In a case that has national ramifications, a federal judge has ruled against the city of South Portland, Maine, in its latest effort to stop the coastal town from becoming a destination for Canadian tar sands oil. The case centers around an existing pipeline owned by oil companies ExxonMobil, Shell, and Suncor.var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12452'; Click here for reuse options! Tags: portland pipelinetar sands oilOil ExportsAmerican Petroleum Institute
Someone stands on a table and yells, “This is now occupied.” And that’s how it begins.
– Q. Libet, Pre-Occupied: The Logic of Occupation.Introduction
We know by now that fascists are targeting universities as recruiting sites and as places to make ideologies of racial, gender, and economic domination respectable (see this and this). Both liberals and conservatives are rushing to ensure that universities give fascists protected, well-funded platforms. What is the task of Antifa on college campuses? How can we be effective in combating the “fascist creep”?
Antifa’s powerful disruptions of fascist speakers help point the way. But that essential tactic has limits. It is often defensive, which leaves the university waiting for its next fascist cooption. What if the university could be more than a site to be defended? Can the struggle for campuses be not just reactive but transformative – wrenching universities out of the hands of fascists and liberals to make them sites of revolutionary power? We’ve seen glimpses of this possibility in the insurrections at the New School in 2008, at NYU in 2009, and throughout the wave of campus occupations in California in 2009 and 2010 -themselves reminders of the earthquake of student and worker struggle in May 68.
As a member of the Radical Education Department, part of the on-campus Antifa struggle, I offer the following: a strategy proposal for the experimental, insurrectionary seizing of campuses away from fascists and liberals. This insurrectionary approach could not only help create campuses entirely hostile to resurgent fascism; they could also help put powerful tools in the hands of radical left movements as they coordinate, expand, and develop, especially during key moments of social upheaval.
To make this proposal, I first frame it in the context of current American antiauthoritarian organizing. Then I analyze the crises shaking the university system, which reveal powerful possibilities and resources for radical action in and against that system. Finally, I chart some potential tactics by which to seize the means of intellectual production.1. The University Struggle in Context
The horizontal, directly democratic struggles that surged after 2007 achieved important gains like reviving large-scale radical politics and producing a new generation of militant, antiauthoritarian organizers. The collapse of Occupy in the US, 15-M in Spain, and beyond in 2011 and 2012, however, reveals an important limit within the radical left today.
The kind of prefigurative organizing that stood at the heart of Occupy and related uprisings has been a crucial way of coping with the collapse of the revolutionary social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. In the absence of those larger, more powerful, and more coordinated struggles, prefigurative politics played an experimental role. Occupy’s emphasis on consensus, for example, made it possible to tentatively construct mass movements by not forcing any group to commit itself to a particular program, thus bringing together a wide range of groups and interests.
Despite its important role, larger prefigurative struggles are often unstable. Within Occupy’s coalitions, revolution-minded anarchists were constantly hounded by pious liberals wringing their hands in terror over the possibility of a broken window. After the state swept Occupy clear of the squares they were squatting, it was no surprise that the coalitions often scattered.
Movements like Occupy, then, highlight a central question for the antiauthoritarian left. How are we to create revolutionary, mass, and durable movements capable of eventually overthrowing capitalism and social domination?
In this context, the question of the university becomes: how can campus struggles add to the construction of those kinds of movements? In particular, how can we help lay the infrastructure for mass, federated action during the next wave of revolutionary struggle?2. Crisis and Possibility in the University
The university is undergoing a series of fundamental crises within which we can spot possibilities for revolutionary struggle. What follows is only a brief sketch of those crises and possibilities.
A. Crisis of “Expert Knowledge”
Because it is the place where society’s experts and managers are trained, the university plays an important role in determining what counts as “real” knowledge – which is why the media often turn to professors to comment on current events. Strangely, the university is rejecting this role. Professors and administrators are not only refusing to judge the fascist ideology of racial and gender inferiority as right or wrong; they are also asserting that fascists have a right to free university endorsement, massive funds for protection and promotion, and highly publicized platforms to spread their ideologies.
But Antifa’s challenge to fascists on campus reveals an important opportunity. The struggle over university platforms suggests that they could increasingly become the conscious target of seizure and control by radicals. Those platforms are ready-made bullhorns by which to cultivate revolutionary theory and culture able to reach far greater numbers than many other outlets. One can imagine, for example, anarchists increasingly and actively (rather than reactively) seizing podiums at high-profile university events – hijacking and subverting media coverage with minimal effort.
B. Crisis of the Disillusioned Student
Traditionally, the university has been seen as a basic tool for social mobility – and so a justification for capital’s brutal inequalities. But the possibility of social climbing now looks increasingly ridiculous in light of ballooning of student debt and an economy geared towards “flexible,” part-time labor.
We have already seen some of the effects of this disillusionment: the underemployed recent graduate is often the engine driving movements like the Global Justice Movement, 15-M, and Occupy. The question was already asked by Research and Destroy in 2009: what is the point of college, other than disciplining us to manage a failing society?
The university, then, contains a highly disillusioned group – precisely what lures fascists on campus – and yet one that clearly can be radicalized for antiauthoritarian struggle. In this university crisis, the left could accelerate disillusionment and radicalization.
C. Crisis of the Disillusioned Worker
The vast majority of classes are now taught by contingent faculty – teachers without job security who often also lack benefits and receive poverty wages. Drives to unionize contingent faculty have begun, but a more radical possibility can be found here.
The precarious teacher is facing plummeting job prospects; the hope for tenure is now almost completely gone for most. But their precarity organically connects these teachers to the other disillusioned workers at the heart of so many recent uprisings, positioning it to bridge on-campus and off-campus struggles.
The college campus, then, is home to extremely volatile ingredients – disillusioned teachers students, alongside also exploited cooks, servers, and janitors. And those ingredients are combined in a place that also offers the potential for a platform through which to spread radical political organizations and ideas. If these could be properly combined, they could make the campus a thoroughly radical, even explosive, center.3. Further Possibilities
But a college campus also has particular kinds of resources that, even beyond its volatile elements, make it an important target for radical seizure.
If a central job for radicals is assembling mass, revolutionary struggles, then one key element will be access to technological hubs for coordination and federation. We saw the importance of these kinds of hubs in N30. The radical overtaking of Seattle in 1999 was coordinated via Independent Media Centers – websites that communicated tactics and ideas. But in Seattle, activists managed those sites through physical IMCs – rooms full of computers and other resources (food, water, shelter) that made coordination and communication much easier and faster and that strengthened the sense of community and solidarity. We saw the importance of these centers in Seattle from the fact that police targeted them to choke off the uprising.
College campuses offer massive, free access to computers and the internet that could be communication hubs for radical struggles on and off campus. One valid ID and password could given an entire movement that access. More than this, some grad students and faculty are given unlimited free printing privileges – and again, only one person with that privilege could print an entire movement’s flyers, posters, zines, and papers for distribution.
But colleges also have libraries – and within them, mountains of information on past movements’ tactics, strategies, and ideas. College libraries are waiting to become part of a radical research center for ideas and histories that could feed directly into movements.
At the same time, radicals need centralized, reliable spaces for meeting, relaxing, sharing ideas, planning actions, and so on. This often means renting or squatting spaces across an entire city-scape, and those spaces are often available only on a temporary or unpredictable basis.
A college campus has a glut of unoccupied spaces ready to be used: halls, dorm lounges, library rooms or floors, theaters, and so on. On urban campuses, those spaces are not only relatively concentrated within one (often fairly central) part of a city, but also can be available more predictably.4. Seize the Means: A Tactical Sketch
So what does it mean to seize the university through insurrection – to take hold of these possibilities and resources?
First, seizing the university means building radical, antiauthoritarian campus “cultures.” On the one hand, this entails what RED calls “guerilla education” – radical forms of education outside, beyond, and against the classroom that spread militancy and push a campus’s “common sense” far left. On the other hand, this means creating, multiplying, and federating radical groups on campus that are intolerant to fascism and willing to act in solidarity with radical struggles on and off campus. The Filler Collective, the Radical Education Department, anti-racist organizing, the Campus Antifascist Network, and radical struggles in solidarity with Palestine are examples of this work. The aim is to become a kind of disease, infecting other groups with leftist ideas while recruiting their most radical members. This is to “solidify” the radical left, as a pamphlet from the 2008 New School occupation puts it, creating zones of radical antiauthoritarianism on campus that spread and connect.
But it is not enough to aim for a radical leftist culture. Those cultures can become simply alternative spaces that leave the college basically untouched. What’s needed, I suggest, is an emphasis on direct, radical action. The Filler Collective, discussing a Pitt occupation, writes:
I sure as hell wasn’t radicalized after hitting up some student group’s meeting. I’m here because I’m still chasing the high from that first punk show in a squat house basement, that first queer potluck, that first renegade warehouse party, that first unpermitted protest, that first smashed Starbucks window. […]
Last November, a student-led march ended with a brief occupation of the Litchfield Towers dormitory lobby […] That night ended with radical questions circulating beyond our countercultural bubble for the first time in recent memory: Do the Pitt Police really have the right to beat the students they’re supposed to protect? Wait, don’t we pay to use that building? Well shit, do the police even have the right to dictate how students use our campus in the first place?
Insurrectionary actions reveal undreamt-of revolutionary possibilities. Without them, potential radicals remain stuck in a world with no alternatives.
In this way, overt tactics should be rooted in central, covert, insurrectionary tactics that take Antifa as a model. What I have in mind here, however, is not defensive but offensive, essentially devoid of protest: experimental seizures of resources and of symbolic spaces that show that the university can–and must–be in the autonomous control of radical leftist movements.
Occupations are a key example. In 2008 New School students overtook the cafeteria and study center; in 2013, students seized the president’s office at Cooper Union; at the National Autonomous University in Mexico, a building has been occupied by radicals for 17 years; and in the recent past, “in hundreds of universities across central and eastern Europe–students gather in the auditoriums of occupied buildings, holding general assemblies, discussing modalities of self-determination.” Such occupations are often reactions–to tuition hikes, e.g. – but they could become powerful offensive weapons.
Occupations should not be the limit of our imagination. Reclaim the Streets was genius in its guerilla actions, temporarily but radically overtaking and transforming roads, highways, and intersections. The same tactic could apply in a president’s office or at a campus event–perhaps making them unpredictable places to issue revolutionary communiques.
By creating offensive, radical campuses, we could create schools where no one would dream of inviting a fascist ideologue. More than this, campus insurrections are practice for the next revolutionary moments, when we’ll be ready to take hold of the university’s and society’s resources in order to put them at the service of broader struggles. In the words of Research and Destroy, “We seek to push the university struggle to its limits. […] [W]e seek to channel the anger of the dispossessed students and workers into a declaration of war.”
The insurrectionary campus: not just defending against fascism, but making the university a tool of social revolution.
