FREEDOM:Visionary Activist, New Media Journalist, mother, environmentalist & yogini.
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Occupying Freedom in LA
I’ve been following the daily news of Syrians fighting for freedom as they are massacred by their own government. It’s gripping and horrifying and at times outright unbelievable. I’ve created a list on my Twitter account that anyone can subscribe to in order to access the latest breaking news. After seeing Syrian activist in Homs, @mulhamjundi , tweet that he was available to Skype at the moment, I jumped at the chance for a face to face report on what’s going on in Syria. This video is of our first call.
Mulham explains that the solution in Syria is 3 fold and in this order:
1.Political-Convince the World to get rid of Assad
3.Connect with Media as much possible
With hopes dashed after a disappointing “Friends of Syria” Conference in Tunisa last Friday, we’re looking for other ways to support Syria. A creative and organic brainstorm by myself and @pentagonista has resulted in an idea. “Friends of Syrians”.The campaign calls for people around the world to make personal connections with Syrians inside the country. Through social media channels, having daily interaction with those on the ground in Syria, is a way to raise awareness , build personal connections, and inspire action. This can bring home a story that from a distance, seems somewhat unbelievable.
I caught up with Mulham again a couple days later, after learning he had been shot in the leg while protesting.We made this video to help circulate around to mainstream media and help get out the story about the on the ground horrors these people are falling victim to on a daily basis, for nearly a year now.
That night, I saw this tweet from Mulham “Ok… Ill do live streaming right now from #Homs … F*** u media”
And then this:He showed up with a live stream from the street, counting explosions and dodging sniper fire.
Make sure you “Join the Crowd” on his ustream so you’ll be alerted when he goes live.We’ll have to wait and see if live streaming becomes truly viable in Syria
Now another idea emerges. Can we empower the people of Syria with the tools to tell their own story of the revolution? Can we support them from around the world, with the tools and the training,support and security measures to tell the world their own story? Perhaps Syria will be the newest opportunity to use citizen journalism to make meaningful change.
Some Occupy journalists have opted to make the treck to attempt to tell the story themselves. #oplivestreamsyria is on the ground around Syria doing just that.Stay tuned to @willyforeal and @jiraffa for updates on their work in the region.
I suspect it’s going to take as many screaming voices and cameras and social media accounts as we can get, to shed some light on the atrocities against humanity that are occuring in Syria daily. Godspeed Syria.
So make friends in Syria today. Friend them on facebook, tweet at them. If connections are secure Skype with them,record and send it out into the twitterverse. Make it go viral. Just GET THE STORY OUT. Make Friend of Syrians, and make change.
Our hearts and prayers are with you. #SOLIDARITY
I went to Oakland last weekend to cover The Rise Up Festival. Occupy Oakland planned to take an abandoned building and turn it into a community center. Mayor Quan announced her opposition to the plans and the march was subsequently met by hundreds of police, who used extreme force to stop the crowd from marching. I got my first taste of tear gas, and saw our own American streets turned into what felt like a war zone. I streamed as Oakland Police shot tear gas and threw flash bang grenades into the crowd, including into a crowd attempting to assist an unconscious person laying in the street. Have they learned nothing from the Scott Olsen incident?
Later that evening another march started and the police attempted a mass arrest by kettling the crowd of protesters in a park that was ironically, a monument to humanitarianism. Police sealed all four corners of the park and then ordered the crowd to disperse, shot tear gas into the crowd, beat people with batons, pointed weapons at protesters and wouldn’t let anyone out. The crowd successfully escaped through a field after some protesters knocked down a fence and created an escape route. This is my view from the inside starting at about 21:00.
The march continued up Telegraph where a man smashed through me and my buddy to snatch my camera phone out of my hand and took off through the crowd, a bold move in a crowd full of protesters with cameras. Check out this video I captured of him seconds before he robbed me. Though I ran off after him as did a slew of bikes,the search for the assailant and my phone continues. Many are speculating about the indentity of the the man, with concerns that he could be undercover police, Black Bloc, or simply an opportunistic thief.
