Canada: More than 250 arrested in Montreal anti-police brutality protest

More than 250 arrested in Montreal anti-police brutality protest – Montreal – CBC News.

Mar 15, 2013

The 17th annual protest against police brutality wrapped up in Montreal with more than 250 people arrested and taken away on city buses and in police vehicles.

According to Montreal police, the majority of people were arrested under municipal bylaw P-6, which makes it illegal to cover one’s face while taking part in a protest and for failing to provide authorities with an itinerary.

In a tweet, authorities also said some people were arrested for breach of peace.

At least 150 people left the protest with a $637 fine because of their participation in the illegal event.

Though Montreal police have not yet confirmed the exact number of arrests, authorities were seen verifying the identities of about 100 people gathered on the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Sainte-Élisabeth streets.

Police officers also rounded up several groups and proceeded with mass arrests throughout the duration of the march.

Most of those taking part had formed smaller groups following police orders to disperse after the protest was declared illegal because organizers had failed to provide authorities with an itinerary.

Protesters had first gathered on the corner of Saint-Urbain and Ontario streets near police headquarters around 4 p.m., where they were met by groups of police officers who tried to get them to disperse.

2 officers taken to hospital

Two police officers were taken to hospital, according to Montreal police spokesman Laurent Gingras.

One of the officers had two broken teeth and another felt unwell.

Anticipating the worst, police say

Montreal police had been preparing for the worst in anticipation of the march. “We’re hoping for the best, but we’re getting ready for the worst,” said Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière earlier today.

The demonstrations, which have been held in Montreal every March for the past 16 years, are meant to support International Day Against Police Brutality, but have been known to end with violence and mass arrests.

Last year’s march saw 226 arrests.

Lafrenière said the reason for violence in recent years is partly due to fewer activists and more troublemakers hitting the streets.

“It looks like a sport now. Some people are coming to different protests because they want to have a good time,” he said.

Police took extra steps on Friday morning to warn the public, handing out flyers at downtown businesses and metro stations.

Authorities warned that large crowds could create issues for public transit, especially during the evening rush hour.

Canada: 4 Police Officers Lose It and Brutally Beat Down Surrendering Suspect / 3 min video

4 Police Officers Loses It & Brutally Beats Down Suspect Instead of Making Arrest_ Police Brutality – YouTube.

Feb. 11, 2013

Via CBC:

Four police officers suspended in Trois-Rivières – Montreal – CBC News.

Four police officers from Trois-Rivières have been suspended with pay over possible misconduct, CBC Radio-Canada has learned.

The suspensions follows an incident during their arrest of an individual suspected of robbery last week.

The officers had been called to a suspected robbery at a pharmacy in the Normanville district of Trois-Rivières early Friday morning.

The four officers then chased a suspect to an area near the Trois-Rivières CÉGEP.

It was what happened during the arrest that has brought the officers’ conduct into question.

Trois-Rivières city spokesman, Yvan Toutant, would not confirm what the police are suspected of doing.

He said police officials received information about the arrest which is not consistent with the police report.


_

In other words, the cops lied. Thankfully, it was all caught on camera.

Chris runs the website InformationLiberation.com, you can read more of his writings here. Follow infolib on twitter here.


RCMP accused of frequent abuse of B.C. aboriginals

RCMP accused of frequent abuse of B.C. aboriginals – British Columbia – CBC News.

Human Rights Watch report contains allegations of brutality, rape, threats

The report recounts many allegations of brutality and abuse, but also explicitly says most members serve honourably and are ready to put their lives on the line for their communities.

CBC News

Posted: Feb 13

The report recounts many allegations of brutality and abuse, but also explicitly says most members serve honourably and are ready to put their lives on the line for their communities. The report recounts many allegations of brutality and abuse, but also explicitly says most members serve honourably and are ready to put their lives on the line for their communities. (CBC)

An international human rights organization is calling on the federal government to launch a national inquiry into claims from aboriginal women of abuse and threats by RCMP officers in northern British Columbia.

Human Rights Watch, known for bringing worldwide attention to victims of torture and abuse in places like Syria and Burma, says the eyes of the world should also be on northern B.C.

Two researchers — one from Canada and one from the U.S. — spent more than a month last summer in the province’s north, visiting ten communities between Prince George to Prince Rupert and hearing accounts from aboriginal women of alleged mistreatment at the hands of police.

