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The people protesting in Washington DC: Occupy DC and Stop The Machine – VIDEO

October 11, 2011

The people of Washington DC are occupying public spaces, to remind corrupted corporations and politicians that humans should always be above profits.

This video I recorded this past weekend, may help you understand who are these protesters and why they are protesting. They are regular citizens like you, they know the power of organizing and reuniting people, they want to change this country for the better.

Meet the people who are protesting in Washington, DC. This video was recorded on Saturday October 8th. 2011.

October 2011 marks the beginning of popular protests all across the United States [See OccupyTogether]

In Washington, DC, hundreds -if not thousands- of people have come to the city to join new social movements: Occupy DC and Stop The Machine.

Please spread the word about these movements. This is good for everyone.


The people

Occupy DC [occupydc.org] is one of over 1,100 protests created nationwide in support of Occupy Wall Street. The DC protest is about ending the corrupted influence of elites and corporations in DC politics. This protest started last October 1st. at Mc. Pherson Square, next to K Street NW the most common address for lobbyists and political gamblers who have taken over the U.S. democracy. These protesters are camping 24 hours in this site.

Stop The Machine [october2011.org] is mostly an anti-war movement, anti-corporatism and anti-corruption, they are camping at Freedom Plaza (corner of 14th St. NW and Pennsylvania Ave. NW) since last October 6th. They have joined efforts with Occupy DC and Occupy Wall Street, but maintain their independence as a movement.

Both groups are using a lot of social media (find them in Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and they need lots of support and donations. Please see links bellow to contact them.

Video & Photos by Carlos A. Quiroz

Support

If you want to join these protests, donate supplies, get involved and educate yourself about their demands, please check out their websites for more information.

Once again, please spread the word because the corporate media do not want people to know about it. This is the power of the people in action.

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The “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York City – VIDEO & PHOTOS

September 27, 2011

A new American revolution has started in the streets of New York.

Thousands of U.S. citizens and allies are protesting since last September 17th in New York City against the current U.S. economic and political systems which are promoting corruption, inequality, war, abuse of the wealthy elites and the impoverishment of the majority.

This past weekend I traveled to New York because I wanted to witness the ongoing and growing movement of civil disobedience happening in that city titled “Occupy Wall Street“. I was curious about this protest since it is one of very few times in U.S. history, where the people of this country stand up in civil disobedience against the current corrupted economic and political system governing us.

Nearly a hundred protesters have been arrested and then released by the New York Police who have used violent methods including pepper gas and tassers to arrest the activists, mostly young people. I saw some of the violence as I was walking down the street.

So I went to the now called “Liberty Square” in the corner of Liberty St. and Broadway.

Until last weekend, the corporate news outlets did not report on the protests, neither did the “progressive” websites and blogs. So I wanted to see directly what was up. I met some of the organizers, they even had me on camera in the live stream “Global Revolution“. I recorded this video, this is what I saw last Saturday September 24th, 2011. I got the chance to interview some of the activists involved:

As an activist and progressive minded individual, I have been involved in several protests in my life, including several in this country for immigrant rights and LGBT rights. The “Occupy Wall Street” seems to me as the most honest and genuine of all protests I have witnessed -it reminds me a little of the DREAM Act activism– without any corporate, union, political or interest groups sponsorship. It’s a growing movement and it will only get stronger, I can see it happening.

However, I felt that “Occupy Wall Street” needs to figure out a better organization and state clearer goals of what this movement is about. What they [we] want to accomplish. Is this protest about the end of the bank system and capitalism? Is it about ending the Democratic-Republican fake democracy? Is it about taxing the rich and paying back the poor? Whatever the main goals of this protest, I think this movement will define itself soon.

Black and Brown people

In my visit, I noticed in this protest the lack of participation of people of color. Most of the activists are of European heritage, this is not bad but is not representative of the people of the U.S. I spoke to these two activists -one is a Jamaican immigrant -watch this video– nd another is an activist from the “indignados” M-15 movement of Madrid (see video in Spanish).

The media works for the rich

Sadly, the protest is being ignored by many people in the country, even in NYC people around the corner were not aware of it until they walked by. The main reason for this is because the corporate and social media has widely ignored it for over a week. The same day I was there, the reporters of AP, ABC and others arrived.  The following days Michael Moore, Cornell West, Immortal Technique and other revolutionary leaders came by to show their support. Noam Chomsky has expressed his strong support.

