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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chalk the Police State - July 18th

sunset 3
Chalk Washes Off, Injustice Never Will!
Emma Goldman once stated that if voting actually changed anything they would make it illegal. The rapid progression of new laws designed (or existing laws twisted) to prevent different forms of direct action bears out the truth of that sentiment.

Direct action truly does "get the goods" and whenever the establishment recognizes that something is an effective method of exposing them for what they really are the crackdown is inevitable.

Among the terrorist cameramen, illegal milk traffickers, outlaw food sharers and cancer patients using unauthorized treatment methods another group has recently joined the ranks of the recipients of this treatment of making mundane, harmless actions illegal. This dangerous, scary group consists of people that draw on sidewalks with (gasp!) "sidewalk chalk," something that (spoiler alert) is packaged for, marketed as, and primarily used to write on sidewalks.

Of course, the fact that someone is writing on a sidewalk isn't really the issue as evidenced by the masses of children playing hopscotch, public events featuring chalk drawing areas, and even businesses that use it for advertising on sidewalks nearby. It's really the content of what people have written that have gotten them in trouble, which is pretty much the definition of a First Amendment violation (in spite of what Jeff Olson's judge would have you believe).

When a friendly game of four-square turns into an airing of the local police department's record of police brutality and unwillingness to hold anyone accountable for that record of violence and murder, well then we have to protect the public's property from an easily washed off, non-staining, material that will disappear on it's own within a matter of a few days. It's all fun and games until someone starts pointing out the crimes of the State's enforcers and then the next thing you know people will be writing about how they steal people's homes only to turn around and sell it to billion dollar corporations for less than market value or to people pretending to build stadiums nobody even wants and no local team can fill.
"Second Saturdays" with NVCopBlock.org

The reason that I know that chalking is an effective way of protest is because about a month ago, on June 8th, I along with two other members of the Sunset Activist Collective were cited during a Nevada Cop Block monthly protest for "graffiti" while listing the crimes and paying tribute to the many victims of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. After nine months of "Second Saturdays" and other events calling for the accountability that is sorely missing within Las Vegas area police departments, we were told by a "graffiti expert" that drawing with chalk on a sidewalk is now illegal, in spite of us having been explicitly told by some of his own co-workers that sidewalk chalk is in fact legal previously.

Inevitably, the upside to when the state cracks down on legal forms of protest is that they generally overreach and in the end often the public spotlight and embarrassment generated by their heavy-handed methods backfire in a big way. Such was the case when Jeff Olson wrote stuff about how corrupt the system was in favor of banks and then the San Diego police proved his point by bowing to the pressure of a bank manager to charge him in a case they didn't even want to prosecute (and that even the mayor called stupid) with the outrageous potential of 13 years in prison for writing on a sidewalk with something that was manufactured for that explicit purpose.

Our  case, of course, doesn't involve a penalty anywhere near that level of ridiculousness, although there are some bribery demands (i.e. fines) that could amount to as much as $1000, forced slave labor (AKA "community" service), and for some bizarre reason the removal of our legal ability to drive around for two years. Personally, I'm not particularly concerned about any of those things because the case is not just silly, it's already been ruled in courts that chalking is legal and constitutionally protected as free speech.

Solidarity Rally for the "Sunset 3"
What has me looking forward to our court date on July 18th is the fact that this case and the subsequent lawsuit will bring more attention to the unchecked crimes of the LVMPD and their cohorts in and around Las Vegas than we ever did in those nine months of writing our demands on the sidewalk surrounding their (fancy new) headquarters buildings.

And regardless if the outcome isn't what I expect (and common sense dictates) it to be, I will continue chalking until Metro decides to stop allowing their employees to murder people without consequence. In fact, I won't even be waiting until the current case is decided. The next "Second Saturday" is July 13th and we will be there chalking again. We will also be holding a solidarity rally on the morning of the 18th, prior to the trial starting, and there will be chalking that day.

Unjust laws need to be challenged, especially when those unjust laws are themselves being used to hide the injustices of those in power and their enforcers. That's why I won't be putting down my chalk any time soon and you should pick up yours. The best way to overturn a bad law that violates basic human rights, such as the ability to protest injustices, is to violate those laws en masse in order that their true nature can't be ignored. It's even more true when the laws are silly and obviously being used in ways they were never intended to be.

