To anyone who watched the G20 circus, the headline isn’t much of a hyperbolic stretch. Here was a country, which spent nearly $1 billion on security measures — greater than any summit’s security budget in the history of the world — and yet footage of burning police cars and shattered store windows played on loop throughout the week on Canadian television.
Where were the cops? How were a handful of fringe protesters able to create this — admittedly limited — havoc?
Naomi Klein proposes an interesting explanation. The state and cops had received widespread criticism for the tremendous amount of cash being dumped into security for this single event (78 percent of Canadians believed that the cost was unjustified,) and when some anarchists lit up their police car, they may have decided to take a long lunch break just to teach everyone a lesson.
Note from Allison: Congratulations to all the protesters that made this happen! You should all be very proud of yourselves.
Today, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent the following letter to the Acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers,asking that the Capitol Power Plant (CPP) use 100 percent natural gas for its operations. They write, “the switch to natural gas will allow the CPP to dramatically reduce carbon and criteria pollutant emissions, eliminating more than 95 percent of sulfur oxides and at least 50 percent of carbon monoxide… We strongly encourage you to move forward aggressively with us on a comprehensive set of policies for the entire Capitol complex and the entire Legislative Branch to quickly reduce emissions and petroleum consumption through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean alternative fuels.”
UPDATE: Bill McKibben, who helped organize the impending civil disobedience at the CPP emails me “just to say, this civil disobedience stuff kind of works. How many coal plants are there?”
Here is the letter:
February 26, 2009
Mr. Stephen T. Ayers
Acting Architect of the Capitol
SB-15 U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Ayers:
We want to commend your office for working to implement the Green the Capitol Initiative by increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is a shadow that hangs over the success of your and our efforts to improve the environmental performance of the Capitol and the entire Legislative Branch. The Capitol Power Plant (CPP) continues to be the number one source of air pollution and carbon emissions in the District of Columbia and the focal point for criticism from local community and national environmental and public health groups.
Since 1910, as you know, the CPP has continuously provided the Capitol, House and Senate office buildings, and other facilities with steam and chilled water for heating and cooling purposes. The plant remains an important component of the facilities master plan and the future of the Capitol complex, and we know your office has taken steps to make the plant cleaner and more efficient. While your progress has been noteworthy, more must be done to dramatically reduce plant emissions and the CPP’s impact. Since there are not projected to be any economical or feasible technologies to reduce coal-burning emissions soon, there are several steps you should take in the short term to reduce the amount of coal burned at the plant while preparing for a conversion to cleaner burning natural gas.
We encourage you to take advantage of current excess capacity to burn cleaner fuels and reduce pollution. According to the General Accounting Office (GAO) and an independent analysis from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the boilers at the CPP are now running with more capacity than has been historically demanded or anticipated. Even with the new Capitol Visitor Center in operation, these analyses show there is sufficient capacity to further increase the burning of natural gas and still meet energy demands at peak hours.
We are also interested in identifying and supporting funding to retrofit CPP if necessary so that it can operate on 100 percent natural gas. Unfortunately, our staff has received conflicting information and cost estimates on what would actually be required to operate the CPP year-round with exclusively natural gas. If a retrofit of two remaining boilers is indeed required, then we encourage you to develop realistic budget numbers to accomplish the retrofit expeditiously including any costs for the purchase of additional quantities of natural gas. In your budget analysis, it is important to take into account that time is of the essence for converting the fuel of the CPP. Therefore it is our desire that your approach focus on retrofitting at least one of the coal boilers as early as this summer, and the remaining boiler by the end of the year.
While the costs associated with purchasing additional natural gas will certainly be higher, the investment will far outweigh its cost. The switch to natural gas will allow the CPP to dramatically reduce carbon and criteria pollutant emissions, eliminating more than 95 percent of sulfur oxides and at least 50 percent of carbon monoxide. The conversion will also reduce the cost of storing and transporting coal as well as the costs associated with cleaning up the fly ash and waste. Eliminating coal from the fuel mixture should also assist the City of Washington, D.C., in meeting and complying with national air quality standards, and demonstrate that Congress can be a good and conscientious neighbor by mitigating health concerns for residents and workers around Capitol Hill.
