Wal-Mart Stores Inc is taking its first legal step to stop months of protests and rallies outside Walmart stores, targeting the union that it says is behind such actions.
Wal-Mart filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, asking the National Labor Relations Board to halt what the retailer says are unlawful attempts to disrupt its business.
The move comes just a week before what is expected to be the largest organized action against the world's largest retailer, as a small group of Walmart workers prepare to strike on Black Friday, typically the busiest shopping day of the year.
"We are taking this action now because we cannot allow the UFCW to continue to intentionally seek to create an environment that could directly and adversely impact our customers and associates," Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said on Friday. "If they do, they will be held accountable."
The UFCW responded with The union is undeterred. "Walmart is grasping at straws. There's nothing in the law that gives an employer the right to silence workers and citizens."
"We just don't think what the unions have to offer is a better deal for our associates," said Wal-Mart's spokesman, David Tovar.
The video above shows police as they close in on Occupy San Francisco protesters on Saturday, but San Francisco police say what may not be widely available on video is the protesters' actions beforehand.
In the video, San Francisco police arrest protesters on California and Battery streets. It was shot by Jacob Crawford, a filmmaker who documents police action. The group was protesting the war in Afghanistan as it marks 11 years of bombs and bloodshed.
"The cops were hitting people with batons and shoving batons into people and slamming people around," Crawford said.
San Francisco police admit there were "a few incidents" in which officers used batons or police holds to make arrests.
Police circled and detained the protestors in the roadway at California and Battery streets, and the protestors allegedly threw flares and bags of paint at officers, some of which contained rocks.
Some protestors also fled to Pine and Sansome streets, and were detained there.
In total, police made 22 arrests, on charges including conspiracy, riot, refusing to obey a lawful order from a peace officer and resisting delaying and obstructing a police officer, and assault and battery on a police officer.
Searches of the protestors' backpacks turned up items including hammers, an ice pick, flares and other weapons and bags of paint containing rocks.
No word yet on injured protesters, or if those arrested have been released from jail yet. Updates as they become available.
A South African court is set to release 270 miners who were arrested on charges of murder after police there gunned down 34 of their co-workers, and wounded 78 others.
The release was due to start on Monday around 2:00pm (12:00 GMT), after the public prosecutor on Sunday provisionally dropped murder charges brought against the miners for the killings by police at platinum giant Lonmin's Marikana mine.
"We still have to establish what the numbers [due to be released] are and get a true reflection of what the intention of the prosecution was," Mapule Keetse, the lawyer for the detained, told the AFP news agency.
Murder had been added to the chargesheet against the miners last week, after they were originally charged with public violence, illegal gathering and attempted murder.
"The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court on their next court appearance," Nomgcobo Jiba, acting national director of prosecutions, announced on Sunday.
Jiba said other charges, including public violence, would remain.
The announcement of the release follows intense criticism from political parties, trade unions, civil society and legal experts.
The strike by the miners of Gold Fields' KDC gold mine is said to likely continue. The miners were seeking a wage increase to $1,500 a month.
A deaf woman from Tacoma, Washington called 911 seeking help from police because she was being attacked inside her own home, but when she ran out to meet police officers, they fired a stun gun at her and took her into custody.
After being hit with the stun gun, Lashonn White fell to the sidewalk leaving her bruised, bloody and confused. No interpreter was present, and she was denied one during her three days of incareration.
“All I’m doing is waving my hands in the air, and the next thing I know, I’m on the ground and then handcuffed. It was almost like I blacked out. I was so dizzy and disoriented,” White said.
Witnesses said White began bleeding heavily from her knuckles and the right side of her face swelled up immediately after she hit the pavement following the Taser jolt.
Charged with simple assault and obstruction of a public servant (law enforcement officer), White spent 60 hours in jail before a prosecutor requested that no charges be filed in her case.
Neighbors who witnessed the incident, and spoke to Tacoma police at the time, gave vastly different accounts from the officer's police reports.
On Friday, June 22nd, the Alameda District Attorney dropped the remaining obstructing arrest charge against Robert Ovetz, Ph.D., a community college professor arrested observing the January 28th Occupy Oakland march. Oakland Police were videotaped beating Ovetz after arresting him. Ovetz was appearing for a trial readiness conference in Superior Court when prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss the case. He was among nearly 400 marchers corralled and arrested without being ordered to disperse in front of the YMCA. After being punched in the face by police and having his glasses broken Ovetz was violently thrown to the ground, and struck with a baton on the ground. Ovetz’s attorney Matthew Siroka is now preparing a federal lawsuit for the violation of his civil rights and the use of excessive force by OPD officer Martin.
