Author Archives: oneofthelibrarians

About oneofthelibrarians

Respectable art librarian by day, dirty street librarian by night & other days.

Wrapping Up

Dear friends of the People’s Library, we recently hit a turning point in the history of our beloved library. As you may remember, last spring we reached a settlement with the city and it’s various departments and officials. We received $47,000 and a not-quite-apology. We got lots of questions about what we were going to do with all that money.

As the city and the NYPD have made it an impossible thing to plant libraries such as we once had, we knew it would be futile and wasteful to attempt such a thing. Further, we are tired and busy, and many of us have moved on to other projects and several have left NYC for less hellish homes.  Besides which, money being power, and power corrupting… we didn’t want it. After all, it wasn’t really about the money, it’s just that money is how capitalist government says it’s sorry. Earlier on in the lawsuit process, we were offered a settlement without the not-quite-apology. We didn’t take it.

Anyway, we had no use for it, but we knew there were lots of groups that could use it. We drew up a list of groups we’d like to help out, divided, and wrote some checks.

Of course, it wasn’t actually that simple. There was a ridiculous group video conference, where we spent more time trying to get the damn thing to work than actually talking, for example. It obviously took a while. I’d especially like to thank Michele, Danny, and Zachary for staying on top of it and doing most of the legwork. I’d also like to thank our liaisons from Finance for helping us out along the way. And, as always, big thanks to our lawyers.

For transparency’s sake, here’s the list of groups we gave it to. We’ve held on to a little bit for things like maintaining the domain registrations of the blog and what-have-you.

  • Word Up Community Bookshop
  • The Brecht Forum
  • Bluestockings Books
  • Queers for Economic Justice
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Food for Thought Books
  • Waging Nonviolence
  • Reader to Reader
  • Silvia Rivera Law Project
  • OWS Jail Support / Just Info
  • Indiana Prison College
  • Free University NYC
  • Books Through Bars
  • Housing Works
  • NYC Anarchist Black Cross
  • Pink and Black
  • Urban Librarians Unite
  • Queens Café (new community space in Queens)
  • Leadnow
  • Free Press
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • NYCLU
  • Demand Progress
  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Queens Library Foundation
  • New York Public Library
  • New Alternatives
  • Bailey House
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives
  • Interference Archive
  • American Indian College Fund
  • Brooklyn Base
  • Tamiment Library
  • OWS poetry Anthology

So, that’s pretty much it, y’all. It’s been great to serve you as your faithful librarians. You’ll hear from us occasionally as we work on further projects. And next time things go all insurrection, we’ll be there, too, books in hand.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Cops, Donations, Friends of the Library, Jaime, Lawsuit

Occupation Libraries: Gezi Parki Edition

You’ve all been following what’s up in Turkey, right?  Of course you have.

Turns out that park occupations continue to produce libraries.  Seems that folks have up and built one in Taksim Gezi Parki in Istanbul.

gezi

Further images & text in Turkish here; brief article in English here.

[crossposted at LibrarianShipwreck]

ETA: This following photo landed in our inbox this morning. Enjoy.

people's library gezi

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Filed under Friends of the Library, Jaime, Photographs, Solidarity

#winning

Dearest supporters, we’ve been paddling like the dickens under the surface here lately, and I have big news for you!

Our court case against New York City’s various officials and agencies is over!  The city has settled with us.

We’ll be having a press conference tomorrow, Wednesday, April 10, at 11 AM, at 260 Madison Avenue, in our lawyers’ office.

[crossposted to LibrarianShipwreck]

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Filed under Announcements, Jaime

Sandy

Hey, librarians!  I’m sitting high & dry here in Brooklyn, as all us folks here on the east coast wait out this hurricane.

Some of the occu-fam is out and about.  Our very own weatherman is tweeting from a boat off the Chelsea Piers at @Occuweather; he’s also occasionally streaming.  Other streamers are here and here.

In a day or two when we start to clean up, look to your local libraries — especially in New Jersey’s coastal towns, things are really getting torn up, and they might need some hands or some cash to help recover.

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Grand Jury Resistance, Banned Books, and You

Listen up, kids, this is important!  Today we’re going to talk about grand juries.  With a side of intellectual freedom.

Look, we’ve got three people — Matt Duran, Kteeo (Katherine Olejnik), and Leah-Lynn Plante — locked up for contempt out in Seattle, WA.  They’ve all refused to testify before a grand jury.

