The anti-corruption 5 Star Movement’s inception seemed almost like an afterthought, established in 2009 by fans of comedian Beppe Grillo’s blog. However, the Italian political movement soon gained significant traction and in 2012 its candidates managed to win mayoral seats in Parma, Comacchio and Mime.

By 2013, the movement had grown exponentially, going so far as to secure almost a fifth of the national preferences in the February elections and achieve a strong presence within the Italian government. Perhaps the 5 Star Movement (M5S) would have even taken over the administration if not for a strict electoral system that secured Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s position.

In 2014, M5S appeared to be losing some of its momentum, as it only secured 21% of the Italian people’s preferences in the EU elections – a percentage vastly overshadowed by the 40% landslide won by Renzi’s Democratic Party. That DP victory turned sour before long, however, as infighting, questionable practices and Renzi’s own right-leanings came to light, leaving an opening for a 5 Star resurgence.

And this year, the movement has made good on that opening. In June, Virginia Raggi, a 37-year old M5S candidate, was elected mayor of Rome. Her victory was complemented by the election of another movement candidate in Turin, 31-year-old Chiara Appendino, who overtook the previous mayor and founder of the Democratic Party. The M5S now appears prepared to assume greater powers as a proper political organization without compromising its own innovative approach.


First and foremost, the 5 Star Movement is a political party that appears to operate with an entirely bottom-up structure. By applying the late Gianroberto Casaleggio’s ideas of direct democracy, the party made the most of its limited resources by creating and maintaining an online platform that empowers voters and activists by allowing them to directly contact their representatives.

The platform also provides the option of creating Meetups, which allows groups of voters to individually organize, creating the party’s own progressive electoral backbone in the process. The party maintains a strong online presence, using its blog to post news and policy updates. Furthermore, it actively encourages voters and activists to contribute to the discussion, allowing for easier, direct participation.

A key advantage that made the movement’s web innovation attractive was this: by switching over to an online, digitally accessible medium for discussion and organizing, the party managed to rise in popularity at a significantly reduced cost compared with traditional political campaign methods.

As for the party’s supporters, and the Italian people in general, M5S’s platform and Beppe Grillo’s blog have provided another significant advantage when it comes to freedom of political expression: by allowing citizens and activists to break away from Italy’s famously stifled media coverage and choose their own venues for political discourse. This has created an interesting precedent in the struggle between traditional and new media.

Before, politics was a one-sided battle of cloistered experts and media outlets against independent, openly available discussion platforms. Now, online transparency appears to be paving the way toward future policymaking. And by all accounts, the new approach seems to be gaining considerable attention on an international level.

Anupam Mishra, the secretary of the Ghandi Peace Foundation, personally congratulated Grillo in response to his Clean Up The Parliament campaign. The online campaign was launched with the intent to pressure the Italian government into passing harsher legislation for political candidates facing prosecution. While the campaign didn’t convince the Berlusconi government to pass the required legislation, it shined a harsh and visible light on Italy’s age-old bete noir: political corruption.


Grillo, the 5 Star Movement’s founder, appears to be eager to back up his own pro-active claims. In 2006, he openly protested against a 281-page, anti-environmental regulation proposal put forth by the Berlusconi government, and produced an abridged version of the legislation that focused on alternative energy sources and a waste reduction proposal.

Grillo made his economic and ecological position even clearer during a 2013 protest in Genoa, where he stated: “We must go beyond protest. We must go beyond marching in the streets and start winning elections. To solve the financial catastrophe, we must break the stranglehold that money has on politics… The ecological crisis can only be solved by a unified peoples’ movement.”

The following year, Grillo was sentenced to four months in prison for blocking the construction line for a high-speed train, which was widely criticized as unnecessary and damaging by the party’s supporters and environmentalists nationwide.

