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Stirring images of two decades of political protest in New York City
02.28.2017
09:56 am
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Pro-Sandinista rally, Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, June 1979
Photographer: David Gonzalez

Clearly the election of Donald Trump has revived interest in mass protest among the rank and file of the Democratic Party and its left-leaning allies, and it may seem to some as if we’re in the midst of a “revival” of truly vital protesting after decades of apparent hibernation. One might even conclude that the 1980s and 1990s will go down in history as a quiescent era of reaction and conformity.

Don’t believe it.

In recent decades, protests have never not been a thing—in the nation’s largest city, New York, there hasn’t ever been a year that wasn’t marked by significant protests over topics like abortion, AIDS, housing, police brutality, foreign affairs, queer rights, animal rights, and anti-war demonstrations.

In the more recent political era, there has been a notion that successful protests are always peaceful protests, but “Whose Streets? Our Streets! New York City: 1980–2000,” the remarkable exhibition currently at the Bronx Documentary Center (614 Courtlandt Avenue) gives the lie to that claim as well. The powers that be, including the police, aren’t always willing to permit righteous protest to take place in a peaceful manner, and sometimes blood is shed, automobiles are overturned, and large objects are set on fire.

The show ends on March 5, so if you’re in the vicinity, make sure to get out and check it out before it closes.

(Also, take part in any protests in your area that conform to your particular views!)
 

Nuclear Freeze Rally, Central Park, Manhattan, June 1982
Photographer: Richard Sandler

 

Memorial to AIDS victims, Central Park, Manhattan, June 1983
Photographer: Alon Reininger

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.28.2017
09:56 am
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Watch Canadian conservatives politely protest Penthouse’s ‘Caligula,’ eh?
02.18.2015
10:06 am
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Caligula actually had a lot going for it, at least on paper, but it was a doomed film from the start. The original screenplay was by Gore Vidal, but then he disowned it after director Tinto Brass made substantial changes (Brass maintains Vidal’s script was terrible, but it’s entirely possible that it was just too gay for his likings). Brass still could have made a good film though—at this point in his career he was known for groundbreaking experimental cinema (like the notorious “high class” Nazi sexploitation film Salon Kitty)—but producer Bob Guccione (of Penthouse magazine fame) wanted to film actual hardcore (rather than simulated) sex. Brass refused, so Guccione had someone else film the scenes, adding to the disjointed insanity of the whole production. Even the fantastic casting—Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole, Helen Mirren, John Gielgud—was tempered by Brass casting his own bohemian friends as Roman elites, and Guccione throwing numerous Penthouse Pets into the sex scenes.

The result was worse than cheesy pornography—it’s confusing, pretentious, cheesy pornography—a $17.5 million Penthouse magazine-funded boondoggle, and an absolute camp classic that everyone should see… once.

This is why Protest, a 1981 mini-documentary on Canadian decency activists is such a charming relic. On the one hand, it’s always unpleasant to see any impulse to curtail free speech. On the other hand, these dowdy conservative Canucks seem so darn sweet and reasonable compared to their American counterparts. If this protest was in middle America, it would have been a spectacle of hellfire sermons and open hostility! The only altercation you even see is a light slap coming from an irate secularist!The rest is just hilariously polite Canadians campaignin’ for decency.

Why can’t our bluenose Christian pearl-clutchers be this considerate? I know it’s a stereotype, but they really do seem nicer up north!
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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02.18.2015
10:06 am
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Kamikaze feminist throws herself in front of King George’s galloping horse, 1913
02.17.2015
08:04 pm
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My public school education taught me very little on either the English or American women’s suffrage movements. I received a sterilized, almost Disneyfied briefing on the mass of ladies who fought for the vote, but they remained a nameless marching sea of stern-faced sashes and hats. (To be fair, this was a school that still had the U.S.S.R. on the maps, so historical pedagogy may have taken a backseat to acquiring basic resources like toilet paper, and possibly clearing out asbestos.) It was only years later and of my own accord that I beefed up on stories of women terrorizing politicians, enduring hunger-strikes (and the subsequent force-feedings) and yes—throwing themselves in front of the King’s horse.