Grand juries are one of the government’s shittiest tools for squishing dissent.  They were originally intended as a way for individual citizens to bring a matter before their peers to make the government do something about it.  Today, though, they are a way for the government to intimidate and punish people who make noise, without those people having any recourse.  Folks get hauled into court, without having been accused of anything, and are asked a bunch of questions.  They are not allowed to have an attorney with them, and the room is closed and what goes on is kept secret.  They must answer the questions — the 5th Amendment, which otherwise protects us from having to testify against ourselves, does not apply.  If they refuse to testify — a choice that is usually a good idea in cases of political repression — they may be jailed for up to six months for contempt, in order to coerce testimony.  If after six months a person has not spoken, they can be sent back for another six months, et cetera, et cetera, until someone gives up.  Remember, these folks have not even been accused, let alone convicted, of a crime in the first place.  The point of a grand jury is for the government to figure out if there’s anything floating around that they can prosecute someone for.

Back on July 25, if you’ll recall, Plante and Duran were a couple of the folks in Oregon and Washington states who woke up to the early morning sounds of their doors being smashed in by federal officers.  Their residences were searched by feds looking for, among other things, black clothes and anarchist literature.  Yesterday, before Plante went back before the grand jury and again refused to testify, she wrote:

On the morning of July 25th, 2012, my life was turned upside down in a matter of hours. FBI agents from around Washington and Oregon and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents from Washington busted down the front door of my house with a battering ram, handcuffed my house mates and me at gunpoint, and held us hostage in our backyard while they read us a search warrant and ransacked our home. They said it was in connection to May Day vandalism that occurred in Seattle, Washington earlier this year.

However, we suspected that this was not really about broken windows. As if they had taken pointers from Orwell’s 1984, they took books, artwork and other various literature as “evidence” as well as many other personal belongings even though they seemed to know that nobody there was even in Seattle on May Day. While we know that knowledge is powerful, we suspected that nobody used rolled up copies of the Stumptown Wobbly to commit property damage. We saw this for what it was. They are trying to investigate anarchists and persecute them for their beliefs. This is a fishing expedition. This is a witch hunt. Since then, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, we have learned that this Grand jury was convened on March 2nd, 2012, two months before the May Day vandalism even took place…

As predicted, she was locked up after yesterday’s grand jury session.  Matt has been imprisoned since September 13, including time in solitary confinement, and Kteeo since September 28.  So, shit’s scary.  But, we’re all in this together, and the best way to handle this is for us all to create and maintain a loving community and to take care of each other.  Which is what grand jury resisters are doing, by they way — they are taking a hit for the rest of us.  We should all be supporting these three, in word and deed, as much as we can, since they’re going so hard to protect our asses.  Here’s some stuff you can do for Matt and Kteeo, and I’m sure there’ll be a similar round up for Leah shortly.

So, this is the Library blog, right?  Let’s bring it back home.  See up there where Leah writes about her house being searched?  What did the feds take?  Books, art.  As many folks around the internet have noted, if the FBI came gunning into any of our houses they’d find black clothing and subversive literature.

Yo, feds, Senator McCarthy called, he wants his game plan back.

Aside from the 5th Amendment mentioned above, we are also supposed to be guaranteed rights of speech and press under the 1st Amendment, and the rights to free speech and assembly include freedom of association, as clarified by Supreme Court rulings.  Now, I know some of us don’t truck with the idea of rights (Utah says, “The state can’t give you freedom, and the state can’t take it away. You’re born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free.”), but it’s what we’ve got to work with right now.

And yet we have doors being busted down over books, and the printed word being taken away as evidence of…  …something.  That our three grand jury resisters hold certain political opinions, and know others with similar opinions, is enough to have gotten them into this spot in the first place.  Librarians, our professional association has a lot to say about the 1st Amendment.

We’ve just come off of Banned Books Week.  I hope you read something subversive!  I always hope that, actually.  I also hope that I don’t need to be too heavy-handed in drawing the lines between the FBI searching someone’s house for radical literature and the stuff we usually talk about when we talk about banned books.  It is a matter of degree, rather than kind.

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Filed under #OccupyPortland, #OccupySeattle, Free Speech, Jaime, Solidarity

What’s One of the Most Fucked Up Things Happening in Higher Ed This Month?

 

 

Hint, it’s right here, at CUNY.

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Filed under Education, Jaime, Solidarity

Recommended Reading

A few weeks ago we had an email come in from a Huffington Post writer, asking that we suggest some books on poverty in America for a slide show.  (I was a little confused by the slideshow part, and still am, even having seen the finished product.)  So, even though I’m a jerk and completely forgot about this thing I said I’d do until like the day before the writer’s deadline, I wrote a few words about some books.

According to their website, I’m an expert!  Anyway, it’s here.

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Filed under Announcements, Cyberspace, Jaime, Literature

Labor Notes: Which Side Are You On?