At 11:00 am (PST) on July 18th, join us at the Regional Injustice Center (see map below)to let them know that you want accountability instead of paid vacations for cops that murder people in your community and that they can't silence you with petty, misapplied laws. If you aren't in Las Vegas, then be with us in spirit, draw out some stuff on the sidewalk where ever you are, and join us in a lively round of hopscotch.

We'll see if they have the nerve and the room to haul all of us "graffiti artists" away.


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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Las Vegas A-Cafe to Host Talk by Organizer/Author Scott Crow Co-Founder of the Common Ground Collective at UNLV

The Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe will be hosting a presentation by Scott Crow, in Las Vegas at UNLV's Frank and Estella Beam Hall (room 105) on June 5th. The Common Ground Collective is an anarchist inspired grassroots organization founded in New Orleans to provide disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina. Crow uses his book, “Black Flags and Windmills,” as a foundation for a visual, fast moving, and engaging presentation of stories to show what ordinary people can do to change their own worlds and create power from below without governments.

The talk seeks through a collection of stories to show how the philosophy of anarchism has shaped and changed modern political movements. Anarchism’s influence on organization and actions has allowed spaces for projects like the Common Ground Collective, the largest anarchist organization in modern US history to come into existence after Hurricane Katrina, the Occupy uprisings, and the environmental climate change movements across the US.

The presentation which is equal parts personal story, radical history and organizing philosophies asks questions about how we engage in social change, the real and perceived challenges presented by the state and dares us to rethink our grassroots movements in how we engage for the future. This talk will be of interest for anyone that has been involved in grassroots organizing and community related planning from a decentralized, member based perspective.

Scott Crow bio:
 
Scott Crow has spent his varied life as an underground musician, coop business owner, political organizer, trainer, strategist, consultant, 'green collar' worker, writer and speaker advocating the philosophy and practices of anarchism for social, cultural, environmental, and economic aims.

Over the last two decades scott has worked for a number of national organizations like Greenpeace, A.C.O.R.N. and Ruckus Society and co-founded a number of varied projects, businesses and organizations including Lesson Seven (political industrial band), Red Square (coop art gallery), Century Modern (antique cooperative), Treasure City Thrift (volunteer/worker cooperative) and the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (the largest anarchist inspired organization in modern US history).

He is the author of the book Black Flags and Windmills (PM Press 2011), appeared in What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race and the State of the Nation (South end Press) and co-produced the film Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation (PM Press). He has appeared in international media as both a writer and subject including the NY Times, Democracy Now, CNN and NPR as well as the documentaries Welcome to New Orleans, Better this World, and Informant.

NPR’s This American Life called him “a living legend among anarchists” and the New York Times characterized him as “anarchist and veteran organizer… that comes across as more amiable than combative…”. Currently Scott splits his time speaking and consulting nationally and organizing locally.

The Las Vegas A-Cafe is a weekly meeting of local Anarchists that has served as a social and political discussion group and organizing space for over four years. Some of the various groups affiliated with it include the Sunset Activist Collective, Nevada Cop Block, Food Not Bombs Las Vegas, OccupyLV.org, and the Las Vegas Industrial Workers of the World.
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Join Me Today for the Las Vegas IWW's May Day After Party (5-4-13)

The Las Vegas IWW at May Day 2013
The Las Vegas Industrial Workers of the World will be holding our official monthly meeting on Saturday, May 4th at 4pm at the Sunrise Coffee shop on Sunset between Eastern and Pecos (see below for map). Among other things, we will be celebrating and reminiscing about the recently concluded May Day march.

Despite some initial misgivings about some outside organizations attempting to exploit the International Day of the Worker for their own misguided purposes, this years May Day turned out great and there was an impressive visible turnout by Las Vegas' IWW crew. Everyone that was there and helped to hold the ground for the true spirit of May Day deserves an enormous pat on the back.

We also will be discussing and finalizing our official bylaws, and potentially electing a treasurer, delegates, and other necessary positions for our branch to be certified as an official GMB along with other formalities such as when we will officially meet, on what days, how long meeting should last and other related issues.