The remaining charge dropped by the DA was “obstructing delaying or resisting an officer in the course of his duties,” a misdemeanor under California Penal Code section 148. Ovetz was initially charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor and jailed for 3 days.
Ovetz repeatedly informed the officers that he was not resisting arrest and did everything they instructed him to do, but was nonetheless beaten violently. Officers threw him to the ground and OPD officer Martin hit him with a baton twice. Ovetz suffered severe bruising on his body as well as injuries to his face, jaw and two teeth. Ovetz was taken to the emergency room for his injuries. The above video shows Ovetz being beaten while being thrown down and lying on the ground. His bike was also thrown to the ground and damaged and his glasses were broken.
Ovetz was observing the Occupy Oakland effort to turn an empty building into a community center. He is writing a book into why protest movements turn violent.
OPD gave the media Ovetz’ mug shot and charged him with felony assault on a police officer to cover their own violent crimes as part of an effort to discredit the Occupy Wall Street movement. Ovetz intends to file suit in order to clear his name and hold OPD accountable.
Ovetz is also demanding that all media outlets that used his mug shot and printed inaccurate information regarding his arrest remove his photograph, and/or correct their reports.
Three men arrested during a raid by Chicago police earlier this week will face terrorism charges on Saturday. Authorities say the men tried to make Molotov cocktails to use during protests of this weekend’s NATO summit in the city. Each of the men are being held in lieu of $1.5 million bail. But are the charges actually trumped up to retaliate for one of the men videotaping Chicago police ahead of the NATO summit as they threatened protesters with violence?
They were scheduled to be in court later Saturday for a bond hearing on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support.
Police identified the men being held as Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24.
Attorney Sarah Gelsomino told reporters that the three men are “absolutely in shock and have no idea where these charges are coming from.” Six other people were arrested in the raid, but were released Friday without being charged. One of those six, Darrin Annussek of Philadelphia, denied that there were materials in the apartment to construct incendiary devices when the police made their raid.
According to Gelsomino, beer-making equipment was among the items seized by federal agents, and in the video above, items that could be beer-making equipment are shown, although it's not clear if what is pictured is the actual confiscated items.
Chicago, IL -- The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns a preemptive police raid that took place at approximately 11:30pm Wednesday in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and instances of harassment on the street, in which Chicago police are unlawfully detaining, searching, and questioning NATO protesters. The Bridgeport raid was apparently conducted by the Organized Crime Division of the Chicago Police Department and resulted in as many as 8 arrests.
According to witnesses in Bridgeport, police broke down a door to access a 6-unit apartment building near 32nd & Morgan Streets without a search warrant. Police entered an apartment with guns drawn and tackled one of the tenants to the floor in his kitchen. Two tenants were handcuffed for more than 2 hours in their living room while police searched their apartment and a neighboring unit, repeatedly calling one of the tenants a "Commie faggot." A search warrant produced 4 hours after police broke into the apartment was missing a judge's signature, according to witnesses. Among items seized by police in the Bridgeport raid were beer-making supplies and at least one cell phone.
"Preemptive raids like this are a hallmark of National Special Security Events," said Sarah Gelsomino with the NLG and the People's Law Office. "The Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies should be aware that this behavior will not be tolerated and will result in real consequences for the city."
It has also come to light that over a week before the NATO summit, police had threatened the now arrested men with violence, and adding that they would "come look for you, each and every one of you.” The exchange was captured on video and posted to Youtube, which follows below along with transcription of the conversation.
Manuel Ramos, a police officer from Fullerton, California, has been charged with second degree murder for allegedly beating a mentally-ill homeless person to death last year. His co-worker, Officer Jay Cicinelli, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force. This video from a surveillance camera shows Kelly Thomas, the victim, pleading for his life while the officers beat him on the street.
The case has been particularly emotional for Ron Thomas, who has been forced to watch the video of his son's beating and listen to the heartbreaking pleas. At one point, Kelly Thomas cries out, "Dad, they are killing me!"
In an earlier interview, Ron Thomas said the hardest part of the video and audio "is the sounds of my son calling out."
Rackauckas presented the case himself, playing a dramatic, never-before-seen video that showed a shirtless Thomas being pummeled and held down by Fullerton police officers.
