I have built and contributed to many WordPress websites, but in over a decade of WP development I have never built my own plugin from scratch and released it officially. Today I’ve finally done that.
My goal was to have a plugin in the WordPress.org repository, where it could be easily seen and downloaded by anyone in the world after having received a vetting from core team members. But I didn’t have any ideas for necessary plugins. So I made an unnecessary one!
“The president should be ashamed it’s happening on his watch. Eric Holder should be ashamed… This governor should be ashamed… Every adult in this country should be ashamed that African-American children are being terrorized in the United States of America, [which] claims to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
-Pastor Michael McBride, of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California, speaking in Ferguson, MO to DemocracyNow.org. I couldn’t agree more. The scene below is not one that belongs in America, or anywhere.
I heard about this from an Occupy email asking people to show solidarity by coming to a 6pm daily “vigil”. It sounded like a great reason to hop on the bike and ride down 5th Avenue about 30 blocks to Sunset Park.
I arrived to find a half-dozen Latino tenants, nearly all of advanced middle age, standing out on the sidewalk. It was a bit awkward as I asked, “Is this the rent strike?” I looked well out of place, rolling up in a mint-green lady beach cruiser, a gleaming white, brand new helmet atop my head. But I persisted, and a young lady who I learned later was not a tenant, but a fellow supporter, confirmed that I had found the right place. She was kind enough to fill me in on some of the back story while the other ladies conversed in Spanish. A man resembling a steam locomotive stood nearby, wielding a large plumber’s wrench with unknown intent.
The building loses electricity all the time, according to the tenants. They might have outages 30 times a day. They have a fuse box in the basement that is overheated and exposed. Apparently the super’s solution to this crackling, sparking fuse box was to point a fan at it. The landlord, Orazio Petito, is on the public advocate’s Worst Landlords list. In response, many of the tenants have stopped paying rent – some for a few months, some for over a year.
CBS Local reported on the story:
Notice the last line of the report: “The tenants say they’re going to save up their withheld rent money, and make the repairs themselves if they have to.”
That reminded me of a line Chomsky often repeats about sit-down strikes really putting fear into the owning class: “That’s just one step away from workers running the factory themselves.” As in, why do these people need a slumlord like Petito when they can just band together and administer the building themselves?
The best story I’ve found on it is by Laura Gottesdiener in the Indypendent. Read the whole thing to hear the story of these amazing women, but here’s a choice bit about the value of these actions:
The campaign’s bold words and actions have inspired community members not only to stand up for their rights as tenants, but also to reconsider social and political marginalization itself. About 80 percent of the neighborhood’s residents live below the poverty line, and the majority speak either Spanish or Mandarin as a first language. But in a society where immigrant women who speak little English are often bullied, intimidated or ignored, these women are loud, assertive and highly public about their right to live with dignity. And they are teaching others to push back as well.
The Occupation continues. Saturday we went out to see how the movement was growing. I met up with JohnJ and we marched up 6th Ave with the procession. The cops had blocked the intended route of 42nd St, and asked everyone to cross at 46th. It got a little hectic as people spilled out into 46th and cops started arresting people who ran into the street. Of course they couldn’t arrest everyone. This vid is from 46th at the entrance to Times Square. We couldn’t really go any further because the square was already packed with people.
Later we wormed our way further into the square, but the cops had blocked off 7th Ave in an attempt to keep it open to traffic. After they got a few buses through, they started diverting that traffic above Times Square, effectively giving the space to the people. But they didn’t bring the barriers down. The cops kept the streets to themselves. Still, I thought there were at least 10,000 people, and maybe closer to 20,000. This vid shows just some of the crowd:
You can hear people chanting “Give the cops a raise” at one point. We are not anti-police. Still, it was a really terrible decision for them to bring in horses to try and intimidate the crowd and make them move back. Especially because, where they did this, there was no way for people to move back at all. If you watch this segment on DemocracyNow!, you can see some disturbing footage of horses getting spooked by the crowd, the noise, the lights. Just an awful idea. On the other hand, there was also a very wise police commander who created some space between cops and the crowd by asking the cops to move back. This not only resulted in cheers from the crowd (who were barricaded anyway), but immediately reduced the tension of the situation and, thereby, the chances of anything bad happening.
JohnJ and I took it all in for a while and then split. But I saw Chris Hedges giving an interview and I had his book “Empire of Illusion” with me, so I got him to sign it “For the People’s Library” – which is where I donated it the next day.
You may have heard about a little event a couple of weeks ago at the Brooklyn Bridge, which ended up being one of the largest mass arrests in American history. Your faithful blogger was a participant – although not brave enough to risk arrest on the road, I was on the bridge and watched the whole thing go down. Here is a short vid I took:
And here is a much better video, edited for artistic beauty and editorial bias: