Lacy MacAuley

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a home for my pen, projects, and passions

G20 Summit, preparation and protest

The G20, the Group of 20 countries, just met in Antalya, Turkey. I am here to amplify local voices of resistance, and attend and write about the G20 protests. I’m joined by Ariel Vegosen, fierce campaigner for justice. Here’s a breakdown of some of our activities at the G20 Summit.

PREPARATION FOR G20 SUMMIT, meeting with local activists:

Ariel and I were at the Antalya offices of the Türkiye Gençlik Birliği (TGB), or Turkish Youth Party, for planning the G20 protests on Sunday. The TGB are planning a “surprise” at the protest. Turkish flags adorned the meeting room in their office. As we met, images of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk looked on us with a stern gaze.

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We also engaged in sign-making, music playing, and other fun activities with some local students we met.

And, I wrote an article for Common Dreams about the resistance to the G20 that I was finding here in Turkey.

PROTEST DAY 1, main day of action:

Protests in Antalya sent a clear message against US imperialism, the G20, neoliberalism. 35 protesters have been arrested in the city. Meetings of world leaders, and protests by the people of the world, continue for a second day. Ariel and I joined in this inspiring day of resistance. At one point we even led the march.

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Two groups organized protests. First, the TGB, who are secularist, militarist, and aligned with the principles of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. These TGB supporters marched neatly with red and white signs and Turkish flags. They marched in columns, and had coordinated closely with local police to hold a permitted march. Second were the Öğrenci Kolektifleri, the local student collectives. Protesters in the student group did not have a permit to march. In a third direct action, several students began walking toward the G20 barricades to deliver a letter to the G20 representatives. More than 35 people were arrested

PROTEST DAY 2, follow-up actions:

G20 protests to oppose G20 policies, imperialism, and neoliberalism, and stand in solidarity with the arrestees and support the right to protest. More than 35 people were arrested yesterday, according to organizers. Those arrested were detained while still at their homes, walking to the protests, or walking to deliver letters to the G20 in an act of civil disobedience. At least 20 were released within one day.

The G20 summit is now over, and President Obama and world leaders are going home. They leave us with… not much.

Filed under: activism, g20, g8/g20, global justice, international relations, media

As G20 Summit Begins, Resistance is Just Under the Veil

This is the full text of an article that I wrote for Common Dreams about the resistance to the G20 summit that I was finding here in Turkey, published on Sunday, November 15, 2015, the day that the G20 Summit began in Antalya, Turkey.

President Obama arrived today in the Mediterranean resort town of Antalya, Turkey, for the G20 Summit, a meeting of the leaders of the 20 most significant economies in the world. After being greeted by children in traditional Turkish dress as the sun rose after his overnight flight, Obama headed to his first round of meetings. For security, he is staying aboard a US military warship docked at seaside, rather than one of the many posh resorts in this vacation town.

Protesters have been arriving in Antalya for the past few days by the busload, despite the fact that the local government has banned protests during the summit, according to local news sources. Several Turkish media such as Today’s Zaman has been excluded from the G20 summit, although they applied for media accreditation. Turkish officials state that 11 protesters were arrested yesterday for G20 protests. 4 were arrested at the Antalya airport while holding signs, and 7 more arrested in Istanbul.

Turkish officials arrested over 250 people in Antalya and the surrounding area, according to local sources. The Turkish government announced that these were suspected ISIS members, but many local people have raised questions about how many of them were actually ISIS.

The agenda at the G20 Summit reflects the tensions of the region. Especially following the Paris attacks, emphasis has been given to discussing the situation in Syria, counter-terrorism measures that may include more militarism in the beleaguered Middle East and the migrant crisis. All of the propaganda will no doubt focus on  They will also discuss global economic development, including a $60 trillion infrastructure project that should worry environmentalists or anyone concerned with the climate. These funds will be channeled through multinational development banks. They will also discuss climate finance, and it remains to be seen whether this will actually be a meaningful discussion, or just a token gesture in comparison to their infrastructure development plans, which so far have not addressed sustainable, earth-friendly development at all.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has rented out the Mardan Palace, an entire luxury hotel for $18 million for the Saudi delegation. The Chinese president will be accompanied by an entourage of government ministers, functionaries, and assistants. Brand new Canadian President Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party will be in attendance. They will join world leaders from all G20 countries.

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US President Barack Obama arriving in Turkey for the two-day G20 Summit. (Photo: Reuters)

Meanwhile the “B20” Summit, a convergence of global corporate and business interests, with meet and schmooze with leaders. “L20 meetings” for labor groups, “W20” for women’s groups, “Y20” for youth-focused groups, “C20” for civil groups, and “T20” for think tanks has also occurred, though unlike the business interests, they do not have large joint sessions with the heads of state. As usual, pro-business groups have the coziest treatment at the G20. The world’s power-brokers are here in force.

A busy press room contains space for over 3,000 reporters. Over 10,000 additional security personnel are in the city. A local sports center has been fashioned into a jail with room for about 500 people, in case protesters need to be arrested.