Good morning!  To update my last post, the Chicago Teachers Union — some 26,000 teachers and support staff — has gone out on strike today.  They are striking for themselves — for previously promised raises and decent health coverage, against being overworked by longer hours and larger class sizes — and also for their students — for “elective” courses such as art and gym and music, and for educational support such as librarians and social workers.  You’d bet that mayor Rahm Emanuel’s children and the children of the Chicago School Board members attend schools that have all that and more.  All of Chicago’s public school students certainly deserve the same.   (Rahm, by the way, should be ashamed of himself.  His mother, a union organizer, is probably rolling in her grave.)

If you are in Chicago, join a picket!  Some handy person has mapped them all out, but I hear you can’t swing a cat in Chicago this morning without hitting some striking teachers.  If you don’t have the time, but maybe have some financial resources, donate to the strike fund.  Or stop by a picket with coffee and snacks.  I’m sure the teachers will appreciate it.  Also, as my fellow people’s librarian from Chicago, Rachel Allshiny, herself an unemployed teacher, notes on Twitter (follow her: @allshiny), “My parents raised me to never cross a picket line. But for some of these kids it’s the only way they’ll get breakfast.”  And lunch, for that matter.  Emptier schools will make for a more effective strike, so if you have folks in your neighborhood who need childcare, or kids who take free or reduced price meals at school, step up and help out.  If supporters could take in children for weeks and months during the Lawrence textile mill strike a hundred years ago, you can surely make a couple sandwiches.

Here in NYC, we’ll be gathering at Union Square at 5pm this evening for a show of solidarity.  (And inspiration?  A girl can dream.)

Along with the start of the school year, it’s also the start of football season.  I love football!  If you google hard enough, you might be able to find pictures of yours truly at age 12 in pads and jersey and with a ponytail hanging out the back of a helmet. (As a side note, I especially love the Green Bay Packers, which is the only community-owned pro sports team in the US.   And the only one to release all its financial information every year.  And it’s against NFL rules for other teams to organize like this.)  But if you’ve been watching pre-season games or this weekend’s season openers, you may have noticed that the calls were less than stellar.  The NFL’s regular referees are locked out, a tactic I’ve previously written about that is being used by owners against workers with more and more frequency.  In their place, the league has hired scabs up from Div II & III college ball, high schools, and sundry other leagues.  (It just kills me that Shannon Eastin, the first woman to ref in the NFL, is a scab.)

There’s a lot to be said about this — how meeting all the refs’ demands would cost the league very little money, how the replacements’ collective lack of experience may endanger the players of a sport that has been paying increasing attention to long-term dangers of concussions and other impact injuries.  Other people have spilled a lot of ink over all that.  I’ll just say that I won’t be watching any games, and neither should you, until the refs’ demands are met and the lockout is over.  If any NFL players happen to be reading, especially any Packers, or from teams in other old union towns — I’m looking at you, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and Pittsburgh Steelers — I suggest you get on the right side of history and start vociferously supporting your referees.

Here in New York we had an important victory just last week.  On the Upper East Side, Hot and Crusty fired and locked out a couple dozen workers after they unionized and won improvements in wages and working conditions.  Rather than not being a jerk, the owner closed up shop.  Workers and allies occupied the place until the cops showed up and arrested a few people.  Then they started picketing, running a cafe on the sidewalk, and holding a tough line against half-assed offers.  As of now, workers’ demands have all been met, and Hot and Crusty is scheduled to reopen; let’s all keep an eye on this — the picket will continue until the owner follows through.

Last, but not least, some of New York City’s car wash employees are getting organized.  Like the Hot and Crusty employees, many car wash workers are immigrants, often undocumented, which makes it easier for owners to exploit them, through fear of la migra.  Let’s be ready to step up and lend some solidarity as these workers, too, start demanding their rights and dignity.

ETA: In international news, more and more miners, now more than 40,000, are striking in South Africa.

ETA: As of Wednesday, 9/12, teachers in Lake Forest, Ill., a suburb to the north of Chicago, and not part of the Chicago school system, have also gone out on strike.  It sounds like they’re having a rough time of it, so any support from folks out that way would be appreciated, I’m sure.  Lake Forest has a very different demographic profile from Chicago, being very white and very wealthy.  With a median household income about three times that of the national average, residents should probably STFU about teachers wanting to be well-compensated for the valuable work they do.

 

ETA: It’s still Wednesday, and I’ve got more labor news!  Workers at a warehouse in Mira Loma, California, that subcontracts with Walmart — and we all know how shitty Walmart’s labor record is — have walked off, after Walmart wouldn’t even come to the table to discuss wages, working conditions, and retaliation for previous organization attempts.  In coming days they will be walking the 50 miles to Los Angeles to take up the issue with Walmart’s executives.

