Report from #FloodWallStreet and #PeoplesClimateMarch

On September 23rd, at 5:30am, I picked up my personal belongings and exited New York City jail, along with a handful of others. We were arrested during #FloodWallSt, one day after the #PeoplesClimateMarch. It was an exhilarating and beautiful few days of action that reminded me how much we can still accomplish in the streets, and made clear to me what issues are going to help unify the climate justice movement in the coming years.

Truthfully, I hadn’t planned on attending the #PeoplesClimateMarch until two weeks prior. I’d heard the march was organized by to coincide with the UN Climate Summit. The idea was to call for the largest climate justice rally in history to raise public awareness and apply pressure to those inside the summit. If you aren’t hip to how UN “Climate Summits” work, they are complete theater and produce little or no actual change: a bunch of “world leaders” make bold promises and passionate speeches for the cameras, but no significant legitimate climate policy ever comes of it, and the notion of identifying capitalism / corporate globalism as the root cause of the destruction of our planet is unthinkable.

I had little interest in attending another symbolic march. There were going to be plenty of people there already and I didn’t feel like my presence was needed. However, after watching the daily coverage at in the lead-up to the event, I began to understand that the #PeoplesClimateMarch was planned with a more radical strategy. I followed the link from DN! to and saw there was an avalanche of legit community action groups, student groups, and non-profits from around the country listed as partners.

Radical grassroots partners and speakers, including Naomi Klein and her new book: “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” were featured so prominently in the program, I knew this action was going to be something different. I read further and saw that the events for the weekend actually started on Friday with teach-ins, workshops, and direct action trainings Friday and Saturday leading up to the climate justice march on Sunday, and continuing with major civil disobedience on Monday.

I followed the #FloodWallSt hashtag to and read the basic plans for the civil disobedience. The idea was that if enough outreach was done, many people would stay in New York overnight on Sunday and participate in a planned action to disrupt Wall Street during business hours. Why disrupt Wall Street? Because all the major weapons manufacturers, energy companies, and other industrial corporations destroying our planet are traded and thrive through Wall St. Capitalism cannot be reformed, there are no adjustments or legislative fixes that will change the way it functions: which is to voraciously maneuver to expand profit at any cost, regardless of lives lost or ecosystems anihilated. Participants were asked to wear blue, to symbolize the rising water that will overtake Manhattan some day if the global temperature continues to increase, as well as the flood of climate change activists that would fill the streets.



The next day I got an email from a longtime comrade with a link to purchase bus tickets with activists heading from Providence to the action: Better Future Project / 350 and student groups from Brown, URI, and more, had organized NINE buses full of people from RI. Not many of my Providence comrades or close friends were able to make it to the march or stay for Monday’s civil disobedience, but I was able to meet up with bunch of Occupy Providence family along the way.

We gathered outside the State House at 5:30am. It was as early as hell, but there was a lot of excitement and positive energy on our bus.The Occupy Prov crew and I got separated from the RI contingent when we got to New York. There were thousands and thousands of people in the streets. More than I had seen at any action since the high point of the Iraq War protests in the early 2000’s. We walked around with comrades from an anarchist group for awhile but decided to stay when we saw the #FloodWallSt contingent.


Our crew joined hundreds of other people carrying the largest banner I’ve ever seen in my life: it was 300 feet long and eight feet wide, reading: “Capitalism = Climate Chaos.” The message would be clearly visible from the sky and to anyone looking down from the buildings we’d be passing. It was exactly what needed to be said and we carried that banner proudly for the entire three-mile march.











Looking around it became clear that the majority of the messaging was blatantly anti-capitalist. Signs read: “Capitalism Is Destroying Our Planet,” “Corporate Globalism doesn’t work: System change now!” “Climate Change is Class War.” I thought it was just our area but as thousands of people streamed by on either side heading for different parts of the march, I saw that the signs were almost all of similar messaging. From watching #DemocracyNow I knew that there was a large contingent of First Nation activists leading the march with a clearly anti-capitalist message as well.


Some of the chants and songs that stuck out to me most from the day were:

People gonna rise like the water,
gotta calm this crisis down.
I hear the voice of my great grand-daughter,
saying shut down Wall Street now.


1-2-3-4 — Climate Change is Class War!
5-6-7-8 — Frack the war and smash the State!!

After protesting for the last fifteen years, I’ve only seen small or medium sized socialist, anarchist, or anti-capitalist contingents within a march or protest. The #PeoplesClimateMarch was totally different. This was a 400,000 person event where the vast majority of participants were connecting capitalism, corporate globalism, and militarism directly to climate disaster. I had to pinch myself. Many elders in the movement have said for years, that the overall climate movement would be the umbrella that brings the working class together to enact system change and smash the 1%. Last Sunday’s enormously successful march was a glimpse of that for me.



