000 weeks (roughly 38 years) to get our magical 200,000 together. A job for a lifetime, a Sisyphus task. Farewell, Mother Earth, will be late for your rescue as we got sidetracked supporting the system of destruction.
Now let’s bring some magic in, exponential growth. Our 100 people win allies, not consumers or subscribers, and show their alliance by doing the same. After a week there will 200 ‘members’, after two weeks 400, and so on. Now guess how many weeks it’ll take with this growth rate to get to 200,000. Don’t peer ahead and spoil your fun. I happily distract you for a while – isn’t distraction the real opium for the masses, be it sport, politics, porn, drugs, drama and media?
Already after two months the barrier to 10,000 allies is broken, and the numbers will jump within the next month (after 12 weeks) over the 200,000 mark. Even with only 10 people as starting point it would take a mere 19 weeks to grow to a number where even a 10% mobilisation rate would exceed the size of most rallyes that took place in recent history in Melbourne.
While this might sound like a pyramide scheme, there’s an essential difference. In a flat hierarchy, everybody is allowed to take their share from the gains of the operation. The idea of property, especially of land, contradicts the common interest, especially in highly populated world. And alliance (or membership) wouldn’t necessarily mean membership fees (do we really need money on an abundant planet?).
Before we can agree how to heal the planet and to evolve mankind the system of madness needs to be stopped. Dr. ABC, first of all, remove the danger. 200,000 people in Melbourne’s streets would certainly bring many things to a stop, and initiate a wave of civil disobedience that potentially brings back justice into society.
Today, another protest against the detainment of Bradley Manning, and the crimes against humanity committed by the US government exposed by Wikileaks, took place in front of the US consulate in Melbourne.
As it was already the third time we managed to organise this legal form of political protest, basically a sit-in, we were familiar with some people involved, like the friendly and sympathetic receptionist, and some of the police. The building manager had changed since we’ve been there last time. While he seemed less angry than the last one, he still didn’t like political protest in ‘his’ premises.
The last sit-in lasted three hours, so this time we were well prepared to enjoy ourselves while being there. We had some music and food, and prepared some little scenes and speeches to make it a joyful happening. The cause, however, is less funny – Obama’s drone war, Bradley Mannings incarceration for years, most of it in solitary confinement, declaring Wikileaks and its confederates as ‘Enemy of the state’, the Grand Jury against Assange, who is held hostage in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Learning from their last experience, whoever was responsible to enforce mob law on civil protestors, decided on a faster course of action. And yo a more intimidating and finally violent approach. Police observing the protest initially were quite edgy, carried their guns and actively engaged in house-keeping, removing the flyers we patched to the doors of the embassy.
CIRT (Critical Incidence Response Team), the muscle of the corporate impostor government, arrived with more troops in riot gear, squads from a variety of police stations got into their gloves, ready to rough up the protest.
As I have some good reasons not to get into violently enforced laws, I took care of the belongings of some of my friends, left the building and awaited for the inevitable unlawful eviction. I positioned myself in front of the door, sheltered from the rain and got my camera ready. One of the police clowns approached me and ask me to move on, which I politely declined initially.
‘Move away!’, ‘Sorry, sir, you got no right to ask me to move on’. ‘It’s for you own safety, it could dangerous for when we remove the protestors.’ ‘So you’re intending to do something dangerous?’ ‘I don’t engage with your semantics.’
The police officer then asked me about the things I put down temporarily, suggested I could join my mates to be forcefully removed, so I moved a couple of metres away, into the rain, still waiting for the eviction.
I dropped the things I took care of next to a table belonging to the cafe next door, still in good sight of the four police clowns readying themselves for some action. One of the youngest of them came over and asked me for ID, which I politely declined with: ‘I don’t think I’m obliged to give you my ID.’
He moved back, and when I dropped my cigarette butt (I know, smoking is bad, littering as well, but, hell, I got nervous and uncomfortable), one of the clowns marched over to me: ‘Give me your ID, I have to fine you for throwing away burning litter!’ Luckily, I got backup in the ensuing attempt to contract me to accept a fine, and managed to remove myself from police, put the belongings of my mates into the car and chill for a while.
When we went to debrief into a cafe opposite the embassy, things escalated again. Our independent journalist demanded to identify the cop that pushed him during the eviction, and got done badly. As we still could see what happened, most went back to look after him, and they arrested a young woman, pushed several others to the ground, and took her and the journo on a ride.
Similar to other evictions, they simply drove them off the scene and dropped them somewhere in St. Kilda on the side of the road. When we regrouped with the arrested, the woman had gone into shock, and lay on the pavement in the rain. By the time ambulance arrived to take care of her, people with video evidence could show the medics how police had assaulted her.
The amount of laws broken by police, and their attitude was mostly shocking. In first place, removing the protestors from the inside of the building was unlawful – places of business are similar to public space, and removing someone wanting to talk to a representative of the US consulate in front of it, causing neither damage or danger to persons and property, not even following any sort of protocol, is unlawful.
The rough handling of some the protestors technically is assault, and arresting someone nominally, without a charge, and just dropping them off somewhere constitutes basically kidnapping. The Stanford Prison Experiment has shown convincingly that entitling people with a uniform effectively removes them from personal responsibility, and often of empathy, and turns them into beasts.
While we did our best to alleviate the psychological harm and trauma inflicted, and the bruises caused by brutal handling won’t last for long, it’s simply unacceptable to have people ostensibly representing the government acting like the muscle of the mafia.
We stood up to injustice in non-violent, lawful ways, and the authorities came down on us like thugs of a fascist, impostor government. Because that’s what they are. They get paid to inflict injustice on regular people, while we do it to stand up for a healthy, just society. It’s kind of sad that it takes some of us getting beaten up to make a tiny media blip, especially if it’s just in Murdoch press.
