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Blogging While Brown 2009 – meet some bloggers attending conference in Chicago

June 20, 2009

My experience at Blogging While Brown 2009 is being very useful so far, there are things I will suggest to organizers -like more space for attendees to work with their laptops and a list of bloggers who want to link efforts and perhaps work together in the future- but so far I am very satisfied with what I am learning here.

Twitter is helping to learn about everyone’s comments and ideas, today the speakers were awesome, I really enjoyed Hajj Flemmings presentation about creating a personal brand. Right now bloggers Angel Laws and Fredric Mitchell are talking about their successful and profitable blogs.

Now meet some great bloggers that attended last night’s opening session -note that more people showed up today:

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More videos coming later tonight

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Angry generation: the Graham office intern

June 20, 2009
Photo by me

Some of the readers that follow me know that I am a friend of DC Councilmember Jim Graham, someone that I consider a very interesting person from whom I have learned so much. As most innovators, Jim can be misunderstood at times but his legacy is appreciated by most.

Last night I read an email message from Jim Graham about the crisis his office is facing. One of his interns became a suspect of a gang-related shooting in DC and the media got to know about this case before Graham himself –perhaps the police dialed the wrong number- but by the time he found out he took quick action. This is what he wrote:

By early afternoon, I received a call from media with a rumor that the shooter was an intern in my office. I could hardly believe what I heard…all the same, I confronted the young man with this incredible report. He had started work in my office only this week, and had been absent for the better part of two days.

He had been at the Convention Center for the summer youth program. In response to my direct questions, he denied any involvement with the afternoon shooting. I also contacted a high ranking MPD official, who assured me that MPD at that time had no suspects.

I then went to the Mayor’s press conference on gang violence at 14th and Irving. During the press conference, I heard MPD announce that they had a suspect and expected to make an arrest before the end of the day.

When I got back to the office, after 5 PM, all the interns had left. But I received a call from MPD saying they had a warrant for the intern’s arrest on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon. I then called the intern, whose is a 19 year old named Devyn Black, and told him there was a warrant out for his arrest.

I advised him that the best course for action was for him to turn himself in, and cooperate with eh police. I offered to come and get him in my car and take him to the Third District headquarters at 17th and V. He agreed, and I went and got him. He surrendered to police and 3D, was charged and is now in custody.

It’s very sad and upsetting. But he did the right thing ultimately. Have a good and safe weekend.

Today I spoke to Graham and first he mentioned that he was shocked and surprised but finally, he was satisfied because Devyn accepted to turn himself in. He also mentioned that the Summer Program for kids is being running for years, but that this is the first time something like this happens. I asked about the suspect’s family, if he is disappointed and what about if anyone is trying to use this case against him –although he is very popular in DC, as most politicians there are some folks who don’t like him always.

Graham responded that the Devyn’s family has not responded yet –at not surprise, lack of parenting is one of the roots of youth violence- [Update: the mother is in contact now with DC police] and Graham said this program is trying to help young DC residents, so they can see another life is possible for themselves besides staying in the streets getting involved doing illegal stuff. In this sad case, it didn’t work out that way –humanity is not perfect we must remember. However, he said the intern is still a suspect and innocent of charge until proven otherwise.

In my years living in DC I have witnessed how young talented kids in DC get in trouble with the law so easily, because of street violence. These are good kids with no sense of what directions their lives should take, in many cases they don’t even think they will live long. Perhaps these are reasons why young American urban generation tends to resolve their personal differences by cruel and senseless violence.

One of my neighbors who is a 19 y.o. man just like Devyn is, tells me today over the phone that he knows many friends who are involved with gangs, and that they get into fights for really stupid reasons. He summarizes this moral crisis in one of his friends’ most favorite MySpace slogan: live fun, die young. In times of James Dean that was the rule of exception, but today its seems to be the youth majority’s rule at least in DC. Sad.

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Blogging While Brown 2009 Day 1: meet Dallas South Blog / The Smak / 5 and a possible / Philena

June 20, 2009

My first day at the BWB conference. I am very excited to be here and see what I can learn. I love Chicago so far, what I’ve seeing is very nice -except the poor southern area, oh my. Today I went to the University Center and registered. There I had the chance to meet some bloggers attending.

