#TPP: Out of the Shadows Today (UPDATED)
Crossposted at Approximately 8,000 Words
Today I join Occupy Austin and members of Occupy San Antonio (in its newest incarnation as Occupy Bexar) travel to Addison, Texas with a wide coalition of unions and activist organizations at the Out of the Shadows Rally and March. This protest is a demand for transparency and accountability in the negotiations of the TransPacific Partnership (on Twitter, #TPP, hijacking the hashtag of the ‘Tea Party Patriots”).
This is the latest secret deal being cut by the 1% and world leaders. Over 30 legal professionals begged US Trade Representative Ron Kirk to make the process more transparent:
We write as legal academics from the US and current or potential future Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) member countries to express our profound concern and disappointment at the lack of public participation, transparency and open government processes in the negotiation of the intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). We are particularly and specifically concerned that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) took the opportunity of its hosting of the latest round of negotiations in Dallas, Texas, to begin this week, to further restrict public involvement in the negotiations by eliminating the full-day stakeholder forums that have been hosted at other rounds. We call on the USTR and all TPP negotiating countries to reverse course and work instead to expand, rather than contract, the opportunities for public engagement in the formation of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter.
Kirk blew them off. The agreement would be wide-ranging in its influence, affecting environmental law, jobs, and more, but it is the intellectual property and copyright portions which are raising the most ire on the Internet among activists and Anonymous. Like the similar ACTA, they see TPP as another round in the retaliation from the 1% over the defeat of laws like SOPA & PIPA. If they can’t be forced through Congress, it seems they’ll be turned into global mandate instead. Activists are further angered by the obscure choice of meeting location which is seen as another way to avoid scrutiny.
The bus from San Antonio and Austin will arrive in the Dallas suburb this afternoon. where we meet at a park and march on the negotiation site. This event is permitted, but I’ve heard reports from those already on site that police seem nervous; we will see how they react if there are acts of civil disobedience.
Occupy Austin’s livestream will be active around 2pm Central Time (12pm FDL time). I will livetweet throughout the day, and update this blog when I am able.
1:45pm: The rally has swelled to about 300 or more while we went from lunch. Hearing from occupiers, activists and unions as we prepare to march.
5:00pm: I am riding back to Austin after a strange day of action. We marched at about 2pm. The teamsters assigned as parade marshals tried to keep us on the sidewalk, but as usual Occupy Austin were among the first off the sidewalk, leading the others into the streets. By the time police and the marshals reacted, our numbers were too strong and marched in the street until we were past the barricades closing the road around the hotel.
When we reached the hotel, further barricades kept us from the parking lot and hotel property. If we crossed them we were told we would be arrested. Then, 3 older women surged forward past the barricades and the crowd followed. A line of cops, greatly outnumbered, blocked our path.
Though heavy riot gear was present earlier in the week, none was in evidence now. The energy was building & it seemed as if the crowd would be ready any minute now to press the outnumbered police lines. Federal police in dark suits appeared in greater numbers.
Then, strangely, the same women who led us over the barricades turned right around and abruptly led almost the whole crowd away. We had barely been at the hotel for 20 minutes. Soon all that remained were occupiers from Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas along with a few bolder members of the union crowd.
Our numbers were suddenly reduced by hundreds. Police physically forcded us back. Determined to continue anyway we marched around the hotel, repeatedly encroaching on the property and being forced back. Finally we marched at the main entrance, waving signs and disrupting traffic. But we were tired, a little discouraged, and running out of time. Our main organizers were visibly frustrated; one took to his phone to discover the group had all returned to the park & dispersed.
We came back as a group and spent a little time relaxing at a local pub until it was time to board the bus for home.
Thanks for reading my liveblog. I will post a full wrap up of today’s events with more media on Monday.