Friday, January 20, 2006

Free SPACE Interview with Rob About the SPACE

Revolver: Tell us a bit about the SPACE. What is it? Where is it? What will people be using it for?


Rob: The space (suburban project for autonomy community and equality) is an Infoshop (radical bookstore) and community space that is opening February 11th at 101 Turner ct in West Chicago. The space will be used for a wide variety of events for youth and the community. For the youth we will offer a space to organize, have shows, art galleries, poetry nights, and a safe environment to hangout. For the community we have a free store, areas for recyclying batteries, and cell phones. Mexico Solidarity Network has offered to give free ESL lessons, and workshops on globalization, and latino issues. We will be having workshops, skill shares, and movie nights. One member works for a non-for profit solar company and can help community members install panels This spring we plan on starting several campaigns, which are not finalized yet.


Rev: How did the idea for the SPACE come about?


Rob: The idea of the SPACE has existed for a long time. It was attempted in Aurora around 4 years ago, but never happened. The space was tried later 2 years ago again in aurora. Collective members who were in food not bombs wanted a space to operate out, and students from campus greens wanted to use the space for art and music. The collective lost the building it was wishing to rent when the landlord sold the building and the new landlord raised the rent. We started the project up again at the begging of August and chose West Chicago. One of my roommates was talking with a friend what he thought about the space. He said it was cool but why are they doing it out there? Chicago needs an info shop more than west Chicago. West Chicago was picked because four collective members have lived in west Chicago, and others have grown up in surrounding cities. We are angered by the conditions of apathy and lack of community, culture. We understand what the conditions are because We were raised in these communities and we feel connected to each other because we share similar, goals, desires and we have found strength in each other by understand what is lacking in our lives. We find the need for an infoshop and community space to be more personal. By understanding how issues such as corporate hegemony of culture, decentralized cities (everything is really spread out and poorly planned) affect our families, neighbors, friends, and people we have grown up with. West Chicago is also has a large working class and has large Latino population. Racism has increased in areas of large immigration. We wish to link the connection of corporate globalization, immigration, and unemployment to show that we are all working class people who want a better life for our families.

Unlike the city, the suburbs offer little activities for youth. Many youth become isolated and turn inward on them selves. The space will offer a place for the youth to express them selves and hopefully understand that by working together we can shape society how we see fit. For the rest of community, the issues are quit the same. Isolation, lack of culture, mutual aid, and cooperation is lacking.


Rev: When does the SPACE open and what will it’s hours be? Is there a websiteor e-mail for it?


Rob: The space will at first be open during the weekend and two days a week. Those days have not yet been determined.


DePaul’s Law School and the Iraq War

In the world of politics, names can be deceiving. Take the No Child Left Behind Act which cut funding for schools that need it most. There is the National Endowment for Democracy which helped orchestrate a failed coup against democratically elected President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez. The frosting on the cake however is the Department of Defense. You have to look past deceiving titles like “Operation Iraqi Freedom” to get to the real meat of the issues.

At DePaul Univeristy's Law School there is a group called the International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI). They have a program called “Raising the Bar: Legal Education Reform in Iraq. This program is funded by a several million dollar grant from the State Department's United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This reform project is intended to teach Iraqi lawyers, judges and law professors what they need to know to create a legal system modeled on the supposedly democratic US model.

On the surface the program looks like it is doing good and helping Iraqi's rebuild their country. IHRLI has brought Iraqi lawyers to visit the US and meet with judges and lawyers in Chicago. They have rebuilt the law library at Baghdad University. The director of the Institute, M. Cherif Bassiouni has even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in creating the International Criminal Court.

Underneath the surface there is a different story though. Originally “Raising the Bar” was to be directed by Feisal Istrabadi. Istrabadi is a member of a conservative group of Iraqi exiles that supported the US invasion of Iraq called the “Iraqi Forum for Democracy.” Istrabadi took a position in the puppet government instead though. For time under the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Istrabadi was Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, as appointed by the US.

It was during this time that he made a visit to DePaul. He gave a speech and when the time came for questions, one student asked Istrabadi, “You speak of democracy and elections in Iraq, but since Iraq has already taken out 11 million dollars in loans from the International Monetary Fund, what option will ordinary Iraqi's have at the ballot but US approved, pro-free trade, pro-sweatshop, pro-Washington Consensus candidates?”

Istrabadi replied, “I would hope that Iraq sees more of the Washington consensus.”

Directing the Clinical Education aspect of the “Raising the Bar” initiative is Haider Ala Hamoudi. Hamoudi has stated several times that he wishes to run a corporate law firm in Baghdad. Hamoudi has also said that he sees challenges in Iraqi law, like how being a capitalist and being able to own a company does not exist in Iraqi legal code. He used to work for the international corporate law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, which represented clients such as J.P. Morgan, AT&T, and Shell Oil. They were also involved in a representing “numerous engineering and construction claims against foreign sovereigns including Iraq.”

