Friday, September 19, 2008

THE UNION SQUARE SPEAKOUT-RELATED FILM PAYMENTS: TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN

UP FRONT News September 11, 2008
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
"The paper that can't be bought and can't be sold."
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UPFRONTNewsdiscussionforum
http://www.tomsupfrontnews.blogspot.com/

THE UNION SQUARE SPEAKOUT-RELATED FILM PAYMENTS: TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN. GEOFFREY BLANK REDUX? RICHIE DEGEN: AN "ANARCHIST" HEDGE FUND?

By Tom Weiss

It is no surprise that addictively self-proclaimed "anarchist" Richie Degen recurrrently hangs out on Saturday afternoons socializing with Holocaust-denying neo-nazis like Andy Kellerman, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs-employed Jew hater who parades as a "Palestinian rights" advocate at the pathetic mini-Nuremberg protests on the traffic island at 14th Street and Broadway next to Union Square in Manhattan. (Just in case there is any doubt about the explosive Kellerman's views, during something of a confrontation with me some months ago - in which Kellerman became so enraged that he physically threatened me and chased me into the street - he once told me that there is no evidence that the Holocaust ever occured. He told me that the Jews made up the whole story. On a later occasion, the squeaky-voiced local Hitler-LaRouche wannabe told me that, if there was a Holocaust, "I don't care." Why the otherwise generally rational Green Party guy Bob Nash sometimes still participates in these depressing demonstrations, which include a handful of Geoffrey Blank-Fred Newman-style self-hating Jews, I do not know.

Richie Degen, while spouting a semi-coherent blend of leftism, populism, and black militance (Degen is as black as, say, David Duke) often sticks in some of his visceral xenophobia and racism. He regularly openly refers to Barack Obama as an "oreo." (That might make Degen the equivalent of melba toast.) Degen, unquestionably one of the most voluntarily unemployed and homeless people I have ever encountered, has been known to blame his chronic joblessness on illegal aliens. He was really out of place some weeks ago trying to spread his lumpenproletariat version of anarchism at an immigrants right rally un Union Square.

It seems that Richie Degen is now a profiteering thief, appropriating monies for himself that may very well rightfully be turned over to the nameless group that for several months has been organizing and sustaining the Thursday and Sunday afternoon and evening speakouts in Union Square.

For several years a leaderless group known as the No Police State Coalition - which despite its law enforcement-focused name, is essentially a network of free speech activists of a wide range of political and economic ideologists - held speakouts in Union Square. Those speakouts, started after 9/11 by activists such as Dennis Griggs, for some time also involuntarily featured some jihad-spewing neo-fascists parading as anti-Bush peace advocates, most conspicuously the violent and psychopathic Geoffrey Blank, aided and abetted by his 30+ year old baby brother Jason and (erstwhile?) Blank supporter Joel Meyers. Blank would stand in Union Square, appropriate the bullhorn for himself, preach the virtues of "free speech" under his obnoxious "Defend Geoffrey Blank" banner and proceed to threaten those, in particular me, who sought to express differing views. He would also solicit money in the name of the No Police State Coalition and keep the money for himself. Blank was, among is numerous other vices, an embezzler. Blank also felt that he could confront what he called police harassment by referring to the NYPD in barnyard terms. Geoffrey Blank was and is at least an ideological agent for the convicted felon, megalomaniac and racist Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., who is busily again infiltrating the left via "third party" racists such as the Jew-hating African-American demogogue and cult-leader (along with psycho-psychotherapist Fred Newman) Lenora Fulani. Blank is a career criminal with several convictions on his record but who has not yet been prosecuted for his more serious and violent crimes against me. I do not know if he is under investigation for his financial and political ties to a group leftishly calling itself the Freedom Socialist Party, which according to an unrebutted December 26, 2005 article in the New York Post, was (is?) under international investigation for ties to terrorism in Iraq. The FSP spokesperson, a Blank associate named Stephen Durham, is on record in the Post article as supporting the hostage beheadings perpetrated by the late Musab al Zarqawi. In fact, Geoffrey Blank is the closet thing to New Yorker al Qaeda supporter I have met.

Thanks to a series of UP FRONT News exposes and several criminal convictions Blank has been deposed as the Saddam Hussein of Union Square. Another Blank wacko making occasional appearances near the revived speakouts is the "Staten Island Stalker" Gary ("Enough") Phaneuf, a violent "missing link"-type who dresses up like one of Mao's murderous Red Guard vigilantes and tries to sell the Chinese Communist local house organ, sometimes to eyerolling Staten Island ferry commuters.

Several months ago, largely as a result of the initiatives of a former Blank associate Eric Rassi and myself, the speakouts were restarted. We were helped by the fact that, with the assistance of speakout veteran Griggs, I had obtained a copy of the 1948 U.S. Supreme Court "Saia decision." In summary the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of an upstate New York evangelizer (Saia) to preach the Word through a bullhorn on the streets without a permit. The Court determined that a bullhorn, as distinct from a full-fledged sound system, is essential to the practice of First Amendment-protected free speech and that no permit is required for bullhorn use. (Geoffrey Blank in fact used a different sort of "bull.") I made certain, via intermediaries, that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly acquainted himself (and Michael Bloomberg) with the Saia decision and to take the necessary action to keep the First Amendment-hostile brass at the 13th precinct under control.

