rabble rousers of the month
rabble rousers of the month :: february 2017
rabble rouser hall of fame
malala yousafzai (1997-present)
the rabble rouser hall of fame honors lifetime dedication to under-appreciated causes that often involve putting one's life on the line. malala has already shown such dedication in a short time as the youngest person awarded.
malala was nominated for, though not awarded, the nobel peace prize (given to the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons on october 11, 2013). however, malala has won numerous other awards like the sakarov prize, the RAW in war anna politkovskaya award, and the gomes humanitarian award from harvard.
in october 2012, the fifteen-year-old pakastani girl was shot in the head by the taliban for promoting girls' access to education. still, she refuses to give up, saying "they can kill me, but it doesn't mean they can kill causes." malala vows to press on in the face of persistent threats, seeking to become the doctor of the whole country and prime minister of pakistan.
west memphis 3 (1993)
in 1994, three teenagers in arkansas were tried for a murder of a baby. despite "lost" witness testimony of another culprit, and based on the court evidence of the three boys having long hair, wearing black clothing and listening to heavy metal music, damion echols was sentenced to death, jessie misskelley and jason baldwin were sentenced to life. due to the efforts of the wm3 support fund, some legendary artists on a compilation cd, a documentary called Paradise Lost, and many other supporters, the three were ultimately exonerated and released from prison in 2013. most of the time, such characters end up dead so as to tell no tales. luckily, these three somewhat hushed up voices are free to finally live their lives.
michael hastings (1980-2013)
one can only presume that thomas paine would be a proud supporter of michael hastings. the journalist and war correspondent in iraq and afghanistan published i lost my love in baghdad: a modern love story after his finacee was killed in a roadside ambush. in 2010, rolling stone published hastings’ story runaway general, which resulted in the resignation of stanley mcchrystal, the commander in afghanistan. hastings also wrote a book about his time with mcchrystal in 2012. hastings became highly critical of the surveillance state and the american government’s war on journalism. why democrats love to spy on americans was pulished on buzzfeed less than two weeks before hastings’ suspicious death. hastings felt he was being investigated by the FBI while he was finishing a story on CIA director john brennan. numerous stories have surfaced relating to hastings’ mental stability, addictions and possible foul play of his car being hacked and remotely controlled in the high speed crash that killed him on june 18, 2013.
rachel corrie (1979-2003)
born and raised in olympia, and then on to study at evergreen state college, rachel corrie became committed to worldwide peace. she traveled to rafah, a sister city of olympia in the gaza strip, as part of a senior project. there, she engaged in non-violent protests over israel’s demolition of palestinian homes.
after 4 months in gaza, rachel was run over by a tank and killed while trying to prevent the demolition of a friend’s home. rachel’s parents sued the israeli government for one dollar. last august, the israeli government finally rejected the suit, saying that it was an accidental death. rachel was wearing a bright orange jacket and speaking through a megaphone. she didn’t just stand up in the way of bulldozers for life and liberty, she sacrificed her own reputation to do so. even in death, she was villianized as a palestinian sympathizer, and also mocked by anti-war activists. she wasn’t even particularly liked or trusted by most palenstinians. she’s been called “stupid” but kid yoshida thinks she died more honorably than anyone who ever dissed her. besides, most things that people die for can be considered stupid in hindsight. as some news agencies contort the truth and confuse the public, kid yoshida can play along and suppose it was an accident. was it then also an accident when the israeli forces went to rachel’s memorial service and sprayed the mourners with tear gas before chasing them away, ending the memorial?
rachel’s case wasn’t terribly unique. women, children and other non-war participants are routinely killed in some of the most the senseless and preventable wars on earth. while each new martyr makes the last one forgotten, rachel can never be forgotten. March 16, 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of her death.
a very extensive collection of rachel corrie information can be found at: http://www.rachelcorrie.org/ and at http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/
erin davies (1978 - present)
erin davies volkwagen was vandalized with graffiti of “fag” on the door and “ur gay” on the windshield. instead of being humiliated and covering up the hate, she began driving all over the usa until the graffiti was replaced with an even more noticeable vinyl rainbow wrap, scripted “fagbug” and her website address to raise even more awareness. to date, she has driven the car to 49 states, with alaska on the way, bringing inspiration to many and discomfort to a few. the car has been vandalized 12 more times since the original graffiti. she's received many nasty, negative, rude comments and insults. she’s seen people so enamored to nearly crash into her trying to take her picture as she motors down the interstate. she’s seen every kind of unreasonable behavior from all types of people and cops have been none to nice to her either.
erin could have cleaned off the graffiti on her car and took the simple route back to her own private place, but to how much shame and to how much loss for the rest of us? thanks to perfect strangers love, she has been able to share a message to thousands and make immeasurable differences in the lives of more than one person. beyond her drive to become a teacher, erin has devoted all of her free time to spreading the message of the fagbug. she plans for a follow up documentary called fagbug nation about her trip to all 50 states and a children’s book called rainbow bug. the life devotion of people like erin little by little makes the world a peaceful, happy place. let's follow her example and begin informing kids about tolerance from the time they begin to walk.
berta cáceres (1972 - 2016)
berta was an environmental and indigenous rights activist, co-founder of the group council of popular and indigenous organizations of honduras.
one of her biggest campaigns was protesting the building of a series of dams at rio gualcarque.
efforts against the legality of the dam project and the dam's threat to the native populations of the region halted construction for several years. clashes with the military left several protesters dead and injured between 2013-2015 particularly, which resulted in some of the financing being withdrawn from the project. the local government became more intent on quelling the protest movement. in early 2016, many protesters were removed by security along with threats from the local community.
on march 3, 2016, berta was assassinated when armed intruders broke into her home in la esperanza. much criticism was made of the government's inaction in their protection of berta and the manner of the autopsy following her death as well as improper interrogation of fellow protesters.
less than two weeks after berta's death, nelson garcía, a colleague of berta's in COPINH, was killed after protesting the eviction of an indigenous community. the danger for activists has always been high in honduras, and apparently not any greater than now.
the angola three (1972)
in 1972, three black panthers were imprisoned for allegedly killing a prison guard and incarcerated at the notorious angola prison in alabama. justice took over 40 years to have them exonerated.
albert woodfox (right) was the last to be released on his 69th birthday in 2016 after spending a US record of 43 years in solitary. his first order of business when driving away with his brother was to visit his mother's grave.
herman wallace (left) was released in 2013, but died a few days later from liver problems.
robert king was accused of two prison murders, but was the first to have his conviction overturned in 2001 after 29 years in solitary confinement. he has been a very accessible member of society giving speeches to universities and parliaments and others.
stonewall riots (new york city, 1969)
in the 1950s and 1960s, mccarthy witch hunts went after gay people as subversives, and the DSM labeled homosexuality as a diagnosable disease. gay people were shamed with pictures in the paper or on tv following arrests for being gay.
cops in new york routinely busted gay bars and arrested anyone caught wearing opposite sex clothing. the stonewall inn was one of those gay bars owned by the mafia, who didn't particularly treat customers well, but a less than ideal place was better than no place at all.
typically, cops didn't get much resistance when raiding bars. in fact, the gay rights movement had been a pretty docile operation, not encouraged to create scenes, but rather try to slowly assimilate .
by 1969, sentiment was changing. homosexuals had been pushed to the margins of society, never with any representation, not even places to drink and dance. the stonewall was one place worth fighting for.
following judy garland's funeral on june 27, 1969, mourners of the gay icon, had signed the stonewall's mandatory door role calls as "judy garland." police raided the stonewall inn hours later, but patrons didn't want to deal with the cops that night. and when the cop's reinforcements didn't arrive, the arrested patrons were released in the streets. a crowd grew, protesting outside, until cops barricaded themselves in the dingy, dive bar. while escorting one woman into a paddy wagon, the woman yelled back to the crowd, "why don't you guys do something?" several hundred people then came after the cops and sheer chaos ensued.