At a forum at DePaul IHRLI member Yaser Tabbara described how “Raising the Bar” was going to help Iraqi law professors learn about a number of topics including international human rights law, international business and trade law.

It seems upon closer inspection that IHRLI's project is concerned with making sure that Iraqi's accept corporate law. Even if individuals involved with IHRLI think they are promoting learning and cooperation between Iraqi's and American's, it must be kept in mind that the State Department and USAID would not give IHRLI millions of dollars unless “Raising the Bar” served the interests of the US. Even if some members of IHRLI are well intentioned and opposed the invasion, they are playing into the hands of the invading and occupying force and providing a liberal cover for a right wing campaign.

For example, one of IHRLI's other projects in Iraq is the collecting of personal experiences from victims of Saddam Hussein. What this project is desperately missing is for IHRLI to collect personal experiences from Iraqi's who have been victimized by the US invasion and occupation. It needs to interview the mother whose son was bombed, the prisoner who was tortured at Abu Ghraib, and the labor activist who was arrested for organizing a union. But IHRLI is not acting as a non-partisan human rights group, rather it is being funded by USAID and thus must act in accordance to with US goals in Iraq.

US puppet Feisal Istrabadi

In the US model of Iraq, they will need professors to teach corporate law to a new generation of law students. This educated elite of Iraqi law students will not fight for ordinary Iraqi's but will instead fight for the rights of multinational corporations to open up sweatshops in Iraq. They will be elected to public office, sign free trade agreements and privatize Iraq's major resources, like oil, selling them to the highest bidder. They will continue to enforce law 150 Saddam Hussein made in 1987 banning Unions among workers, a law that the US military occupation continues to enforce against groups like the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq. Since they took out loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, they will be indebted forced to implement Structural Adjustment Programs that drive poor countries even further into debt and makes the global rich even richer.

IHRLI is teaching Iraqi lawyers international human rights law to try Saddam for war crimes, but what about using that same law to try those in Washington who supplied Saddam with chemical weapons in the 1980's, who enforced the sanction on Iraq that killed over ½ million children, and who invaded Iraq killing upwards of 100,000. IHRLI's director, M. Cherif Bassiouni, could teach Iraqi's how to bring people like Bush Sr., Bush Jr., Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and even Saddam Hussein to the International Criminal Court. Unless IHRLI redefines it's mission in Iraq along these lines, it should immediately cease all operations in Iraq.







Sources:


Adcock, Thomas. “Associate Hopes to Start Law Firm in Iraq.” New York Law Journal. Oct. 10, 2003. News Page 16.


Bacon, David. “In Iraq, Labor Protest is a Crime.” CounterPunch. Aug. 2003.


Debevoise & Plimpton website. www.debevoise.com/about/about.asp and www.debevoise.com/practices/area.asp?areaid=17&groupid=2&langid=1


Goodman, Amy; Perkins, John. Democracy Now! Nov. 9, 2004. “Confessions of an Economic Hitman: How the US Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries out of Trillions.” www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/09/1526251


Gorner, Jerem. “DePaul Helps Form Middle Eastern Law.” The DePaulia. Oct. 10, 2003. Page 3.


Horan, Deborah. “DePaul Team Seeks Stories to Help Iraqi Victims of Hussein Heal.” Chicago Tribune. June 2, 2005. Section 2, page 2.


Horan, Deborah. “Iraqi's Learn Lessons of Law: DePaul Helps Legal Scholars with US System.” Chicago Tribune. Aug. 9, 2004. Section 2, page 1.


Klein, Naomi. “Baghdad Year Zero. Pillaging Iraq in Pursuit of a Neocon Utopia.” Harpers Magazine. Sept. 2004.


Muchowski, Matt. “Notes from Illinois Society for International Development's 'Focus on Development in Iraq: Legal Education Reform and Human Rights.'” June 8, 2004.


Muchowski, Matt. “Notes from the Chicago Humanities Festival's 'Government Panel: Iraq: Constituting a Nation.'” Nov. 13, 2004.


Roberts, Les; Lafta, Riyadh; Garfield, Richard; Khundhairi, Jamal; Burnham, Gilbert. “Mortality Before and After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Cluster Sample Survey.” The Lancet. Vol 364, Issue 9448. Nov. 20, 2004. Pages 1857-1864.


Smiley, Travis; Istrabadi, Feisal; Shallal, Anas. “Discussion on Iraqi American Views on the War in Iraq.” National Public Radio. April, 2, 2003.