Taking this major step toward cleaning up the Capitol Power Plant’s emissions would be an important demonstration of Congress’ willingness to deal with the enormous challenges of global warming, energy independence and our inefficient use of finite fossil fuels. We strongly encourage you to move forward aggressively with us on a comprehensive set of policies for the entire Capitol complex and the entire Legislative Branch to quickly reduce emissions and petroleum consumption through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean alternative fuels.
Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.
Speaker of the House
Senate Majority Leader
I just received this e-mail from Eileen Clancy, an activist and member of the watchdog group, I-Witness.
We have begun the process of filing suit regarding our treatment at the hands of law enforcement in St. Paul during the RNC. A press release is attached.
Six months after the RNC, the government has charged only 15 percent of the 800 people the police arrested in that period. On Friday, the St. Paul City Attorney announced that he would not prosecute 323 people arrested in a single round-up on the final night of the convention.
Since most potential RNC litigants are approaching the 180-day statutory deadline for giving notice to municipalities in Minnesota, we should have a better sense of the scope of the civil lawsuits contemplated in relation to the RNC fairly soon.
Eileen and I-Witness were routinely harassed at the Republican National Convention (RNC.) By the way, this is the same RNC during which Amy Goodman was violently arrested. During the RNC (and after some initial harassment from local police, including the suspicious mass arrest and release of I-Witness,) I received an urgent email from Clancy.
The police were surrounding her office…again.
Police have arrived at our office in St. Paul. They say that they have
received reports of hostages barricaded in the building. We are behind a
locked door. Lawyers are outside dealing with them.
That was the second encounter I-Witness had with police at the RNC. The first encounter occurred on August 30 when seven members were preemptively detained at the house where the group was staying. The police were basically harassing the protest group, who are peaceful, and whose only intent was to videotape the protests.
Such was the general chaos of the RNC. I was routinely e-mailed by journalists, who were fairly certain of their impending arrest.
I had my own run-in with St. Paul’s police state when I was trying to gather information about Amy Goodman’s arrest for Huffington Post.
Something called the Joint Information Center was set up to monitor all of the hubub that occurs when — ya’ know — a city jails hundreds of activists exercising their right to freedom of speech and protest. My name and press credentials were taken down a few times by various ominous, anonymous foot soldiers.
These are the notes I took during the investigation. I was making inquiries as to the whereabout of Amy Goodman, and the two Democracy Now producers (Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar) with whom she was arrested.
11:00PM EST: The Ramsey County Jail redirected me to something called the “Joint Information Center.” Under a little pressure, the operator finally revealed his name (Sgt. William Palmer,) though he asked for my name (had me spell it twice) and asked for my phone number in exchange. Friendly stuff.
Palmer informed me that Kouddous and Salazar will be held in jail overnight until they are taken to court tomorrow. No one knows what they are being charged with, but Palmer attributes their arrest to “suspicious behavior.”
Kouddous and Salazar are still being held without any formal charges.
11:22PM: Apparently, one of the job qualifications for working at the JIC (Joint Information Center) is that you must have the scariest voice in the world. I spoke with a Coast Guard named Chief Bauman, who again took down my information: name, phone number, website I write for, etc. He had me spell my name twice and repeat my phone number three times.
The JIC seems to exist less to help media representatives and more to intimidate the hell out of them. For instance, I wondered aloud why I couldn’t directly speak to a media representative and first had to pass through Bauman’s filter. Bauman explained he was a conduit between reporter and information.
I then asked Bauman why the JIC was staffed with police officers and Coast Guards seemingly naive to the ways of media. He informed me that he was working at the JIC for “security purposes.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, I see there’s a lot of security at the RNC.” He didn’t laugh.
Bauman said he didn’t know what court Kouddous and Salazar are being taken to in the morning. He said he would get back to me.
This is the state of modern protest. You can protest, but only if you have a permit, you stand back 500 feet from the target of your dispute, you stay behind the barbed wires, and only use a bullhorn if you have another permit. It’s neutered dissent. And even if you obey all their little rules, you get bullied and harassed like Eileen Clancy and Amy Goodman.