I’m not the only streamer that’s been targeted. They’re coming at us from all angles, as explained in this article. You can search #streamthief on Twitter to follow the story. I chased the man for blocks and sent some bikes out after him, but he was not caught and the camera has not been recovered. If you can donate to my equipment replacement fund it would be really appreciated. You can view my equipment wishlist here as well.
Soon afterwards over 300 people, including press, were kettled and arrested in front of a YMCA. Apparently the police cited the dispersal order from the previous location as justification for the mass arrests. Hundreds managed to escape by running through the back door of the YMCA after an occupier flashed her membership card and got them to open the door.
At that point I heard there were people inside City Hall so headed back to Oscar Grant Plaza. It was heavily guarded by police when I arrived, and inside the door I could see a mess of papers on the ground. That’s where I saw one of the occupy medics collapse and be carted away in an ambulance as a result of a beating by officer #119.
There was yet another stand off (starts at 1:00) between on the heels of a FTP march as police in riot gear and occupiers back at Oscar Grant Plaza that night. The police far outnumbered the protesters and declared a unlawful assembly to a smattering of tiny cluster of occupiers in and around the intersection of 14th St. and Broadway. The stand off continued for over an hour and eventually dissolved. I just kept thinking about how much tax payer money was being poured down the drain with this ridiculous show of unwarented force. It was clear that if the police simply left at that point, the situation would have dissolved instantly.
Later that night at the police line guarding he YMCA arrests, we encountered some Oakland Police with rifles that had duct tape over their names. They refused to disclose them when asked respectfully, a clear violation of the California code.
This trip took my participation to a new level. I’ve now experience being shot at, tear gassed, kettled and chased through the streets by those who have sworn to protect and to serve me. All this for exercising my 1st amendment rights. This has resulted in a bunch more gray hairs and some mild PTSD. To anyone who thinks the scare tactics may intimidate or scare me away from either protesting or bringing the story to the people through my journalism, know that this has also galvanized my passion for this movement that I see now as our only hope to turn this world around.
OccupyFreedomLA in DC: Making History in our Nation’s Capitol
It’s hard to believe how much was packed into one week in our nation’s Capitol. Washington DC is impressive with it’s grand mammoth stone buildings which are so large they appear almost as fortresses. All in all, the week was balanced with “in the streets actions” as well as rooms full of thoughtful discussion about strategy and building coalitions.
My tour started out on January 16th with a 10am call time with team “Occupy the Dream” for the launch of the campaign. Members of the African-American faith community have joined forces with Occupy Wall Street to launch a new campaign for economic justice inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At least 16 cities participated in the launch. We met up and moved to The Federal Building, on Constitution Avenue across from the Washington Monument. About 200 gathered and marched on the Federal Building chanting and signing. Organizers announced a call to action for another Bank Transfer Day on February 14th. Speakers included Sgt. Shamar Thomas and Dr. Jamal Bryant whose words inspired hope as he stood with the children and urged them to lead the march.
Afterwards I joined a group of occupiers from different cities to go tour the MLK memorial. We took a fun stroll through the park getting to know each other. Experiencing the MLK memorial with this group, on this day, was especially inspiring. We planned to go from there to meet up with the Amarillo 13 and give them a warm Occupy welcome to DC after being kicked off a Greyhound bus in Amarillo Texas for simply “being occupiers”. The group was 12 from Occupy San Diego and one woman from Occupy LA. Justice was served though as I heard that Greyhound bus driver ended up being fired.
Sadly we missed them at the bus station, so we headed to Freedom Plaza with Sgt. Thomas.The people at Freedom Plaza were friendly, the kitchen was sparkling, and the media tent was humming. It was heartwarming to see a camp thriving, tents and all. I picked up some full color copies of “The Occupied Washington Post”. Then a sing a long started and Sgt Thomas needed almost zero urging to jump in and join them. He is one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met. It’s hard to believe if you look at his famous youtube video telling off some NYPD, but he’s really a big teddy bear.