Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gaza Freedom March

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Gaza Freedom March—Home at Last!

Jan. 7, 2010

I’m home now, writing from the comfort of my own bed, with its supremely comfortable mattress that doesn’t sag in the middle. Bless the invention of the laptop, that allows us to write in bed! I’ve hardly sat at a desk since the mid-nineties.

I’m sorry for the hiatus in these blogs—events transpired that made it seem advisable for us to get out of Dodge, as we say in the west—or in plain English, to leave Cairo for a few days, during which internet access was hard to find.

Before we left, we attended the New Year’s Eve candlelight vigil in the Mogamma plaza on Tahrir Square, and saw the New Year in with a large, peaceful gathering of our friends that was heavily watched by the Egyptian secret police, but not interfered with. The next day, we were at a spirited rally in front of the Israeli Embassy, which is high up in a ten-story building, its presence announced only by an Israeli flag on the roof. The Egyptian police have now established their pattern—they herd us into a protest pen, keep us there for a while, eventually let people out and when the demo is over, we leave.

For me the highlight of the day was a long conversation with Hedy Epstein, an eighty-eight year old Jewish survivor of the holocaust who is here with us in support of justice for the Palestinians. Hedy is small, with curling white hair and bright eyes and a ready smile, and tough in the fiber, as they say about hobbits. She went on a hunger strike when she arrived, and went off it only when her doctor ordered her to eat. She was in the melee with the Egyptian police in Tahrir Square, and managed to come through the pushing, shoving frenzy undaunted and unharmed.
Someone like Hedy makes it impossible for us lesser mortals to say, “I’m too old for this shit.” Over dinner, I heard some of her story, which she tells in vivid detail—the terror of a child on Krystallnacht, when Nazi thugs broke windows of Jewish businesses and homes all over Germany, of being attacked and vilified by teachers and the principal of her school, coming home and finding her father and uncle gone, her mother in hiding. She survived because her family was able to get her onto a kindertransport: the ships and trains that brought 10,000 Jewish children to Britain just before the onset of war. Her parents were sent to the camps in France and ultimately to Auschwitz.

She grew up to work with the U.S. Government in Germany, among other things, as a research analyst during the Nuremburg Trials, investigating the doctors who performed cruel medical ‘experiments’ on inmates. And out of her own pain and loss, she became an activist, fighting for civil rights and human rights.

We’re always on dangerous ground when we start talking about the Holocaust and Palestine in the same breath. As Hedy herself says, “Each experience is unique. You can’t compare them.” Yet there are resonances that are hard to ignore. I’m remembering being in the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank when all the men were rounded up and marched off, how I felt sitting behind closed doors with the women left behind. We were taken in by one family who wanted us as witnesses to protect the son they’d managed to hide, a young student of psychology in his twenties who was still so traumatized by a former arrest and incarceration that he couldn’t leave the house on his own, work or study. I’m thinking of the night I spent locked in a room with a family, singing funny songs to the children to distract them from the sounds of the Israeli soldiers methodically destroying their home, ripping the stuffing out of the chairs and prying the paneling off the walls, in the name of a ‘search.’

True, Israel has not set up gas chambers for Palestinians, nor ovens. As Dov Weinglas, an adviser to the Israeli prime minister, said, "The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger."

But when you have to start arguing over the nuances of oppression, about whether the number of dead constitutes a massacre or just a slaughter, whether your policies are really genocide or just sorta like genocide, you have left the path of righteousness.

On the last day, I snuck away from a demonstration in support of a court case Egyptian lawyers are bringing against their own government to stop the construction of the steel wall that will seal up Gaza’s last lifelines. I went to the pyramids, because I was determined not to leave Egypt without seeing the pyramids. I did the shlocky tourist thing, and rode a camel. And it was wonderful—to get out onto the stark desert and squint my eyes to block out the tour busses and just see camels moving over the sands with those pure shapes behind them, and young men racing Arab horses through the empty land.

And yet I couldn’t feel a spiritual connection there. Looking at those great blocks of stone, thinking about the immense numbers of mud bricks beneath, the human labor and effort in raising these mountains, I kept imagining the lives of the slaves. The Jewish people are my people, and this land is woven into our narratives. “We were slaves in Egypt” goes the litany of Passover. I build with mud myself—I know how much sheer, physical work goes into a small bench or a low wall. We were slaves, and we escaped, and the land of Canaan was our refuge. We were the victims of massive genocide, and the land of Israel was our consolation—at another people's expense.

From a heritage of pain, you can draw a number of different conclusions. You can say, “In a world of slaves and masters I choose to wield the whip rather than suffer the lash. ”You can say, “Never again will I let this happen to me or mine!

Or you can stand with Hedy and all those like her, and say, “Never again will I let this happen to anyone.” Not in my name, not to my benefit, not by my silence.

We are still wandering in the wilderness. Over a far horizon, we can sometimes catch a glimpse of a new Promised Land--a place without walls, without checkpoints, without prisons, without masters and slaves, us and them, our tribe and their tribe—a place where everyone is free. But we have a long journey still before we get there, and we do not know the way.

January 1, 2010

Keep us in your thoughts, my friends, and please visualize circles of protection especially for those who have taken leading roles in this work! update is below, Happy New Year!

We did it! Up until the moment we did, I didn’t quite believe we would, but we did!

Went to bed last night thinking, “Yeah, Starhawk, you’ve done this a hundred times, yawn, nerves of steel, sleep like a baby,” and of course I hardly slept at all, adrenaline racing, had to pee a hundred times. Got up this morning ahd rumors were flying around that the Egyptian security forces were blocking the hotels, so we got out quickly. Fortunately I had packed and organized my stuff the night before as that is the part of an action that is most stressful to me. Nothing makes me more crazy than needing to get out the door in a hurry and not being able to find some crucial piece of gear, and I nearly always can’t find some crucial piece of gear, due to that plague of Snatchers that follow me around, hiding my keys, lining their burrows with my socks and decorating them with my ATM cards.

Some of the Canadian delegation who are staying here were saying that police were outside—but that turned out not to be true. I was almost sorry, because Wendy had scouted alternative exits over the roofs of Cairo and what a story that would make! But I was happy enough just to get out and not be stuck inside all day. I can write novels another time.

Lisa had already left for a meeting at one of the hotels—turned out the security forces were blocking everyone into the Lotus, where the main Code Pink organizers were staying, but not the other hotels, including the one where the meeting was happening.

I decided to sit down below, however, and keep watch. Actually I didn’t see the need for going 9 flights up and probably having to walk back down all nine, and sitting in a smoky meeting where I wouldn’t be able to hear anything. There was a chair against the wall near the entrance so I sat down to wait. Actually, Cairo is a great place to people-watch and I had one of the most relaxing little bits of time I’d had here yet, watching the women in their various head=-carves and the men with liquid brown eyes that could have come off an old tomb painting. Eventually people from our march began to drift by, stopping to share news and rumors. One Policeman was watching the hotel, but I didn’t see any signs that groups of them were massing for a raid. But the rumors were flying—the action was on, it was off, the locations was changed, the time was changed..

Eventually Lisa and the women from the meeting came down. The plan was for shcok troops of women to be first out into the streets—for a couple of reasons. The first—the cops are less likely to brutalize women. Not entirely unlikely, but less. The second—to shift those old gender dynamics where the guys do the brave and dangerous things and the little women stay behind. The third—because these women are strong and smart and don’t run ego-dramas.

We began to filter around Tahrir Square. I was following Lisa who moves at a really fast pace. I am a slow walker but when I need to, I can keep up with her and she was in full-on battle mode and nothing was going to slow her down.

We all drifted into the area around the Museum where our plan called for us to gather unobtrusively and then flash-mob into the streets. I wasn’t sure this was going to work. Nobody was sure this was going to work—but it was the plan and at this point that was all we had. The police were out in force around the museum because we had organized this in classic nonviolent mode, openly and not secretly. That was a good thing, because communication has been so excruciatingly difficult when we are trying to simply tell each other something that adding security culture and secret codes on top of it would have made everything utterly incomprehensible to most of us, while the secret police would still have known what we were going to do. There they were…there we were. The clock was ticking—it was almost ten. An officer came towards Lisa, trying to move us further down the road. The traffic opened…and she took the space, running out into the traffic and unfurling a flag. We followed, and suddenly, from all over small groups of people were swarming and collecting and filling the road.

We began to march—for about ten yards. Then the cops surrounded us, and they were mad. They were pushing and shoving people, and I noticed a few run in and grab a guy who was filming with a video camera on a tripod. They had hold of him and were pulling on his camera and others were pulling on him so I ran over to do what I do—which is insert myself into the middle and sweetly get in the way. Between all of us we extricated him and his camera and now people were sitting down to hold the space. And there I was, sitting on the ground staring at the knees of a line of Egyptian riot cops. I had a little Talking Heads moment, you know the song, “And I asked myself…how did I get here?” Then the cops moved in and started grabbing people. They grabbed Michael from the media team and we grabbed him back and finally pulled him in toward us. He was holding his ribs..a woman grabbed my arm and we linked up.

Then I saw Lisa being grabbed by five big cops. They were pulling her away into the police lines and she was lying prone and being pulled by her wrists. I thought, “Goddess, they’re taking her away and there’s too many of them. There’s nothing I can do for her.” And then I thought, “Fuck that!” and leapt on top of her, grabbing her waist and lying over her legs. I can’t actually explain how I did that when usually it takes me ten minutes and a battle plan to get up, but adrenaline is a wonder drug.

Anotther couple of people piled onto me and her. The cops were really mad, but also confused. They kicked one guy and grabbed him really roughly to pull him off, but no sooner did they have him than someone else dove through five lines of police and launched himself onto the pile Every time they got rid of one person, someone else appeared. It was one of the most powerful moments of practical solidarity I’ve ever seen and I would have liked to savor it but almost immediately we were all being pushed, shoved, pummeled and pressed back onto the curb across the street. Our pile of people on the bottom half of Lisa got pushed one way—the top half of her went another and I lost her.