United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund. “Iraq Shows Humanitarian Emergency.” Aug. 12, 1999. www.unicef.org/newsline/99pr/29.htm


Student Government Association endorses Coke boycott by Alejandro Acierto Senator to the School of Music Student Government Association

This was an article that my friend Alejandro Acierto wrote for Revolver and the DePaulia. Since it mentions that I wrote the boycott proposal, I decided to include it in my blog.
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After about two hours of debate and one ten minute recess, the Student Government Association passed a resolution to endorse the boycott of Coca-Cola products at last Sunday’s General Body Meeting. The resolution, written by Matt Muchowski, a senior political science major, and put for a vote by Senator at Large Andrea Craft, Junior Women and Gender Studies and Geography double major, was later amended by the General Body and passed with a vote of 8-4-5 (in favor-not in favor-abstain). The Student Government Association will join the collective voice of about forty other student organizations on campus and nineteen other universities and colleges around the nation, including NYU and U of M (who have most recently been added to the list). The call to boycott Coca-Cola products is part of an effort to put pressure on the multi-national corporation to participate in a third party investigation for allegations of human rights abuses and environmental concerns in several countries around the world, including Columbia, India, Turkey, and Indonesia.

For those who do not know, the issue was raised two years ago by the Activist Student Union (ASU) at DePaul, who has been actively working to boycott Coca-Cola products on DePaul’s campus. Over those past two years, Ben Meyer, former DePaul Student and an organizer of the campaign joined a commission formed by the Global Labor Relations representative from Coca-Cola, representatives from the University of California and University of Illinois school systems, DePaul University’s Tom Drexler, and student representatives from Indiana University, Hofstra University, U of Michigan, U of British Columbia, including a staff representative from United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), in an effort to organize an investigation of Coca-Cola’s business practices. But in mid-December 2005, after the commission sent a letter “seeking final clarification regarding whether the Coca-Cola Company and FEMSA are prepared to cooperate with the assessment plan developed over the past 6 months”, Coca-Cola replied that “they had reached an ‘impasse’ with the commission and wanted to explore other options”, according to Muchowski.

According to Meyer, this is not the first time that Coca-Cola has refused to work with the commission. Originally, the commission had scheduled a deadline for an independent investigation to begin in Colombia by September 19th, 2005, to be completed before the calendar year, but the bottling plant in Columbia, KOFEMSA, would not sign-off on the investigation methodology until an inadmissibility agreement was signed, and thus would not allow for an investigation in September. By mid-October, Coca-Cola Atlanta and KOFEMSA were sent a final version of the methodology and were asked if they would cooperate with the investigation that the commission had discussed. Both companies responded with a series of concerns and edits to the proposal and further delayed an investigation to begin. According to Meyer, due to a lack of establishing meaningful boundaries and deadlines for Coca-Cola by the commission, four students, including Meyer, and the staff person from USAS resigned from the commission.

Despite this, ASU and several other student groups around campus have continued to organize the boycott against Coca-Cola. In an effort to support other organizations, ASU has provided (and will continue to provide) student organizations with beverage alternatives for their events. In addition, ASU asks all students to visit www.killercoke.org and voice their opinion to the head of DePaul’s Fair Business Practices Committee, Tom Drexler at tdrexler@depaul.edu and the President of DePaul University, Father Holtschneider at president@depaul.edu.



Travels in Colombia

We were driving in a jeep through the jungle in Arauca, a war torn and oil rich department on th eastern part of Colombia that borders Venezuela. The Colombian army had a number of checkpoints, every hour or so we had to stop, and have our car searched by soldiers who were on the lookout for leftist guerrilla’s from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia: People’s Army (FARC-EP) or the National Liberation Front (ELN). At one of them we noticed something strange on the hand of one of the soldiers. He had asked us to bum a cigarette, and when one of our crew gave him one, we saw what was tattooed on this soldiers hand. This soldier, a Mestizo, had a swastika tattoo.

We meet with SINALTRAINAL leaders.

It’s soldiers like him that are enforcing the policies that originate in Washington. This is where our tax dollars go. Amnesty International reports that government forces work with right-wing paramilitary groups and routinely violate human rights. Despite this, Colombia is the third largest recipient of US foreign military aid, after Israel and Egypt through

a package called Plan Colombia.

Being a middle class white kid of Polish and British Canadian descent raised in the suburbs of Chicago, I wasn’t necessarily going to care about Colombia. I became interested in politics though, on how those in power of government and corporations abuse their authority. I got involved in anti-war activity, protesting the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. I did a lot of pro-union and anti-sweatshop work.

I was aware of the situation in Colombia of the 40 year old civil war pitting leftist guerrilla’s against the government and right-wing paramilitaries like the AUC. I was critical of the US intervention there, but didn’t get involved until I heard Luis Adolfo speak at DePaul. Adolfo was a member of SINALTRAINAL, the food and beverage workers union of Colombia. He worked at a Coca-Cola bottling plant where the management was getting sick and tired of dealing with an organized workforce that made demands like better health care and a living wage. In order to maintain the sweatshops conditions, the management of the plant worked with paramilitary forces to intimidate workers.