Now, the movement, which promised to go beyond opposition to the establishment and to effect real political change, is starting to keep that promise. Already, the party has put forward two mayoral candidates that are in no way backed by the nepotist, cronyist traditions of old Italian politics. The party has never openly stated that it has feminist leanings. In fact, its tendency for merit and transparency has served both its female candidates well.

Following her election to office this summer, Raggi said, “I feel like pointing out that, for the first time, the mayor [‘sindaco,’ in the masculine] of Rome is a woman. In a time in which gender equality is still a dream, this is a historic moment.”


But the 5 Star Movement’s meteoric rise to power, while impressive, won’t be enough to sustain a long-term political transition in Italy. In a column published by the Guardian, Francesco Grillo wrote, “This is the first time that a movement that has rapidly grown out of the radical critique of the ‘establishment’ will have to establish itself in a more stable political organization, without losing much of the novelty of its own approach.”

By all accounts, the party has had its fair share of friction. Grillo has been criticized for hijacking campaigns initiated by his voters, while the movement has so far adopted an aggressive stance against traditional approaches to political discourse, such as making TV appearances.

Furthermore, the 5 Star Movement’s agenda is ambivalent on the loaded issue of how to regulate mass EU immigration, which will require more strictly defined policies moving forward. The party has also assumed an openly Eurosceptic stance without revealing any properly defined alternatives after an exit from the Union. So far, it has only focused on privatizing nationalized companies and planning for a guaranteed national income.

Whichever path the party chooses to follow, one thing is certain: the transparency and political openness that helped M5S rise to power must now serve to bring the party’s current and future proposals to the forefront – especially if it intends to be remembered as something more than another European populist fluke.

Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, anti-corruption movement, populist politics, Euro-skeptic party, Italian political corruption, Silvio Berlusconi, Virginia Raggi, Chiara Appendino

5 Years After Zuccotti Park, Occupy Movement is Driving America’s Political Change (occupy.com)

The next time someone says the Occupy movement is dead, ask them this: “Do you really think serious activists for social and economic justice were going to spend the rest of their lives living in tents in parks?”

Maybe you don’t have to be so blunt. But then again, Occupy was blunt. It still is. Five years after Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011, America’s economic and political system is just as in need of structural overhaul. The demands we made then are as urgent today, maybe more so given the millions of people who are still struggling to recover from the 2008 financial crash.

Five years on, The People’s call to redress injustice is fierce, and growing fiercer.

Fortunately, plenty of evidence in recent years suggests that Occupy is far from “dead.” On the contrary, its legacy is building with every social and political movement that is now in ascent – from Fight for $15 to Immigration Reform, from Black Lives Matter to Idle No More, from Student Debt Resistance to Fossil Fuel Divestment.

The Occupy movement has fundamentally changed the political establishment. Two words: Bernie Sanders. Two more words: Elizabeth Warren. These de facto leaders of the new Democratic Party embraced “We are the 99%” and seized the momentum created by the Occupy movement to change not only the conversation, but to alter status quo politics in Washington.

Sure, Bernie was preaching a message of economic and social justice decades before Occupy showed up. And Warren’s political star was already on the rise when she helped found the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the months prior to Occupy Wall Street.

But it was the language and energy of the mass movement birthed in Zuccotti Park that propelled Warren into the Massachusetts Senate seat – and Bernie into the position of maverick presidential upstart who nearly unseated Hillary as the Democratic contender. Bernie’s national movement, which captured the votes of 90% of Democrats under the age of 40, will accelerate past the November election, eclipsing the old generation that currently holds power.

His meteoric rise reflects the way that Occupy changed not only the political establishment, but even changed the political process itself. Bernie’s campaign platform – getting money out of politics, urgently addressing income inequality, abolishing student debt, railing against the Trans-Pacific Partnership – were also Occupy’s “platform,” such as one existed. Bernie found a way to repackage and repurpose Occupy’s demands into a structural, viable, popular presidential campaign fueled by a grassroots movement that outdid even President Obama’s 2008 run.