I ended up on the curb smack in front of the lines of cops trying to shove us back, along with a mass of people. I was happy there—holding ground when riot cops are shoving is one of the things I’m good at. Most of the cops looked a bit sheepish and ashamed of what they were doing, but one or two were triggered and angry and out of control. I saw one cop head butt a protester, others were beating and punching people with their nightsticks. They were pushing other people onto the curb and roughly forcing them through the lines into a crowd that was already so tight there was hardly room to move. I saw several of the women I’d trained and I just stayed there and grabbed them and pulled them through the lines of cops into our space. I felt a bit like a midwife, birthing them backwards, into the womb of our community now contained by a circle of cops on a wide stretch of sidewalk. Some of them were frightened, some were exhilarated. All looked happy to see me.

And then the tension eased. The cops formed their ring, we had our space, in the circle of Cairo’s largest, central square, and people were chanting “Free, free Palestine!” and singing “We Shall Overcome.” I looked over and found myself standing next to Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, singing, “We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we are not afraid today.”

Then I saw Lisa, safe and relatively unscathed although she had a hurt wrist and sore ribs. I gave her some homeopathic arnica and Bill Ayers gave her some chocolate. Carrying chocolate—that mark of an experienced activist!

We all felt great about the action. Against all odds, we had done what we set out to do—to say to the Egyptian authorities and the world, “if you won’t let us go to Gaza, we’ll simply start from here and walk.” If you want to stop us, you’ll have to physically stop us—we won’t comply with your orders. And if you physically stop us, then we will have brought Gaza to Cairo—we will dramatize for the eyes of the world the situation that the people of Gaza are in. This pen, this improvised prison in the central square is another annex to the huge, open-air prison that Gaza has become, where a million and a half people live in the most densely crowded conditions on earth, where the Israelis control the borders and decide who can get in and who can get out, rationing out the necessities of life, b;ocking the materials of reconstruction and the means of livelihood for the Gazan people.

So we held the space throughout the day, with songs and chants and drumbeats, with shared food and water and an improvised pee station. I even had a lovely nap in the sun, next to a beautiful French Algerian organizer with luminous green eyes.

And now the New Year has come, and I must sleep! May our new year be blessed with loving friends and strong comrades to strengthen us for all the work ahead the earth and for justice.

Gaza Freedom March Blog 6 December 30, 2009

We’ve moved from the Old to the New Testament—from “Let my people go” to “Left Behind!” Woke up this morning sure my choice to stay was the right one, but deeply regretting it anyway. Lisa, who was also offered a seat, and I were talking ourselves into good political reasons to justify why we could have gone, when she got a call. Code Pink and the Steering Committee of the Gaza Freedom March had just issued a statement saying that they’d made a mistake, and that they were no longer supporting the busses going. The busses were loading a few blocks away, we were told the scene was chaotic and Lisa rushed down there to do damage control while I stayed to do the morning briefing

By all accounts, the scene was a madhouse. People were weeping on the busses, others were crying “Shame! Shame!” at those who boarded. Some were getting off the bus, then back on, then off again. Father Louis Vitale, the starwart priest from San Francisco who has been arrested hundreds of times doing civil disobedience actions, got on, got off, got on again, and finally got off for good. Lisa helped chill the situation out, and people ended by holding hands and remembering that we are in this for the same goals.

The Gazan coordinators, who originally said, ‘Come!” were now saying “Don’t come—it’s too divisive. Stay together. Several delegations has pulled their representatives out. And I guess the crowning blow for Code Pink was when the Foreign Office released a statement that was not only counter to their agreement but an outright lie—that the hundred on the busses were the only ‘good’’ and truly peaceful demonstrators and that the Foreign Office had selected them. In the end, one bus went.

And then everyone pulled together and went on with the work. By the end of the morning meeting, new people were facilitating and work groups were formed. The hotels were buzzing with the energy of activists organizing an action.

I spent the day doing trainings. For the first one we crammed into the downstairs hall of the Lotus Hotel, tipping the attendant and eventually negotiating with the manager to let us stay just a little longer When we went around the circle, saying our names and where we are from, we had people from all over the world: Jordan, Bulgaria, Holland, Scotland, the U.S., Australia, Canada. For the second training we met out at the Mogamma, the big plaza on Tahir Square, with security guards thick around us and curious local people watching.

With all the work and chaos and stress, I found myself almost losing sight of Gaza. But the situation there is dire, and about to become lethal. The steel wall the Israelis plan to construct with financing from Obama’s administration will cut off the tunnels from Egypt. While the Israelis claim the tunnels are used to smuggle weapons—and that’s undoubtedly true—they are primarily a lifeline for food and the goods that Gazans need and cannot obtain because of the siege. If they are closed, people will be reduced from hunger into starvation, from poverty into abject misery.

Meanwhile other people hammered out a plan for tomorrow I don’t know if it’s a good plan or not. It has some risky aspects. If it works I may not have access to the internet to write for awhile On the other hand, the police could blockade us into our hotels and I’d have time to write a novel.

Wish us luck, safety, and success! More when I can…

Blog—GFM 4 12-29 Morning

So, back to yesterday. I never made it over to the French Embassy, where the French contingent has been encamped, surrounded now by the Egyptian police and not allowed to leave although people have been allowed to pass in food and water. Our encampment in front of the World Trade Center (yep, that’s what it’s called!) that houses the UN was actually a lively and spirited demonstration, with women dancing and an Italian clown parading and the student contingent playing with a gigantic Palestinian flag. Personally, I was fighting my Bad Attitude comprised of exhaustion, low blood sugar, unresolved grief and a recent loss in hearing that upped the volume of tinnitus in my left ear so that even a quiet conversation sounds like echoes in a wind tunnel and a loud demonstration is like the whole world just got tuned to a place halfway between stations on the radio. I was asking myself that dangerous question, “Don’t I have a real life somewhere and shouldn’t I be there, now, living it?” I’d brought my battered old doumbek but didn’t really feel like playing it, until two guitarists, an accordionist and another drummer joined a group of Italians singing “Bella Ciao.” It’s just not possible to stay in an evil mood when Italians are singing “Bella Ciao.”

So I went looking for something useful to do. The police had us surrounded and blocked in, and lines of people were standing in front of them, face to face, to keep them from pushing in the barricades further. In some sense all these confrontations are about space—political space to protest, spaces of freedom in which the people of Gaza might actually live their own lives. Right, I remembered, that was the reason I was there and not back home happily trying to unclog a blocked-up hydroelectric system in the pouring rain, We had created a micro-Gaza right there in the plaza, and again, that is the point of nonviolent action—to dramatize an invisible wrong and make it visible, put in the face of the world so it can’t be ignored.

Lisa was in the middle of the crowd running a spokescouncil meeting that she’d somehow pulled together. She has an amazing ability to work a crowd in the midst of clamor and chaos and somehow bring them all to some point of clarity. Plus she has a naturally loud voice and can make herself heard. Between the roaring gale going on in my left ear and my naturally soft voice being even more so due to the horrible air exacerbating my asthma, I just didn’t feel like that was the place I could do much. If the Goddess in her infinite wisdom had gifted me with a loud voice, not to mention making me slim and glamorous, I could have ruled the world. But she didn’t, so I just have to muddle along as best I can.

Before we came on the march, I’d been in contact with members of the Interfaith delegation about doing trainings for the marchers. No opportunity had yet arisen to do anything of the sort, but I went to check in with them. While we were talking, some kafuffle took place over at the line with the police. A cop hit a woman in the face, we were told. So we went over—but by then, other people had stepped up. One of the white-haired women from the Michigan Peace Team was walking up and down the line talking to the blank eyed officers in fine nonviolent style. Some of the Italians were being, well, Italian—loud and expressive, but basically, things were calm. But we brought up some more people to hold a line, facing the cops. I resisted joining it—I’m a Gemini, an air sign, I like to stay loose at these things and float around. But then a devastatingly handsome young man held out his hand to me and I couldn’t resist. So I ended up in front of these hard-eyed Egyptian security guys, with the grim expressions that reminded me that these are the folks the CIA gets to do their real torturing for them. But honestly, I was bored. So bored that I decided to make use of the time, if possible, to improve my Arabic. From my time in the ISM I had learned a few useful phrases: ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘tea without sugar’ and ‘Tank!’ Actually the first Arabic phrase I learned was ‘Fi jesh?’ which means, roughly, “Is the Army up ahead?” As opposed to a time in my life when I was much younger, and the first German phrase I ever learned was “I am really horny.” Ah, but that’s another story..

But knowing I was coming on this trip, I had downloaded some language-learning programs and listened to them long enough to learn to count to ten and to say, “I would like to eat something.” No doubt a useful phrase. I smiled at grim cop in front of me, held up one finger, and said, “Wehed?” His eyes locked on mine. I held up two. “Efnayim?” He ventured a smile, nodded encouragingly, and said “Taletha.” “Arbah” I replied, holding up four, and before I knew it the entire line of cops within earshot were grinning and nodding encouragement as I counted to ten, then patiently instructing me on to eleven, twelve, thirteen…There’s a music to the Arabic numbers that is quite hypnotic, and before I knew it I was up to a hundred, with my team cheering me on. Then we started over again, and over. They were all gazing at me with fond, paternal eyes, like a father looks at a promising child, and they stopped looking to me like potential torturers and started looking more like sweet young men doing a job that wasn’t really their choice to begin with.

Then they switched shifts, and I had to start all over again. But damn if it didn’t work just the same way with the new guard. The truth is, the personal sympathies of these guys are already with us, mostly. They aren’t subject to the same political pressures as Mubarak. The young ones in uniform are conscripts, just doing their time.

Ah—but I’m running out if I want to get to the French Embassy, the American Embassy where I’m told people are being detained, to go support the hunger strikers who will be vigiling at 2 pm—including Hedy Epstein, an 88 year old holocaust survivor, and start planning for tomorrow when we have decided to march toward Gaza if we have to leave from right here in Cairo. Let me just say that by the end of the day, after some food and some shifts in the organizing, I felt good again. Glad to be here, glad to be part of this, hopeful that whether or not we get to Gaza we will succeed in our true aim—to focus the world’s attention again on Gaza, on the illegal state of siege the Israeli’s are perpetuating there, on those who died and on the shattered homes and infrastructure which cannot be rebuilt because Israel will not let in supplies. I’ll do my best to keep writing and posting, but now off to do a bit of living.

