Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor may be delayed

Citizens for Legitimate Government - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 04:37

Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor may be delayed | 28 June 2018 | The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says work to remove spent nuclear fuel from a cooling pool at one of its reactors may be delayed. A total of 566 fuel units remain in the cooling pool at the No.3 reactor, which suffered a meltdown in 2011. Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, planned to start removing the fuel as early as this autumn, as part of the decommissioning of the nuclear complex. But on Thursday, TEPCO revealed the control board of a crane used in the removal malfunctioned during a test run last month.

Categories: News

Mexico City: Guards Attack Cimarrón Collective’s Autonomous Prison Library

It's Goin Down - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 03:37

The post Mexico City: Guards Attack Cimarrón Collective’s Autonomous Prison Library appeared first on It's Going Down.

This communique speaks to the recent attacks against imprisoned compañeros in the Reclusorio Norte, including the destruction of the autonomous library spearheaded by the Cimarrón Collective. The original in Spanish was published by Proyecto Ambulante and can be found here.

On July 5th, 2018, the compañeros incarcerated in the Reclusorio Norte that make up part of the Cimarrón collective—a collective that has promoted the establishment of an alternative library in the prison—have informed us that this library was attacked by guards. This attack was ordered by the commander Hormigo (the sub-director of security) and Campos, who since this past Tuesday has forced the compañeros to cut their hair beneath threats of being sent to the Maximum-Security Module of the prison.

In the face of these threats, the compañeros agreed to cut their hair, but afterwards filed a complaint against the arrogant attitudes of the security personal. For this reason, the previously mentioned commanders called the compañeros to the governing area to continue with the threats. This time they said that if they did not withdraw their complaint, they would be taken to the Maximum-Security Module.

All of this followed violent revisions by the guards in the cells where the compañeros live, ending with the looting and destruction of the alternative library, Xosé Tarrio González, and the consignment of compañero Gerardo Ramírez Valenzuela to the Punishment Dormitory 1 beneath absurd pretexts. It is also necessary to mention that these attitudes of harassment have been taking place for months, since the authorities see this library space as a danger to their economic interests.

We denounce the attack on this cultural project where the prisoners are able to express themselves freely, and we question the double standards and hypocrisy of the prison authorities. While on one hand they attack spaces of cultural and artistic diffusion, criminalizing those that refuse to docilely submit to their politics of extermination and death, on the other hand, they permit and protect criminal enterprises, of which, the highest administrative functionaries of the prison form a part.

For all of this, we hold responsible the director of the prison, Enrique Serrano Flores, who is in charge of the auditorium Mónica Mandujano Rosillo, and the commanders Hormigo and Campos, for the damage caused to the library and the physical well-being of the compañeros of the collective: Luis Lázaro Urgell, Alejandro N. and Gerardo Ramírez Valenzuela. We also demand that Gerardo is returned from punishment to his normal living quarters.

Categories: News

Oglala Lakota Water Protector Locks Down to Construction site for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline

It's Goin Down - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 00:26

The post Oglala Lakota Water Protector Locks Down to Construction site for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline appeared first on It's Going Down.

Lock-downs continue against the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana.

This morning Mark Tilsen, an Oglala Lakota water protector locked-down to a critical construction site for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in southern Louisiana. All construction was SHUT DOWN.

When police arrived on the scene they arrested all support people at the site, including those across the street from the action. Those arrested include direct support people, media, and Cherri Foytlin.

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Today on his 35th birthday, Mark Tilsen locked-down to stop construction of a key part of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. We have been told that Mark was just extracted and arrested. The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the same company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bayou Bridge would directly connect with the Dakota Access Pipeline system and would bring oil from North Dakota to oil export terminals in Louisiana. A total of seven people were arrested at today's action, as police targetted all support people on site. Please donate to support our movement and to help us get folks out of jail:——Fight the tail end of DAPL, join the resistance to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.Apply to JOIN US AT CAMP: organize a SOLIDARITY ACTION as part of the upcoming #RiseTogether Weeks of Action: will also be hosting a national call Monday at 830pm EST where folks can learn more about the Weeks of Action: #StopETP #WaterIsLife

Posted by L'eau Est La Vie Camp – No Bayou Bridge on Friday, July 6, 2018

The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the same company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bayou Bridge would directly connect with the Dakota Access Pipeline system and would bring oil from North Dakota to oil export terminals in Louisiana.

A total of seven people were arrested at today’s action, as police targetted all support people on site. Please donate to support our movement and to help us get folks out of jail:…

Fight the tail end of DAPL, join the resistance to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.


Or organize a SOLIDARITY ACTION as part of the upcoming #RiseTogether Weeks of Action:

We will also be hosting a national call Monday at 830pm EST where folks can learn more about the Weeks of Action:

#NoBayouBridge #StopETP #WaterIsLife

Categories: News

Help Support the Ongoing #OccupyICE Encampment in Charlotte, NC

It's Goin Down - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 00:19

The post Help Support the Ongoing #OccupyICE Encampment in Charlotte, NC appeared first on It's Going Down.

Call for people to get involved in the ongoing #OccupyICE encampment in Charlotte, NC.

Since July 1st, a small but determined crew of anti-fascist ICE abolitionists have been occupying the area in front of the DHS building in Charlotte, NC where immigrant folks are actively kidnapped and imprisoned by this capitalist imperialist hell hole.

For 5 days now we have filled the air with raucous chants of “Abolish ICE!”  “Abolish Police!” and “Abolish Borders!”. Everyday dozens of folks have driven by honking and cheering in support and bringing supplies. We have received food, medical supplies, the good kind of ice, and camping gear, but there’s just one more thing we need: y’all to come on out!

In order to truly disrupt the fuck outta this concentration camp we *really* need more down, rowdy people! So if you were waiting for one, here’s ya gotdamn invitation to bring the mother truckin ruckus to resist the existence of the absolute fascist horror that is ICE.

Check out our Facebook page: for address.

#OccupyICECLT #ChingaLaMigra #AbolishICE

Categories: News

After Embarrassing Defeat in Montreal, Far-Right Trolls News of Antifascist Attack

It's Goin Down - Sat, 07/07/2018 - 00:00

The post After Embarrassing Defeat in Montreal, Far-Right Trolls News of Antifascist Attack appeared first on It's Going Down.

In the fake of large scale losses in Montreal, the far-Right in so-called Canada went back to doing that they do best – lying on the internet.

A particularly disgusting piece of “fake news” was being shared on social media following to two far-right rallies that occurred in Montreal on July 1st.

While La Meute and Storm Alliance were immobilized by antifascists, a smaller march called by the Front Patriotique du Québec marched from Carré St-Louis to the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

Within hours of the FPQ march ending, a story began to be shared in their networks – and also by members of La Meute, Storm Alliance, and other such groups – about a brutal attack on three Indigenous people who had been trying to join the FPQ march. According to this story, antifascists spotted these would-be Patriots at an unnamed metro station and beat them so badly they had to be hospitalized:

In another post, this same “Calinda Nath Grondin Cado” claimed specifically that it was Jaggi Singh who led this violent attack:

As the story was repeated on twitter by La Meute member Sébastien Chabot (alias World Truth), it became a matter of “the troops of Eve Tores” (sic) who had sent three people to hospital:

The spin people were giving this on social media was that “antifa” had attacked Indigenous people hoping to attend the FPQ march. This plays into the increasingly prominent narrative within the national-populist right, that Québécois were never colonizers but were the historic allies of Indigenous people, who are now called upon to stand with Quebec against the “invasion” of “illegal immigrants” and a corrupt (English) Canadian federal government.

The problem with the story of this attack, of course, is that it is not true. Not even a little bit. As became clear quickly enough.

Thanks to work by comrades at LetroupeauQC, it quickly became clear that the people shown in the photos were in fact victims of violence … just not in Montreal, not in 2018, and not from antifascists.

Mathieu Grégoire was the victim of a homophobic assault in Beauce in 2016:

Stephanie Littlewood was the victim of a brutal assault from her ex-partner in Leeds, England, 2016:

Nagieb Khaja is a journalist who was beaten by border guards at the Turkey/Syria border in 2015:

Yet again, the far right has been caught peddling lies. What makes this case special is how brazen the lie was and how quickly it was debunked by people on our side. Indeed, within 24 hours, members of La Meute were being warned not to share the story, that doing so would simply discredit their side:

While it is good to see that even our opponents have now conceded that this story is untrue, it would be a mistake for us to simply move on without highlighting some important dynamics in play.

First, we must note that two people were accused publicly on social media of being behind a violent assault. Eve Torres is a candidate for Québec Solidaire in the Outremont-Mont Royal riding, who has garnered media attention due to the fact that she wears a hijab. Jaggi Singh is a Montreal-based anarchist and antifascist who both the far right and “mainstream” political and media figures have tried to paint as the “leader of the antifas”. Both Torres and Singh spent the day at the anti-La Meute demonstration and so couldn’t have been involved in any assault some place else, even if it had occurred, but this didn’t stop members of the far right from accusing them. This was both slander, and incitement to violence – more than one person commented on social media how there would be reprisals for this non-attack. It is no coincidence that these two were singled out in this way: hijab-wearing and racialized activists in Quebec are prime targets of the far right here, and always end up topping their “enemies” list. A situation which the mainstream media and political figures are complicit in creating and maintaining, due to its own racism, sexism, and Islamophobia.


Second, this serves as a reminder that the far right is built on lies and misconceptions about the world. Not a surprise, something we all know. Nonetheless, we assume that most of our opponents are at least sincere – i.e. they may be repeating lies, but we assume they believe them. Yet it is important to keep in mind that there are operators who understand the situation, who realize how credulous their fellow far-rightists are, and who take advantage by consciously fabricating lies in order to advance their agenda. (We saw this in December in the case of “fake news” targeting mosques in Cote-des-Neiges, and more recently when a far-right troll tried to fabricate evidence of sexual assault by a medic at the G7 protests.) Whether these people are police operatives attempting to manipulate the overall political situation, pathological individuals seeking attention, or unscrupulous political agents who don’t mind lying to their own side is often difficult to tell.