The Türkiye Gençlik Birliği (Turkish Youth Party) will protest, starting today at 1:00 PM at Antalya Municipal Building in Kaleiçi, Antalya. A march will follow. The groups will be protesting on G20 issues, US imperialistic policies, capitalism and neoliberalism. The group is expected to demonstrate with colorful signs and banners, and say that they have a “surprise” planned for US President Obama.

The Öğrenci Kolektifleri (local student collectives) will protest today at 3:00 PM, at the “Occupy” park, Aydın Kanza Parkı, Antalya, Turkey. The work of these collectives covers a range of issues such as the migrant crisis, media censorship, capitalism, neoliberalism, gender equality, and imperialism. The collectives have recently marched with banners and torches. They are expected to engage in street theater tomorrow, and participate in marches.

With a detention center prepared for up to 500 protesters, we will see what occurs as the G20 protests get underway.

Where is the public, visible opposition? Resistance is just under the veil here in Turkey, when you scratch the surface.

“The G20 is more capitalism,” said one young man running an independent bookstore in Istanbul. He said that he opposed the organization because of its neoliberalist principles. Outside his bookstore was posted the phrase, “Work less, read more.”

A young man wearing a black leather jacket, hand-painted with anarchism symbols, told me that he “hated” the G20. “But, I have hope,” he said. The young man reported that he had been a protester at Occupy Gezi. After a clash with police, he had been accused of throwing Molotov cocktail explosives, and had spent six months in jail.

Filed under: activism, g20, g8/g20, global justice, international relations, media

fluffed up into news: the royal wedding spectacle

So, two of my family members are certifiably anglophiles. They love all things British. Seriously.

Last night I was having drinks with said family members, which somehow spiraled into a plan to have a slumber party at one of their homes, and wake up at 6:00 AM in order to watch the British Royal Wedding in its entirety on network television. Just a little preface to explain why I am posting about this absurd public event.

ABC News, CBS News, and USA Today all headlined today with the royal wedding. It was hard to think about anything else this afternoon when viewing their news websites, as each site housed dozens of articles, features, videos, and photo slideshows were popping out from all directions. MSNBC at least shared their “above the fold” space with a feature about the storm damage in the southern US. “Faux News” (or Fox, which doesn’t really count since it’s not news,) had the wedding sharing headline space with some favorite right-wing topics: Donald Trump and stem-cell research. The New York Times was among the few news outlets this afternoon in headlining with the storm damage and President Obama’s visit to the US South, forcing the reader to pan down the page to find coverage of British royals.

The absurdity was overwhelming. I think it’s great that two people who like each other a whole lot want to strengthen their commitment. Love is beautiful. However, it’s not news. There is nothing about this wedding to merit so much time and resources of every major news network, yet it was somehow fluffed up into a major television event that had the play-by-play analysis of an event that none of us have any business caring about anyway. It made me think a lot about our news media’s culture of spectacle. Things that aren’t really news become news because the television networks tell us that we should care about them. It is news for news’ sake.

Which is tragic, especially when there are actually very important things happening all around us that actually do matter, and that we should be hearing about. There are hundreds of people dead due to the storms in the southern US, and thousands upon thousands of people displaced. There are people struggling for their independence in Bah’rain and Libya, not to mention Afghanistan and Iraq. Japan’s under-reported nuclear disaster still threatens to disseminate some of the deadliest toxins known to science.

News networks should cover real news. Not puffed up spectacles like the royal wedding.

Filed under: lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

red moon solstice ~ it’s been quite a year

From the streets of Wall Street, to the mountains of Appalachia, from New Orleans to Pittsburgh to Toronto, the moon has borne witness to an incredible year for me. As I watched this celestial body emerge from the eclipse on a red moon solstice, I saw myself entering a new phase.

I marked the red moon solstice from the top of a snowy mountaintop on the Appalachian Trail, bundled in blankets with three fellow adventurers. As the moon went from a silvery white orb, then passing into the accidental shadow of the earth, growing to the full red of a hawk’s eye, I saw the moon as a grandmother. She watches over the small comings and goings of all of us, from the great deeds we do to the moments we’re not as proud of.

The moon has borne witness to an incredible year for me.

January found me emceeing a rally in the cold streets of New York, just off of Wall Street, calling for a fair, effective carbon tax policy, shoulder to shoulder with the renowned climate scientist James Hansen.

In February I was giving voice to Egyptian workers, rising up against unfair working conditions and a global economy that has left them on the receiving end of unfair trade policy and crippling external debt to institutions like the IMF.

In the early March I was in the mountains of rural Appalachia offering media relations workshops at the movement-building Mountain Justice Spring Break to save the mountains from the harmful practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, human welfare, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

hey DC Council, tax the rich, don’t cut from the poor!

“No tax breaks for corporations! Tax the rich, don’t cut from the poor!”

This was my message upon disrupting Tuesday’s budget vote at the Washington DC Council (as shown in the video). As US Congress discussed their own tax cuts to the rich, Empower DC and other Washington DC advocacy organizations were calling for a one percent tax increase to the city’s rich, especially millionaires, rather than cutting vital social services to low-income Washingtonians.

Adams Morgan ANC Commissioner Chris Otten and I disrupted the vote by standing in front of Vince Gray, the Council chair, holding up a banner and saying our piece. Other brave activists stood up as well and stated their objections to the proposed cuts. Our disruption was noted in the Washington Post blog, as well as other local news outlets.

The DC Council wants to slash the budget for important services such as assistance for grandparents taking care of their grandchildren (there are many in this city), food subsidies for mothers taking care of their children, and valuable job training for residents. And this at a time when the city’s unemployment rate is nigh on 20%. A “millionaire’s tax” would raise enough revenue to pay for all of these services, but the DC Council is unwilling to tap this potentially vast source of revenue.

Filed under: activism, lacy's life, media, Washington DC

I’m a free woman! My G20 case was withdrawn!

Some wonderful news! My case was withdrawn yesterday!

I came all the way from Washington DC to Toronto, Canada, where I’m checking in from a cute little coffee shop on Queen Street, to face the charge of “Assault of a Police Officer.” I was hit with this ridiculously false charge after I was arrested during the G20 summit weekend, manhandled, thrown into the back of an unmarked van, beaten and strangled.

Yesterday, the case was withdrawn after I stood in front of the judge for 30 seconds, just long enough for the prosecutor to say that they have no interest in pursuing my case. I am now a free woman. Now I’ll be able to pursue charges against the real criminals – the Toronto Police, starting with Officer Kevin Antoine, Toronto Police, Division 52, Badge #7880, who was one of the men who attacked me. Wish me luck!

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, international relations, lacy's life, media

Toronto Star article on my G20 case withdrawal!

A photo of my G20 arrest in Toronto, as re-published today by the Toronto Star.

In an article in the Toronto Star today, Betsy Powell writes about my charges being dropped:

Photographs of Toronto police throwing activist Lacy MacAuley to the ground were among the most unforgettable images capturing G20 summit protests.

On Monday, the Crown withdrew a charge of assault peace officer laid against the Washington woman.

“I’m a free woman,” she announced via Twitter. “Of course it’s no surprise — what evidence could they possible have had?”

Overall, more than 300 accused facing charges from G20 protests attended court Monday. It was described as one of the largest mass court appearances ever seen in Toronto. Ministry of Attorney General officials said they could not estimate how many people processed at the Finch Ave. W. courthouse had their charges dropped.

She goes on to write:

“All the cases that were withdrawn or were diverted are an indication they had a lot of false charges on a lot of us to begin with,” MacAuley, 31, said last night.

MacAuley said she came to Toronto in June to participate in peaceful protests against the G20, an organization whose policies are “making life worse for most people.”

I’d like to note here that I came not only to participate in peaceful protests, but to amplify the voices of all of those opposing the G20 through doing media work!

She was walking in a protest march along Pape Ave. near a temporary detention centre when anti-riot police moved in and scooped her up.*

“I didn’t assault anyone,” she said. The Crown withdrew the charge Monday with no explanation. “It was over in 30 seconds.”

MacAuley said she still thinks Toronto is a “lovely city,” and said she was extremely grateful Toronto lawyer Greg Lafontaine had agreed to handle her case pro bono — although his services will not be required.

*Small correction here: At the point at which the police snatched me, I had actually been standing in the crowd at the peaceful rally outside the temporary G20 jail on Eastern Avenue, Toronto. The police ran in and snatched a young man standing near the front of the crowd. I went forward to photograph the arrest with my iPhone. Then I looked over to see police officers running to snatch me! The rest is history.

Filed under: activism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, international relations, lacy's life, media

G20 update: heading to Toronto to face charges!

A little update on my G20 court case. I’m headed to Toronto tomorrow evening to face the charge “Assault of a Police Officer.”

I am leaving late, late, after-the-witching-hour on Friday night, boarding a train that will rumble through New York City and then up through the hills and plains of rural Canada before rolling into Toronto. (Train travel is the most environmentally-friendly way to travel, and it’s a bit cheaper than airfare, since I’m not quite sure when I’ll be able to make it back.)

Monday is my “case discovery” proceeding. Basically, the Toronto police will present whatever evidence they could possibly drudge up (or falsify?) that I may have assaulted someone. Or the judge could simply dismiss the case, effectively telling the Toronto Police and their shoddy evidence to take a hike. Of course, I’m hoping the case gets promptly and summarily dismissed!

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, international relations, lacy's life, media

G20 violence against women press conference

I stand with all the women who have been subjected to the violence of the G20, both in Toronto and in all parts of the world. The violence that I experienced at the hands of the police is only a tiny piece of the violence experienced by women who ecosystems are destroyed, whose family members are taken, or whose communities are uprooted by the corrupt policies of the G20. I was thrown into the back of an unmarked van, punched, strangled, and manhandled. How much more suffering have other women incurred at the hands of the G20?