Blog--GFM 3 December 28

At The End of a Very Long Day

Our situation is ironically biblical—never have I understood the story of Exodus so well. The irony is that in the story, it’s the Israelites petitioning Pharoah to let them go, packing their bags each time he indicates ‘yes’, unpacking them when he changes his mind and says ‘no’, ten times until in the end they leave in such haste they have no time to let the bread rise. Now, it’s the Israelites, or at least, most likely, the Israelis applying political pressure to the Egyptians to refuse us entry into Gaza. Indeed, even leaving Cairo has become problematic. Small groups have made their way to el Arish, but most have been stopped, some pulled from taxis, others sent back in busses from checkpoints

We had busses scheduled to pick us up at 7 AM in the morning—but we received word the night before that their permits had been canceled. We decided to go down to the bus station anyway and invite the press, demonstrating clearly that we were ready to go.

I really hate a demonstration that starts at 7 AM after a night of little sleep. But Juniper, Lisa, Geneva and I dutifully roused ourselves and grabbed a taxi down to the bus station. After wandering around a bit in an area of massive concrete overhangs, fumes and garbage, and crossing a couple of lethal avenues without mishap, we arrived at the area where people were holding banners and trying to wake up enough to chant.

I just have to say this here—I really hate political chanting. Makes my throat hurt and my ears sore. Mostly it’s rhythmically boring and political singing is sometimes worse. Well, old civil rights songs are great and heartening but John Lennon never wrote a more whining dirge than “All we are saying is give peace a chance!: Also impossible to sing in tune. “Imagine” is just about as bad, and longer. Drumming is some help but I’ve done the marching and drumming thing and it hurts my back. I especially hate it at 7 AM. But I endured a couple of hours of it, punctuated by some quieter moments when I could talk to people. In one of them, I interviewed Lynn Gottlieb, one of the first eight women ordained as a rabbi, who now preaches what she calls the Torah of nonviolence

In another, I met Alex, a red-haired activist I’d met years ago in Palestine with the ISM. Alex told me that Hisham, who used to run the Faisal Hostel in East Jerusalem where ISMers often stayed, was in town just for the morning in a hotel just down the street. He’d come to meet people. So as the demo wound down, Alex and I went up to see him.

I remember the first time I met Hisham, on the first trip I did with the ISM. I’d stayed a night in Tel Aviv with my Israeli friends and taken a bus to Jerusalem. I got a taxi from the bus station and couldn’t understand why the taxi driver didn’t seem to understand where the Faisal was or grasp what I meant by ‘Damascus gate’ of the Old City. Or why he got more and more nervous as we got closer, finally stopping at least a block away and nearly forcing me out of the cab Later I realized that, of course, he was an Israeli cabby, mortally terrified of driving into East Jerusalem and nearly as terrified of anyone in his cab who would ask him to. After I dragged my heavy bags over to the Faisal and up a flight or two of stairs, I was sweating and exhausted and when I saw the general level of shabbiness and grime, ready to turn around and go back. Then I saw Hisham, standing behind the counter, with a broad grin. “Welcome, welcome!” he said, with so much friendliness and warmth that I felt better immediately. I grew very fond of the Faisal, which had a wide screened veranda where we did trainings, and an every-ready pot of tea.

We took another slow, creaky elevator up to the sixth floor, walked into the restaurant, and Hisham stood up and gave me a warm hug. “Starhawk, welcome! Welcome!” he said After six years, he recognized me immediately. We sat with three young ISMers who had come from the West Bank the night before while they had breakfast and we shared news and political cynicism. There’s a certain dark, stoic humor that long term ISM volunteers tend to share, a grim cheer that comes after facing situations every day that seem like they can’t possibly get worse, and knowing they will get worse. I realized that I missed it. I miss my friend Neta and the two girls I helped her birth and her new baby that I’ve never seen. I miss the other incredible folks I knew there, dour Swedish Tobias who became so at home in Jenin; Ghassan Andoni, like the distinguished professor he is, teaching us the history of Palestinian nonviolence; tall, red-haired Irish Caoimhe who strode through refugee camps like a Celtic Goddess and was known to walk up to tanks and cover their muzzles with her bare hands. I had tears in my eyes, realizing that I’d never expected to see Hisham again, since the Israeli authorities now won’t let me back into Israel, which also controls all the entrances into the West Bank as well as Gaza.

I know that what I feel is just a little taste of exile, a homeopathic dose of the Palestinian experience. Knowing that just compounds the sadness, turns it into a bitter dose of depression and despair—because how can I even indulge in feeling something which is so dwarfed by the immensity of Palestinian suffering? I was born an American Jew six years after the holocaust—I grew up feeling that nothing that ever happened to me could possibly rank with the sufferings of my own people, the camps and the ovens and the mass graves. And I realize what I miss in that gallows humor mood is the relief that comes from stepping out of the morass of grief and guilt and guilt about feeling grief into what I call the zone of deadly calm, the place of pure action, where you just stop feeling and stop thinking and walk out and stick your hand over the muzzle of a tank.

Okay, this isn’t really about today’s action, how we took over the plaza at the UN building for most of the day, how I learned how to hypnotize an Egyptian policeman (get them to teach you how to count in Arabic—“Wehed, efnaim, taletha..”their hard eyes soften, “arbah, hamsah, seta” and suddenly they become smiling boys :saba, thaminiah, teysha, ashara!” ) how the French have held their embassy into the night, how people who tried to get to el Arish were pulled out of taxis and taken off busses, but I’m going to go ahead and post it anyway. Because it’s almost 2 AM and because I believe that we might learn something, if we understood what pain and loss and violence and guilt do to us. In the end, that pain, that grief, the weight of sorrow and the desperate relief from it can propel us to do a lot of different things: stand in front of a bulldozer, sit down in front of a tank, strap on a belt of explosives and blow ourselves and everyone around us up. Different acts, yes, very different choices. But how much do our choices come from who we are, and how much from what we encounter around us, when we seek for solace, what comes to hand?

Still a bit dazed and confused from jetlag, I went down to the Lotus Hotel where Medea Benjamin and Anne Wright and many of the other organizers are staying. It is also peeling and seedy, and when people told me, “Thank you for putting your life on the line,” I didn’t quite imagine that the biggest mortal dangers would be elevators, with archaic wooden cages and exposed wiring and metal grates dating back to the Third Dynasty. Of course, that’s only if you survive the Cairo traffic. Crossing the street here is a bit like trying to dodge your way through a herd of stampeding mustangs.

So far unscathed, I got sucked into doing media work for most of the afternoon. About a hundred people went out to the Kasr al Nil bridge around noon—the bridge to the large island in the middle of the Nile. They placed cards and flowers on the bridge to commemorate the more than 1300 Gazans who died in the Israeli assault that began a year ago today, on December 27, 2008. The police eventually showed up and ordered them off the bridge, but didn’t arrest anyone.

The plan for the afternoon was to meet at 4 pm down by the Nile and take feluccas, the small sailboats that go up and down the river. On the boats, we could meet in small groups and then converge later for a larger meeting. We hurried down there (I spend a lot of these actions trailing after people who are younger, faster and slimmer) and eventually I jumped in a taxi with a few other women at Lisa’s suggestion. A knot of activists were surrounded by a thicket of cameras. The police were blocking us from getting on the boats, and shut down the rental place. But we gathered, a group of several hundred, which we had been expressly forbidden to do. Medea Benjamin, one of the Code Pink leaders, jumped up and made an impromptu speech. “Who here wants to take a boat on the Nile, like tourists do?” she asked. Everyone raised their hands. “Who here wants to go to Gaza?”

The crowd began cheering and unfurling banners and chanting “Free Gaza!” We lit our candles in cups and held them aloft. There were people from all over the world in the crowd—young students and old people, every imaginable mix of countries and races and religions. The spirit was strong, and as more and more police arrived, everyone remained calm. The crowd began marching back down the riverside, and then the police threw up a cordon and blocked us in. Lisa was trying to negotiate and persuade the head officer to let us march down back to the bridge and disperse there, but he wouldn’t go for it. The police were not in riot gear—most of them seemed to be in plain clothes, and their hearts weren’t realy in keeping us blocked in. They held hands to barricade us, and they kept smiling. People lifted up their arms and ducked under and got out, and from time to time they opened up and let people out, without much rhyme nor reason. Basically, they are personally in sympathy with our cause, and that’s working in our favor.

Eventually, they moved aside and let everyone go. People felt strong and empowered by the action. We had been told that the Egyptian government did not want us to protest in Cairo, to be interviewed by the press, to interact with Egyptians. And we had done all of the above.

Our cancelled meeting had been rescheduled and moved several times, but finally we had it outside, in the middle of Tahrir Square, a big central square in downtown Cairo, right out in the open. What I love about explicitly nonviolent actions, and what sometimes gets lost in the attempts we make to accommodate diverse tactics and security culture, is that in-your-face attitude we can adopt when we aren’t trying to hide what we’re doing. The authorities say, ‘you cannot meet in groups larger than six people,’ and cancel our permit for a building, so we meet in the center of town in the public square. We create a dilemma for the authorities—either arrest us, these hundreds of internationals with large bases of political support, or concede this political space.

The cops left us alone. But—all the busses that we’d rented for our attempt to go to Gaza tomorrow have been cancelled due to pressure from the government. Ordinary Egyptians, who live here, don’t have the privilege we enjoy and are not immune to threats.

The French contingent went en masse to their embassy, threatening to encamp on its lawn, and got them to intervene with the Egyptian government and they got security permits for their busses. Or so we’ve heard—I don’t know yet if the busses actually arrived or were allowed to leave.

With all the stress and continually changing conditions, I’m still deeply thrilled to be here. Under the clamor and the smog lies a sense of age and a whiff of ancient things. That river we’re walking besides is the Nile! I see a scraggly cat and think, ‘This is where cats come from!” I see a man in flowing robes and kaffiyeh who could have been standing there for a hundred years.