Yet without resistance, the next generation will be born into inescapable servitude, and no one will remember the god-given right to freedom, so many people in history have fought for. And as we are aware of the policy of intimidation to enforce pretend law, we will not give up.
Please note, I derived the following suggestions to the best of my knowledge of Common Law, which still applies in Australia according to its Constitution. Police officers most likely have a different attitude of what they are entitled to, and might use force and/or intimidation to get what they want.
Stay calm, friendly and firm.
As soon as you loose your temper, you might forget any of the following suggestions, and do something stupid. Yet as long as you haven’t committed any crime, you have the rights that apply under Common Law for dealing with any requests from the police.
Identify yourself or not?
At common law, a citizen is under no legal duty to identify himself or herself to the police. The exception to this principle is where the police see the person in question committing an offence. Victoria has introduced Statutory Laws that entitle police to identify you, but Statutory Laws require your consent to become binding. Demanding to be treated under common law cannot be treated as obstruction, however, police might coerce/intimidate you to contract with them.
Depending on how critical the situation is, you might want to film the conversation before answering any questions. Documenting your interactions with the police on video can provide valuable evidence in case of trouble.
Am I under arrest?
As long as you haven’t been caught committing a crime, you don’t need to cooperate with police. Talking to police can get quite repetitive, as they usually expect compliance. Remember, as long as you haven’t contracted with them, they are an authority for you, not over you.
What is the charge?
If police wants to arrest you, they have to name a charge against you. Not giving your ID isn’t a criminal offense, and isn’t obstruction either. Stay calm and ask them: “Under which law are you acting?” Remind them friendly that they don’t have authority over you unless you committed a crime.
Do you understand?
Never answer this question from a police officer with yes, unless you want to get into trouble. This term sounds like plain English, but it’s a special legalese term. By answering yes, you enter into a contract with the police officer, and agree not to be treated under common law, but statutory law. ‘Do you understand?’ translates into ‘Do you agree to stand under my authority?’ An adequate answer could sound like this: No, I do not stand under your authority. Being (or acting) stupid cannot be construed as a crime, if the police officer looses his/her calm on camera, the odds in a court case can be in your favour.
Under which authority are you acting?
Ask this question if police insists to request something you don’t want to do. Victoria Police display the Crown on their badges, which means they have sworn an allegiance to the Queen. The Queen warrants that anyone is entitled to be treated under common law, which most police officers have not the faintest clue about. However, as long as you know your rights, stay calm, friendly and firm, police officers can held liable for infringing your (god-given) rights. Depending on how confident you feel, you might remind the police about their unlawful activity, best when it’s documented on camera.
Public space is public.
Although some statutory laws have been made for move-on orders and random searches, these have to be announced a week in advance. Unless you’re breaching the peace, police have no right to ask you to leave a public spot. If you breached the peace, police have to explain first how you did it.
More about space
While freedom of movement seems obvious for public space, different rules apply for private property. Although being technically private property, places of business are basically similar to public spaces. Interfering with political protest in places of business is therefor similar to interfering with it in public space.
Crimes Act 1914 – Section 14 / Interfering with political liberty
Any person who, by violence and threat of intimidation of any kind, hinders or interferes with the free exercise or performance, by any other person, of any political right or duty, shall be guilty of an offense.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 3 years.
Translated into common language this means police breaking up a protest are usually committing a crime, punishable by 3 years of prison.
Know your rights.
If you’re planning to do direct action, investigate as best as you can the legal situation you’re entering into. Stay calm, friendly and firm when explaining to police your understanding of the law. Police doesn’t the law most of the time, but usually can be stopped in their tracks if reminded that they are breaking laws by what they do or want to do.
Common Law is simple.
As long as you avoid contracting with police, your intuitive idea about right and wrong most likely reflects common law. However, as police is trained to follow orders, it might save you from harm to comply when threatened with violence. If you have given your ID without committing a crime, or answered to “Do you understand?” with yes, you already contracted with police, and therefor entered the area of corporate law, which acts against the interest of citizens.
Comments, corrections and additions are welcome. I wrote all of this to the best of my knowledge, based on my research and understanding of the legal system. Knowing your rights might not save you from arrest or other problems with police, but will provide a sound basis for potential court proceeding. Use with care and sound judgement.
The brutal eviction of Occupy Melbourne exactly one year ago has left many scars, and for a while it looked like the policy of intimidation by Melbourne City Council and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle had worked to silence the movement, and to beat it back into conformity.
Many ‘normal’ people were drawn into the movement, and experienced activism from its nasty side – police violence and legal oppression were unleashed on people wanting to stand up non-violently for a better world. Occupy didn’t yet managed to chance society at large, but it left a massive imprint for all those involved. Many people realised that they are not on their own in their despair and grievance of a system that puts profits before people, and has become a soulless machination of rules, fines and regulations that defy common sense.
The global occupy movement never had a master plan how to fix…
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Sometime early last year, an idea was born. In Spain, in Israel and then even in the US, people started occupying public space with tents and everything else needed to stay in one place. Just like any new idea, it had the charming appeal of a newborn baby, well-fed, cleaned from the placenta, happily smiling, a bundle of innocent, irresistable cuteness.
Like Baby Moses, it wasn’t really welcomed and kept sheltered from the prying eyes of the media, but the cool kids spotted it somehow. ‘I so wanna have it’, said one cool kid, ‘Me too!’ said another, ‘Me three!’ said a third. So they sat together, took old dolls and created their Frankenstein version of the occupy baby, broken bits of useless ideologies glued together by attention-seeking drivel, disguising the old bullshit in its belly.
While the cool kids patted their backs, others brought the real baby into the…
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