I contributed this video to a press conference happening today in Toronto to address the violence against women that occurred in Toronto during the G2o Summit.

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, human welfare, international relations, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

opposing G20? we’ve only just begun

Leading a few chants at G20 protests in Toronto, "G8, G20. They are few. We are many!" We need to continue to stand up for what is right, and give a megaphone to those working to make the world a better place.

There have been a lot of people, especially my brothers and sisters in Toronto, who have come out of the experience of protesting the G20 feeling oppressed and hurt, like they’ve been broken by the experience. Here is what I have to say.

Brothers and sisters, we need to continue to stand up for what is right! Do not let them break your will. Our wills are stronger than their guns, their handcuffs, or their prisons! Theirs is an illegitimate source of authority. Our authority is born of love and joy, oneness and respect for each other and future generations. Our power is stronger.

The oppression that we have been subjected to is only a fraction of the oppression felt by indigenous people of the Amazon in Peru, who were attacked and shot at last year by government forces for blockading a road to prevent oil corporations from killing their forest, by traditional farmers in Papua New Guinea whose rivers are being killed, who get murdered for opposing the Barrick gold mining company – or the everyday oppression suffered by farmers everywhere who are told they must pay land tax, disrupting more traditional, community-centered food distribution means.

It is for them and for us that we must keep standing up for what is right.

As long as we are speaking out against their hyper-capitalist corporate globalization, they’ll try to silence us. Don’t let their intimidation tactics and their attempts at disempowerment work. We need to keep working, and keep giving a megaphone to those working for liberation, all of us!

I was one of the over 900 people assaulted by the police and/or treated inhumanely. Now I am back here in Washington and organizing to oppose corporate globalization. Despite the fact that Washington DC is arguably the most powerful city in the world, few of my brothers and sisters truly understand why we must oppose the G20 and its allies like the IMF, the World Bank, the US Department of Treasury, the US Federal Reserve, corporations, etc – and why we must resist the intangible ideals of monied wealth that poison our minds.

We cannot lose heart. The real struggle has only just begun… not to sound melodramatic (but I’m sure I do), but it is seriously a struggle not just for what kind of civilization we’re going to have, but whether the human species, and species like us, are even going to survive. We have to keep our small piece of the opposition strong, and keep deconstructing their authority, their invisible fists and hands of control, not just for those alive now, but for future generations.

This is only the beginning!

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, international relations, lacy's life, media

the story of my unjust arrest

This photo of me appeared in the New York Times on 06/27/2010.

I was thrown into an unmarked van, strangled, punched, and manhandled during my arrest.

The photos of my arrest during the Toronto G20 summit show a small blond lady with purple stockings getting thrown around by police as I was tossed head-first into an unmarked van. These photos have appeared on the front page of the Toronto Star, in the New York Times, and in other newspapers. Footage of the arrest has appeared on CNN and other news outlets such as CBC. My name is Lacy MacAuley, and this is the story of my arrest, including my being violently assaulted, strangled, and punched while riding into the police station in the back of the van.

I arrived at the site of the peaceful jail solidarity rally, just outside the Prisoner Processing Center (PCC) at about 11:30 AM, Sunday, June 27, with two friends from Washington DC, organizer Robby Diesu and Geoff Millard of Iraq Veterans Against the War. I smiled as we walked up to the rally: There under a breathtaking blue sky, a young man was strumming an electric bass and leading a musical chant, “So so so, solidarity!” People were smiling and cheering as two people were released from jail (I understand at least two were released before I arrived), and I used my iPhone to send messages to Twitter about the cheerful rally, with photos attached.

I had come to Toronto from Washington DC to protest the G20 by helping to write about and photograph events that question and deconstruct the G20’s authority. The G20 is a government superstructure with even more power than any individual country, which has been pursuing corrupt bailout policies for banks, corporations and the International Monetary Fund, while allowing citizens to starve. Its “open market” or “free trade” policies only help to concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands, and allow corporations to destroy the environment, subjugate civil liberties, and strip away a country’s national sovereignty. The G20 is bad for most of us on earth, not to mention our children and grandchildren. I have a BA in International Relations with a minor in World Development Studies, but it doesn’t take special expertise to realize that something is fundamentally wrong with a tiny cartel of wealthy leaders who are taking money from corporations for funding running the way our civilization is designed. It is all of our duty to resist oppression and make the world a better place. That’s why I was in Toronto, and I did not damage anyone or anything while there.

I was standing in the crowd about fifteen feet from the bass player when suddenly, with no warning and no provocation, police charged into the crowd and tackled a young man near the front. Some in the crowd at the rally began screaming and running backwards, while many remained calm and shouted to the police to let the young man go. I began taking photos with my iPhone of the violent arrest.