Tomorrow Anne Wright, a U.S. diplomat who resigned in protest against the Iraq War and who has become a dedicated activist, will take another delegation to the foreign office to continue their negotiations. Please keep up the calls and the writing. I apologize for the typo in the previous post—the website is:

Your support is keeping us safe and will hopefully open the road to Gaza—not just for us, but for the people whose lives and health and freedom are blighted by this siege.

Open Letter to President Mubarak from the Gaza Freedom March

26 December 2009
Dear President Mubarak;
We, representing 1,362 individuals from 43 countries arriving in Cairo to participate in the Gaza Freedom March, are pleading to the Egyptians and your reputation for hospitality.
We are peacemakers. We have not come to Egypt to create trouble or cause conflict. On the contrary. We have come because we believe that all people — including the Palestinians of Gaza — should have access to the resources they need to live in dignity. We have gathered in Egypt because we believed that you would welcome and support our noble goal and help us reach Gaza through your land.
As individuals who believe in justice and human rights, we have spent our hard-earned, and sometimes scarce, resources to buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and secure transportation only to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza living under a crushing Israeli blockade.
We are doctors, lawyers, students, academics, poets and musicians. We are young and old. We are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and secular. We represent civil society groups in many countries who coordinated this large project with the civil society in Gaza.
We have raised tens of thousands of dollars for medical aid, school supplies and winter clothing for the children of Gaza. But we realize that in addition to material aid, the Palestinians of Gaza need moral support. We came to offer that support on the difficult anniversary of an invasion that brought them so much suffering.
The idea of the Gaza Freedom March—a nonviolent march to the Israeli Erez crossing– emerged during one of our trips to Gaza in May, a trip that was kindly facilitated by the Egyptian government. Ever since the idea emerged, we have been talking to your government through your embassies overseas and directly with your Foreign Ministries. Your representatives have been kind and supportive. We were asked to furnish information about all the participants—passports, dates of birth, occupations—which we have done in good faith. We have answered every question, met every request. For months we have been working under the assumption that your government would facilitate our passage, as it has done on so many other occasions. We waited and waited for an answer.
Meanwhile, time was getting short and we had to start organizing. Travel over the Christmas season is not easy in the countries where many of us live. Tickets have to be purchased weeks, if not months, in advance. This is what all 1,362 individuals did. They spent their own funds or raised money from their communities to pay their way. Add to this the priceless time, effort and sacrifice by all these people to be away from their homes and loved ones during their festive season.
In Gaza, civil society groups—students, unions, women, farmers, refugee groups—have been working nonstop for months to organize the march. They have organized workshops, concerts, press conferences, endless meetings—all of this with their own scarce resources. They have been buoyed by the anticipated presence of so many global citizens coming to support their just cause.
If the Egyptian government decides to prevent the Gaza Freedom March, all this work and cost is lost.
And that’s not all. It is practically impossible, this late in the game, to stop all these people from travelling to Egypt, even if we wanted to. Moreover, most have no plans in Egypt other than to arrive at a predetermined meeting point to head together to the Gaza border. If these plans are cancelled there will be a lot of unjustified suffering for the Palestinians of Gaza and over a thousand internationals who had nothing in mind but noble intentions.
We plead to you to let the Gaza Freedom March continue so that we can join the Palestinians of Gaza to march together on December 31, 2009.
We are truly hopeful that we will receive a positive response from you and thank you for your assistance.
Tighe Barry, Gaza Freedom March coordinator
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, USA
Olivia Zemor, Euro-Palestine, France
David Torres, ECCP, Belgium
Germano Monti, Forum Palestine, Italy
Ziyaad Lunat, Gaza Freedom March, Europe
Ehab Lotayef, Gaza Freedom March, Canada
Alessandra Mecozzi, Action for Peace-Italy
Ann Wright, Gaza Freedom March coordinator
Kawthar Guediri, Collectif National pour une Paix Juste et Durable entre Palestinens et Israeliens, France
Mark Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Thomas Sommer, Focus on The Global South, India

27 Dec. 2009
Gaza Freedom March—I’m in Cairo
So I’m here in Cairo, in a seedy but supportive hotel. The décor is peeling kitsch, but the beds are clean and the politics are good. To be honest, the part of these trips I hate the most is packing and getting ready. There’s the stress of trying to find my missing good pair of jeans, organizing all the details of our upcoming Earth Activist Training and instructing the people who will stay at my cabin on the vagaries of the hydro system and the four electrical meters, none of which work, wrapping presents and desperately trying to thwart the Snatchers, those little creatures that live between the worlds, stealing single socks, twitching your passport out of the drawer where you know you left it, burying your Iphone under the bedclothes—and helping to cook a Christmas Eve dinner for thirty people, “How are you?” “I’m a little fried—leaving first thing in the morning.” “Oh, where are you going?” “Gaza.” Now, there’s a conversation stopper! Then after dragging myself away from our lovely tree and crèche and crammed-full stockings on Christmas morning to slog through security lines and crunch myself into two-small airplane seats—once I actually get to a destination everything else seems relaxing by comparison, except possibly getting detained at the airport and sent right back again.

As long as that didn’t happen—anything else short of rendition and actual torture is bound to be fun by comparison. We had lots of people from the march on the various planes I was on, kind of shyly checking each other out in the waiting area—“Hmmn, a student with a bracelet in Palestinian colors, possible. A middle-aged woman who looks like a nun—maybe.” Somehow we found each other. I sat for eleven hours next to a young soldier on his way back to Iraq. He seemed so young and vulnerable, making all his last Christmas calls to his family. He has two other brothers in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, and his arms were all covered with squiggly military tattoos. On his other side was a vegan anthropology student also on her way to the march. “We’ve got you surrounded,” I told him.

Just before I left, I got a call from Lisa and Juniper who were already in Cairo. The Egyptians have closed the border in Rafah, and revoked all our permits to meet. Chances of our getting through seem dim, and the risk level of the adventure has suddenly climbed higher, as we may now be arrested just for meeting and demonstrating even in Cairo. But hey, why would that surprise us—just because for five months they’ve been negotiating with the organizers and telling them we will be let in.

After too brief a sleep, we had a meeting this morning in our hotel. Our big orientation meeting for this evening has been cancelled, its permit revoked. So we’re doing smaller briefings in hotels, and we have a couple of ‘soft’ actions planned for today. We have now heard the border will be open to Palestinians and Egyptians later this week—although no one has said it will be open to Internationals. Still, in various ways we will attempt to get in. I will keep you posted as I can. I have also opened up a Twitter account—seems like this is the sort of thing Twitter is made for. My user name is Starhawk17 (Starhawk was already taken, don’t know by whom) and my profile is You can sign on to get Tweets and that will probably be the most up-to-the-minute news as we attempt to get in.

Okay, hope to get this out and posted. We really, really need your help today to continue pressure on the Egyptian embassies and government. Please go to the Gaza Freedom March website and contact the Egyptian Foreign minister, if you haven’t already. Check for solidarity actions in your town and please, please, join them if you can. The uncertainty that we are experiencing is just a tiny taste of what life is like every day for Palestinians who are prevented from traveling freely, from leaving Gaza at will and from getting home if they do manage to get out, from rebuilding their bombed and destroyed neighborhoods and the means of life. Thanks! Starhawk

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hello everyone! Rebecca Sang

Dec 20, 2009

I just wanted to drop you all a note to let you know that Jason and I are
home safely in our little Berkeley hut, ready for a wonderful solstice on
the beach and almost over our jet lag.

This is the first one out of two posts I'm sending out from last week's
adventures. I'll do one more, and then consider my reporting from
Copenhagen done.

Thanks so much for your continued support and love.

Happy Solstice!

Yesterday was the most powerful day yet for me here at Copenhagen. Jason
and Tom left early to go on a scouting mission at the Bella Center and take
a peak at the fences surrounding her, while I stayed home and wrote to you,
dear readers. ;-) I¹ve started to feel like I have a responsibility to let
y¹all know what¹s happening here, as much as I can. There¹s so much I don¹t
know and don¹t see, because there¹s simply so much happening every moment of
the day. Aside from that (and let¹s be honest here) I really don¹t have the
kind of skills that Jason and Tom do regarding fences and the like. If you
want to take down a fence, they¹re really the ones for your team.

After a rather long, meandering walk all over downtown Copenhagen where I
seemed to run into every ³Politi² in city but couldn¹t find a group of a
couple thousand drumming, chanting, yelling, dancing people, I was finally
directed where I needed to go by an kindly old reporter. (I was getting so
desperate, I almost asked the police where I could find my comrades. I
figured, out of anyone, they must know. Luckily it didn¹t come to thatŠ I
mean, please. How embarrassing. ³Excuse me, officer. Can you tell me
where the protesters are?²).

I found Jason with the Samba band, dancing and helping to hold the line
around them, who had linked arms and had formed a barrier of people around
the entire march in front of the column of police officers that walked along
side. A couple of moments later, Tom arrived with Jason¹s drum and soon we
were drumming down the street. The hand signals and rhythms are finally
getting more familiar, and I¹m starting to really enjoy playing around with
how I hold the drumstick to get different sounds on the drum without
dropping the thing every ten minutes. We were behind a large sound system
on a truck, so we alternated playing and pausing to allow the speakers and
music to be heard. Eventually, we made our way to a plaza near the Defense

Copenhagen has been all dolled up in its anti-climate change finery, some of
which seems genuine by genuine environmental organizations, and some of
which is greenwashing for very destructive businesses (kind of like those
Chevron billboards back home that say things like, ³I will unplug stuff
more² while they work to convert their Richmond refinery to process the most
toxic stuff on the planet). I¹m not sure what was planned for the rally
point, but what was very soon happening was that an enormous orange balloon
­ maybe a story tall and as much around ­ that had been tied to the ground
as a measure of how large one ton of CO2 is, courtesy of some heinous
European corporation that I¹m not really that familiar with, was rolling
down the street. The police and the samba band, both equally laden down,
went running after the crowd of people that were playing with it. We
managed to catch up before they did, and started playing a jaunty tune as
the enormous orange ball rolled off onto a major byway of cars, followed by
the crowd, the band, and the cops.