Specifically, Bernie climbed his way up with the now-famous $27 average donation, rejecting large corporate and PAC-aligned donors that are the mainstay of mainstream politics. Put differently: Bernie harnessed and rode the energy of the 99%, proving that a new populist politics can field candidates and fund elections.

The fact that the Democratic National Committee pulled out all the stops to prevent anything so radical as a Bernie candidacy from materializing reflects how The People’s needs, and The People’s demands, have moved beyond the ability of the establishment to address them. He helped usher in a structural transformation of campaign finance, which Occupy Wall Street initiated with its vocal critique of Wall Street, the Koch Brothers and the like.

Let’s face it: even Donald Trump has gained from the message echoing from Occupy. His staunch opposition to the TPP and his unrelenting criticism of Hillary’s connections to Wall Street – however hollow in light of his own lifelong membership in the 1% – derived from issues that Occupy brought into living rooms nationwide.

The Occupy movement isn’t finished. Far from it, it’s just getting started. It may call itself by a different name. Many names, in fact. But rest assured, the ideas and passions that drove people to occupy Liberty Square five years ago are strengthening. Far from being dead, the Occupy movement keeps evolving – which is the very definition of being alive.

Occupy Wall Street, Occupy movement, money in politics, student debt, Black Lives Matter, Fight for $15, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, rising inequality

Occupy Wall Street, Occupy movement, money in politics, student debt, Black Lives Matter, Fight for $15, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, rising inequality

Sinclair Lewis: “It Can’t Happen Here”



It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis. Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a populist United States Senator who is elected to the presidency after promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and traditional values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a plutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS. The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion. Reviewers at the time, and literary critics ever since, have emphasized the connection with Louisiana politician Huey Long, who was preparing to run for president in the 1936 election when he was assassinated in 1935 just prior to the novel’s publication.  (Wikipedia.org)

“The Woman Who Saved Our Cities” by Randy Shaw (beyondchron.org)













Jane Jacobs is the leading urban visionary for post-WWII cities. Fittingly, her 100th birthday this year is being celebrated by books, events and a new documentary film. I recently spoke at a SPUR panel titled “What Would Jane Jacobs Do?,” and answering that question increasingly charts policy decisions about cities and neighborhoods.

Peter Laurence wrote an exceptional book on how Jacobs came to challenge the planning establishment that I reviewed earlier this year (“The Roots of Jane Jacobs’ Urban Vision”, June 2, 2016). I described Laurence’sBecoming Jane Jacobs as “an enormous contribution both to our understanding of Jacobs and more importantly to the 1950’s era that shaped both Jacobs’ perceptions and the future of urban and suburban America. “ I deemed it a “must read for anyone working to improve the quality of life in cities today.”

Robert Kanigel’s new book, Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs, offers the first full biography of Jacobs. Kanigel traces Jacobs’ life with a particular focus on her often overlooked social activism in her adopted city of Toronto. Although Jacobs is typically identified with living in New York City’s West Village, she actually lived longer in Toronto. It was in Toronto where Jacobs skill at promoting livable cities was most appreciated by city officials, and Kanigel brings to light this critical chapter of Jacobs’ legacy

Jacobs, Pre-Death and Life

Kanigel’s search for the roots that explain why Jacobs emerged as the nation’s most powerful voice against massive, planning-driven urban development schemes begins with her childhood years. While Kanigel tries to find evidence that she might have been shaped by her experiences in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he ultimately concludes as Laurence does that it was the time she spent in post-redevelopment areas of East Harlem, West Boston, and Philadelphia that led her to conclude that the people’s needs had been left out of planners’ plans.

Jacobs was also influenced by her walk through Boston’s North End, which remains one of the city’s most popular walking areas for tourists. The North End was precisely the type of mixed commercial/residential neighborhood that the planning establishment destroyed throughout the nation. Planners preferred highrise apartments with surrounding greenery, creating neighborhoods that lacked vitality, social interactions and were fundamentally impractical due to the lack of nearby small businesses.