This meeting is an open meeting and can be attended by the general public. Prospective members and those wishing to find out more about the IWW are welcome to attend, but will not be able to participate directly in any decisions or votes that might take place.

What is the IWW?:

The IWW is a member-run union for all workers, a union dedicated to organizing on the job, in our industries and in our communities. IWW members are organizing to win better conditions today and build a world with economic democracy tomorrow. We want our workplaces run for the benefit of workers and communities rather than for a handful of bosses and executives.

We are the Industrial Workers of the World because we organize industrially. This means we organize all workers producing the same goods or providing the same services into one union, rather than dividing workers by skill or trade, so we can pool our strength to win our demands together. Since the IWW was founded in 1905, we have made significant contributions to the labor struggles around the world and have a proud tradition of organizing across gender, ethnic and racial lines long before such organizing was popular.

For more info visit: IWW.org


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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On May Day this Year I will be Fasting in Solidarity with Salvador Zamora's Hunger Strike for Immigration Reform

Salvador Zamor (far left) has been on a hunger strike for 21 days as of 4-30.
The  other day, while out flyering for the May Day march, I came across Salvador Zamora. While talking to him, I learned that Salvador has a long history of sacrificing himself physically for the cause of immigration reform.

In fact, he is currently conducting a hunger strike across the street from the Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas for 21 days (as of 4-30) demanding genuine immigration reform. I was personally pretty impressed by that, since I get cranky whenever I miss a single meal. I'd be hard pressed to even imagine going without food for three weeks (and counting). And he even told me that he once went 70 days without eating during a previous hunger strike

So honor what he is doing and because it is the spirit of May Day, the true worker's holiday, I will be joining him in solidarity to support and help bring attention to his cause and would like to invite others to join me.

You can find out more info either on FaceBook here: May Day Solidarity Rally event or on our Meetup group here: Las Vegas Anarchy Meetup May Day Solidarity Rally.

Unfortunately, this is very short notice due to the fact that I didn't even know he was doing this until I happened to walk past and see him. While he has received some coverage from the local Spanish language media, none of the other local media has even mentioned it at all. Personally, I'm pretty hard pressed to understand how a guy going without food for over three weeks (and counting) isn't newsworthy, regardless of the reasons.

Although it isn't actually required to participate in the rally, I will be fasting for 24 hours beginning at midnight once May Day officially starts to show my support for his own sacrifice.

There is no "official" start time, although I'll be going down there in the morning and spending the day with Salvador. You are welcome to come at whatever time is convenient for you.

There will also be an official, albeit really sanitized and docile, May Day parade hosted by local unions and politicians beginning around 4 o'clock at the federal courthouse that you may or may not want to take part in. If so, you could just show up a bit early to show Salvador some support.

I hope to see you there. You can find the location on the map below:

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stanley Gibson's Murder by LVMPD to be Subject of First Police Fatality Review on Feb. 28th

Danger! Police in Area
The first "Police Fatality Public Fact-Finding Review," regarding the murder of Stanley Gibson by Metro Officer Jesus Arevalo, is scheduled to take place on Thursday February 28th beginning at 9:00 am and will be located at the Clark County Government Center, where the Clark County Board of Commissioners hold their regular meetings.

We'll be meeting up at 8:00am in order to organize together and go over the specifics of what we will be doing to bring attention to Stanley's murder. It's incredibly important for anyone that cares about justice and supports accountability for police that commit crimes against people within the Las Vegas community to be there and make their voice heard for past victims of police violence and to prevent future innocent victims.

In spite of the long-winded name change, the new process that was created by LVMPD's Sheriff Gillespie and Chris Collins of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (Police Union) is designed to do anything but allow the public to find facts. The reality is that it is much worse than the original, much maligned, Coroner's Inquest system that it will be replacing.

Unlike the Coroner's Inquest, the Police Fatality Review will involve no opportunity for testimony from witnesses and only voluntary testimony by the police involved in the shootings, which the LVPPA has already gone on record as saying that pretty much has no chance of happening.

What it amounts to is a choreographed staging of the police department's version of events with zero representation from a genuine neutral party, the victim's family, or independent witnesses. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson actually referred to it as a "performance," while endorsing it, during the Commissioner's meeting in which it was initially proposed. That's just how much of a blatant and callous cover up the Police Fatality Review is.