Then I looked up to see the police charging for me, closing in from only about seven feet away. I knew that to resist arrest would be a serious offense, thanks to years of training in nonviolence, so I did not resist. The police then tackled me and pushed me to the ground. I was able to put my left arm down to buffer my fall onto the pavement. Then one uniformed officer grabbed me around the waist, pulling me back to the dark blue side of the police line and throwing me face-down on the pavement. As he threw me my arms were being twisted behind my back. I was able to angle my right shoulder toward the pavement so that I did not hit the pavement with my face. Apparently my friend Robby was attempting to run forward through the crowd to perform a heroic act that would save me, but was being restrained by my friend Geoff, who feared that Robby would wind up arrested himself if he did anything.

As this was happening, I was shouting in a voice that was firm and loud but not frantic, “You have to let me go. Please, you have to let me go. I’ve done nothing wrong.” I had been focusing on holding onto my iPhone with a death grip because I knew that if I dropped it at this point, behind the police line, I might never see it again. Now, as I was laying face-down behind the line, my phone was aggressively pulled out of my hand. One officer kneeled on my head as another fumbled behind me with handcuffs. The officer was leaning hard with all his weight on the left side of my head as my right cheek was driven into the pavement. The pain was immense and overwhelming. I told him to take his knee off my head. A second officer on the other side was also kneeling on my back. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, international relations, lacy's life, media

G20 arrest made front-page news

A photo of my arrest made it to the front page of the Toronto Star, the most significant daily newspaper in Canada, on Monday, June 28, 2010, and also the front page of MetroNews, a daily newspaper handed out to public transit riders in Toronto.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, international relations, lacy's life, media

indigenous rights, not G20; a march through Toronto

Thousands marched today for indigenous rights through downtown Toronto as leaders arrived in the city.

Under the beat of drums born by indigenous people of Canada, several thousand protesters marched through downtown Toronto today, including about 500 indigenous community members, mostly from Canadian First Nations. The group marched to reclaim indigenous rights as the G20 prepares to meet in downtown Toronto, which land stolen from First Nations. Many had flags that bore the words “Native Rights are Human Rights,” and “Canada Can’t Hide Genocide.” One banner which required a hundred people to carry it bore the words, “Native Land Rights Now!”

One speaker at the opening rally was Lionel Lepine, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

“We’re here to protect and defend Mother Earth, and right now she’s under attack violently,” said Lepine. “We must take action and make sure she doesn’t get attacked any more.”

We will fight for our communities and our grandchildren, Lionel Lepine told attendees at the opening rally.

Lepine is from what he calls “ground zero” in Alberta, Canada, on the western tip of Lake Athabasca. He says that if uranium mining companies and tar sands companies succeed in what they want to do, his community will perish.

According to the draft G20 resolution that was leaked to Greenpeace, the G20 intends to continue its s0-called “open market” economic liberalization policies that loosen legislation for corporations and other business entities while reducing the ability to act for indigenous communities.

“Open markets play a pivotal role in supporting growth and job creation,” touts the draft G20 resolution. But indigenous community leaders are not convinced.

Lepine says that it is “time to evict” the Canadian government, big oil corporations, the G8 and the G20 from indigenous lands. He says that their policies of economic liberalization and letting corporations trample indigenous communities with impunity needs to stop. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, climate justice, environmentalism, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, international relations, media

“toxic tour” of the g8/g20 in Toronto

400 to 500 people marched in downtown Toronto to oppose the G20, its polluting policies, and the corporate polluters who benefit from those policies.

“We know what the solutions are. It’s time to listen to us!” said Kimia Ghomeshi, an organizer of the “Toxic Tour” that roared through downtown Toronto today, as the G20 prepares to meet in the city on Friday. It was hard not to listen to the passionate demonstration, which began at Alexandra Park, accompanied by drummers playing samba and Brazilian rhythms who danced and chanted, “You failed IMF! You failed World Bank! You failed G8! Stop the G20!” Stopping at offices of corporate polluters and those who fund them, the demonstrators that G20 policies lead to pollution.

Protesters hoisted art installations that depicted messy oil barrels, dead birds and dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, destructive logging operations, and toxic gold mining. Many protesters had covered themselves with fake oil (in actuality a chocolate syrup blend), to emphasize that the G20 brings pollution wherever it goes, including downtown Toronto.

Representatives from indigenous communities speak in front of RBC Bank to discuss how banks and G20 policies are destroying their communities.

One art installation depicted an oil drum with gold-colored paint gushing out of it. One of the artists who made it wore a white chemical suit, a hard hat, and a skull mask. The installation depicts is “iconic of what happens after an oil spill. From Exxon Valdez until now, the whole ecosystem, it’s wiped out,” said the artist, who wished not to be named. The artist said that G20 policies that allow corporations and business interests to enter countries and do whatever they want is “a corporate capitalism.”

Demonstrators covered themselves with fake oil to emphasize that wherever the G20 goes, or wherever their policies go, they bring pollution.