In one case, Isidro Gill, the union’s negotiator, was murdered in front of the rest of the employees of the plant. The other employees were given a contract that said they would be leaving the union. They were told if they didn’t sign that piece of paper, they would meet the same fate.

Adolfo was kidnapped by paramilitary forces, but heroically escaped and managed to be granted political asylum here in Chicago with his family. This means that the Department of Homeland Security looked into what he said happened to him, and found it valid enough to grant him asylum.

Several student groups here at DePaul started supporting the boycott against Coca-Cola soon after that.

One of the groups I was in, the Activist Student Union, worked with a groups called the Colombia Action Network. CAN was organizing a delegation to Colombia for two weeks in the summer of 2004 and wanted to have several students go with it. Since I was so involved in the boycott campaign at DePaul, they asked me if I wanted to go.

Of course I did! After a few fund raisers I was ready to go with the delegation to our first destination: Bogota.

* * *

The first thing you notice driving away from Bogotá's airport is two giant statues of Ferdinand and Isabella. Monarchs of Spain when the conquest of Colombia began. That history of colonialism was cast off by Simon Bolivar, a national hero in Colombia, respected by all. The second major thing you notice on the road coming from the airport to downtown is the walled entrance to a park. These walls are covered with leftist graffiti. All the different tendencies are represented, with graffiti that says, “Viva la FARC” “No ALCA” There were circle A’s for anarchist and hammers and sickles for communists.

While we were there we met with a number of groups fighting for a progressive Colombia. We met with Human Rights Groups, trade unions, peasant organizations, and even the president of the Communist Party of Colombia (PCC).

The Human rights groups we met with told our delegation of six a lot about how much the government and paramilitaries collaborate and attack dissidents. We were told about the history of groups like the Patriotic Union. The Patriotic Union was an attempt to peacefully end the civil war by allowing the guerrilla’s to form a political party with the PCC and other left wing groups. The Patriotic Union ran in several elections and received large voter turnout in support of them. However the paramilitary groups assassinated thousands of candidates.

We were also told about how the AUC will often times take control of a city and begin passing out fliers of the laws the AUC will enforce. The AUC has a policy against homosexuals, to the point where “any man caught acting like a woman on two occasions will be killed.” One of the people on our delegation and myself saw this first hand when we saw a flier in Bogotá calling for a rally against homosexuality that had a swastika superimposed on it.

We met with a number of different trade unions. On our first day we met with the leaders of the Workers Union of Colombia (CUT). They told us how they considered the government of President Uribe to be fascist. They also described how Colombia was under the influence of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other’s with neo-liberal dreams of privatization and corporate control. They told us how the governments shadow war against union members took the lives of about 3 union members every week. Just the day before we met them, they received a phone call about how one of their unions members was murdered.

We also met with leaders from SINALTRAINAL, this was especially interesting since we had so many questions about what we could do in the US to help them in the boycott against Coca-Cola.

We met with the teachers union of Colombia. They have the highest rate of assassinations out of any of the unions in Colombia. Which makes sense since teachers educate the next generation of a nation. Whenever a teacher educates students to question society or to read a banned book, they become a target of the army and the AUC.

The union we spent the most time with was the Oil Workers Union (USO). Colombia is a very oil rich country, so when the oil workers get organized, they can bring the government to it’s knees. A year before we arrived, USO had gone on strike to protest work conditions and what they saw as the future privatization of the state run oil company ecopetrol. President Uribe went on television and called USO terrorists for their act.

* * *

We were in three major areas of the country. Bogotá, which is in the center of the country, high on a plateau so it was cool year round. Then we traveled to the Rio Magdelena Valley area and later to Arauca. In the Rio Magdelena Valley we spent some time in Barrancabermeja. Barrancabermeja is a major center of the oil i

This Banner reads: 1964-2004: 40 years of Struggle and combat of the National Liberation Army. Not one Step Back, Liberation or Death. The Eastern Front of War.

ndustry in Colombia, with an oil refinery the size of the rest of the city. While we were there we saw a giant statue called “Petrol Christo” or “Oil Christ.” It is a statue of Christ with his arms spread out, but it’s made entirely out of oil refinery parts.

We then traveled deep into the valley. We went on dirt roads, through rivers, and up mountains to meet with several peasant organizations. At one point, standing in a small town, a peasant pointed at two mountains maybe a mile away. He told us that behind them, there was a gun battle going on right then between guerrilla’s and the army.

These groups told us how hard it was to scrap a living by. Because of various free trade agreements, US subsidized agriculture has flooded the Colombian market and these farmers can’t sell their normal crops for a livable price. So they are forced to grow cocoa for the cocaine trade. We met a little child who was maybe 10 years old who worked on his neighbors farm picking cocoa. He told us how he preferred to be in school, that his favorite subject was writing, but that he needed the money to help support his family.