Dirty politics of this sort are referred to by police and military as “psychological operations.” Progressive movements need to understand that we are now operating in a situation where such psychological operations are increasingly common, and we need to take precautions to reduce their impact. This is not a problem that will go away, and we are horribly mistaken (and naive) if we believe that all cases will be this easy to spot. We have to be careful.

Categories: News

Borders = Global Apartheid: A New Poster

It's Goin Down - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 23:46

The post Borders = Global Apartheid: A New Poster appeared first on It's Going Down.

To support the ongoing fight against the racialized power disparities imposed by citizenship and national boundaries, CrimethInc. has prepared a new poster, “Borders=Global Apartheid.”

National boundaries are one of the chief structural factors that enforce de facto white supremacy. While Donald Trump’s remarks have made it clear that he sees immigration policy as a way to systematically privilege whiteness on a global scale, the regulation of immigration has always served that function, ever since this land was wrested from its original inhabitants. National boundaries are one of the ways that the state purports to protect citizens from the Other—when nothing is more dangerous than to concentrate so much force and legitimacy in a single militarized institution.

The constructs of race and national citizenship are two of the most fundamental tools used to divide those who are exploited under capitalism. We do not believe it is ever truly in the interests of any group to identify with those above them in the hierarchy rather than organizing alongside those who are less privileged than them. If we permit our rulers to determine whose lives are valuable and whose lives are not, they will ultimately target citizens with the same repressive apparatus they use against those who lack documents.

Our hearts go out to all the people who are suffering in detention centers at this moment—to all the families who have been separated by ICE agents or immigration protocols—to everyone who is treated as expendable and inferior.

This poster draws on material from the book we published last year, No Wall They Can Build, about the forces driving and impeding migration throughout North America, and from our earlier poster, “Borders: The Global Caste System.” Please print these out and wheatpaste them around your community. We’ve also published a sticker you can use to the same purpose.

Click the image above to access the PDF.

Click the image above to access the PDF.

The poster text follows:

Borders don’t surround populations; they run through them. They don’t protect communities; they cut them apart. There are 11 million undocumented people in the United States, many of whom have lived here for decades. Without their labor, the economy would grind to a halt. Of those who cross the border without papers, half are deportees attempting to return to their families in the US.

The point of deportations is not to empty the US of undocumented people. It is to terrorize them with the threat of deportation in order to maintain a caste system. As long as part of the population lives in constant danger, employers can exploit a vast pool of disposable labor. This drives down wages for workers with US citizenship, too. But it’s not undocumented immigrants who are “stealing their jobs”—it’s the border itself.

The border enables the ruling class to force down wages, suppress dissent, and channel resentment towards those who have the least power in society rather than those who have the most. The solution isn’t just to abolish the border—it is to put an end to the social order it protects.

Further Reading

The Limit Point of Capitalist Equality: Notes towards an Abolitionist Anti-Racism, by Chris Chen

Categories: News

Affinity: Beyond Friendship

It's Goin Down - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 23:19

The post Affinity: Beyond Friendship appeared first on It's Going Down.

Video collaboration between Sub.Media and Resonance Audio Distro.

Affinity is exactly this: a reciprocal knowledge between comrades, shared analysis that lead to prospectives of action. Affinity is therefore directed on one hand towards theoretical deepening and on the other towards intervention in social conflictuality.

Categories: News

Multiple Crossing Sites Marked to Help Migrants Cross from US to Canada

It's Goin Down - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 22:58

The post Multiple Crossing Sites Marked to Help Migrants Cross from US to Canada appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following report on an anti-borders actions was originally posted on Solidarity Across Borders and reposted on Montreal Counter-Info.

Signs bearing the words “CROSSING HERE due to (un)Safe Third Country Agreement. Still on unceded indigenous lands” were placed at five different sites along the Canada-US border early morning on Canada Day.

There are multiple sites similar to Roxham Road every few kilometers along Quebec’s border with the United States. In addition to sending a message of support to refugees and migrants who are crossing irregularly from the United States, this action was meant to encourage people living in the area to actively support them – to open minds and hearts, and, in a very literal sense, to Open the Borders.

The signs draw attention to the reason people are crossing in this way: the so-called Safe Third Country agreement, which prevents migrants from making refugee claims if they go to a regular border crossing. They also question the legitimacy of the border and the Canadian state, established by European colonial powers to consolidate control over stolen lands and resources.


The action marked the end of the “Refugees Welcome Caravan” which was on the road from June 29th to July 1st, traveling along the Canada-US border from Coaticook to Huntingdon to build support in the border region for migrants. At public gatherings such as an antique car show in Venise en Québec and a farmers’ market in Frelighsburg, shopping mall parking lots, and city centres, the caravan attracted attention with a musical procession, juggling and fire tricks, while passing the message with posters, flyers, speeches and improv theatre. Over the three days, more than 60 people – from Montreal and the region – participated in the 10-car caravan, which spent the two nights in a church and a farm.

The vast majority of people the caravan met supported the message of welcome to refugees. Caravan participants took the opportunity to exchange with people who thought Canada was much more welcoming than the United States and those blinded by racism into believing the fear-mongering propaganda of the right-wing and populist politicians in the hopes of shifting their perspective to the points of view of the oppressed.

Despite current public attention to the violence of the American immigration system, Canada continues to close its border to migrants coming from the United States as refugees. When people manage to cross irregularly, Canada’s refugee system is the next barrier they face: less than 50% of people whose files have been heard (as of March 2018) have been accepted. People who are rejected are deported or forced into precarity as undocumented migrants.

Solidarity Across Borders rejects the case-by-case approach and calls for status for everyone crossing the border. Though Canada is certainly no paradise, people are coming because they think it is the best option for them. No one should have to go through the stress, precarity and humiliation of trying to prove they are a refugee and why they deserve to stay here. No one should be threatened with deportation. No one should be stripped of status and be forced to live in the shadows, prey to exploitation and fearing discovery.


Categories: News

Interview with Mexican Anarchist Political Prisoner Miguel Peralta Betanzos

It's Goin Down - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 22:14

The post Interview with Mexican Anarchist Political Prisoner Miguel Peralta Betanzos appeared first on It's Going Down.

Miguel Peralta Betanzos is a political prisoner from Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, locked up since 2015. Below is an audio interview in Spanish with Miguel conducted by Voices in Movement. It’s followed by an English translation of the transcription, done in part by a comrade from Chicago, and then the Spanish transcription of the interview. In the interview, Miguel discusses the struggles of the community of Eloxochitlán, his case and that of other political prisoners from the community, his thoughts on the intersection of anarchist and indigenous movements, and the role of international solidarity in supporting imprisoned comrades. More information about Miguel and Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón can be found in a pamphlet available in IGD’s library.


Voices in Movement: Good afternoon, good evening everyone, we’re here with compañero Miguel Peralta, political prisoner from Oaxaca, Mexico, and we are going to be talking with him about the legal process that he is going through, about his perspective on the different struggles taking place in Oaxaca and Mexico, and about the relationship between the anarchist and indigenous movements, and finally we will talk about international solidarity for these movements and struggles and possible forms in which we could support his case. Hello Miguel, thank you for being here with us today.

Miguel: Hi, good evening or good morning to all the compas that are listening.

Let’s start. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you, where are you from, where you are right now and any other things that you would like to tell the compas that will listen to this interview?

Well, my full name is Miguel Ángel Peralta Betanzos, I belong to the community of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, which in turn belongs to the Mazateco indigenous group which is located in the northeastern region of the state of Oaxaca. In my community and in the Mazateca region we speak the Mazateca language.

I studied a bit of anthropology, and since I was young I liked to be sociable, have friends and compas from other places and from my town as well. I like to know the land, walk around in the community, walk around the sidewalks. I like music, different rhythms and food, the gastronomy of the community and of other places. I like to read, and of course, I like sports, to play, to play basketball and soccer a little bit. I like to swim, to go to the river, touch the water, feel the rain, walk under the rain. I’ve liked for my feet to touch everything since I was young. I like the traditional festivities of my town, the celebration of the dead, where we can best celebrate and share in community, in community with our compas and our families in our town. I like to remember our dead as well, which include my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, who were alive and have left their marks on our consciousness.

I am a member of the Community Assembly, which is the entity where some of the collective activities are planned, like the tequio or faena [community work projects], which is part of the everyday mutual aid work of the community. We have participated in various struggles, inside of the community and outside of it as well, like in 2006, when we participated in the revolts in Oaxaca.

“Community Assembly – Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón. Mutual Aid – Organization – Self-management – Autonomy – Community”

Can you talk about some of the struggles of your town, Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón?

During the coffee boom in the 70s, 80s, and 90s there was an increase in the rule of the cacique. Basically, the cacique was the person that ruled and imposed their will through power, money, and also armed individuals. The direction the community was going to take was decided by this person and this person also handed out collective and municipal jobs. Well then, by way of the democratically organized teachers and conscientized peasants, a struggle against caciquismo began during these times and by the 90s, in 1996, an Indigenous Congress was held in Eloxochitlán. At this congress, topics of identity and autonomy were discussed. This congress took place just as the Zapatista struggle was developing. Various neighboring towns attended to share their experiences of struggle. In 1997, there was a series of activities that took place, beginning with a march to Mexico City that lasted around five days and, I don’t know, around 400 people participated. The march was to commemorate the assassination of Ricardo Flores Magón in a U.S. prison and to kick off what they called the Year of Ricardo Flores Magón. And during this year, they organized several talks about gender, about feminism, about paramilitarization, about self-defense, of course, and they had rock and punk shows in the community, as well as Mazateca traditional music. There were also workshops on traditional medicine, films screenings, and workshops about the land, crops, and GMOs. This took place in 1997. Around the year 2001, a community radio was built which served as a bridge in the struggle for self-determination. In addition, a fanzine, La Voz de N’guixo, was created and this helped raise awareness about the defense of natural resources and, in turn, a struggle against the political parties. After that, a council was created, which they called the Indigenous Council, and, well, I think this is the context from which the struggle against the political parties and in defense of our land has arisen.

