The Northampton radical group Poverty is Not a Crime, the brainchild of activists Caty Simon and Ira McKinley, organized a number of rallies earlier this year to protest downtown economic development policies, in particular the proposed ordinance that would have all but banned panhandling for change on Main Street.
At one such event two prominent local radicals, David Beyer and Arturo Castillion, were arrested for alleged rowdy misconduct during the demonstration. The charges against Beyer were eventually dismissed, but Arturo Castillion went to trial. Today he was found innocent when a video surfaced just before trial that appeared to show that police over-reacted in arresting him. The ever intrepid Caty Simon (below) sent me a previously unreleased photo of the arrest as well as an account of today's court proceedings:
Arturo Castillon was one of the founders of Poverty Is Not A Crime, and is a long time low income rights activist, as well as a former UMass student who has since transfered to Temple University.
He was charged with disorderly conduct & assault and battery on a police officer. The first charge was later dropped. Basically, the police officer claimed Arturo shoved him when he told Arturo to clear off the street, but in actual fact the cop shoved *him* and Arturo went quietly, which was later shown in a video taken from a cop car nearby, evidence that was wrangled last minute from the prosecution. (The Friday before the Monday of the trial!) Also, eyewitness and PINAC member/Umass student John Colvin testified to these facts as well. It seems the patrol officer lost his temper and covered up for it later with the charge, as ACLU lawyer Luke Ryan, Arturo's representation, theorized in his closing argument.
In a trial ruled by the judge (the right to a jury was waived) Arturo was found not guilty.
Here is a photo of Arturo in police custody.
Hopefully Arturo's acquittal will be a lesson that police need to be more restrained at these kinds of events.
While the United States continues to struggle as jobs are suppressed and wealth is destroyed by our government's anti-business policies, the rest of the world is aggressively moving away from discredited leftist concepts and embracing libertarian free market ideas. No where has this been more pronounced than in India, long one of the world's poorest countries, but where abolishing socialist policies has resulted in 100 million people being lifted out of poverty in just twenty years - an achievement unmatched in human history.
Now observers are noting that along with those pro-capitalist reforms has come the widespread popularity throughout India of the books of Ayn Rand. So while America is currently pursuing policies that run contrary to the tide of history and with our economy in decline, places like India are embracing the ideas of Ayn Rand with spectacular results. Jennifer Burns of Foreign Policy magazine explains:
Consumer spending in the United States may be down, but an interest in Ayn Rand certainly is not. Sales of Rand's last novel, the vigorously pro-capitalism fable Atlas Shrugged, have seen a huge leap in 2009, briefly outperforming even President Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope on Amazon's best-seller list. Few 1,000-page, half-century-old tomes can claim so much. Perhaps more surprising is the Ayn Rand boom that is building in another mass democracy: India.....
As modern India continues to undergo seismic economic and cultural shifts, not to mention the current global recession, Rand is emerging as a touchstone for a new generation. For many Indians, she is a tonic of modernization, helping to inspire a break with India's collectivist, socialist past. Rand's mixture of capitalist boosterism and self-empowerment is an irresistible combination for a range of Indians, from think-tankers to corporate barons to pop stars.
Beyond personal inspiration, however, the Indian excitement for Rand today is linked to a larger enthusiasm for the country's inchoate but powerful drive for development and wealth. Since the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, India has seen a gradual shift away from socialism, much appreciated by Rand's fans. Vikram Bajaj, a 45-year-old entrepreneur who considers himself an objectivist, has lived through Rand's evolution from an ignored outsider to a popular prophet of capitalism. When he discovered Rand, taxation rates for high earners were hovering at 85 percent of income; now, with her books widely available, that upper rate is only 30 percent.
It's unclear whether Rand will ever become the definitive textbook of modernization for India: Her ideas about religion, capitalism, and society are too anathema to India's traditional culture ever to be adopted completely. But Rand will continue to inspire India's emerging creative class and corporate titans, not to mention the ambitious youth who make up her most passionate fan base, in India as around the world. For those fans, Ayn Rand is truly a prophet of things to come.
This cartoon is all too tragically true and self-evident.
This one is a little hard to figure. It came to me with the punchline, "So I said to him, "Barack, I know Abe Lincoln, and you ain't Abe Lincoln."
First of all the joke is not very funny. Furthermore it requires one to remember a similar line from the 1988 debate between Lloyd Bentson and Daniel Quayle, which not one in ten American's does. Secondly it isn't clear who is saying the punchline. Lincoln himself in a fit of egomania? And look who is there among the GOP luminaries. Richard Nixon? Who would trust him in a cardgame? And Jerry Ford? Nice guy but no presidential giant. In fact the only two people at that gathering who might be considered historic giants are Ronald Reagan and Lincoln himself. The rest are lightweights: Eisenhower whose military career was certainly not surpassed by his political one, and Teddy Roosevelt, whom most Republicans consider to have been a closet Democrat. And what are the two Bushes doing there? They aren't even dead yet, and while the verdict of history is still out on their presidencies, few think they will rise to Lincolnian stature. And where is this ghostly cardgame taking place? Look at the background. You mean there are political conventions in heaven? If so that settles it - I'm hellbound and glad of it.
The UMass Cannabis Club was holding its annual cookie and brownie sale today. Consume at your own risk.
The Amherst College singing group that call themselves "The Route 9" perform at the school talent show.
Me standing in the way of a view of paradise this afternoon at Amherst College.
Just like you mistreat someone somebody's gonna mistreat you.