Early this morning, we came to court ready to face criminal charges for feeding the homeless without a permit. Many people came out and we shared food, clothes, and hygiene supplies right in front of the courthouse.
City representatives refused to show up. They were too ashamed to even face us in their own court. The bogus charge was dismissed without so much as a hearing. This confirms that the crackdown was never about the law, it has always been nothing more than a campaign of intimidation designed to bully homeless people and those who aid them. Already, officials are researching other ordinances they can use to repress us.
“The real solution is ordinary people working together to help each other, and fighting against the gentrification agenda of the city elites. We will continue doing our part, and we call on everyone to join in however they can.”
We are outraged that the City is trying to avoid this issue. Officials must answer for persecuting us, but they know they can’t. They can hide from a court case, but they can’t hide from the poor people who face constant harassment by their cops. They can’t hide from the homeless people who they evicted from the Peachtree & Pine shelter. The City wants to pretend they are the solution to poverty and homelessness in Atlanta, but they are the cause.
The real solution is ordinary people working together to help each other, and fighting against the gentrification agenda of the city elites. We will continue doing our part, and we call on everyone to join in however they can.
Comey edits revealed: Remarks on Clinton probe were watered down, documents show | 14 Dec 2017 | Newly released documents obtained by Fox News reveal that then-FBI Director James Comey's draft statement on the Hillary Clinton email probe was edited numerous times before his public announcement, in ways that seemed to water down the bureau's findings considerably. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to the FBI on Thursday that shows the multiple edits to Comey's highly scrutinized statement. In an early draft, Comey said it was "reasonably likely" that "hostile actors" gained access to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email account. That was changed later to say the scenario was merely "possible." Another edit showed language was changed to describe the actions of Clinton and her colleagues as "extremely careless" as opposed to "grossly negligent." This is a key legal distinction.
WikiLeaks recognised as a 'media organisation' by UK tribunal | 14 Dec 2017 | A British tribunal has recognised Julian Assange's WikiLeaks as a "media organisation", a point of contention with the United States, which is seeking to prosecute him and disputes his journalistic credentials. The issue of whether Assange is a journalist and publisher would almost certainly be one of the main battlegrounds in the event of the US seeking his extradition from the UK. The definition of WikiLeaks by the information tribunal, which is roughly equivalent to a court, could help Assange's defence against extradition on press freedom grounds. The US has been considering prosecution of Assange since 2010 when WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of confidential US defence and diplomatic documents.
The post Tacoma, WA: “Block the Gates!” Lockdowns Continue Against LNG at Port appeared first on It's Going Down.Within the last week, two lockdown actions against the construction of an LNG (liquified natural gas) terminal have taken place at the Port of Tacoma in the Pacific Northwest, where Puget Sound Anarchists has been reporting.
As reported by The Stranger and Native Daily Network there was another lockdown at the LNG facility in Tacoma, situated on the ancestral lands of the Puyallup tribe. Native Daily Network posted multiple live-feeds of the lockdown, while The Stranger reported:
“At around 6:30 this morning, three protesters locked themselves down to tripods blocking the gates of the site. Workers eventually found their way in to work, though, and when reached by phone, the protesters were in the process of taking the tripods down.”
For some contextual recent history of resistance to this LNG storage facility, check out an interview with Climate First Responders that aired on The Final Straw.
And make sure to check out the event page for the call to Block the Gates next Monday!
US rep to UN shows 'evidence' of Iran's missile in Yemen, promises coalition against Tehran --Iran's Foreign Minister compares Nikki Haley's speech today to Collin Powell's anthrax vial used to justify the Iraq War at the UN | 14 Dec 2017 | US ambassador to the UN [Deep State dirt-bag] Nikki Haley has described Iran as a "global threat" in a news conference outlining evidence of the nation's "destabilizing behavior" in the Middle East. Standing in front of a partially incinerated missile shell purported to have been fired into Saudi Arabia from Yemen, Haley told reporters at a Washington military base that illegal Iranian weapons are spreading throughout the Middle East. The Government of Islamic Republic of Iran has since released a statement describing the evidence as fabricated," reports Reuters.
The post Worker Solidarity with Camp Makwa and the Movement for Environmental Justice appeared first on It's Going Down.
by Fellow Workers and Fellow Defenders of the Twin Cities Industrial Workers of the World and General Defense Committee Local 14
On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the Twin Cities IWW unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming the IWW’s opposition to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline as well as officially declaring its opposition to the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. The Twin Cities IWW pledged material support to water protectors, rejecting Enbridge’s arguments that the pipeline is necessary for jobs and prosperity for working class people, and put forward a vision of a “Just Transition” to a sustainable economy.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) December 15, 2017
The resolution pledged two donations of $100 each to the legal defense fund and the supply fund of Camp Makwa, a resistance camp using direct action to protect the land and water that Anishinaabe people and other working class Minnesotans depend on. The resolution further endorsed the Black Snake Killaz Circuit, a series of fundraising concerts for Camp Makwa running across the Twin Cities and other towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin throughout the winter.No Jobs on a Dead Planet
In the resolution, the Twin Cities IWW rejected the attempts by Enbridge and certain unions to paint the pipeline as good for workers. Instead, the resolution focuses on the harm that the oil industry does to its workers, surrounding communities, and the environment.
Enbridge’s existing Line 3 is the cause of the largest inland oil spill in US history, spilling 1.7 million gallons of oil into the Prairie River in 1991. In 2007, tragedy struck in Minnesota again with a pinhole leak explosion in Clearbrook, killing two workers, sparking a large fire, and spilling 15,000 gallons. This spill burned for three days, contaminating the air in the surrounding community. In 2010, Enbridge’s Line 6B pipeline also spilled, releasing around a million gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River and causing 30,000-50,000 houses to evacuate—and leaving twice as many without clean drinking water. In the aftermath of these spills, union workers have spoken out against Enbridge for failing to clean up their mess which has resulted in birth defects, illness, cancer, and death of both humans and animals in the area of the disaster.
#ICYMI – Over a hundred people marched from pipe yard to pipe yard in Northern Minnesota in freezing temperatures to protest #FossilFuel extraction and the proposed #Line3 #pipeline project – Watch the march and rally here: https://t.co/LozsCxh395 pic.twitter.com/VoWUMz8utw
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) December 13, 2017
In addition to these specific acts of negligence, the resolution noted the way in which the oil industry exposes working class communities and especially communities of color and indigenous people to the worst risks. These communities are often ignored and their well-being violated during the permitting process for pipelines and other infrastructure projects. For example, pipeline routes often avoid wealthier or majority-white towns and are directed rather through poorer areas, especially near indigenous land. This was the case with the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the same pattern can be seen with Line 3.
The resolution further emphasizes the reality of climate change, an accelerating trend that is already disrupting and destroying lives, economies, ecologies, and communities around the world. As the resolution notes, “there are no jobs on a dead planet.”
Faced with environmental dangers on a local and global scale, and unable to stop the lobbying power of well-connected companies, marginalized communities of workers are left with few choices except direct action. Water protectors face violence from the state and private security to defend the land and the people who live on it from the harm done by the oil industry.For a Just Transition
In its resolution, the Twin Cities IWW argued against the claim that the Line 3 replacement pipeline is necessary for jobs. Instead, the resolution put forward a vision of sustainable jobs through a “Just Transition” to a green economy.
While Enbridge claims that the Line 3 replacement will create thousands of jobs, the reality is that the vast majority of these jobs are temporary, and many of them will not be taken by Minnesotans from the communities facing impacts from the pipeline—instead, they are typically taken by workers from outside those communities. In fact, independent analysis as well as a Minnesota Department of Commerce study indicate that more local and long-term jobs would be created by decommissioning the existing oil pipelines. This is to say nothing of the jobs that could be created by investing in the infrastructure our communities actually need, such as clean water pipelines, affordable and livable housing, new parks, or stronger public transportation. Job growth could also come from the building of a renewable energy economy. Most of the union workers who could be employed by a Line 3 replacement project are construction workers whose skills could be put to use creating infrastructure for solar, wind, or hydroelectric energy. Far more jobs currently exist in the growing renewable energy sector than in fossil fuels.
However, the Twin Cities IWW also criticized the ‘green capitalist’ renewable energy industry. These jobs are currently typically non-union, and the projects are typically privately-owned, putting private profit ahead of providing sustainable energy for the community. The resolution calls for a strategy of unionization of renewable energy jobs, as well as supporting rank-and-file workers in renewable energy fields and residents of communities with renewable energy projects who are organizing for a ‘Just Transition’ towards equitable and sustainable energy. The resolution also offers support for workers in the energy sector to institute ‘Green Bans’ on unsustainable projects.
The Twin Cities IWW reaffirms its belief in and commitment to revolutionary industrial unionism, environmental justice, and community self-defense, along with its goal to “organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.”
The full text of the resolution can be read here.
The post Commune Against Civilization Compilation Pamphlet and Introduction appeared first on It's Going Down.The following is an introduction to a new pamphlet compilation of Commune Against Civilization, a series that documented the recent anti-fracking railroad blockade in Olympia, WA. The PDF can be found here. To listen to an It’s Going Down podcast on the subject, go here.
“And the bourgeoisie– there are many kinds of bourgeois individuals and they are in many places– wove ceaselessly with the threads of calumny the evil slanders with which we have been regaled, because they, and they alone, have been injured and are capable of being injured by our activities, by our rebelliousness, and by the wildly irrepressible desires we carry in our hearts to be free like the eagles on the highest mountain peaks, like the lions in the jungle.”
––from A Day Mournful and Overcast, by an “Uncontrollable” of the Iron Column.An Introduction
These dispatches come from the days of the Olympia, WA railroad blockade of November 2017, a 12-day long illegal occupation of a stretch of railroad tracks in the downtown area servicing the Port of Olympia. The recently-ended blockade was undertaken by an assortment of autonomous radicals, anti-capitalists, wingnuts, and friends in order to block the port’s shipment of materials (called “proppants” or “fracking sand”) which are used in the industrial process known as fracking. The destination of these fracking components is the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota where in 2016 a months-long and thousands-strong social movement near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation (Lakota: Íŋyaŋ Woslál Háŋ) failed to stop the construction of of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL now runs from western North Dakota to Illinois, crossing beneath the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and under part of Lake Oahe near the reservation. The pipeline constitutes a brazen attack and ongoing threat to the region’s water and to ancient indigenous burial grounds.
These words were written in haste between shifts at the barricade, shifts doing childcare, and few-hour blocks of sleep and errand-running snatched amid the excitement and irritation, the expectancy and fear, the laughter and joy, the outrage. The four issues of the publication appeared intermittently throughout the nearly two weeks of events, both as a series of print-outs passed from hand to hand in Olympia, and as internet posts on the Puget Sound Anarchists and It’s Going Down websites. Here, the text has been only minimally touched up, appearing without footnotes as in the originals. Curious readers are encouraged to follow up the recommended readings and to fact-check the less familiar references and controversial claims. A separate text on the blockade, “A Letter of Solidarity from the Year 3017,” has been reproduced here as an appendix.