Kanigel primarily focuses on Jacobs’ insights gleaned from personal visits to these failed areas, whereas Laurence shows how her research and investigation went much deeper. Nevertheless, a reader unfamiliar with how Jacobs came to her views will get the answer from this book.

Jacobs’ Activism

Kanigel particularly explores Jacobs’ lifetime of community-based grassroots activism. Most Jacobs followers know how her publication of the classic Death and Life of Great American Cities coincided with her efforts to stop a highway from going through Washington Square Park. Jacobs also spent years working to stop a proposed Manhattan Expressway from wrecking the Village, Soho, Chinatown and Little Italy. Jacobs began that struggle in 1961 and the highway plan was not killed until 1968.

Jacobs’ anti-Vietnam War activism led her to leave New York City for Toronto in 1968 to protect her sons from the draft. She would live in Toronto until her death in 2006.

In Toronto, Jacobs quickly got involved in batting the long planned Spadina Expressway. Proposed in the 1950’s as part of a network of expressways designed to circle Toronto, Jacobs helped defeat the project in 1971. That victory resulted in the abandonment of the entire freeway project.

Kanigel shows Jacobs to be an effective but ambivalent activist. She repeatedly bemoaned that time spent at public hearings was taking away from her writing time; yet she was continued her activism while writing books into her 80’s.

Jacobs Legacy

Has Jane Jacobs’ legacy been overhyped? Was she right that “eyes on the street,” a mix of residential and commercial uses, and preserving old and historic buildings made for successful neighborhoods?

Kanigel addresses Jacobs critics, particularly sociologist Herbert Gans. Gans argued upon the release of Death and Life that Jacobs underestimated the role of cultural and economic factors—as opposed to the surrounding housing type— that made Boston’s Italian North End a successful neighborhood. He also felt Jacobs was “blind to issues of race and class.”

Gans is not alone in criticizing Jacobs for offering a vision for successful neighborhoods, particularly through historic preservation, that often became a blueprint for gentrification.

In my book on San Francisco’s Tenderloin I describe how fears of gentrification led residents in 1983 to oppose becoming a National Historic District. Most neighborhoods are eager to embrace this designation, which is now associated with increased property values (the national Uptown Tenderloin Historic District covering 31 blocks was created in 2009).

But while the low-income Tenderloin and its 409 historic buildings fulfill Jacobs’ vision, others point to more typical outcomes such as what occurred in New York City, where real estate speculators promoted the idea of “Brownstone Brooklyn” to get upscale buyers to purchase properties that long housed tenants. Transformed neighborhoods like Park Slope also embody Jane Jacobs’ vision for cities, leading some to accuse Jacobs of ignoring the class implications of her work (often cited is the gentrification of her own former West Village neighborhood).

Such criticisms blame Jacobs for developments out of her control. Jane Jacobs could not promise that following her blueprint for successful neighborhoods would keep them low income or prevent tenant displacement, though neighborhoods of mixed incomes was clearly her preference.

Yet critics should acknowledge that Jane Jacobs did more than anyone of her time to publicize the horrors caused to working-class neighborhoods and low income residents by massive new expressways and urban renewal projects. Gans’ claim that she ignored class and race ignores the core arguments of her work. Such criticisms seem to be based not on the impacts of her work but on Jacobs’ own middle-class sensibilities and the white communities where she lived and organized.

Those familiar with Jacobs prior to reading this book will come away even more impressed with her legacy. Her enormous impact on Toronto—which she is widely credited with transforming into a far more livable city—was a complete surprise to me and may be the case with most readers who only know Jacobs through Death and Life and her New York City battles with Robert Moses.

Kanigel has created what will likely become the definitive biography of Jane Jacobs in her centenary year. A documentary film, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, will soon be out and further events are planned commemorating her remarkable life. Jane Jacobs was a woman in an overwhelming male field and lacked a planning degree; yet as Kanigel shows, she became and remains the most important urban visionary of our time.