Before we keep going, can you explain the politics of your town in Oaxaca? In particular the system of uso y constumbres [indigenous practices of self-governance]?

In the state of Oaxaca, there are around 500 municipalities, the majority of them are indigenous and are divided in eight regions. This is very distinctive of Oaxaca, because the majority speak an indigenous language, but additionally for a long time now these municipalities are governed by a system that is called usos y costumbres. More than 50% of these municipalities are governed by this system. Now, a few years ago, approximately five years ago, this system of usos y costumbres was modified and its name changed to “normative internal system”. This supposedly means that municipalities have autonomy in how they are governed and how they elect their authorities, be it municipal authorities or any of the local positions. But the state government in Oaxaca has the ability to interfere, because at the end you find, well, the municipalities that are governed by usos y costumbres are elected through an assembly. But when they’ve elected their representatives, they send the documents to the state offices of the Normative Internal System. It is there that the representatives are approved by the government. But the voice of these representatives comes from the community assemblies and they give their word to the assemblies.

Blockade at the entrance to Eloxochitlán.

Let’s continue with the historical context of the struggle and the organizing in your town.

After the year 2000, our community was supposed to be governed by usos y constumbres, without political parties. More or less after 2006, after the struggle in Oaxaca, there was a tendency in the community trying to introduce political parties, but more than that, it was more overt, more shameless. The PRI started it, since they have a lot of people there, but needless to say, also the PAN and the PRD came in. But other parties like Convergencia also came in. It seems this took place from around 2009 to 2011. And in 2011, elections took place like they were being run by political parties. A person named Manuel Zepeda Cortés ran an electoral campaign, making speeches, as well as giving out money so that people voted for him. This was something that had never been seen before in the history of our community. Elections in the community are called for using the conch shell, setting a date, and then the people of the community come into town so they can elect their traditional authorities.

In this case it was not like that, two groups were created and Zepeda Cortés ordered orange shirts and dressed his people in them. It was there that this trend of political parties began, as well as the struggle against political parties, but in a more direct manner, more head-on, because Zepeda Cortés was not going to be allowed to come in and enter city hall [as mayor]. So, the town hall was closed down by the people in 2011 and this led him to bring in the state police. In fact, the army also entered our community in February 2011 under the pretense of searching for weapons and drugs. But we knew beforehand they were coming, and what they did was open up city hall for this person. And clashes happened throughout the three-year term of this person. In fact, his entire term was illegal because the court threw out the results of the election because the community did not agree to be governed by him. And he governed in a fashion similar to a dictator because he used the police and repression on various occasions. He went so far as to bring in armed individuals to instill fear in the community. In fact, a paramilitary group was formed in the community which would attack people that were against him.

Another thing that this person did was to expropriate water for his ponds and to buy land to extract rocks and sand. He had a crusher and sold this material to companies that built highways and buildings. There were a lot of people who were not happy with this situation and started to protest because he was taking water from others. But by then he already had a paramilitary group, the support of the state police and the army, and he would call them when anything happened.

Later, in 2012, they detained and tortured compañero Pedro Peralta. He was imprisoned for three years in Cuicatlán as well, and a struggle to free political prisoners began. During this time period, compañeros Jaime Betanzos and Alfredo Bolaños were also imprisoned. After beginning the struggle against political parties, the community started to unite. And in 2014, new authorities were elected, in a more collective, more traditional manner. But it did not last long, it lasted around eight months and an attack was launched against the community authorities. This happened because in the previous administration, Zepeda Cortés not only acted like a dictator, he also stole, enriched himself illegally, stole all the community’s money, and began to build houses and buy cars, land, and much more. Foreign bank accounts and all that. And the state auditor required the mayor, who at the time was Alfredo Bolaños, to summon Manuel Zepeda Cortés so he could explain the 21 million pesos that were unaccounted for during his tenure. That is what caused the conflict which we are involved in right now. In 2014, Zepeda Cortés planned clashes with the goal of avoiding handing over this information. He took over city hall and started the violence. The town organized to defend their collective rights and that is why we are imprisoned right now.

Armed group led by Manuel Zepeda Cortés taking over city hall on November 17, 2014.

The state auditor summoned Manuel Zepeda Cortés, but he did not want to go. So on in November 17, 2014 at around 12pm, together with approximately 80 people, they took over the city hall and kidnapped the community’s authorities. They held them for about eight hours. The people began to organize to rescue the people locked in city hall. They were beaten, the kidnappers were beating them and they forced the mayor to sign a resignation letter, which was not possible because the community elected him, and unless that document was issued by the Oaxaca state congress, he cannot resign. After that there was a very hostile environment, an even more violent environment than before, because the group that supported Zepeda Cortés was patrolling all the time, going around the community armed and instilling fear.

On December 14, there was a call for an assembly in the community of Eloxochitlán to elect a community representative as mayor of the municipality who would be in charge of managing the land. This had be an adult who has knowledge about the community’s lands if someone wants to sell or transfer them, and also to keep watch over the community’s communal spaces and territory. That day the community assembly met in the center of town and a clash took place because Manuel Zepeda Cortés also called for this assembly, but this call was to attack, to attack the compañerxs of the community assembly. That day I was in Mexico City because I tasked with buying toys for the kids for January 6, 2015 [Three Kings’ Day]. I found out the clashes started at 11am. The compañerxs organized a march to city hall, where the assembly was going to take place, and that’s where they were shot at.

A clash started between the compañerxs and some were wounded by bullets. There was a second clash at Manuel Zepeda Cortés’ house and a person was detained there, whose name is Manuel Zepeda Lagunas, who Zepeda Cortés’ son. He was detained with a gun and taken to Huautla because that’s where the prosecutor’s office is. The municipal authorities – the community representatives – they took him there and turned him over to the state police. After this attack, there was a tense climate in the community because it wasn’t known what would happen when he was brought to the prosecutors. Other compañerxs took our wounded compas to the hospital, some with bullet wounds in their necks, heads, and hands. They took them to the hospital to get taken care of, but after 8pm they began to detain the compañeros. Among those detained was the acting mayor of the municipality, Alfredo Bolaños Pacheco, and the municipal police that were with him and that handed over Zepeda Lagunas.

Then they detained Jaime Betanzos while he was waiting for a ride back to our community. The ministerial police detained him at an intersection in Huautla, close to Azteca Bank, and they took him to the city of Oaxaca. The rest of the compañeros were arrested together, around seven compañeros, and they have been charged with homicide after they handed over this person who was alive. From that point, they started the hunting of members of the assembly, many people in the community were displaced, a lot of people left out of fear of repression. In fact, the state police sent in a detachment, the federal police also arrived on December 15, and the only thing one breathed was fear.

After that, the assembly began to fall apart, to break up, and the struggle for the prisoners has been really divergent, very vague, really separated from being a point of organization, due to the fear that was instilled and that they were also able to instill through the media: through the police and repression and through apathy and displacement. A lot of families were displaced and went to other cities and communities. Entire families had to leave and because of that we have not been able to organize. Many live in fear, they just say that those who organize end up in jail, and that’s the crux of the matter. The fear comes from that, one mentions jail and they’re afraid of ending up in this place: jail. It is always a little complicated having a family member imprisoned, because there are expenses, for a variety of reasons. In the end it is really difficult to start organizing again. Many of the compañerxs look for harmony and community as well, the community of their family, and they don’t go into that which is communal, that which is the struggle.

That’s what has happened in our community. A lot of fear has been sown through the media and through repression. That has been a reason for our lack of progress in the struggle for the compañeros who are political prisoners, as well as for the freedom and self-determination of our community. To return to organizing ourselves against this imposition that continues to instill fear through people that claim to be human rights defenders who demand protective measures and the government gives them this “cover” to continue ruling through repression. That is where we are right now. We are trying to re-organize, at least so we can be free through the various struggles we have inside the prisons, be it the work we do, fasting, hunger strikes that we carry out when we are put in isolation.

An army incursion into Eloxochitlán.

Do you want to tell us the details of your arrest?

Well, I was arrested on April 30, 2015. At that time, I was working in the Tepito neighborhood of Mexico City. Plainclothes cops came into the place where I was working with my brother. They didn’t identify themselves. They started to attack us, they never identified themselves and didn’t have a warrant, and we resisted arrest for a while. More and more cops arrived, and they managed to get us at gunpoint and with tear gas. They took me to the Federal District’s District Attorney’s office in a private car and gave me a medical examination, showed me to the media, and took some general photos of me. Then they gave me over to the Ministerial Police of Oaxaca. Those officers took me to a prison called Tlaxiaco, in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, about 400 or 500 km away from my home. That’s what my arrest was like.

Where are you right now?

Right now… Well, I was only in Tlaxiaco for a month because my lawyers and I requested transfer to a prison closer to my home, as is my right. I’m now in a place called San Juan Bautista Cuicatlán, in the Oaxacan region of Cañada, four hours from my home. That’s where I am. I’ve been in this prison for (more than) two years and eight months.

How are things with your case right now?

