UPDATE: Yasha was finally freed on bail just a few minutes ago, after two nights in jail, He just told me he’s exhausted and yet still quite shocked by how harshly the protesters were treated after the embedded reporters were out of the scene. Yasha will write up more as soon as he’s back home and able to focus again.
Exiled editor Yasha Levine was arrested late last night during the savage and unconstitutional police crackdown on Occupy LA. We call on the police and authorities to release Yasha, and release all protesters and media illegally arrested at the Occupy LA encampment and illegally imprisoned merely for exercising constitutionally-guaranteed rights. (Update: Latest word is that Yasha is going to have to spend another night in the Los Angeles County jail, and will be brought before a judge tomorrow and hopefully released, as bail is currently set at an incredible $5,000. The National Lawyer’s Guild is calling this illegal and a violation of state law. Updates below.)
The irony of the LAPD arresting Yasha Levine–a political refugee from Soviet totalitarianism– for the crime of reporting on a demonstration against oligarchy power, a demonstration protected by the Constitution, reveals again just how depraved and corrupted America has become.
Yasha Levine emigrated from Soviet Russia to the United States just over two decades ago with his parents and siblings–they came here as political refugees from the Soviet Union police state, where political dissent and critical journalism were not tolerated. And now he’s sitting in a Los Angeles prison for the same crime he’d have been imprisoned for back in the Soviet Union.
In 2008, Yasha was forced to flee a second time from Russia, following the Kremlin attack on our Moscow newspaper, The eXile. We were investigated for alleged “extremism”–that is, for regularly publishing articles critical of the Kremlin, satirical and aggressive, and for regularly publishing columns in The eXile by one of the leaders of the democratic opposition to Putin’s rule, Edward Limonov.
Now Yasha is in jail. As soon as he is out and rested up, we will let you know. In the meantime, thank you for supporting The eXile over these past few years. We might need to hit you up for bail funds or legal help.
One last thing: Since returning to America, Yasha and I have both been amazed and appalled by the similarities between America–essentially taken over by an oligarchy over the past decade– and Russia, whose nascent democracy was overthrown and replaced by an oligarchy in the mid-1990s. Russia’s oligarchical coup against democracy couldn’t have happened without the help of many of the same actors who are destroying our country today (Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, free-market ideologues advancing financial and corporate interests over democratic interests, international lending institutions, all validated and glorified thanks to the craven, corrupt suck-ups dominating the Western media).
At The eXile, just a few months before the Kremlin shut us down.
The oligarchy that rules America and usurped its institutions is showing its true character more and more now that the 99-Percent is starting to stand up: What we’re seeing behind the institutional facade is a violent, reckless, and anti-American ruling power–oligarchy. And like oligarchies everywhere, they despise America’s 99-Percent as little more aborigines to be looted, the natural enemies of the oligarchy’s interests. Our Constitution is explicit about what the purpose of our government is: “to promote the General Welfare…and to create a more Perfect Union.” This oligarchy is anti-Constitutional, and anti-American.
In their war against America, the oligarchy is behaving more and more erratically and foolishly, radicalizing greater numbers of Americans against them. It’s an old script that’s been played out before, and it leads to only one conclusion: The collapse of the oligarchy.
UPDATE: Speaking of a collaborationist bootlicking media there’s been an avalanche of PR-managed horseshit about the LAPD attack on the Occupy LA camp making it seem as though “this time it was different” and the police behaved themselves as tenderly as a bunch of Girl Scouts. Just in case you bought it, here are a few things to keep in mind as the truth trickles out:
LAPD too violent, some Occupy L.A. protesters allege [Updated]
This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.
Los Angeles police are being praised for their planning, outreach and judicious use of force in ousting the Occupy L.A. encampment Wednesday morning, but a few protesters are reporting more physical confrontations with some of the 1,400 officers.
In a KCAL 9 video, now posted on YouTube, Tyson Heder, 35, was taking pictures of the eviction, when a police officer shoved him away. The video showed Heder then standing up, yelling at the officer, then being forced to the ground by several policemen.
His sister, Christy Collins, said Heder was in custody Wednesday morning.
Collins, who lives in Albany, N.Y., said she got an emotional phone message from him some time after his arrest. He posted on Facebook, “They beat me and stole my camera.” Collin said her brother had not been an Occupy participant previously and apparently went to the encampment Tuesday night just to take pictures.
“I do think it was horrible and excessive,” Collins said after watching a video of the encounter. “But I have to say, I was relieved it wasn’t worse once I saw it.”
* The video showing this fascist police attack on Tyson Heder has been pulled from sites all over the internet. Guess they don’t want the public to see the truth and fuck with their sleazy PR campaign. Anyone who has a YouTube copy please send the link.
UPDATED #2: COMMENTER SENT US THE URL AND CODE FOR THE VIDEO OF THE VIOLENT POLICE ATTACK ON TYSON HEDER (THANKS!):
* Why does the public know so little? Because just as with the invasion of Iraq (or Putin’s re-invasion of Chechnya), the media was brought into a collaborationist press pool and tightly managed. Even the normally loathsome Atlantic Monthly reports:
Media Choreography and the Occupy LA Raid
During the Los Angeles Police Department’s forcible removal of the Occupy LA protest last night, they chose12 reporters and photographers to represent the media as a whole.* This is called a “media pool” — and it used to be a fairly time-honored, if oft-derided, way of dealing with very specific types of situations. The original idea was that a select group of mainstream media journalists go into a military engagement, report their observations to a larger group, and then everyone could write from the same observed facts.
Growing beyond its military borders, the media pool concept has been deployed during political conventions, high-profile trials, and in a few other cases. In all cases, though, as summarized in the Encyclopedia of Television, the pool “offers those who employ it a way to manage media coverage.”
It strikes me as significant that the compromise developed in the 1980s after the media was barred from covering the invasion of Grenada. It also strikes me as significant that we use the term “compromise” to describe it. The first and second meanings of compromised come into play: “to settle a dispute by mutual concession” and “to weaken (a reputation or principle) by accepting standards that are lower than is desirable.”
All of that brings us to last night’s media pool. The LAPD deployed this old-school method in a decidedly 20th-century way. First, they didn’t select a single web-based publication or alternative news outlet. Instead they allowed the Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Reuters, AP, the big four television outlets, and a two radio reporters. Anybody not in that group — which would include reporters for every website not affiliated with a newspaper in Los Angeles, not to mention all citizens performing acts of journalism — were told that they would be arrested if they came too close to the eviction area.
The LAPD forbade their pool reporters from reporting the events live. (Update: See bottom of the post for details. The restriction was more akin to a kind of tape-delay than an embargo.) This helped to neutralize a key informational advantage that Occupy protesters have exploited. As confrontations with police begin, they are able to use the emotional imagery from those events to draw more support in real-time. Of course, in this case, there were some people writing about the events in real-time and others livestreamed, but only if they were willing to risk arrest.
Would you like to know more? Read Yasha Levine’s last post which we put up late last night, just a few hours before he was arrested.
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