“Our way of life is more important than any policy that the G8 or the G20 could ever present,” said Mel Vazil, a social worker and member in the Smithers indigenous nation of British Colombia. “I should be picking berries with my son right now. But I’m here so they can pick berries next year, and next decade, and for the next hundred years and thousand years, and the G8 and the G20 can’t help me do that.”

“What the G20 is, you have 20 people who are heads of state who are coming to meet to discuss the fate of the world, and all of the voices, all the plurality, all the democratic space that we’re trying to build has been shut out of that,” said Craig Forster of No One is Illegal, who attended the demonstration. “It’s how the system works. It shuts out the rights of people, especially indigenous people. There’s a direct link in terms of what they’re discussing today and what impact it’s going to have on the future, whether it’s the environment, or how people migrate, or the global capitalist system.” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, climate justice, environmentalism, global justice, immigrant rights, international relations, media

a Sunday stroll on an oily beach, joined by security guards

On Sunday, my last day in the Gulf area, I caught a ride with an environmental law student, Stephen, two hours outside of New Orleans to a beach where the oil had been making landfall at Grand Isle, Louisiana.

As we pulled up to the beach, we began to see handmade signs about the oil spill. One of the signs that wrenched my heart read, “BP, cannot fish or swim. How the hell are we suppose to feed our kids now?”

A heart-wrenching sign on the road as we drove out to Grand Isle, Louisiana.

We pull up to the beach and walk over. There is a strange chemical feel to the air, and it fills our lungs with a noxious sensation. The beach has a giant set of two orange rubber pipelines running side by side, about two feet in diameter. They look like giant sausages stretching on down the beach into the distance. We assume that they are there to provide a barrier to a potential oil slick that approaches the beach. We climb over the barrier to get closer to the water.

The water had a nasty oil sheen and an odd orange froth. Nothing in the frothy part was living.

We casually strolled a few minutes down the beach, and came to what is the largest oil blob that I had seen. And it looks even larger compared to me!

An especially huge oil blob, especially compared to me!

I’m not sure what it means exactly, but I also saw a tiny hermit crab that was crawling up out of the nastier water, sort of desperate-looking and inept, and another larger crab that was near to the toxins, that was not reacting normally to my movements towards it. This probably meant it was dying right there in the water.

A crab appeared to be dying near to the toxic water.

Finally we had had enough of the sadness and the heat. There was polluted water all around us. Here we were on a beach and we were scared to touch the water. Also, the giant orange pipelines running along the beach sort of ruined what could have been a picturesque stroll on the the beach. We were ready to get going.

We walked over to a wooden bridge that seemed to be designed for people to easily access the beach. We climbed it and hopped off of the other side, over the two pipelines. It was then that we were encountered by two sheriff’s officers, each with his own golf cart, steered by thick, reddened, trunk-like forearms. They rolled up and said, in a casual-yet-malevolent way that good ol’ Louisiana boys can effect with great skill, “Aw right. Y’all have to wait here for decon.”

A hermit crab (upper left) makes an escape from the toxins.

“Sorry? We have to wait here for what?” I asked, putting on my most polite cheshire grin. They may be Louisiana boys, but I’m a Washingtonian: I know it’s best to put on a politician smile.

They asked a few questions which betrayed just how confused the whole situation was. Turns out they weren’t exactly sure who they saw jumping over the pipelines. There was one other blonde woman near to the beach, but I wasn’t about to cause problems for her. I told them I was the one who had jumped the barrier.

“Y’all need to stay put and wait for decontamination. They need to clean your shoes and all. You crossed into the hot zone.” As the officer radioed for help, I glanced back at the wooden structure we had just used to get over the pipelines. There was yellow tape on part of it, but that said “Authorized Vehicles Only.” Were Stephen and I vehicles? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, climate justice, environmentalism, human welfare, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

day 4, goose chase on the DC to New Orleans bus tour!

One of the boon workers on Orange Beach said he'd protest BP too if he could.

Well, we’ve driven hither and yon today to look for oil. We haven’t found anything more than a few oil blobs and some boon workers, on Orange Beach, Mississippi. The workers were on a crew that was putting up boons, the bright white ones lain on the beach alongside the dark ones that had soaked up oil. We didn’t actually see them handling any boons, though. It seemed we rolled up on them at lunch time. We told them we were protesting BP, and one of them said he might join us if he could.

Nearby there were oil blobs the size of a fist. There were also signs of cleanup crews, picking up the oil blobs with their hands encased in plastic gloves and placing the blobs in large clear plastic bags. None of the bags we saw being collected contained more than, say, a gallon-milk containers’ worth of blobs. I couldn’t help but notice how wasteful this was.

We spotted oil blobs the size of a fist.

We also noticed that the water was full, choc full, of tiny oil blobs about the size of a quarter, washing ashore. These blobs might be too small for human hands to preoccupy themselves with, but they were certainly large enough to matter to fish, crabs, and birds. Perhaps what the most glaring sign of this corrupted beach was what was absent: practically any sign of life, besides busy humans. And this was on a beach with heavy cleanup efforts.