First video: meet bloggers Shawn P. Williams [Dallas South Blog] and J. Davis [The Smak] who talk about their blogs and what resources they are using currently.


Second video: during the opening gathering, I met the bloggers of 5 and a possible, and spoke briefly with Philena, a very charismatic blogger. I expected to see more people but most attendees are arriving tomorrow.

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Greetings from Chicago: I’m here attending Blogging While Brown 2009

June 19, 2009

Hi y’all: I just arrived to Chicago, this city is not like sometimes plain-boring DC, the architecture of this city is kinda rude in some areas -very industrial type- but the waterfront is all about power and huge public spaces. This is my second time here. I arrived while it was raining hard, and a cloudy black sky was covering this huge city.

Yes, I was invited to a national conference of bloggers. This is going to be a great learning experience for me, and I hope to be able to share all kinds of ideas and skills with fellow bloggers. But I must confess, I am here trying to learn how to organize workshops for bloggers, especially Native American / Latino bloggers… there are not that many of us out there, which is not right.

Oh, if you wonder how did I get here? I must say there are some angels out there looking out for me. Thanks Mike and Michael! Until next time I get the chance to blog, let me go… I need a shower.

Read more about Blogging While Brown by clicking at the logo:

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Advocates in DC denounce racism in housing displacement of 30 tenants in Columbia Heights: Press Conference tomorrow

June 17, 2009

A friend of mine who grew up in DC told me a couple of weeks ago: “You see the 3400 block of 14th Street and the 1400 block of Park Road in Columbia Heights? Watch my words, those are some of the few last blocks with poor people living in this area, and they will expel those people soon. This gentrification won’t stop until they take everything around here…” I have the video to prove it.

In the last two weeks, two major evictions occurred -withing 24 hours- in Ward 1 and Ward 4, and 30 people were affected including 4 minors. All of the tenants are brown and black people of Latin Americans origin, and to many of them this seems like racist discrimination.

3400 block 14th Street NW

Thirty tenants forced to leave in two weeks

Today, I got an email from a tenant advocate group confirming that the D.C. government’s DCRA – Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has expelled 30 tenants two buildings in Columbia Heights. The buildings had pending repairs that the owners were supposed to fix, but the city decided to force tenants to move out and live somewhere else.They asked tenants to vacant the apartments that needed to be shut down “due to code violations”. In some cases they only gave residents one day of notice only.

Correction: due to a misunderstanding in the communications with the press conference organizers, the D.C. Office Tenants Advocacy was mentioned wrongly, but I was confirmed that agency is actually trying to help the tenants. We apologize by any misunderstanding.

The buildings are located at 3415 14th Street NW, dc 20010, and at 515 Taylor Street NW, DC 20011. Tenants advocates including the LEDC are working to help these families and stop the evictions, and have called for an Emergency Community Meeting.

500 block Taylor Street NW

Please read the details and spread the word:

Stop Displacement of Tenants!
Stop Discrimination!

● In the last two weeks more than 30 Latino residents were displaced when the city forced them to leave their homes due to housing code violations.

● 15 of those tenants were given just a few hours to move out of their housing.

● Tenants are demanding that the City use the Nuisance Abatement Fund to repair emergency violations and preserve affordable housing!

Emergency Community Meeting!

Friday, June 19th, 2009
6:00 PM
St Stephen’s Church
1525 Newton St NW,
Washington, DC, 20010
at 16th St. and Newton St. NW

Come to this community meeting to:

  • Stop the displacement of tenants
  • Stop the City from helping bad landlords run out the tenants
  • Ensure the City preserves affordable housing!
  • Work with your neighbors to stop gentrification

And please join us at a PRESS CONFERENCE, tomorrow, Thursday, June 18th at 11 AM. at 3415 14th St NW (near Park Rd NW), in front of the building where tenants were forced-out. FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL JUAN CARLOS RUIZ AT 202-328-9451

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Alto al desalojo de inquilinos!
Alto a la Discriminación!

● En las últimas dos semanas más de 30 residentes Latinos fueron desplazados por la Ciudad, forzados a salir de sus hogares por el mal estado de los edificios.

● La Ciudad dio a 15 de estos inquilinos pocas horas para mudarse de sus viviendas.