Folks from #FloodWallSt and organizers from #PeoplesClimateMarch were passing out flyers for the civil disobedience training that night at 7p and the #FloodWallSt action the next day. I got a stack and began handing them out as well. The march was long and slow (like it should be), filling the streets of NYC for most of the afternoon. When marchers finally got to the end, there were radical anti-capitalist Hip Hop and theater performances, countless community action tables with info on different climate justice campaigns, and a long beautiful row of much needed port-o-potties.

I said goodbye to the Occupy PVD crew as they headed back for the buses, got dinner, then found my way to the civil disobedience training. Folks from #OccupyWallSt / #FloodWallSt were facilitating the meeting, covering details of arrest protocol and possible scenarios for the action. The next morning we gathered a few blocks from Wall Street in Battery Park. The organizers were expecting a couple hundred people, but to everyone’s surprise, by 10am there were a few thousand people there. Naomi Klein spoke, so did Christopher Hedges, Elisa Estronioli, Mamadou Goita, Miriam Miranda, and more. Folks got a crash course in how to use the People’s mic and another training on the planned civil disobedience sit-in for the day: we would march to the steps of the Stock Exchange or as close we could get, and shut the street down. The march was organized into three tiers: arrestable participants up front, followed by those willing to support and potentially risk arrest in the process, and finally those who believed in the action and wanted to partake but were not in position to risk arrest.

We marched out of the park 3,000 strong just after 11am. The cops tried to funnel us onto the sidewalk but we took the street instead. Earlier that morning, scouts from the #FloodWallSt organizing committee had taken note of the hundreds of police officers already stationed at all intersections leading into Wall Street. The heaviest police presence was at the intersection of Broadway and Wall St, directly in the line of our march—obviously they had done their scouting too.

What they didn’t know was that we were ready to adapt: all three thousand marchers clogged the street and headed up Broadway, but the front of the march bent onto Whitehall St and formed around the stupid “Wall St. Bull” sculpture. This allowed us to surround the symbol of Wall St while shutting down all of Broadway from the Bull to the intersection of Wall St. By doing this, we avoided getting kettled and immediately arrested by the huge contingent of officers guarding the intersection, but still shut down the road and made sure that Wall St would also be closed by the police blockade. Pretty smart for a bunch of “jobless hippies!”



Three thousand people sat down in unison. Like something right out of the Sixties. The huge “Capitalism = Climate Chaos” banner was rolled out and a gigantic foil beach ball representing the true cost to the environment if energy corporations burn all known fossil fuel left in the ground or “carbon bubble” (see:, was rolled along the top of it. There were many cops inside the barricades protectively surrounding the Bull and eyeing the carbon bubble hatefully. The bubble eventually landed in front of the sculpture and a white-shirted (higher ranking) officer ordered the other cops to pop it. They looked like bullies at the beach smashing a kid’s sand-castle. The crowd went wild though, as metaphorically speaking, it seemed that the State had finally come to its senses and helped the people crush the carbon bubble! Looking at their faces, the metaphor was clearly lost on them.

Look close! I’m helping to hold the banner!

Shortly after, one of the activists stood up and declared that it was time to reign in Wall St corruption: he produced a rope and tried to lasso the charging Bull! The crowd cheered as he got closer with each attempt, but the cops swarmed to defend their masters’ pet and confiscated the damned rope. You can always count on the fuzz to protect and serve the 1%—but when it comes to Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, people of color, poor folks in general, or mother earth? Not so much.

Nevertheless, morale was high, and folks continued to sit in. Most of us realized that something was off: no riot police were called in and the hundreds of regular cops behind the barricades were staying put. During the trainings, the #FloodWallSt organizers made it clear that holding the space for even an hour would be a huge victory. It was long past an hour now, we’d held the street, and the cops weren’t making any move to break us up. Mayor de Blasio must’ve cc’d in the entire police department on the same email that morning: “Embarrass me while the national media is in town for the UN climate summit, and I will fucking END YOU.”

As fears of an immediate mass-arrest wore off, folks broke into small circles to discuss what to do next. Another hour past. Food and water were brought in, and people moved freely in and out of the barricades. Street performers showed up. Broadway transformed into a mini occupy festival. After much discussion in small groups and via the People’s Mic, the majority of the people decided we’d won a victory by holding the street for hours and now it was time to attempt breaking the police blockade at Wall St.

Everyone rose and marched to the intersection of Broadway and Wall St. The enormous formation of officers was waiting with two rows barricades and mounted police behind them. #FloodWallSt activists tried to remove the first row of barricades and get closer. De Blasio’s orders must have been severe because the cops didn’t get violent at first! They just reinforced the barricades. A pushing war between cops and protesters ensued. The metaphor from People vs. Cops, to Climate vs. Wall St, was staggering.

If you’ve ever been involved in a clash with police in the U.S., you know how absurd what I’m writing is. Police in this country do not tolerate resistance to “command presence.” If you are pushing barricades into police officers, you’re lucky if you only wind up getting arrested, and not clubbed, pepper sprayed, tased, or shot. But I’m being real here, all they did was push back against the barricades, that is… until the people actually started winning.