As we went to leave Orange Beach, we encountered two men servicing some of the many porto-johns. “We do all the toilets around here,” said the slim one with the straw hat. “I’m telling y’all – you should go to Fort Morgan. It’s really bad there.”

The second man spoke up. “If they really want to see oil, they should go to the closed area. But they wouldn’t let them in.” Then he gestured to me, with a wide grubby grin, “She can go, I’ll just tell them she’s my girlfriend.” The man had a scruffy brown beard and a belly that reminded me of a sea cow, but that didn’t stop him from smiling wider and saying that he “was about to bust out his thong” to account for the heat. We all got a good laugh and (calling him “sugar,”) I told him that if he could get me onto a closed beach, sure I’d pretend to be his girlfriend. Then we all thought better of it and Flux and I departed to head to Fort Morgan. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, climate justice, environmentalism, human welfare, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

day 3 of the DC to New Orleans bus tour!

Flux Rostrum protests at a BP gas station in Greenville, Alabama.

I am typing this log, looking over the edge of my laptop, past Flux Rostrum at the driver’s wheel, and looking down at the highway in front of me.  It is Monday, Day 3 of the Washington DC to New Orleans Mobile Broadcast News bus tour, protesting BP all along the way.

Today has been a journey. We started north of Atlanta, Georgia. Last night we were up late driving south, stopping at a BP station in Gastonia, North Carolina. It was closed, since it was so late. We figured we’d like to see more gas stations closed like this, or changed to wind and solar power facilities. Down the road, we stopped at Bastion, South Carolina, where we witnessed someone actually driving through the BP parking lot to go to another gas station across the street. We crossed the road to talk to the guy, and he said that he drove through because he was avoiding BP because they caused the oil spill that devastated the coast.

After waking up in Georgia, we stopped for a quick morning coffee, I wrote a blog rant about l and got on the road. With a massive 90-gallon tank full of vegetable oil, we weren’t expecting to have to stop for gas, unless it was to protest. BP is responsible for the oil disaster that is getting worse and worse in the Gulf. They need to pay reparations and be held accountable. I firmly believe that Tony Hayward should be put in jail.

Rolling the bus into a BP gas station.

Pulling into a gas station in Noonan, Georgia, we boldly pulled up into the BP parking lot. I walked up to the gas pumps, where several people were pumping gas, and asked folks to raise their hands if they wanted to hold BP accountable for the oil spill. With the demure of good Southern belles, they politely ignored this question. I pointed out that if they wanted to hold BP accountable, the best way would be to stop using fossil fuels. Not long after, a woman with shockingly blonde hair and a cordless telephone came out to us, waving the phone and telling us in a lovely Southern accent that she was “goin’ ta call 911.” We told her we had nothing against her or small businesses, just BP, and we scurried back into the bus and took off. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, climate justice, environmentalism, human welfare, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

pepco has been “fossil fooled”

The Greenwash Guerillas strike again! On April Fools Day, we played a fun prank on Washington DC’s main energy provider, Pepco.

In the wee hours of the morning on April 1, we stuck fake Pepco customer letters on thousands of doors. The letters said that “Pepco is going green,” and promised that Pepco would switch to 100% wind and solar energy by 2020. It further announced that Pepco would be canceling proposed rate hikes, and instructed customers that they should contact Pepco’s customer service line to see if they qualify for a “renewable energy rate discount.”

Then we sent out a fake press release with the phony URL www.pepco-green.com. (Some very talented folks were able to create a mock-up website that looked almost identical to Pepco’s.) We also had our own “go phone” number listed as the number for the real-world Pepco press contact. Very early yesterday morning, we called TV and radio news desks with the news that “Pepco is going green.” Local Fox figured out our hoax and picked it up with the headline “Pepco Victim of April Fools Day Hoax.” Then we called friends at Washington Post and gave them the exclusive story that listed the group’s name “Greenwash Guerillas” and gave other details that no other outlet had. The Post ran a wonderful story on it that afternoon.

David Fahrentold of the Washington Post writes:

…Pepco put out a statement saying that the letter and the Web site were fake.

“We have been alerted that a bogus Web site and other false communications posing as Pepco were issued today. This bogus Web site is not secure and does not represent Pepco,” Pepco said on its Web site.

“Some folks really did a good job,” Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson said this morning. “But it ain’t us.”

Fahrenthold quoted me in his article as well:

A group called the Greenwash Guerrillas claimed responsibility for the hoax. Lacy MacAuley, a spokeswoman for the group, said the group has about 40 members and is a year old.

MacAuley said that the group had placed about 3,000 letters around Washington and suburban Maryland. She called it “greenwash guerrilla warfare,” against people identified as “perpetrators,” promoting policies that worsen climate change.

What a fun prank. Afterwards we did a victory lap to celebrate, a mobile dance party through Adams Morgan and down U Street with about thirty beautiful dancing people. Then we danced into the distance… but the Greenwash Guerillas will return next April Fools Day to prank the fossil fuel industry, I promise.

