Saturday, October 29, 2011


There was a time...long ago...

We miss you Diana...

We remember all of you...

Diana Part One and Two


Jaleela Al Salman
What have you heard from Bahrain's "Arab Spring, Summer, Autumn", lately.  Well, I won't bore you with Saturday afternoon platitudes.  Just read this from the Women News Network.  

BAHRAIN: Female teacher re-arrest exposes human rights abuse as others recount torture

Women News Network – WNN Breaking News
Women praying outside Bahrain hospital
Women pray for protesters who were injured after riot police stormed an anti-government protest camp, outside the Salmaniya hospital where the casualties were sent to, Manama February 17, 2011. Image: Lou Gold
(WNN) Manama, BAHRAIN: Without proper jurisdiction and legal rights, school teacher and Vice President of Bahrain’s  Teachers Association Mrs. Jaleela Al Salman has been forced to return to prison by Bahrain police security  following her official release from prison while she was waiting for the appeal of her upcoming case set for December 11.
Detained in prison without access to a lawyer from March 29 to August 21, Jaleela faced a Bahraini military courtroom on September 25, 2011 where she was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment on charges of ‘inciting hatred towards the regime.’ Charges also included calling for a teachers strike and attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force. During her days in prison Jaleela later outlined what she calls “beatings” and sexual intimidation under threats of rape that lead her to making a forced confession of guilt before she received her first official day in court.
“I’m not a politician,” says nurse and President of the Bahrain Nursing Society Ms. Roula al-Safar who had volunteered, along with other medical personnel, to help injured protesters on the streets of Manama, February 14, 2011. “I’m one of these people who will run (to aid) whenever there is a disaster,” Roula, who has now been sentenced to 15 years in prison, added.
“Suddenly the hospital was in chaos,” said Roula outlining events of violence against protesters that resulted in those injured being rushed to the hospital at the Salmaniya Medical Complex emergency room in February, causing it to spill beyond capacity.
Describing continued attacks of protesters, and two persons dead, Roula’s eye-witness account outlines her own arrest. “They did not read our warrants (for arrest),” she said. “They did not tell us what we are accused of for 2 or 3 days of continuous beating,” she describes during a Skype interview with Brian Dooley from the international advocacy group Human Rights First, an international agency that works to protect human rights defenders.
Bahrain’s democracy protests have been one of the largest continuing movements in the Middle East where protesters have steadily asked for human rights. Extreme violence against protesters has resulted in deaths as well as the disappearance of others. The count of those who have died is hard to determine officially but comes with eye-witness reports stating that 4 to 50 persons have died and with 1,000+ protesters injured.
“At least 35 people have now been killed since anti-government protests began,” says the October 25, 2011 update for a Motion for Resolution on the Situation in Bahrain by the European Parliament.
Under extreme duress, many of those who were injured on the streets where blocked by security forces. Others injured flooded the hospital in Manama to the point where medical emergency teams could not cope.
During the February violence emergency ambulance medics were attacked as they were trying to help the injured say witnesses to the events. In a formal statement made by Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, following the events she outlined, ““The people of the Middle East and North Africa cannot be denied these basic freedoms. The protestors’ calls for justice, respect for personal freedoms and human rights, for legal and political reforms in this regard, are reasonable and legitimate.”
“We are calling for help from all the countries of the world… These are innocent people,” said eye-witness Dr. Ghassan Dhaif as he described the human rights abuses by Bahrain security officials as they used lethal force against protesters in the early morning hours to break up a February protest tent camp at the Pearl Square traffic circle in Masuma.
“We can’t even identify them (the injured protesters),” Dr. Ghassan outlined during an interview phone-call made with Al Jazeera TV during the February violence. “The ambulance can’t reach them,” he said. “We haven’t done anything and we are shot dead,” Ghassan added as he witnessed events. “The hospital is nearly full,” he continued. “We can’t identify them… We call for urgent help!”
Arrested and tortured on the days following March 19, Ghassan gave a detailed account of his arrest to Doctors in Chains, an advocacy group of medical professionals located in countries outside of Bahrain.
“I was arrested by a group of masked men wearing civilian clothes. I was back handcuffed and my face was covered by black bag tied forcefully at my neck in front of my family. I was taken to a room, beaten on my face, chest and legs without given any charges or reason for arrest,” said Ghassan describing the actions of what he described were 5 to 6 people in the room.
On the 11th of April Ghassan’s wife, anesthesiologist Dr. Zarhra Al Sammak, was also arrested.
On their release and later giving detailed accounts of their torture, forced confessionsand statements of religious hatred and discrimination made against them, Dr. Ghassan and his wife received two separate sentences: 15 years in prison for Dr. Ghassan and a 5 year prison term for Dr. Zarhra based on charges that include 8888 and 8888. On October 23 they will be appealing their cases.
Even with detailed accounts of and media documentation of human rights abuses the government of Bahrain is not formally admitting to any wrong doing. “Bahrain is keen on promoting human rights and spares no effort to protect the rights of citizens and expatriates in line with international covenants and norms,”  said Bahrain Ambassador to Belgium Ahmed Al Dossary on October 25 during a meeting with the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Committee of the Delegation to the Arabian Peninsula at the European Parliament.
