May 17, 2013
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Every week we are inspired by the many people throughout the country who are doing excellent work to challenge the power structure and put forward a new path for the country. The popular resistance to plutocracy, concentrated wealth and corporatism is decentralized, creative and growing.
One growing series of protests has been the “Moral Monday” demonstrations in North Carolina. They do not have ‘one demand’ but rather are challenging the systemic corruption, undermining of democracy and misdirection of a state government that puts human needs second to corporate profits — which they have dubbed ‘Robin Hood in Reverse.’ This week 49 of 200 protesters inside the capitol were arrested singing, chanting and echoing many of the same concerns that demonstrators have for the past three Mondays. Last week there were 30 arrests, the week before 17. Among those arrested was an 83 year old retired minister, Vernon Tyson, who was merely a spectator, but he gave a great interview cheering on the protests after his release. And, a group of historians were among those arrested who put these protests in the context of US history.
Another courageous protest involved seven undocumented immigrants who blocked the Broadview Detention Center where immigrants are being incarcerated. They blocked the doors to the detention facility, linking arms together using pipes, chains, and locks. They were protesting the record-high deportations under President Obama, and the lack of leadership from Illinois representatives to call for a suspension of deportations. On the West coast, the always creative Backbone Campaign supported allied faith communities with a giant banner lift over the private for-profit immigration detention center asking “Who Would Jesus Deport?” and an inflatable lady liberty exposing the unjust policies that break up families.
There was a recent victory for Seattle teachers and students that resulted from their citywide protests against standardized testing. The school district announced that testing in the high schools would not occur next year. The teachers said they will keep protesting until the tests are banned from lower grades as well.
We hope the Chicago teachers, who won a major battle with Mayor Rahm Emanuel earlier this year when they went out on strike, have great success this weekend when three days of marches are held against the mass school closings in Chicago. The teachers union has developed a great organizing strategy that unites teachers with students, parents and communities. This battle is one of many across the country to stop the thinly veiled corporatization of education.
In another education protest, the students @FreeCooperUnion continue to occupy the office of the president after one week. They are painting the walls black until he agrees to step down, and are highlighting his $750,000 annual salary. They are protesting a plan to begin to charge tuition at the university; this plan will not affect these students, but future students who attend Cooper Union.
The heart of the conflict faced in the United States is the inequity of an unfair economy supported by a corrupt two party system. This week there was a very creative protest in New York City against the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim of Mexico. He’s made his billions with the help of government allowing a monopoly on phone service resulting in Slim gouging the public. Now he gives a small percentage of that wealth back in philanthropy and people applaud him. But, the protesters were very effective, laughing out loud whenever he spoke. They responded when someone asked “Why is everyone laughing?” with “Because Slim’s philanthropy is a joke!” and followed with mocking kazoos.
This article originally appeared on : AlterNet