Then the cops initiated punching, screaming, and shoving while the white-shirts pepper sprayed the crowd.

Only in the process, they hit many journalists and cops as well. You could see them coughing, covering their faces, and calling for water. #Blowback

The pepper spray backed off the crowd but instead of retreating, #FloodWallStreet activists resumed the sit-in. Hundreds of people sitting right in the middle of the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, a block and a half away from the Stock Exchange.

A couple of the people up front pushing against the barricades got arrested. The National Lawyers Guild (our heroes!) were on hand, got the their names, and began tracking them through the system. The rest of the crowd chanted and sang anti Wall Street messages. Large numbers of cops moved up Broadway from behind us and in front of us. Once again, that sense of being about to get arrested was imminent and the air was charged with anticipation, but no additional arrests were made, the police just readjusted their flanks to the new location of our sit-in.

The People’s Mic started up and a stack of speakers was taken. Students, workers, and veteran #OccupyWallSt members from NYC and all over the country told their stories. Some declared victory, and suggested we could go home to plan the next action without getting arrested. Some implored the crowd to stay as long as it took. Others pleaded with those present to stay committed and escalate tactics in the climate justice movement at all costs whether they stayed or left the sit-in.

We’d lost a decent amount of folks over the last six hours and now more began to drift off, but even with reduced numbers, we still had hundreds of people. A soccer game started up between the barricades. People left and returned with food. This went on for another hour and a half or more. The sun was going down and the temperature was dropping. Most of the remaining folks were from the “willing to risk arrest” tier from the beginning of the day and hadn’t brought any warm clothes or gear. Having thought they’d get arrested in the first twenty minutes, most had only brought their ID and a couple bucks. Many felt that the police were trying to wait us out, but wouldn’t resort to mass arrest until midnight, others thought maybe not till the start of the work day in the morning.

What became clear, was that those who had stayed were planning on seeing it through—all night if that’s what it took. An affinity group from MA was discussing trying to hold the street for the length of the entire climate summit, maybe start Occupy Wall Street V 2.0 right here in the middle of the damned road. A call went out for warm clothes and supplies to last the night. It looked like we might be in it for the long haul, but when two tent-like structures made of reclaimed barricades and banner materials went up, whoever was in charge of the cops had seen enough: nothing terrifies NYPD brass like the sight of an unpermitted tent going up blocks from Zuccotti Park.

The cops started closing their ranks and formed into a circle around us. Folks who were unable or unwilling to get arrested raced for the sidewalk while those who could stay for the civil disobedience locked arms in the middle of the intersection. I almost lost my shit and started crying when a climate change activist in a wheelchair, who had difficulty even controlling it under those circumstances, had their comrade wheel them to join us. Lines of police rushed into the street and formed up inside the barricades blocking anyone else from from joining.

And just like that, the happy festival atmosphere was gone and the adrenaline-battle vibe was back on. Looking around, I saw there were about a hundred of us holding street which was surreal because there were hundreds of police and hundreds of people cheering for us from the sidewalk. It definitely felt reassuring to have so many folks shouting support, but I couldn’t help but wonder how things would’ve been harder for the police if we had that many people actually sitting-in with us, or if at that moment, they strategically decided to march on Wall St and set up another sit-in on the steps of the Stock Exchange while the cops were busy with us. Sometimes I look around at actions and it feels like there are more radical “street medics,” photographers, and videographers, than there are radical activists.

Further, what if all three thousand people who had marched out of Battery Park were with us were here now? We would’ve had enough people to send fifteen-hundred of us to the steps of the Stock Exchange, while still having another fifteen-hundred in place to hold the intersection. Maybe we could’ve kept the sit-in strong for the length of the climate summit. This wasn’t really a consideration earlier in the day because nobody guessed there’d be that many people in attendance or that the cops wouldn’t be in mass-arrest mode right from the start.

Being a self employed, cisgender, hetero, white-male citizen who isn’t on any kind of probation, I realize that I have a ton of privileges. I completely understand that not everyone can risk arrest, but there were a whole lot of white, middle class, “environmental activists” screaming about how “there’s not much time left to save the planet” earlier in the day and the day before: where were they now? We work, go to class, party, and watch Netflix nearly 365 days a year, we can’t take two full days to combat climate justice, even now, at the tipping point of disaster? If not now, when?

The crowd started chanting to the cops: “Go Arrest Wall St — Don’t Arrest Them! Go Arrest Wall St — Don’t Arrest Them!” The message made some of the police visibly uncomfortable. One of the people sitting-in got up and started screaming at the cops, calling them cowards and tyrants for arresting us. He beat on his chest and went on about how he wasn’t afraid and how we all had to stand up for our rights. I got pissed because he was making all these aggressive motions and really whooping it up. These cops had been docile as kittens for most of the day and I didn’t wanna get beat the fuck up or pepper-sprayed in the final moments because this dude felt like having a Braveheart moment.

