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Liberating Our Communities From Corporate Control

By Jim Carey

For two months, thousands of Native Americans representing over 200 tribes from all over the Americas have traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in central North Dakota to show solidarity with the Sioux tribe whom they believe is once again receiving a raw deal at the hands of commercial interests and the US government. This is just one example of peoples resisting the continued pollution of their land, air, and water .

Film and Discussion
Occupy SMA Meeting on Liberating Our Communities from Corporate Control
Mon, Nov 7, 1pm
Quinta Loreto Hotel
Loreto 15
044 415 102 7414

Monday our film highlights communities fighting back against the massive lobbying efforts of factory farms, hydrofracking for natural gas, toxic waste incinerators, sewer sludge pits, and coal mines. Tom Linzey, the executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a nonprofit law firm, tells us about their legal strategies to elevate local communities over the rights claimed by corporations.

In 2006, Tamaqua, a town of 7,000, one hundred miles west of Philadelphia, was the first town to legally assert its right to local self-government and as a community to reject unsustainable economic and environmental policies set by state and federal governments. Since then over 200 hundred municipalities across the US have resisted the corporate pollution of their lands and voted for sustainable environmental policies.

Grant Township, near Pittsburgh, voted in 2014 to adopt the country’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights, codifying environmental and democratic rights and banning fracking wastewater injection wells as a violation of those rights. In May of this year, the Grant Township Supervisors, saying, “We’re no longer willing to be fracked, poisoned, and polluted,” passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop fracking wastewater injection wells within their Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn this local democratically-enacted law that prohibits injection wells.

These communities are challenging the legal doctrines of corporate constitutional rights. Korematsu v. US (1944) and Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) are reminders of the courts’ errors. In a 2013 landmark decision, Judge O’Dell-Seneca, citing sections of the 1776 Pennsylvania Constitution in support of her contention that corporations were never intended to be constitutionally protected persons, declared that “it is axiomatic that corporations, companies, and partnerships have no ‘spiritual nature,’ ‘feelings,’ ‘intellect,’ ‘beliefs,’ ‘thoughts,’ ‘emotions,’ or ‘sensations,’ because they do not exist in the manner that humankind exists … They cannot be ‘let alone’ by government, because businesses are but grapes, ripe upon the vine of law, that the people of the Commonwealth raise, tend, and prune at their pleasure and need.”

Soon the lame duck session of the US congress will begin. Corporate lobbyists are supporting the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP will codify corporate power over local, state, and even federal laws—another nail in the coffin of democracy. Join the discussion. Our events are free.

 

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