what started with coins being thrown (a mocking at cops who often collected blackmail payments to keep the bar open) progressed to bricks from a construction site. by 4:00am, the furor died down, after 13 people were arrested and a few more hospitalized. protesters returned the next night stronger, and some rioting took place in the neighborhood over the next week.
the reason stonewall was significant is almost in historical hindsight.
as tree sequoia, bartender of over 40 years at stonewall noted, "we looked at it as just another raid... that blew up in the newspapers and on tv, until it all started here..." stonewall was the turning point, when the tide changed. the major media coverage, the feeling of enough being enough, all brought extreme discrimination to into question. numerous newspapers and magazines were started, including "gay", which was named as an attack on the village voice, the newspaper across the street from stonewall that had refused to even print the word "gay."
other protests sprung up, as raids continued on bars throughout the 1970s, but the most important protest was on the first anniversary of stonewall in 1970. "christopher street liberation day" was a parade held to commemorate the riots. parades also happened in chicago an los angeles and, year by year, gay pride parades continued to grow to cities all over the world. now, we are arriving at a full turn of government sentiment. instead of being criminal or diseased, gay people have an acknowledged freedom. something to celebrate, for a moment, before realizing this country has further to go than we have yet come.
rodney king (1965-2012)
not an exemplary citizen, but a rabble rouser who became a figurehead for a movement. he didn’t find trouble as much as trouble found him. he was found several times driving drunk and once even charged for a hit and run on his wife. he also got a severe beatdown by seven l.a. cops, two ended up with short prison sentences after a white suburban jury had initially found them not guilty. king also got shot when someone tried to bike-jack him. there were some sweet ironies, such as when he won a celebrity boxing match against a former cop and that he was engaged the last two years to a woman who had been a juror on his civil trial against the l.a.p.d. but, for the most part, king’s life could not have been an envious one to live. what makes king a great rabble rouser was that he helps us see inside ourselves. how many people can truly say they have never driven under the influence? just because some of us may not have been caught doing something wrong, doesn’t afford us the right to judge someone who has. and how many people can say they have never thought ill of someone because that person was different from them? it happens all the time, everyday in every town. king famously begged the question “can’t we all just get along?” but 20 years later, trayvon martin still isn’t allowed to live as a black man. it takes a rabble rouser to stir up politcal tsunamis. pundits wouldn’t allow president obama to market hoodies because it was supposedly capitalizing on the tragedy of trayvon martin (nevermind that obama sold hoodies in the 2008 campaign as well and every race of people wear them). whether it is rodney king, abner louima, amadou diallo, sean bell, or the countless other victims of police brutality, they allow us to examine our own fears and what society should or shouldn’t think unacceptable. drunk driving may be a bad thing, but it’s not nearly as bad as a police officer ramming a plunger up someone’s anus. yes, that really happened. so, don’t cast stones. don’t hate. make yourself a better person.
joe bell (1964-2013)
photo: la grande observer
in early february 2013, la grande high schooler jadin bell hung himself after bullying by peers and died several days later. in april, his father joe bell set off on a walk from la grande thru the southeast and north to new york, a walk he hoped to take not more than about two years. his mission was to spread the word of jadin. meeting joe bell gave the impression of exactly the man to be spreading the gospel. he was calm and unassuming. he listened to everyone and made others feel comfortable, respected and understood.
joe triumphed in overcoming lots of hurdles on the road, with artificial knees, perpetual blisters, and physical adjustments to the elements, surviving theft and misunderstanding by others. joe bell inspired a lot of people. he shared some interesting and frustrating accounts of the ordeal in the salon article, "they ripped him apart," in september 2103, which is required reading for rabble rouser class.
on october 9, 2013, joe was killed by a reckless truck driver on a rural highway in eastern colorado. though joe is gone, faces for change presses on in spreading the message of tolerance. volunteers have stepped forward to continue to the walk that joe began.