If you’ve ever been to an IMF, World Bank, DNC, RNC, etc., type protest, where it’s a bunch of radicals against the cops over the course of a few days, you know that these cops don’t play. You can get as loud as you want, but the second they feel threatened, bored, or disrespected; the moment you touch them, or attempt to take the march or action anywhere they deem unacceptable, they crack down with riot gear, batons, and zip ties. It’s generally over very quickly and they’re total dicks while arresting you: putting zip ties on tight, making you walk backwards to the bus, denying access to bathrooms, screaming at you to not look them in the eye, and generally working to make the process as unpleasant and terrifying as possible.

I didn’t know if it was this guy’s first action or what, but today had been a cake-walk. Our civil disobedience was working and there was no tactical advantage whatsoever in my opinion to risk agitating a violent reaction at that point. Thankfully he wrapped up his monologue and sat the fuck down.

Everyone passed a around a paper and pen, making sure that the National Lawyer’s Guild had our info and could track us through the system. The cops gave an official order to disperse but the sit-in only started chanting louder: “You’ve got the wrong people — We think you want THEM!” and pointed at Wall St. There was a second order to disperse and then a third, explaining that the police would be coming to arrest us one by one, that if we didn’t resist arrest we’d only be charged with disorderly conduct. What planet am I on right now?! I thought. Since when do cops breaking up a protest give three dispersal orders, explain your rights and charges, and then gently tap you on the shoulder saying it’s time to go?

I’m in the photo above, at the bottom left: so proud of this comrade for seeing the action through and taking the arrest with a smile!

But that’s exactly what happened. Groups of three or four cops, without riot gear, walked up to the sit-in and pointed to a person, nicely turned you around, then put on the “flex-cuffs,” way more comfy than the old zip ties!

As a person was being escorted to the bus, folks from the sit-in would ask what your name was, you’d tell them, and the whole place would cheer for you. When it was my turn, a girl in the middle shouted, “Hey, What’s your name?” “My name is Jared Paul from Providence, Rhode Island and I PUT ON FOR MY CITY!” I screamed.

As I was escorted to the police bus I could see the line of supporters going down the block. Some friends of my mine in the crowd saw me and started cheering. I yelled as loud as I could: “Capitalism is chaos! Power to the People!!” It was a little indulgent, but I couldn’t resist. I wanted the cameras to have audio documentation of us connecting climate justice to capitalism and for the crowd to know that those of us getting arrested were feeling strong.

This amazing girl on my bus knew tons of protest songs. She taught us the basic lines and we sang the whole way to the station. The cops didn’t try to quiet us down at all. It wasn’t a long ride to the station, but the singing made the time fly even faster. To the best of my knowledge there were 98 of us arrested at the sit-in. Getting processed went pretty quickly. The guys were detained in one big holding tank, and the girls were placed in smaller three person cells.
The guys holding tank looked like an Occupy direct action meeting: most folks gathered in the main area talking excitedly and strategizing. Folks exchanged info and stories, debriefed on the days events.

We were arrested around 8p, went through intake and placed in holding around around 11p, and the last of us was released by 5:30a or so. Nobody was charged with anything other than disorderly conduct, so, there was no overnight, no being transferred to central booking at 6am to be arraigned at 8am, etc. Just a summons to come back to court later this month. In all honesty, it was the gentlest and fastest protest arrest I’ve ever been through.

The National Lawyers Guild and #FloodWallSt jail support crew was waiting with hot coffee, tea, food, and blankets when we got out. They stayed until everyone was accounted for, they even lined up a church rectory floor for folks who didn’t have a place. If you don’t know about the National Lawyers Guild, you should definitely look them up:, they are truly my heros: lawyers that believe in activism and the people’s right to protest and to civil disobedience. Same goes for our courageous Jail Support organizers and volunteers. They have protesters backs at all the big actions and are 100% thorough and committed. We’d be fucked without them, and I’d be remiss not to mention it.

I exchanged contact info with folks I’d been arrested with, gave hugs, and then took a cab back to Brooklyn with a long-time #OWS comrade of mine and slept for the next ten hours.
We could’ve done more with our numbers, but shutting down one of the busiest streets in NYC’s financial sector and causing the police to blockade the most heavily trafficked intersection leading to Wall Street for almost twelve hours? A hundred people arrested for civil disobedience? That’s not nothing either.

Between the totally anti-capitalist messaging of Sunday’s march and the size of it (400,000), the call for civil disobedience at Wall St to match it, and the 3,000 people who actually turned out in an effort to escalate the intensity of the Climate Justice movement on Monday? The #PeoplesClimateMarch and #FloodWallSt were a complete success in my opinion.

