Corporate media ignores massive Democracy Spring protests

Spring

Activists gather on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to protest money in politics and fight to overturn Citizens United.

Those who get their news primarily from the television may have missed the record-breaking protests going on in Washington, D.C. over the last week. Activists hoping to bring a “Democracy Spring” to the U.S. have been demonstrating against the corrupting influence of money in politics. More than 1,400 of them have been arrested since protesting began on April 11, breaking the arrest record for “non-violent direct action protests in Washington for a single week,” according to The Nation.

But mum’s the word in corporate media. According to The Intercept, in the days following the start of protests the three major cable networks devoted less than 30 seconds of coverage to them. CNN didn’t mention them at all. MSNBC talked about them for 12 seconds. FOX News talked about them for 17 seconds. Even then the networks missed the point, characterizing the activists as pushing “for improved ballot access and voting rights.” Continue reading

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Sanders is more than a candidate, he’s an opportunity

Bernie

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a long-serving independent, wants to bring all Americans along for his political revolution.

Things are going well for Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid. Over the last two weeks, the Vermont Senator won the endorsement of the highly influential progressive group MoveOn, received kind words from Vice President Joe Biden, had an extremely strong showing at the most recent debate, and is now polling within striking range, if not ahead of, Hillary Clinton in the key early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Against enormous odds, it’s really starting to look like Sanders has a chance. Largely dismissed when he announced his candidacy, over the course of his campaign Sanders has excited a bold movement into existence – a movement that America desperately needs. Continue reading

Bundy separatists: How America tolerates right-wing protest and stomps the left

AmmonRyanBundy

Ammon Bundy, left, and Ryan Bundy, sons of infamous rancher Cliven Bundy, are leaders in the occupation.

A group of heavily armed right-wing ranchers and self-described militiamen have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Their stated purpose is to protest the jail sentence of father and son ranchers convicted of arson charges, Dwight and Steven Hammond. More importantly, they are protesting perceived overreach from the federal government.

Leading the occupation is Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, the rancher who made headlines in April 2014 for his armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. No shots have been fired and the group has no hostages, but they insist they are ready to defend themselves against law enforcement and claim they have enough resources to occupy the refuge for years. Continue reading

Exploited college faculty join Fight for $15

Students, faculty and low-wage workers march in solidarity in downtown Chicago.

Students, faculty and low-wage workers march in solidarity in downtown Chicago.

Students aren’t the only ones feeling the financial pinch of college. Faculty members are, too, particularly adjunct professors and recent hires. According to Service Employees International Union analysis, “31 percent of part-time faculty members and 14 percent of all faculty are living near or below the federal poverty level.”

But nationwide, a growing movement is attempting to change that. In solidarity with Fight for $15 and with the support of labor organizers like SEIU, faculty are calling attention to the crisis of poverty wages and demanding solutions. Continue reading

How the Sanders campaign can increase its momentum

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sits down with the host of Real Time, Bill Maher.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sits down with the host of Real Time, Bill Maher.

With over a million small contributions from 700,000 ordinary Americans, the Bernie Sanders campaign has remarkable popular support. He’s accomplished this despite some notable handicaps: he self-applies the label democratic socialist; he refuses to take money from Super PACs; and he’s up against Hillary Clinton, a member of one of America’s royal families whose nomination in the Democratic primaries is often treated as inevitable. As inspiring as it is to see him doing well, there are some things his campaign could do even better. Continue reading

Stop trying to change the name of Black Lives Matter

Protesters carry signs insisting all lives matter.

Protesters carry signs insisting all lives matter.

Since it became a national movement, Black Lives Matter has been met with antagonism for its name alone. The phrase “black lives matter” is seen by some as divisive, confrontational and perhaps even racist. It reveals a great deal about the struggle black Americans face that controversy arises when they assert the value of their lives.

But there’s an important reason why the name shouldn’t be changed: In our criminal justice system, black lives are not treated like they matter. The name is therefore both an expression of what we wish reality to be and an exposé of what reality isn’t. Continue reading

Activists are right to make Bernie blacker

Activists join Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley on stage at the Netroots Nation conference. (CNN)

An activist joins Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley (right) and moderator Jose Antonio Vargas at the Netroots Nation conference. (CNN)

Ordinarily, the Netroots Nation convention – an influential, annual gathering of progressive politicians and activists – might not receive much press outside of progressive media. But this year, a group of #BlackLivesMatter activists made headlines when they challenged Democratic presidential candidates, notably Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, to address issues of police brutality and systemic discrimination against black Americans. Continue reading

Bree Newsome is a hero to us all

Bree Newsome commits one of the most iconic acts of defiance, patriotism and civil disobedience in decades.

Bree Newsome commits one of the most iconic acts of defiance, patriotism and civil disobedience in decades.

As politicians hem and haw about removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol building, one activist decided she’d take matters into her own hands – literally. On June 27, Bree Newsome, an activist and artist who’s spent a lifetime opposing injustice, climbed the flagpole, removed the flag and was arrested promptly upon hitting the ground. Continue reading

Baltimore mom, Toya Graham, should be proud of her son

Toya Graham grabs her protesting son and forces him to go home with her.

Toya Graham grabs her protesting son and forces him to go home with her.

Toya Graham, a single mom in Baltimore, became a viral sensation after showing up to a Freddie Gray protest, finding her son Michael among the crowd, and smacking and berating him into going home. Before their names were even known, commentary flooded social media. The consensus seemed to be that Toya did the right thing, with some even labeling her Mom of the Year. But it is her son who we should all be applauding and encouraging.

Better not to judge the parenting tactics of others – particularly single, black mothers juggling six children – so this article won’t. But the story has been widely misinterpreted as a mother shocked and appalled at her son’s riotous behavior. While Graham says she doesn’t believe violence against police is the right course to take and was disappointed in her son for potentially participating in it, the primal motivation can be heard in the video when she appears to say, “Do you want to get killed?” and in interviews afterward: Toya feared her son might end up another black kid in a headline. Continue reading

White people shouldn’t need a video to demonstrate police racism

Community-oriented keepers of the peace slap handcuffs on a dying man who the officer on the left just shot five times in the back.

Community-oriented keepers of the peace slap handcuffs on a dying man who the officer on the left just shot five times in the back.

Add another notch in the American police force’s belt. This time, it’s Walter Scott, a black man in North Charleston, South Carolina, summarily executed by sociopath-in-blue Michael Slager. Scott is just one of, statistically, three people to be killed by a cop that day, April 4. But his story has generated special attention for two important reasons: first, his murder was filmed by a passerby, and second, his killer has been fired and charged.

Because of shoddy recordkeeping, there’s no accurate count of how many citizens have been killed by police, justifiably or otherwise. But in just the past eight months, several high-profile cases have made household names of black Americans killed by police. There was Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old who was shot for the crime of playing with a toy gun in Cleveland; Eric Garner, the man who was choked to death for selling loose cigarettes; Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot in the climax of an altercation that began with his jaywalking; and now, Walter Scott, who was executed for fleeing a broken taillight traffic stop. Continue reading