And Clancy and Goodman weren’t even protesting. One is a representative of a watchdog group, and the other is a highly respected journalist. Imagine what they do to the poor kids and students, who are usually doing nothing more than operating inside the guidelines of the law, when the cops pick them up off the street.
If the dull tool of bureaucracy hasn’t chipped away enough from America’s monument to civil disobedience, the watchful Sauron-esque eye of the government is threatening to blast it into smithereens. As I wrote over at Huffpost, last year’s DNC and RNC were both laboratories for the newest, most high-tech toys for the intelligence community. Denver dropped $50 million on the police state project.
In an interview with Democracy Now, Erin Rosa, a reporter for the Colorado Independent, explained that Denver seemed to be seriously bracing for a stand-off between the police and protesters [during the DNC], to the point where the Colorado Army National Guard constructed a makeshift barracks in the far east region of the city:
They’re not saying what the purpose is for nearly 400 people to be stationed in this private university. They’re actually going to be stationed at Johnson & Wales University in the eastern region of the city, you know, more than 400 troops in that one area. They rented more than 500 rooms across the city. And they’re not saying what the purpose will be for, but they have confirmed that it will be all Colorado National Guard personnel.
So while Denver would be immersed in a total police state, what sort of behavior could individuals expect from their new intelligence and censorship overlords? In the same interview, Mike German, National Security Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, warned protesters that new guidelines for what constitutes suspicious terrorist-like activity may include some pretty basic elements of protesting:
The Los Angeles Police Department issued an order compelling their officers to report criminal and non-criminal suspicious behavior that can be indicative of terrorism, and they listed sixty-five behaviors…One of the precursor behaviors to terrorism that’s identified in the order is taking video. And we put in our report a couple of instances where people taking video were stopped by police officers simply for taking pictures or video. And in some cases, particularly where they’re taking photographs or video of police, it actually resulted in arrests.
I argued this would put quite a damper on many grassroots responses to this kind of intelligence/police state bullying, particularly I-Witness, a group created to protect citizens from the attacks of overzealous police authorities. Clancy, the founder of I-Witness Video, explained that it’s important to keep a video log of every protest (complete with date and time displayed clearly on the camera) should the footage be needed as evidence in later court hearings.
Clancy also explained that the Deputy Chief of Operations in Denver testified before the House subcommittee that they see the DNC fusion center as an opportunity to make permanent a “super fusion center.” Clancy said the Denver crew is going to take their government allocated $50 million and “play with their new toys,” and they are going to build a permanent and more powerful surveillance apparatus for Colorado.
At the time, Clancy offered these words of wisdom to future generations of activists:
“The federal government is trying to criminalize video because it has tremendous power to expose bad acts by the police and federal agents. The best way for people to document police misconduct is to band together in video activist groups such as I-Witness Video, work in pairs or affinity groups, protect their footage by making back-up copies, publish their work in the media or on the Internet, and vigorously challenge any arrests, detentions and police orders to erase photos or videotapes. The First Amendment offers tremendous protection to people videotaping the police at work, but we must fight to maintain our right to shoot.”
Now it’s time to see if Eileen Clancy and the members of I-Witness will receive some delayed justice, and if the police and government officials in St. Paul will acknowledge any wrong-doing.
Please remind Mr. Coleman and Mr. Pawlenty that the behavior of law officials was (at best) overzealous, and at worst, totally fascist and unnecessary:
Contact Mayor Chris Coleman at: 651-266-8510 or e-mail him.
Governor Tim Pawlenty can be reached at: (651) 296-3391 or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-Witness press release: First Step in RNC Lawsuits Taken.
Here in New York, several dozen student activists have barricaded themselves inside a cafeteria at New York University. The group Take Back NYU has submitted several demands, including the establishment of a socially responsible committee, a full disclosure of the school’s annual budget and support for Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip.
Student: “The first two orders of the socially responsible finance committee will be an in-depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine.”
MIAMI (AFP) — The United States is set to deport more than 30,000 Haitians to their impoverished homeland, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Deportation orders have been processed for 30,299 Haitians and they are starting to be implemented, with hundreds of Haitians put in camps awaiting the return home, and others under house arrest, the ICE spokeswoman said.