After going on a hunger strike as a prisoner of conscience during her 149 day detention, educator Jaleela Al Salman suffered under increasing stress from medical conditions. Upon her initial release from prison she received medical treatment in attempts to help her from medical problems that included an unstable heartbeat, spinal disc problems and high blood pressure issues.
On the day of her re-arrest masked security forces dressed in civilian clothing arrived at Jaleela’s home at 3:00am in the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 18.
In a plea made by her family that a female security officer, instead of male officers, be assigned to bring Jaleela back to detention, she was brought under her arrest to the Isa Town Police Station by a female security officer.
Mrs. Jaleela Al Salman
Mrs. Jaleela Al Salman speaks at event in Manama, Bahrain before her arrest. Image: BCHR - Bahrain Human Rights Center
With military prosecutors many of those arrested may have been treated differently. October 6 has been the last official day that a military tribunal has been allowed to be in charge of court proceedings under Bahrain’s ‘National Safety Court.’ Following this date, Bahrain’s civilian court system will be allowed to take over jurisdiction to manage and oversee court cases.
In a mass resignation in late February, 18 Members of  Bahrain’s Parliament resigned out of its 40 member governing body. The elected representatives, all Shia members from one of Bahrain’s largest elected political parties known as Al-Wefaq, resigned from their positions following widespread reports of violence in Manama.
Jaleela has now been transferred to Jaww Central Prison, in the village of Jaww on the eastern shoreline in the southern region of Bahrain, where she now remains under incarceration.
“I saw everybody, because I was the first to go in and the last to go out,” said Jaleela as she described her time under detention following her first arrest.
“Bahrainis who stand up publicly to promote human rights risk harassment and arrest,” says Brian Dooley.
“The Government is primarily responsible for investigating violations, revising its policies and emphasising the adherence to law and order,” said Hasan Moosa Shafaei, head of the Bahrain Human Rights Monitor and regional adviser for the OMCT – the World Organisation Against Torture, who are based in Geneva. “Human rights issues need to be dealt with responsibly and in a transparent manner,” he continued.
Jaleela’s re-arrest may be a punitive measure following interviews she made after her first detention. During the time of her release she outlined numerous human rights abuses that she experienced first-hand as well as other cases of abuse she witnessed inside Bahrain’s system of incarceration.
For many years Jaleela has been an active advocate for education of women in Bahrain. She has also upheld women’s rights and the defense of human rights in Bahrain. In the past months, seven other board members from the Bahrain Teachers Association have also been arrested as they wait under conditions of detention before they receive legal hearings on court trials.
In spite of Bahrain’s presence on the United Nations Human Rights Council and their ratification to membership in UN CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women), a treaty which serves as an international reporting mechanism for human rights and women’s rights worldwide, Bahraini women face numerous issues of discrimination under the law.
Uneven laws for women do exist where women are subject to arbitrary verdicts in court by judges who may or may not interpret the law in their favour. Most women in Bahrain know that when one woman testifies in court her testimony is worth only half that of a man. Uneven laws also exist among the contrast in women who differ from Shi’ite and Sunni faiths. While Shia women, who become divorced, face the loss of their sons at age 7 and their girl children at the age of 9, Sunni women only face legal loss of their daughters once they marry and only lose legal rights in custody of their sons when they reach the legal age of adulthood.
While sexual assault is illegal in Bahrain for all women, no laws in the country specifically prohibit spousal rape. Article 353 of the Bahrain’s Penal Code clearly hurts and discriminates against women giving no punishment for a person who rapes an unmarried woman as long as he marries her after the rape.
Women are also not legally protected from spousal abuse under conditions of domestic violence. These issues along with separate issues of discrimination have brought a growing women’s movement to Bahrain.
In Novemer 2008 Bahrain’s Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdalla Al-Khalifa extended the punishment for penal code 134 which “deliberately broadcasts false news, statements or rumours on the internal situation in Bahrain which could weaken economic confidence in Bahrain, its prestige and diplomatic relations.” This action brought freedom of expression for those concerned about human rights and women’s rights inside the country to a legal halt.
“Not all the human rights violations are committed in courts, police stations or prison cells. Those who join the almost daily demonstrations for democracy continue to be shot at by security forces that target them with tear gas, sound bombs, rubber bullets and birds shot,” says Brian Dooley. “Several protesters have been killed in recent weeks.”
Since March 2011, in what has been publicly labeled as targeted sectarian violence inside Bahrain, hundreds of teachers as well as medical professionals have been arrested, charged with offenses against the state and fired from their jobs.
“Governments need to be responsive. By resorting to oppressive security measures, they will only foment more frustration, more anger, more instability, which is certainly not in the national interest,” said Pillay in her formal statement for the OHCHR at the United Nations in Geneva.