This was the second time a blockade materialized in the same exact spot in Olympia, Washington’s state capitol, with this year’s offensive kicking off on the anniversary of the first and lasting nearly twice as long. While the majority of normal families were eating their “Thanksgiving” dinner across this so-called nation, finding ways to mitigate the latest familial traumas and oppressive chit-chat, dissociating from the flare-ups and remembrances of grave wrongs past, participating in the perpetuation of the Great Lie of this culture… the co-conspirators at the barricades in Olympia were re-stocking hand warmers and herbal medicine, laughing and crying and bristling with their chosen families, enthusiastically scouting the port, the capitol campus, and elsewhere to ascertain the enemy’s position, finding concrete ways to deal with the diffusion of the nightmare within and among us, and calling one another “comrade” across ideological (and many other) lines, wondering if tonight would be the night that the troopers showed their lost, entitled, and pathetic faces.
Last year (2016), the blockade erupted just a few nights after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States and directly on the heels of a resultant anti-Trump demonstration in Olympia. As the Standing Rock camp half a continent away was gradually losing steam in the face of plummeting temperatures, the mobilization of massive government repression, and the manipulations of self-appointed pacifist leaders of social struggle, the first Olympia blockade was daily wracked with arguments and conflicts over the nature and meaning of “direct action,” “solidarity,” and “violence,” with recently-crestfallen Hillary and Bernie liberals attempting to un-mask, de-fang, and pacify all potential resistance. The efforts of these half-dead shills to push the blockade into befriending the police and port commissioners and even into taking down the barricade were thwarted by anarchists ever more stridently and successfully asserting themselves and their time-tested ideas in the heterogenous space. While the treachery of the capital’s recuperative force was being met head-on in little Olympia, the Red Warrior Camp of Standing Rock and others farther afield were making their own overt displays of disavowal, of recalcitrance from any attempt to impose a strict line of adherence to ideological “non-violence.” The first blockade ended in a vicious pre-dawn street confrontation with the Olympia Police Department (OPD), and several arrests followed by a tense multi-hour standoff.
This new tradition of blocking the tracks is far from unprecedented, however, at least in its flagrant contempt for the law and business-as-usual, in its joyous ferocity. Just two-and-a-half years ago, in May and June of 2015, Olympia saw paroxysms of collective street violence in a conflict with white nationalist forces and the police, after OPD officer Ryan Donald shot in the back and nearly killed two black brothers– Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin– accused of jacking a little beer from a well-known warehouse of lies and commodified suffering. In the fallout from this event, several huge demonstrations of support for Andre and Bryson were met by police antagonism and by several dramatic run-ins with the local Hammerskins neo-nazi gang. The Hammerskins and their friends in the local car club known as “Black Top Demon” repeatedly amassed a force of over a dozen people to violently and/or threateningly confront the support for Andre and Bryson. In the weeks-long cycle of events, anarchists several times put their own bodies in between the neo-nazis and their intended targets, only to be derided by the vocal middle class progressives of the town as “violent” and “no better than the nazis” (even when the progressives themselves had summoned the anarchists for protection). Eventually, the Hammerskins were summarily smashed and driven from town by an angry mob of upwards of 200 angry anti-fascists of all descriptions, while the police, content to let the crowd drain its rage on these comparably easy targets, didn’t want none either. Later, in the autumn of that year, a minor coda of this struggle against the police and fascists transpired in which Olympia’s city hall was smashed.
Years before, on Valentine’s Day 2008, a rowdy mob of exuberant fans of the revolutionary hip-hop duo (and friends to the anarchists) Dead Prez smashed, graffitied, and flipped upside-down one of the cruisers of the the Evergreen State College police force after the group played a blazing set about the violence and brutality done to Black people by their enemies in blue. At the height of the disturbance, a couple ascended the upturned car and shared a Valentine’s kiss. A year after hearing about this, I moved to Olympia, where it seemed that the Westside police substation was a veritable punching bag for anarchists and other enemies of the current social order.
But perhaps more than these last couple episodes (just a few jewels in the crown of Olympia’s illustrious history of anarchist intervention), it was the advent of Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) that formed a solid lineage with the present blockades, a trajectory of antagonism and war against the port and its world.
PMR was an anti-war movement with chapters in Olympia, Tacoma, and Gray’s Harbor, WA, as well as in the mid-Atlantic region. Between 2006 and 2009, those who grew tired of attempting to convince elected officials to abandon the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan took to planning high-profile and combative demonstrations aimed at ending US military use of port infrastructure. The result was a cycle of events that crescendoed into the erection of barricades and roving street battles with police in downtown Olympia. Tales of this saga and the almost unbelievable heart and honesty of the fight, told around fires and candlelight, helped launch many of the current generation of Pacific Northwest anarchists and anti-authoritarians.***
This year, a couple days after the camp was raided, I stood in the freezing rain of early December with a couple friends and family next to McLane creek in the deep Westside of Olympia. We were giving the baby a first glimpse and experience of an event that should have been much more iconic and quintessentially “olympian” than any social upheaval. This upheaval is seasonal, cyclical, yearly. This upheaval is nourishment for which there is no substitute.
What we beheld (and smelled) was the dead and rotting bodies of salmon deposited on the banks of either side of the stream. Too late to see the run in its full glory, the fish had spent the past several weeks swimming from the Pacific Ocean, where they’d passed most of their lives, back inland to spawn just before – or more accurately, while – dying. This cycle of salmon life and death represents perhaps the biggest transfer of biomass and nutrients from one region to another, and in any other culture (human or otherwise) besides the overarching, toxic, abusive excuse for a culture in which we were reared, it is recognized as a world-forming event. The death and life of the salmon– these zombified, pre-historic-looking tubes of muscle running themselves ragged in the shallow streams– feeds everyone. Bears, wolves, coyotes, eagles, hawks, raccoons, humans, plants, soils, waters, mountains, dreams… Nothing is untouched. Nothing is left out.
The salmon-people, our scale-clad relatives, are fewer and fewer. They are not long for this world. They are host to new and horrid diseases. Diseases of civilization. The “humans” who live in Olympia now mostly don’t even know when the salmon run happens, or that in a time before the dams– a heartbreakingly recent time, a time inseparable from the present– these fish would work their way fully a third of the distance into the heart of Turtle Island, feeding nearly its whole body.
Some of us get out to the woods to look at this event, as scenery, for a few minutes before returning to our electronic tethers. It’s nice, this little outing. It is not world-forming. The world we know is a patchwork of the cancerous, neon flows and optics of a depression- and anxiety- inducing monster, a machine that runs on blood and oil and, increasingly after the visions of the “environmentalists,” on bird populations decimated by wind turbines and rare earth metals lost forever in plastic encasements that capture the sun’s rays for further industrial and colonial use.
The dispatches that follow took shape in response to their stimuli: the affinities, ideas, bodies, and clashes taking place on the ground, a dynamic and contentious inter-weaving of various forces at play, not only between the blockaders and their societal enemies, but within and between blockaders themselves. For readers outside of the Olympian context this will explain, among other things, the effort at a rebuttal to syndicalism and the somewhat simplistic “just read Bonanno” tenor of certain passages. As surely as insurrection cannot be the end-all be-all of anarchism, so also its utility cannot be overstated in the face of the appearance of anarchists who feel like they came straight out of 2004, for whom the lessons of the Greek December, the Oakland commune, Ferguson, and other upheavals seem almost totally lost.
Because the blockade itself was a microcosm of a more totalizing rupture in the offing, of a coming life without law, the stimuli in question emanated from and touched upon nearly every topic you would care to enumerate, and it is my hope that more conversations, projects, and writings by others should appear to address them. But here, I’ll list just a few of the bones of contention found throughout the present collection which animate this and every other infrastructure- and resource-related struggle here at the End of the World. Here are some items for which the defenders of civilization nearest to the anarchists have offered no adequate response, save to cast their lot, implicitly or explicitly, with the World-Destroyers:
– that civilization– the culture that gives rise to, and is reinforced by, cities– is inherently dependent upon an extreme and unfathomable alienation from the sources of all life, creativity, social cohesion, and perhaps most evidently dire of all: personal psychological satisfaction and health; that civilization as we know it is irrevocably based upon disenchantment, hierarchy, patriarchy, colonization, exploitation, domination, specialization, slavery, ecocide, and oppression of every kind. Every evil that an anti-capitalist would attribute to capitalism, calling stridently for its abolition and damn the consequences, every alleged muted impulse toward flippant barbarity or genocidal longings attributed to being a “primitivist,” is an evil that actually, currently and historically belongs to and has been enacted by the institutions of civilization. The accusations against the anti-civ critique (however certainly they apply to some of its apparent advocates) are in the main both deflection and projection.
– that all industrial projects (including industrial agriculture) are basically reprehensible or irredeemable to the same extent and magnitude as the DAPL, and for similar reasons. This cannot be otherwise, since the DAPL and these other projects are all outgrowths or excrescences of the same system, the same black magic of the economy, and operate in the same logic. Those who would condemn the DAPL without condemning all industrial pursuits are kidding themselves. If there is hope for life on earth to recover, the lowest common denominator for the realization of that hope is the immediate cessation of all industrial activity. As usual, being almost totally ignorant of the history and consequences of one’s lifeway does not nullify one’s culpability, or that of the system. Denial does not make something go away, as we all shall see.
– that the most progressive and green capitalist city or town you can name– and Olympia is high in the running– is dependent for its daily reproduction and functioning on massive and never-ending brutal violence, social control, and coercion (in addition to the soft methods of Power). Non-violence and social peace are lies and privileges of the colonizer.
– that the typical unionist, municipalist, reformist, progressive, and strictly “red” versions of anarchism and/or communism are predicated on an almost complete lack of knowledge or conscience in regards to the long chapter of social war and capital-accumulation known as “The Industrial Revolution” and, after it, the restructuring of capital euphemistically referred to as post-industrial society, or “late modernity.”; that a staggering ignorance of what things were like before, during, and after these “transformations” underlies a complete disorientation toward the questions of what is at stake, what is a life well-lived, and who loses. This profound idiocy also underlies the mystical idea that the sciences, technologies, and pedagogies dreamt up, bought, and paid for by war criminals, millionaires and billionaires, white supremacist techie bros, and white-coated functionaries (who think that the phenomena of life can be forcibly ripped from their contexts, isolated, “controlled for,” and then “studied” and “learned from” in this state) could ever achieve anything other than the ends for which they were designed.