We can have all the rallies, marches, protests, and email petitions we want, but our corporate owned Republicrats and Democrans will never take real action to prevent climate disaster. The energy companies are not going to give up the $30 trillion worth of oil, coal, and fracking revenue they can still extract from the earth—not even if it means another 1,000 Deep Water Horizon spills. Let’s be 100% clear: they DO NOT CARE what happens us.

The only way to stop them is to get in the streets, to get into the path of the Tar-Sands and Amazon bulldozers, to get into our State Houses, and city halls, and shut shit down. That’s gonna take a lot of sacrifice from a lot of privileged people. I know that I will be taking the next couple weeks to seriously reconsider where I’m at and what I can give. I’ll leave you with a moving letter submitted by some of the comrades I was arrested with at #FloodWallSt, who are strategizing for how we can escalate the climate justice movement in the future:

You can also watch #DemocracyNow livestream coverage of the #PeoplesClimateMarch at:

For more amazing photos of the action please check Jenna Pope’s brilliant photo blog at:

<Get In The Streets pic>
Photo of me getting arrested by Heather Cramer Robinson

All other photos by Jessica Lehrman at, OWS, or are marked by the photographer.

My RNC Civil Suit Comes To a Close

This article originally appeared at RIFuture.Org, and has been re-published on SocialistWorker.Org

Four years ago I was arrested while walking through a park at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Along with many other alarmed citizens, I was charged with Felony Riot and taken to Ramsey County Jail. With the support of Minneapolis Hip Hop group Atmosphere and the Rhode Island music label Strange Famous Records, I was bonded out of jail and then hired a private attorney.

We beat the case handily and all charges were dropped. Police arrested over 800 people in four days at the RNC 2008. Many of us believed this was not only unlawful but an intentional effort to suppress citizen voices of dissent at the convention. So we filed a civil suit and took the City to Federal Court for violating our First and Fourth Amendment Rights. After four years of fighting the case is now over.

In 2010, with trial set for a month away, our first judge granted the City a summary judgement and threw the case out. Along with our attorney, my fellow arrestees and I found this unacceptable. We felt it was our civic and patriotic duty to pursue justice and continue doing anything in our legal power to make sure that these violations didn’t go unchecked. Together, we then appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals but ran up against a very conservative judge who said that the police should be “praised for their work at the RNC, not sued.”

Having come this far, and being unwilling to give up till all possibilities were exhausted, we took the case to the highest court in the land. In November of 2012, after examining our case and the previous decisions, the Supreme Court chose not to hear the appeal.

There are no legal options left and my comrades and I are satisfied that we defended ourselves and the constitution to the best of our ability. After an arbitrary, mass arrest, we were given trumped up charges and threatened with harsh penalties in hopes that we would accept a plea deal for actions we weren’t guilty of, but we didn’t take any plea. From my vantage point, this is not a defeat, it’s a clear victory.

We beat the city fair and square, and then we went on the offensive. We refused to allow the City to break the law without impunity. We took them to court. And then appealed to a higher court each time we were brushed off. If all working class defendants had the proper counsel, time, resources, and support to fight all the way through the Trial and Appeals process it’d be significantly harder for police and prosecutors to wrongfully arrest and jail people.

I for one am more than happy to have been a thorn in their side for the past four years and to be part of the recent rising trend of working class people learning their rights, getting help, and fighting back.

My attorney drafted a letter to multiple Minneapolis publications in December and January. It was never published. I’ve now been given permission to make the letter public. His insightful and eloquent words are posted below.


The City of St. Paul hosted the Republican National Convention four years ago,
and most Minnesotans are likely relieved that it is behind us. But there is a legacy from
the RNC that most Minnesotans are not aware of. Last fall, the United States Supreme
Court signed off on a decision from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in a mass arrest
case arising out of the RNC. That decision in Bernini v. St. Paul diminishes the Fourth
Amendment rights of all citizens attending public events.

The Bernini case carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment to allow
officers during demonstrations to arrest every single person in an area for the purpose
of identifying alleged lawbreakers. This exception undermines the bedrock principal
enunciated by the Supreme Court over thirty years ago in Ybarra v. Illinois that probable
cause for an arrest cannot be based merely on “where [a] person may happen to be.”

The facts of the late afternoon mass arrest on September 1, 2008 are as follows:
the incident location was Shepard Road, the boulevard that borders the Mississippi next
to downtown St. Paul. A group of 10 to 15 protesters attempted to cross Shepard toward
Jackson St., an entry point into downtown. Stationed at the entry to Jackson was a law
enforcement unit in riot garb.

What happened next was captured on video and has been posted publicly on
the internet. The small group shuffled slowly behind two signs. When the small group
reached the median of Shepard, the officers launched stinger blast balls at them, followed by smoke and gas. The officers claimed that the group had attacked them with a barrage of rocks, urine, and feces. The video showed no such attack.

Over one hundred officers massed on Shepard and pushed all civilians in the
area west, away from downtown. Law enforcement commanders had set up a “blocking
line” further to the west on Shepard to corral all civilians being pushed towards them.
In carrying out this corral, officers swept up people who had nothing to do with the
protesters and those who had been nowhere near Jackson.