Twelve days before her re-arrest on October 18, 2011, prisoner of conscience, school teacher and Vice President of Bahrain’s Teachers Association Mrs. Jaleela Al Salman gives a first-hand account of treatment while under incarceration in Bahrain. As witness to abuse under arrest she is candid in her description of methods of intimidation used by security forces during her ordeal. She also describes conditions for other protesters under arrest. This 3:13 minute video is a production of Human Rights First and has been made through a Skype interview by Brian Dooley who is one of the only NGO representatives to travel to Bahrain to gather information during the spring and summer of 2011.

Among the medics sentenced to 15 years in prison in Bahrain is Ms. Roula Al-Saffar, President of the Bahrain Nursing Society, who spent over 4 months in custody before her court proceedings began. Roula worked for many years as a nurse at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas (U.S.) following her studies at Widener University in Pennsylvania and at the University of North Texas. Like many other prisoners of conscience targeted during the government crackdown, the medics were tried in a military court. Many were held in incommunicado detention for several weeks without access to lawyers or family. They claim their confessions were extracted under intimidation and torture. She was interviewed by Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley (seen in the top right hand corner of the screen) via Skype.

Friday, October 28, 2011


On a weekly basis I went to bring you news about a political prisoner who needs your support.

Today I bring you a man many, if not most of you, have probably never heard.  His name is Alvaro Luna Hernandez.   Alvaro, is just shy of 60 years old and is warehoused in one of the most notorious state prisons in the notorious prison state of Texas serving a fifty year sentence.  He has been there for nearly fifteen years already.

"To Mexican-Americans in the cities, slums, plains, deserts, and prison cages of the Southwest, he is a civil rights hero, a Chicano freedom fighter true to his barrio roots and eternally fearless in the face of injustice. For years, he has been internationally recognized by amnesty movements and human rights lawyers and experts as a U.S. political prisoner, yet inside the United States, the name Alvaro Luna Hernandez remains largely elusive on the lips of progressives and social justice advocates."

It is time that for that to change.  It is time for his cause to be proclaimed widely.  It is time to bring him home.