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, global justice, humor, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

shaky evidence of military providing real help in Haiti

News reports of the military in Haiti take it as a given that the military is helping in Haiti. But evidence that most soldiers are doing anything to directly help Haitians is very shaky. Most are just providing security. It takes a giant leap of faith to believe that US troops standing around Port-au-Prince, while people all around them are in need of water, food, medical help, and supplies, is “providing aide.” I’m not jumping.

This CBS news report, which features the 82nd airborne division giving water to Haitians, only shows a small number of water bottles, perhaps a few hundred. Only enough for a small number of people to take a drink, this is one example of the unconvincing emergency response by the US military.

There are over 10,000 soldiers in and around Haiti right now. With so many warm bodies, you’d think their relief efforts would be remarkable; instead they’re rather unconvincing.

There’s slim evidence such as this CBS report of the 82nd airborne division, which consists of 50 soldiers in Haiti, flying one helicopter out to deliver water and a bit of temporary medical assistance. The report begins with an exasperated-sounding reporter saying “water water everywhere, and finally it got to the people.” That was earlier this week.

The camera work shows only a few hundred bottles of water being distributed to Haitians. Not a tanker filling five-gallon jugs. Bottles.

And then there’s a Reuters report of the 82nd airborne providing food to “a few hundred” Haitians. It was their first time providing food to people. The report addresses what “lessons” the soldiers had learned from the experience. That was on Friday, ten full days after the earthquake hit, and it was their first time actually delivering food to actual Haitians.

The Carl Vinson provided some medical support. But a BBC reporter aboard the ship only reports on a few isolated cases of people who were helicoptered, one by one, to receive medical attention there. Several days after the earthquake, a Wall Street Journal reporters observed that only seven people were being treated on this ship. The Journal’s description criticizes the naval ship’s operations, quoting a naval doctor who said that he is ready serve thousands of injured people, rather than just seven people. But he has not been given orders to serve more people.

The USS Bataan, a ship that USS Carl Vinson personnel said had more extensive medical facilities than its own, arrived just this past Wednesday (a bit late?) and only took in 19 injured or sick people in its first day of operations.

The much-anticipated USNS Comfort was supposed to provide some meaningful medical support, arriving finally on Haiti’s shores this past Tuesday. By Friday, wrote a reporter in Port-au-Prince for Sphere, the USNS Comfort, the much-celebrated naval ship, had only treated “hundreds of the wounded and evacuated.”

By contrast, the same report also states that, “Hundreds of Haitians in Port-au-Prince have been treated for quake-related injuries at a field hospital set up by the University of Miami medical school.” They did so without guns or a big ship.

I’m not jumping at this bait. The US military purports to be one of the most efficient, best-organized forces in the world. If their real purpose for being in Haiti was to actually help Haitians, they would have done better than this.

Filed under: activism, global justice, human welfare, international relations, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

News Media Coverage of “Risk of Instability” in Haiti is Letting Politics Slow Aide

Over 10,000 US troops are in Haiti right now. That’s at least one US soldier for every 100 Haitians. If these soldiers were actually distributing food and water, every Haitian could be nourished. But the military didn’t send food and water. It sent soldiers.

After seven days, guards erect a Haitian flag in front of the crumbled presidential palace. US troops are in Haiti acting to protect the presidency from escaped political prisoners in the aftermath of the earthquake. This is the "risk of instability" that the Haitian government is really worried about. (Photo: Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times)

That’s because our US troops are not really on a humanitarian mission in Haiti. They are protecting the current US-friendly regime of Haitian President René Préval, and seeking to ensure that supporters of the twice-democratically-elected former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, pro-democracy political prisoners who were freed by the earthquake, do not bring Aristide to power again. That’s the real “risk of instability” that Préval is referring to in his speeches.

The news media is mostly allowing the presence of US troops in Haiti to go unquestioned, implying that gun-wielding soldiers are needed due to incidents of what they call “looting” or due to fighting over resources. But all accounts on the ground seem to indicate that Haitians have been overwhelmingly peaceful. The troops are really there to respond in case there is a pro-democracy political movement that could rattle the US-friendly presidency. The news media is harming Haiti by misrepresenting this security concern, and is allowing politics to get in the way of aide.

The safe streets of Port-au-Prince

“I’m living here in the neighborhood [in Port-au-Prince]… There is no security. The UN is not out. The US is not out. The Haitian police are not able to be out. But there’s also no insecurity… You can hear a pin drop in this city. It’s a peaceful place. There is no war. There is no crisis except the suffering that’s ongoing,” said Dr. Evan Lyon with Partners in Health, a physician working at the main hospital in Haiti who was interviewed by Democracy Now earlier this week. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, antiwar, global justice, human welfare, international relations, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

Lacy MacAuley ~ International Relations ~ Radical Dreamer ~ Justice Lover ~ Thought Dancer ~ Heart Writer ~ Divine Dakini ~ based in Washington DC

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