By Niall Green in the USA:
Occupy DC protesters ordered to end camps
31 January 2012
Occupy DC protesters were ordered to end their months-old encampments in the US capital on Monday. Federal government officials gave notice last week that protesters had to remove all camping equipment from two sites they have occupied in downtown Washington, DC.
As of this posting, the protesters remained in a standoff with Parks Police, who had ordered the the camps to be cleared out by noon.
The parks, McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, are owned and policed by the National Parks Service, an agency of the US Department of the Interior responsible for much of the open space in the center of Washington. Parks Police warned Occupy protesters that they would start to enforce an established prohibition on overnight camping, which officials had waived since protesters set up the encampments October 1.
The Occupy DC camps are part of the US and worldwide protests, begun in New York City under the banner Occupy Wall Street, against social inequality and the domination of political power by a financial oligarchy.
The change in attitude toward the Occupy demonstrators by the Parks Service appears to have been prompted by the actions of Congressional Republicans in the nearby US Capitol, who last week questioned why protesters were being permitted to camp on federal land.
The head of the Parks Service, Jonathan Jarvis, responded to the Republican effort with a statement that protesters had a right to be in the parks and could not be evicted, but that sleeping there would be discouraged.
Occupy DC organizers answered the change in policy toward them by pointing out that the Parks Service has long taken a very selective view on when to apply the no camping rule on federal property, allowing several other protest groups to camp on National Parks’ land in Washington, including during the Civil Rights demonstrations of the 1960s.
By Iqra Qalam in South Africa:
Forty arrested at Cape Town Occupy
31 January 2012
Forty people were arrested on Friday 26 January as they prepared to launch an Occupy Rondebosch Common demonstration in Cape Town. The three-day “People’s Jobs, Land & Housing Summit”, organised by community organisations include Passop, Proudly Manenberg, Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign, South African NGO Coalition and the South African Council of Churches, was broken up with brutal police repression.
The mayor of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille, justified the police brutality, declaring in a speech to the City Council: “There are those who would sooner see this city destroyed, driven in two by violence and aggression, than be a part of a shared destiny. I tell this council now, those agents of division will not win.”
She said that she would not allow “these agents of destruction to use their misguided, naive and brutal misunderstandings of the politics of race to divide this city.”
In the 1980s, Patricia De Lille was a trade union official and rose to the leadership of the Pan African Congress (PAC), a group which had split from the now ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 1959. After leaving the PAC she formed the Independent Democrats (ID) before merging with the right-wing Democratic Alliance.
De Lille unleashed the repression against the peaceful demonstrators for attempting to hold a gathering in Rondebosch Common, which under Apartheid was an area from which non-whites were banned and is today surrounded by wealthy suburbs and golf courses. Her reactionary response was emblematic of the evolution of a whole layer of former advocates of the “liberation struggle” in the ANC and PAC, who have since become ferocious defenders of wealth and privilege.
The Mayor’s Communication Department of the City of Cape Town issued a hypocritical statement on January 27 further justifying continued and deepening social inequality as an inevitable feature of “nation building” and defending the imminent crackdown. “Occupations, illegal actions, invasions, these are all side-paths, so much more tempting for those who are weary,” it stated. “But they lead nowhere.
“All that remains at the end of these short diversions is more pain, suffering, conflict and violence. And when we descend there, we will forget where we were going, forever.”
In reality, however, it was the city administration and the police that violated the law and trampled on the rights of the demonstrators. The brutality was driven in no small measure because many of those protesting had come from poorer townships.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI have opened an investigation into the “facts and circumstances” surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager shot and killed last month by a neighborhood watch captain in an Orlando suburb: here.