"I will never surrender my pride and dignity nor allow the system to 'cut my tongue' and I will always, without fear, speak out against these war crimes and crimes against humanity, no matter if I spend the rest of my life in a prison cage, and draw my last breath of air laying down in this steel bed surrounded by razor-wire fences and cages, and its prison policies that are designed to destroy one's humanity…."

—Alvaro Luna Hernandez, October 18, 2010, Hughes Unit Prison, Gatesville, Texas.

The following is from the FREE ALVARO NOW website.


Who is Alvaro Luna Hernandez?

Alvaro Hernandez Luna was sentenced in Odessa, TX on June 2-9, 1997 to 50 years in prison for defending himself by disarming a police officer drawing a weapon on him (unarmed). The trial evidence clearly showed Alvaro was the victim of "witchhunts" and a police-orchestrated conspiracy to frame or eliminate him. 

History of A Longtime Freedom Fighter

Police informants were used to monitor Alvaro's organizing activites in the barrio. They were told Alvaro was "typing legal papers," "had many books" and was working on police brutality cases in Alpine. 

The police knew of Alvaro's history of community-based organizing and his legal skills. Alvaro was recognized nationally and internationally as the national coordiantor of the Ricardo Aldape Guerra Defense Committee, which led the struggle to free Mexican national Aldape Guerra from Texas' death row after being framed by Houston police for allegedly killing a cop. Alvaro's human rights work was recognized in Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Mexico and other countries.

Facts about Alvaro Luna Hernandez:

  • Alvaro Hernandez Luna was recognized nationally and internationally as the national coordiantor of the Ricardo Aldape Guerra Defense Committee, which led the struggle to free Mexican national Aldape Guerra from Texas' death row after being framed by Houston police for allegedly killing a cop. Alvaro's human rights work was recognized in Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Mexico and other countries.
  • Alvaro spearheaded the National Movement of La Raza, Stop the Violence Youth Committee and the Prisoners Solidarity Committee in Houston, Texas (USA), where he is known as a symbol of resistance to injustice.
  • Alvaro was sent to prison (narrowly dodging the death penalty) in 1976 for a murder he did not commit, a fact that was exposed by various media outlets and led to his eventual release. "What I learned about the prosecutorial behavior in the trial of Alvaro Hernandez in West Texas made my stomach turn," wrote columnist Paul Harasim. "Coming in the wake of Randall Dale Adams and Clarence Brandley -- new evidence surfaced to get them off and out of prison -- I wonder if I can support state sanctioned executions any longer." [Source: Houston Post, 8 April 1991]
  • From his previous case, Alvaro's struggle, along with hundreds of other cases of political imprisonment, was adopted on Dec. 9, 1990 at Hunter College in New York City by the Special International Trubunal on violations of human rights of political prisoners and prisoners of war held in U.S. prisons and jails.
  • In March 1993, Alvaro was a non-governmental organization (NGO) delegate before the 49th session of the United Nations Commissionon Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Before the U.N. General Assembly, he vociferously exposed and condemned the U.S. government's dismal human rights record and its human rights violations of U.S. political prisoners.
  • Alvaro was a public speaker invited to speak at many colleges, universities and conferences in this country. His topics ranged from from injustices of the criminal justice system against people of color, to self-determination, human rights, political prisoners, Aztlán, national liberation and revolution. His eloquent, dynamic presentations would electrify audiences.
  • On July 18, 1996, Sheriff Jack McDaniel of Alpine, Texas, went to arrest Alvaro at his home on a charge of aggravated robbery (later dismissed with Alvaro as his own counsel). No warrant for the arrest was issued. When the unarmed Alvaro questioned the sheriff’s action, the cop drew his weapon. Before he could shoot, Alvaro disarmed him and fled. Alvaro did not inflict any injury on the officer and, as several people conceded, Alvaro could have further harmed the sherriff and did not, as such was not his intention. Alvaro was in fear for his life.
  • At Alvaro’s trial, police described Alvaro as a “troublemaker.” Other officers indicated that there was concern Alvaro was collecting information about police brutality in the barrios, as well as pursuing a potential suit against law enforcement over the killing of Mexicano youth Ervay Ramos when Alvaro was a youth.
  • Alvaro was no stranger to the police. He had previously won civil rights suits against the Pecos County Sheriff’s Department and county for a brutal beating he endured at the hands of police years ago. Two deputy sheriffs were convicted for the criminal civil rights violations stemming from the beating. The police received five years probation and never spent a day in jail.
  • On June 2-9, 1997, Alvaro was convicted of “threatening” the sheriff, but acquitted on the charge of shooting Sgt. Hines. He received a 50-year sentence.