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Filed under Education, Jaime, Solidarity

You’ve heard me say it before…

…but, I love a good strike.

 

 

ETA: Strike starts Sept. 10 unless a contract is negotiated in the meantime.  Go read some more of the CTU blog, as well; it’s got lots of good stuff, such as advice that Teach for America teachers can strike along with their comrades.

 

 

And as the new school year approaches, it looks like Chicago’s public school teachers and other educational professionals (like school librarians, ahem) might be going out. Tomorrow they will file their 10-day strike notice. That doesn’t mean that they’ll definitely strike, but it does mean the option is definitely on the table.  90% voted to authorize a strike earlier this summer. 

Wages, hours, and conditions of course.  In this case a main issue is that the same number of teachers were being asked to cover an extended school day and larger class sizes.   They seem to have made headway on that, but contract details have not been all straightened out yet.  Also up for discussion are student services and what some might call elective or non-essential courses and activities — music, art, recess & P.E., libraries, etc. — aspects of education that are seen as essential to wealthy and high-performing schools, but somehow are always negotiable in poor schools.  This, my friends, is one of the many way in which the playing field is not level, in which equal opportunity is not available, and in which inequality is perpetuated.

So, let’s see some support for our sisters and brothers in Chicago, trying to maintain fair working conditions in their public school system, so that they can best serve their hundreds of thousands of students.

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Filed under Education, Jaime, Solidarity

Lawsuit Update

Whoops!

So, we here at the Library have been sitting on this for a while, but the cat’s out of the bag now, thanks to the Village Voice.  In short, the city and Brookfield (owners of Zuccotti/Liberty) are pointing fingers and loudly yelling, “nuhuh!”

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Brookfield, Jaime, Lawsuit, LOL, Public/Private Parks

CFP

A friend of the library sends along the following call for papers:

ANARCHISM: THEORY, PRACTICE, ROOTS, CURRENT TRENDS

Science & Society is planning a special issue on the broad theme of anarchism, as appearing in both past and present-day political movements. While contributors will of course shape the content and perspectives of the issue as it develops, we especially encourage contributions within the following subject areas:

1. The nature of anarchist theory and practice, from the standpoint of historical materialism. Anarchism as a laboratory for the study of the material roots of ideology. Does the existing body of anarchist writing contribute to Marxist understandings of the state? Of the nature of ruling-class hegemony? Of the balance between spontaneity and organization in the struggles of working and oppressed classes and strata? Of transformations in capitalism related to globalization, neoliberalism, financialization, cognitive commodities, creative labor, etc.?
2. The classical roots of anarchist thought in the works of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, and others, especially in relation to the position of Marx and Engels in the International Working Men’s Association and the individual-country working-class movements of the 19th century.
3. The specific features of present-day anarchist thought. Survey of books, journals, websites, blogs. The role of new information technologies in contemporary social and political debate.
4. Anarchism in today’s new social movements: the anti- and counter-globalization protests; the uprising against the WTO, Seattle, 1999; the World Social Forum and its regional and national counterparts; and the present-day Occupy movement, in the United States and internationally. What is the nature of anarchism’s influence, and how has it evolved? How is anarchism conceptualized in today’s Occupy movement, and how do these conceptions differ from classical anarchism?
5. Anarchism and “black shirt” practices on the left, old and new, from the 19th century to the Spanish Civil War, to the 1960s peace movements and up to the present. How central is anarchist theory to these practices? Can it be separated from them?
6. The relation between anarchism and libertarianism. Does anarchist thought transcend the distinction between political right and left? Does anarchism have a distinctive post-capitalist vision?

While we expect contributors to innovate and shape their papers according to specific interests and views, we encourage them to contact the Guest Editors (email parameters provided below), so that completeness of coverage can be achieved, and duplication avoided, to the greatest extent possible.

We are looking for articles in the 7,000-8,000 word range. Projected publication is Spring 2014, so we would like to have manuscripts in hand by January 2013. Discussion about the project overall, and suggestions concerning content, should begin immediately.

The Guest Editors are: Russell Dale (russelleliotdale@gmail.com); Justin Holt (jh129@nyu.edu); and John P. Pittman (jpittman@faculty.jjay.cuny.edu).

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Filed under Announcements, Education, Jaime

Education for Liberation, or, We’ve Moved!

Your dear People’s Library, aside from summering as Governor’s Island, has also moved (for the time being, at least) to the Paul Robeson Freedom School.

We’ve been slowly trundling books and other materials across the bridge to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and three of us moved the very last bit this past weekend. Now it’s all in and we’re working on organization. Your librarians are all super stoked to have the collection be accessible and usable once again.

