To Dream of A Future Without Tear Gas

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The Occupied Wall Street Journal received a dispatch on Monday from Jay Hanes, who demonstrated with a few dozen others at the site of Combined Systems, Inc., an aerosol and munitions manufacturer in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. CSI, which supplies tear gas and other non-lethal chemical munitions to military and police agencies around the world (check out their scary catalog) has come under fire most recently in Palestine, where its tear gas killed a 36-year-old woman near the West Bank town of Ramallah last year as she observed a protest against Israeli settlements. Palestinians linked the company to their demonstrations because they noticed that the letters CSI were marked on many of the tear gas canisters that litter Palestinian villages after protests.

But most American might be surprised to learn that their tax dollars are funding this effort to gas activists abroad:

“In 2007 and 2008, the U.S. State Department provided $1.85 million worth of ‘tear gasses and riot control agents’ to Israel as part of the U.S.’s $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel.”

American companies that invest in CSI include the asset management firm The Carlyle Group, founded by Bill Conway, total net worth $2.7 billion; Daniel D’Aniello, $2.5 billion; and David Rubenstein, $2.6 billion. Former Carlyle advisors include George H.W. Bush and James Baker III, Bush’s former Secretary of State who presided over the first Iraq War.

Jay Hanes reports:

“I just returned from a protest at Combined Systems, Inc. in Jamestown, PA, 20 miles from my home in the rural fringes. You can see it was a cold and windy day. CSI is owned and run by two Israeli nationals. They manufacture tear gas for export to Israel and sale to metropolitan police forces for – you got it – riot control. The use of chemical weapons is condemned by the Geneva Protocol. Yet it is manufactured in the U.S. to use against U.S. citizens during peaceful protests and control Palestinians. The gas has killed infants and people with lung conditions. It is shot out of a gun as a projectile, seriously injuring OCCUPY protesters. Apparently, combined groups from Ohio and Pittsburgh have been protesting the site regularly. Local news coverage from Meadville, Youngstown, and Cleveland was on the spot. Its appalling. CSI must be shut down.”

Here is the local news coverage, and here are some photos Mr. Haines shared with us:

A demonstrator holds up a photo of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who was killed by CSI-supplied tear gas in Bil'in in January 2011.

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  • KishinD

    It’s all connected, as we must be. At the moment, we have degrees of separation – everyone in the movement knows someone who knows someone who knows someone in any #occupy group in the country. How can come closer together? In November, I predicted that there would be a online social tool by March that would allow us to hold a national General Assembly with over 100,000 people, scalable to include many more.

    Does anyone have news regarding such a tool? It is a key to unlock the real potential of this movement.

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