Rackauckas said Ramos "turned a routine encounter into a brutal beating death" while Cicinelli "assisted in the killing of Kelly Thomas" by "smashing his face" with the butt of a Taser stun gun and applying his own weight on Thomas' torso.
A coroner's pathologist said Thomas died of chest compression and blood from his facial wounds.
Thomas, who was a diagnosed schizophrenic, sustained neck and head injuries during his encounter with Fullerton police. He was taken to UCI Medical Center where he spent the last days of his life in a coma, until his parents made the decision to remove him from life support.
[Video:Occupy Albany's peaceful march on May 1st, 2012.]
In yet another victory for the Occupy movement, all charges were dismissed against 20 Occupy Albany protesters who were arrested on May Day after the District Attorney notified the court that he would not prosecute peaceful protesters.
A City Court judge has dismissed the cases of 20 Occupy Albany protesters arrested last week for violating the state curfew in Lafayette Park across from the Capitol.
Judge Thomas Keefe dismissed the trespassing and disorderly conduct charges — both noncriminal violations — Monday after District Attorney David Soares' office notified the court it would again decline to prosecute the offenses.
The protesters were arrested May 1 for staying in the park after an 11 p.m. curfew, the validity of which they refused to acknowledge.
Soares has refused to prosecute nonviolent protesters who are exercising their First Amendment rights without damaging property or injuring police — a stance he reiterated last week when Occupy Albany prepared to return to the downtown parks in force for the first time since December.
"I'm not going to be prosecuting peaceful protesters," Soares said last week. "So long as we have no damage to property or injury to police, I will continue to abide by the peaceful coexistence policy we implemented when the Occupy movement was here late last year."
A quick "Google" search, and you can see the pages upon pages of reports from across the country of "Charges Dropped" against Occupy protesters. As the lawsuits against individual cities and police departments roll in for wrongful arrests, and injuries received during arrests and protests it will bear watching to see if this begins to translate into a general acceptance of the movement's First Amendment right of free speech and an end to the brutal oppression by some police forces.
A breaking news story from Cleveland, Ohio today. Occupy Cleveland's May Day festivities have been cancelled today after an announcement from the FBI that 5 members of Occupy Cleveland had been arrested after an attempt to blow up an area bridge, as well as targets at other locations.
The Cleveland office of the FBI announced Tuesday the arrests of five people who allegedly tried to blow up a bridge in northeast Ohio.
The FBI displayed a photo of the Route 82 bridge in Brecksville, just east of Riverview Road and referred to it as the "Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge" during a 10 a.m. news conference, and confirmed that was the target. The bridge crosses the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and connects Brecksville to Sagamore Hills.
According to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office, these five were arrested Monday evening and charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosive material to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce:
- Douglas Wright, 26
- Brandon Baxter, 20
- Anthony Hayne, 35
- Connor Stevens, 20
- Joshua Stafford, 23
After NYPD arrested City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez last November 15th for trying to observe as they evicted Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park, the city decides not to prosecute him because he didn't, you know, do anything illegal.
A judge on Wednesday dismissed charges against City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who was arrested on Nov. 15 near Zuccotti Park, where the police were clearing the Occupy Wall Street encampment.
The police had accused Mr. Rodriguez, a Manhattan Democrat, of scuffling with a female officer as he tried to get past a barrier a few blocks from the park. He was charged with obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. But on Wednesday, an assistant Manhattan district attorney asked a Criminal Court judge to dismiss the charges because she did not have the testimony of the female officer.
“After a thorough investigation, the people have determined that the officers who were involved in this defendant’s arrest had probable cause to arrest him when he attempted to get past a police barricade,” the assistant district attorney, Michele Bayer, said in court. She said that because “we don’t have the testimony of this specific female officer, we cannot prove the charges against this defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Mr. Rodriguez said by phone that he saw the dismissal of the charges “not only as a victory to the movement, but also as a challenge that we have as a city to be sure that we will get more support from Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly on protecting our constitutional rights.” Commissioner Kelly is Raymond W. Kelly, who leads the Police Department.
When Councilman Rodriguez was released from jail the next night, he had a pretty nasty gash over one eye and said that he had been assaulted by the police. As I reported last November, a friend of mine shared a holding cell with Councilman Rodriguez on the night of his arrest. But no surprise that the DA's office found “no evidence to corroborate” claims that Rodriguez had been beaten with batons for no reason by multiple police officers.