Drop in this Wednesday, July 25, for the Freedom School’s community night, from 5 to 9 pm. See what’s cooking with the school and maybe borrow a book or three. Know some young people who aren’t doing much this summer? The school still has room for students.

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Free Mark Adams! Free all political prisoners!

The #D17 trial finished yesterday afternoon. Everyone found guilty. Seven, including Jack and Bishop Packard sentenced to four days community service (which I find a little silly, what do you think Jack and the bishop are up to most days, lol).

Our dear friend of the library Mark Adams was sentenced to 45 days. I think we can all agree when I say, Judge Sciarrino is a fucking tool. Especially because the DA recommended 30 days.

Anyway, a visiting schedule is being set up, we’re all going to write Mark a lot of letters, the Library will be sending him some reading material, and we look forward to seeing our dear comrade and his beard back in the street no later than early August.

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Filed under #D17, Friends of the Library, Jaime, Solidarity

Forgive Us Our Trespasses, or, Hunger Strikes: Historically, Globally, Here & Now

British and American suffragettes did it in the early 20th century, with Marion Wallace Dunlop leading off in Britain 1909 and Alice Paul a few years later in the U.S.  Many were force-fed while in prison.  They considered force-feeding to be torture, and some died of it.

Gandhi and others did it as part of the Indian movement for independence from Britain.

Irish republicans did it, too, throughout the 20th century.  Like the suffragettes, they were subject to force-feeding, and some died of it, while others died of starvation.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners had been at it for weeks this spring, in response to being indefinitely detained without charges or trial under the Israeli government’s policy of “administrative detention” (to which NYC’s own stop & frisk policies targeting young men of color could be considered a little brother), as well as the conditions under which they are held.  The first two strikers, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, stopped eating on February 27, with at least 1500 more later joining.  Just last Monday, as the longest strikers were close to death, Israel conceded to some of the strikers’ demands, and almost all the strikers have lifted their strikes.

This Tuesday prisoners at the Red Onion State Prison in Virginia refused their first meal.  They are striking in response to inhumane conditions and treatment inside the prison.  “Phil Wilayto, of the Richmond Defenders, said “The most important thing about the prisoners’ demands is that Red Onion need only follow their own regulations with regard to meals, medical care, sanitation, grievance procedures, and humane treatment of prisoners. In order to press these demands the prisoners have to take the extreme step of risking their health and even lives.””  There have been several hunger strikes in the U.S. in recent years, such as those by prisoners in Georgia, Ohio, and California.

And last night I saw that my buddy Jack has begun a medication and hunger strike here in New York.

Trinity Church, located on Broadway at Wall St. in Manhattan, dates from the late 17th century — it received a charter from the King of England in 1697.  The current building was consecrated in 1846.  It is an Episcopal church.  It owns a shit-ton of very valuable land in Manhattan, and since its inception has been frequented by wealthy and influential locals.  Like all religious institutions in the U.S., it is tax-exempt, in exchange for being supposedly non-political and due to the separation of church and state, which usually seems to all boil down to nothing more than not explicitly endorsing political candidates.  (If we’re demanding a restructuring of tax law in the U.S., changing that exempt status is one of my demands, let me tell you.)  As is also common among religious institutions, especially large, wealthy ones, they give a lot of lip service to serving humanity, but when presented with the nitty-gritty of it tend to balk.

Back in December, OWS attempted to occupy Duarte Square, a vacant, gravel covered lot on Canal Street that is owned by Trinity Church.  It was well-publicized beforehand, as were attempts to negotiate with Trinity for use of the space without interference by the NYPD.  It didn’t work, on both counts.  Several hundred people showed up, but so did the cops.  After folks went over the fence, about 50 were arrested and charged with trespassing.  The most iconic images from that day are of George Packard, a retired Episcopal bishop (yes, same branch of Protestant Christianity as Trinity), in his scarlet robes climbing over the fence and subsequently being arrested.  (He was also arrested on May 1 at 55 Water Street at the end of our May Day activities.)  It is now nearly six months later, and those folks are going to trial on June 11.

In response to the complete shit-fuckery of a church charging members of an economic justice (among other things) movement with trespassing on an empty lot, Jack is going on a medication and hunger strike.  Jack is 57.  We’ve done a bunch of jail support work together.  He helps keep some of the other middle-aged white men in line.  Pertinent to his strike, he is HIV+.  He won’t be taking medication or eating until Trinity drops all charges.  (He is an occupier, though, so cigarettes and coffee are still in!)  Today is day 5 of his medication strike and day 2 of his hunger strike.  I’m sure Trinity has heard by now, but you might want to contact them in support of Jack and in support of our comrades who will shortly be in court.

Video statement from Jack that I can’t get off of Facebook [halp?]

 

 

ETA: 5/30/12.  Via Facebook, Jack asks, “[P]lease send Rector Cooper, jcopper@trinitywallstreet.org, an email in support of my medication/hunger strike. Today is the 11th day I have been without my lifesaving medications and the 7th day without food and necessary nutrition. I am deadly serious about this strike…”

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Filed under #D17, Direct Action, Friends of the Library, Jaime, Solidarity, Video

Art & Labor

This is how I feel about labor lockouts.

So, one of the four versions of Edvard Munch’s The Scream — pastel on board, and the only one still in private hands — sold for $119.9 million at Sotheby’s (including buyer’s commission) here in New York on Wednesday, setting a record for the highest price ever paid for an artwork at auction.  (Some people think there’s better things to spend that much money on, even in the art world.  I’d probably buy a bunch of lesser-known Impressionists and a shit-ton of Italian Art Nouveau everything.)

I have so much to say about this!

I take a professional interest, as this is my industry.  I’m an art librarian, and, as the stalkers, fanboys, and government info-mining creepers know, I work at a small art auction house. (Don’t judge, a girl’s gotta pay her student loans, and, anyway, my boss doesn’t mind if I take occasional time off to occupy shit.)  As such, I like to keep tabs on the art market (current thoughts — only really cheap and really expensive stuff sell around here; the destruction of a comfy middle to upper-middle class with a good outlook on the economy has also destroyed that large middle part of the arts & antiques market).  I also am really onboard with organizing labor around industries, rather than trades or workplaces.  To paraphrase Utah Philips, if the pilots, baggage handlers, air traffic controllers, and flight attendants all organized together, we’d own the airline by now.  An injury to one, and all that.  In that light, the Sotheby’s art handlers’ problems are my problems, too, even though I’m a librarian rather than an art handler and I work at a different house.

For those who’ve missed it, the art handlers at Sotheby’s, Teamsters from Local 814, have been locked out for nine months — since last August 1.  A lockout is like the opposite of a strike — it’s what owners and managers can do to workers during a labor dispute; they literally or figuratively lock workers out of their places of employment, hoping that the economic coercion will force workers to concede.  In the meantime, companies will hire temporary workers [i.e. scabs] to keep the place running.  It can be a crapshoot for the owners, as it costs more than business as usual; Sotheby’s will almost certainly lose money this year compared to if the Teamsters had had their contract.  Historically speaking, lockouts haven’t been particularly common in recent decades, up until the last few years.  If you ask me, it’s one sign that the oligarchs aren’t looking at this all from a merely fiscal perspective, but are also using whatever tools they have to fight class wars, increase income and wealth inequality, and basically be a bunch of jerks because they don’t quite recognize the rest of us as real people in the same way they are.  Even if it costs them money to do so.

In 2011, Sotheby’s set records for sales and earnings.  And this, at a time when those of us who work — if we can find work — for a living are having a harder and harder time making ends meet.  It is unconscionable that a company doing so well should want to pay its skilled laborer less; it is the very definition of economic exploitation when someone other than those who perform labor profits from it.  The Sotheby’s art handlers — and their families —  lost their health insurance at the beginning of the year.  They are currently receiving $400 unemployment plus $200 a week from the union.  To paraphrase Utah again (I feel like I do that a lot), the issues are wages, hours, and conditions, of course.  The union wants a contract — decent pay, benefits, the ability to organize — and Sotheby’s wants to replace skilled union workers with low-wage, non-union workers, with no benefits and no collective bargaining rights.  Same shit as always.

Aside from picketing at Sotheby’s, the Teamsters, along with OWS folks and other allies, have been targeting their campaign on people and institutions who sell through the auction house.  I went to an action at MoMA in late February.  Two of the museum’s curators approached me — I had just come from work, and so I suppose I was speaking their bespectacled and elbow-patched visual language — and I got the chance to explain it to them, after telling them that I’m an art librarian and an auction house employee myself.  I hope I did my part in bridging the gap between the curators and the handlers; I think I surprised the curators a little, being from their intellectual world, but standing with the Teamsters and the Occupation.  It’s kind of a perverse glee, but that’s one of my great pleasures at the Occupation, sometimes looking all proper and getting approached by non-occupiers who think I’m part of their in-group, and then surprising them by laying some uncomfortable facts and well-thought-out theory on them.  Unfortunately I missed the demonstration outside the sale at Sotheby’s on Wednesday evening, as I was (once again) at Manhattan central booking to retrieve some of the 95 or so comrades who’d been arrested at Tuesday’s May Day actions.  The May Day arrestees included three of our librarians, who’d been grabbed off the sidewalk for nothing more than carrying the black flag and being recognizable as occupiers.  Which is messed up, but less messed up than, say, Shawn’s experience.

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Best Spam Ever

Last night the Library got an unsolicited email, purportedly from a manufacturer in China, that began, “Dear Sir or Madam: Glad to hear you are on the market for cardboard box [sic] …”

 

*drops mic*  I think we can all go home now.

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Filed under Jaime, LOL

May Day General Strike Info Round-Up

Tomorrow!  I can barely contain myself.  In the meantime, here’s DA Mom’s round-up of important information for tomorrow’s actions in New York City.

The May Day NYC website has a schedule of events, list of participating organizations, links to other locations’ actions, and other useful tidbits.

If you use Twitter, some of the hashtags to follow will be #MayDay, #M1NYC, #M1GS, #GeneralStrike, #99PKTS, #May1, #OWS, #MTA, #NYPD, #NYC.  Tweeters who usually have good info include @OWSTactical, @DiceyTroop, @sabokitty, @OccupySteve, @_girlalex, @OWSBC, @PoweredByCats, @occutine, @TimCast, @OccupyWallSt, @OccupyWallStNYC.  Your dear librarians tweet, as always, from @OWSLibrary.

Streamers work from two places, UStream and LiveStream.  On UStream, try stopmotionsolo, pinkladies, timcast, occupiedair, or owsnyclive.  On LiveStream, try owshdtv.

If that’s not enough media for you, there’s also May Day Radio and Media For the 99%.

Enough of that.  On to dressing and packing!  It’s going to be a long day, the weather might not be great, there’s going to be a lot of long walks, and the cops are going to be heavy-handed.   That said, some of your decisions can be made based on your risk level; if you’ll be in green zones all day you might dress differently than if you’ll be going red.  A longer check-list is here.  My advice:

  • Comfy, sturdy, water-proof or -resistant shoes, such as hiking boots.
  • Full-length pants.
  • A couple upper-body layers that are breathable & will still keep you warm if damp.  I’ll be wearing light wool.
  • It might rain in the morning, consider a light rain coat that can be stuffed in a bag when the weather clears.
  • If you have the space, carry some clothes that allow you to khaki-flage or go civilian.  Or, dress that way in the first place.  For example, I might pack a blouse and a pair of loafers, and wear corduroys instead of jeans.  That way I can look “normal” in a rush-hour crowd or look business-casual if I end up doing jail support later in the day.
  • Do not bring anything that you aren’t ok with loosing.
  • Do not wear contact lenses.  Really.
  • Don’t wear earrings, necklaces, etc. that could be grabbed and ripped off.
  • Don’t wear makeup or put on lotion — pepper spray sticks to it.
  • Wear long hair so that it can’t easily be grabbed, such as in a bun.
  • Smaller bags, worn close to the body, are better.  Harder to grab, and lighter.
  • Water and calorie-dense snacks (Clif Bars, nuts, dried fruit, pastries).
  • If you expect to be in yellow or red zones, consider a couple bandanas (mind the masking laws!), leather work gloves, air-tight goggles.  Some of this stuff is really specific to the kinds of less-than-lethal weapons your local police force likes to use; for example, tear gas canisters are hot, so you need gloves to throw them back handle them, but aren’t a thing we’ve seen NYPD use.  [By the way, canisters are easily dealt with by either putting a bucket over them or submersing them in water. Just saying.]
  • Cell phone & camera.  Bring an extra battery and charging cables.
  • Carry a valid government-issued ID, if you have one.  You don’t legally have to, but you might get out of jail faster.
  • DO NOT bring anything that can incriminate you or people connected to you.  Weapons, drugs you don’t have a prescription for (bring a doctor’s note or prescription if you have legal drugs), your address book, etc.  Delete interesting photos from your phone or camera.  If you are arrested the cops will go through all your stuff very carefully.

There’re a few important phone numbers.  These are New York City specific.  The National Lawyers Guild (those are the folks in the green hats) is 212-679-6018.  Jail Support Coordination is 774-257-4697.  Medic dispatch is 917-727-8621.  If you  haven’t already committed the NLG number to memory, write it on yourself in Sharpie, somewhere that clothes and sweat won’t rub it off. I go with the inside of my calf.  Especially if you will be in red zones, also consider writing an emergency contact number and medical info (blood type, allergies, etc) on your body, in case you get the shit beaten out of you.  If you witness arrests, or are arrested yourself, call the NLG to report it.  Try to get arrestees’ names, so that we can find them later at precincts and central booking.  If not, give a good description, or at the very least a head-count.  If someone near you is injured, yell “medic!” as loud as you can.