Upon completing the corral next to the Mississippi, officers had surrounded
approximately 400 confused, peaceful civilians. Officers then announced by
loudspeaker, “Ladies and Gentlemen, you are now under arrest.” There was one, huge
problem: officers only claimed to have probable cause to believe that a small percentage
of the 400 arrested had committed a crime.

The Senior Commander that day was well aware of this probable cause
shortcoming and so admitted when testifying in Bernini:

Q. [D]id you know that some of the people who were going to be arrested, you
did not have probable cause on?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. [Y]ou knew that you had approximately 200 people in the area within
the encirclement who you did not have probable cause on?

A. Correct.

So how is it that the courts gave their imprimatur to the arrests of at least 200
innocent civilians? First, the District Court Judge took offense that throngs of people
sought to disturb the RNC. He could not contain his displeasure and declared in open
court, “the police force of the City of St. Paul should be commended and not sued… I’m
distressed by, frankly, the existence of this case.” So much for the Fourth Amendment.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court that reviewed the District
Court decision, assumed that everyone who was released after being put under arrest
wasn’t really “arrested” and thus had no Fourth Amendment protection. The judges
then engaged in the fuzziest of math, to arrive at the proposition that officers can use
rough numbers when arresting civilians. Otherwise put, civilians in any given area are
interchangeable widgets for arrest purposes. As long as officers arrive at a reasonable
ballpark estimate for the number of people to arrest, their actions are constitutional.

Over forty years ago, the Supreme Court cautioned, “we cannot forgive the
requirements of the Fourth Amendment in the name of law enforcement.” Bernini tells us
the courts can – and have.

John Joyce:
R.I.P. to one of Rhode Island’s most committed social justice activists

John Joyce
One of Rhode Island’s finest passed away last night. John Joyce was a friend, hero, and mentor of mine. He was truly one of the most committed and effective organizers I’ve ever known. John was a driving force behind the Rhode Island Housing Advocacy Project, Occupy Providence, and countless aggressive direct actions against unjust economic policies and laws.

He was tough as nails. Like a badass construction worker version of Michael Landon in Highway To Heaven with a Carhardt jacket and a thick Rhode Island accent. There’s no way to explain it unless you knew him. He was literally a guardian angel on the Providence streets. An advocate who didn’t spend his days bogged down with conference calls, pining for audience with politicians, writing grants, or networking from behind a computer, John hit the street nearly every day, rain, sleet, or snow, and literally sought out those who were in the most danger and were in the most need of help. Whether in an abandoned building, down by the river, highway overpass, park, bus station, or alley way, John was there. Letting folks know what resources were available to them, but more importantly, being a friend. Sharing a cup of coffee, honestly connecting, honestly caring, and never patronizing. John was sometimes the only person folks who’d fallen on severely hard times would listen to, and there are many who would not be alive today, and many who stayed alive much longer than they would have, had it not been for his efforts.

John was candid as hell. He spoke and conducted himself the same whether talking to a judge in court, to folks on the street, to senators at a State House hearing, whether he was de-escalating a potentially violent situation or whether addressing someone he just met in a coffee shop. Honest and sincere as the day is long. He was nobody’s fool.

He definitely wouldn’t want us moping around over his passing- he’d want us to be good to one another, to consider what life is like for those left out in the cold by a system that rewards exploitation and thrives on economic, social, and racial injustice (regardless of whether or not we ever find ourselves in that situation but knowing that it could happen to anyone). Above all, I believe he would’ve wanted us to stay involved, to keep fighting, and to have fun and enjoy the ride while doing it. John said to me on more than one occasion, “Jared, you’re a hard worker, but you can’t control everything, no one can. You could spend all month or or all week planning out every last detail of a direct action, but once the bell rings, whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen, so have fun! Organize as best you can, but you gotta have a good time too.”

I’m so proud of him. For living such a full, amazing, and compassionate life. For his commitment to the movement, and for enduring his battle with cancer as long as he did. I celebrate his journey, and am grateful to have had him in my life as a friend and a role model. He accomplished too many things to list but I will close by pointing out the passing of RI’s “Homeless Bill of Rights”- legislation, the first of its kind anywhere in the U.S., that mandates an equal right to jobs, housing, and public space for all inhabitants, whether they have a home or not. It also prevents landlords, employers, health clinics, and police from legally denying services to any one simply because they don’t have a permanent residence. The bill guarantees confidentiality of personal records, the right to receive voting materials, and the right to privacy of personal property, as well.