After that moment, I felt the energy shift. As usual, Jason picked up on it
a moment or two before I did.

He was already looking around for an exit route. ³We should get out of
here,² he said.

³Do you want to leave?²

He didn¹t answer, and that, coupled with the fact that he said ³should²
instead of simply, ³Let¹s go,² told me he didn¹t. I didn¹t, either. I knew
that this was a potentially arrestable situation, but it was hard to ditch
out on the band in the midst of things. And clearly, at this point, the
band was directing the energy. Folks were crowding around us, following us
wherever we went.

After awhile, the police managed to get the enormous orange balloon away
from the folks and turned us back to the plaza, where we circled up and
tried jamming for a bit. But the police weren¹t having it. They kept
pressing us into a tighter and tighter area, and then out of the plaza and
down the street towards the bridge.

Bridges are classic places for ³kettling,² which is a sweet sounding word to
describe closing in on you on both ends of a march and then arresting
everybody within. Jason looked at me again, and said, ³We should leave.²

³Do you want to go?² I asked again.

He frowned. I knew that he was feeling the same way I was ­ we still really
didn¹t want to go, even though we were clearly surrounded on three sides and
being pushed towards more cops at the other end of the bridge. I knew that
most likely if we left at that moment we could find away for two of us to
escape ­ but not the whole band. It was either ditch them to stay safe, or
stay and take the risks.

that moment I realized that I felt remarkably okay about being arrested.
I¹ve heard a few horror stories, as you always do, but overall the police
have been remarkably chill here compared to the US cops. At one point
during one of the marches earlier in the week, a line of cop cars came
screeching directly into the Samba band in an attempt to split us in two. I
kept thinking they would stop before they got to us, but they kept coming,
straight into the drummers. I tried to skedaddle out of the way, but around
me, the other drummers were pushing back at the cop cars, yelling at the
drivers. A couple of police officers jumped out and pulled the drummers off
of their cars, tossing them into the street with slightly annoyed
expressions. Then they got back into the cars and left. They didn¹t beat
anyone, or tear gas anyone, or even arrest anyone. They just tossed us to
the side as if dislodging a vine that got stuck to your shoe and then found
someone else to pester.

Let me just tell you, if we¹d tried anything even close to that in
Pittsburgh, it would have become PepperSprayBurgh. You just can¹t do that
kind of thing with American cops without them going apeshit on you. And, in
fact, they might go apeshit on you even if you don¹t do anything like that
(although, in my experience, San Francisco police tend to be more mellow).

At another march, the samba band moved off of the approved route into
traffic on the other side of the street, and a line of cops filed in to the
middle to stop those of us who hadn¹t yet made it into the street from
following. As they filed in, drummers pushed past them ­literally pushing
them out of the way ­ to stay with the rest of the band. Jason got through,
and then Kiki, this really sweet sambatista from Italy who¹s been very
friendly with us for the last couple of days. As I tried to follow, more
cops came, blocking the way. I stopped, but on the other side of the
street, Jason waved to me to come with. Without thinking, I ducked under
the cop¹s arm and then through, wondering if at any second I¹d feel his arms
pulling me back. But I didn¹t. Suddenly, there were more sambatistas
following me through, and then we were all together again, weaving among the
cars drumming and chanting. Again, no one was attacked.

So, as we were getting kettled in and my arrest seemed inevitable, I found a
strange calm came over me and decided to just keep drumming and enjoying the
music making for as long as it happened. Alright, I was probably going to
be arrested, and it was probably going to be cold for the eight or twelve
hours or whatever they were detaining people. But, there are much worse
things. I don¹t mind getting arrested, as long as I don¹t get chemicaled
and beaten, too.

We kept marching, out of the downtown area. At one point, Jason came up
next to me and expressed some concern ­ we were headed right towards
Christania, and he was afraid that the peaceful behavior of both cops and
activists might end if they came onto that already contested little piece of
land. Still, that¹s where one of our major homebases is, and I¹m sure that
the warm lunch that would be waiting for us there if we did manage to make
it held some appeal. Aside from which, we were only half of the decision
making power, at most. The cops continued to block off many of the streets,
allowing us some measure of choice, but not much.

And then, suddenly, they were gone. They just turned around and left.

We were at the gates of Christania, at least two hundred of us, samba band
and dancers and people carrying signs and probably many of those who had
unleashed the giant orange balloon and sent it floating off into the
streets, and the cops opened up the kettle and disappeared. A huge cheer
went up among the crowd, and the band flowed into a circle and began jamming
right there in the intersection of the street, much to the chagrin of the
drivers of the cars around us, I¹m sure. People were dancing like mad and
cheering and laughing, celebrating their freedom. Relief, exultation, joy,
and victory permeated the crowd.

Later that night, Naomi Klein and two other speakers came to Christania to
talk about the next day¹s action, ³Reclaim the Power.² This is the big one,
the one where we try to disrupt the conference for a time. It seems like at
every major action we try to do this, ever since Seattle. It¹s a tradition
that no mass mobilization is complete without it, kind of like turkey at
Thanksgiving. And yet, I felt conflicted. The whole reason that I came
here is that I want the Copenhagen Climate Talks to be a success, to bring
about a world-changing powerful treaty. Disrupting the talks seemed
antithetical to that goal.

Listening to Naomi and Tadzio (an activist from London that I found very
inspiring) reframed the issues for me, though.
The gist of it is this: right now, the industrialized nations and
corporations are really pushing for market-based solutions at their worst
are unlikely to do anything at all to help our planet survive, and at best
would slightly help reduce CO2 pollution but at the expense of those nations
most likely to be harmed by climate change and that have already felt the
brunt of our economic policies. There are countries out there that are in
danger of literally being underwater soon, or having their food supplies
completely destroyed by climate change issues, and these nations have been
repeatedly ignored, lied to, and condescended to during the last several
weeks while those with money and power try to find ways to maximize their
profits with carbon markets and carbon sinks. The idea of the People¹s
Assembly tomorrow is to bring together the people in the streets with the
delegates, heads of states, and NGOs from the Bella Center that desire a
very powerful treaty to truly address the issue of climate change without
the influence of those with wealth who hold a deep desire to retain that
wealth at all cost.
The meeting with Naomi and Tadzio and Michael Hart, which Lisa facilitated,
was completely packed. There were hundreds of people in the large tent at
Christania, sitting on each other¹s laps, on the floor, standing, on the
rails of the bleachers, on the other side of the partitions. And everyone
seemed to hold their breath as suddenly, someone in the crowd, called out,
³What about the police? They¹ll attack us if we try this. Why should we
let them?²

After a moment, murmurs all around. Then, another voice called out, ³No!
We have to stay calm. We can¹t do that!²

Oh great, I thought. I can¹t wait until the undercovers bring this back to
their bosses.

Now, lots of murmuring, mixed with boos and cheers and a variety of
guttural, indecipherable to the non-European ear responses. Lisa grabbed
the mike. ³Alright, alright! Hold on just a second, everyone. Let¹s just
hold on a sec.²

The power and conviction in her voice seemed to work, at least for the
moment. People did quiet down. Naomi Klein spoke next, her voice
passionate. ³I know you¹re angry,² she said. ³We all have every right to be
angry. People are being hurt, and that¹s enough to make anyone angry. But
in this moment, we have to talk about what our intention really is here. We
have an opportunity here, a historic opportunity, to bring together
delegates from the climate conference with the people. And they won¹t come
if it¹s not safe. They won¹t be able to.²

There was a round of applause, but beneath that, still plenty of angry
murmuring. Most people, it seemed, agreed with her. But there were still
those that wanted to break windows, break cops, break all barriers.

Lisa told us later that its partly the denial of the role that violent forms
of protest have played in revolutionary movements that makes people who want
to engage in these forms of protest so obstinate when we have these sorts of
³tactical² conversations. The non-violent among us deny that the other
forms ever have merit, and that¹s frustrating to them. At the same time, in
this case more than ever, it was clear that we could not have a riot on our
hands if we stood any chance of success. We couldn¹t even have a
window-breaking kind of day, because there was no way that delegates and
heads of states would allow themselves to be affiliated with that kind of
thing. We needed everyone on the same page.
In this moment, what she said was, ³Tomorrow, we need to do what¹s smart.
We need to find creative ways to protest. This isn¹t about diversity of
tactics, though there is a time and a place for that kind of model. We¹re
not trying to say that one way is right and another way is wrong. We¹re
just trying to find a way that we can make this really happen.²

Tadzio stood up now. ³Listen, we have a codex,² he said. ³It¹s not a
concensus, I know, that everyone has agreed to. It¹s a codex that says how
we will and how we won¹t do things here in Copenhagen, and now is the time
to understand what that means.²

The murmurs slowly died away. It was clear to me that most people there
wanted to stick to strictly creative, non-violent forms of action, but that
some simply didn¹t agree. And I found it hard to believe that some sort of
³code of honor² would keep them in check.

Which made me wonder, at this potentially amazing moment in history, are we
going to screw it all up simply because we don¹t have our own shit together?
Because we are still using ego-driven, violent modes of thinking?

Lisa, however, didn¹t seem daunted by my worries. ³Historically, the black
bloc honors these kinds of agreements,² she told us later. ³If there¹s a
codex, that¹s what they¹ll do.²

I hadn¹t been always impressed by the black bloc in Pittsburgh, and found
myself skeptical. But she went on to say that in Europe, the radical Left
is different. There are those that break things and those that don¹t, and
they all have legitimacy here (unlike in the States, where people who engage
in property destruction and / or fight back against the cops tend to be seen
as total wackos that do nothing but put us back twenty years). Some of that
legitimacy, however, comes from the fact that they do honor their
agreements. ³Just look at the actions over the last couple of days. There
have been plenty of chances to get into rumbles with the cops and destroy
all kinds of things. There may have been a couple of broken windows on one
day, but no riots.²

As Jason, Tom and I headed off to dinner, just across the street from
Christania at a little gyro place, I mulled over her words. As we ate, I¹m
not sure who ­ either Jason or the Indian fellows sitting at the table next
to us ­ noticed a couple of blue Politi trucks pull up and turn down the
road towards Christania. Then a few more.