– that in privileged societies, all substantial resistance to the onslaught of the planetary megamachine will be opposed first and most stridently by the loyal opposition to Capital and the State, those recently- or long-included into some package of benefits; that fear- and shame-mongering, hyper-puritanical, fucking control freaks educated in the institutions of Empire, speaking in the name of monolithic capitalist identity structures and erasing and silencing all who do not fit into their Plan, will do everything in their power to stop the insurrection. Despite all rhetoric, these liberals and “radicals” and “anarchists” plainly give their consent and allegiance to the current state of affairs and the smooth operation of classrooms and meetings and quirky radical college towns more than they do the possibility of transcending or destroying the forcible rule of the State, Capital, Hetero-Patriarchy and the other tentacles and circuitry of the un-living monster. They love the police and their order more than they love the anarchists or anarchy. It shows now, and it will show again. And again.
– in short, that any anti-capitalism which seeks to be more than a pretension would at least have to grapple and reckon fiercely with the proposal that a world without the accumulation of capital as one of its features would be feral. It would a wild world in the ruins of the present.
From our current vantage with its entanglements, you may not like what these things portend. I don’t know anyone who does.
An inquiry for the doubtful: Do you really think anything even remotely resembling the world we’ve inherited could have ever been assembled or could now be maintained without the forced labor and colonization of centuries? Do you really think, in some linear progressive logic, that this all could somehow be the prelude to (much less the product) of an anti-authoritarian and egalitarian culture?
Do you consider yourself to be against borders, nation-states, police and policing, prisons, war, economic exploitation, intimate violence, abuse, hierarchical government, and ecological destruction but still feel compelled to defend the enterprise of civilization against its detractors?
After “the revolution” are you going to initiate industrial projects at an integral and horrific expense to the land and its original inhabitants? Are you going to work in cancerous mines and factories or subjugate the Congo so that we can have cell phones? Are you really going to force others to do the work that nobody at all would do if someone didn’t force them to do it? Ask yourself: what do you really think a world would look like in which no one hoards a surplus, no one accumulates profits, no one colonizes anyone else, patriarchy has been burned to the ground, no hierarchy or domination and nothing even approaching a State would be tolerated?
Increasingly, it is not even questioned that the end of the physical, habitable world is drawing near, and that virtually All Men have long since been reduced to complicit slime, and yet there are those who persist in denying that civilization is the problem.
In a piece of writing called “Fascism & Anti-Fascism,” Don Hamerquist once wrote, “The left had better begin to deal with the fact that issues that are regarded a part of our movement; ‘globalization,’ working class economic demands, ‘green’ questions, resistance to police repression, etc., are now being organized by explicit fascists and others who might as well be. Nor do we have a patent on decentralized direct action. That is exactly what the fascist debate around “leaderless resistance” is about. Finally, the question of who and what, exactly, is anti-capitalist remains very much unsettled. Some of the fascists take positions that at least appear to be much more categorically oppositional than those of most of the left.”
Elsewhere in the same essay Hamerquist writes: “The real danger presented by the emerging fascist movements and organizations is that they might gain a mass following among potentially insurgent workers and declassed strata through an historic default of the left. This default is more than a possibility, it is a probability, and if it happens it will cause massive damage to the potential for a liberatory anti-capitalist insurgency.” I submit for your consideration (in a line of thinking perhaps at odds with Hamerquist’s original intentions) that if “the Left” or its erstwhile and ill-behaved children do not resolve the contradictions involved in the above inquiries about the nature of mass society and industry, the “historic default” which leads to the swelling of folk nationalism and its gallery of horrors will be assured.
Somewhere in the following writings, the reader is invited to consider the phrase commune against civilization not primarily as a discrete political entity, but as a strategic consideration. For us to reach out and grab the lines along which Power flows that are nearest to us, arresting or re-routing their currents. Relatedly, another comrade has written, “The short life span of an occupation should not be construed as defeat. What we are winning is not a space or part of the infrastructure, but the capacity to take over a space, to destroy or transform the infrastructure, and we take this capacity with us when we leave the occupation, ahead of the political encirclement, and go on to the next battle. We are a moving commune.” [from Here… at the Center of a World in Revolt]
So, perhaps there is something, if not of the discrete entity, than a prefiguration of things to come, a kind of nomadology. The retainment of the prerogative for action in a perspective that doesn’t become bogged down in the political encirclement of one spot, but expands across the whole social terrain, and to the stars.
In a sense we have failed. Nothing in recent years seems to have ignited the political imagination of the non-fascist youth in the USA more than last year’s struggle against the DAPL. On the coattails of its defeat, the seeming fall into the era of Trump and the nascent but increasingly definite contours of a bonafide, recharged, and activist white nationalist movement in this country is really more like the end of a too-merciful sleep. The dreams of years past have evaporated before a stark, waking nightmare. As it turns out, it was there all along. [on this point, see the recent Research and Destroy essay, “The Landing: Fascist without Fascism.”]
We march to the DAPL’s drum now like good little citizen-subjects. Last month, one of its sibling pipelines leaked 200,000 gallons of oil, and things hum along as before. The banality of it all conceals a truth: that our entire lives are built as an edifice on a foundation, slab after slab, of such defeat. The battles of yesteryear are forgotten in a colossal fraud of social amnesia, and we fight merely to tinker with the controls of the resulting apparatuses, or to divvy up its spoils in slightly altered configurations.
The UN is now opening investigations into the reality of extreme poverty in the Unites States, the most affluent country in the world. As is felt by all but admitted by none, we are living through a Depression greater than any on record for this Empire. Our own lives practically match or overshadow the depth of privation and suffering once held out to us as a vision of misery transcended forever by an economic boom. The Dust Bowl was just a preview of coming attractions, as the marginal voices (for now) implore us to brace ourselves for the collapse of food. Simultaneously, one of the largest tax cuts ever for the wealthy is being sought by the GOP, again. Everyone looks at their tiny screens. Everyone keeps scrolling. The glitter, the confetti, and the anaesthetic of memes can’t cover it up or dull the sensation forever: shit is sadder and more fucked than a classic Russian novel in mid-winter.
In the 2nd dispatch collected here, the beginnings of the labor movement in America, before the union domestication of revolt, are discussed as a criminal conspiracy, a series of plots to expropriate, sabotage, and kill those who have nothing to offer but misery, a desperate bid to retain some sort of autonomous control over the time and space of our lives. On the real terrain of such a pursuit, no negotiation is possible or desirable. What we need is a return to this, to what the french anarchist group Os Cangaceiros in their illuminating writings on our prison-society referred to as the initial ferocity. But a ferocity updated for our moment of information technology, drones, social media, and cupcake fascism.
It’s no surprise that the syndicalists, the Bookchinists, the marxist-leninists and tankies fault the insurrectionaries for all the same reasons that mayors, police, port commissioners, bosses, and liberal entrepreneurs fault us. It’s no surprise that they tell some of the very same lies. It’s no surprise that the jailers speak of freedom.
The short list of our egregious sins is topped by that oldest of anti-capitalist transgressions: being unrealistic. For loving poetry (the poetry of words or of acts), for loving and wanting beautiful things, for whimsy and idleness, for the taste for “senseless violence,” for not playing the hardball of “politics” and presenting coherent demands… For all these and more, when the next restructuring of capital (details refined by the avant-garde of socialist civilization) is thrust upon us, should we be so unlucky to live to see it, they will attempt to simply and structurally define us out of existence. They don’t even pretend to want otherwise. Along with the backwards hordes of the excluded, the disloyal among the included, the barbarians inside the gates, those other “babblers” who only half-speak the language of Empire (and half talk some other shit), this fucking flash mob of the stylish and naive and precious unwanted children of capital will be gone with the wind, replaced by cyborgs mining asteroids for drops of water (still, it’s life). The revolutionary municipalists, the “social ecologists,” and the socialists will remain, however irrelevant, their orderly demonstrations endorsed by dour identity politicians, their Kronstadts and Holocausts and Holodomors flushed down the memory hole.
Ninety-five percent of the world has been chewed up and spit out. But, as the editors of that impeccable shooting star of an anarchist magazine called A Murder of Crows once wrote, we are unwilling to lie down and eat shit while we are around. Land defense is possible. Healing is possible. Vengeance on our captors and abusers, the obstruction of their further designs, is possible. The little bit of life left to us is worth fighting for. What do we have to lose? Why would we let them get away with it? If it is true that everything that crawls upon the earth is subject to government by blows, it is also true that everything that crawls upon the earth will die someday. The question is not how to avoid the unavoidable, but how to do it well.
The construction of dozens of new or expanded fossil fuel terminals has been proposed or is being carried out all through the greater Northwest region of “North America,” and beyond. Choke points for capitalism are everywhere. They are more vulnerable than they would hope to appear. If a certain collective intelligence of demolition combined with the ingenuity and resourcefulness of human animals is not enough to avert the privation and suffering that may result from the battles ahead, then I don’t see why we would feel entitled or even expect to avoid it when our great-grandparents either perpetrated or succumbed (or both) to the original colonization of this land, when our grandparents remember concentration camps, when our contemporaries half a world away or in the very next city are being fucking annihilated with bombs and bullets deployed in our name, when every clearcut is unforgivable, and when every animal in a cage and every white-hot stream of tears down every face of all the millions of abused and gaslighted children each represent an implacable roaring of the reason to tear all of this down.
What was once an unbelievable folk tale– that once upon a time street battles with the police actually touched no less wholesome a place than Olympia, this “all-america city”– is now becoming a commonplace, a simple eventuality assumed for the realization of the bare minimum of our dreams. The brightest among the activists and unionists even accept this as a premise now.
In a sense, of course, the Olympia rail blockade acted as a percolator for all of the stewing and stagnant refuse in the souls of moderns, the crud we are all inevitably carrying with us. In moments it brought the ongoing pathologies, emergencies, and the uneven distribution of prestige and safety in our various lives to a fever pitch which needs processing right now.
But the event of the barricade’s return truly did bring out the best in people. As they said about Greece in the wake of December 2008: obedience stopped. Life is magical.
This was the commune. The private hells of our individual menagerie-worlds, with their neat placards and dull reference points and traumatized repetitions, were momentarily superseded by the shared hell of a jungle-world, of chances taken and laws flouted. When the spell of this Kingdom of Falsehood was broken, our moving chosen family with all of its dysfunction and all its mistakes was given something to believe in and work toward, a reason to get up extra early or stay up all night. We reached out and seized a new and vital reference point for our struggles, both internal and external. We seized another chance. A new star in our constellation blazed into life.
Imagine what we could do with more than just that shabby little plot of downtown. Imagine the circumstance in which it is more than crumbs which we fight over, and what it would take to get there. Imagine the rage and refusal swelling not only in response to fracking, but for the constant traffic in crystallized death and ecocide facilitated by the port and its world. Imagine all the splintered and refracted single-issues of our lives being rejoined, reborn in the total context of the only world we’ve got.
Imagine new points of correspondence for the commune, the party of disorder. Now: listen to what the world is telling you, read the signs, choose your objectives, and get going.