The news reports were intended to scare people. A friend of mine in NYC said to me he didn’t want to join because all he saw in the news was “people getting beat up“. The next day, I walked around the site and I run into people coming back from a run organized to “remember 9/11” there I met a military student from West Point Academy to whom I say “it is a shame they still use this crime to cover up who really demolished these towers,” and to my surprised he replied “You are right.”  I take this as a sign that people in this country are waking up.

Across the U.S.

This movement is growing and events of solidarity are planned across the country. Check on this website “Occupy Together” for info on local events.

In Washington, DC, there will be a protest at Freedom Plaza on October 1st at 9AM and October 6th as well in solidarity with the Stop the Machine movement coming into the city. Anonymous have also joined:

UPDATES:

  • Don’t forget to watch the live stream of Occupy Wall Street
  • The people resist. This video shows the violence of the NYPD against the peaceful protesters:

What to do when an earthquake happens? Strongest earthquake ever hits DC

August 23, 2011

Today we had an earthquake in the Washington, DC, area, the strongest registered in the city’s history with a 5.8 to 6 intensity earthquake.

Cellphones were not working, the DC Metro system almost collapsed, two nuclear plants were shut down, the National Cathedral suffered damages, and the U.S. government might be closed tomorrow.

People are freaking out, a The Washington Post journalist thought it was a bomb hitting the White House.

 I have never experienced an earthquake in 15 years I have living in the U.S., but when I was growing up in Peru I witnessed earthquakes and tremors every other month or so. I can remember 3-4 huge earthquakes when the floor was shaking in weaves, I couldn’t even walk and I’m no kidding. We were taught since elementary school how to react when an earthquake occurs.
My friends in DC are concerned, telling me this is their first earthquake ever, some are afraid and one of them wrote in my Facebook:
  • My house shook so badly that dishes shifted, pots and things fell, and the trees swayed as if they were going to uproot and run!!! After I wondered how it was all still standing!

So I thought I should write something about what to do in this case. This is my modest advice.

1- You know an earthquake is coming when your pets become all silent and vigilant, especially dogs. No barking. Then you hear a sound from underground, like loud cars.

2- Stop what you doing, get down to the floor and find a safe refugee from anything that can fall.

3- Relax, earthquakes are natural events (most likely) and there is nothing you can do to stop them. But you can be smart about it and prevent accidents or injuries. For that, you need to be calm and think.

2- Be ready to leave your building at any time, when evacuation is mandatory and urgent, but don’t panic. Cover your head with your hands, look ahead.

4- Stay permanently ALERT. After an earthquake usually come the after shocks or if you are in a coastal area there can be tsunamis.  Pay attention to the news.

5- When everything calms down, prepare food, medicines and the most important things you want to save in case of emergency. Focus on what your priorities are, in case another earthquake occurs later.

6- Contact your loved ones and neighbors, let them know you are okay and ask about them. This can lead into more organized actions to help others. Solidarity is extremely important when natural disasters occur.

7- Please, don’t ever mix religions with earthquakes. Pray all you want, they will still happen.

8- Smile and shake that tremor away.

I hope this helped.

Please check these links (including FEMA’s list) on What To Do in an Earthquake

Remember that after an earthquake, often you will see changes in people moods, weather, things happening around you, it’s the energy of our mother Earth. Or was it HAARP again?

Film “The Help” is about racism in a fictional Black and White nation

August 15, 2011

If you love to cry at the movies, go see “The Help”, it’s full of drama not pleasant at all. But it has a happy ending, sort of.

Beware, this film is based in fiction, but the story is mixed with historical facts from the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of president John F. Kennedy, making it really hard to draw a line between reality and imaginary.

For instance, according to “The Help” some Black American women of last century felt better about themselves by eating fried chicken, some loved the children of their abusive employers, no matter how racists they were, and one even baked a shit pie as a way of revenge.

This never ending film, is a successful drama directed by Tate Taylor based in the book of Kathryn Stockett, about the segregated life of Mississippi in the 1960’s and the abuse faced by Black women working as maids for rich White families.

The acting is really good, especially of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as the leading maids, and Emma Stone as “Skeeter” Phelan, a liberal White aspiring writer. The movie will transport you to those days.

However “The Help” can be sometimes boring and predictable, and the extreme level of abuse and hatred shown is very annoying, mostly because of for most of the movie, the conversations are about shit and bathrooms.

Most of the first half is plain emotional torture, drama –unless you enjoy watching abuse- and the film ends right when it’s getting more interesting, leaving many questions about the lives of the maids and their abusive employers, after the book “The Help” is for sale.