What You Can Do

The political trial of long-time Chicano Mexicano ("Latino"/indigenous people of the southwest U.S.) activist Alvaro Hernanadz Luna is another example of this government's plot to discredit, falsely imprison or kill freedom fighters of liberation movements of oppressed internal colonies battling to free themselves from the yoke of U.S. imperialism. 

By "criminalizing" these movements for political self-determination, the government denies their existence, the existence of political prisoners and the class contradictions in this society. As the world joined hands to expose the racist regime of South Africa, and won the freedom of Nelson Mandela, we must expose the U.S. government's lie that it holds no political prisoners of war in its prisons. 

Alvaro deserves the support of all honest progressive freedom forces in the United States and throughout the world. While his case if on appeal, al legal defense fund has been established to solicit funds for appeal costs and organizing materials, including a book, Alvaro's writings and recordings.


Witnesses, even former police, testified of the police hatred of Alvaro and of Alvaro's expressed fears of someday being killed by the police and police covering up their crime. Alvaro was no stranger to the police. He had previously won civil rights suits against the Sheriff's Department and the county for a brutal beating he had received at the hands of the police, years prior to the confrontation. Two deputy sheriffs had been convicted in Pecos, TX federal court for the criminal civil rights violations stemming from the beating. The police received five years probation and never spent a day in jail.

At Alvaro's trial, police witnesses described Alvaro as a "troublemaker." They knew that Alvaro could mobilize the barrio and mount serious opposition to the history of police crimes, and that Alvaro would shake the racist foundation of the white power structure in Alpine.

When the Sheriff went to arrest Alvaro at his home on July 18, 1996, it was on a trumped-up charge of aggravated robbery (and one which would later be dismissed). Sheriff McDaniel had no legal warrant of arrest, and when the unarmed Alvaro questioned the sheriff's abuse of power, the "redneck" cop became violently angry and drew his weapon. Before he could raise it and shoot, Alvaro disarmed him and fled to a nearby mountain.

What followed next was the most massive police manhunt in recent West Texas history. In fear for his life, Alvaro eluded police helicopters, bloodhound tracking dogs from the nearby state prison in Ft. Stockton, armed vigilante groups searching for him, and other state and federal police agencies. Alvaro sought refuge in the mountainous country he knew well as a youth. Days later, Alvaro returned to his mother's house to eat and change clothes. The police found out and a heavily armed law enforcement contingent converged on the home. Without identifying themselves, police began shooting indiscrimantely at the house, cars parked in front and at the public street lights. At trial, witnesses described the police shooting as a "war zone." The police wanted Alvaro dead and were refusing to allow him to surrender.

To back them off their murderous intent, Alvaro returned fire in self-defense but never shot nor injured anyone. He then dialed 911 (emergency) and alerted other officials that the police were shooting at him and would not allow him to surrender. The City Manager pulled the army of troopers back, and the "shoot first-ask questions later" plot to kill Alvaro was aborted. During the police barrage, Sgt. Curtis Hines was shot in the left hand by a ricocheting police bullet.

Alvaro surrendered and was charged with two counts of aggravated assault ã one count for disarming the sheriff and one count for Sgt. Hines' wound. His elderly mother was charged with "hindering apprehension" and jailed.

