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Week in Review: Occupy Wall Street Goes Global, Congress Kills American Jobs Act, Ugandan Lesbian Awarded Human Rights Prize

by Tanya Domi on October 16, 2011

in Analysis,News,Tanya Domi

 NYC police aggressively arrest Occupy Wall Street activists, while the movement goes global with actions in Berlin, London, Rome & Tokyo; American jobs bill dies in Congress and a Ugandan lesbian activist honored by human rights prize. 


New York City Police Get Aggressive with Occupy Activists; Movement Goes Global, Expanding to More Than 80 Countries


The New York Police Department (NYPD) cracked down on the Occupy Wall Street activists this weekend, posturing early Friday morning by initially assembling at the mouth of Zucotti Park, dressed in full anti-riot gear intending to drive activists from the park, although its owners informed Mayor Bloomberg late Thursday evening that they were withdrawing their original request to “clean” the park.  But Mayor Mike forgot to tell the NYPD, who apparently lost their cool, as Occupy activists had expanded into Washington Park Square during the week. Ultimately, the Zucotti Park residents did not move. After a decision by the Occupy movement protestors to occupy Times Square on Saturday, the NYPD became aggressive, using barricades to pen people in, preventing them from moving block to block and used horse patrols who charged protesters. Police also locked in and eventually arrested activists and some innocent bystanders who had entered bank lobbies to withdraw money for the purpose of closing their accounts.

United for Global Change

Declaring a global action on Saturday titled United for Global Change with a custom prepared Twitter hash tag, peaceful actions ensued in Berlin, London and Tokyo–the one exception was Rome, where a group of anarchists who were participating– fire bombed cars and pillaged stores, causing extensive damage.  Even laid back Canada got in on the action, with several actions from Ontario to the British Columbia engaged. According to the “Occupy Together” website, 951 cities, located in 82 countries, have participated thus far since the movement began in New York City on Sept. 17.


Ugandan Lesbian Awarded Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Prize

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a Ugandan lesbian activist, who has lived in fear for years, moving house to house, to avoid attacks for being a gay person and founder of Freedom and Roam Uganda, an advocacy group for lesbians, was awarded the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Prize on Oct. 13. Nabagesera is the first gay human rights advocate to receive the award, considered only second to the Nobel Peace Prize in prestige. She was presented the award by the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

G-20 Orders Europe to Get its House in Order; Slovakia Votes Against Bailout and the EU Sets Deadline to Address Monetary Crisis 

In the lead-up to the G-20 meeting this weekend in France, Slovakia the last EU country to vote on a bail out for the Euro zone banking authority, was the first Euro zone country whose government collapsed as it voted down the referendum, before it finally passed the proposal two days later. The bailout fund is set to be 344 billion euros (about $472 billion) to resolve a sovereign debt crisis. The price of passage gives the Social Democrats an early election date. The G-20 advised for the bailout to continue, despite demonstrations throughout the European continent on Saturday and asserted that the EU summit later this month would be decisive in resolving the ongoing crisis.  The Euro zone banking crisis remains a crisis at full boil in Greece, which has yet to reach solvency, along with Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain.  EU officials have given themselves an Oct. 23 deadline to resolve the crisis.

UK Ties Foreign Aid to LGBT Rights

Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom’s Tory-led government, announced this past week that his government would leverage its foreign assistance to bilateral partners based upon their LGBT human rights records.  This foreign policy move is seen by some as much a domestic move to cut back on foreign assistance spending, but to bridge its spending aims to a growing popular issue at home that Cameron continues to pursue, most recently announcing his unqualified support for legalized gay marriage in the UK to the consternation of many of his own Conservative party members and church leaders.  This move was supported by lawmakers in Nepal, as well as gay activists in Nepal, as reported by the New Civil Rights Movement.

Polish Voters Elect First Trans Member of Parliament

Anna Grodzka a trans woman political activist was elected to Poland’s parliament this past week as a member of the Palikot Movement, which swept into office with a progressive liberal slate of candidates that garnered the third-most elected lawmakers in parliament, which is seen as a “change election” by Polish political watchers.  Grodzka is the first trans person to be elected to Poland’s parliament and will serve in the Sejm, the Lower House.  Grodzka is the founder and president of Trans-Fuzja, a non-profit advocacy group on behalf of trans persons.



 United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit Blocks and Upholds Alabama Immigration law

On Friday, the Federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked two key provisions of the Alabama Immigration law in HICA v Bentley that are according to the Southern Poverty Law Center:  the provision that chills children’s access to school by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; and the provision that criminalizes failure to register with the federal government and carry one’s “papers” at all times.

The school provisions take effect immediately.  The Court did not block provisions dealing with immigration status checks during traffic stops. It also allowed to remain in effect the sections that bar illegal immigrants from entering contracts or engaging in business transactions with government.

The Alabama law took effect two weeks ago, compelling people to leave the state immediately.  The coalition of groups bringing the challenge to the law, include the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center and the ACLU of Alabama, the Asian Law Caucus, the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network, AAJC, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  The U.S. Department of Justice has also challenged the law.

Obama Jobs Bill Blocked in the Senate; Rev. Al Sharpton Hosts Jobs Rally on the Mall

To no one’s surprise, Eric Cantor, the House Republican Majority Leader declared President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act legislation dead on arrival in early October, but just this week, the Senate, controlled by the Democrats, was unable to muster the 60 votes needed to cloture proof a vehicle that would provide $444 billion for the president’s number one election issue–jobs for the American worker.  The bill went down 50-49, not even close, although Harry Reid changed his vote to “no” before the vote was recorded and preserved his right to bring the bill back for a vote.

Not to be deterred, Obama has hit the road, exhorting voters to help him generate support for the bill by calling their members of Congress.  In Washington yesterday, Rev. Al Sharpton, the newly successful MSNBC host and the president of the National Action Network, gathered his forces on the National Mall, joined by several national unions that also included Planned Parenthood, and staged a rally for jobs and justice, announcing he would be organizing marches in 25 states, offering to “generate some wind behind the president’s back” to get the jobs bill moving in Congress. In anticipation of the celebration held earlier today to inaugurate the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Sharpton called the crowd together, saying the “dreamer may have been killed, but the dream remains.”  Following his speech, rally participants were encouraged to join Sharpton to walk the mall together in solidarity.

In Memoriam

Frank Kameny, an American LGBT civil rights lion, died of natural causes on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.   He was 86-years-old. Kameny coined “Gay is Good,” arguably the first positive message about homosexuals delivered to the American public.  A public memorial service is expected to be held in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 15th, the 50th anniversary of the Mattachine Society.


Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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