Well actually, it’s been an irregular process, there hasn’t been due process under the law, since the whole case is so political. In fact, right now seven compañeros from my community are incarcerated. Some are in the Ixcotel prison (in the center of Oaxaca), one is in Etla and I’m here in Cuicatlán. They’ve been delaying the trials the whole time. For example, we’ve asked to question the victims or the people who accused us, and they have taken a long time to show up. And actually, there are still two people (who haven’t testified), even though it’s been more than two years, they haven’t shown up to testify. Only the state and ministerial police (have) because it’s their job. (We) applied a lot of pressure to get them to go and testify. For example, I filed an injunction more than two years ago and the ruling only came in December and they rejected (the injunction). The question of process in the Mixed Jurisdiction Court of Huautla, they’ve acted all “huaje”[1], there’s no impartial justice; the court has received money. They’ve switched judges multiple times during our trial and they’ve ignored our demands, which have been legal and within our rights. I think that if there were really justice and impartiality, we would be free, because there’s no direct evidence establishing the commission of the alleged crime we committed or what they’re charging us with.

You’ve told us about your people’s struggle and your case, but for outsiders, could you give us a broader picture of Mexico’s social struggles, where you see examples of struggles that inspire you, and what you think are the needs of this diverse range of struggles in Mexico… and one thing that interests me a lot, if you can speak on it: you’re from an indigenous group from the Sierra Mazateca in Oaxaca, but you’ve also been influenced by anarchist and liberatory practices and thought. Could you share the relationship you see between anarchist and indigenous movements and struggles?

I think that social struggles in Mexico are very diverse. There’s an endless number of movements, both urban ones focused on defense or self-defense of their own territory or on organizing to take back public spaces, like in the neighborhood assemblies in Mexico City. For example, in the wake of the earthquake, there are lots of people who are reorganizing to have a roof over their head and to be able to fight against mega-projects. In rural areas, in the indigenous movement and movements that are outside cities, they’re fighting against the same monster that is capitalism, and against mega-projects. The issue of mining deals with natural resources in general. Water is involved, and even medicinal plants that some foreign companies (Japanese, gringo, Canadian, Spanish, and French) try to monopolize or patent in order to market them and sell the medication and make us dependent on their medicines and make us consume them. But we know there’s traditional medicine in villages. There are struggles for land, self-determination, and autonomy. There are actually a lot of differences within the indigenous movement, because some groups are dealing with the issue of not cooperating with political parties, others are struggling to defend their land without being fully aware that the political parties are there, and others are thinking about autonomy itself without having any relationship to the state.

So, you were asking about what relationship there is between indigenous movements and liberatory and anarchist ones. I think they share some basic principles within liberatory thought and some liberatory thinkers have had an influence on indigenous struggles, like in self-management, autonomy, defense of the land, expropriation of their resources and spaces, self-determination, and all these struggles are against the same enemy: capitalism since its beginnings. There are also ruptures within these struggles. There’s a very intense rupture around the issue of electoral politics in Mexico; there are movements or one part of the indigenous movement that’s interested in what they call “good government,” and another part that’s not, that’s interested in autonomy without any focus on electoral politics or on taking power nationally. Each one is struggling from its position and spaces, and I think there are some movements and communities that have their own methods of community defense that they use. That might be related to the liberatory movement, a struggle for their very being, from the community or individuals. For example, there are communities that are fighting not only against mega-projects; some are fighting against identity itself, or for their own identity, for their language, maize, their worldview, form of dress, and against food and GMOs, and I think that’s also part of the indigenous movement and the liberatory movement. We’re trying to fight to be ourselves, to be free. When it comes down to it, the two sides are seeking a common good. Maybe we idealize this notion of the common good, that self-management is necessary in communities and in the liberatory movement.

Throughout the territory and geography that we are in, there are movements that inspire us. For example in Oaxaca, the Ikoots in Álvaro Obregón are fighting against wind farms, the Nahua in Ostula are fighting for self-determination, in Cherán compas are fighting for autonomy, the Yaquis in Sonora are fighting to defend their territory and the Yaqui River, compañerxs in Xanica in the southern Oaxaca highlands are defending their territory and their communal system and form of organization, and in the south, Mapuche compañerxs have a long tradition of fighting to defend their territory, autonomy, self-determination, and ancestral Mapuche identity. I think that all of these struggles are about maintaining their own form of organization. We can’t act like there’s perfect harmony in indigenous struggles, because there are conflicts there too, and plenty of issues that are being debated internally, like issues of machismo and culture…

There are also compas in the northern mountains of Puebla, the Totonac and the Nahua who are struggling against Chinese and Canadian companies that are taking the water and minerals from these places and their people. There’s also a tradition of natural and traditional medicine. They’re fighting for a fair market where they can sell the products they produce. These are the struggles that are inspiring us right now.

“Freedom for the political prisoners of Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón”

For the compas listening to this interview, how can they or we support you in the legal process you and other incarcerated compañeros from Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón are going through? Also, could you talk about what international solidarity means for you and how we can cultivate this solidarity?

The issue of international solidarity is really important to me, as long as there’s reciprocity between compañerxs at least through letters, calls, and things like that. Because in the end international solidarity isn’t a local or territorial struggle; it’s a broader issue, and a broader fight that we can’t reduce to a single place. It’s global and encompasses all people, it’s breaking down borders and walls. I think that international solidarity is also important because its forms of mobilization generate pressure on the countries and spaces where people are struggling and watching…

For example, those of us who are locked up, if people call the court or send letters, it creates pressure and brings us into another dimension of the struggle. Important questions come up such as comradeship and following a case, and it also brings about friendship between compañerxs who are sharing letters and calls. We can listen to each other through the different methods we have available. In our case this is important because you all can talk about our cases elsewhere and bring our voices and our small struggles to other places. Another thing would be to help us sell our products. For example, I make hammocks and bags, and one thing would be to support us financially to help with our legal process, to help our families be able to come visit us and bring food to the prison, because it’s hard to get certain things here and they have to be brought in from outside. That’s why the international attention and solidarity with compañerxs are important to me. They may be people we don’t know, but we have things in common that bring us together in these struggles.

Another thing I think is important to mention is the issue of international solidarity reaching compañerxs in other places around the globe and having them be aware of what we’re going through while we’re locked up, requesting their support through writing letters, making phone calls, or if there’s some kind of repression, being aware of these situations that come up during the process and during our struggle in isolation.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the compas listening to this interview?

I want to thank the compañerxs who are listening and who are part of the struggle and are in solidarity with imprisoned compañerxs around the world, or with struggles for liberation or the struggles of people fighting for self-determination, fighting to be free. I also wanted to thank Los Otros Abogadoz, who are the compañerxs taking on my case and who have contributed their efforts and their solidarity to move forward with this process and break free from the yoke of the law and injustice and walk towards freedom. With the efforts of these compañerxs, we’ve been walking slowly but opening up space with their solidarity, their effort, and especially their work. We owe so much to them. Also, I’d like to ask for your support for another small struggle. As I was saying, we have many ways of organizing ourselves and fighting from prison. We have some products to sell, and you all can help us by buying things like the hammocks and bags that I make here to pass the time and not get bored, but also in order to have a little money for immediate expenses like my defense and lawyers, to send out documents, so that our families can come visit us, and for food and basic needs for those of us in isolation. Sending hugs and strength, and I hope you all are doing well in your struggles… let’s tear down the prison walls!

[1]This is an expression to indicate indifference. To be “huaje” is to act like nothing’s happening, or to act indifferent despite knowing or seeing that something is wrong.

Miguel after a court hearing earlier this year. Entrevista a Miguel Peralta Betanzos – Preso Político de Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca

Voices in Movement: Bueno, buenas tardes, noches a todos y todas, estamos acá con el compañero Miguel Peralta, preso político de Oaxaca México, vamos a charlar un poco con él, sobre su proceso jurídico que vive, sobre su perspectiva de las diferentes luchas en Oaxaca y México, y de la relación entre los movimientos de anarquistas e indígenas y finalmente comentaremos algunas cosas relacionadas de la solidaridad internacional, en estos casos y las posibles formas en que pudiéramos apoyar su proceso jurídico. Hola Miguel, gracias por estar hoy con nosotros.

Miguel: Que tal buenas noches o buenos días a todos los compas que nos escuchan

Va vamos a comenzar, ¿puedes contarnos un poco de tí, quién eres, de dónde eres, dónde te encuentras ahorita y cualquier cosa que quisieras comentar con el resto de los compas que escuchen esta entrevista?

Pues bueno, mi nombre completo es Miguel Ángel Peralta Betanzos, pertenezco a la comunidad de Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, que a su vez pertenecemos al grupo indígena mazateco, que está ubicado en el noroeste del Estado de Oaxaca. En mi comunidad y en la región mazateca hablamos la lengua mazateca.

Estudié un poco la antropología, desde pequeño me ha gustado ser amigable, tener amigos y compas de otros lados y desde mi mismo pueblo también. Conocer el territorio, caminar un poco sobre la comunidad, sobre las veredas, me gusta la música, diferentes ritmos y… la comida, la gastronomía de la comunidad y de otros lados, me gusta leer, claro que sí, me gusta el deporte, jugar, jugar basquetbol, fútbol un poco, me gusta nadar, ir al río, tocar el agua, sentir la lluvia, caminar en la lluvia, me gusta que mis pies también toquen el lodo, desde pequeño. Me gustan las fiestas tradicionales de mi pueblo, la fiesta de muertos que es dónde más podemos celebrar o compartir la comunalidad, la comunalidad con nuestros compas y nuestros familiares en nuestra tierra. Me gusta recordar a nuestros muertos también, que son mis abuelos, mis tíos, que han estado vivos y que nos han dejado como huella en nuestra conciencia.

Soy miembro de la Asamblea Comunitaria, que es el ente donde se desarrollan algunas actividades colectivas, como el tequio o la faena, que es parte del trabajo o el apoyo mutuo que se da en la cotidianidad de la comunidad. Hemos participado en varias luchas, dentro de la comunidad y también afuera como en el 2006, que participamos en las revueltas de Oaxaca.

¿Puedes mencionar algunos antecedentes de la lucha en tu pueblo, Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón?