I was a little worried about Lisa, who was still there, but the others told
me not to be. After all, Christania is a huge compound of not only
activists but also many radical residents, who would not take kindly to the
police coming uninvited onto their property. Certainly they weren¹t going
to try to raid the place with three or four trucks of cops.

But then we saw another truck go by, a much larger one. It was the water

We jumped up and went to the door. Soon truck after blue-sirened truck of
cops was turning down the road, lining the one we were on, everywhere. Cops
with dogs, cops on bikes, cops in riot gear. They closed off the street
that led towards Christania, but a side street still remained open, and
after a while of standing around watching the tear gas rise from several
blocks away, Jason, Bird and I decided to move closer in to see what was
happening. We ended up right up at the front gates with the press, which
actually, the cops didn¹t mind at all. They had ceased to lob cannisters of
tear gas inside and were now bringing in the dogs (dogs and gas don¹t mix,
its either one or the other). The rumor was that there had been some people
-- whether the residents or activists, no one seemed to know ­ who had begun
to lob glass bottles at the cops as soon as the raid began. The rest of the
activists, many of whom had soon been in the tent dancing to a DJ, stayed
where they were ­ many of them just kept dancing, refusing to let the police
ruin their night.

We waited around for a couple of hours until Lisa was released, then went
off to bed. It had been a long day, and tomorrow didn¹t seem like it would
be any more relaxed. We really were out of the kettle and into the fire.

The night before last malignant forces attempted to sabotage our big action
yesterday. Jason and I went over to the Rag space for the Rhythms of
Resistance meeting, having fully assimilated ourselves into their group for
this week and finally accepting that fate. We'd been invited to their
evening meeting various times during the week, but weren't necessarily as
excited to meet as we were to drum; but now, with the most critical
demonstration of our entire time out here, it seemed like we couldn't resist
any longer. And really, all joking aside, we wanted to be involved in the
planning of what our group was going to be doing -- not only because we
wanted to help co-create it, but in my case, because I needed to know what
level of confrontation the sambatistas were planning to go for.

Here's my little secret, one that by admitting I will forever degrade any
reputation I had of being a hardcore activist: when things get hot, I can't
handle it. I'm afraid of fighting with the cops: I don't want to have my
arm, or wrist, or ankle broken by a billy club. I'm afraid of being pepper
sprayed: every time I've seen it happen to someone, it looks like its really
terribly painful. And, I'm afraid of finding myself in some cloud of chaos
that invovles tear gas and crowds of stampeding people, and falling down and
being trampled. Over all, the whole energy of that kind of intensity is just
too much for me.

So, now you know. I'm actually not hardcore. I'm softcore. I like to go out
to these things, play a drum, chant, even yell a bit, and then go back to
where its safe and warm and police free.

In the past, this has made it occasionally difficult for Jason and I to be
buddies at actions, because Jason is actually hardcore. He doesn't get
afraid. He is always calm, strong, and present to what's happening, just
like he looks. He wants to stay in the fray when the fray happens (up to a
point), not to be violent, but also not willing to back down in the face of
tactics that involve pain and terror to get us to comply. The Samba band,
this week, has shown a similar attitude towards their interactions with the
police, which is tempered by the large surdu drums that some drummers carry
that make it fairly hard to run away at the last minute.

Anyway, I was very interested to see what level of confrontation the
sambatistas were planning for the Reclaim the Power Action. The action was
going to be divided into several "blocs" of people, roughly categorized by
the kinds of things they'd be doing during the action, which has a
connection to the kind of violence from the police you might be subject to
but does not directly translate as such.

The Blue Bloc was those people who were marching along the police approved
route, including a large contingent of folks from the Global South at the
front who were going to push through the police line, a wave of tightly
pressed together folks right behind them to continue pushing, a line of
various affinity groups chained together by interlocked arms around the edge
of the entire thing, a truck with a sound system to issue instructions to
the crowd, and, potentially, the samba band. The Green Bloc was a mobile
group leaving from a nearby train station that would move down a different
route towards the Bella Center, and enter it by some other means. There was
a bloc of autonomous groups that were planning to attempt to tear down the
fences, create distracting actions for the police, and swim across the
canals. There was a Bike Bloc that would be offering support to the other
blocs, going were needed. There was also a group from Chistania, which had
been brutally raided by the police the night before, who were planning on
going into downtown in the morning and breaking lots of crap as retribution..
The Chistania group wasn't really a part of the action; they were just a
bunch of angry kids trying to get back at the police, loosely affiliated
with us.

After much discussion, the Sambas decided to agree to the request by the
action organizers to join the Blue Bloc and help direct the energy of people
there. They also agreed to stay on the police-approved route unless the cops
stopped the march prematurely, at which point they were holding the option
of breaking off and heading to the BC by an alternate open route.

The whole time we were at the meeting, I kept looking out the window,
waiting for the police to show up. As I mentioned, the night before they had
raided Chistania and held everyone inside for hours, using tear gas and dogs
while residents threw glass bottles at them and barricaded the gates. Once
in a while, we'd see one or two blue Politi trucks pull up, but they¹d just
leave again.

Eventually, Jason and I headed back to the hostel. We took Lisa with us, as
some of the other more public organizers were having their homes raided or
had been arrested, and she was worried they¹d show up at her place and drag
her away if she stayed there that night.

That¹s when the malignant forces struck, taking us entirely by surprise. The
first was a fellow in the bed across the room from us, who snored loudly. I
keep trying to think of a way to tell you how loudly, but can¹t think of
anything. Loud enough that there was no way to sleep, at any rate. Possibly
loud enough to be heard several rooms over. We took turns going over to him
and nudging him gently, but all that did was provide a couple of minutes
respite before the barrage began again. Just as I¹d be falling into the
drugged-feeling doze that was substituting for real sleep that night, he¹d

The second malignant force is the doddering old man in the bed nearest ours
that stayed up until after midnight packing and repacking his small duffle
bag, and then who woke up again sometime around four to do it yet again,
before going back to sleep. He claimed to need to be up early for a flight,
but we found him at breakfast the next morning when we went down, so it
obviously wasn¹t all that early.

The lack of sleep was killing us. We grumbled, we groaned, we heard our
frustration echoing in the tossing and turning of our other hostel-mates.
Tomorrow was the biggest action of the week, and we were being subtly undone
by two hapless roommates.

At some point, while Jason and I were quietly trying to convince one another
that it was the other person¹s turn to get up and deal with the snorer (what
also didn¹t help the potential for sleep was the fact that we were sharing
the lower part of a twin-sized bunk bed, so Lisa could have the top bunk),
he suddenly jumped out of bed, strode over to the snorer, and said loudly,
³You. Have. Got. To. Stop. Snoring. NOW.²

I wanted to groan outloud. Everyone knows that snorers can¹t help their
snoringŠ that¹s what makes the whole situation so terrible. All he¹d done, I
thought, was to further irritate our roommates.

But the snoring stopped.

Jason sank back into bed beside me. I couldn¹t believe it. I laid there with
my eyes open, waiting for the snoring to begin again. It did, but more
quietly. And soon after it began, the snorer woke himself up and turned
over. Just like that. I tell you what, that man is magic. I couldn¹t believe
it had worked.

We were nonetheless all very groggy the next morning when we woke up at
5:30AM to head down to Tanby station, where the Samba band was meeting the
rest of the Blue Block. Tom had volunteered to be one of the Samba ³Angels²
or ³Engines,² two equally illogical words to describe the people marching
alongside the samba band with linked arms to protect the band from cops and
other interloping elements.

I drank a mocha in the morning to help me with my sleepiness, and that,
couple with the fact that I was still feeling quite nervous about the
potential for police violence this day, made for a jumpy and antsy Riyana
that had to take frequent (and growingly more and more inconvenient) trips
to the little activists¹s room. Jason seemed simply excited, like most of
the band. We gathered together and formed our lines, and sooner than I would
have thought possible, we were marching down the street with a couple
hundred more folksŠ perhaps just under one thousand.

The police marched next to us, a line of cops and a line of trucks on the
side facing the Bella Center, like a wall. We just kept going. They were
clearly intent on stopping any break away marches going off in that
direction. We just kept going. The sound system truck, with Lisa on it, was
behind us. They were the ones who were going to direct the push when it was
time. Until then, it was just drumming and chanting and cops, like usual.

We got down to the Bella Center quickly, but I couldn¹t see much of it or
what was going on up ahead. I knew that the Green Bloc, the more mobile of
the two large blocs of activist, was supposed to be doing something
somewhere near us, but I hadn¹t seen one glimpse or heard anything about
them the entire morning. I also knew that Via Campesina and many of the more
militant European activsts were up at the front of the march preparing to
head the push through the police lines into the Bella Center, and that there
were hundreds of NGO and other delegates inside that were going to be
pushing out to meet us, but I couldn¹t see any of that. All I could see was
the band around me surrounded by the police, and all I could feel was the
pulsing of the samba music matching beats with the strong erratic stammering
of my heart. There seemed to be no Green Bloc, and no flood of Bella Center
attendees coming out to meet us.

A woman got on the mike and told us it was time for us to push for Climate
Justice, and that we were going to be moving slightly to the left and
forward, through the police lines. I tried to imagine this happening ­ both
to visualize our success, and to get a sense of what she meant. I imagined
people pushing through the lines of the cops and ducking under their arms as
I had in the march the other day, easily, like salmon flowing through the
rocks in the riverbeds as they move upstream.

Jason frowned, watching the cops, who had heard the woman and were now
moving to buffer the left side of the march in response. ³Why on earth are
they announcing it over the loud system?² he asked. ³That¹s no way to get
this done.²

I didn¹t understand, either, unless they simply thought that getting
everyone on the same page was worth a few extra cops in the way. Still, it
didn¹t really make sense. At these big events, our biggest assets are our
unpredictability and ability to move without waiting for commands, without
leaders, like swarming fish. But we weren¹t doing that ­ we were packing in
tightly, creating a wedge, and we were also announcing it to the police.