see some other links... walk for change (facebook page) :: joe bell on opb’s think out loud :: paul toutonghi's rememberance on opb's think out loud
cao shunli (1964-2014)
as a young child, cao was forcibly exiled from beijing with her family to an ancestral home in the provinces because her grandfather was a member of the “enemy classes.” cao grew up to study political science and worked for the ministry of labor and human resources. she became a political activist after losing her job for reporting corruption of her supervisors in housing reform. cao spent the last five years of her life lobbying for domestic and international human rights reviews in china. she was “trying to hold the government accountable for a host of issues through peaceful and legal means,” said sophie richardson of human rights watch. cao’s activism garnered her at least two labor camp sentences.
cao was not permitted onboard a plane to switzerland for a human rights conference and “disappeared” from the airport, not being seen for weeks, according to the BBC in september 2013. she was detained and subsequently jailed on charges relating to the staging of a two month sit-in at the foreign ministry, which was seeking public participation in human rights review for china. she was shown to have suffered abuse in prison, including lack of medical care to deal with tuberculosis and liver disease. she went into a coma in february 2014 and died in the hospital on march 14.
not only was a previously strong an able forty-nine year old woman completely stripped of life in six months time, the family was also denied access to even view the body. most western tradition supports the custom of seeing next of kin body after death, so cao’s family’s ordeal may or may not sound like a big deal to a westerner. in the east, some families live with the bodies for days, even weeks during their mourning stages. no doubt, it is a pretty damn big deal in china for a family to not be able to view the body. if you can’t live in peace, you should at least be able to die in peace.
cheri honkala (1963-present)
imagine growing up watching your mother suffer domestic violence. then, try being a teenage mother living in your car while trying to graduate high school. then, seeing your 19 year-old brother commits suicide because he was uninsured and couldn't get services. at the age of 32, cheri and her son moved into her camaro in the minnesota winter, until the car was demolished by a drunk driver, leaving them completely homeless. shelters wouldn't keep her and her son together, so she moved into an abandoned HUD home. there began her homeless advocacy that included founding kensington welfare rights union and poor people's economic human rights campaign. through protest and demonstration, cheri has been arrested more than 200 times (no convictions). she has also been praised, such as being philadelphia weekly's woman of the year (1997), ms. magazine's woman of the year (2001), mother jones' hellraiser of the month (april 2005) and a candidate for sheriff of philadelphia (2011) with more than 10,000 votes. a crowning acknowledgment, cheri was nominated as jill stein's vice-presidential candidate of the united states in 2012.
dan price (196?-present)
dan left behind stressful corporate life in the early 1990s and now lives on the grand total of $5000 per year, which is made in various ways, such as maintaining cemetery lawns and selling his visions of the world. “i used to work as a photojournalist with regular crazy hours. the problem is, people have their lives so organized they are slaves. basically, the average person spends a ton of their time working for very little money, just to survive. i spend very little time working for enough money to not just survive, but do what i love – draw and travel.”
after his attempt at commercial society with a high-interest mortgage rate, dan now spends his life in oregon living in a “human scale” hobbit hole in the wallowas that he built for for $75. it contains a room, a sauna and a garage for his bike. “i like being able to do what i want to do. i don’t believe in houses or mortgages. who in their right mind would spend their lifetime paying for a building they never get to spend time in because they are always working?” so, dan leases two acres for $100 per year. his genius book radical simplicity describes it all and his now discontinued moonlight chronicles are, ironically, being sold online for twice what price charged. so, buy directly from dan. p.o. box 109, joseph, or. his website: moonlight chronicles is chock full of the art he has created, his comic books, films made about him and his unique way of life that a lot of people can learn from as a how-to for not caving into advertisers demands of the latest greatest junk to wind up cluttering your spare bedroom.
check more, starting with: galfromdownunder.com, nydailynews.com, and path less pedaled.