At his arraignment, Alvaro condemned the illegal occupation of the Southwest, the false charges, institutionalized racism, and reasserted his people's inalieable rights to self-defense and to self-determination of oppressed nations. He invoked international law and demanded to be treated as a prisoner of warunder Geneva Convention principles and other human rights accords. Since his jailing, Alvaro has filed several civil rights suits against county jail conditions, police abuse, and has helped other prisoners assert their legal and human rights.

The initial charge which led to the July 18 confrontation with the police was later dismissed. Rejecting court-appointed attorneys as sellouts, Alvaro represented himself in court. He proved his innocence and exposed the police conspiracy to frame him by suppressing evidence of his innocence and testimony of material witnesses.

At the Odessa trial, Alvaro was convicted of "threatening" the sheriff, but acquitted on the charge of shooting Sgt. Hines in the hand. The web of police lises was obvious to all. Even the physical evidence was inconsistent with any theory advanced by the prosecution.

The predominantly white jury did not have the courage to acquit Alvaro on both counts as the evidence required. It would have "disgraced" the police and sent the "wrong message" to others that it is justified under law to defend oneself against the armed violence of the state. Police have ruled Raza barrios with an iron fist, particularly in Texas. They are notorious for being anti-Mexicano, especially in west Texas. In the state alone, 20,000 Mexicanos have been killed by "Los Rinches" ã the infamous Texas Rangers ã since the 1830s. Settler policies of "Manifest Destiny" have supported colonization.

Support And Resistance to Injustice

After Alvaro's arrest, numerous individuals responded in support. Spray paintings reading "Free Alvaro! Convict the Pigs!" appeared throughout the small community, including at the First National Bank's walls. Everywhere the police transferred Alvaro, from Alpine to Odessa to Pecos to El Paso, people and groups came to his support.

Protests demanding Alvaro's release, spearheaded by the Barrio Defense Committee-San Jose, were staged outside the courthouse in Odessa during the trial. Barrio Defense Committees are springing up throughout Texas, under Alvaro's leadership, as a result of the outrage. Even from the confines of his isolation cell, Alvaro refuses to back down, calling for barrio self-rule and political revolution in the occupied territories of Aztl·n.
The police/migra/military murders of 16-year-old Ervay Ramos (Alpine), Larry Lozano (Odessa), Danny Valdez (El Paso), 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez (Dallas), Ricardo Morales (Castroville), Jose Campos Torres (Houston) and Esquivel Hernandez (Redford) is a continuation of the brutal legacy of Texas Ranger-style lynchings of Mexicanos in Texas today. Raza have a rich history of resistance to the occupation of their indigenous homeland and to the colonial war of genocide against them. Legends like Gregorio Cortes, Juan Cortina, Melchor Ocampo and many other have defended their rights with their pistols in their hands. Aware of his people's history of resistance, Alvaro has publicly state "My actions in Alpine were in self-defense in the spirit of Gregorio Cortes."*

* Gregorio Cortes killed two Texas sheriffs in self-defense in 1901. He was sentenced to death, but Mexicanos rallied to his support and he was pardoned in 1913 by Gov. O. B. Colquitt. Corridos (ballad songs), books and a movie have been produced about Corrtes, including With His Pistol In His Hand (University of Texas-Austin Press), "El Corrido de Gregorio Cortes" by Los Alegres de Teran and The Ballad of Gregorio Cortes with director-actor Edward James Olmos. For a court case history, see Court of Criminal Appeals #2270, 2397, 2696 and Pardon #28220, Southwestern Reporter, Vol. 74, page 907.


Contact the Committee to Free Alvaro Luna Hernandez!

We need more people involved, especially students at high schools, colleges and universities. If you're interested in the case, offering promotions, support, or starting a locala support chapter of the COMMITTEE TO FREE ALVARO LUNA HERNANDEZ, please email us. If you want to distribute literature in your area, download PDF flyers here.

Central Campaign Coordinator
John S. Dolley, Jr.
2900 La Fayette Avenue #2
Austin, TX 78722

Alpine Chapter
P.O. Box 81
Alpine, TX 79830

San Jose Chapter
P.O. Box 1523
San Jose, CA 95109

San Diego Chapter
P.O. Box 620095
San Diego, CA 92162

International - Toronto Chapter
Sara Falconer, Spokesperson
P.O. Box 97048
RPO Roncesvalles Ave.
Toronto, ON, M6R 3B3, Canada


I've talked about racism and the Occupy movement, but I haven't written much about sexism.  That in itself is probably an example of my own sexism.  Anyway, it was brought to my attention today that the issue of men hitting on women who aren't interested in being hit on goes on down at ye olde Occupy site just as it does everywhere.  The difference is we have people sleeping out alongside each other and being encouraged to do so.  Males, being males, not all, but some, are doing what they can to take "advantage" of the situation.  This has to stop.

Also, happening, just as it has in other movements historically, men are attempting too, and often dominating the groups and their General Assemblies. As I responded to my young female friend who brought this to my attention:

".. women need to be empowered and men need to be confronted about this. Sexism within movements historically is certainly not uncommon. I remember when the radical and revolutionary women's liberations groups of the late 60s and 70s challenged the male dominated movement...changed everything."  Everything, may be a bit much, but it changed quite a bit, including me, and helped me and other men grow, and was a necessary part of and a big boon to the movement as a whole. As Mao said, "Women hold up half the sky."  Probably a little more than half actually."

A side issue that I cannot believe that I have to address is that of safe sex at occupation sites.  People have got to assume responsibility for their own welfare and protect themselves.

NOTE: me thinks it is time for an autonomous women's wing of OWS

The following is from People of Color Organize.

Justified Rage from an Unsafe Space: Reflection on Occupy Wall Street

Posted on 28 October 2011 by bot
Occupy Wall Street Naomi Klein Justified Rage from an Unsafe Space: Reflection on Occupy Wall Street
Many Peoples, Many Identities: Racism and Sexism Within the Occupation