Durante el auge del café, esto en la década de los 70s, 80´s y 90´s, pues aumentó el cacicazgo, que bueno el sitio o la figura del cacique era la persona que se imponía a través de su poder y a través del dinero, y pues también tenía gente armada. Se decidía o decidía el rumbo de la comunidad, esta persona también repartía los cargos colectivos o los cargos municipales. Bueno para esto, a través de los maestros democráticos y los campesinos conscientes se inició una lucha contra el caciquismo en estas décadas y bueno en la década de los noventas, en el 96, se llevó a cabo un Congreso Indígena en la comunidad de Eloxochitlán. Los temas ahí que se abordaron fueron sobre la identidad y sobre la autonomía. Justo estaba, la lucha zapatista había detonado en el 94 y en el 96 se arma este Congreso en la comunidad de Eloxochitlán. A este congreso asisten varios pueblos aledaños a compartir sus experiencias de lucha. En el 97, en el año del 97 se lleva a cabo un ciclo de actividades en la que se inicia con una marcha-caminata hacia la Ciudad de México, que dura aproximadamente cinco días, en la que participan, pues no sé,  más o menos como 400 personas, esto es para conmemorar un año del asesinato de Ricardo Flores Magón en una cárcel gringa e iniciar al que llamaron el año ciudadano Ricardo Flores Magón, y bueno se armaron durante todo ese año, se armaron charlas sobre cuestión del género, sobre feminismo, sobre la paramilitarización, sobre la autodefensa claro y se hicieron tocadas de rock y de punk en la comunidad, de música tradicional mazateca también. También se llevaron talleres sobre medicina tradicional, se proyectaron películas, y también talleres sobre la tierra, sobre el cultivo y sobre los transgénicos. Esto fue en el año 97. Ya para el año 2001, se instaló una radio comunitaria que sirvió como un puente en la lucha por la autodeterminación, a demás que se creó un fanzine que se llamó La Voz de N’guixó, y esto servía para concientizar sobre, la defensa de los recursos naturales y esto también dio a su vez, una lucha contra los partidos políticos. Después se creo un Consejo, que le llamaron el Consejo Indígena y bueno, yo creo que, estos son cómo los antecedentes que iniciaron parte de la lucha que hemos llevado a cabo contra los partidos políticos y con la defensa del territorio también.

Antes que avancemos más, ¿puedes explicar un poco sobre la política en los pueblos de Oaxaca, en particular el sistema de usos y costumbres?

En el estado de Oaxaca, existen aproximadamente más de 500 municipios, la mayoría son indígenas y están divididos en ocho regiones. Es muy característico en Oaxaca esta cuestión, porque la mayoría habla una lengua indígena, pero también desde hace mucho tiempo están regidos por un sistema que se llama usos y costumbres, más del 50% de estos municipios están regidos por este sistema, que ahora, hace unos años, aproximadamente unos cinco años atrás, se modificó esta cuestión de usos y costumbres y se le cambió el nombre por sistema normativos internos, que se supone que los municipios tienen autonomía propia en el que se rigen por ese sistema y eligen a sus autoridades  ya sea a sus autoridades municipales y a todos los cargos que conllevan a esta organización política. Pero, el estado en Oaxaca, tiene injerencia de esa manera, porque al final se encuentra, bueno, los municipios que están regidos por usos y costumbres, se eligen a través de una asamblea y acuerdan en asamblea elegir a sus autoridades, pero cuando ya eligen a su representante o a sus representantes mandan los documentos a las oficinas del Sistema Normativo Interno, que ahí es donde avalan ya a los representantes, pero la voz de estos representantes, y la palabra es importante y se da en la asamblea comunitaria, en las asambleas comunitarias de los municipios.

Bueno vamos a adelante con el panorama histórica de lucha y organización en tu pueblo.

Después de la década del 2000, se supone que nuestra comunidad está regida por usos y costumbres y que no hay partidos políticos. Más o menos como para, después del 2006, después de la lucha de Oaxaca, se dio como una tendencia en la comunidad de introducir a los partidos políticos, pero ya más a, ya con más descaro, más a la “cara de perro” como dicen por acá, y empezaron a, el PRI, pues por si tienen mucha gente comprimida, también entró el PAN, y el PRD pues no se diga. Pero también entraron otros partidos como Convergencia, me parece; eso fue como del 2009 al 2011, y para el 2011 las elecciones se llevan a cabo de una manera como si fueran con partidos políticos. Una persona que se llama Manuel Zepeda Cortés inicia su campaña electoral, cosa que en ningún momento antes en la historia de nuestra comunidad se había visto esto que una persona hiciera proselitismo y que además pues diera dinero para que votaran por él, bueno porque las elecciones en la comunidad pues se llama a través de la concha, se acuerda la fecha y las personas de la comunidad asisten al centro de la población para poder elegir a sus autoridades tradicionales.

En este caso no fue así, se partió en dos grupos y esta persona mandó traer sus playeras naranjas y uniformó a las personas de su grupo; y allí es donde inicia esa tendencia de los partidos políticos, e inicia la lucha contra los partidos políticos pero de una manera más directa, más frontal, porque no se permite que esta persona llegue y abra el palacio, se le cierra el palacio en el 2011 y lo que hace es mandar a traer a la policía estatal, de hecho el ejército también entra a nuestra comunidad en febrero del 2011 con el pretexto de que buscan armas y que buscan drogas, pero sabemos de antemano que esto lo hicieron porque abrieron el palacio municipal para esta persona; y así se van dando enfrentamientos durante todo el trienio, de hecho el trienio de esta persona fue algo ilegal porque el tribunal impugnó esta elección porque la comunidad no estaba de acuerdo en que esta persona gobernara, y lo hizo de manera dictatorial porque utilizó los medios policiacos, la represión en sus diversas condiciones, tanto entre la comunidad se empezó a meter el miedo trayendo personas armadas, de hecho formó un grupo paramilitar dentro de la comunidad para que atentaran contra las personas que estuvieran en contra de él.

Otra cosa que hizo esta persona fue expropiar el agua para sus estanques y comprar territorios para poder extraer piedra y arena; porque esta persona tenía una trituradora y se encargaba de vender ese material a algunas empresas dedicadas a hacer construcciones como carreteras y edificios; y hubo mucha gente que no estaba de acuerdo con esta situación y empezaron a protestar porque se estaba llevando el agua demás; pero para esto, ya tenía el grupo paramilitar y también a la policía estatal de su lado, y al ejército, y los llamaba cada que sucedía algo.

Después en el 2012 detienen al compañero Pedro Peralta y lo torturan, lo encarcelan 3 años en el penal de Cuicatlán también y se empieza una lucha por la libertad de los presos políticos. También encarcelan al compañero Jaime Betanzos y también el compañero Alfredo Bolaños, en esa época. Después se inicia esta lucha contra los partidos políticos y se empieza a unificar la comunidad; y en el 2014 se vuelve a elegir de una manera más colectiva, más tradicional; en donde los grupos se pusieron de acuerdo y pudieron elegir a sus autoridades, pero esto no duró mucho, duró aproximadamente 8 meses y se inició el ataque hacia las autoridades comunitarias porque desde el trienio pasado de ese señor que fue de una manera dictatorial y también robó, tuvo enriquecimiento ilícito, robó todo el dinero de la comunidad y empezó a construirse otras cosas, comprarse carros, terrenos y muchas cosas más, cuentas en el extranjero y esas cosas que ustedes ya sabrán; y la auditoría superior del estado que es la encargada del dinero de los pueblos requirió al presidente municipal, en este entonces estaba Alfredo Bolaños, en 2014, que mandara llamar al señor Manuel Zepeda para que justificara los 21 millones de pesos que faltaban por comprobar, y esto fue lo que derivó en el conflicto en el que ahora nos encontramos, en 2014 que devino en el enfrentamiento, con el pretexto de no entregar las cuentas, él tomó el palacio municipal e inició la violencia; y el pueblo se organizó para defender sus derechos colectivos, y es por eso que estamos aquí encarcelados ahora.

Para el 17 de noviembre del 2015 (2014), después de que la auditoría superior de Oaxaca manda a citar a Manuel Zepeda Cortés, no queda conforme y el 17 de noviembre más o menos como a las 12 de la mañana, junto con 80 personas aproximadamente, toman el palacio municipal y secuestran a las autoridades comunitarias; los mantienen secuestrados aproximadamente 8 horas; la gente se empieza a organizar para poder ir a rescatar a estas personas que están encerradas en el palacio municipal, los habían golpeado, los estuvieron golpeando y al presidente municipal le hicieron firmar un acta en donde él renunciaba a su cargo, cosa que no se podía hacer porque la comunidad lo había elegido, a menos que ese documento fuera emitido por el congreso de Oaxaca. Después de eso se vivió un ambiente hostil en la comunidad, un ambiente de violencia que ya se esperaba, porque el grupo de esta persona todo el tiempo andaban patrullando, andaban armados recorriendo la comunidad y metiendo miedo.

El 14 de diciembre se convoca a una asamblea en la comunidad de Eloxochitlán, para elegir a un representante comunitario que es el alcalde municipal, quien se encarga de delimitar el territorio, esta es una persona adulta que tiene conocimiento sobre las tierras de la comunidad para vender los terrenos si algunas personas quieren venderlos o para traspasarlos, o también para vigilar los espacios comunes del pueblo y el territorio. Ese día la asamblea comunitaria sube al centro y ahí se inicia un enfrentamiento porque la gente del señor Manuel Zepeda Cortés también convoca a esta asamblea, pero convoca para agredir, para iniciar la agresión hacia los compañeros de la asamblea comunitaria; yo ese día me encontraba en la ciudad de México porque tenía una comisión para ir a comprar juguetes para los niños para regalarlos el día 6 de enero próximo, del 2015, estábamos en el 2014; y pues me entero de que se da un enfrentamiento primero a las 11 de la mañana, suben los compañeros al centro de la población haciendo una pequeña marcha hacia el palacio, que es donde se va a celebrar la asamblea y allí los reciben a balazos.

Se inicia un enfrentamiento entre compañeros y salen algunos heridos de bala. Hay un segundo momento ya en la casa del señor Manuel Zepeda Cortés, ahí detienen a una persona, que se llama Manuel Zepeda Lagunas –que es el hijo-, lo detienen con un arma de fuego y lo presentan en Huautla porque ahí es donde hay Ministerio Público, la autoridad municipal -los representantes comunitarios- lo llevan a este lugar, el ministerio público de Huautla y lo entregan a la policía estatal. Después de que se da esta agresión, pues hay un ambiente tenso en la comunidad porque no se sabe a ciencia cierta lo que pasó después ya cuando entregaron a esta persona al Ministerio Público. Van otros compañeros también que llevan al hospital a nuestros compas que están heridos, algunos con balas en el cuello, en la cabeza, en las manos. Los llevan al hospital a que les den atención médica, pero a partir de las 8 de la noche, empiezan a detener a los compañeros, entre ellos, a quien fungía como presidente municipal, Alfredo Bolaños Pacheco y los policías municipales que lo acompañaban y que llevaban a esta persona que detuvieron.

Después detienen al compañero Jaime Betanzos cuando se disponía a esperar un transporte que lo levara a nuestra comunidad. Lo detienen agentes de la policía ministerial en el crucero que está en Huautla, cerca de un Banco Azteca y lo llevan hacia la ciudad de Oaxaca; a los demás compañeros también los llevan juntos, que son aproximadamente siete compañeros y los acusan del delito de homicidio cuando ellos entregaron a esta persona con vida. A partir de esto inicia la cacería en contra de los miembros de la asamblea; mucha gente es desplazada de la comunidad; mucha gente se va por miedo a la represión. De hecho, la policía estatal monta un destacamento; llega la policía federal también el 15 de diciembre y ya solo se respira miedo.

A partir de eso la asamblea se empieza a separar, a disgregarse y pues la lucha por los presos ha sido muy diversa, muy vaga digamos, muy separada como un punto de organización, por eso mismo, por el miedo que se sembró y que lograron sembrar a través también de los medios de comunicación: a través de la policía y la represión y también a través de la apatía y el desplazamiento, pues muchas familias se desplazaron hacia otras ciudades y otras comunidades. Familias enteras tuvieron que desplazarse y justo por eso no se ha podido volver a organizarse, pue muchas viven con miedo, pues solo nos mencionan que quien se organiza va a ir a la cárcel y ahí está el meollo del asunto. El miedo parte de eso, se menciona la cárcel y tienen miedo a venir a este lugar: a la cárcel; siempre es un poco complicado tener a un familiar encerrado, porque son gastos, por muy diversas razones, porque al final es muy difícil volver a re-organizarse. Muchos compañerxs a veces buscan la cuestión de la armonía y la comunidad también, la comunidad de su familia y pues no tratan de compartir lo comunitario, lo de la lucha.

Eso ha sido o que ha pasado en nuestra comunidad: que se ha sembrado demasiado miedo a través de los medios de comunicación y de la represión y pues eso ha determinado que no podamos avanzar en la lucha por la libertad de los compañeros que estamos presos y además por la libertad y por la autodeterminación de nuestro pueblo, a volver a organizarnos contra esa imposición que hay y que sigue sembrando el miedo a través por otras personas que se hacen pasar por defensores de los derechos humanos y que piden medidas cautelares y que el gobierno les da ese “cobijo” para poder seguir gobernando a través de la represión, y pues en eso estamos ahorita. Estamos tratando de reorganizarnos, por lo menos para que salgamos libres a través de las diversas formas de lucha que tenemos dentro de la cárcel, ya sea, desde el trabajo que hacemos, ayunos, huelgas de hambre, que llevamos a cabo en el encierro-aislamiento.

Bueno, ¿quieres contarnos los detalles de tu detención?

Pues… bueno, a mí me detienen el 30 de abril del 2015. Cuando me encontraba trabajando en la Ciudad de México en el barrio de Tepito. Personas vestidas de civil, sin identificarse entraron al local donde me encontraba trabajando en compañía de mi hermano. Nos empezaron a agredir, nunca se identificaron, no traían orden de aprensión y (nosotros) resistimos un rato a la detención. Fueron llegando más y más policías, lograron sacarnos a punta de pistola y con gas lacrimógeno. Me llevaron a la Procuraduría del DF (Distrito Federal) en un auto particular y después me hicieron la revisión médica, me presentaron ante un medio de comunicación, me tomaron algunas fotos muy generales. Después me entregaron con la Policía Ministerial de Oaxaca, esos policías me trasladaron a un penal que se llama “Tlaxiaco”, que está en la mixteca oaxaqueña, que se encuentra a unos 400 o 500 km de distancia de mi comunidad aproximadamente. Este es el panorama de mi detención.

¿Dónde te encuentras ahorita?

¡Ahora…! Bueno, en Tlaxiaco solo estuve un mes por que solicitamos con mis abogados en traslado a un penal más cerca de mi comunidad, por derecho. Estoy (ahora) en un lugar que se llama San Juan Bautista Cuicatlan, que está en la cañada Oaxaqueña a 4horas de mi comunidad. Aquí es donde me encuentro. Llevo aproximadamente (más) de 2 años con 8 meses aquí en este encierro.

¿Cómo va tu caso jurídico, ahorita?

Bueno pues, de hecho, llevamos un proceso irregular, no se ha llevado un debido proceso conforme a derecho, como es una posición política todo el caso. De hecho, ahorita estamos presos 7 compañeros de mi comunidad, unos están en el penal de Ixcotel (centro de Oaxaca), otro compañero está en Etla y yo que estoy aquí en Cuicatlan. En todo momento se han retrasado las audiencias, por ejemplo, hemos solicitado interrogatorios y los ofendidos o las personas que nos señalan tardaron mucho en presentarse. De hecho, faltan dos personas (por declarar), a pesar de que llevamos más de 2 años, no se han presentado a declarar. Solamente los policías estatales y ministeriales (lo hicieron) porque es su obligación, (nosotros) estuvimos insistiendo demasiado para que fueran a dar su parte informativa. Por ejemplo, en un amparo que promoví, llevo más de dos años y apenas en diciembre salió la resolución y la negaron (el amparo). La cuestión del proceso en el Juzgado Mixto de Huautla, se han hecho “huajes”[1], no hay una impartición de justicia imparcial (ellos, los del juzgado) han recibido dinero. Los jueces han sido cambiados muchas veces durante nuestro proceso y han hecho caso omiso a nuestras demandas, que son cuestiones de derecho y legales, que (yo pienso-creo) que si en realidad hubiera justicia e imparcialidad, tendríamos que estar libres, porque no hay un señalamiento directo que determine la conducta del supuesto crimen que nosotros cometimos o del delito que nos imputan.

Bueno, Miguel, nos has hablado acerca de la lucha de tu pueblo y de tu caso jurídico, pero para la gente de afuera, puedes darnos un panorama mas amplio sobre las luchas sociales de México, donde ves ejemplos de lucha que te inspiran, y cuales crees que sean las necesidades en esta diversidad de luchas de México… y una cosa que me interesa más, si lo puedes comentar, tu eres de un pueblo indígena de la sierra Mazateca de Oaxaca, pero también estas influenciado por pensamientos y practicas libertarias y anarquistas, podrías compartirnos como ves esta relación entre los movimientos y las corrientes de lucha anarquistas y los movimientos y luchas indígenas

Yo creo que la lucha o las luchas sociales en México son muy diversas, existen una infinidad de movimientos, tanto movimientos urbanos que están en la defensa o autodefensa de su mismo territorio o en el organizarse para apropiarse de espacios públicos como en las asambleas de barrios de la Ciudad de México, por ejemplo ahora tras el temblor hay muchos individuos que se están re-organizando para tener un techo y poder luchar también contra los megaproyectos, y no se diga en el campo, en el movimiento indígena como tal y en los movimientos que están afuera de la ciudades, que están luchando contra el mismo monstruo que es el capitalismo y contra los megaproyectos. La cuestión minera engloba todo sobre los recursos naturales, el agua esta de por medio, y hasta las plantas medicinales que algunas empresas extranjeras (japonesas, gringas, canadienses, españolas y francesas) tratan de monopolizar o de patentar estas plantas para comercializarlas y vender el medicamento y hacernos dependientes de sus medicinas y poder consumir esto, y pues sabemos de antemano que existe la medicina tradicional en los pueblos. Hay luchas por el territorio, por la autodeterminación y por la autonomía, y hay muchas diferencias de hecho en el movimiento indígena, porque algunos están con la cuestión del no a la intromisión de los partidos políticos, otros están en la lucha por la defensa del territorio sin estar plenamente conscientes de que estén los partidos políticos ahí, y otros que están en la cuestión de la autonomía como tal sin tener ninguna relación con el estado.