This film will be a favorite for those who enjoy crying at the movies, and those experiencing the “White guilt” (look it up). Among the movie goers who packed the DC’s Chinatown theatre (full house) where I was last weekend, the most crying were White people — some of them seating close to me, made sure everybody around were aware of their painful guiltiness.

Although the film is based on historical facts, there are some things that make no sense. For instance, the book “The Help” would have never made it to a printer in those years, much less to the bookstores in Jackson, Mississippi. The maids would probably have been killed along with the White journalist leading the effort. Anyways.

The story has a positive and a negative impact. In the good side, it will remind people of the deeply racist nation the United States was only four or five decades ago –well, it is still a racist nation today but in different ways- and it may help many U.S. youth and some immigrants understand why they should not take equality for granted.

Also, the movie is about how much women have changed in the U.S.

White rich women are presented as bad mothers, bad wives, superficial and evil people, except for the sweet and free spirited wife who was considered “White trash”. Meanwhile, Black women are shown as oppressed, fearful, traumatized servants but always ready to smile. All of them are extremely submissive to their husbands in the story.

The only reference to African American men are the blurry and forgettable characters of an old gardener, a preacher, a waiter and an abusive husband.

Black and White

Sadly, “The Help” reinforces the historical misrepresentation that the United States is a White-Black country, where Brown people (indigenous communities) are non-existent. So a film that is intended to protest racism, promotes a racist concept itself.

There is not a single reference to Native peoples of Mississippi in the whole film. I asked my friend who has Black and Native roots, and he said that Native people didn’t interact much with White folks those days, and most of Jackson was biracial back then. This has changed a lot now with more Mexican indigenous who have moved to the area.

This is bad, because many U.S. people ignore our Brown communities for that matter, and Black people live today with a sense of entitlement because they think they were the only racial community who suffered racism and slavery. Again, the film reinforces that idea by ignoring Native peoples.

A racist nation

We must remember that even though the U.S. has outlawed racist practices of discrimination against non-Whites, but this is still a very racist country. Even today, there is not a U.S. federal legislation that protects the rights of domestic workers for instance, and the capitol city of this country has a football team named Redskins.

Racism today is more visible against Brown peoples. We face discrimination in a daily basis, especially our women who are the maids of today and get mistreated and abused often, but the mainstream media seem not to care.

This is important to mention, especially when we are witnessing the first Black president of this country becoming the most xenophobic and racist of this generation. Barack Obama has incarcerated and deported one million undocumented migrants (79% of them did not have any criminal records) most of whom are Spanish-speaking indigenous peoples.

This human displacement has destroyed hundreds of thousands of Native families across the country, and many of the workers deported were maids and blue collar workers, abused by a nation that continues its racist practices justified by obsolete laws.

Go see it

The film “The Help” is a good exercise to remind people of the stupidity of racism, the tragic consequences of the obsolete White supremacist mentality, and the importance of people organizing against the abuses of the rich.

But not by coincidence, this film will also promote a temporary sense of compassion and pity towards Black people, one year before the reelection attempt of Barack Obama in 2012.

At the end, “The Help” will leave you with a very uncomfortable feeling of anger, frustration and/or guiltiness. It might even convince you of that big lie that says racism in the U.S. is over. But go see it.

If you are White you might be so embarrassed that you will feel obligated to cry in public. If you are Black, be ready to be upset and ashamed, as many stereotypes about Black women are shown in the film -some of them are seen in today’s media.

If you are Brown or any other racial minorities, this film will make you understand the struggle of our peoples today.

Finally, if you watch movies without paying attention to race, this film will change that, probably forever.

Maids of today

I recorded this video by December 2010 with a group of domestic workers who are abused in the U.S. This is not fiction.

Popular revolts [not riots] in United Kindom are a demand for justice and equality

August 10, 2011

Mark Duggan was killed by the Police in London, without excuse. Peaceful protests were held by mostly non-White young Londoners, but society ignored them. A 16 years old girl approached the cops asking for answers, and she got beaten. Then violence broke lose.

London in fire. Photo Getty Images

There is no country in the world of today with such a horrendous history of abuses, invasions, slavery, colonization, looting and injustice like the United Kingdom. It is a monarchy that built its richness on the exploitation of peoples and resources of vast lands of the planet, including Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

This is important to remember, when we try to understand the popular insurrection that have occurred in the last four days in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol. Most media has described the uprising as riots and looting, presenting them as violent actions of delinquents trying to steal items from clothing to money to plasma TVs, while burning cars and stores.

What is happening in the U.K. is not just about simple delinquents looting and burning buildings. It is a sign of the decomposition of a society, the moral decadence of a nation that was build on decadence and decomposition of other nations. For first time in its history, the Britons are experiencing what they did to other peoples in the last millennial, and the damage has been done by their very own youth.