“Last week we had nationally 30.299 Haitians on final order of removal, meaning that an Immigration judge ordered them to be deported from the United States,” said spokeswoman Nicole Navas.
Meanwhile “598 Haitians are detained and 243 (are under a form of house arrest) with electronic monitoring,” Navas explained.
Haiti is the Americas’ poorest nation. In recent months it was lashed by four deadly hurricanes that killed 800 and worsened food shortages.
On an October visit to Miami, Haitian President Rene Preval once again urged the United States to grant Haitians in the country temporary protection status to avoid their deportation.
Heavy police presence greeted Bay Area Rapid Transit commuters Thursday, a day after more than 100 people were arrested in violent protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a transit police officer. At least three cars were set on fire, store windows were smashed and a police cruiser was vandalized in what started as a peaceful demonstration Wednesday over the Jan. 1 shooting of Oscar Grant. Police in riot gear threw tear gas to try to break up the demonstration.
“The crowd started to become more agitated, more hostile, started throwing stuff at the police,” said Oakland Police spokesman Jeff Thomason. He said charges against those arrested include inciting a riot, assault on a police officer, vandalism, rioting and unlawful assembly.
Extra police were deployed to East Bay stations on Thursday. Officers patrolled BART headquarters to ensure calm during the agency’s morning meeting, where many African-American community leaders expressed outrage over the killing of Grant.
An officer identified as Johannes Mehserle shot the 22-year-old on a BART station platform after responding to reports of men fighting on a train. Officers had pulled Grant and a few other men out of the train. The victim was lying face down on the platform when he was shot.
The shooting and events leading up to it were captured on amateur videos that have been broadcast on television.
Mehserle resigned from the transit agency shortly before he was supposed to be interviewed by investigators Wednesday. Mehserle’s attorney did not respond to calls for comment.
Some experts who viewed the video clips speculated that Mehserle fired his gun because he believed Grant had a deadly weapon, while others think the officer had mistakenly his handgun for a stun gun.
“If he was under stress he would not be able to distinguish between a Taser and his firearm,” said Bruce Siddle, founder of PPCT Management Systems, an Illinois company that trains law-enforcement officers in use-of-force.
BART police and the district attorney are investigating the shooting, and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums asked city police to investigate as well.
Grant’s family has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART and want prosecutors to file criminal charges against Mehserle.
“There were racial slurs directed at the young men,” family attorney John Burris said Thursday. “But I have no evidence that this particular officer (Mehserle) directed racial slurs towards Oscar Grant.”
Police have not classified the confrontation as a hate crime.
During the protest, some people threw bottles; a window of a fast-food restaurant and other downtown stores were smashed. No injuries were reported.
“We gave a dispersal order four to five times over a 20-minute period, then we had our officers go in and start making arrests,” said Thomason, the police spokesman.
Dellums went to the protest scene Wednesday night to call for calm. He then led a group toward City Hall and spoke with them.
“Even with our anger and our pain, let’s still address each other with a degree of civility and calmness and not make this tragedy an excuse to engage in violence,” said Dellums, who is black. “I don’t want anybody hurt, I don’t want anybody killed.”
Posing as a Bidder, Utah Student Disrupts Government Auction of 150,000 Acres of Wilderness for Oil & Gas Drilling
This is beautiful.
In a national broadcast exclusive, University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher explains how he “bought” 22,000 acres of land in an attempt to save the property from drilling. The sale had been strongly opposed by many environmental groups. Stephen Bloch of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said, “This is the fire sale, the Bush administration’s last great gift to the oil and gas industry.”
DENVER — An independent Denver police monitor said officers did nothing wrong during mass arrests on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.
Monitor Richard Rosenthal said Monday there’s no evidence to support a complaint alleging officers lied about whether they gave an order to disperse before arresting more than 100 people.
The American Civil Liberties Union complaint also contended a police officer pretending to be a protester created a tense atmosphere when he confronted another officer. Rosenthal said the undercover officer acted appropriately.
The ACLU did not immediately return a call.
The US military plans to mobilize thousands of troops to protect Washington against potential terrorist attack during the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama, a senior US military commander said Wednesday.