● Los inquilinos demandan que la Ciudad use los fondos que el gobierno tiene para arreglos de emergencia y conservar viviendas económicas!

Reunión Comunitaria de Emergencia!

Viernes, 19 de junio de 2009
6:00 PM
Iglesia St Stephen
1525 Newton St NW,
Washington, DC, 20009
Entre la 16th St. y Newton St. NW

Venga a esta reunión de la comunidad para:

  • Parar el desalojo de inquilinos
  • Parar la ayuda de la Ciudad a los malos dueños que botan a los inquilinos.
  • Asegurarnos que la Ciudad mantenga viviendas económicas!
  • Trabajar juntos y parar el desplazamiento de nuestra comunidad!

Por favor vengan a una Conferencia de Prensa mañana, Jueves, 18 de Junio a las 11 AM. en 3415 14th St NW (por Park Rd NW), en frente del edificio del cual fueron desplazados 15 inquilinos. Para más información llame a Juan Carlos Ruiz a 202-328-9451.

Next? 1400 block Park Road NW

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I’m back! this time with a video on race and immigration: Native woman tells NCLR Janet Murguia to stop ignoring our Indigenous communities

June 16, 2009

In this video, Marina who is a teacher in New York city and an Indigenous woman from Guatemala, tells Janet Murguia the NCLR’s CEO, that we the Native peoples of the Americas, are not Latinos nor Hispanics.

The National Council of La Raza NCLR, is perhaps the most important political organization in the U.S. that focus on immigrant population, well the so-called immigrants who are mostly Spanish speaking Indigenous people from Mexico, Central and South America.

For now I have this video only in Spanish, but the version with English subtitles will be available tomorrow, bare with me.

Ms. Murguia: this is a matter of respect to our diversity and to the rights of our Indigenous peoples to be recognized within our own identities, as we are one of many communities that shape up this great nation. We appreciate your work and we don’t want to divide, we want to be part of your platform.

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Democracy Now! Peruvian Police Accused of Massacring Indigenous Protesters in Amazon

June 8, 2009

Reproduction of today’s Democracy Now! show dedicated to the Peru crisis. Thank you Amy Woodman and the people of Amazon Watch, for doing such a great work, and to Intercontinental Cry for the tip.

Dozens of people are estimated to have been killed in clashes between police and indigenous activists protesting oil and mining projects in the northern Peruvian Amazonian province of Bagua. Peruvian authorities have declared a military curfew, and troops are patrolling towns in the Amazon jungle. Authorities say up to twenty-two policemen have been killed, and two remain missing. The indigenous community says at least forty people, including three children, were killed by the police this weekend.

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AMY GOODMAN: Dozens of people are estimated to have been killed in clashes between police and indigenous activists protesting oil and mining projects in the northern Peruvian Amazonian province of Bagua. Peruvian authorities have declared a military curfew. Troops are patrolling towns in the Amazon jungle. Authorities say up to twenty-two policemen have been killed, and two remain missing. The indigenous community says at least forty people, including three children, were killed by the police this weekend.

On Friday morning, some 600 Peruvian riot police and helicopters attacked a peaceful indigenous blockade outside of Bagua, killing twenty-five and injuring more than 150. Eyewitness accounts indicate the police fired live ammunition and tear gas into the crowd. The images our TV viewers are watching are from an on-the-ground eyewitness to the attack. Our radio listeners can see these images on our website, democracynow.org.

Alberto Pizango, the leader of the national indigenous organization, the Peruvian Jungle Interethnic Development Association, or AIDESEP, accused the government of President Alan Garcia of ordering the, quote, “genocide” of the indigenous communities.

ALBERTO PIZANGO: [translated] Our brothers are cornered. I want to put the responsibility on the government. We are going to put the responsibility on Alan Garcia’s government for ordering this genocide. This is genocide.

AMY GOODMAN: Pizango is now in hiding after a judge ordered his arrest Saturday on charges of sedition and for allegedly inciting violence.

Authorities say, following Friday’s attack on the indigenous protesters, dozens of policemen were held hostage and several murdered. An injured policeman, Fredegundo Vasquez, said he saw indigenous activists torturing and killing policemen with their spears.