The researchers interviewed 50 aboriginal women and girls, plus family members and service providers.

They heard stories of police pepper-spraying and using Tasers on young aboriginal girls, and of women being strip-searched by male officers, said the New York-based researcher, Meghan Rhoad.

“It was very moving to sit across from these women and girls and hear them tell their stories,” Rhoad told CBC News.

Woman claims life threatened

The report suggests some of the accounts of harm done to women and girls appear to be the result of poor policing tactics, over aggressive policing and insensitivity to victims.

Human Rights watch documented eight incidents of police physically assaulting or using “questionable” force against girls under 18.

The report also contains troubling and graphic allegations of physical and sexual abuse, including from a woman, identified as homeless, who describes how police took her outside of town and raped her.

Rhoad said the woman told her the officers then, “threatened that if I told anybody they would take me out to the mountains and kill me and make it look like an accident.”

Highway of Tears

The First Nation communities the research team visited are linked by Highway 16, which has been dubbed the Highway of Tears because more than 18 girls and young women have disappeared there in recent decades.

B.C.’s Highway 16 and a complex of routes linked to it have collectively come to be known as the Highway of Tears.B.C.’s Highway 16 and a complex of routes linked to it have collectively come to be known as the Highway of Tears. (CBC)

Human Rights Watch said none of the complainants are named in the report because they feared retribution. The alleged perpetrators also are not named.

Despite the RCMP’s repeated requests, the group did not release the allegations to the Mounties until this week, CBC News has learned.

The disturbing report does bear some important disclaimers.

“Human Rights Watch does not contend that this information proves a pattern of routine systemic abuse,” it says. “But when such incidents take place in the context of an already deeply fractured relationship with the police, they have a particularly harmful, negative impact.”

The report also notes that, “the testimonies that Human Rights Watch gathered do not establish the prevalence of abuse.”

Few officers implicated

Rhoad told CBC News that the organization was not intending to implicate all RCMP officers.

“Certainly, not all the members are abusive. We don’t mean to say that by any means,” she said. “I think it’s very important to recognize that so many of the RCMP serve honourably and they really put their lives on the line to protect communities.”

Human Rights Watch is holding a press conference Wednesday and said it will call on Ottawa to establish a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The organization also said it will suggest the RCMP expand cross-cultural training for its officers and eliminate strip-searches by officers not of the same gender.

The RCMP declined CBC News’ request for an interview, saying a formal response will be issued later.

via RCMP accused of frequent abuse of B.C. aboriginals – British Columbia – CBC News.

Seattle protester files suit after video shows police lie

Activist Post: Seattle protester files suit after video shows police lie.

Girl thrown to ground by her hair for trying to leave. Seattle May Day 2012 – YouTube.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

http://www.activistpost.com

Seattle protester files suit after video shows police lie

Screenshot – video below

Mikael Thalen,

Contributor
Activist Post

Maria Morales, a 30-year-old Iraq war veteran, describes what happened to her at the 2012 May Day protests in Seattle.

“I have somebody’s knee right on my neck, I can’t breathe. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what I did wrong, I don’t know what I’m being arrested for.”

Seattle police had their hands full when a peaceful protest turned violent after dozens of protesters in black clothing and masks began breaking windows, spray painting cars, and slashing tires. One officer was even reportedly hit in the face by a glass jar.

Seattle police officer Sonya Fry claimed that the arrest and later assault charge was because Morales had cursed at her and punched her in the chest. “If it’s your testimony against the testimony of a police officer, you’re going to lose every time,” said Darryl Parker, Morales’ lawyer.

Luckily for Morales video of her arrest appeared on YouTube, showing officer Sonya throwing Morales to the ground. The case against Morales was immediately dropped after the prosecution saw the video.
“I want to believe the reason people do their job is because they like it and they’re there to protect citizens and this is not something they should have done,” Morales said.

SPD would not comment on the case. Morales claims due to the lawsuit against her, shot lost her home and her job as an emergency medical technician. Morales who is pregnant, also says she is worried about the stress that has been put on her baby.

Morales says she hopes that her lawsuit against the city will stop other people from being falsely arrested in the future.

A girl is thrown onto bikes by her hair for trying to leave when police asked her to.

US: Supreme Court Says It’s OK To Record Cops

From:  http://www.businessinsider.com

Michael Kelley

 Nov. 26, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Monday that essentially allows people in Illinois to record police officers, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The justices declined to review a lower court ruling that found the state’s “anti-eavesdropping law” to be in violation of a person’s free speech rights when used against anyone who records police officers.