The US and Colombian governments use the cocaine trade as an excuse for their military engagements in the region. But every peasant we spoke to told us how they didn’t want to grow cocoa for cocaine, maybe a little bit for herbal tea. They told us that if the US and Colombian governments really wanted to eradicate Cocaine, they would have to treat addicts in the US and give peasants in Colombia a real alternative.

However the US is trying to get more free trade agreements with Colombia. Such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (ALCA) and the Andean Free Trade Agreement (TLC).

We then traveled to Arauca. Arauca was the most militarized zone we visited. When I tell Colombians in the US I visited Arauca, they are often impressed that I would go into such a dangerous department. We first met with a general of the Colombian Army, General Matamoros in order to gain permission to travel unimpeded in Arauca. This was one of the scariest meetings of my life.

This general freely admitted to us that he was trained at the School of the Americas. The SOA is a military training school where the US trains Latin-American soldiers on how to destroy social movements. Among the curriculum is torture, and assassination of priests, while the graduates have gone on to be among the worst human rights violators in Latin-America. The General told us how he viewed human rights groups as just as bad as terrorists and how he wanted to treat them the same way. Ultimately we were granted permission to travel in Arauca, but I was disturbed the rest of the trip by our meeting with General Matamoros.

In Matamoros’ office, we noticed that the few women there were in menial positions such as secretaries. This highlighted the role of women in Colombian society. The government is deeply conservative and patriarchal, it allows prostitution to be legal, but abortion is not. The guerrilla’s place a much bigger emphasis on women’s empowerment than the government does. A third of the leadership of the guerrilla’s are women, and women are often the front line fighters for the FARC or ELN. While the only time we saw military women in the regular army was as secretaries.

Perhaps the Reason why Arauca is such a war torn region, is because of the vast oil resources there. This was the region where the American oil company Occidental attempted to build a pipeline through indigenous U’Wa terrirory.

While in Arauca we visited Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo was a peaceful town which several years earlier had bee

JUCO poses with us in Che Plaza at the National University in Bogota

n bombed by the Colombian air force. We talked to residents to told us how they waved white flags, but the air force still bombed the town, killing several children. Then the government tried to say that it was really a car bomb that the guerrilla’s left. However the people of Santo Domingo took the government to court and won, proving that the government bombed innocent civilians.

We also visited the town of Flor Amarillo, where the community told us about how paramilitary forces had attacked them only a few weeks before we got there. The paramilitary groups rounded up the village, and told them to not support the guerrilla’s. Then the paramilitaries kidnapped several people, including a 16 year old child. The bodies were found in the local school house.

We had several hours before our plane left from Arauca to Bogota, so we took the opportunity to travel to Venezuela and pay homage to the Bolivarian revolution currently taking place under President Hugo Chavez.

In Bogota we met with some of the leaders of the legal and electoral Communist Party of Colombia. They told us about how they hoped to build enough support among the people of Colombia to be elected, and to begin peace negotiations with the guerrilla’s, end the way the World Bank and IMF control Colombia through debt and Structural Adjustment Programs, and to build a fair and democratic economy for all Colombians. However the history of the Patriotic Union hung over their efforts, as they we often targets of paramilitary violence.

We then got to what I felt was one of the most exciting events of the trip. We met several students with The Communist Youth (JUCO). They gave us a tour of the campus of the National University in Bogota. The history on that campus was incredible. They had Red October Square, named after a student demonstration in the 1950’s protesting the assassination of a leftist economics professor, the police opened fire and killed several students. They had murals and graffiti all over the campus honoring different leftist groups or people. The sociology department there was founded by Father Camillo Torres, a Catholic Priest who believed in liberation theology. Torres went on to start one of the Guerrilla groups, the ELN. We all had our picture taken at Che Plaza.

Coming back to the US was a shock. We had to adjust to superficial people, neon lights, and commercials everywhere you turn. On the plus side, there weren’t army troops stationed outside shopping malls like there were in Bogota, but with the war on terror stripping away our civil liberties, and creating a more militarized society, who knows where we might be in a few years.

You can support Colombia by boycotting coca-cola! Use the Anti-coke fund the activist student union will provide alternative drinks to your student groups event for free. Just e-mail asu_depaul@yahoo.com with the info. Wear a boycott killer cola button.

E-mail these people and encourage them to cut DePaul’s contract with Coke:

president@depaul.edu, sscarbor@depaul.edu, depauliaopinion@depaul.edu, tdrexler@depaul.edu, wthomps2@depaul.edu


Also visit www.killercoke.org www.colombiaactionnetwork.org condor.depaul.edu/~asu and www.studentsagainstsweatshops.org


I Was Arrested For Swearing at Da Mare or How Columbus Continues To Be a Force of Destruction

In 1492, an Italian explorer in the service of Spain landed in North America. According to his own journals he enslaved members of the Arawak and forced them to work so hard in servitude, that even gracious biographers have to confess he committed genocide. One practice this man and his men used was to tell the Arawaks that every Arawak over 14 had to collect a certain amount of gold on an island almost devoid of gold. Those who collected the gold would be given a bronze token to wear. Those found without a token had their hands chopped off until they bled to death. The man behind this cruelty was Christopher Columbus.