Up until very recently, I had presumed that last one was more of a symbolic than violent gesture—a bit of pedestrian-on-equestrian hassling. On the contrary, British suffragette Emily Wilding Davison actually chucked herself in front of—and grabbed the reins of—a galloping horse as it was running the Epsom Derby in 1913. The video below is actual footage of the brutal event.
 

 
Davison valued the cause more than self-preservation; she had previously been thrown in jail nine times and suffered 49 force-feedings while on hunger strike. This time she targeted the horse owned by King George V for maximum uproar. As you can see, the impact was incredibly violent. She held on for four days before dying from internal injuries and a fractured skull. Her funeral was memorialized by the movement.
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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02.17.2015
08:04 pm
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Atari Teenage Riot ‘Black Flags’ - the first OWS anthem?


 
I have been waiting for a band or an act to put into music all the feelings that have been driving the Occupy movement. Music is still one of the fastest means of spreading a meme, and I think it’s a mark of how truly “popular” a movement has become when it has its own protest music that reflects the anger and desires of the protesters.

It seems rather fitting then that the first large-scale act to do so would be squat-rave and black block veterans Atari Teenage Riot. Alec Empire and Nic Endo’s Berlin-based anarchist mob have been screaming about this kind of thing since the early 90s, and it looks like the world has finally caught up with what they have to say. While personally I would have thought it would be a new act to break through representing a new generation, no-one can doubt ATR’s credentials when it comes to this kind of thing. In fact, maybe in this age of ultra-commodified music it would HAVE to take a more veteran, established act to represent OWS and Anonymous so as to avoid claims of false appropriation?

You have to hand it to ATR though, “Black Flags” is a pretty great tune. I’d say it’s one of their most accessible yet while retaining all that dark techno-punk scuzzy energy we know and love (metal guitars over distorted 909 drums? fuck yeah!). You can hear the track, and download it for free, right here:
 

  Atari Teenage Riot - Black Flags (feat. Boots Riley) by Alec Empire/ ATR
 
The video for ‘Black Flags’ has been put together using footage supplied by fans of the band, and they are still looking for more if anyone reading would like to get involved. Here’s a statement from the Alec Empire / Atari Teenage Riot Soundcloud page:

In the past decade we have witnessed how dangerous corruption can be for ordinary citizens, from Fukushima to the financial crisis, we could even include the current phone hacking scandals in the UK in this. The list goes on. Almost weekly more shocking news is being published. Corporate greed has too often put the lives of people in danger.
Historically, the Black Flag stood for not belonging to a certain Nation State (due to the fact that no national colors were used on it). For the us, it means also that no individual can look at him/herself as superior to others just because of his/her national identity.
The mainstream media often looks at “consumers” and labels them as “apathetic.” But as the protests around the world have indicated, there is more political activism than ever before. And not only that, we see the same activism and energy at our concerts.
Cynics always find many reasons for not doing anything and being miserable. Often they say that the world is too “complex” to get involved. We believe that even though the world is complex, there are some fundamentally powerful ideas. Respect for another human being, for example, is a fundamental idea that grants great power.
If you agree to the basic principles of equality and freedom, join us and make a statement!
...
If you want to be in the video and show that you support the ideals mentioned above, please send us the following footage:
• Take your mobile phone, webcam or any other camera and film yourself lip-synching the song Atari Teenage Riot - Black Flags (feat. Boots Riley) by Alec Empire/ ATR 
• Have a black flag in the background, or hold it while you’re lip-syncing. (The black flag motif will link all images together. If you don’t have one to hand, use a black T-shirt, pull it inside out, stick the arms into it…there you go.) 
• You can choose any location for it. If you want to do it at home, great. If you know a crazy location, do it there. (In front of your school or university? At a shopping mall? With your friends at a party?) 
• We will use fragments of all videos, which are sent in and ultimately add all of you to the official video. 
• If you want to support the idea but want to do so anonymously, you can cover your face. No problem.

Atari Teenage Riot ft Boots Riley “Black Flags”
 

 
Thanks to Liam Arnold at Shallow Rave.