In the words of “A Letter of Solidarity from the Year 3017”: there is no such thing as a lost act of rebellion. A thousand years from now, may whatever is left of life be blessed with visions of the commune on the tracks, the uprooted apes by the Salish Sea.
The ones who said it stops here, hit the brakes.
U.S. regulators ditch net neutrality rules as legal battles loom | 14 Dec 2017 | The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines on Thursday to repeal landmark 2015 rules aimed at ensuring a free and open internet, setting up a court fight over a move that could recast the digital landscape. The approval of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal in a 3-2 vote marked a victory for [large] internet service providers such as and hands them power over what content consumers can access. It also is the biggest win for Pai in his sweeping effort to undo many telecommunications regulations since taking over at the agency in January.
The post The Rankest Riot: Saskatchewan Prison Uprising One Year Later appeared first on It's Going Down.
“When I talked to this inmate and from letters and Facebook messages I’ve received, they said this was one of the rankest riots they’ve ever seen. It’s definitely one for the books, is what their exact words were.” – Sherri, Beyond Prison Walls Canada
On December 14, 2016, at least 185 prisoners at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Canada refused to attend their normally-scheduled activities and instead masked up, destroyed surveillance cameras in the area, erected barricades, set fires, destroyed significant portions of the prison and smashed a hole in the floor so they could move to different units. The Correctional Service Canada has since estimated the damages to the prison at approximately $3.6 million. Six prisoners were shot with live ammunition by guards during the uprising, but all survived.Saskatchewan prison uprising aftermath (Photo: Correctional Service of Canada)
One prisoner, Jason Leonard Bird, was stabbed to death during the riot, but no murder charges have been brought at this point. According to Global News, “Police said the investigation into Bird’s death is ongoing.”
Today marks the one year anniversary of the uprising at Saskatchewan, so we thought we’d take a moment to review the event and give a little bit of an update on the repression that followed.
Uprisings may end when the CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) or the National Guard rolls in and re-imposes a repressive order, but the reverberations continue for years. As people interested in strengthening our capacity to sustain powerful uprisings, we must maintain our attention on these events long after their spectacular stage has come to an end. Props to those with MAPS in Michigan who continue to keep the focus on the repression against those involved in the Kinross uprising of September 2016 and, on a slightly different note, those in St. Louis and elsewhere who continue to keep up with those serving long jail sentences for the uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri. Take a minute to drop a line on some of these rebels or send some money to support them during their incarceration.
According to CFRC Prison Radio, the uprising at Saskatchewan Penitentiary was a result of a gradual escalation of tactics on the part of prisoners:
“At Canada’s most complained about prison, amidst a months-long dispute about food quality and portion sizes, things escalated from a grievance, to a kitchen strike, to a work strike, to a refusal to lockup, to a full-blown riot. Every step of the way the cold indifference and refusal to address concerns on the part of the prison bureaucracy aggravated the situation and made it clear ‘negotiations’ were going nowhere.”
Shortly after the uprising, CFRC Prison Radio did an interview with Sherri, who runs Beyond Prison Walls Canada and a prison wives support group on Facebook. Sherri had been following the protests as they developed and gave a run down of how things escalated:
“It started with the kitchen but I know that before they rioted they said ‘OK, well if things don’t change, we’re not going to work the kitchen, we’re not going to work the canteen, we’re not gonna do nothing.‘ So they were threatened, [CSC] said ‘If you guys don’t go to work … we’re going to take away your inmate social,’ which is just before Christmas, and they have Santa there and it’s good, they look forward to that. They were going to take that away from them, they were going to take their Christmas canteen, which they get extra stuff at Christmas time that they normally wouldn’t get. Actually they threatened to take all the canteen away from them. That’s where I guess the inmate committee and staff decided to have another meeting and nope, nothing changed again. And then they’d had enough of all their threats and that’s when the riot broke out. What started as a peaceful protest led to the riot because the guards came in with guns.”
According to Correctional Services of Canada’s “Chronology of Events” of the uprising, at approximately 1:15 pm, “Inmates from a number of ranges in the medium security sector of the institution refuse to attend work, programs or school.” And at 1:30 pm, “Inmates on ranges E 1, 2, 3 and 4 tie off the range barriers with institutional blankets and clothing, barricade the barriers with fridges, washers and dryers in front of the range doors. Inmates cover their faces and destroy range cameras.”
The prison security forces attempted to intervene in the uprising, and by 2:10 pm “Inmates make weapons, dismantle beds, damage walls, breach an interior wall, smash windows and generally destroy property.” An hour later, “Inmates on F4 start fires on the range.” At 7:25pm, approximately six hours after the uprising began, “The Institution is declared secure.”
In her interview, Sherri describes the uprising as well, as told to her by inmates involved:
“The inmates had made barricades, but the guards were cutting through them with tools like the jaws of life. They said the guards were shooting bullets at the floor, which would ricochet and hit inmates. They sprayed their gas guns, which ended up having guys pass out. They had inmates eventually lay in their cells with their hands behind their heads and their faces down to the ground, and then they put flashbangs, which are like a grenade, into the cells. On unit E3 and E4, there was a hole shot into the floor, and the inmates were getting shot at. The inmate I talked to said that one of his friends was shot in the leg so bad that it tore a piece of his back leg off. Another one got shot in the knee which wrecked his kneecap…During the riot, the guards smashed the inmates TVs and destroyed their clothes. I mean yeah, the inmates did break stuff. There was one unit where the toilets were busted, the sinks were broken. There was actually one unit – and I think it was from guards shooting at the floor – where you could actually see into the other units below. So inmates were jumping down through the floor into the next unit. One of the inmates was shot and hit with a guards billy stick so bad that they ended up breaking his forearm and a few fingers.”
Sherri describes the uprising as “all over the food,” since those were the first grievances the protests that proceeded the riot focused on, but as always, there is much more to it than that. In a surprisingly candid report released in November, Correctional Services Canada’s (CSC) correctional investigator, Ivan Zinger, stated “a lot must go wrong, and for quite some time, before a prison erupts in violence.” He goes on to describe the inhumane conditions he found in his visit to the prison:
“In search of some other plausible explanation for the incomprehensible violence and mayhem beyond bad or inadequate food, I noted that some of the cells in that forbidding and antiquated facility housed two inmates even though there is barely adequate space for one. Standing in the middle of another cell, I could reach out and touch the sides of both walls. Long after the rage of the riot had been quelled, a palpable sense of tension lingers in that facility. I could not help but notice that the overwhelming majority of its occupants are young, desperate Indigenous men. To my mind, the year-on-year increase in the over-representation of Indigenous people in Canadian jails and prisons is among this country’s most pressing social justice and human rights issues.
One can imagine the sense of futility and despair such environments and conditions of confinement elicit from people who are often mentally unwell, or whose lives have been touched or marked by some combination of alcohol or drug addiction, family dysfunction, discrimination, poverty, childhood violence, abuse or trauma. Elevated rates of prison self-injury and suicide, high prevalence of mental illness and premature natural mortality behind bars speak to the unremittingly high costs of imprisonment for some of Canada’s more vulnerable populations.”“Standing in the middle of the cell I could reach out and touch both sides of both walls.” Ivan Zinger. (Photo: Correctional Service of Canada)
He goes on to write that the more than 100-year-old prison is “not conducive to modern and humane correctional practice.”
Despite those concerns, Correctional Service Canada has stated that it has no plans to stop incarcerating people in that “forbidding and antiquated” prison.
In relaying these descriptions of the inhumane conditions at Saskatchewan Penitentiary, we are not advocating for modern and compassionate imprisonment, nor are we saying that prisoners who are not facing overtly disgusting conditions of confinement do not have valid reasons to rebel. What we are saying is the caging of human life is a horror and those who seek to maintain their humanity must not look away when confronted with descriptions of these modern-day Bedlams.
Additionally, if we seek to understand more deeply what compels humans to rebel against their “poor butchered half-lives,” it is useful to trace patterns of behavior from their beginning point in a context. In the case of prison uprisings, that context very often involves overcrowding, under-staffing, shitty prison food, outdated facilities, bad relationships between administration and guards, unpredictable or changing rules and expectations on prisoners, and a politicized prison population well supported by radical movements on the outside. These conditions can be tracked and intervened upon.
According to CFRC Prison Radio, in the aftermath of the riot, approximately “200 prisoners were transferred to maximum security units across the three prairie provinces, with many facing lockdowns for weeks and serious institutional charges.”Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism (SCAR) rally in Regina, Saskatchewan (Photo: Brian Fitzpatrick, Regina Leader-Post)
In September of this year, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) released charges against 14 prisoners related to the uprising. According to Global News, those “charges include participating in a riot, obstructing justice, rioting while wearing a mask, wearing a disguise with intent and criminal mischief over $5,000.”
Those charged with these august crimes are Dylan Ahenakew, 22, Donavon Assiniboine, 22, Skylar Alexson, 24, Brett Babisky, 28, Lance Bear, 29, Julius Beardy, 26, Vernon Bigsky, 31, Taryn Cote, 23, William Fick, 28, Wesley Hassleberger-Wright, 20, John Linklater, 19, Josh McLaren, 27, Scott Nelson, 32, and Larry Windigo, 35.
For more information on the riot, check out CFRC Prison Radio’s full length interview with Sherri in audio or zine format. To keep up with what’s going on with prisons in Canada, keep an eye on Beyond Prisons Canada and CFRC Prison Radio.
If you are in touch with anyone at Saskatchewan Penitentiary or have more information you’d like to share about what’s going on up there, drop us a line.
In an effort to broaden Bloc Party coverage of happenings across borders, over the coming weeks we plan to share more on the history of prisons in Canada as well as an interview with some anarchists who are engaged in supporting prisoner resistance and rebellion. Keep an eye out for those upcoming articles.
Why Has One of the World's Biggest Funders of Environmental Conservation Also Given $4 Million to a Climate Denial Group?
The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the world’s biggest funders of environmental conservation groups, has given almost $5 million since 2011 to an organization that rejects the overwhelming evidence that human-caused climate change is dangerous, DeSmog has found.
Between 2011 and 2015, financial returns show the Pew Charitable Trusts gave $4.7 million to the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), while giving millions more to dozens of worthy conservation causes.
Hartnett White, who hopes to chair the influential federal council, also rejects the science linking fossil fuel burning to dangerous climate change.
Some of the groups that have received major grants from Pew have been outspoken in their criticisms of Hartnett White, describing her as a “climate change denier” who was unfit for the role. The Pew Charitable Trusts confirmed the grants, but said they were unrelated to work on climate change.var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12451'; Click here for reuse options! Tags: pew charitable Truststexas public policy foundationTPPFKathleen Hartnett White
by Magpie, via birds before the storm
I want to die in bed, a hundred years old, having lived most of my life in a stateless, anticapitalist society. This is possible. Authoritarianism is not unconquerable. I don’t believe in utopia, per se, and I don’t think an anarchist society would be perfect, but I believe we could live a lot healthier, happier, and more freely than we do now. So I want to win. I believe it’s possible for us to win.