Every year in early October, the political and economic elite of this country feel it necessary to celebrate this mass murder’s legacy. This history takes a particularly interesting turn in Chicago. The Columbus day parade starts at the intersection of Columbus and Balbo.

Italo Balbo was a member of the Fascist party of Italy and the general of Mussolini’s air force. Balbo was the head of a militia which murdered striking workers and assassinated anti-fascist priests. Balbo visited Chicago in 1933, before the US entered the Second World War. He was hailed by politicians and business leaders. President Roosevelt gave Balbo an award, while Chicago named a street after him. Balbo donated a roman Column to Chicago. It stands today just east of Soldier Field, with a plaque that reads, “This column Twenty Centuries old . . . Fascist Italy with the sponsorship of Benito Mussolini presents to Chicago . . . in Honor of the Atlantic squadron led by Balbo which with Roman daring flew across the Ocean in the eleventh year of the Fascist era.”

Taking influence from protests around the world against Columbus day, including a protest in Venezuela which toppled a statue of Columbus, and one a year ago in Colorado which managed to disrupt and stop the parade, several activists gathered to protest the celebration of Columbus the genocidal maniac.

We gathered early in the morning and used markers to make several signs. One read “Celebrate resistance, not genocide”, another said “What’s next: Hitler Day?” while another read “Columbus was a mass murderer.” We had several positive responses from the crowd before we saw the beginning of the parade march past us on Columbus ave. As fate would have it, none other but Major Daley was leading the parade.

We mirrored the parades march north from the sidewalk, shouting our concerns to ‘da mare’. “Stop gentrifying Pilsen and Cabrini Green!” “Why do you celebrate a mass murderer like Columbus?” “No navy academy at SENN High School!” “Free Aarron Patterson!” “Arrest police Chief Burge for torturing prisoners!” “US out of Iraq” “CPD out of our neighborhoods!” “Columbus was a killer!”

Then I shouted, “Hey Daley, why don’t you rename Balbo st. after someone who’s not a fucking fascist!”

Almost immediately a police Lieutenant on a Segway pushed me, started shouting at me and ordered one of his underlings to handcuff me. They walked me to a nearby cop car. The Lieutenant asked me “Why did you use that language? In front of children to!”

I responded, “Why do you teach children that a mass murdered like Columbus is a hero?”

There were two different cops in the police car I was stuffed in. These two cops heard why I was being detained and started joking as they drove me to the police station on State st. “Swearing at da fuckin’ mare? That’s not a fucking crime. What da fuck, that’s the fuckin’ first amendment.” As they led me into the station, they seemed baffled as to what they could actually charge me with.

They eventually wrote me a ticket for violating the peace. Technically I wasn’t arrested, I was simply detained. They didn’t take my mugshot or fingerprints or anything. I was out in under two hours. I hopped on a bus and ran back to support the rest of the protest against Columbus day.

By the time I made it back to Buckingham fountain, the parade was over, but a group of Aztec dancers was performing a dance against the celebration of genocide. They had brought their children, who had the day off, to the protest as well. There was something powerful about the ceremony. The contrast was stark when we went from looking east at the lake, to looking west towards downtown. Downtown with it’s prisons and stock exchanges and banks and it’s millions of ways to sell our bodies and time all so those at the top can get richer.

I swore there that I would fight the ticket. I was concerned that letting them walk all over me would deal a blow to free speech and it would be one more blow against anti-war demonstrators who want to march down Michigan ave, or activists at next years Columbus day protest.

I went home and started talking to legal minded friends of mine, as well as looking up what I was charged with. I

Balbo the Fascist

was given a charge that amounted to less than

a parking ticket. As I talked to some lawyers with the National Lawyers Guild, they told me that the city gives tickets like this out to left wing activists to intimidate us from demonstrating. The infuriating thing about the tickets was that they were handled by an administrative court which according my friends, was a “kangaroo court” with no chance to win there. Your only chance of winning was to spend $250 to file an appeal. This would cost more than any possible fine.

The code I was being charged with violating said that a person would be in violation of it if they were saying something which created a situation in which violence was imminent. That kind of gives the police of lot of leeway, especially since in this case there was no violence or threat of it until the police started pushing me. Besides, I didn’t say anything threatening, I suggested the major rename a street. It’s not like I marched through downtown proclaiming a mass murderer a hero. Personally I think that leading that parade was far more threatening to Latino’s and indigenous people than any act I’ve ever committed.