They will fly combat air patrols and man air defenses, organize large scale medical support, and help local law enforcement provide security in the capital, said General Gene Renuart, head of the US Northern Command. “[It’s] not because we see a specific threat, but because for an event this visible, this important and this historic, we ought to be prepared to respond if something does happen,” he told reporters.
Renuart said some 7,500 active duty troops and 4,000 national guard troops will take part in the operations in support of the inauguration of the 44th US president on January 20.
* * * * *
Gen. Genuart has pledged “to address congressional concerns” about NorthCom’s
“new homeland emergency response task force,” which, he says, “is not meant to authorize the federal government to enforce martial law”:
Northcom Chief Vows to Address Worries About New Homeland Unit 17 Dec 2008 A senior military official pledged Wednesday to address congressional concerns about a new homeland emergency response task force that is designed to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear attack. Air Force Gen. Victor E Renuart Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command (Northcom), also told reporters that the new force, which will eventually total 20,000 personnel, will not require new funding right now and is not meant to authorize the federal government to enforce martial law. The new task force has come under fire from groups… Critics also say the move could violate the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which aims to prohibit the federal government from using the armed forces in a domestic law enforcement capacity without congressional approval.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, there have been reports for months, in local media outlets coast to coast, of
heavy preparations by police departments and local sheriffs, all newly fitted out with
riot gear provided by the Bush regime. Also nationwide, police have been abusing citizens
–white as well as black and brown–with what is certainly a new ferociy,
the incidents either reported casually or not at all. It’s as if they’ve been encouraged to
do anything they want to nearly anyone.
What’s clearly going on here is a grand revival of the bad old days of the Sixties/Seventies,
when local cops and federal agencies teamed up to surveil and harass politically suspicious
groups (almost all of them left-wing). Now, however, that authoritarian partnership
appears to have a more ambitious purpose, since the economy is melting down, and
those (still) at the helm in Washington are explicit fascists.
In that context, check out this new piece from the Phoenix Business Journal, reporting
on the US Army War College’s new report on dealing militarily with “civil unrest”–
and the response thereto by the Phoenix Police Department.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 11:36am MST | Modified: Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 12:05pm
Ariz. police say they are prepared as War College warns military must prep for unrest; IMF warns of economic riots
Phoenix Business Journal – by Mike Sunnucks
A new report by the U.S. Army War College talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks.
“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” said the War College report.
The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned Wednesday of economy-related riots and unrest in various global markets if the financial crisis is not addressed and lower-income households are hurt by credit constraints and rising unemployment.
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., both said U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought up a worst-case scenario as he pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September. Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, said that might even require a declaration of martial law, the two noted.
State and local police in Arizona say they have broad plans to deal with social unrest, including trouble resulting from economic distress. The security and police agencies declined to give specifics, but said they would employ existing and generalized emergency responses to civil unrest that arises for any reason.
“The Phoenix Police Department is not expecting any civil unrest at this time, but we always train to prepare for any civil unrest issue. We have a Tactical Response Unit that trains continually and has deployed on many occasions for any potential civil unrest issue,” said Phoenix Police spokesman Andy Hill.
“We have well established plans in place for such civil unrest,” said Scottsdale Police spokesman Mark Clark.
Clark, Hill and other local police officials said the region did plenty of planning and emergency management training for the Super Bowl in February in Glendale.
“We’re prepared,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Deputy Chief Dave Trombi citing his office’s past dealings with immigration marches and major events.
Super Bowl security efforts included personnel and resources from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. military’s Northern Command, which coordinated with Arizona officials. The Northern Command was created after 9/11 to have troops and Defense Department resources ready to respond to security problems, terrorism and natural disasters.
Northern Command spokesman Michael Kucharek and Arizona Army National Guard Major. Paul Aguirre said they are not aware of any new planning for domestic situations related to the economy.
Nick Dranias, director of constitutional government at the libertarian Goldwater Institute, said a declaration of marital law would be an extraordinary event and give military control over civilian authorities and institutions. Dranias said the Posse Comitatus Act restricts the U.S. military’s role in domestic law enforcement. But he points to a 1994 U.S. Defense Department Directive (DODD 3025) he says allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic situations to save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property damage.
Dranias said such an emergency declaration could worsen the economic situation and doubts extreme measures will been taken. “I don’t think it’s likely. But it’s not impossible,” he said.