On the other hand, I don’t expect to.
I came to terms a long time ago with my investment in this hopeless cause. Even when I was an eager and innocent baby anarchist, I never believed that a beautiful, black-and-red dawn was about to break across the horizon. I cut my teeth getting my ass kicked by cops trying to stop a war and trying to stop corporate globalization, then moved on to the insurmountable task of trying to slowly shift culture towards anti-authoritarian values. I never expected to win. I try to fight like I’m going to, though.
Fighting to win, and fighting for what I actually believe in instead of some watered down compromise, has proven to just outright be a better way to live. Furthermore, acting as though winning is a serious possibility is the only way for it to become even the barest possibility.
My optimism is a cynical optimism, a strategic optimism, but it’s optimism nonetheless.* * *
When I was a teenager, I had an art teacher who instilled in me a respect for process-oriented thinking. “The point of painting is the act of painting,” he told me, “not the act of having painted.” This was true across mediums and applicable to life itself… after all, the final result of life is death. One ought not live for one’s legacy, but for one’s life. Yet, with painting and most everything else, the goal mattered too. The goal informs and enriches the process, and the goal is only achievable by staying focused on the process.
We tell one another about the golden land that lies beyond the horizon not to convince ourselves that the place exists exactly as we imagine it, but because those stories give us a direction to walk and a reason to walk. The walking itself is what matters, of course. The process is what matters.
This is hard for me to reconcile with my anarchism, sometimes. Some of my friends are in it for the fight, but I’m not a fighter by natural temperament. I’m too anxious, these days, to spend much of my time on the front lines of anything. I hope we win soon, so I can find ways to be socially useful and keep myself entertained without the threat of prison looming like death in the shadows.
Still, absent of living in the society I desire to live in, I do find value and meaning in struggle, in walking, in imagining possibilities.* * *
I’ve probably never experienced this contrast between my cynicism and my hope more clearly than I have in terms of how I engage with activism. For years, I was engaged in direct action activism — in campaigns to save this or that forest or mountain, to keep this or that development or youth jail out of this or that neighborhood, to save some person or keep some draconian law from passing. Activism, even of the direct action variety, tends not to be revolutionary. It tends to stay on the defensive. It tends to burn people out, expose people to risk, and use up a ton of resources. It’s certainly not going to save the world.
To any extent that I engage with activism today, I engage in activism without illusions. Though I know we’re not going to stem the tide of global catastrophe, direct action activism often accomplishes its immediate goals. I know people who still live on their farms because of activism. I know of community gardens that still exist. I know of stands of old growth forest that are still standing. Those trees will likely survive until human-driven climate change destroys them in a few years time — and that’s the problem with activism. It’s never enough.
Still, without optimism — cynical or not — and its attendant courage, none of that would have been accomplished, and that’s not nothing. There’s an undeniable value there. There’s also a value in the unruly encampments we set up and a value in the connections we made with other communities. Direct action activism is one way to engage with passionate people, passionately, and to live life to its fullest. I have no illusions about it, but I don’t regret a moment of it.* * *
I believe that we can win. I believe another [end of the] world is possible. I don’t always know what to do with this optimism. How do we accomplish it? Anarchism is not heaven. We don’t get there by just being good people and accepting Bakunin as our personal lord and savior. We get there by thinking seriously about strategy and by making plans. We get there by working at it, in whatever ways suit us or are appropriate to our circumstances. Whatever chance we’ve got of getting there, it’s by each of us trying what we can and seeing what works, it’s by supporting those of us who are trying in ways we aren’t.
When I die, not in bed, not a hundred years old, not in a society free of hierarchy, I’ll be able to say… well I probably won’t be able to say much of anything, because I’ll be busy dying, but let’s pretend I’ve got my wits about me… I can say I fought to win.
If you appreciate my writing and want to help me do more of it, please consider supporting me via Patreon.Tags: margaret killjoyoptimismcategory: Essays
The post Fuck Abuse, Kill Power: Addressing the Root Causes of Sexual Harassment and Assault appeared first on It's Going Down.
The past year has seen a wave of revelations about powerful people—nearly all men—perpetrating sexual violence against those beneath them. The #MeToo moment has provided a platform for countless courageous survivors. Yet although some men have been made to face consequences for the harm they have done, we are far from being able to solve the problem of male sexual violence. Focusing on the wrongdoings of specific men tends to exceptionalize them, as if their actions took place in a vacuum. This is consistent with the mechanisms of a criminal justice system focused on individual guilt and a reformist politics premised on the idea that the existing government and market economy would serve us perfectly if only the right people were in power. But with the bad behavior of so many men coming to light, we have to consider the possibility that these are not exceptions at all—that these attacks are the inevitable, systemic result of this social order. Is there a way to treat the cause as well as the symptoms?
Trigger warning for descriptions of sexual violence.
Virtually all recent mainstream coverage has treated sexual harassment and assault as an issue distinct from capitalism and hierarchy. When writers admit that capitalism and hierarchy play some role, they imply that what is harmful about these systems can be fixed through reform. They exhort us to appeal to power to solve the problems power causes: we are to pressure corporations to fire their executives, to use the media to shame media moguls, to use democracy to punish politicians. In short, we are supposed to use the very structures through which our abusers hold power to take it away from them.
On the contrary, we can’t be effective against rampant sexual assault without confronting its root causes.
A tattoo by Charline Bataille inspired by Jenny Holzer.A Very Brief History of Sexual Assault in the United States
Sexual assault and rape are woven into the very origins of the United States. The original colonists did not consider the indigenous inhabitants worthy of the same moral considerations as white Europeans. Sexual assault and rape were systematically employed as colonial tools. Michele de Cuneo, a nobleman and a shipmate of Columbus, described the following scene in a letter, apparently without shame or remorse:
While I was in the boat I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me, and with whom, having taken her to my cabin, she being naked according to their custom, I conceived desire to take pleasure. I wanted to put my desire into execution but she did not want it and treated me with her finger nails in such a manner that I wished I had never begun. But seeing that (to tell you the end of it all), I took a rope and thrashed her well, for which she raised such unheard of screams that you would not have believed your ears. Finally we came to an agreement in such a manner that I can tell you that she seemed to have been brought up in a school of harlots.
Slaves, too, were routinely sexually assaulted. This was an essential aspect of the system of slavery: in addition to domestic labor, enslaved women were forced to engage in sex and reproduction that served to add more slaves to their captor’s holdings.
Throughout all this, women were never passive victims. Women have always fought against their abusers with ferocity, creativity, and diversity of tactics. For example, in the mid-1800s, a slave named Harriet Jacobs fought fiercely against her captor; after resisting his sexual advances, she hid in a crawlspace for seven years to avoid him. She eventually escaped to New York and obtained legal freedom. An early forerunner of the #MeToo movement, she wrote letters to the New York Tribune detailing her experiences and in 1860 published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, one of the first books to detail enslaved women’s experiences of sexual assault.
Starting in the early 1900s, women formed labor unions that fought for the rights of female workers, including the right not to be sexually harassed and assaulted. Black women’s struggles against workplace harassment led to the creation of the first laws against sexual discrimination and harassment. In 1993, Lorena Bobbitt cut off her abusive husband’s penis and threw it in a field after he raped her. A jury acquitted her. These are all legitimate forms of resistance.
“They passed round the bleeding stump, as if they had finally exterminated a wild animal that had been preying on each and every one of them, and saw it there inert and in their power. They bared their teeth, and spat on it.”
-A passage from Emile Zola’s 1885 novel Germinal in which a mob of starving women workers castrate the corpse of a shopkeeper who has been extorting them for sex in exchange for food.Corporations Won’t Solve This
It was no secret that many of these men were abusers. Nothing is different now except that corporations have taken a bit more notice. Corporate media outlets have published women’s accounts; some corporations have fired rapists if what they have done is deemed egregious enough. Should we be grateful to corporations for firing serial sexual predators once enough accusations pile up that it becomes a problem for their brand?
These corporations are just plugging the oil leak that finally made the news. But who creates and maintains this pipeline? They do. Let’s not pat them on the back for solving a problem that they caused.
Most of these companies have known about these accusations for years without doing anything. Worse, they’ve allowed these men to rise up the ranks of power to the point that their serial abuse warrants national news attention. In other words, these corporations have facilitated these men’s behavior by giving them additional opportunities with which to harass, assault, and rape women. For every Harvey Weinstein whose actions are finally brought to light, there is another Harvey Weinstein who gets away with serial assault thanks to the assistance of the institution that gives him power.
Why do corporations have a vested interest in helping rapists succeed in business? While misogyny is partly to blame, we have to look at the bigger picture. Corporate success is determined by how much profit a business produces, not by whether it protects women from sexual assault. In capitalism, whether to oust an assaulter becomes a simple economic equation: how is his presence affecting the bottom line?
Take the case of Bill O’Reilly. Since 2002, Fox News and O’Reilly have paid out many millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment claims. During this time, O’Reilly continued to be a rising star at Fox, negotiating a $25 million a year contract as recently as January 2017. While media coverage and exposés finally forced Fox to fire O’Reilly, Fox knew he was an abuser for more than a decade and shelled out millions to silence women he abused. Fox’s behavior is not so mysterious when one learns that in 2015, O’Reilly’s show earned Fox more than $180 million in advertising.
This is not an anomaly; this is a standard utilitarian calculationthat businesses make all the time. Imagine you’re O’Reilly’s conscientious supervisor. Having just discovered O’Reilly’s long history of harassing women, you go to your bosses and demand that they fire O’Reilly. Even if your bosses agree with your demand from a moral standpoint, how could they explain the loss of O’Reilly, the golden goose, to their shareholders? Capitalism is designed to maximize profit over everything else, including ethics and safety.
This system also makes it difficult to fight back against abusers. In a hyper-competitive market, a single setback can mean the end of your career, your healthcare, your ability to pay rent. The stakes are higher for women and trans people, especially those of color, who are far more likely to experience poverty than men. Those who have gained a footing in the economy may be understandably hesitant to risk losing it, and it’s no secret that those who resist abuse or call out their abusers often face adverse consequences for doing so.
Targets of sexual harassment face impossible choices: do I allow this abuse to continue or risk losing income I desperately need? Do I report this abuse and risk deportation? Do I leave this job without reporting this abuse? If I do, does that mean that others will be preyed upon after me?
Capitalism, the state, and other forms of hierarchy offer sexual predators many ways of doing harm to those who resist them. O’Reilly, Weinstein, Ailes, Farenthold (the list goes on and on and on) all routinely harmed or ended the careers of those who opposed them.