Entonces sobre algunas cuestiones, por ejemplo como preguntabas sobre que relación habría entre movimientos indígenas y movimientos libertarios y anarquistas, creo que comparten unos principios básicos dentro del pensamiento libertario y unos pensadores libertarios han influido también en la lucha de los pueblos, como por ejemplo en la autogestión, en la autonomía, en la defensa del territorio, en la expropiación también de sus recursos y de sus espacios, en la autodeterminación, y se conjugan todas estas luchas contra un mismo monstruo, que es el capitalismo desde sus inicios, y también hay rupturas adentro de las luchas, hay una ruptura muy fuerte con la cuestión electoral en México, hay movimientos o una parte del movimiento indígena que esta caminando hacia la cuestión electoral, y que ellos han llamado el ‘‘buen gobierno’’, y hay otra parte del movimiento indígena que no está en esta situación, que sigue de pie con la cuestión de la autonomía sin tener ningún enfoque hacia la cuestión electoral o a tomar el poder nacional, y bueno cada uno está dando su lucha desde su lugar y sus espacios, yo creo que existen algunos movimientos y algunas comunidades que tienen sus propias formas comunitarias de defensa, e yo creo que esto es lo que rige y lo que puede tener alguna relación con el movimiento libertario, y que esto parte de una lucha del ser mismo, desde la comunidad o de los individuos, por ejemplo hay comunidades que no solo luchan contra los megaproyectos, algunas están luchando contra la identidad misma, o por la identidad de ellos mismos, por la lengua, por el maíz, por su cosmovisión, por la vestimenta, y también contra los alimentos y contra los transgénicos, y creo que también eso es parte del movimiento indígena y también del movimiento libertario, que estamos tratando de luchar por ser uno mismo, por ser libres. Al final estos dos partes buscan un bien común, de repente idealizamos esta cuestión del bien común, de que se exija la autogestión en las comunidades y también en el movimiento libertario.

A lo largo del territorio y de la geografía que tenemos existen movimientos que nos inspiran como en Oaxaca por ejemplo los Ikoots en Alvaro Obregon que luchan contra los eólicos, en los nahuas de Ostula que luchan por la autodeterminación, en Cherán también los compas que luchan por la autonomía, los yaquis en Sonora que luchan por la defensa del territorio y por la defensa del rio Yaqui, están los compañeros de Xanica en la sierra sur de Oaxaca que defienden su territorio y su sistema comunitario y su organización, y en el sur los compañeros mapuche han tenido una larga tradición en su lucha con la defensa del territorio, de la autonomía, de la autodeterminación y de la identidad mapuche ancestral, y creo que todas estas luchas es cuestión de mantener todas sus propias formas de organización, y al final no podemos idealizar que todo es armónico y que en las luchas indígenas todo es armonía porque hay conflictos también, hay muchas cuestiones que se están luchando internamente como la cuestión del machismo, la cuestión cultural…

También hay compas en la sierra norte de Puebla, los totonacos y los nahuas que están luchando contra las empresas chinas y canadienses que se están llevando el agua y los minerales de esos lugares y de sus pueblos, y también hay tradición de medicina natural y tradicional y por un mercado justo donde puedan comercializar los productos que ellos producen, estas son las luchas que nos inspiran en este momento.

Para los compas que están escuchando esta entrevista, como pueden o como podemos apoyar al proceso jurídico que vives y a los otros compañeros presos de Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, y finalmente podrías mencionar que significa para ti la solidaridad internacional y de que manera podemos cultivar esta solidaridad.

Me parece muy importante la cuestión de la solidaridad internacional, siempre cuando haya esta reciprocidad entre compañeros por lo menos por medio de cartas, llamadas… porque al final la solidaridad internacional no es por una lucha local, o por una cuestión territorial, sino es una cuestión mas amplia, y una lucha mas amplia que no podemos minimizar a un lugar solamente sino es a través de todo el mundo y todos los individuos, es algo que está rompiendo con fronteras y muros. Creo que la solidaridad internacional es importante también porque a través de sus formas de movilización genera cierta presión en los países y en los espacios donde se esté luchando y acompañando…

Por ejemplo nosotros que estamos encerrados en una cárcel pues si hacen una llamada al juzgado, si mandan cartas por ejemplo genera cierta presión y entramos en otra dimensión de la lucha… y entran cuestiones importantes que se van dando como el acompañamiento, el compañerismo y se va dando también cierta amistad entre compañeros, ya que se comparten cartas, llamadas y nos podemos escuchar a través de los diversos medios que tenemos a la mano y bueno en nuestro caso a mi me parece importante también esta parte porque ustedes pueden difundir nuestros casos en otros lugares y pueden llevar nuestra voz y nuestras pequeñas luchas en otros lugares, en otros puntos. Y otra parte seria que nos ayudaran a comercializar nuestros productos, porque yo por ejemplo me dedico a hacer hamacas y bolsas y una parte seria para poder apoyarnos económicamente en la cuestión de lo jurídico, en que nuestras familias vengan a vernos, nos traigan alimentos a la cárcel porque aquí es complicado obtener ciertas cosas que hay que traer de ahí afuera, por eso se me hace importante esta parte del acompañamiento internacional o de la solidaridad con compañeros con los cuales no nos conocemos pero tenemos cosas en común que nos atraen y nos llaman a estar juntos en estas luchas.

Otra cosa que me parece importante mencionar es la cuestión de que la solidaridad internacional se dirigía a compañeros que estaban en otros lados, en otros espacios del globo a estar atentos a nuestra situación que llevamos durante el encierro, solicitando su apoyo a las movilizaciones que se hagan mandando cartas, llamando por teléfono o si hay algún momento de represión también pedirme su apoyo para estar yo atento ante estas situaciones que se van dando durante el proceso y durante la lucha que llevamos desde el aislamiento.

Hay algo mas que quieres compartir con los compas que están escuchando esta entrevista?

Pues agradecer a los compañeros que están escuchando este audio y que son parte de las luchas y que se solidarizan también con compañeros en el mundo que están presos o con las luchas libertarias o con las luchas de los pueblos que luchan por la autodeterminación, por ser libres, por los individuo pues que somos iguales, y quisiera agradecer también a Los Otros Abogados que son los compañeros que llevan mi caso y que han puesto de su esfuerzo y de su solidaridad para poder caminar en este proceso y poder liberarnos de este yugo que es la ley y la injusticia y poder caminar hacia la libertad, con el esfuerzo de estos compas hemos estado caminando lentamente pero ahí vamos abriendo la brecha con la solidaridad de ellos, con su esfuerzo, con su trabajo sobre todo y pues estamos en deuda entre nosotros. Por otra parte también pedirles su apoyo para nuestra pequeña lucha, como les comentaba tenemos estas formas de organizarnos y de luchar desde el encierro, tenemos algunos productos para comercializar, para que ustedes también nos puedan ayudar adquiriendo algunas cosas como les comentaba de las hamacas y de las bolsas que yo fabrico aquí para pasar el rato, para no aburrirme pero también por la cuestión de mantenernos con un poco de dinero para gastos inmediatos como la cuestión de la defensa, de los abogados, para tramitar algún documento, para que nuestra familia venga a visitarnos y para la alimentación y las necesidades básicas de las personas que estamos en aislamiento, y pues desde aquí les mando un abrazo fuerte y espero que también ustedes estén bien en sus luchas y pues mucha fuerza… y abajo los muros de las prisiones!

[1] Esta es una expresión para señalar indiferencia. Hacerse Huaje es hacer de cuenta que no pasa nada, es decir es mostrarse indiferente a pesar de saber o ver que algo está mal.

Categories: News

Guelph ON: Confront Canada Day! Rally

It's Goin Down - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 21:32

The post Guelph ON: Confront Canada Day! Rally appeared first on It's Going Down.

This report was originally posted to North Shore Counter-Info.

GUELPH–On that day of nationalist garbage, so-called Canada Day, around 20 anti-capitalist supporters of indigenous sovereignty, led by radical members of the indigenous community, gathered in the city’s St. George’s Square to confront colonialism and reject the spectacle of the day.

While the event was scheduled some time in advance, speakers centered and echoed the call from Six Nations for Justice for Jon Styers–along side Colten Boushie, Tina Fontaine, and countless other victims of the colonial state’s violence. Following speeches centered on anti-capitalism and dismantling the colonial state, a short march was held in spite of minor harassment from nationalists.

All in all, those present and those who came by to ask genuine questions or express passing support took the moment to build community–using this as a moment to come together in resistance of Canada. The call echoed out loud and clear that day: End Canada, Free Turtle Island.

Statement from Confront Canada Day! Rally Organizers to the Settlers of Guelph:

Every year on July First we are expected to celebrate the anniversary of Canada’s “Independence”, celebrate the supposed “greatness” of this “peacekeeping” “progressive” country. But for too long have the Original Nations of this land suffered at the hands of the Canadian state for there to be anything worth celebrating about. The government claims to care, weeping crocodile tears from fake guilt, never keeping their promises to Native people that they will earnestly seek to reconcile with the they genocide waged.

This is not unlike every other settler colonial state on this land, which we too denounce. In Canada, the police tear down our camps of protest to make way for settler celebrations of building their colonial state as an outgrowth of the British Empire. Blind patriotism, ignorance, liberalism, white supremacy—these are all the fuel behind this national holiday.

As Indigenous people, racialized people, poor people, LGBT+ people, migrants—what have we to be patriotic about? Why do we celebrate the oppressive, capitalist, settler colonial state of Canada? What has this country done for us that we did not have to fight tooth and nail for in order to be merely placated? This country claims to be great, despite its institutions being built through the genocide of Indigenous people, the exploitation of the poor and working class, imperialism abroad, the abuse of immigrants fleeing from said imperialism—these are just a few examples.

We must reject the idea that this settler colonial state will ever truly reconcile with Indigenous people. We owe nothing to this state and its government, and we must continue to fight for our liberation. Now is the time to question your patriotism, question what you have been taught by colonialism, and reject Canada Day! Stand with Indigenous people, and all those others mentioned that are oppressed by this state. Until we have justice for all our murdered Indigenous comrades, until we have sovereignty for our Nations, until the suffering of Indigenous people ends and we can heal, there is no reason for any celebration. There is nothing to be smug about!

Reject Canada Day and Confront Colonialism!

Categories: News

Ottawa: General Defense Committee Marches on CEO in Solidarity with Rent Strike

It's Goin Down - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 21:15

The post Ottawa: General Defense Committee Marches on CEO in Solidarity with Rent Strike appeared first on It's Going Down.

Report from solidarity action with the ongoing rent strike in Hamilton, which started on May 1st.