the sharpeville massacre (march 21, 1960)
south africa’s apartheid years rivaled any nation’s discrimination practices. for at least a couple hundred years, internal passports were required for black people to move about the country. white people were the only who were allowed to be employers, white people were the only who were allowed to live in urban areas. discrimination extended to pretty much any non-white person. legislation from the 1920’s and 1940’s furthered the use of pass laws, until the frequent and deadly anti-pass campaigns of the african national congress and pan african congress were openly and actively defiant in the 1950s. on march 21, 1960, 5000-7000 black protesters went to the police station to offer themselves up for arrest without their passes. with only about 20 police on duty, reinforcement officers came, but so did more protestors. some say the crowd turned hostile. the police were armed with rifles and machine guns, the crowd with rocks and fists. the scenario favored the police, as they were able to kill 69 people in total.
huge protests resulted and south africa sustained a pretty damaged reputation in the human rights world. by the next year, south africa departed the commonwealth of nations, as it would be the beginning of a long end of discrimination practices in south africa. the entire pass system was finally repealed in 1986 and apartheid offically ended in 1994. in 1996, president mandela chose sharpeville as the site for signing the constitution of south africa. today, march 21 today is a public holiday in honor of human rights, as well as unesco’s international day to end racial discrimination.
ben linder (1959-1987)
Ben Linder mural at Reed College
the portland native graduated from university of washington in 1983 with a degree in mechanical engineering and then moved to nicaragua to assist in works projects building dams to provide fresh water and electricity to poor villages. the 1980s was a decade long war in which the u.s. funded and trained the contras to overthrow the sandanista-led government. by every measure, the contras were brutal terrorists bent on destroying every element of society from churches to crops to especially electricity. they planted landmines on civilian roadways and basically engaged in any action that would intimidate the masses to not support the government. in the hostile environment of el cua, ben linder was working on a hydro-electric plant when, in april 1987, he and two associates were killed by contra militiamen, specifically targeting ben because he was an american and what his mission was. as pointed to on the liberation theology website, "the assassination of benjamin linder was part of a deliberate contra policy to murder civilians working in education, health and development programs." the dam was completed in 1994 with the help of ben's friends and family members. it now provides electricity and drinking water to thousands of people in the cua-bocay region. in 1999, joan kruckewitt published a book called the death of ben linder: the story of a north american in sandanista nicaragua.
gg allin (1956-1993)
“that’s not noise, that’s just my mind going off in different directions. you see, it doesn’t run concurrent with the rest of the world.”
gg is among the more controversial people to put in any hall of fame, even the rabble rouser hall of fame. the difference between gg and other rabble rousers is that the others are outside of popular opinion while gg is outside of every opinion. gg didn’t need to be liked and thrived on others hating him.
considering his upbringing, his later life feels normal. he was named jesus christ by a mentally unstable father, then grew up in a two-room log cabin without electricity and the family was forbade to speak after dark. there were graves dug in the basement for his father to kill himself and take everyone with him. from the start, gg did not fit into traditional societies at school and was no stranger to bullying. drug and alcohol addictions did not help his mentality. and he ultimately lived the life he fantasized about in songs. if prison sentences and hospitalizations didn’t push him far enough toward being the next john wayne gacy, authorities, big business and celebrity talk show hosts surely sent gg into his own dimension. he was certainly a nihilistic embodiment of a degenerated society in the 20th century. his stage antics were a parallel to “a society that’s going crazy with violence.”
say whatever about the guy, but he was not fake. and regardless of his principles, he stuck by them to the death. most people that act tough will still chicken out at some point. others say nice things while imagining telling someone off. gg never had these types of problems. he did and said what he wanted every second of his life. no one exercises that much freedom. even punk bands that call themelves “uncompromising” are not as sincere as gg. he believed rock and roll was supposed to be tough, so he needed to put that toughness back into it. and he did that.
for his lifestyle, a young death was an inevitability. the fact that he lived to be 36 is a rather old age. determined to go out on the top of his game, gg promised to commit suicide on stage on halloween, but was in jail three years in a row. when gg did get out of prison, he did not live a lot longer. he died of an overdose before he could make good on his most recent halloween threat. june 28, 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of his final night running naked through the streets of new york. he outran the cops wearing only underwear.