FREDEGUNDO VASQUEZ: [translated] I saw them kill people right in front of me. And they began to hit the rest of us with spears. It’s disgraceful. They are just terrible. They said that their brothers died, so we had to die, too.

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, Peruvian President Alan Garcia defended the police actions and lashed out against the deaths of the policemen. He blamed, quote, “foreign forces” for the violence and spoke of a, quote, “conspiracy” to stop his government from exploiting natural resources.

PRESIDENT ALAN GARCIA: [translated] These death mongers would like the world to denounce hundreds of natives being killed. But what has been found are dozens of police with their throats slit. That’s the truth when one talks of the facts of these deaths. And you might ask why they are our police deaths, if they are the one who are armed. The explanation for all of this, you come to understand, is a will for dialogue on the part of these humble policemen, who had no desire to fire their weapons.

AMY GOODMAN: Peruvian President Alan Garcia defending the police actions against indigenous protesters last week. Over the weekend, Garcia, a free trade advocate, said 40,000 natives did not have the right to tell 28 million Peruvians not to come to their lands. Anyone who did so, he warned, would lead Peru into, quote, “irrationality and a backwards primitive state.”

Since April, indigenous groups have opposed new laws that would allow an unprecedented wave of logging, oil drilling, mining and agriculture in the Amazon rainforest by blocking roads, waterways and oil pipelines. President Garcia’s government passed these laws under “fast track” authority he had received from the Peruvian congress to facilitate implementation of the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement.

Friday’s clashes followed a governmental decision to reject congressional attempts to overturn some of the laws.

Independent journalist Henry Pillares interviewed indigenous leader Alberto Pizango last month for the group Amazon Watch.

ALBERTO PIZANGO: [translated] They’ve said that we indigenous peoples are against the system, but, no, we want development, but from our perspective, development that adheres to legal conventions, such as the United Nations International Labour Organization’s Convention 169, that says we, the indigenous peoples, have to be consulted. The government has not consulted us.

Not only am I being persecuted, but I feel that my life is in danger, because I am defending the rights of the peoples, the legitimate rights that the indigenous people have. I feel I am being persecuted, and the situation can get much worse with my criminal prosecution.

AMY GOODMAN: For the latest news from the Peruvian jungle, I’m joined now via Democracy Now! video stream from Bagua, Peru, by Gregor MacLennan. He is with the group Amazon Watch. He arrived in Bagua, the scene of this weekend’s clashes, Saturday.

Gregor MacLennan, welcome to Democracy Now! Tell us what you understand has happened up until this point.

GREGOR MacLENNAN: Well, there have been fifty—for fifty-six days, about two-and-a-half thousand indigenous people have been blockading the road between the town of Jaen and Bagua on a curve called the “Devil’s Curve.” It appeared that in the few days running up to the clashes, the government was beginning to get fed up with waiting and get fed up with the fact that the indigenous people were not moving on just the basis of dialogue and refusing—the government was refusing to repeal any of the laws.

The day before the protests, the clashes, the local police chief and the local mayors and the indigenous leaders all had a meeting, where the police chief said he had orders to bring order and open up the road, if the indigenous people didn’t move. What happened that night was the police—about 500 police approached the protesters, and at 5:30 in the morning, they started firing tear gas and then live bullets into the crowd of indigenous people on the road, who were waking up and some still sleeping at that time in the morning.

What resulted seems to be—appears to be a total massacre. I was speaking to a local leader who talked about how they had got down on their knees and held their hands up, and the police had fired straight into their bodies as they asked for them not to shoot. What followed then was—seems to be a series of running battles along the road as the indigenous people tried to flee into the hills and flee back to the town of Bagua Chica, as the police continued to fire tear gas from helicopters and from the ground and fire live bullets from the helicopters and from the ground. And people talk about how they were aiming at their bodies and shooting to kill. I’ve just been listening to some audio reports, of hearing the police shouting, “Shoot them in the head! Shoot the dogs in the head!” as they ran for cover.

It does seem there have also been, unfortunately, reports of police deaths. All the indigenous people I’ve spoken to are very upset about that equally, as they say, you know, they’re all Peruvians, and they all have families. It appears that as the police were attacking this huge group of indigenous people on the corner of the road, some people came down from the mountains, who were sleeping up there, and jumped on the police and killed some of the police in self-defense, an act that’s understandable, but, as the leaders I’ve spoken to say, it’s not excusable. And what they’re asking for is justice and transparency about exactly what happened and for those who are responsible for killing to be brought to justice.