The first case to go before this Police Fatality Review involves the murder of Stanley Gibson, an unarmed man who was shot seven times by Jesus Arevalo in spite of having committed no actual crime and having had his vehicle blocked in by several police cars so that it was unable to move. Stanley, a disabled veteran, who was lost and suffering a panic attack as a result of PTSD and other ailments he suffered during his time in the Persian Gulf, represented no direct or imminent probability of harming anyone at the time.
Caution Police State ahead
Caution Police State
There was no reason for any of the dozens of heavily armed police to feel in any way threatened by him. And the fact that of all those cops there, only Jesus Arevalo felt the need to fire the shots that killed Stanley Gibson only supports that conclusion.

Instead of holding someone that at best was grossly negligent that night accountable for his actions, D.A. Wolfson, Sheriff Gillespie, LVPPA's Chris Collins, the Clark County Board of Commissioners, and every other member of the LV Metro Police Department are closing ranks around him in a misguided attempt to cover up yet another officer involved shooting under what could only mildly be called questionable circumstances.

Anyone living in Las Vegas should be well aware that there is a longstanding problem with brutality and outright murder by members of Las Vegas area police departments, especially those of the LVMPD. In several cases, especially those involving Stanley Gibson, Erik Scott, Trevon Cole, Henry Rowe, and Rafael Olivas, the circumstances behind the shooting have been incredibly questionable, if not completely inexcusable.

The obvious reason for the mounting body count by local police is the fact that no Las Vegas area police officer has EVER been held accountable for shooting someone, no matter how questionable that shooting has been. Replacing what was already a terribly flawed system with one that not only retains those flaws, but incorporates even less transparency and can only be seen as a conscious effort to ensure the police never have to fear being held accountable for deaths they cause not only doesn't address this problem, but in reality actually makes it harder for the police to do the things they are supposed to do by creating a lack of trust and discouraging any support for police from the people living within the community that they work.

It's a self-perpetuating downward spiral that only exacerbates an already toxic and often violent relationship. The time to put an end to this has already passed and things can only get worse at this point if the transparency and accountability that Sheriff Gillespie promises so often isn't actually upheld truthfully and with honest intentions.

As of right now, I have been unable to find any info regarding the specifics of the expected length of the kangaroo court that will begin Thursday or restrictions on public entry into the chambers where it will be held. Although, I suspect this lack of information is intentional, if I do come across that information I will post it here.
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Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Disarm the Police" at this Week's Anarchist Cafe (A-Cafe) with Nevada Cop Block

"Reduce Violence - Disarm the Police"
This week, Nevada Cop Block will be hosting a special event as part of a local activist get together known as the Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe, which will focus on bringing accountability to Las Vegas area police.

This event, "Disarm the Police," will be an informational and organizing meeting regarding issues with police brutality, lack of accountability, and official corruption. In addition, there will be discussion about setting up regular actions based around bringing attention to and addressing those issues.

 Methods, goals, and acceptable outcomes will all be discussed. Also, information about how to get involved with local police "watchdog" groups, such as Nevada Cop Block (NVCopBlock.org), will be provided for those wanting to become more involved on an ongoing basis.

The Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe meets Saturdays, from 6:00—8:00pm, at Sunrise Coffee Shop, which is located on Sunset Rd. between Pecos and Eastern (map below). The A-Cafe is not a place, it's an event--a social experiment in urban anarchy, organized by the Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left and a group of unaffiliated local anarchists.

The A-Cafe is a forum for anarchists in the Las Vegas area to get to know each other, to hang out, to shoot the breeze, to talk some shop, to talk about the projects that we are working on, and to organize new projects. Anyone who's an anarchist, anti-statist, or just anarchy-curious is invited to join us.

Drop in any time — the gathering is informal, and based on chatting and sharing information. There isn't a fixed agenda. (But if you want to set up an organizing meeting for a particular project with a fixed agenda, A-Cafe is a great place to meet people to invite.) Feel free to drop in at any time and leave whenever you need to.