The economy is in recession. Consumer spending is down, foreclosures are up and a host of businesses are laying off workers and struggling with tight credit and the troubled housing and financial markets. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Treasury Department have pumped more than $8.5 trillion into the economy via equity purchases of bank stocks, liquidity infusions, Wall Street and bank bailouts and taxpayer rebates. U.S. automakers are seeking more than $14 billion in federal loans with fears they could fall into bankruptcy without a bailout. The U.S. housing and subprime lending-induced recession also has hit economies in Europe, Japan and China.
Gov. Janet Napolitano’s office declined comment on emergency planning and possible civil unrest. Napolitano is president-elect Barack Obama’s pick for secretary of Homeland Security, an agency that oversees airport security, disaster response, border security, customs and anti-terrorism efforts.
As governor, Napolitano sent National Guard troops to Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in 2003 in response to terrorism threats.
Glendale Police spokesman Jim Toomey said the West Valley suburb developed new emergency plans with the approach of Y2K computer changeovers leading up to the year 2000 and police have updated those plans several times including after 9/11. Toomey said strategies to deal with public unrest usually involve deploying personnel and equipment to deal with specific incidents while still providing usual services.
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BAGHDAD — The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference was beaten and had bruises around his eyes and other parts of his face, a judge said Friday.
Judge Dhia al-Kinani, the magistrate investigating the incident, said the court has opened a probe into the alleged beating of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi during the news conference.
Al-Zeidi was wrestled to the ground after throwing his shoes at Bush Sunday as he stood beside Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the news conference in Baghdad, and there have been conflicting claims about his condition since then.
The journalist has not been seen in public since his arrest. One of his brothers claimed he had been harshly beaten but another said he seemed to be in good condition.
Al-Zeidi “was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him,” the judge told The Associated Press.
The journalist was in custody and was expected to eventually face charges of insulting a foreign leader. A conviction could bring a sentence of two years in prison.
Al-Kinani also confirmed that the journalist had written a letter of apology to al-Maliki. Iraq’s president can grant pardons that are requested by the prime minister, but the judge said such a pardon can be issued only after a conviction.
He added that he could not drop the case even though neither Bush nor al-Maliki had complained.
“This case was filed because of an article in the law concerning the protection of the respect of sovereignty,” he said.
A spokesman for al-Maliki said Thursday that the letter contained a specific pardon request. But al-Zeidi’s brother Dhargham told The AP that he suspected the letter was a forgery.
The incident, a vivid demonstration of Iraqis’ dismay over the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of the country for more than five years, turned al-Zeidi into an instant folk hero. Thousands of Iraqis have demonstrated for his release.
About 20 members of his family protested at the edge of Baghdad’s Green Zone on Friday and his brother Uday complained that “neither his attorney nor any family member has seen him.”
At Friday prayers in Baghdad’s Shiite stronghold Sadr City, cleric Mohanad al-Moussawi told worshippers that “al-Zeidi’s life must be protected and he must be immediately, immediately, immediately released.”
Sadr City protesters also laid down two American flags, hit them with shoes and burned them to protest his detention. And in southern city of Kufa, crowds also protested the arrest by American forces of an official of Momahoudin, a militia led by radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that was disbanded and turned into a social welfare group.
The judge said the al-Zeidi investigation would be completed and sent to the criminal court on Sunday, after which a court date would be set within seven to 10 days.
Al-Zeidi’s action was broadcast repeatedly on television stations around the world. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack suggested that worldwide attention to the shoe-tossing was overblown.
In the Iranian capital Tehran, hard-line Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati praised the act at Friday prayers, calling it the “Shoe Intifada.”
Jannati proposed people in Iraq and Iran should carry shoes in further anti-American demonstrations.
“This should be a role model,” he said.
He also proposed that the shoes themselves should be put in an Iraqi museum. But al-Kinani, the judge, said the shoes had been destroyed by investigators trying to determine if they had contained explosives.
Also Friday, the head of a large West Bank family offered one of its eligible females as a bride for al-Zeidi. The leader, 75-year-old Ahmad Salim Judeh, said that the 500-member clan had raised $30,000 for al-Zeidi’s legal defense.