By refusing to review the case, the high court leaves the ban on the law in place.

The law set out a maximum prison term of 15 years.

In 2010 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit to block prosecution of ACLU staff for recording police officers performing their duties in public places.

Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois, said the organization “continues to believe that in order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents – especially the police.”

More story—>>>

via Supreme Court Says It’s OK To Record Cops – Business Insider.

On Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience – YouTube.

6 Sep 2011

by Civil Disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or occupying power.

Woman Suffers Cardiac Arrest After Cop Tasers Her 3 Times During Traffic Stop

Woman Suffers Cardiac Arrest After Cop Tasers Her 3 Times During Traffic Stop – CBS Los Angeles – YouTube.

What the heck is wrong with law enforcement officers ? Two big burly male officers found they had no choice but to taser a defenseless 50 year old woman ? Shame on them and their entire police department.

By the way, it just came out that tasers have been found responsible for 532 deaths in the US alone since their implementation as a police weapon.

ENCINO (CBS2) — A video taken by the California Highway Patrol may be the first time a camera has captured all of the events leading up to a cardiac arrest following the use of a TASER® electronic control device.

On June 4, CHP officers stopped to check on the welfare of 50-year-old Angela Jones after finding her sitting in a parked vehicle on Haskell Avenue, near the Ventura (101) Freeway.

A camera mounted on the officers’ car captured the incident.

“How much have you had to drink tonight?” an officer asked the Studio City resident.

“Nothing,” Jones said.

“Nothing?” the officer responded. “What about medication or drugs?”

Officers questioned Jones for 15 minutes, suspecting she might be under the influence, and then asked to look through her purse.

“I just don’t feel like I want you to take my purse from me,” Jones said.

She held her purse tightly to her chest and ran back to her vehicle.

According to the arrest report, the CHP officer hit the trigger on his TASER® X-26 TM three times, sending three separate jolts into Jones’ chest.

“Do not move! Do not move! Stop moving!” the officer can be heard yelling.

The officers then pulled the driver out of the car, placed her on the sidewalk and realized she wasn’t breathing.

“Do you have a pulse?” one officer asked.

“Subject is unresponsive,” the other officer said.

One officer began performing CPR and Jones was revived.

Heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato said Jones is lucky to be alive.

More story—>>>

Caught On Camera: Woman Goes Into Cardiac Arrest During Traffic Stop « CBS Los Angeles.

English: Photograph of a California Highway Pa...

Analysis: Taser-related deaths in US accelerating

Analysis: Taser-related deaths in US accelerating | The Raw Story.

By Daniel Tencer
Sunday, September 5, 2012
 
 

The rate of deaths in Taser-related incidents is rising as police forces increasingly adapt the conducted energy weapons, a Raw Story analysis finds.

A 2008 report (PDF) from Amnesty International found 351 Taser-related deaths in the US between June, 2001 and August, 2008, a rate of just slightly above four deaths per month.

A database of Taser-related deaths maintained at the African-American issues blog Electronic Village counts 96 deaths related to the use of Tasers since January, 2009.

Assuming the statistics are correct, that indicates the death rate has increased to an average of five per month.

Electronic Village counts the 96th Taser-linked death as being that of Adam Colliers, a 25-year-old resident of Snohomish County, Washington, who was reportedly “running up and down” a street and causing a disturbance when he was Tased by two officers. He stopped breathing shortly afterwards, and was pronounced dead in hospital a short while later.

It was the second Taser-related death, and the fifth death in a police encounter, in the Seattle area over the past week.

Truth Not Tasers, which maintains an extensive list of deaths linked to conducted energy weapons going back to the 1980s, says Colliers is the 507th person in the US to die in incidents linked to the weapons.

Electronic Village reports that Tasers “are now deployed in law enforcement agencies in 29 of the 33 largest US cities.”

But, the blog notes, “the tide may be turning.”

As taser-related deaths and injuries have continued to rise (as well as the amount of Taser litigation), many departments are starting to abandon the weapon in favor of other means of suspect control. Currently, Memphis, Tennessee, San Francisco, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada have opted to ban the use of tasers by law enforcement. Additionally, a federal court has ruled (PDF) that the pain inflicted by the taser gun constitutes excessive force by law enforcement. The courts don’t want police to electrocute people with their tasers unless they pose an immediate threat.