Bring yourself. Bring a friend. And bring anything — ideas you've had, projects you're working on, literature, zines, flyers, art, whatever — that you'd like to share with some like-minded people. View Larger Map


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Las Vegas IWW will be Holding its First Monthly Meeting Sat., Feb. 2nd

The Las Vegas Industrial Workers of the World will be holding our first official monthly meeting on Saturday, February 2nd at 4pm. We will be discussing and finalizing our official bylaws (view text file here), and will also be electing a treasurer, delegates, and other necessary positions for our branch to be certified as an official GMB. In addition, we will decide how often to formally meet, on what days, how long meeting should last and other related issues.
This meeting is an open meeting and can be attended by the general public. Prospective members and those wishing to find out more about the IWW are welcome to attend, but will not be able to participate directly in any decisions or votes that might take place.
What is the IWW?:
The IWW is a member-run union for all workers, a union dedicated to organizing on the job, in our industries and in our communities. IWW members are organizing to win better conditions today and build a world with economic democracy tomorrow. We want our workplaces run for the benefit of workers and communities rather than for a handful of bosses and executives.
We are the Industrial Workers of the World because we organize industrially.
This means we organize all workers producing the same goods or providing the same services into one union, rather than dividing workers by skill or trade, so we can pool our strength to win our demands together. Since the IWW was founded in 1905, we have made significant contributions to the labor struggles around the world and have a proud tradition of organizing across gender, ethnic and racial lines long before such organizing was popular.
For more info visit: IWW.org
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rally Against NVEnergy/Reid Gardner Coal Plant – Idle No More World Day of Action – Monday, Jan. 28


As part of the Idle No More movement's worldwide call for action Las Vegas activists will be joining members of the Moapa tribe of Paiutes to demand the closure of the outdated and environmentally disastrous Reid Gardner power plant operated by NV Energy.

The coal that fuels Reid Gardner is not only unnecessary with current technology, but more importantly, has been polluting the air over the skies of the Moapa tribe's homes at their reservation, which is located alongside it.

Major health and breathing problems, as well as premature deaths (including dramatic increases in childhood mortality rates) among Moapa tribe members has been traced back to emissions from the plant. In addition, clouds of polluted air can be visually observed on the reservation.

We will be meeting at the offices of NVEnergy (on Sahara) at 4:00pm.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Join Nevada Cop Block for "Chalk Back" Against Police Abuses in Las Vegas

That's a Fact.
In the recent past Nevada Cop Block and assorted allies in the Las Vegas area have used chalking of strategically chosen public areas and government locations to bring attention to local issues. It's proven to be a quick, easy, and effective way of making grievances known and ensuring visibility both by those being protested against and the public within the area.

After several recent despicable actions by local officials, NVCopBlock is once again planning to take it to the streets to show our disapproval. We'll be meeting up at the Clark County Government Center, where County Commission meetings are held (for reasons explained below) and then moving from there to the LVMPD headquarters buildings, which are within walking distance of each other.

Signs are welcome, chalk will be used extensively at both locations, and creativity is always appreciated.

Among other things, District Attorney Steve Wolfson has continued his pattern of disdain for the safety of the residents of Las Vegas and the surrounding area by refusing to hold Jesus Arevalo accountable for the cold-blooded murder of Stanley Gibson.
Stanley L. Gibson was murdered by Ofc. Jesus Arevalo on Dec. 12, 2011.

Sheriff Gillespie of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has partnered with Wolfson and Chris Collins, of the Police Protective Association (police union), to ensure that such accountability will never be an option by pushing through a proposal that reversed all of the Coroner's Inquest Reforms that had already been passed with the intention of creating a more fair and transparent process, which would actually lead to accountability for questionable shootings by police.

Finally, the Clark County Board of Commissioners lead by Steve Sisolak, Larry Brown, Susan Brager, and Mary Beth Scow voted to approve that proposal in spite of the fact that the new proposal is worse than the former Coroner's inquest process that had functioned so poorly as to prompt an outcry for those reforms. This vote was taken during a commission meeting in which the inclusion of this proposal on the agenda was only announced a couple days earlier to ensure that public turnout would be limited.


And for good measure, Metro's own Sgt. William Wilson illegally entered someone's back yard and unnecessarily killed their pet dog last week.
Shame on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and all of the enablers that allow them to continue their abuses.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Official Flyer for MayDay - via Las Vegas May Day Coalition

May Day in Las Vegas


See original post on Las Vegas May Day Coalition Blog
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