Personally, I don’t think capitalism can ultimately be reformed through legislative change within the system but for those in the most need, those dealing with immediate cold, hunger, and serious health issues in the street, survival is not an abstract dilemma. This bill made an immediate difference in people’s lives in real time. It’s success was made possible by the aggressive direct action and organizing efforts of many members in the Rhode Island Housing Advocacy Project, the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, unaffiliated houseless Rhode Islanders, students, and other local activists, but John was a core organizer for the campaign and it almost certainly wouldn’t have happened, or happened when it did, if not for his efforts. I’ve posted links to relevant and related articles at the bottom of the page.

John, and people like him, are heroes to me. His life deserves to be celebrated and remembered, more than any millionaire exploiter tycoon turned “philanthropist” with the money to put his own quotes up in big letters all over the city, more than millionaire athletes and actors, more than war mongering, union bashing presidents, and more than well known musicians and poets who romanticize, sing, and write about the struggle John put his flesh and blood into.

Be safe, brother. We see you, and will continue the struggle. This world is truly a better place because you were in it.

Love and Solidarity,


*Info on RI Homeless Bill of Rights:


Rhode Island’s Homeless Bill of Rights | Mother Jones

Rhode Island Homeless Bill Of Rights Praised As U.S. Model – Huffington Post

Duty Calls: Withdrawing from 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam in order to OCCUPY!

Originally posted via Facebook

The following is a copy of the email I sent to the Executive Director of Poetry Slam, Inc explaining why I’ve chosen (as much as it hurts me to do so) to withdraw from the 2011 IWPS:

This is crazy, but I have to back out of IWPS. I have a great deal of respect for the history of the tournament and the work that goes into the whole process, as well as for the competitors in this year’s competition, and I have been training harder than ever to be ready for Cleveland, but shortly after those girls got maced at the Occupation of Wall Street, an Occupy Providence movement started in response.

Since then, I’ve gone to every Occupy Providence Assembly; seven 3-5 hour long meetings in the last eight days and I’m now one of the most involved planners for the Direct Action working group (tasked with helping the Assembly to plan march routes, non-violence tactics, logistics of the occupation, etc.) Our occupation starts on Saturday, October 15 and we’ll be working everyday till then.

The timing couldn’t be worse. I believe in the work I was planning to bring to IWPS with every fiber of my being, but we’ve been getting 100 people a day out to our meetings, and I cannot in good conscience walk out on the community that has come together here in Providence at this most crucial moment. Further, the bulk of my work is based around pushing and preparing for the kind of movement that is happening right now. I’ve searched my heart, and, based on what I believe about mass action, the body of work I’ve built, and the messages I’ve pushed, I couldn’t live with myself if I was on stage yelling about the movement I’ve waited my whole life for, while 650 miles away, at that very moment, the city I’ve been organizing in for the last 12 years (my home) was attempting its most serious, grass roots challenge to plutocracy/oligarchy/imperialism in decades, if not ever.

I’ve prayed on it, sought the insight of close friends and family, and beat myself up, even cried over it, but I’ve come to a final decision. I wish I could’ve let IWPS and whoever may take my place know sooner, so that the appropriate planning could have begun, but I myself did not know until now. I sat down to write this email the moment I was 100% sure. I understand how much work goes into planning and putting on a Tournament of this magnitude. I understand how much it means to those competing; it was among the greatest honors of my career to train for and represent Providence at IWPS in 2004, 2006, & 2007. I’ve been training and planning for IWPS 2011 since early August and I built my whole October schedule around it, but there’s no way that I could have known that the Occupy movement would come to my city like it has. There was no way I could’ve known how completely engrossed in it I would become, or that the occupation would begin on 10/15, and so, it is with a heavy, but resolute heart, and the greatest of respect for the slam family, for the competitors and organizers of IWPS 2011, the integrity and craft of performance poetry, of serious writing, and of being what you speak, that I officially withdraw from the Tournament.

With deep regret, but unwavering hope for tomorrow,


Thankfully, she was very kind and understanding. I appreciate it very much. I love my Slam Fam and I’ve got so much respect for the work yall are bringing! I’m positive you’ll go out there, break stages in half, kill mics, and leave Cleveland talking for years. Do your thang, and maybe pour a little organic almond milk out for your lil’ vegan comrade! I’ve made an ugly choice here and its fucking me up a little, but, in the end, it’s the only choice I could make and still be me.

Jared Opens For Our Lady Peace In NYC, Drama Ensues

Originally posted via Facebook

I had the amazing honor of performing two poems and a song with @OurLadyPeace Tuesday night in New York city; two poems before their set, and a song during their second encore. After I performed my first piece there was loud, supportive applause from the approximately 900 person crowd. I smiled at the audience, and said, “I think we’ve got time for one more, you ok with that?” At which point there was another loud, supportive burst of applause.

So, I continued: “I’d like to dedicate this last piece to my Canadian comrades from Our Lady Peace.” To which there was thunderous cheering. I then said, “And also, to the folks here tonight from Occupy Wall Street, and the whole Occupy movement around the country and the world.”

As soon as I said “Occupy Wall Street” about ten to twenty guys toward the back left of the crowd began BOOing. Loudly. With a curious smile, I said, “Is Occupy really that controversial in New York?” And the BOO’s continued.