Fears about job security also affect those who are asked to witness or even abet abusers. Weinstein used his employees to make his victims feel a false sense of security before he assaulted them, often asking staffers to come to the beginning of nighttime meetings and then dismissing them so he could be alone with his victims. One former employee described a scene in a nighttime meeting in which Weinstein demanded she tell a model that Weinstein was a good boyfriend, and became enraged when she said she no longer wished to attend these “meetings.” It is easy to feel self-righteous anger at staffers who abetted Weinstein, but it is undeniable that Weinstein’s position of power enabled him to ruin people’s lives. While we deserve for others to be brave in standing up for us even against the most powerful foes, it is unrealistic to think we could put an end to sexual harassment and assault in a system in which people have to martyr themselves in order to protect each other.
Abolishing capitalism and all other systems that concentrate wealth and power into the hands of a few would not put a stop to sexual assault, but it would greatly reduce the coercive economic power that the rich and powerful wield over the rest of us. Without those structural imbalances in power, assaulters would not have the means to manipulate anyone into complicity and silence. This may sound utopian, but it is the only realistic solution if we’re serious about combatting sexual assault. No system that centralizes wealth and power can prevent that power from being used to coerce or harm people.
No, we really don’t.The Criminal Justice System Won’t Solve This
The law is no friend to victims of sexual harassment and assault. Police officers across the United States have brought charges of false reporting against sexual assault survivors who went to them for help, only to later see these victim’s stories confirmed when their assaulters were identified and convicted. Sexual assault survivors who manage to convince the police not to arrest them for false reporting can find themselves jailed in order to compel theirtestimony in court.
ICE uses courts as a trap for undocumented people. Undocumented people cannot even enter a courthouse without risking arrest and deportation. In this way, the state systematically facilitates the sexual assault of those whose papers are not in order.
Even if the police don’t throw you in jail, only three to six percent of workplace harassment claims ever make it to trial. Some of these cases are settled, but many are dismissed due to the law’s high bar for what constitutes harassment (the harassment must qualify as “severe” or “pervasive”). In one typical example, a construction worker brought a case against a supervisor who talked about raping him multiple times. The worker’s case was dropped because the supervisor’s actions occurred over a ten-day period and therefore did not meet the standard of being “pervasive.”
The court system not only punishes those who attempt to utilize it—it also targets those who try to defend themselves. In the New Jersey 4 case, a group of black women defended themselves against a catcaller who threatened and attacked them. They were prosecuted and four were sentenced to between 3.5 and 11 years in Rikers.
The idea that the law could ever serve to put an end to sexual harassment and assault is a patriarchal myth. Men have always promised to protect women from other men in return for power over them; this is part of the protection racket that forms the foundation of patriarchy. In fact, the law is integral to maintaining the oppressive hierarchies that create the conditions for a wide variety of power imbalances and grave injustices, including sexual assault.
The criminal justice system exacerbates all the problems we have already seen in the corporate sector. While corporations implicitly hold people hostage in the context of the capitalist economy, the criminal justice system explicitly holds people hostage via the coercive apparatus of the law and the state. It is the epitome of power being distributed to the few and entirely denied to the many, and as such it is a site of terrifying abuses of power. People in prison are routinely sexually assaulted, often by their jailers. When we appeal to the violent authority of the state to punish our abusers, we are complicit in perpetuating the power dynamics that we claim to oppose.
We need to explore systems of justice that hold people accountable to each other, rather than to a higher power. Wherever we concentrate power, we will see abuse.Viewing Sexual Harassment through an Intersectional Lens
Although we are framing this primarily in gendered terms, the identities “male” and “female” are just proxies with which to discuss different degrees of power and privilege. Whose voices we hear and how we respond to those voices is determined by a myriad of other factors including race, sexual orientation, economic status, ability status, and first language. In seeking to disentangle ourselves from patriarchy, we need to internalize the way our privileges protect us from harm that others face. We need to listen to the stories of those most likely to be harmed under patriarchy and capitalism: black women’s stories, trans people’s stories, undocumented workers’ stories, poor people’s stories.
We need to take note of whose voices those in power seek to discredit. For example, the only sexual assault charges Harvey Weinstein has specifically disputed came from the only black woman, Lupita Nyong’o, who has accused him of harassment or assault.This Is about Power, not Sex
Although women also perpetrate sexual assault, we are statistically far less likely to do so than men. Is this because women are inherently better, more moral, or less violent than men? If we are, it is in part because we, as non-men, are not taught that we must embody the norms of toxic masculinity that are symptomatic of patriarchy, i.e., that women are objects, or that our self-worth is based on the number of women we fuck. Men’s internalized toxic masculinity accounts for many of the reasons they sexually assault women.
Some have suggested that the solution to rampant sexual harassment and assault is that women should replace men in all positions of power. But the problem is not the condition of maleness; the problem is patriarchy, an unequal distribution of power. As long as some hold power over others, the powerful will prey on the less powerful, regardless of who occupies these roles.
Patriarchy is not the bad behavior of a few specific men, but the framework of relations that fosters it.So What Do We Do?
To call out sexual predators without seeking to dismantle the system of power that created them is like bailing water out of a sinking ship. The fundamental problem isn’t a shortfall of publicity, law, policy, or education; the fundamental problem is that the systems that purport to keep us safe make us vulnerable.
We have to weave together the ways that we respond to specific instances of sexual harassment and violence with a determination to confront and undermine the social order that gives rise to them. In every case of male violence, we should be clear that we are not dealing with an exception, but with a problem that is a structural feature of our society. At the same time, we need to create models of transformative justice that can replace the criminal justice system without replicating any feature of it, and to foster new ways of relating in which patriarchy, white supremacy, and other forms of authority do not determine the possibilities of our lives. Every person of every gender stands to gain from this.
Let us join hands, teeth bared.
“I’m not your prey, I still have teeth” by kAt Philbin.
Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.
SCUM will not picket, demonstrate, march or strike to attempt to achieve its ends. Such tactics are for nice, genteel ladies who scrupulously take only such action as is guaranteed to be ineffective… If SCUM ever marches, it will be over the President’s stupid, sickening face; if SCUM ever strikes, it will be in the dark with a six-inch blade.
–Valerie Solanas, SCUM ManifestoFurther Reading The history of sexual assault in the United States:
- Slavery and the Roots of Sexual Harassment by Adrienne D. Davis
- Feminism and the Labor Movement: A Century of Collaboration and Conflict by Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck writing for CUNY’s New Labor Forum
- Sexual Harassment Law Was Shaped by the Battles of Black Women by Raina Lipsitz writing for The Nation
- Sexual Assault Resources from North East Anarchist Network (particularly the Accountability Processes section)
- Revolution and Restorative Justice: An Anarchist Perspectiveby Peter Kletsan writing for Abolition Journal
- Accounting for Ourselves: Breaking the Impasse Around Assault and Abuse in Anarchist Scenes from CrimethInc.
- Profiting from Rape: Sexual Violence and the Capitalist Stateby Kelly Rose Pflug-Back writing for The Feminist Wire
- The Consent of the Ungoverned by Laurie Penny writing for LongReads
- Cultivating Fear: The Vulnerability of Immigrant Farmworkers in the US to Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment by Grace Meng published in Human Rights Watch
- Sexual Assault When You’re on the Margins: Can We All Say #MeToo? by Collier Meyerson writing for The Nation
The post What Happened In Portland: Joey Gibson’s Assault Victim Speaks Out appeared first on It's Going Down.For more information about the Portland Rally click here. Joey Gibson for over a year has created a far-Right coalition that includes open neo-Nazis and white supremacists. For more information on Gibson, check out the research of Rose City Antifa.
I was at the Anti-Hilary rally, counter protesting against Patriot Prayer (PP) with a heavy police presence in the area. I was standing with the bloc, facing PP on the other side of the street, and I noticed that the fash were starting to march down the street.
They started crossing the street, so I followed them and crossed to the other side. I also noticed that the rest of the bloc was waiting for the crosswalk, to come join. The fash were still on the opposite side of the road, and they crossed the street again, coming towards me ,and a couple other comrades.
As they passed me, this woman with long hair, who I had also encountered at the last protest, she walks past me and tried to grab the sign I was holding and pushed me. I pulled back on my sign, and pushed her. And then, out of nowhere, Joey Gibson comes up behind me, and restrains me, forcing me to the ground. I didn’t realize it was him at first, I thought it was an actual police officer, so I complied. All of the fash started crowding around us, and I was scared I was going to be trampled. Then I heard him say something about citizens arrest, trying to say I had a warrant.
“Patriot Prayer’s” leader Joey Gibson violently assaulted a woman while seemingly pretending to be a cop at his last hate rally while actual cops watched from the sidelines. https://t.co/YGRmhrjZE4
— New York City Antifa (@NYCAntifa) December 14, 2017
I told him to get off of me, because I have Epilepsy, and I could not breathe. And then, Deme Cooper got up in my face, while I was being restrained unlawfully. My body became exposed, and my hat fell off while I was on the ground. Another comrade came up, and told them to let me up. Joey asked me if I was going to run, I said no. He helped me up. I told him to fuck off, and spit in his face. A couple other men restrained me as well. A woman threatened to taze me. I got free, and got away from them. I walked around the area for a second, and saw the the police were doing nothing, and actually prevented the rest of the Bloc from helping me. The police didn’t stop Joey Gibson from assaulting me. I left to a safe location, to collect myself before returning.
I feel incredibly violated by Joey Gibson and the rest of Patriot Prayer. I took me an hour to calm down, and I am still feeling quite tense and wired. They infringed my rights as a human, and as an American. Joey Gibson assaulted a queer disabled woman. Joey Gibson could have killed me, and the rest of Patriot Prayer , as well as Portland Police, would have done nothing to prevent that.
The post ERROR451 #06: Cryptocurrencies, Nazis, Bailbloc & IRL Impacts appeared first on It's Going Down.
Listen and Download Here
This week, Bursts was joined by Pat Boyle, a collective member at Unicorn Riot (more about them later in this post), radical independent media project. We chatted about crypto-currency, Bitcoin in particular, technologies and strategies involved in the implementation of crypto-currency, recent comings to light of increased wealth coming via Bitcoin into the hands of far right racists and ecological impacts of crypto-mining.
As to the far right, we referenced an article from IdaVox and one from Mic.com, as well as the twitterbot @NeoNaziWallets that can be visited to track transactions with the bitcoin wallets of well-known white supremacists.
Some great Unicorn Riot content that Pat & company have been releasing this year (an incomplete list):
- Black Snake Killaz, full length documentary about resistance to the #DAPL;
- Coverage from Greece & the G20 in Hamburg, Germany;
- on the ground in Charlottesville, VA for Unite The Right;
the processing of TONS of documentation of the UTR organizing on the (leaked) Discord chat platform;
The post Michigan: All out to Stop Richard Spencer at U of M appeared first on It's Going Down.
Students at U of M have been walking out of classes and occupying offices, building the movement to stop the Fascist, Richard Spencer, and his supporters from coming to U of M to attack Black students, Muslim students and all who oppose him. The administration of U of M, the Board of Regents, the cops and the government are complicit with Richard Spencer and do nothing to stop racist attacks or to defend students under attack. We must do that ourselves.