AMY GOODMAN: Gregor MacLennan is speaking to us, again, in Bagua, where the massacre took place. Can you explain why people were protesting there this weekend?

GREGOR MacLENNAN: People have been protesting against a government and government policy that ignores indigenous peoples, that sees the Amazon as being unproductive and sees indigenous people as essentially a waste of space. What the government wants to do is open up the Amazon’s private investment. They see the future of development there to be biofuel plantations, oil drilling, mining, forestry and large corporate investments, and indigenous people are just getting in the way.

So, what the government did when it was given powers in the context of the free trade agreement was issue a series of laws that never went through congress, that were never consulted with indigenous people, that basically restructure land rights, taking away land from indigenous people, and allow land, rainforest, to be reclassified as agricultural land, basically opening legal loopholes for biofuel companies to move in with plantations, for oil companies and mining companies to be able to work in the area without the troublesome part of having to negotiate or speak to the local communities before using their lands.

AMY GOODMAN: Gregor MacLennan, can you explain how the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement fits into all of this? I remember during one of the debates, well, then-Senator Obama, running for president, said he was not for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement because of the killing of unionists, but he did see the Peruvian-US free trade agreement as a model.

GREGOR MacLENNAN: Unfortunately, the process of the implementation of this free trade agreement, the government—the president was given executive powers to pass laws to implement the free trade agreement. Using that excuse, the government passed these laws that take away indigenous rights and create a threat to the Amazon rainforest. And the government here has been standing up and saying that it can’t appeal the laws because they’re necessary for the free trade agreement and the development of Peru, and they’re positioning the indigenous people as being against free trade and development and using these—the free trade agreement as an excuse for passing these laws that undermined the indigenous rights.

AMY GOODMAN: Many of the newspapers in Peru, they’re not mentioning the indigenous killed, the indigenous people who are killed; they’re just talking about the police who are killed. How is information getting out to the rest of Peru?

GREGOR MacLENNAN: Unfortunately, everyone here is furious with the media. There are a lot of upset people in the region coming there, visiting Bagua Chica as foreign press yesterday. People were gathering around the car, our car, very angry, shouting, because they’re seeing—were wondering why the media is not covering the indigenous deaths. What we’re seeing appears to be a government manipulation, trying to present this as all about dead policemen and presenting the indigenous people as savage, as barbaric.

What is very noticeable here, nobody here in the local towns—there are many local townspeople here—is afraid of the indigenous, and nobody has seen any indigenous people with guns. Everyone here is very afraid of the police. They’re very afraid of the government. People are afraid to speak, because they’re seeing the huge manipulation of information, and they’re worried what will happen to them when they recount what happened and the message starts to get out.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Alberto Pizango, who we just heard and watched on this broadcast, leader of the national indigenous organization, the Peruvian Jungle Interethnic Development Association, in hiding right now after a judge ordered his arrest Saturday on charges of sedition and for allegedly inciting violence.

GREGOR MacLENNAN: Well, the government hasn’t appeared to understand this movement. It hasn’t been a political movement. It has been a very much autonomous movement of thousands of indigenous people across the Amazon from dozens of different ethnic groups, all coming together under common, like, complaints they have. And the indigenous leaders, rather than inciting these people, have been trying to keep them organized and trying to keep them focused and trying to maintain the peace.

Unfortunately, Alberto has been held up as a kind of scapegoat, as supposedly the inciter of the violence, when with him and other leaders I’ve spoken to, I’ve always seen them as being pleading with local people to maintain calm, to produce these actions peacefully. And I think it’s essential for any peaceful solution to be found, that these leaders are reinstated, that they’re allowed to come back and negotiate on behalf of their people, because they’re the only people, I think, that can really bring a peaceful solution to this situation.

AMY GOODMAN: Gregor MacLennan, thank you very much for joining us, speaking to us via Democracy Now! video stream in the Amazon, in Bagua, where the massacre took place this weekend. We’ll keep you updated on what is happening in Peru through the week.
peru, pizago, primo, temporari.

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