Lastly, we know that the cops are mostly a bunch of jerks who don’t like to uphold the law when it’s inconvenient to do so.  Which means, while there are laws about where we can be and what we can do, it doesn’t mean we won’t be arrested for trying to do those supposedly legal things.  Signs, standing on the sidewalk, running, dancing, saying mean things, et fucking cetera, have all gotten folks arrested lately.  That said, there are some things you can do to decrease your chance of arrest, or at least give yourself a stronger case in court.

Know your rights!  The NY Civil Liberties Union has a lot of information, but I’ll also sum it up for you.  As we said at summer camp, this is a repeat-after-me song; as you read this paragraph, repeat the things you might have to say a few times out loud.  If police stop you, ask, “Am I free to go?”  If they say yes, leave; if they say no, ask “Am I being detained?”  If they say no, leave; if they say yes, holler for legal and media.   If cops try to search you, say, “I do not consent to this search.”  They’ll probably still search you, but anything they find may not then be admissible in court.  Of course, if they have a warrant, they can search you and it’ll be admissible, no matter what you say; in that case, demand to see the warrant, don’t let them bullshit you.  This also applies if cops show up at your door.  Do not let them in — don’t even open the door! — unless they show you a warrant with all the correct information on it.  Other than the above, the only other thing you should ever say to a cop (or other law enforcement agent) is “I am going to remain silent; I would like to speak to a lawyer.”  You can (and probably should) give them you name and address, but after that, shut up.  Really, anything you say can and will be used against you, so zip it!  As Safer Spaces said at GA on my first day at the occupation: rule number one, don’t talk to cops, rule number two, don’t talk to cops!  You are allowed to video the cops, including any interactions you have with them.  They won’t like it, but it’s legal and good idea.

A short word on horses — the NYPD likes to bring them out for crowd control on big action days.  We may see some tomorrow.  Horses are naturally disinclined to step on people, though some of that gets trained out of police mounts.  So, if you’ve got some coming at you, and you can’t get out of the way, make yourself compact, cover your head, keep your limbs tucked in, and stay still.

 

So, I’ll see y’all in the morning.  I plan to eat a good dinner, polish my boots, kiss one of my menfolk, and go to bed early.  We’ve a long day ahead of us.

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Filed under #M1GS, Announcements, Cops, Direct Action, Free Speech, Jaime, NLG, Party time!, Radical Reference, Solidarity

Meeting tomorrow!

Y’all, we’ve a working group meeting tomorrow, Sunday, April 29. It’s the last chance we have to get ourselves settled before May Day, so everyone please show up.

6pm by the Gandhi statue in Union Square.

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Filed under Announcements, Jaime, Process

Further May Day Prep

Four day, folks, just four days until May Day!  Are you excited?  I’m excited.  The weather is projected to be mixed sun and clouds, with temperatures in the mid-60s.

In the meantime, the street medics could use a boost.  Remember, the ass they save could be yours.  Kitchen could also use a little help from their friends, but I can’t seem to find the WePay link for them at the moment.  Anyone?  If you can’t spare the cash, in-kind contributions can be brought in on May Day; there will be oodles of mutual aid going on at Bryant Park from 8am to 2pm.

And, as mentioned in my last post, keep us on the streets with the bail fund.

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Filed under #M1GS, Direct Action, Donations, Jaime

May Day!

Just one week until May Day, friends!  (Which will also be my 28th birthday.  A general strike: great birthday present, or best birthday present ever?)  As Betsy mentioned below, the People’s Library will be out and about at Bryant Park, Madison Square Park (with Free University), and Union Square.

It’s going to be a big, exciting day.  But, since the NYPD doesn’t like us to have nice things, we expect to see some of our friends end up in jail (again).  If anyone out there has a few bucks to spare, we’d all really appreciate contributions to the OWS May Day Legal Expense Fund.  That’s the bail fund, folks, and more money means more of our people bailed out, on May Day and in the future.  After trials are complete, bail money circulates back into the fund, so it’s a gift that keeps giving.

And, if you just can’t wait for May Day to hit the streets, there are a few actions between now and then.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 25, ACT-UP is holding a 25th anniversary action, and calling for a financial transaction tax to raise the funds needed to end the global AIDS epidemic.  Meet at City Hall at 11am for a rally and then march down towards Wall Street.  ACT-UP has always rolled pretty hard, and lots of folks are coming from out of town, so it should be very exciting!

Also tomorrow, 4pm at Union Square,  the Occupy Student Debt Campaign is having a mocking party to recognize that the combined student debt in the USA has topped $1trillion.  Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, Plus Brigades, and Billionaires for Debt will all be in attendance.

And then, this Friday will be the last weekly Spring Training before May Day; meet at Liberty at 2pm.  See you in the streets!

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Filed under Announcements, Donations, Jaime, Solidarity