Weekend Open Thread: Farmworker Slaves in Mexico, Rectal Feeding, and Fake Undercover Protesters in Oakland Pull a Gun

Protest - undercover officer points gun at camera

This is why we cannot have nice-thing protests: he’s not talking into a phone, that’s the business end of a pistol held Keyser Soze style.

Lots of bad news in the headlines — well, not necessarily in the headlines, but out there where people can see it — this week.  On the bright side, AT LEAST WE’RE GETTING SOME RAIN, amiright?  “The hilllllls are aliiiiiive with the sound of mudsliiiiiiides…..”  Let’s just post some of these lovelies and quote enough material to get you to click the link, maybe.

[1] U.S. Companies outsource “Harvest of Shame” to Mexico, feign ignorance about ability to control quasi-slavery conditions

It’s like the Worst of the ’50s all over again, as Edward Murray’s groundbreaking, muckraking, documentary Harvest of Shame gets tied to Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “I owe my soul to the company store” from Sixteen Tons — except now it’s happening “South of the Border, Down Mexico Way” (OK, technically that last reference in from 1939.  Here’s Gene Autry.)

This is a MUST-READ report from our local newspaper, the Anaheim Times of Los Angeles, about how your vegetables are being produced in conditions that should make you puke.

Ricardo Martinez and Eugenia Santiago were desperate.

At the labor camp for Bioparques de Occidente, they and other farmworkers slept sprawled head to toe on concrete floors. Their rooms crawled with scorpions and bedbugs. Meals were skimpy, hunger a constant. Camp bosses kept people in line with threats and, when that failed, with their fists.

Escape was tempting but risky. The compound was fenced with barbed wire and patrolled by bosses on all-terrain vehicles. If the couple got beyond the gates, local police could arrest them and bring them back. Then they would be stripped of their shoes.

Martinez, 28, and Santiago, 23, decided to chance it. Bioparques was one of Mexico’s biggest tomato exporters, a supplier for Wal-Mart and major supermarket chains. But conditions at the company’s Bioparques 4 camp had become unbearable.

They left their backpacks behind to avoid suspicion and walked out the main gate. As they approached the highway, a car screeched up. Four camp bosses jumped out. One waved a stick at them.

And it just gets better — meaning worse — from there.  Read the whole series.

Those people who made fun of us critics of NAFTA, and it’s obliteration of U.S. labor standards, are you happy now?  And speaking of food….

[2] Ooooooo-ooh-ooh-oooooh, Rectal Feeding; Rectal Feeding is good for the mind and soul anytime day or night

(Yes, OJB is hoping that Al Yankovic will steal this idea for a Marvin Gaye parody and thus ruin his career.)

“I’m glad they put the report out,” [Former GOP Congressman and current talk radio host Joe Walsh] explained to CNN host Carol Costello on Wednesday. “I’m glad though because I don’t think we should be ashamed of what we put out. Again, we’re fighting an evil enemy. There are times when we need to get our hands dirty when we fight that enemy.”

“It may, Carol, be part of the job description,” Walsh insisted.

“Really?” Costello gasped.

“Absolutely!” the former Illinois congressman replied. “We forget as Americans who we are dealing with. Got to be frank, we’re dealing with animals. We’re dealing with groups of people who behead, blow up, exterminate people.”

“So we should be animals?” the CNN host pressed.

“The way you defeat an animal, Carol, oftentimes is to act like one,” Walsh opined.

Costello pointed out that the U.S. had acted like “animals” during Abu Ghraib and the incidents of torture, “and it didn’t stop anything.”

The link to Raw Story will take you to a video of the interview, in case any of this makes you hungry for more.

[3] Protesters Out Undercover CHP Cops as Alleged Agents Provocateurs, So One Aims a Gun at Photographer

That first link in the header is to NBC, has the photo take has been most widely circulated of this event; the second, from which that Pulitzer Prize-winning-to-be photo up at the top is taken, is the the San Francisco Chronicle of Anaheim’s take.  Note that the cop said that he was afraid for his life after someone tackled his partner and a woman had kicked him in the head.  If so, it is odd that he was pointing his gun directly at the man photographing him, unless that person had Austin Powers “fem-bot” style firearms extending from his nipples, which OJB suspects he did not.

NBC says:

An undercover police officer, who had been marching with demonstrators, aims his gun at protesters after some in the crowd attacked him and his partner in Oakland, California on Wednesday. The man was identified as an officer with the California Highway Patrol, according to the Oakland Police Department.

Police said more than 100 demonstrators marched through Oakland and Berkeley, which has a history of social activism, to protest grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men. Under cloudy skies, turnout was smaller than earlier in the week, when demonstrators in the area threw rocks at police and shut down a major freeway.

But the main reason you’d want to click that link is for the photos.

Le Chron says:

About 50 people were marching near Lake Merritt just after 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when some of the demonstrators began calling out two men who were walking with the group, said the freelance photographer, Michael Short.

“Just as we turned up 27th Street, the crowd started yelling at these two guys, saying they were undercover cops,” Short said Thursday. “Somebody snatched a hat off the shorter guy’s head and he was fumbling around for it. A guy ran up behind him, knocked him down on the ground. That guy jumped backed up and chased after him and tackled him and the crowd began surging on them.

“The other taller guy had a small baton out,” Short said. “But as the crowd started surging on them, he pulled out a gun.”

Chief Browne said the officer also pulled out a badge and identified himself as law enforcement, as is department policy, though Short, other members of the media and protesters reported that they did not see a badge.

Protesters say that the undercover cops were instigating violence, banging on windows and such, in what had been a non-violent march.  A police spokesperson said that no such reports had reached him.

As I’ve written here before, this is one of the big problems that non-violent protest advocates like me have convincing people of the propriety of the tactic of non-violence: the counterargument that even if protesters are non-violent, the police will infiltrate people into the march who are acting violently, so as to justify a violent response.  The answer to that is that, regardless, one should still avoid violence, because violent responses from protesters are exactly what repressive forces want to see.  (OK, if that doesn’t interest you, you can go back to whatever.)

This is your slightly delayed Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about those stories, or anything else you’d like, within reasonable bounds of discretion and decorum.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)