(Crossposted from The Free Speech Zone)
…the better question?
Who the fuck cares?
Well in case you do, see me below the fold…
The only way to really start my story is the story of how I got into this “activism” thing.
I was in high school when 9/11 happened, or more accurately, roaming the hallways dodging school security to eventually escape to a smoke spot on that historic tuesday. My usual first period ritual. Usually a few “up and down” the stairs and a series of lefts did the trick, but today they were out in full force so I gave up and went to class.
“Not the time to be walking around the halls like you’re running for election Mr. Emerson” the assistant principal informed me. I assured her I was heading to class, she followed me back anyway.
In the class they were watching the t.v. “Sweet” i thought, “a movie I can sleep through”. They were watching the aftermath of a plane crash, the plane slammed into the first World Trade Center, whatever, “stupid fucking pilot” I thought.
Then the second plane came and slammed into the second World Trade Center. THAT got my fucking attention, as well as the attention of my classmates who made a whole bunch of noises out of shock.
I woke up.
It was all clear then, you are born, and then you die. Yeah I said that a lot, but right then I realized that there is more shit going on in the world right now that needs MY fucking attention other than this high school bullshit.
I missed a lot of school to hang out with my friend whose dad was eventually found to have been killed when the towers fell. Captain Brian Hickey of Rescue 4 FDNY, his son Dennis was my best friend at the time. His house was always filled with people after 9/11, I was his excuse to just get the fuck out of there and go up to the Bethpage train station to skate or just walk around. My excessive absences from this were noted and they tried to pawn “Night School” on me, but I decided to just drop out and get my GED. Got a near perfect score too!
That summer I involved myself in causes around Farmingville. It seemed that racist douchebags were protesting every morning at the corner of where immigrants solicited work from Landscapers and were taunting them in order to provoke them to “assault a citizen”. I decided to look into the Long Island Immigrant Alliance to see if we could stop this, but alas, we could not. That later had consequences for my Town.
September of 2002, however, was my first protest. The World Economic Forum was being held at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC. Billy Bragg played and Bono, well, he was inside trying to save the world apparently. After that I had a taste for it, I had no idea how much more experience I was gonna get.
Bush started a War in Afghanistan, but it wasn’t until he started talking about Iraq as well that I found myself in the thick of organizing. International A.N.S.W.E.R. got their hooks into me and for a while I went through them for my protest activities. Then, in January of 2003, I took a bus ride down to D.C. to protest the war in Afghanistan:
As a bus captain I was responsible for the whole group at the age of 17! This protest is where I first came into contact with the oh-so scary anarchists. A group called A.C.A.M.P. or something to that effect had girls that I was, um, “interested” in to say the least. They rolled their eyes when I said I was with ANSWER, but they passed me a book that changed the course my life would take:
Looking back, it’s very basic stuff that borders on absurdity in some respects, but back then it gave me that “push” I needed to get into the shit for real.
I ditched ANSWER and got with UFPJ in NYC to organize for the February 15th 2003 Worldwide Protest against Bush’s lead up to the War in Iraq. That was where I really got my organizing chops. I met people from around the world that checked in with us from the World Social Forum. It was hectic, but we got it done and made history:
(CBS) Millions of protesters – from London to New York to Canberra – demonstrated Saturday against a possible U.S. attack on Iraq.
In a global outpouring of anti-war sentiment, Rome had the biggest turnout – 1 million according to police, while organizers claimed three times that figure.
In London, at least 750,000 people joined the city’s biggest demonstration ever, police said. Organizers put the figure at 2 million.
About 660,000 people protested in Madrid, Spain, police said, while organizers said three times that number gathered.
Berlin had up to half-a-million people on the streets, and Paris was estimated to have had about 100,000.
Anti-war demonstrators packed the streets north of the United Nations headquarters in New York Saturday, filling police-barricaded protest zones for more than 20 blocks as civil rights leaders and celebrities energized the banner-waving crowd.
At times protesters broke down the barricades that were designed to contain them and scuffled with police, and there were some arrests, Acosta adds. Many were taking out their frustration on the city’s decision to prevent the demonstrators from marching through the streets, and in front of the United Nations, because of terror concerns, Acota explains.
Obviously to no avail, so after March 2003’s “Shock and Awe” and invasion of Iraq it was back to the streets of NYC to protest again:
It was after this that I spent the rest of my summer going up and down the East Coast protesting the war and Bush. In November of 2003 we went down to protest the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) in Miami, Florida where they wanted to setup a whole Free Trade area for the entire Western Hemisphere. The police repression at this protest was so great that it actually got it’s own brand name for its severity.
Agent Provocateur (but the cops stretch alll the way down the street!):
But we breached security so “oh well” 🙂
Yeah, and that’s where my Arrest Affidavit was falsified by the Miami-Dade police that had my NY Drivers License, but listed me as being born in the “U.K.” so they could hold me under the USA PATRIOT ACT.
My charge? Loitering and Prowling. I was walking back to the Hotel room we were invited to (and had a card for) when a block away 7 cars pull up and take us away, no badges btw.
I was beaten, forced to strip naked, strapped in chains, and that was after my charges were dismissed inside the jail. Didn’t get to know my charges until I was in front of the judge. And this is where my idea for “Jack’s Smirking Revenge” being a funny/personal handle came from. The Public Defender given to me when I was facing the judge called me “Jack” no matter how many times I corrected him. Eventually he said “Jack” one too many times that everyone on the benches awaiting the judge yelled “Jay!” in order to embarrass him. It was great.
After this I enrolled in college and, well, got into Hofstra University. There I started my own chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) but not without a fierce battle. They didn’t approve my group at first because Republicans were running the Rules Committee (they infested the SGA). So, I became a Senator to push it through myself, and for making me do this I sent a nice “Fuck You” to the Appropriations Committee:
1. Proposal regarding club budgets presented by Senator Jason Emerson
a. A fear that clubs will and have harassed other club presidents
i. Other Universities do this
b. Might be solved with a preamble in the Chronicle, saying for example, “this club elected
c. Make it available in the SGA office
i. Post it in the Chronicle that the numbers have been released.
d. Pat McDonald suggested places to put the legislation
e. Move to vote, seconded (3-3-2) passed
That “legislation” broke up the Republican-Mafia inside the SGA Appropriations that was able to give money in secrecy and made us all aware that they spent $20K for John Ashcroft (Architect of the USA PATRIOT ACT) to come and speak at Hofstra:
He said 98 senators voted to pass the Patriot Act in 2001 and 88 voted for reauthorization five years later because it is necessary for fighting terror. “You can’t get 88 senators to agree that today is Tuesday,” he said.
At the conclusion of his 45 minute speech, Ashcroft wished the audience God’s blessing and opened the floor for questions.
One questioner, Jason Emerson, said he was detained under the Patriot Act and his rights were violated. He asked Ashcroft for an apology and a hug. Ashcroft did not apologize, nor did he hug Emerson, who brought a document from his arrest displayed in a picture frame. He said even though Emerson may have been told he was being held under the Patriot Act, the authorities that had arrested him were not exercising powers given to them by the act.
This was written by my colleague Samuel Rubenfeld who now works for Politico and I think won a whole shitload of awards at Hofstra for Communications. He plans to cover me as much as possible in the future.
I had waited four years to do that to Ashcroft. On that day I finally had my “revenge”.
So yes condo it was my “revenge” because I did this in front of the entire Administrative, Political Science, and Law faculty in attendance who hollered and applauded me confronting a confused and shaken Ashcroft that was not expecting me to call his bullshit by producing the Arrest Affidavit. With the damning evidence (and his facial expression that admitted defeat) all I asked was for an apology and a hug. I didn’t curse, I didn’t yell, I asked for an apology and a hug. He refused both.
My name is Jason Emerson….