Amnesty International notes that efforts to determine the lethality of Tasers are being frustrated by the weapon’s manufacturer, Taser International.

“Medical studies so far on the effects of Tasers have either been limited in scope or unduly influenced by the weapons’ primary manufacturer,” the group states.

“Given the unresolved safety concerns, Amnesty International recommends that police departments either suspend the use of Tasers and stun guns pending further safety research or limit their use to situations where officers would otherwise be justified in resorting to firearms,” Amnesty says.
Raw Story (http://s.tt/1d8nR)

Greek anti-austerity protesters hurl coffee at German diplomat as riots sweep across Europe

Click on link—>>> Great pics

Mail Online

Greek anti-austerity protesters hurl coffee at German diplomat as riots sweep across Europe | Mail Online.

Europe on Fire: Video: Street battles across Europe as general strike turns violent

Video: Street battles across Europe as general strike turns violent – YouTube.

Nov 14, 2012

by

Hundreds of thousands of Europe’s beleaguered citizens went on strike or snarled the streets of capitals of Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal, at times clashing with riot police, as they demanded that governments stop cutting benefits and create more jobs.

 

How Activist Photographers Keep Police Abuse In Check: Copwatch in New York City

Police on playback — copwatch in New York City – YouTube.

There is a reason why municipalities and states across the U.S. are attempting to ban photography of police officers, or allow random and unwarranted officer confiscation of cameras and cell phones; because the video recording of police abuse is very effective.  Through federalization of state law enforcement, the government has greatly diminished the requirements and the quality of character in many city police recruitment centers.  This is not to say that there are not honorable law enforcement officers out there.  There are many.  However, the overall health of the enforcement community has taken a nosedive in recent years, and respect for Constitutional liberties and limits has all but disappeared.  I believe this trend toward thuggery is deliberately engineered, and that it is part of an ongoing process to acclimate American citizens to totalitarian conditions.  The first step is, of course, to expose these developments to the world, and video activism is a powerful tool in the fight.  The moment we can no longer view and record the actions of authorities is the moment we lose any ability (beyond full revolution) to apply balance or justice within the system.  The system becomes utterly separate and in their minds “superior” to the public.  This is the road to tyranny…

More Modern Insanity: LAPD Beat and Taser College Student Outside Hollywood Club

LAPD Beat and Tased College Student Outside Hollywood Club – YouTube.

This young black man is going home with a beer in a paper bag. L.A. cops engage him. Disgusting behavior. 

When will discrimination end ?

Spain Police Beating Everyone: A Warning To America

 

Spain Police Beating Everyone: A Warning To America – YouTube.

Do you really think this could not happen in North America ? Think again. This is coming near you soon. Lou

 

Police Provocateurs caught inciting Spain protest voilence / 34 sec. video

 

Police Provocateurs caught inciting Spain protest voilence – YouTube.

Police agents provocateurs are now the norm when it comes to controlling protesting crowds. What are they trying to achieve ? Watch this cop say “so compagneiro” / ” I am a colleague”.  Lou

 

Femen’s topless warriors start boot camp for global feminism

Femen’s topless warriors start boot camp for global feminism | World news | The Observer.

Ukrainian activists set up an international training centre in Paris to teach women the art of naked protest

Ukrainian feminist Inna Shevchenko says protesting naked is liberté. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

In a chaotic and crumbling former public washhouse in a rundown district of northern Paris, Inna Shevchenko was explaining how a large leather punchbag hanging from the rafters might be used by the foot soldiers of a new generation of feminists.

As she prepared to welcome recruits to the Ukrainian-based feminist group Femen’s first “international training camp”, it was clear that the instruction would not be all ideological. The talk was of “war”, “soldiers”, “terrorism” and “enemies”. Was it not curious, one French journalist asked, that Inna and her warriors had adopted the language of combat, traditionally a male domain, to describe their mission?

Was it not also inconsistent, another asked, that the new feminists were using nakedness to rail against female exploitation? In a week that had seen the banning of photographs of a topless Duchess of Cambridge, it was certainly topical.

“Ah, but we have a different idea; we are talking about peaceful war, peaceful terrorism,” Inna said. “We are taking off our clothes so people can see that we have no weapons except our bodies. It’s a powerful way to fight in a man’s world. We live with men’s domination and this is the only way to provoke them, the only way to get attention.