The young British that came out to the streets to set cars and stores in fire, were there to confront the police, to express their anger and frustration with a society that doesn’t include them, that treats them as second class citizens, that discriminates them for being African or Arab descendants, for being poor Whites, for whatever reason. These young British joined by immigrants, are saying enough is enough, that they simply don’t give a shit.

Of course this level of violence is not acceptable, we all agree this shouldn’t have happen. No one is promoting violence or illegal actions as a way to protest. But it is happening for many reasons. This violence is a sign of the changes coming ahead in the world, especially in the United States where entire communities are being repressed and treated with the same brutality seeing in the U.K. — especially among immigrants, and non-White communities.

The challenge now for the British is not to punish the rebels only, but to understand why is this violence happening and why is that the British police allowed it all to happen so passively.

Many people on Twitter and Facebook are criticizing the protesters, they call them thugs and hooligans and try to ridicule them by not having a platform of demands or an organized movement. They generalize everyone as criminals, as ignorant kids, as lazy folks who want free stuff, and that’s it. That perception is a mistake.

We know it all started as a peaceful protest against police brutality, injustice, inequality and racism. But it grew into this mass reaction of youngsters who are hopeless, angry, frustrated. They have lost all respect – if they ever had any- for a deeply divided society where corruption and abuses of the rich are worsening [read this testimonial posted by Al Jazeera].

A commenter on the Al Jazeera Facebook page wrote: “Looters say they do it because they can get away with it. They learned that from bankers.” While others demand the U.K. government to stop spending money in wars overseas, while the poor is struggling in the country. Sounds to me very similar to what we live in the U.S.

And of course, to understand better the roots of the violence in London, here is the video that thousands are sharing online. Darcus Howe, a writer and broadcaster born in Trinidad and Tobago and resident of south London:

“I don’t call it rioting, I call it an insurrection of the masses of the people. It is happening in Syria, it is happening in Clapham, it’s happening in Liverpool, it’s happening in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and that is the nature of the historical moment…”

Howe, son of an Anglican priest and a former activist with the U.K. Black Panther Movement ended the interview by saying:

“I have never taken part in a single riot. I’ve been on demonstrations that ended up in a conflict. And have some respect for an old West Indian negro, and stop accusing me of being a rioter. Because I…you don’t want to get abusive. You sound idiotic. Have some respect.”

Respect. That is something that we non-White communities and especially immigrants, hardly get from the so-called first world countries.

There is plenty to discuss about these tragic events. This is something that should never had to happen, but as sad as it is, there is a good side to it: this will allow the people and the leaders of the United Kingdom, to analize carefully their duties and rights, what they need to do to recover from this moment and avoid for this to happen again.

Same way we expect them to stop the wars and colonial abuses across the world.

While these violent protests might deepen the division among the British people, but some changes will come after them. And as regrettable and unfair are these revolts for the people who lost their properties and peace of mind, but let’s remember here that no revolution in the world has been peaceful. The creation of the United States is the result of violent revolts of the European migrants and their descendants who were tired of the British rule, for instance.

We might be witnessing a new type of social protests [technology was very helpful], and even if they “lack a clear political or moral consciousness” as British historian Ted Wallace recalls, it is causing already an impact.

What is happening now in the world, in Europe, in South America, in the Arab world and Africa, is a process of awakening among humans.

Now is time to reflect, to change. As we immigrants and poor workers are seeing the same abuses in both the U.K. and the U.S., we face racial discrimination and police harassment in a daily basis. It is part of our lives, and most seem to accept that status quo. Others are sick of it.

When the oppressed youth decide to take their anger to the streets, that is when some people protest violence is unacceptable, but before they were silent.

That double standard and denial of the reality only make things worse, and it keeps anger in the shadows, until one day it comes out in the form of the most irrational violence.

We need to see now the consequences of these protests, in the U. K. and the rest of the world.

Here are some videos that explore the roots of the ongoing violence in the U.K.

One million deported by Barack Obama: immigration religious leaders and Congressman Luis Gutierrez arrested at White House – VIDEO PHOTOS

July 27, 2011

Congressman Luis Gutierrez and ten immigrant rights activists and religious leaders were arrested at the White House yesterday, for protesting against mass deportations and incarcerations of immigrants, being executed by the Obama administration.

Since Barack Obama took office in 2008, more than one million migrant workers and their families have been incarcerated and deported. Most of them had no criminal records, whatsoever. President Obama doesn’t intend to stop his repressive policies, thus really tough times are coming ahead for our immigrant communities.