the space lady (1950 - present)
the space lady moved into a cave on mt. shasta when her husband evaded the draft in the early 1970s. they ended up in boston, where she found an old accordion in thrift store and began busking on the streets to earn money, while her husband cared for their child at home. her music career took off when she started playing a modified casio and singing psychedelic songs thru an echoed mic. she made enough money to move the family back to california where she was even more endeared by fans. check out the VICE interview with the space lady from 2014.
gil scott-heron (1949-2011)
gil’s poetry represented an entire disenfranchised race of people after the bloody civil rights movements of the 60s. putting that poetry to beats laid the foundation for what would become hip hop later in the 70s. “the revolution will not be televised” was a treatise on blaxploitation that has been sampled by artsits of every medium for more than 40 years. and for all his notoriety, gil had no fame. after an obscure period throughout the 80s, gil fell victim to the vices he always preached as dragging people down and went on to spend the better part of the late 90s and most of the 2000s at riker’s island. released and reformed, heron made a critically acclaimed comback in 2010 with “i’m new here” accompanied by appearances at festivals like coachella. after years of declining health, he passed away at age 62 in june 2011. check out his revolutionary works on albums “small talk at 125th & lennox” and hear his contributions on modern recordings with kanye west, mos def and others.
fred hampton (1948 – 1969)
starting as a youth organizer for the NAACP, hampton became astute in knowledge of the law and a promoter of non-violent direct action. he was recruited into the black panther party in chicago, where he quickly gained a reputation for making pacts with street gangs to stop violence. he worked to end class divides and integrate all minorities into a cohesive whole. he rose in ranks with the panthers, primarily through community organizing, notably the free lunch program. the FBI began to keep tabs on hampton, as they sought to squash the black panther party. an infiltrator reported the benign activities of the chicago chapter, but the FBI refused to listen to anything that didn't expose the panthers as a violence-prone organization. the FBI further worked to dissect panther ties to other blacks, created racist cartoons and attributed them to the panthers to further undermine public support, and instigated conflicts to force the panthers to react violently. hampton himself was never charged with more than theft of ice cream, but the bounty on his head grew along with his rank in the panthers. acting on a tip that stockpiles of weapons and ammunition were being kept in his apartment, the chicago police raided his apartment on december 4, 1969. the panthers fired one shot, a reflexive shot by the door guard when he was killed. the police fired at least 82 shots in one of the most controversial acts of the turbulent 1960s. hampton's murder was chronicled in the documentary film the murder of fred hampton.
iggy pop (1947-present)
not many people spend six decades in the same job, especially an industry like rock n' roll. iggy has survived more than odds and his own wild weirdness. he’s survived in the face of virtual obscurity. my aunt, who is one year older than iggy and pretty well versed in popular culture over the last 50 years, was asked what iggy pop songs should could name. the answer: 0. what iggy events could she recall: 0. not to say iggy is a nobody, she did know his name and that he was an innovator in punk rock. in fact, he is often referred to as the godfather of punk, though he has a deep resume that includes the entirety of the pop music spectrum. iggy started in 1960, as a drummer in the iguanas. in 1970, he saw the doors in concert and jim morrison’s stage antics inspired iggy sufficiently to invent stage diving (along with a few more lewd on stage behaviors). though it could be debated whether iggy invented punk, he certainly took it to it's more extreme level. he has worked with most of the most important musicians of the last 40 years, most of them seeking iggy out as a collaborator: john cale, lou reed, david bowie, steve jones, glen matlock, kate pierson, deborah harry, buckethead, guns n roses, madonna... with his music in numerous movie soundtracks, tv commercials and appearances as an actor in films, and for what it may be worth iggy is also in the rock and roll hall of fame. still stage diving into his 60s, iggy has certainly broken a lot of rules and survived a brush or two with death. and anyone who gets an entire three hour feature on the rabble rouser show is a bona fide rabble rouser hall of famer.
iggy has six decades in music. the beatles lasted twelve years.
rabble rouser hall of fame ::