Mr. Rassi, Roman Shusterman and I have been the most regular organizers and participants of the speakouts and the occasional post-speakout meetings. The speakouts, (bullhorn use open to anyone with time limits and a taboo on profanity and racial/ethnic slurs) have included small "d" democratic leftists such as myself, Eric Rassi as well as small "d" democratic conservatives like the Ayn Rand "objectivist" Frank Giallombardo, and the "humanist/pacifist" Shusterman. There have been poets and singers. Indeed, the speakout, scheduled for Thursday and Sunday afternoons and evenings, have drawn crowds of increasing size. The crowds do, however, tend to thin out when, as he does on occasion, Richie Degen begins to spout through the bullhorn. To hear him for example talk about the Mumia Abu-Jamal case, one might think that Degen was a witness to the 1981 shootings of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and African-American radical journalist cab driver Mumia Abu-Jamal in Philadelphia in which officer Faulkner wound up dead. In the subsequent trial Mumia was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Both the conviction and the sentence are being appealed.

Indeed, Degen, not known for the thoroughness of his readings of history, is absolutely certain that convicted and executed anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent.

My own view is that I do not know the facts of what happened that night in Philadelphia (I think that Abu-Jamal's brother, also a cabdriver and present at the time of the shooting, may have been involved. Reportedly a man by the name of Arnold Beverly has confessed to the shooting of officer Faulkner. I also think that the trial judge was and is a racist and that Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial. As far as Sacco and Vanzetti are concerned, I know at least one very knowledgeable leftist who is convinced they were guilty. In any case, I am opposed to the death penalty.) Richie Degen is an "anarchist" balloon. He is full of hot air.

A couple of speakout regulars told me that a few weeks ago, when Richie Degen and a few other occasional speakout people, Ted Rourke and Kim Schimdt, happened to be in Union Square, they were approached as speakout participants by a "filmmaker" connected to the "Diesel" clothing store on the corner of Union Square West and 14th Street. According to reports I have from several speakout-connected sources (none of them Richie Degen), for being in some kind of film each was paid a total of $150. Speakout participant Sophia Boswell (who has dual Israeli/U.S. citizenship, and has what may be described as "right wing" views on the Arab/Israeli issues; she is also an effective speaker and so I have dubbed her the Sarah Palin of Union Square) told me that Degen had since assured her that he would show up in Union Square on Thursday, Sept. 4. He didn't. (I am not surprised. It took well over a year for me to collect some money I had lent Degen, the repayment only taking place after a loud and embarrasing - to him - confrontation between us in Tompkins Square Park as he was eating some free food.)

As far as I am concerned, regardless of film content, the filming is speakout-related and as such any monies paid belong to the group as a whole. The group would certainly include Ms. Boswell, Mr. Rassi, Mr. Shusterman, myself and perhaps some others.

I sent an e-mail bout this to Ted Rourke. In his (initial?) reply he acknowledged the payments and suggested that the filming was devoid of political content. In my reply, I wrote that content is irrelevant since the financial offer was made, as far as I am aware, to people on the basis of their involvement in the speakouts. I haven't heard back from Mr. Rourke.

Eric Rassi expressed his unhappiness about the payments to me, indicating that he opposes accepting money in this way from a corporate source.

I am also told that in Richie Degen's film segment he was very political.

I am also told that on his own Degen returned to "Diesel", demanded more paid filming and became irate when he was turned down. I am also told that the virulently anti-Israeli Degen, who may fancy himself an anarchist Don Juan of the Vito Fossella/John Edwards Hollywood stud variety, made the Zionist Ms. Boswell an inappropriate offer that she had no trouble refusing.

On September 9 Degen sent me an e-mail which can only be described as irrational and defamatory. He accuses me of being paid by Barack Obama, of being connected to the Mossad (the Israeli equivalent of the FBI, only the Mossad does a much better job) and to the Police Benevolent Association.

When it comes to integrity Richie Degen is approaching one of the icons of hypocrisy, Geoffrey Blank, in his fundamental lack of principle. Degen is a guy who publicly labels the NYPD a "criminal organization" and then presses charges against a fellow speakout activist Dennis Griggs. During a political discussion some months ago at the Odessa Restaurant, Degen literally got in the recurrently volatile Griggs' face. He ignored Griggs' urgings to cease and desist. (It was at that point that I moved to another table and so I missed the physical contact. Eric Rassi served as the volunteer referee.) Degen wound up with a cut on his nose.

Degen, with both what he perceives as his dignity and his nose injured, insisted on having Griggs arrested. Accompanied by Mr. Rassi and myself (I am no apologist for fisticuffs but, since there was absolutely no serious injury, I urged him not to press charges) Degen entered the 9th precinct to do business with what he regards as a "criminal organization."

Griggs was in fact arrested and released shortly thereafter, the situation creating a temporary crisis because of Mr. Griggs' disabled daughter, who was with him and who requires constant supervision.

As far as I am concerned, based on the information I have, a total of $450 should be turned over to the group for deposit and for a decision as to what to do with the money. I for one might support donating a portion to Mr. Rourke and Ms. Schmidt for their film labors. Giving money to Richie Degen is like investing in an anarchist hedge fund.
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