Randy Shaw is Editor of Beyond Chron. He is the author of The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco

To leave feedback, go to feedback@beyondchron.org

The Blockchain or Open Ledger

Democracy Earth – Power in Your Hands

The internet transformed how we share culture, work together —and even fall in love— but governance has remained unchanged for over 200 years. With the rise of open source software and peer to peer networks, political intermediation is no longer necessary. We are building a protocol with smart contracts that allows decentralized governance for any kind of organization.

Democracy Is Getting A Reboot On The Blockchain

A startup from Latin America, Democracy Earth, is fighting corruption through Internet voting technology.

The Blockchain: A Promising New Infrastructure for Online Commons

Bitcoin has taken quite a beating for its libertarian design biases, price volatility due to speculation, and the questionable practices of some currency-exchange firms.  But whatever the real or perceived flaws of Bitcoin, relatively little attention has been paid to its “engine,” known as “distributed ledger” or “blockchain” technology.  Move beyond the superficial public discussions about Bitcoin, and you’ll discover a software breakthrough that could be of enormous importance to the future of commoning on open network platforms.

Democracy, Earth Rights, and the Next Economy

It is clear to so many of us now that our current form of economy—some call it monopoly or corporate capitalism—does not serve the highest and best interests of either the people or the planet.

Weekly calendar for activists (from Patricia Gray)

It is not enough for us to talk to friends and bemoan the sad state of affairs in our nation and the world.  We need to join with others to make a ‘critical mass’ or the ‘hundred monkeys phenomenon’ when we all realize that we have the power to change things.

We are the majority and we are correct in our concern that things are going very badly and change must be made for the sake of the continuation of any life on Earth. Maybe that sounds extreme—but you must be concerned about things going wrong or you would not be on this list of activists.
We must talk to people who are not our friends–but who are living human beings that need to be made aware of the loss of our democracy and perhaps to join us in changing things in our city, state, nation and world.
The 99% must unite all the working people against the 1%.  We must support each other. Read down this list of events and plan to attend one.
Wednesday Sept. 21
4:00 – 7:00 pm              Ed Roberts Campus
                                   3075 Adeline St.  Berkekey
                                   SAVE ALTA BATES!
                                   Sutter Health has decided to close Alta Bates
                                   Hospital.  The nurses state that this will have a
                                   very significant impact on access and the
                                   delivery of health care to the people in Berkeley,
                                   Alemeda County, Contra Costa County and
                                   beyond.   RNs are committed to ensuring the
                                   residents in all communities to understand what
                                   is going on and why we must fight to keep the
                                   hospital open.
Thursday, Sept. 22
8:00 – 9:00 am          Page St and Steiner
                               S.F. RENTERS DAY OF ACTION AND RALLY
                               They say rent hike, we say rent strike!
                               They say gentrify, we say OCCUPY!
                               Join San Franciscan housing groups in the national
                               Renters Day of Action to declare a renter State of
                               Emergency and take to the streets to demand an end
                               to rising rents, evictions, and gentrification.
                               more info:  alicia@hrcsf.org
12:00 noon       Planning Commission, S.F. City Hall, rm. 400
                       THE FRIGHT ON FOLSOM IS BACK \
                       The plan to demolish an existing industrial building to
                       build 117 housing units – four stories high with some
                       private and public open space.  It is planned to have
                       74 below grade parking spaces.
3:00 to 5:00 pm   S.F. City Hall, room 400
                          DEFEND THE MISSION! 
                          No more housing in the Mission that are luxury units
                          that displace our most vulnerable community members.
                          The land between Folsom 23rd and 24th Street should
                          be reserved for much needed affordable housing.
                          ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
6:30 – 8:30 pm     St.Mary’s Cathedral 1111 Gough St. @ Geary
Friday Sept. 23
9:00 am – 5:00 pm     Federal Court Building
                               450 Golden Gate Ave.  floor 17, court #6
                               PACK THE COURT! 
                               The city of Berkeley is trying to get the case dis-
                               missed.  We need your presence in the court room
                               to show our communities reject the city’s attempts
                               to escape accountability for Kayla’s death and the
                               violence she suffered, along with so many other
                               people of color, trans women and disabled folks.
                               Hearing  begins at 10 but make sure to get there
                               early so you will be allowed in.  Come at 9 and we
                               will have coffee and food for you early birds.
6:00 – 8:00 pm       California State Capital 
                            NATIONAL DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR 
                            MURDER VICTIMS
                            The theme is Remember, Remind, and Respect.
                            Remember our loved ones, remind others we are
                            survivors, teach others to respect survivors grief.
Saturday, Sept. 24
9:45 am – 2:00 pm    S.F. Main Library  Koret AuditoriumSun
                               100 Larkin St. S.F. (enter on Grove)
                               COMMUNITY CONVERSATION ON S.F.P.D
                               The evidence is clear — the S.F.P.D. is badly
                               broken.  You are invited to hear about the Blue
                               Ribbon  Panel’s recommendations for change.
                               10 – 10:15  Welcome and mixer
                               10:15 – 11:00  family stories
                               11:00 – 1:00  overview of report and discussion and
                                                  Q and A
                               1:00  bag lunch and beverages served
                               SFPD San Franciscans for Police Accountability
Sunday Sept. 25 
9:00 am                   UU Center, Franklin @ Geary streets
                               PALESTINE, ISRAEL AND THE 2016 ELECTION
                               Speaker, Richard Becker of the Answer Coalition
                               Richard will speak on how the 2016 election may
                               impact the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
                               He is author of the book Palestine, Israel and the
                               U.S. empire.
4:00 pm            Northbrae Community Center 
                        941 The Alemeda, Berkeley
                        SOLVLING HOMELESSNESS THROUGH  
                        COMMUNITY AND COLLABORATION 
                        The Berkeley Public  Library, the Berkeley Organizing
                        Congregations and the Northbrae Community church
                        are hosting this community forum on Homelessness.
                        Moderator Peter Leyden will engage the 2016 Mayoral
                        candidates to address the problem.
                        All are welcome to attend this event which will be
                         followed by a casual reception where food will be served.
Monday Sept. 26
all day and the next day
                           OCCUPY BEALE AIR FORCE BASE 
                           CAMPAIGN NON VIOLENCE WEEK OF ACTIONS
                            Campaign Non Violence is a long term movement
                            for a culture of peace and nonviolence, free from
                            war, poverty, racism, environmental destruction and
                            the epidemic of violence.
                            come to be united against drones.  Wear white clothing
                            (if you can) and sky blue scarves to stand with the
                            Afghan Peace volunteers.
1;00 – 9:00 pm      Redstone Building   2940 16th St. at Mission
                           CONVENTION FOR PLANING OUR FUTURE
                           What shall Bernie supporters do to move the
                           revolution on?  Shall we go third party?  Vote for
                           Hillary?  We need to discus a 30 hr work week to
                           give people jobs.  We need to get off the use of fossil
                           fuels and build solar powered homes and businesses.
                           There is lots to talk about.  Come and share your ideas.
Tuesday Sept. 17
                           THE BEALE AIR FORCE BASE OCCUPATION

Do No Harm Coalition UCSF stands with Standing Rock

Do No Harm Coalition UCSF
Stands with Standing Rock Lakota Dakota

#NoDAPL #StandWithStandingRock #DoNoHarm

We acknowledge the ancestors–the Yelamu–on whose land we live and practice our medicine. We acknowledge the powerful medicine that preceded our presence here, a medicine that kept the air, the water, the land and its creatures in vibrant balance for over 10,000 years.

We are the Do No Harm Coalition, over 300 doctors, nurses, students, faculty and staff at UCSF who are committed to ending racism and state-sanctioned violence.

East—To the New Day, to the Standing Rock Lakota Dakota, to the Protectors—We stand with you. We acknowledge your sovereignty and right to protect the water, the health of the people downstream and your ancestral land. We stand with you in opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. We dream of a world where everyone’s way of life is built on practices that will sustain all living beings in peace.

South—To the fire that burns in us, to speak alongside those whose voices have been silenced by 525 years of structural, interpersonal and cultural violence. We hear you. We recognize that when indigenous people gather to protect their rights in this country, the state responds with violence. This is the original racism of this land, and we are standing to change this history. We are watching and demand full respect and dignity for the lives and cultures of the women, men, elders and children who are gathering at Standing Rock. We invite other health workers to stand with us.

West—To the water, that covers 75% of the earth and makes up 67% of our bodies, bathing our cells and supporting every living entity. To the water that connects all of us, the water that the protectors at Standing Rock are defending. To the voiceless water, we add our voices. We stand to protect the water.

North—To the vision of a world where relations are honored and extractions are forgotten. To the vision where we place health and dignity of people and the planet over profit. To the vision of revitalized indigenous presence at the heart of our understanding of our own place here and of our own medicine. To the vision of ending cultural genocide on this land.

The Earth—where the bodies of the ancestors from over 10,000 years provide us with the nourishment for the food we eat and the very place we stand. To the Earth, who is telling us that she is sick and needs all of our participation for healing. To the Earth, We stand with you.

We stand with Standing Rock.


This is the proposed legislation:


The purpose of this [proposed] legislation is to clarify the duties and responsibilities of peace officers [as defined in California Penal Code and Civil Code] in so far as the lawful use of force is concerned.

WHEREAS recent conflicts in California [and elsewhere] indicate substantial confusion regarding the lawful use of force when unarmed citizens, who may or may not be suspected of criminal activity, are shot by peace officers;

WHEREAS we the people of the State of California have before now relied upon local district attorneys and or the California attorney general to investigate and prosecute the unlawful use of force by peace officers;

WHEREAS this reliance has been misplaced given that in some counties, such as Alameda County, the district attorney has for decades not considered/and or has refused to impanel any grand jury to investigate numerous excessive force complaints against municipal police and sheriff deputies alike;

WHEREAS current state law [CITATION] providing that each municipal and county policing agency investigate its excessive force complaints against its own officers or deputies is ineffective and outdated – for example the Alameda County sheriff has never once found that any such complaint against any of its deputies had merit over for over forty years;

WHEREAS peace officers have a duty to protect all life and are deemed to have violated said duty whenever they use their firearm in the line of duty and injure or kill an unarmed citizen whether or not he is at the relevant time suspected of criminal conduct;

WHEREAS through this legislation we the people wish to clarify that the use of guns by officers who are paid by and entrusted with the public good and safety will be considered only as a “last resort” such that those not willing to risk their lives by not drawing their weapons should not work as peace officers nor should they seek employment as peace officers;

THEREFORE it is resolved that in such instances, the burden of proof shall now shift to the peace officer to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that his use of deadly or potentially deadly force was justified before an administrative five member panel, all members of which shall be expert in police procedures and especially the use of firearms and deadly force; and that failure to satisfy this burden shall result in the officer’s immediate and summary dismissal along with all benefits whether potential, vested or accrued.

The poetry of Sarah Menefee (peoplestribune.org)


Sarah Menefee has a new book of extraordinary poetry, Human Star. Her other books include I’m Not Thousandfurs and The Blood About the Heart. She has been a homeless and anti-hunger activist. She is available to speak through Speakers for a New America.Human Star book cover

Listen to Sarah speak with PTR correspondent, Jesú Estrada, about her work and ideas for a new society. (28:23) MP3