We support students at U of M Dearborn, U of M Flint, EMU, MSU, GVSU and all campuses and community colleges uniting to oppose Spencer and stop the fascists. We support walkouts and occupations wherever they occur. We encourage high school students, teachers, campus workers and community supporters to join in this fight against Spencer and against racist attacks and white supremacy.
The racist and fascist attacks hit a Black family in Burton, a Black church in Wayne, and a Black family in Inkster who had a family member, Brodrick Ward, murdered in Kalkaska and now face a racist response from the cops in that town. The attacks hit the family of Damon Grimes, the 15 year old murdered by the Michigan State Police in Detroit because he was young and Black. The attacks hit families of those in the Muslim, Latinx and immigrant communities who have been rounded up and deported and those held in detention centers who face deportations.
We say stop Richard Spencer and defend against racist and fascist attacks on every campus and in every community. We say no ban, no wall and no borders. We say organize to oppose the fascists, the racists, and the university administration, the cops and ICE and the government who are complicit in these attacks and the enemies of our communities.
We are Solidarity and Defense, a statewide organization fighting to oppose fascist and racist attacks wherever they occur and to unite our forces to build strong community self defense. Join us for a statewide conference in Lansing on January 19 and 20, 2018 to oppose the fascists, the racists, the government and the cops and to build community self defense.
Judge Dismisses “Inciting a Riot” Charge against All Six Defendants; More Connections Between Pemberton and far-Right
Washington, DC – Yesterday, DC Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz dismissed the felony charge of inciting a riot against six defendants currently on trial in a widely watched case involving 194 people arrested at Inauguration Day protests on January 20. Defendants Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Britt Lawson, Michelle “Miel” Macchio, Christina Simmons, and Alexei Wood are being tried on five felonies and two misdemeanors stemming from a mass arrest orchestrated by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Each defendant is still facing more than 50 years in prison if convicted.
“The dismissal of a felony charge against these trial defendants is a victory and shows the weakness of the federal government’s prosecution,” said Betty Rothstein of Defend J20 Resistance. “But, it’s important to recognize that these defendants, along with nearly 200 others, are still facing serious felony charges and still need our support.” Yesterday’s dismissal on a singular charge does not apply to any of the defendants set to go to trial next year.
The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday after calling more than two dozen witnesses and showing extensive video footage of the same broken windows again and again, yet admitting that none of the defendants personally engaged in property destruction.
On Wednesday, in a customary trial proceeding called a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, Judge Leibovitz characterized the role of “street medic” as aiding and abetting the alleged riot. Further, Leibovitz claimed that by providing such a service to protesters, street medics are considered “co-conspirators,” establishing a dangerous precedent for an important role at mass protests. Two trial defendants, Britt Lawson and Miel Macchio, have been identified by the prosecution as street medics.
Judge Leibovitz also claimed Wednesday that a person’s “mere presence” at the anti-Trump march was “aiding in the riot” and that covering one’s face is something “greater than mere expression,” despite masks being ubiquitously used for political reasons as well as a guard against alt-right harassment.
In the same trial proceeding, livestreamer Alexei Wood was accused of trying to “recruit” viewers to join what Judge Leibovitz is calling a riot, alleging that shouting out and narrating what was happening to his viewers constituted “aiding and abetting.” All this despite the presence of other journalists who were broadcasting live coverage but are not being prosecuted. For instance, right wing livestreamer Lauren Southern was allowed by police to leave the area, whereas Wood and another journalist, Aaron Cantu, are still being prosecuted.
Earlier in the week, MPD Detective Greggory Pemberton testified on Monday how he’s worked full-time since Inauguration Day to build a case against the roughly 200 people being prosecuted. Notably, the evidence gathered by Pemberton includes video footage from right wing groups like Project Veritas, Rebel Media, Oath Keepers, and Media Research Center, whose “sole mission is to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left.”
On Friday, media outlet Unicorn Riot posted a screenshot from Pemberton’s twitter indicating that he followed /pol/ News Network, a white supremacist news-sharing platform, causing Pemberton to lock his Twitter account. Pemberton’s twitter was also found to contain tweets and retweets promoting far-right conspiracy theories, including a tweet that suggested “police shootings of unarmed black youth” was a funded “myth.”
On cross-examination, Pemberton admitted Tuesday that he also follows white nationalist media outlet Breitbart News Network and far-right Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, all pointing to a bias against the defendants on trial. Pemberton was also questioned about a 2016 interview with right wing media outlet One America News Network about which presidential candidate would get endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, during which he speaks favorably of Trump’s law-and-order policy platform.
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled to begin on Thursday at 10am, followed by jury instructions and deliberations which could extend into next week.
Yesterday, the NATO3 were back in court to appeal their convictions following their arrests in May 2012. While the NATO3 and their legal team beat the more serious terrorism charges in their original trial, they were each found guilty of two counts of mob action, possession of incendiary devices with intent to commit arson and possession of incendiary device with knowledge someone else intended to commit arson on February 12, 2014.
In April 2012, Occupy Chicago was infiltrated by two undercover Chicago police officers, Mehmet Uygun and Nadia Chiko, ahead of planned protests surrounding the NATO summit. Over the course of several weeks, the officers targeted and entrapped Brian Jacob Church, Brent Betterly, and Jared “Jay” Chase, later known collectively as the NATO3. The undercover officers continuously encouraged the young men to make molotov cocktails and talked about their plans to riot. As audio recordings later revealed, none of these ideas were more than idle talk for the NATO3. The more than two weeks’ worth of audio recordings that were presented during the trial showed that the NATO3 never concretely planned to do anything other than protest. Comments about doing more than protesting were fleeting, with conversations quickly turning to what folks were going to do that evening, who was able to grab beer, or when the weed would arrive.
The undercover officers went as far as buying alcohol for 19-year-old Church in an attempt to lure him and the others into making incriminating statements. After surveilling and pressuring the NATO3 for two weeks without any luck, the undercovers themselves proposed and took steps to make molotov cocktails on May 16, 2012. The molotov cocktails were only ever in the possession of the undercover officers, who quickly hid them in the house where they were staying and obtained a search warrant to go get them again. Later that evening, the home at which the NATO3 were guests was raided, and the NATO3 were disappeared to Chicago Police Department’s notorious Homan Square black site. After being assessed exorbitant money bails, they remained in Cook County Jail for nearly two years until their trial in 2014.
Now, more three year laters, Brent Betterly and Brian Jacob Church have finished their sentences and are living free. Jared Chase remains incarcerated by the Illinois Department of Corrections at Dixon prison in Northwest Illinois. If the appeal is successful, Brent, Jacob, and Jay would have the felony convictions removed from their records and Jay could potentially be released sooner. As a result of his poor health, Jay has picked up several new charges from conflicts with prison guards during his imprisonment.
The courtroom was packed with supporters for oral arguments in the appeal. The NATO3 are now being represented by the Office of the State Appellate Defender, the public defender’s office for appeals. Each of the NATO3 had their own attorney who made distinct arguments, which were then rebutted the state. The defense focused on challenging the convictions for possession of incendiary devices with intent to commit arson by arguing that the evidence presented by the state was insufficient to prove intent beyond a reasonable doubt. These arguments were made primarily by the attorney for Brian Jacob Church, who focused her comments on several issues: the fact that it was the undercovers who repeatedly brought up and took steps to make molotov cocktails; that undercover officer Nadia Chiko was the only person who talked about using them; that the statements made by the NATO3 were fanciful rather than based in reality; and that the NATO3 were most concerned with defending themselves from overzealous riot cops protecting the NATO Summit. Most importantly, Church’s attorney argued that the evidence did not actually show that the NATO3 had any intention to use the molotov cocktails.
Brent Betterly’s attorney made an additional argument that statements of his that were introduced as evidence by the state should have been deemed inadmissible because they were evidence of other acts that the state could not prove actually occurred. During the trial, prosecutors entered dozens of hours of recordings made by undercover officers into evidence. One of the audio clips played in court featured Brent talking about throwing an “acid bomb” at a Sheriff’s office in Florida. Betterly’s attorney argued that since the event Brent was describing could not be substantiated, they should not have been entered into evidence and used to skew the jury’s perception of him. Betterly’s attorney closed her comments by reiterating that the evidence was weakest against Betterly, who was completely absent from the recordings in the nearly two weeks leading up to night the molotovs were constructed by undercover officers. Additionally, she reminded the court that the government’s own evidence showed that Brent was not present when the molotov cocktails were actually made. (He was inside the house while the others were outside.)
The defense for Jared Chase went last. His attorney’s arguments concentrated on Jay not having been fit to stand trial due to cognitive and physical disabilities resulting from Huntington’s disease. Jay first began experiencing the effects of the hereditary disease in 2008. Huntington’s causes people’s physical mobility to gradually decrease until coordinated movement becomes difficult and the person is unable to talk. It also causes cognitive impairments similar to dementia. For people like Jay who are experiencing early-onset Huntington’s, the effects are similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Jay’s attorney argued that the court did not conduct a full fitness hearing, and that if it had, the court would have found him unfit to stand trial. She cited evidence from the case, the court’s own comments regarding his deteriorating health, and the fact that he had to be prescribed antipsychotic medication in order to stand trial. The prosecution rebuked these claims with offensive comments about Chase’s medical condition.
The defense rested their case with Chase’s lawyer bringing up the importance of the First Amendment, stating that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism,” and again emphasizing the lack of evidence that the NATO3 intended to do anything other than protest. The court adjourned and will issue a decision anytime between two weeks and a year from now.
If you would like to write to Jared Chase, he can be reached at:
Jared Chase M44710
Dixon Correctional Center
2600 North Brinton Avenue
Dixon, Illinois 61021
All of us organizing to resist the current grand jury in North Carolina extend our strongest solidarity and our deepest love and admiration to the communities resisting grand jury subpoenas in Virginia. We have especially profound respect for those who have both survived horrific white supremacist violence and defied the state’s intimidation by maintaining their commitment not to cooperate with repression. Whatever circumstances grand juries take place in, we know that justice and healing in our communities can never come from the same state that has dedicated itself to disrupting and destroying our movements.
Resistance to grand juries anywhere strengthens all of our resistance. Both the powerful examples in cases over the past several years and the long history of grand jury resistance have given us examples to learn from and invaluable resources for communities to prepare and educate themselves so that we are all able to resist this secretive and abusive tactic of the state. We are confident that people in Virginia will receive the uncompromising support of many, including ourselves, for their continued resistance to these subpoenas. We have found that support for grand jury resistance in North Carolina this year has been even broader and stronger than we could have ever expected, and cut across so many different movements, political opinions, and communities. We believe that people in Virginia will have a similar experience, because as understanding and knowledge about grand juries grows, so will support for those who resist them.