It’s been over a month since the Occupy Wall Street Movement began. Like many others; despite my active involvement and overall support, OWS has both inspired and enraged me. It’s made me remember why I became an organizer. And it’s made me realize why sometimes, I want to quit.
A lot of us have reasons for feeling enraged. At my first GA, several young white men who identified themselves proudly as those who had been at Zuccotti Park since “Day One” shouted disagreements with a Black woman who voiced legal concerns about the risks of arrest for undocumented protestors.  The men used their self-proclaimed “veteran” status to silence and ridicule the legitimate concerns of some of the most economically disadvantaged and historically marginalized of the 99%–undocumented workers.
A few days later, on indigenous people’s day, a white man who identified himself as “one of the OWS organizers” physically and verbally attacked a female jaranera who was performing son jarocho music. Apparently, she was “standing on the flower bed.”
The two cited examples of racism and sexism that have manifested themselves in the OWS movement are not isolated occurrences. The arrogant dominance of young white men is constant and has turned many experienced organizers—particularly women, queer and trans people, and people of color—to withdraw support for the movement.
But despite the many amazing organizers who have justifiably left OWS and vowed to never return, many others just won’t walk away. They see the potential of the movement. They hate many of the people and ideologies behind it; they hate the privilege and the arrogance, but they see the potential.
Every organization, every movement, struggles with acknowledging systematic oppression. Movements that deny racism, movements that deny sexism; movements that are completely unaccountable to the very people they claim to be liberating; these movements will fail. Again and again, we have witnessed their failure.
Systemic Inequalities Within the 99%
As a queer white woman, I’ve struggled with how to contribute to the OWS movement. After my first GA, I felt conflicted. Inspired and enraged. I never wanted to come back, but I wanted to set up camp and stay every night. I recognized that as a white person, it was my responsibility to use my own privilege and power to try to battle the racism I’d witnessed; but as a queer woman, I felt uncomfortable and unsafe dealing with such blatant and unacknowledged sexism. Yet again, the biggest leftist movement of our generation is seemingly clueless about race, class and gender.
As an organizer, I saw the benefit of the populist message that “We Are the 99%”, but the deeper I became involved, the more I’ve realized that many who are “occupying Wall Street” neither understand nor believe that there are systemic inequalities within the 99%.  Many neither understand nor believe that we are not a big ol’ “American melting pot” of “one people”, but that we are many peoples, many races, many identities.
Some see nothing wrong with white male voices facilitating every meeting. Some think it’s okay to curl up next to a surprised sleeping woman and ask if you can share. Others don’t flinch when a white man hands out white flyers to white people about Occupying [Black] Harlem.
But some of us—many of us—are not going to sleep as the movement passes us by. We’re not going to walk away, even though we could. Even though, in some ways, it would be easier.
Sexism Unresolved: Queer Women Occupy the Park
After making excuse after excuse to myself about why I wouldn’t sleep on the concrete ground of Zuccotti Park like everyone else, I realized that I was absolutely terrified. Terrified of an unknown body next to mine, of the potential experiences and memories that they might bring. Terrified because of stories I’d heard, because of sexism unresolved.
A lot of women, queers, and trans people—along with many people of color and undocumented immigrants—do not feel comfortable sleeping in an open space with a lot of men, surrounded by police. Police presence ensures that protestors could, at any time, be risking arrest; and a racist police system ensures that people of color will be targeted. Unrestricted male presence in all sleeping areas ensures that protestors could, at any time, be exposing themselves to molestation and/or rape; and patriarchy ensures that women, queers, and trans people will be targeted.
Maybe I was out to prove something to my friends that were too afraid to stay, or maybe I had to prove to myself that I wasn’t going to let male privilege prevent me from another experience.
As I walked around the park trying to scope out a safe space to sleep, I was on the lookout for the women’s sleeping space that I heard about. Despite many tours and several sleeping invitations from men, I couldn’t find a single women’s (let alone queer or trans) space. I saw a lot of single men scattered about the park, heterosexual couples cuddling under their sleeping bags, and a number of sleeping spaces that were covered in tarp and not “open to the public.”
After about an hour of roaming and observing, I found a group of three sleeping young women, and I decided to lay my sleeping bag out at their feet. As I lay in my “bed”, trying to write, I felt the eyes of several people fall upon me. The eyes of those who are eager to make conversation. Eager to be invited.
I decided that I’d feel safest if I de-gendered myself by putting the sleeping bag over my head and just going to sleep. As I nervously closed my eyes, I was woken up several times by loud voices. Once by a man yelling about losing his stuff, another time by an altercation between several men over politics, and finally by a midnight “mic check” of someone who was angry about theft within OWS.
I finally drifted off to sleep, and in the morning I awoke with men on every other side of me, despite my deliberate attempts to be in a woman’s space. I was annoyed, but validated. My experience proved what so many had told me: OWS is not a safe space.
Ends and Means: Making OWS a Safer Space
It’s been one month since the Occupy Wall Street movement began. Despite OWS organizers priding themselves in increasing diversity, they have yet to really address issues of systemic racism, sexism, and classism within the movement. But in some ways, they are right. The movement is growing. Over 100 cities in the U.S. alone have endorsed the Occupy movement, with over 82 countries participating in the October 15th global day of action.
But again, movements that deny racism, movements that deny sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism; and do not prioritize an anti-oppression framework; will fail. OWS has a critical role to play in eliminating oppression within the movement; they have a role to play, but they cannot do it alone. They need us. They need the active participation of queers, women, people of color, unemployed people, low-income workers, union members, and undocumented immigrants. They need all of us.
Instead of struggling for a new [white man’s] “American Revolution”, we need to struggle for a People’s Revolution that acknowledges that the “America” we live in is a history that is founded in genocide and slavery. The “American Revolution” was founded in colonization and imperialism.
I understand and respect the many people—and there are many people—who see the obstacles as too great and the opportunities too small to further engage in this movement. But to those optimistic enough to see a purpose, for those imaginative enough to envision a new future, and foolish enough to dedicate themselves to its creation: I’m with you.
The movement may not be perfect, but it is our movement. Our rage is justified. Our impact is inevitable.
Charlene Obernauer