“We don’t hide our bodies, we don’t hide our faces, we confront our enemies face to face. We look them in the eyes and we have to be well prepared physically for that.”

There was, she explained patiently, no contradiction in going topless or naked to protest against what they view as the three main evils of a global “patriarchal society”: sexual exploitation, dictatorship and religion. Protesting naked, as Femen’s slogans insist, is liberté, a reappropriation of their own bodies as opposed to pornography or snatched photographs which are exploitation.

On a less intellectual level, taking their clothes off ensures a lot of publicity.

“There is an ideology behind protesting topless, but we quickly realised that if we took our tops off and screamed loudly it was a good way to get attention,” Alexandra Shevchenko, one of Femen’s founders, said. “It works. Of course, people talk about our nakedness, but they are also listening to our message.”

She added: “Believe me, it is really difficult for me to take my clothes off and stand in a public place. But this is the fight, and the fight is never easy.”

Femen's topless warriors via Flickr

The Femen movement was created in Ukraine in 2008 to protest against sexism, prostitution and the exploitation of women in the former Soviet state. Inna, 22, second daughter of an army officer, and a journalism graduate, took off her top and joined the protests, a decision that would cost her a well-paid job as a press officer at Kiev town hall. In August, she fled Ukraine after a well-publicised stunt in which she wielded a chainsaw semi-naked to chop down a large wooden Orthodox cross in support of the jailed Russian feminists Pussy Riot: “Afterwards I was followed for three days by the secret services. In fact they’re not very secret, they like you to know they are following you to make you scared. One morning they tried to break into my apartment. I thought it was a sign I was in danger. I wasn’t scared about being in prison. I have already been in prison many times, but there are worse things.”

An open invitation from a group of feminists in France brought her to Paris, where Femen has set up camp in the Lavoir Moderne Parisien, in Paris’s poor and ethnically mixed Goutte d’Or district. In his 1877 novel L’Assommoir, Emile Zola described the Lavoir Moderne, then a state-of-the-art public washroom, as an “immense hangar, with its flat ceiling, and open beams sitting on steel pillars closed off with large clear windows”.

After closing in 1953, it began a second life as a community theatre, now under threat and in financial difficulty after a property developer acquired the building with a view to turning it into flats.

On the first floor, high above where the old zinc washing vats would have steamed, a vast airy room is plastered with Femen campaign slogans: “Nudity is freedom”, “Let’s get naked”, “I am a woman, not an object”.

If the male journalists and photographers who have beaten a path here since Femen announced its training camp are disappointed to find the girls fully dressed in the international uniform of jeans and T-shirts, they have the good grace not to show it.

Outside, on the streets of Goutte d’Or, the three tall, beautiful women cut an incongruous path through the veiled and headscarf-wearing women of the large local Muslim community, weaving their pushchairs through the roadworks. Femen’s “Better naked than the burqa” campaign has made few inroads here.

“The decision to bring the fight to France and open a training centre was a French initiative, an invitation from French feminists who sent us a message saying they needed us,” said Inna.

“Before then we thought of France as a first world and already feminist country that didn’t really need us. Since arriving, I have met many Frenchwomen and they say they need to start the fight again. We are bringing a new face, new blood, a new fight to feminism.”

She added: “Classical feminism is like an old sick lady that doesn’t work any more. It’s stuck in the world of conferences and books. We have the same ideas as the classical feminists, what is different is the form of fight. We fight in a way that will attract young women to the ideology again.

“Early feminists fought for the right for women to wear trousers and jeans and won. Now we can wear trousers and jeans, but when a woman speaks in parliament, do the men listen? It’s still a world dominated by men, where women are slaves and where women still do not earn the same or have the same opportunities. So we have to start again. It’s the clothing fight all over again.”

To that end, Inna is staying in Paris to give her new feminist recruits their “physical and ideological training”, while Femen militants Alexandra, 24, and Oxana Shachko, 25, are returning to Kiev, where a similar camp will be established. A third is planned for Brazil, where Femen has a large following, in the runup to the 2016 Olympic Games.

“Soldiers will be born here, but they will not be French soldiers. They will be feminist soldiers, international soldiers,” said Inna. “Women in every country need Femen.”

Back to the big leather punchbag hanging from the rafters, and Inna admits that the training sessions will not be entirely pacifist. “Feminism should be provocative,” she adds. “There’s no other way for women to get attention. It’s the only action left to us. So the training will be moral but also physical. You have to be in good shape, because at protests you may need to run away or attack the police or jump on a building or a car.”