I went into the first line of the poem ABC’s For Roger (2012), which is posted below, and as I spoke the first line, “My mother was not an American when she crossed the border for the first time,” the BOO’S got even louder and spread out to multiple pockets in the crowd.

At this point, I looked down at the first 20 or so rows of people and saw that they were all locked in to the performance and were annoyed at the BOOing. I’d be goddamned if I was going to let to some anti-Occupy haters bully me off stage. I was also goddamned if I wasn’t enough of a professional to follow through on Our Lady Peace’s choice to allow 8 minutes of radical spoken word at their show; by my assessment there were 30-60 people booing, another 100 or so who were indifferent, but the bulk of the crowd was trying to listen.

When the Boo’ers saw that I had no intention of stopping the piece they Boo’ed even louder. At which point I smiled, stepped closer to the mic, and proportionately increased my volume. About three quarters of the way through the piece, my hecklers seemed a bit demoralized at how unphazed I was, either that, or they had started listening and were maybe giving it a chance. Then I got to the part of the poem where I address some issues I see with Police, and the Boo’ers were rejeuvenated! They started a fresh volley of jeers.

I powered through to the end, relishing the challenge, and finished strong. When I was done, there was a loud, strong applause from the hundreds of folks who were listening. I stepped back a little from the mic, and said, “For those of you Boo’ing, maybe you’ve figured it out by now, but its not my job to send you home happy.” I then asked the crowd to give it up for OLP who were up next. The crowd went crazy with excitement, and I walked off stage feeling like I just had a fist fight.

Backstage, Our Lady Peace were concerned as to whether or not I was OK. I said that I was great but that I hoped I hadn’t embarassed them. They said they were in my corner 100% and we put our hands in on a group huddle, and “Whoaaaaa Team’d!” baseball style in hopes of good luck for the rest of the night. OLP played an amazing, emotional, and intense set; if you’ve never seen them live before, I completely recommend it to music fans of any genre. They blend multiple styles of music, have great range, and the songs are nearly flawless renditions of their recorded albums, but with a rawness and realness that sort of transforms the room. Which is why they’ve been a band for 20 years and are still selling out 900+ person venues around the world. The crowd was through the roof (OLP’s got some of the most devoted and energetic supporters anywhere.) At the end of the night, the band brought me back out for the second encore and I rapped a song over an extended version of the instrumental they use at live shows to intro their hit song Starseed. There was loud applause when I walked back out, applause at multiple parts during the song, and louder applause at the end.

When the show was over, I went down to the lobby to make myself available to anyone who wanted to take a swing at me or talk politics. Instead of getting the shit I expected, I wound up receiving crazy high fives, pats on the back, and “great jobs.” Instead of getting swung on, I was asked to sign 20 or so OLP albums and tickets, and asked to take pictures with over a dozen supporters. Eventually, one republican dude from the crowd came up to me and said, “Hey, man, I disagree with you but I respect that you stuck it out like that. I want to apologize for the people who were boo’ing. I have some questions, can we talk?” We went outside and talked for like 45 minutes with a whole crowd of people. Not a single person other than him said anything negative or challenging to me. All in all, it was a great goddamned night.

Since then, a few OLP fans online have tweeted that having me on as part of the show was “inexecusable” and “cowardly,” and that OLP had “lost them as a fan” after having been subjected to my “un-American” poems. A significantly larger number of folks have tweeted and fb’ed them with support for their decision to include me.

It’s important to note that the loud BOO’ing started 20 seconds before the poem even began. It started as soon as I made the @OccupyWallSt dedication, and was in full swing during the first word of the first line of the piece, but, for anyone who’s interested, I’ve pasted the text of my “cowardly,” “inexcusable,” and “un-American” poem below:

Getting Boo’ed so viciously and attacked online (on some “9/11! How dare you talk about cops in NYC!” over something so not really that radical like this poem, as I’m re-reading Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”, is really driving it home for me how ridiculously privileged I am. Not just as a hetero, white American male, but as an organizer / radical in a post 2000 era. The FBI, CIA, Homeland security, and police forces are still entrapping, kidnapping, detaining, imprisoning, beating, torturing, and killing activists, organizers, un-armed black, asian, and latino teens, men, and women, around the world and in this country as well, but back in the day under the Smith Act and the Espionage Act and COINTELPRO, they did all those things to thousands in broad day light for simply picketing, or taking part in a strike, or even talking about it; for simply being a union member, anti-capitalist, socialist, or anarchist. The viciousness in the tone of those Boo’ers last Tuesday and the guy villifying me on Twitter? Shiiiiiiit. If this was in the heat of the 1930’s labor movement I might be in jail for 7-10, after being mauled by a mob outside the show to boot!

Info on their new album “Curve” is here:

And here’s the video of a song they wrote and donated to the OWS “Occupy Music” working group: