THE BLOG

Time for a Revolution

08/27/2012 05:50 pm ET | Updated Oct 27, 2012
  • C. Robert Gibson Independent journalist published in Guardian, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera America, NPR, and other publications

"Those who make nonviolent revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable." -- JFK

"God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion." -- Thomas Jefferson

"Power concedes nothing without a demand... The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." -- Frederick Douglass

If you've ever noticed an inconspicuous dome-shaped camera out in public, the chances are good that a private company called Abraxas, consisting of highly-skilled CIA elites in Northern Virginia have noticed you. And above just noticing you on camera, they have your face on file, track your movements from place to place, know what car you drive, your home address, your occupation, and only God (and the CIA) knows what else thanks to a program called TrapWire unearthed by Wikileaks and Anonymous. A whitewash scrub story by The New York Times calls the program "counter-terrorism software," but these leaked Stratfor emails show that TrapWire is mainly used to monitor activists, not terrorists.

The biggest news of the summer that's gone unnoticed thanks to other news items like Miley Cyrus' new haircut, is that the Obama administration is appealing Manhattan Federal judge Katherine Forrest's ruling that the indefinite detention clause of the National Defense Authorization Act is unconstitutional. The White House has presented no evidence to support their case, but they're still appealing, based on their claim that the executive branch has the right to put anyone deemed a potential terrorist threat in military jail for an indefinite period of time. The most troubling part of this story is that the White House refuses to say whether or not they're still indefinitely detaining people even after Forrest's ruling.

And the anti-protest law, HR 347, that was easily passed through both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama without so much as a peep from the media, makes it a felony for anyone to protest anyone, anywhere, where there is secret service protection. To capture the sad irony award of the year, the Department of Homeland Security assisted the Philadelphia Police Department in arresting dozens of nonviolent protesters guilty of nothing else than expressing First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly at the Occupy National Gathering, in the same city that's home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell of all places, on the 4th of July weekend, of all times. On this chilling video, the last feed of the last live streamer shortly before an unjustified arrest, you can hear the cameraman remind his fellow kettled protesters that they haven't been given any charges, nor any opportunity to disperse before a mass illegal arrest, which is technically a kidnapping.

Perhaps the calculated media silence is because corrupt governments and corporations don't like to have their corruption documented on film and seen by the public. In my current city, Manchester, New Hampshire, one man is facing 21 years in prison, or three 7-year counts of felony wiretapping, for recording a Manchester police officer slamming the face of a high school student into a cafeteria table.

Our securitized surveillance police state has shown how it reacts to nonviolent protest movements -- harsh and brutal retaliation. Protesters nonviolently demonstrating at a meeting of Northeastern governors and Canadian officials in Burlington, Vt., were attacked with pepper balls and rubber bullets. Anaheim, Calif. is under what amounts to martial law after the unprovoked killing of an unarmed man by police. Even chalk drawings now are apparently cause for police to shoot artists with rubber bullets, like they did recently in Los Angeles. And in London before the Olympics, a group of bicyclists were tackled by police, pepper-sprayed and arrested for doing nothing other than riding bikes.

So, just to recap -- we live in a country where our every move is monitored and tracked by thousands of cameras, where you can be deemed a terrorist threat without a shred of evidence, where protesting politicians and filming police is a felony, and anyone can be indefinitely detained without trial or representation at the order of the president. This means the entire Bill of Rights is being blatantly disregarded by the current government, with the exception of amendments 2 and 3. The only things that don't appear to be serious crimes worth of government action are mass shootings like the recent ones in Colorado, Wisconsin and Texas, and, of course, the deliberate mortgage fraud perpetuated by the world's biggest banks, who all just got a free pass from the United States' Department of Justice.

The only appropriate government response to mass shootings seems to be thoughts and prayers, combined with more prayers and thoughts. And the government's official response to bankers kicking families out of their homes so they could buy a newer Bentley was to not press any charges. After all, there are more serious criminals to pursue, like people protesting banks.

In a nation with a somewhat reasonable government, like Iceland, a nonviolent protest movement can sometimes lead to the current government being voted out, tried for their crimes, and replaced with a new government that arrests bankers, forgives fraudulent mortgage debt, and crowdsources a new constitution directly from the people.

Concerning less reasonable governments, like the Assad regime in Syria, a nonviolent protest movement had no choice but to take up arms against their government when their protesting was met with cold-blooded killing of children at the hands of state military and police. And after the loss of thousands of lives, the people appear to have almost achieved the seemingly impossible victory of overthrowing their tyrant. Good for them.

Though our elections are rigged, the state isn't yet massacring its citizens in the streets. I'd like to think the ability for the U.S. government to be reasonable lies somewhere between Iceland and Syria. Because Occupy's methods of nonviolent, momentary disruption of society for the sake of civil disobedience were only met with state-sponsored violence and blatant suppression of freedoms, this means tactics must now be amplified if we're to force meaningful change. Acts of protest must now become acts of rebellion, like refusing to waive your 4th amendment rights at a border patrol checkpoint. It can mean blocking the Texas leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. It could even be similar to Roger Pion's retaliation to police in Vermont, when he ran over all their cruisers with his tractor in response to their constant harassment.

The state's first mistake was thinking they can continue their goal of redistributing the last of the wealth owned by the middle class to the richest 1% without resistance. Their second mistake was brutally suppressing the nonviolent uprising that swept the country last Fall, and then continuing their class war as if nothing had happened. If this government makes the third mistake of not responding to the multiple demands that have been made for accountability, to fair elections, or even just an equal shot at a good life for everyone, then the citizens have every right to do what, according to Jefferson, should've rightfully been done a long time ago. If small acts of rebellion are ignored, the United States could become the next Syria. In all of history, no tyrannical power has ever conceded peacefully.

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