The French riot police in their “robocop” outfits have been warned.

Mentally Ill Man Executed by Police Firing Squad / 5min video

WATCH: Police gun down Michigan man with 46 shots in 5 seconds – YouTube.

What the heck is going on ? Are these incidents becoming more prevalent ? What kind of drugs are these police officers taking ?

These officers seem to reflect a general trend where the cops are just eager to shoot someone at the slightest provocation. Lou

The image below is of Chinese officers publicly executing a woman. In North America we gasp and are horrified by such inhumane behavior. Yet, police officers here routinely exhibit the same kind of behavior and no one blinks. Listen to the police chief justifying his underlings behavior. Apparently the man was “know” to them, an euphemism that implies that he had it coming.

 

 

South African police shoot dead 30 striking miners

South African police shoot dead striking miners | World news | The Guardian.

WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES Link to this video Police have been accused of a massacre after opening fire on mine workers in one of the deadliest days of protest in South Africa since the end of apartheid.In scenes that evoked memories of some of the country’s darkest days, national television showed pictures of police in helmets and body armour shooting at workers on Thursday amid shouting, panic and clouds of dust at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine. After three minutes of gunfire, bodies littered the ground in pools of blood. The South African police ministry said more than 30 striking miners had been killed.

Newspaper reporter Poloko Tau tweeted from the scene: “Auto guns creacking [sic] and cocked like 100 at a time, scary … warzone down here, 1st shot fired … journalist running, diving and hiding amid shots, water canon spewing water at the strikers … my contact has just been shot dead …”

The deaths came after a week of turmoil at the Marikana mine that had already seen 10 people killed, including two police officers and two security guards. Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, was forced to suspend production at the mine, about 60 miles north-west of Johannesburg, after what it called an illegal strike escalated into an alleged turf war between rival unions.

His voice shaking with anger, the union leader Joseph Mathunjwa accused the Lonmin management of colluding with a rival union to orchestrate what he described as a massacre. Mathunjwa, president of the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), told the eNews channel: “We have to send condolences to those families whose members were brutally murdered by a lack of co-operation from management. We have done our bit. If the management had changed their commitment, surely lives could have been saved.”

South Africa‘s president, Jacob Zuma, condemned the killings but made no reference to the handling of the situation by the police. “We are shocked and dismayed at this senseless violence,” he said. “We believe there is enough space in our democratic order for any dispute to be resolved through dialogue without any breaches of the law or violence.

“We call upon the labour movement and business to work with government to arrest the situation before it deteriorates any further. I have instructed law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to bring the situation under control and to bring the perpetrators of violence to book.” Zuma added: “We extend our deepest condolences to the families of all who have lost their lives since the beginning of this violent action.”

The opposition called for an independent investigation. Helen Zille, leader of the Democratic Alliance, said: “We call on union leaders, the police and everyone else involved to immediately work towards a de-escalation of the conflict. All action must be taken to avoid further bloodshed.

“An urgent independent investigation is required to determine exactly what happened; and who is responsible for this massacre. The families of everyone involved, and indeed the nation, deserve to know how and why this bloodshed occurred.”

Roger Phillimore, the chairman of Lonmin, said: “We are treating the developments around police operations this afternoon with the utmost seriousness. The South African police service have been in charge of public order and safety on the ground since the violence between competing labour factions erupted over the weekend, claiming the lives of eight of our employees and two police officers.

“It goes without saying that we deeply regret the further loss of life in what is clearly a public order rather than labour relations associated matter.”

The violence reportedly flared when police laying out barricades of barbed wire were outflanked by some of an estimated 3,000 miners massed on a rocky outcrop near the mine. Witnesses claimed that some of the miners were armed with pistols and fired first, while also charging the police with machetes and sticks.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said: “According to a Sapa report, police tried to disperse striking workers gathered on top of a hill, wielding pangas and chanting war songs. It ended in a three-minute shootout between the two groups, after police fired teargas and then used a water cannon to disperse the strikers, who retaliated by firing live ammunition at the police.”

The protests began last week when workers demanded a pay increase to 12,500 rand (£976) a month. The action turned deadly when the AMCU clashed with South Africa’s dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The NUM rejected the charge of collusion with mine bosses. Spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said: “We are not surprised by his allegation … It is not true. Everyone can see through these lies.”

Seshoka blamed the AMCU – which has been poaching NUM members in platinum mines – for instigating the bloodshed. “These people said today they want to die on the hilltop. They said they will bring their children to die there. That is why we say the ringleaders must be arrested.”

There has been growing frustration with the governing African National Congress and its mainstream union allies for moving too slowly to deliver wage increases and public services. Radical and militant voices are making gains in some areas.

Patrick Craven, the national spokesman for Cosatu, which is aligned to the ANC, said it would “convene an urgent meeting of the unions’ leaderships to discuss what is emerging as a co-ordinated political strategy to use intimidation and violence, manipulated by disgruntled former union leaders, in a concerted drive to create breakaway ‘unions’ and divide and weaken the trade union movement”.

He added: “Cosatu calls upon all workers to remain vigilant but calm in the face of the most serious challenge to workers’ unity and strength for many years.”

South Africa is home to four-fifths of the world’s known platinum reserves but has been hit by union militancy and a sharp drop in the price of the precious metal this year. At least three people were killed in fighting in January that led to a six-week closure of the world’s biggest platinum mine, run by Impala Platinum. Such incidents are seen as tarnishing South Africa’s reputation among investors.

This week’s violence has forced Lonmin to freeze production at all its South African operations, which account for 12% of global platinum output. The company’s London-listed shares fell more than 7% on Thursday. A spokesman at Lonmin’s head office in London confirmed strikers had been served with an ultimatum to return to work on Thursday or face dismissal, but denied that might inflame the situation.

“The mine cannot operate without the rock drill operators,” he said. “The company tried every avenue it could to negotiate a settlement and we were left with no option.”

Apocalypse Now – Or Someday. Do We Have A Global Death Wish?

Apocalypse Now – Or Someday. Do We Have A Global Death Wish? | Alternet.

Alternet

It’s the end of the world as we know it. And some of us are really looking forward to it.
 

Photo Credit: Stephen Dann

The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism
Catherine Wessinger, ed.
Oxford University Press, 2011

Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience*
Richard Landes
Oxford University Press, 2011

Suppose Europe’s debt crisis leads to a fracturing of the eurozone and the ripple effect leads to a global depression worse than the one we’re slowly climbing out of. And suppose as a result of the economic chaos, there are riots in Europe and the U.S., with right-wing militias in a near civil war with failing governments, mass disruptions in the food supply, perhaps even global economic collapse and a breakdown of the social order.

Somewhere in that chain of events, most readers stopped supposing. But many others, if the statistics are right, are still with me, and might go further still, envisioning a massive breakdown and/or revolution in the world order, in very short time.

The latter view is a secular form of millennialism, the scholarly term for the belief that a wholesale transformation of the world, for better or for worse, is imminent. And as two massive new tomes, Richard Landes’ Heaven on Earthand the The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism edited by Catherine Wessinger, very helpfully demonstrate, our own beliefs and fears about politics, economics, and the environmental crisis, are not so distant from ancient apocalyptic prophecies about the end of the world, the Second Coming, or the rapture. Sure, our anxieties may be grounded in ‘facts,’ but the ancients thought theirs were too. What’s more important is the pattern of millennial thinking, which has always been with us and, unless the world is about to end, likely always will be.  

In Search of Collective Salvation

One detail needs to be cleaned up first. The term “millennialism”  does not refer to the year 2000, or the turning of the millennium. Rather, it takes its misleading name from the Christian belief that Christ will return to Earth and rule for one thousand years. The apocalypse, rapture, Second Coming—these are specific events in specific forms of millennial ideology. Millennialism itself is, in Wessinger’s definition, “the audacious hope that in the imminent future there will be a transition—either catastrophic or progressive—to a ‘collective salvation’ which will be accomplished by a divine or superhuman agent and/or by humans working in accordance with a divine or superhuman plan.” Following the pioneering scholar of millennialism Norman Cohn, Wessinger states that the millennialist salvation is collective, earthly (i.e., it will happen in this world), imminent, transformative, and supernaturalist in nature.

The twenty cultural studies in the Oxford volume and the dozen in Landes’ book make this point clear: millennialism is a pattern of human thinking that is universal, and depends little on whether the “superhuman plan” is polytheistic, monotheistic, or atheistic in nature. Our fears about Y2K (remember that?) and New Age predictions about December 21 of this year are not different in kind from Harold Camping’s ridiculous (and widely ridiculed) “calculation” that the apocalypse would take place on May 21 (and then October 21) of last year. 

Nor, claims Landes, are utopian claims of a transformed economic or political order, such as Shimon Peres’ now nostalgic vision of a “new Middle East” or a jihadist’s vision of a purifiedumma. Even clocking in at 500 pages, Landes’ book is only half a volume, for it consciously does not deal with the best-known forms of millennialism: Christian and Jewish ones. This is like writing about soft drinks without mentioning Coca Cola. Yet the dozen cases Landes studies in depth, ranging from the 1856 Xhosa Cattle-Slaying to Marxism and Global Jihad, offer a series of mirrors through which to see more familiar religious and secular movements alike. It’s easy to say that millennialism is for the weird and wacky; it’s quite another to recognize millennial thinking in our own minds.

Of course, concurrent with the view that the world is soon to be greatly transformed is the notion that we ought to do something about it. Some of these actions are harmless, or may have positive side effects; growing one’s own food, for example, out of fear of global economic collapse. And what Wessinger calls “progressive millennialism” may be nothing more than the belief that humanity is (or should) be evolving toward a more just and peaceful future. But others are downright sinister: 9/11, UFO cults preparing to be taken away, the Jehovah’s Witnesses selling their property prior to the 1974 rapture, the Millerites (the parent sect of today’s Seventh Day Adventists) going up on a hill to await the second coming on October 22, 1844, up to one-third of European Jews preparing to move to the Land of Israel with the messiah Sabbetai Zevi in 1666, the Xhosa slaughtering their animals and committing a kind of national suicide, the Nazis exterminating the Jews, the Aum Shinrikyo sect gassing people in the Tokyo subway—once millennial beliefs take hold, they inspire the strongest of human actions, often at terrible cost.   

Waiting For War

Today is no different. For example, within the evangelical world—which, let’s remember, includes between 30% and 40% of all Americans—there is a split between postmillennialists, who believe that Christ’s peaceful reign on Earth will follow a gradual improvement in human life, and the more familiar premillennialists, who believe that Christ will suddenly come back, destroy the current order, and replace it with a new one. 

From a progressive perspective, both of these views can be problematic. Many postmillennialists insist that we must transform America into a theocracy before Christ can come again, and are devoting considerable resources to doing so (which, of course, means oppressing women and sexual minorities). Many premillenialists, on the other hand, are so pessimistic that they are pursuing what some of us might consider a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Many Christian Zionists, for example, believe that a massive war in the Middle East is unavoidable, imminent, and part of the divine plan for humanity—and are supporting policies that raise the probability of just such a war.

What ought we do about millennial thinking in our day? If the combined 1300 pages of these two books have taught me anything, it’s that we can’t make it just go away. There is something fascinating, and perverse, in the human psyche that seems to yearn for this world to be other than how it is, even if that means destroying it. 

Some of the scholars in the Oxford handbook offer important insights into the roots of the phenomenon (including charismatic leadership, outsider status, etc.). Personally, though, and based on several years of studying a Jewish-Christian millennial movement in my graduate work—and observing its parallels today in the messianic Chabad sect—my sense is that it is as much a part of human nature as the religious urge itself. At the same time, its power to negate meaning in this world, justify all kinds of behavior, and lead to acts of violence and upheaval means that we have a responsibility to observe it, as we do other forms of irrational human cognition. When Michele Bachmann says that “we are in the last days,” all of us should worry. 

As I wrote about a few months ago in these pages, there are many shades of gray between wacky UFO conspiracy theories and the garden-variety anxieties that most of us harbor about the future. In between, haunted by the fear of death and the terror that this world really is all that there is, we project myths of religion, apocalypse, and global transformation. I would suggest that even when these myths are hopeful, they are still reconciliations with thanatos, the death wish. It’s almost like we’d rather the world be destroyed, than for it to be as impersonal, as relentless, as it appears.

 

*For more on Landes’ Heaven on Earth see Gordon Haber’s “Secular End Times & Apocalyptic ‘Roosters’

Jay Michaelson (www.metatronics.net) is a writer, scholar, and activist. He is a columnist for the Forward newspaper and Reality Sandwich magazine, and writes frequently on the subjects of spirituality, sexuality, religion, and law. His latest book is called Everything is God (2009) and he is currently the executive director of Nehirim, a nonprofit organization for GLBT Jews, partners, and allies.