Some counter that by saying that the holiday isn’t so much about celebrating Columbus as much as it is about Italian Pride. Italians can have pride, but Columbus is not worth being proud of. I mean, do German’s have a Hitler day? Why can’t Italians celebrate someone like Errico Malatesta, the Anarchist Guerrilla who fought fascists in Italy? Or what about Antonio Gramsci, the Communist educator who revolutionized pedagogy?

A friend of mine told me about a Supreme Court case in the 70’s called Cohen V. California. In this case, Cohen was arrested by the state of California for wearing a t-shirt that read “Fuck the Draft” and charged with obscenity. He challenged the law, and the Supreme Court ruled that using words like fuck were constitutionally protected as long as those words were used to make a statement regarding an important social issue. I was prepared to argue that my use of the word fuck was entirely constitutional.

It turns out I didn’t have to. I recruited DePaul Law School Graduate Rob Luderman from the National Lawyers Guild. By the time I made it to court, he had already got the state to drop all charges. I considered it a great victory, not only for myself, but for all those who oppose imperialism and fascism.

Columbus stands for so much more than the actions of his own life. He has become a symbol for America’s history of conquest, slavery, genocide, theft, invasion, and in my case, suppression of free speech and civil liberties. I’ll be out there next Columbus day to take another stand, won’t you join me?

FBI Makes Move on DePaul

Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Jen Rettig, a member of the Chicago Terrorism Task Force, recently contacted a DePaul student, asking the student to infiltrate “animal rights groups” and report on their activities to the FBI. The Student stated that after her parents told her it would be akin to snitching, she declined. Rettig’s sister is a professor at DePaul.

The FBI has declared all out war on animal rights and environmental groups, declaring such non-violent groups as the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, “the number one domestic terrorist threat to the United States.” Recently informants helped the FBI raid several progressive spaces and arrest suspected ELF activists.

This also comes as President Bush is forced to admit that he had the National Security Administration illegally spy on American citizens without obtaining warrants.

We would like to remind everyone of their rights. If you are approached by an FBI agent, you do not have to talk to them. You can simply say, “I have nothing to say to you and would like to speak to a lawyer.” Get their contact information if you can, but do not give them yours.

Remember, snitching is never acceptable. The FBI has murdered scores of innocent people and gotten away with it, among them members of the Black Panther Party and American Indian Movement.

Ward Churchill Event at DePaul Had Bombs Threat Made Against It DePaul Refuses To Press Charges Against Threat Maker

As word of Professor Churchill’s appearance at DePaul spread, right-wing anti-Churchill fascists organized to prevent Churchill from speaking. Bill Owens, the Governor of Colorado, wrote to the University, asking them to not host

Churchill because Churchill’s views were “not simply anti-American- they are at odds with simple decency and antagonistic to the beliefs and conduct of civilized people

around the world.” One almost wonders if Owens

intended to be so blatantly racist, calling a Native American uncivilized and the little Eichmann's of the world civilized. Owens is doing all in his power to have Churchill fired at the University of Colorado as well.

DePaul republican Nick Hahn shouted at Dr. Harvette Grey of the Cultural Center, and was consequently banned from the Cultural Center.

Anti-Churchill demonstrators were met by pro-Churchill demonstrators on the day of Churchill’s appearance.

But the lowest the right-wings sank to prevent Churchill from lecturing, was when one of them called the University and said DePaul’s student center might be bombed if it held the Churchill rally. This was a bomb threat, plain and simple.




I originally heard about this from an official in Student Government. After several weeks and no mention of the incident in the DePaulia, no DePaul security notices, and no word of the threat against DePaul students, I went to get some answers from Bob Wachowski, the director of DePaul’s Public Safety.

According to Wachowski, after the bomb threat was made, public safety called the Chicago Police Department. The CPD had a heavy presence at the student center on the day of the lecture. The CPD did a search of the Student Center and found no evidence of a bomb so they didn’t evacuate. Which is fair enough, because we didn’t want the event to be canceled if there was no evidence of a real threat to students safety.

But the real question is, why not let the student body know about the bomb threat afterwards? Wachowski seemed to think that it wasn’t necessary since in his view the threat was not credible and DePaul security didn’t want to cause a panic.

This doesn’t make sense because students lives were threatened and have a right to know. DePaul security makes sure we know about every single mugging that happens. How many times have you seen a security alert telling you to be on the look out for a black or latino man because they stole $20 from someone. These create a racist atmosphere, especially since threats directed against a Native American guest who was invited here by the Cultural Center are not treated with the same importance.

Wachowski told me that since the CPD traced the call to a right-winger in Texas, the threat was not considered credible as he could not bomb the school from Texas. This should be considered a ridiculous rationalization. Even if the threat maker was in another state, he could have been working with a group like Protest Warrior or the DePaul Republicans. They could have done this person’s bidding and planted a bomb in the student center. When Bin Laden makes a threat from a cave in Pakistan, the Chicago police take that seriously, why not take this just as serious? Some right wingers might say that’s because Bin Laden is a terrorist who uses violence all the time. Well some of these right wingers in Protest Warrior have a history of violence as well. Many of them spent time in the army where t hey learned how to make explosives. Where do you think Timothy McVeigh learned how to make explosives?

As for prosecuting the threat maker, Wachowski claimed that DePaul was willing and fully prepared to. However they let the CPD do their investigation. The CPD found out who made the threat and decided that they didn’t have enough of a case to prosecute him. DePaul then is doing nothing.

I asked Wachowski if DePaul always follow the states and the CPD’s recommendations on who to arrest and prosecute. Wachowski said they did. So then I asked about Wachowski about Giuseppe’s arrest, and how the arresting officer pleaded with DePaul security not to arrest Giuseppe. Wachowski said he couldn’t comment on Giuseppe’s case. (For more on Giuseppe read Raechel’s article in this issue of Revolver.)

Wachowski said it was possible that DePaul could file a civil suit, but it would cost money and resources that might not return.

DePaul Students Against the War and the Activist Student Union demand either a criminal or a civil suit against the bomb threat maker, an end to the racist harassment of the cultural center and Ward Churchill and hands off Giuseppe!

We would also like to commend the Cultural Center for going through with event, they have immense courage, and should be respected for all they do for the DePaul community.

Ward Churchill Speaks at DePaul

On October 30th, 2005 DePaul was lucky enough to have activist, author and scholar Professor Ward Churchill appear and speak to a packed audience. Unfortunately, due to an inability to reserve a larger room, Churchill’s speech was held in the tiny room 314b of the student center, which only held 100 people who had RSVPed with the Cultural Center. It was the cultural center which had invited him to speak. Churchill had spoke at DePaul courtesy of the Cultural Center back in 1999. So when the recent controversy over his writings erupted in Spring of 2005, the Cultural Center was quick to offer support and invite Churchill to speak at DePaul.

Churchill is a Professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He has been involved with the American Indian Movement, and led a protest of the Columbus day parade that managed to disrupt the celebration of Columbus the mass murderer. He has written a number of books about the US governments genocide against native peoples, the FBI’s secret war against the Black Panthers and other topics. He came under fire from conservatives last spring for an article he wrote about the September 11th attacks entitled, “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.” In this essay, Churchill pointed out that while there were innocent people who died on 9/11, janitors, firemen and secretary's for example, there were also bureaucrats who profited off of the destruction of the “third world.” Churchill termed these stock traders, Leo's and military commanders “little Eichmann's” a reference to the Nazi war criminal who despite being a rather quiet desk job type of person, masterminded the Nazi’s “final solution.” Churchill also had the audacity to point out that the US commits 9/11 style terrorism everyday, and that the justification the Pentagon uses for it is strikingly similar to the justification used by Al Qaeda for the 9/11 attacks.

The topic of the speaker’s series which the Cultural Center was hosting was “Invisible Men.” In his appearance at DePaul, Churchill spoke mostly on his 9/11 essay and the allegations that he was not Native American.

Churchill was introduced by Dr. Harvette Grey, the Director of the Cultural Center. He opened by stating, “Greetings from the Republican Party of Boulder Colorado, of which I am a member of.” He continued to explain how he was an old school republican who believed in the constitution, not to be confused with the newer republicans whom he termed fascists.

On 9/11 he mostly reiterated the points in his essay, which is reprinted in this issue of Revolver. He pointed out how under the Clinton administration over 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the UN sanctions on Iraq. The UN administrator of the sanctions resigned, calling it a policy of genocide. What was the general US publics reaction though? A yawn. Churchill said that this was as invisible as you could get.

On the allegations that he was not Native American, Churchill pointed out the history of race lineage in the US. How a person with one drop of black blood was often considered to be black. However his own lineage was approximately 1/16th Native American, somehow the white power structure can make up rules to discredit him, and say he’s not Indian enough. In other words, the conservative power elite can make up their own rules on who’s what in order to maintain their dominance over all. Churchill continued to point out how difficult it is for many Native Americans to prove their ancestry because of a lack of written records. He said that his tradition was oral, and that it was the western colonizers tradition to keep birth records and such. He also said that his family and his community raised him as a Native American and considered him Native American so, “No punk white kid from the post office is going to tell me who I am.”

The question and answer session had Churchill answer questions on whether or not his definition of values included support for Gays and Lesbians, to which he replied “Is there something about me that makes you think I’m a fundamentalist?” He also suggested that if the founding fathers were doing today what they did in their own time, they would be branded terrorists and sent to Guatanamo Bay.

Chur chill appearance was short, only an hour. He mentioned that the topics he touched on could be turned into a whole class, to which this author suggested, “Come teach at DePaul.” Professor Churchill is a courageous person who progressives and radicals should continue to support against the right wingers who wish to curtail academic freedom.

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