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Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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11.03.2011
10:23 am
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Harry Potter disarms the 1% at Occupy London


 
Go Harry!

Thanks to Gary Parkinson and Tim Bakker.

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Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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10.15.2011
05:01 pm
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‘U PAY YOUR TAX 2’
06.25.2011
08:02 am
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From last night at the Glastonbury festival, where U2 made their debut. The balloon reads “U PAY YOUR TAX 2?”, referring to the fact that U2 don’t pay taxes in their native Ireland, despite being one of the country’s biggest exports. Methinks Ireland, which is pretty fucking broke, could do with Bono and co’s extra dollar right now…

From BBC News (where you can also see footage of the balloon and the Glastonbury festival security’s over-the-top reaction to it):

[U2] played a greatest hits set that included Where The Streets Have No Name, One, With Or Without You and Beautiful Day. They also played on as protest group Art Uncut inflated a 20ft balloon emblazoned with “U Pay Your Tax 2”.

Scuffles broke out when the protest balloon was removed by festival security, although many of those in the 50,000 crowd were probably unaware of the minor incident. Security staff sought to stop the protest by about 30 people at the end of U2’s opening song Even Better Than the Real Thing.

So the next time you see or hear Bono patronisingly droning on about some sanctimonious twaddle, just think these three words: “Pay Your Taxes”!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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06.25.2011
08:02 am
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Not just Berkeley & London: The international student movement is on fire!

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Demonstration against the privatization of education, New Delhi, December 2, 2010
 

As our UK-based Dangerous Mind Paul Gallagher has noted, London students have taken the issue of educational democracy off the campuses into both the city’s freezing streets and the faces of lines of cops. Of course these have been paralleled by media coverage of a couple of years of anti-tuition hike protests at the University of California. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Turns out the international student movement that’s been brewing is on the way to becoming the primary dynamic popular movement of our time. From Manila to Santiago to Jakarta to Marrakech to Milan to Prishtina, students have been hitting the capitals to protest the privatization, commodification and militarization of education and research. Their fight against the fee hikes, budget cuts and other politricks affecting access to education is already the most effective and wide-reaching youth movement you’ve ever seen. Period.

To state the sweepingly obvious, the global financial industry played a huge part in causing the worldwide educational crisis. And democratized education will be key to defending humanity against the most powerful wave of greed we’ve seen in a while. That makes the global struggle for free, emancipatory education the key struggle of our lifetimes.

You may think I’m overstating it. Hell, maybe I am. But just in case, do yourself a favor: keep an eye on this movement and support it in whatever way you see fit.
 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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12.11.2010
01:06 pm
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G20 Toronto Riot Footage & the rise of the anti-G protest video

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The great Mixmaster Morris drew my attention to this bit of coverage of the G20 demonstrations in Toronto this weekend by Miguel Barbosa’s YEAH! Films Company. Clip #1 is more raw, and seems to have been converted to the more stylized clip #2. It seems like some of the most de-sensationalized, semi-balanced coverage so far, although Barbosa & co. seem rather generally disenchanted by the protestors, as shown in his posting on the YEAH! site:

If your going to attack a city, I would suggest weapons & better tactics. I knew these guys were gonna attack 10 minutes before it happened…

Anyways, they didn’t like people taking photos & video. It was kind of too late only a few minutes into the protest, the year is 2010, and everybody has some sort of camera. One protester attacked me when I yelled “Do you think this burning car is going to change the world?”

I hope you at home are sane and human enough to see what they did to this city & what they put innocent people through is completely wrong. It was embarrassing for the City of Toronto and it was embarrassing for Canadians. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. I heard you guys smashed a Tim Hortons. If that isn’t crossing the line I don’t know what is.

Barbosa points out the extreme mediation of the event—“everybody has some sort of camera.” Although it can be useful in documenting and possibly preventing police abuse—which seems to have been somewhat the case since, say, Chicago ’68—it’s hard not to detect a bit of collective narcissism as well.

Is there any doubt that the anti-globalization protest video is now its own genre?
 

 

 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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06.28.2010
03:31 pm
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