³Get ready ­ it¹s almost time!² the woman yelled. ³We¹re going to push!
Push! PUSH!²

I prepared myself to move forward, towards the gate ­ but suddenly, I wasn¹t
moving forward but to the left, very much to the left, propelled forward by
all of the people behind me. Jason was next to me. He grabbed my shoulder so
that we wouldn¹t be separated with an iron grip, and we both flowed forward
with the crowd, straight into the line of cops. My drum was crushed up
against me in the tide of people, and there were bodies up against me, too,
so much so that I knew it wouldn¹t be long before breathing became more
difficult. The pressure was like a birthing wave, the contraction that is
also the beginning of the opening. I knew that either the dam would burst or
that we¹d flow back again, flow open. It wasn¹t the kind of energy that
could be sustained.

And then there was a cry, and a surge, and a person was staggering backwards
while other people called all around, ³Make way! Make way!² Seconds later,
more people were staggering back against the crowd, closing their eyes or
covering them. A fine mist rose up from the front ranks where we intersected
with them. The cops were using pepper spray.

My heartrate went up again. I hate pepper spray, have hated it ever since I
first saw someone rolling around on the ground who¹d been hit in St. Paul.

The crowd surged forward again, threatening to pull Jason and I apart, but
he continued to grasp my jacket sleeve tightly. ³Don¹t fall!² he said.
³Watch your feet! I¹ve got you.²

Still the crowd pushed in on all sides, and the rim of my drum cut into my
leg. I raised it higher so that it would help create some space around me,
taking tiny little steps in order to keep my balance in the tumultuous surge
of people. The cops were still holding firm, and as we got closer, I could
see that they were pressed up against the trucks that had been behind them,
and that behind that, there was a fence. A line of cops, a line of police
trucks, and a fence. How on earth were we going to do this?

In fact, I realized, I couldn¹t do it. It simply was too much.

I leaned over to Jason and told him that this wasn¹t the place for me. He
nodded, ³This is where we are, though, so this is where I¹m staying,² he

It used to be that I absolutely couldn¹t leave Jason during these heated
moments. After the RNC, the idea of leaving him and having something happen
to him was too terrible. But just before coming here to Copenhagen, I had a
dream where an ancient grandmother came to me and told me that Jason and I
had important, yet separate, work to do here. Since then, I¹ve been much
more able to do what I need and let him have whatever experience he needs.

So, he let me go. Another pepper spray victim was weaving through the crowd,
and I took him by the shoulder and started yelling, ³Make way!² to help him
through, following him out as I did so.

I met up with some more sambatistas at the edge of the crowd, and from this
perspective, could see what was happening much better: those people at the
front, who had wanted to be in confrontational positions with the cops, were
coming up from the right to try and get in to the wedge, while the bulk of
the march continued to press in from the left. It was like two rivers
streaming into one dammed reservoir, filling it up with people. Still no
Green Bloc people, and no one from the inside, though cheers from that
direction told me that there were definitely people there trying to get out..

In the end, the police line held. The cops had locked the Bella Center gates
and refused to let the delegates walk out, at first threatening them with
arrest and then beating them when they still tried to get to us. The Green
Bloc people hadn¹t even gotten past the train station doors before getting
arrested. It was left to only us Blue Block people, and it simply didn¹t

The energy was quite intense still, and I had to fall back again, this time
wetly crossing one of the canals as the police kettled in the bulk of the
crowd. I couldn¹t leave Jason, though. We had set up an emergency meeting
point nearby, but even that seemed too far away. Instead, I simply waited at
the bank of the canal, moving from here to there any time the cops insisted
that I do so, but keeping my eye on what was going on the entire time.

After awhile it seemed safe enough to go join up again with the samba group
and Jason and Tom, who had never left. The People¹s Assembly ­ a meeting of
people from every continent ­ began, to discuss the issues of global warming
and the solutions that we desire. Slowly, the people from inside the Bella
Center who had wanted to come out started to join us, having taken a long
journey to a train station blocks away and walked over.

Because my feet had gotten wet in the canal crossing, however, I couldn¹t
stay long. I felt disheartened and disappointed, anyway: disheartened
because yet again I found that I wasn¹t able to stick it out when the going
got tough and disappointed because I had really, really wanted us to be able
to get through the gates and meet the people from inside. It felt like it
could have been a Rosa Parks kinda moment, one with that kind of historical
power. I wasn¹t able to see, in that moment, that had we actually gotten
into the Bella Center, things might have been much worse. The police never
would have let us stay there, and their determination to get us out might
have made things much more violent. At the very least, there would have been
no People¹s Assembly. Only a very significant, yet purely symbolic, act.

I went back to the hostel and took a "nap" that turned into an all-nighter.
I was exhausted, and I didn¹t know what to think anymore. All over the news,
the reports were claiming that the entire Copenhagen Climate Summit was
falling apart: not only the massive protests in and out, but also that the
head of the summit was resigning and more and more countries were walking
out and such. As sleep claimed me, my last thoughts were, ³Why on earth did
I come here again?²

Friday, December 18, 2009

Copenhagen Is Not Just About Climate Change

Copenhagen Is Not Just About Climate Change -- It's About the What Kind of People We Want to Be
By George Monbiot,
Posted on December 15, 2009

This is the moment at which we turn and face ourselves. Here, in the plastic corridors and crowded stalls, among impenetrable texts and withering procedures, humankind decides what it is and what it will become. It chooses whether to continue living as it has done, until it must make a wasteland of its home, or to stop and redefine itself. This is about much more than climate change. This is about us.

The meeting at Copenhagen confronts us with our primal tragedy. We are the universal ape, equipped with the ingenuity and aggression to bring down prey much larger than itself, break into new lands, roar its defiance of natural constraints. Now we find ourselves hedged in by the consequences of our nature, living meekly on this crowded planet for fear of provoking or damaging others. We have the hearts of lions and live the lives of clerks.

The summit’s premise is that the age of heroism is over. We have entered the age of accomodation. No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous. We may no longer live in the moment, as if there were no tomorrow.

This is a meeting about chemicals: the greenhouse gases insulating the atmosphere. But it is also a battle between two world views. The angry men who seek to derail this agreement, and all such limits on their self-fulfilment, have understood this better than we have. A new movement, most visible in North America and Australia, but now apparent everywhere, demands to trample on the lives of others as if this were a human right. It will not be constrained by taxes, gun laws, regulations, health and safety, especially environmental restraints. It knows that fossil fuels have granted the universal ape amplification beyond its Palaeolithic dreams. For a moment, a marvellous, frontier moment, they allowed us to live in blissful mindlessness.

The angry men know that this golden age has gone; but they cannot find the words for the constraints they hate. Clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged, they flail around, accusing those who would impede them of communism, fascism, religiosity, misanthropy, but knowing at heart that these restrictions are driven by something far more repulsive to the unrestrained man: the decencies we owe to other human beings.

I fear this chorus of bullies, but I also sympathise. I lead a mostly peaceful life, but my dreams are haunted by giant aurochs. All those of us whose blood still races are forced to sublimate, to fantasise. In daydreams and video games we find the lives that ecological limits and other people’s interests forbid us to live.

Humanity is no longer split between conservatives and liberals, reactionaries and progressives, though both sides are informed by the older politics. Today the battlelines are drawn between expanders and restrainers; those who believe that there should be no impediments, and those who believe that we must live within limits. The vicious battles we have seen so far between greens and climate change deniers, road safety campaigners and speed freaks, real grassroots groups and corporate-sponsored astroturfers are just the beginning. This war will become much uglier as people kick against the limits that decency demands.

So here we are, in the land of Beowulf’s heroics, lost in a fog of acronyms and euphemisms, parentheses and exemptions, the deathly diplomacy required to accommodate everyone’s demands. There is no space for heroism here; all passion and power breaks against the needs of others. This is how it should be, though every neurone revolts against it.

Although the delegates are waking up to the scale of their responsibility, I still believe that they will sell us out. Everyone wants his last adventure. Hardly anyone among the official parties can accept the implications of living within our means, of living with tomorrow in mind. There will, they tell themselves, always be another frontier, another means to escape our constraints, to dump our dissatisfactions on other places and other people. Hanging over everything discussed here is the theme that dare not speak its name, always present but never mentioned. Economic growth is the magic formula which allows our conflicts to remain unresolved.

While economies grow, social justice is unnecessary, as lives can be improved without redistribution. While economies grow, people need not confront their elites. While economies grow, we can keep buying our way out of trouble. But, like the bankers, we stave off trouble today only by multiplying it tomorrow. Through economic growth we are borrowing time at punitive rates of interest. It ensures that any cuts agreed at Copenhagen will eventually be outstripped. Even if we manage to prevent climate breakdown, growth means that it’s only a matter of time before we hit a new constraint, which demands a new global response: oil, water, phosphate, soil. We will lurch from crisis to existential crisis unless we address the underlying cause: perpetual growth cannot be accomodated on a finite planet.

For all their earnest self-restraint, the negotiators in the plastic city are still not serious, even about climate change. There’s another great unmentionable here: supply. Most of the nation states tussling at Copenhagen have two fossil fuel policies. One is to minimise demand, by encouraging us to reduce our consumption. The other is to maximise supply, by encouraging companies to extract as much from the ground as they can.

We know, from the papers published in Nature in April, that we can use a maximum of 60% of current reserves of coal, oil and gas if the average global temperature is not to rise by more than two degrees(1). We can burn much less if, as many poorer countries now insist, we seek to prevent the temperature from rising by more than 1.5C. We know that capture and storage will dispose of just a small fraction of the carbon in these fuels. There are two obvious conclusions: governments must decide which existing reserves of fossil fuel are to be left in the ground, and they must introduce a global moratorium on prospecting for new reserves. Neither of these proposals has even been mooted for discussion.

But somehow this first great global battle between expanders and restrainers must be won and then the battles that lie beyond it – rising consumption, corporate power, economic growth - must begin. If governments don’t show some resolve on climate change, the expanders will seize on the restrainers’ weakness. They will attack - using the same tactics of denial, obfuscation and appeals to self-interest - the other measures that protect people from each other, or which prevent the world’s ecosystems from being destroyed. There is no end to this fight, no line these people will not cross. They too are aware that this a battle to redefine humanity, and they wish to redefine it as a species even more rapacious than it is today.