Photos by Anita Garrick, Adam Luna.

ONE MILLION workers, parents, students, veterans and children have been imprisoned and deported since 2008 in the United States by Homeland Security Department. Read a PDF file posted by ICE with official statistics of what they call “removals”.

This video shows the moment of the arrests while a rally was held across the street fr0m the White House by protesters, mostly indigenous Latinos and supporters of Immigration Reform and the DREAM Act.

Most corporate media reported on the arrests, this is what Reuters posted today:

Gutierrez was released and made it back to the floor of the House of Representatives in time for the final vote of the day after paying a $100 fine, said the spokesman, Douglas Rivlin. […]

Gutierrez and about a dozen other immigration protesters were arrested after sitting down in front of the White House, in an area where people are supposed to keep moving.

The arrested were part of a larger protest by groups which say that under President Barack Obama’s watch, more people have been deported than under any other president.

Among the detainees were: Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois), Deepak Dhargava executive director of the Center for Community Change, Gustavo Torres executive director of CASA de Maryland with CASA activists Delia Aguilar, Renato Mendoza, and Fernando Garavito . Also, Scott Roberts of Progressive Maryland, Jerry Torres a DC-based student and activist, and Reverend Lorena Hernandez, Ana Garcia-Ashley and John Norton of religious advocacy group Gamaliel.

Photos by Anita Garrick

We immigrants have a lot to worry about

Here we go again. Another rally for justice for immigrant workers and our families, more arrests of civil rights leaders, people risking their health by protesting in the streets of D.C. in the middle of this horrendous summer. It was another peaceful protest, this one seemed all planned.

The response of president Barack Obama was given one day before the protest while speaking at the NCLR Annual Conference: he is a law enforcer, not a reformer and he will continue deporting people. Again, he lied by saying he can’t stop deportations, but yes he can.

As right now, things are looking really bad for our immigrant communities because law enforcement will continue, the E-Verify system might become a federal law which will force employers to verify the workers immigration status. While the DREAM Act is being put on hold in the Senate another DREAmer was deported last night, and there is no way an Immigration Reform will happen in the next 2-3 years, at least.

With many Latino families focusing on surviving the current economic and unemployment crisis, it’s likely that those eligible to vote might not necessarily support neither the Democratic or Republican candidates for president and Congress. Immigration is the most important issue for Latinos right now, so we Brown communities feel that we are being disenfranchised by the Obama administration, we are being played as fools.

Surely, president Obama might get reelected, but the Democrats will lose the Senate and with a Republican-c0ntrolled Congress, we expect a really tough future for the immigrant communities in the next following years.

So be ready, mass incarcerations and deportations will continue happening and increasing, because it’s a profitable business and because the U.S. is still a deeply racist government that justifies its inhuman actions with a broken legislation.

Many U.S. citizens are still ignoring this crisis and the Nazi-style human displacement, because they think this is about the law and justice. but it’s not at all. This is about the U.S. becoming a prison nation and corporations and racist elites controlling this weakened democracy. Those who think they have nothing to fear, remember your time will come eventually if you don’t do what they want you to do.

Meanwhile, more indigenous families are broken apart and children are left completely abandoned. Thus, millions of lives of hard work and dreams have been destroyed, and one million people are now somewhere overseas trying to understand why the American Dream was denied to them by an obsolete legislation and a racist and insensitive president.

Will the people of the United States continue watching silently while this nation keeps falling apart? I don’t think so.

The artsy rebirth of Hyattsville: new Busboys & Poets opened today – VIDEO

July 18, 2011

The progressive and artsy restaurant Busboys & Poets opened its fourth location today in Washington DC area, at the upcoming art district of Hyattsville, in Maryland.

Photo by Luis A. Franco

This changing area of Prince George’s county is becoming already a new attraction for people who love arts and cultural events, thanks to this new spacious new Busboys location which is probably as big as its original and first location in NW, D.C.

This afternoon, I stopped by this new place and recorded this video. I talked to owner and artist Andy Shallal [who doesn’t read my blog] and the art curator-in-residence Simone Jacobson.

The new Busboys & Poets has a great feeling, its high ceeling and big windows provide with plenty of natural light and a sense of openess, its walls are filled with great art and murals, and its conference room is just perfect as a venue for film screenings, concerts and debates. I can see it happening already.

About the food, I didn’t get the chance to eat there today but I will return sometime soon.

See more photos.

How to get there:

5331 Baltimore Ave. Hyattsville, MD 20781

See Map

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