George Monbiot is the author Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning . Read more of his writings at . This article originally appeared in the Guardian .

Hallie Boas
New Voices Coordinator
Global Justice Ecology Project- West Coast

+45 52728401 Copenhagen mobile
3-19 December 2009
+1 GMT (Central European Time)

Ecology Center
2530 San Pablo Avenue Suite F
Berkeley, CA 94702
+1.415.336.6590 work
+ mobile
Skype: hallieboas

Building local, national and international alliances with action to address the root causes of social injustice, economic domination and environmental destruction.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Close to 1000 arrested in Copenhagen: Lisa Fithian


Hey Folks many of you are sleeping right, but...

the police are really going for it.

Below is a ticker from that will give you a feel of the outrageous police action going on here - arrests are close to 1000 at this point and who knows how many more. Hundreds were arrested on the march, some at Christiania and more.

The CJA statement is first. I imagine a call to action will emerge soon!
I am alright as are the people I am with. Word is David Rovics is arrested!

Copenhagen police accused of violating human rights at UN climate summit
Posted on 12th December 2009

Danish police have indiscriminately arrested hundreds of climate justice activists during a climate change protest made up of 100,000 people that took place today in Copenhagen. Questions have been raised about the fact that the arrests occurred in a different time and place to where some trouble had momentarily flared earlier in the day. Journalists have been restricted from reporting at the site of the arrests since 1800hrs.
It’s estimated that 100 people are still being held on the road in extremely cold weather, cuffed and forced into seated positions in lines (1). They have expressed severe physical discomfort and have no access to water, medical attention or toilet facilities since 1530hrs. Many activists are reported to have urinated themselves while detained on the ground.

An estimated 200 have been removed from the site and taken away in coaches. Several people are reported to have fainted around 1945hrs.

Helga Matthiassen, who was detained for an hour before being released due to an injury she had recently sustained, said, “Of course we’re angry – people all over the world are angry about being lied to by governments who are making a corporate deal at the climate talks, and now when we try to protest against this on the streets we are randomly held by police.

“Not only have we been denied the right to protest, but our basic human rights have also been ignored in this ludicrous, staged police exercise. It seems Danish Police have a new motto: why just criminalise protesters, when you can dehumanise them too?” (2)


Contact: 0045 5066 9028 (International)
0045 4129 4994 (Danish)


December 12, 2009 23:54

#12dec09 Half of all Swedes are now released!
December 12, 2009 23:49

A source informs Modkraft that the people released from the climate prison are being taken by bus to Sjælør Station
December 12, 2009 23:43

According to the police barricades have been built and fires lid around in Copenhagen
December 12, 2009 23:30

Alternativeve media have published photos and videos from todays demonstrationapart from the ones on this site there are:video from indymedia italy from modkraft.dk
December 12, 2009 23:26

#12dec09 One third of all detainees Swedes have now been released. Solidaritetsgruppen (The Solidarity Group) urge all released to get in touch with them at number 0046760188650.
December 12, 2009 23:20

#cop15 : Reports from people recently released from Valby detention centre document inhumane conditions inside described as "just less than horrific". The cages have been overcrowded and full for several hours so police have been handcuffing people to benches in the corridor. Some people have spend 5 hours handcuffed to benches without food or water. Also access to toilet facilities has been denied and people have been forced to wet themselves. Others have fainted whilst handcuffed in the corridoor for hours. Volunteers from the people's kitchens asked to be able to provide food for the hundreds of prisoners, since the authorities seem incapeable of looking after them, but this was refused. #arrests
December 12, 2009 23:15

#cop15 prison solidarity anti- #arrestsThere were 5 vans outside Stoberiet on Blagardsplads, 1 is left. Police stopping and searching anyone coming and and they have sealed off the square.
December 12, 2009 23:10

The atmosphere have calmed down at the climate prison - the have asked the protestors to leave the area - apparently several protestors are headning back towards the Nørrebro neighbourhood
December 12, 2009 23:03

#12dec09 The demonstrations-organizations has strongly condemned the police mass arrests of 700 people. Lymmelpaketet have already shown how legally unjustified law it is.
December 12, 2009 22:55

#cop15 prison solidarity anti- #arrests protest being pushed away from detention centre by police.

December 12, 2009 22:54

#arrest Parents against police brutality are shocked by the information that police have arrested almost 1000 protestors.According to Jeanet Perit from Parents against police brutality it is deeply shocking that the police are after quantity rather than quality.We can not grasp such a number of arrests, I bellieve that there ought to be a clear reason in order for the police to arrest. One can only wonder why the police choose to arrest a big number of people for something only a minority might have committed says Jeanet Perit
December 12, 2009 22:52

#12dec09 People being released from climate-prison in Valby, and instead of being released outside, they are driven around and released outside of town at different stations, so people can't gathering again. The police also harass solidarity people who are waiting for the detainees outside the climate-prison.
December 12, 2009 22:50

Reports from #cop15 prison solidarity anti- #arrests protest say police now using vehicles to start blocking people in, although people can still leave.
December 12, 2009 22:49

#12dec09 Solidarity demonstration has been attacked by riot police and is currently surrounded. People can still leave the place in groups of two or three people.
December 12, 2009 22:42

The Police is gathering in a tunnel near Vigerslev station - the protestors has pulled a bit back the groups are 25 meters apart
December 12, 2009 22:37

People have braken the police blocks at the solidarity demonstration at the climate prison - 1 arrested.
December 12, 2009 22:33

The copenhagen police department infiorms in a press release that they have arrested 968 people during saturday climate protests.The 913 were arrested at the opereation at Amagerbrogade - additional 55 people have been arrested near Christiania
December 12, 2009 22:30

#cop15 Prison solidarity protest has been charged by riot police after they 'dissolved' the demo and is now surrounded. People can still leave in 2s or 3s. People chanting "Free all prisoners".
December 12, 2009 22:20

Police have blocked the path of the prison solidarity demonstration. Many police in riot gear.
December 12, 2009 22:19

The Police have blocked the road heading to the climate prison with 20 coppers and 4-5 vans.It appears like the demonstration is allowed to Vigerslev station 25 meters from the prison.According to the reporter from Modkraft - the short distance between the demonstration and the prison makes it possible for the arrested to hear the music from the demonstration

December 12, 2009 22:12

It is a violation of democratic rights that the police so many people for something that they have not done nor particiapting in. - Says the spokesperson of the solidarity initiative200 have arrived at the climate prison at Retorvej in Valby.There will be speaches & music a banner is seen "Free all political prisoners"
December 12, 2009 22:03

#12dec09 Around 200 people gathered at Toftegårdsplads in Valby in a solidarity demonstration for the innocent detainees.
December 12, 2009 22:02

The demonstraton towards the climate prison is moving - Italian & german rallying cries are heard
December 12, 2009 21:55

200 people are gathered at Tofgårds Plads in Valby in protest against todays mass arrests.At the Climate prison in Valby which can "hold" 350 prisoners in metal cages busses are with arrested people are arriving and departing.Two busses full of protestors have jsut arrived.
December 12, 2009 21:55

#arrests Around 250 people on prison solidarity anti-arrests protest moving along Vigerslev Alle.
December 12, 2009 21:41

Climata Justice Action(CJA) have released a press release calling todays mass arrests for crimiilastion of peacefull demonstraters.-"CJA seems todays act as a criminilastion of the climate protests, CJA bellieves that the police action is a clear overreaction from the police.Climate Justice Action are co-arrangers of todays clima demonstration.According to Mel Evans:This police action is a complete overeaction from the Police, and it appear like a clear criminalistion to arrest more than 700 random demonstraters at the biggest climate demonstration ever held.
December 12, 2009 21:35

#arrests Reports of around 200 people at prison solidarity anti-arrests demo by Valby detention centre.
December 12, 2009 21:35

#12dec09 Police have begun to release some of the detained activists.
December 12, 2009 21:15

#12dec09 Many of the arrested activists are still on the buses and will probably have to sit until they are released. The climate-jail in Valby is full.
December 12, 2009 20:25

#arrest The Police blocade on Amagerbrogade has been dissolved, all the arrested aer either in the climae prison in Valby or on their way there.


Dear ones,

Tomorrow, thousands of people will attempt to get inside the perimeter of Bella Center where the COP 15 is talking place outside. Hundreds more who are accreditid are expected to join us from the inside in order to hold a parallel process of a people's assembly.

They have been pre-emptively arresting people who have been public about all the actions that are being done by climate justice action. Lisa has been quite public and she is hoping to remain free! We would all like to ask for your support in advance for pressure should they arrest her..

Our small but mighty cluster here is asking for your magical support for protection and to hold the way open so we can reach and go past the crossroads. 15 years of the COP has delivered nothing. Now is the time for a new way, solving this crisis from below.

Tomorrow we reclaim power to manifest a new world. Please add your energy, we need all the help we can get!

much love,

Lisa, Tom, Riyana, and Jason


Hello friends,

Yes we are ok. I am feeling a bit battered this morning, from heavy lifting in the streets and having to dive out of the sound truck when the police attacked it. My intention was to stay free and was successful at that.

There is a group of people who were targetted for arrests - I am amazed that I was not grabbed in light of the public role I played, perhaps it was a web of protection surrounding me. thank you to all who held that vision.

There were also about 250 who were arrested, tear gassed pepper sprayed and beaten. I am sure some of you have seen the images.

It was an amazing day, from both the inside and the outside we did what we could to converge for our assembly. We did hold a beautiful one outside just as we had envisioned it and ended with a powerful march that ultimately took us through the city center past the giant inflated earth branded by Siemans.

On the whole - the Reclaim Power action, was historic with many lessons to be learned, but first we must get our friends out of jail and all those injured healed!

Hey friends,

We had a powerful day yesturday, a bit rough at times, but beautiful as well. On the whole very postive for us. thanks for all the support back home!

-----Forwarded Message-----
>From: kevin smith
>Sent: Dec 17, 2009 5:36 AM
>Subject: [climate09-int] great 10 min video about Recalim Power on the Guardian
>they've done a great job on getting a narrative on what happened and included a fair amount of messaging too