On Friday morning of June 29th, in concert with actions in Hamilton, Burlington, Guelph, London, and Montreal;  community members and Ottawa GDC Local 6 marched to CLV hq offices at 485 Bank St (Bank & Argyle) to deliver a letter of demands on behalf of the East Hamilton Rent Strike to David Nevins (Vice President) and Michael McGahan (CEO).

The demands are:

1) Drop the Above Guideline Rent Increase (AGI).

2) Carry out repairs in tenants units.

3) Withdraw and cease applications at the LTB to target rent striking tenants.

CEO Michael Mcgahan and VP David Nevins both refused to meet with the tenant supporters or to receive the letter. Instead, they hid in their offices and sent out a staff member to receive the letter on their behalf. When asked why CLV wouldn’t listen to the requests of a 92 year old tenant who’s been requesting a new window since last winter, they scoffed and walked away.

The fact that both men refused to meet face to face is only too ironic given the fact that David Nevins and others from CLV have gone knocking on doors in Hamilton in an attempt to intimidate tenants into breaking the strike. We understand that the staff of CLV  have to listen to David and Michael on a daily basis, so they might have appreciated seeing them do a bit of listening for once.

Once the letter of tenant demands were received, supporters left the offices as promised, and began flyering outside. As it was the end of the month, there were many tenants on their way to pay rent who expressed support for the strike and absolute disgust at how CLV have been treating tenants both in Ottawa and in Hamilton.

If you’d like to support the rent strike and learn more, scroll down for links to the gofundme, news articles, and strike support poster.

Reflections on the East Hamilton Rent Strike

Reflections on the East Hamilton Rent Strike

Stoney Creek Towers Rent Strikers Gird for the Long Haul

East Hamilton Tenants Launch Rent Strike:

Support the East Hamilton Rent Strike:

East Hamilton Rent Strike Crashes Bay Street:

Categories: News

10 Scandals That Ultimately Booted Pruitt

deSmog - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 20:57
Read time: 5 minsEPA chief Scott Pruitt at CPAC 2018

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

When Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt resigned his position Thursday, he explained in a letter to President Donald Trump that he was stepping down because “the unrelenting attacks on [him] personally, [and his] family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizeable toll on all of [them].”

What he didn't mention was that he is also subject to more than a dozen federal ethics investigations, due to an “unprecedented” list of scandals that came to light during his nearly 17 months in office. All investigations will continue despite his departure, The New York Times reported Thursday.

No one knows which, if any, of these scandals finally persuaded Pruitt to call it quits, but, as America bids Pruitt goodbye, here is a look back at 10 of his most corrupt actions.

Tags: Scott PruittU.S. Environmental Protection Agencydefiners public affairsTrump Administration
Categories: News

Is This What Solidarity Looks Like?: Report from AbolishICE Demo Dallas, TX

It's Goin Down - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 20:18

The post Is This What Solidarity Looks Like?: Report from AbolishICE Demo Dallas, TX appeared first on It's Going Down.

Critical report from Dallas, Texas about repression faced at an anti-ICE demonstration and the lessons learned when the smoke cleared.

Occupied Indigenous Land, so-called “Dallas, Texas” – In solidarity with the growing wave of anti-ICE sentiment, a demonstration had been called for on June 30 at the local ICE field office by the local Democratic Socialists of America Chapter, DSA North Texas and The North Texas Dream Team. Framed as an event calling for the abolition of ICE, various crews decided to attend and meet new friends. The day was set to have multiple demos. The largest, happening at the same time in downtown, centered on reuniting families, was expected to draw thousands. While smaller, networking with other abolitionists seemed more attractive than large crowds. This report back will omit certain details due to pending legal cases.

The atmosphere was very positive as people mingled, chanted, danced and listened to speakers share their experiences. As the number of people started to grow, there was obvious communication between Department of Homeland Security Agents, Dallas Police Department and DSA NTX Leadership. As DSA leadership started to explain their political project, chalk was handed out, and people started writing on the concrete. Adults and children, documented and undocumented spread messages of love and rage in multi-color across the dark tarmac much to the annoyance of the Pigs and DSA politicians. After numerous visits from both DPD & DHS, and multiple attempts at silencing anyone who wasn’t in line with DSA Leadership, everyone was asked to sit on the ground and listen to the very serious speech:). Obviously peeps weren’t having that, they’d rather sing, dance and have fun.

Sadly this is were the fun ends. After the DSA leadership’s failed attempts at pacification, a very angry DHS agent singles out a person for harrassment who is wearing a t-shirt identifying them as a DACA recipient, and is helping their small child draw with chalk. The people in the crowd circle around the parent and child. After intense verbal exchanges, the agent retreats recognizing the hostility of the crowd to his presence. The lead pig on the scene from DPD comes toward the crowd looking to find someone to negotiate with, but there are no politicians there. DHS and DPD are then seen talking with DSA leadership. As they leave, DSA leadership moves amongst the crowd whispering in the ear of DSA members who are clearly identifiable by their red DSA NTX shirts. They then proceed to leave all at once, en masse leaving undocumented people and everyone else at risk. Some DSA members denounce the actions of their “comrades” and choose to stay. Someone in crowd yells out “Hey DSA! Is this what solidarity looks like?” Some look back. Most don’t.

The police move in on the crowd resulting in multiple arrests and a felony charge for one of the arrestees. A jail support team goes to work quickly collecting the needed information from the arrestees and raising money. To add insult to injury when the jail support team reaches out directly to DSA leadership on multiple occasions they are met with silence. It should be noted that DSA members were among the arrestees yet received no support from DSA NTX, not even a ride home from jail. Individual DSA members participated in the jail support work, but they did this against the direction of DSA NTX leadership who told all DSA members that those arrested were “on their own.” These moments can be frustrating but provide lucidity. You begin to know who your friends are and you clearly see those who are not.

Categories: News

Former Pakistan PM Sharif Sentenced To 10 Years Over Panama Papers

Global Muckracker - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 18:40

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $10.6 million on corruption charges linked to 2016 Panama Papers revelations about his family’s properties overseas.

The National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan’s anti-graft court, also has convicted Sharif’s daughter Maryam to a seven-year prison term and his son-in-law Muhammad Safdar to one year imprisonment.

Sharif and his daughter, who are currently in London, have continued to deny wrongdoing and said the sentence is “politically motivated,” according to the BBC. His brother Shahbaz, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, reportedly called the court’s decision “undemocratic.”

In April 2016, an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ probe based on files leaked from Panamanian offshore provider Mossack Fonseca revealed how Sharif’s children were linked to offshore companies that owned four flats in a luxury apartment block in London.

Those properties will be confiscated by the Pakistani government, according to the verdict.

Related articles

In the wake of the allegations, Sharif was first disqualified from office in July 2017, then received a lifetime ban from politics in April 2018.

One of Sharif’s allies said that the disgraced premier would return to Pakistan to file an appeal, Reuters reported.

The convicted have 10 days to appeal the verdict at the Islamabad High Court.

In the meantime, political commentators have called the verdict historic, as it represents the first time a former Pakistani prime minister has been convicted of corruption.

Political author Zahid Hussain told CNN that the verdict marks “the end of the Sharif political dynasty.”

The sentence comes a few weeks before Pakistan’s general election on July 25.

The post Former Pakistan PM Sharif Sentenced To 10 Years Over Panama Papers appeared first on ICIJ.

Categories: News

Anarchy Radio 07-03-2018

Anarchist News - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 17:56


Pixar movies very anti-tech future as tech engulfs reality. Mass shootings go global, planetary over-heating updates e.g. Arctic Ocean melts into Atlantic. Japanese island hermit forced back into civ. Timehop gives one self, memory. Robots and consciousness, manners. But mostly calls re: last week's phone-ins, five calls.

Tags: ZJohn and Karlcategory: Prisoners
Categories: News

Pizza Bagels With a Side of Democracy

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 17:11
Link: Boston’s Newest Brewery Serves Pizza Bagels With a Side of Democracy

Democracy Brewing, a worker-owned brewery, fittingly introduced itself to Boston on July 4, opening in the longtime Windsor Button space at 35 Temple Pl. in Downtown Crossing. At the brewery, wages start at a minimum of $15 per hour, and employees have the opportunity to buy an ownership share after their first year.

Co-founder and CEO James Razsa, a former community organizer, told Eater that he and co-founder Jason Taggart, who serves as the brewing director, are focused on creating a culture of excellence, complete with people fully committed to the mission of the brewery.

Read the rest at Eater Boston


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

Can a new legal framework for worker coops address growing inequality in Japan?

Grassroots Economic Survival - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 17:00
Link: Can a new legal framework for worker coops address growing inequality in Japan?

Japan’s cooperative sector has serious potential. Not only is it home to the world’s largest consumer coop, the Japan Consumers’ Cooperative Union, but the largest agricultural coop in the world (Japan Agriculture) and the world’s fifth largest insurance coop (Zenkyoren) are also proudly Japanese. However, Japan still has relatively few worker cooperatives. This is because there is no legal framework for the creation of worker coops in the country. Could the submission of a new proposed law to parliament later this year change that? The Japan Workers’ Cooperative Union (JWCU) certainly hopes so.

“For almost 20 years, we have developed our legalisation campaign,” says Osamu Nakano, international relations officer for the JWCU. “There are 1800 local governments in Japan; nearly 1000 [of them] have already submitted petitions for the enactment of a worker coop law to the central government.” After years of building momentum and broad support, the JWCU believes that 2018 will be the year that Japan realises the full potential of worker cooperatives and increases workers’ economic power.

Read the rest at Equal Times


Go to the GEO front page

Categories: News

An anarchist report back and some embedded critiques of #OccupyICE Philadelphia

Anarchist News - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 15:50

via Philly Anti-Capitalist

Originally published by Philly Anti-Capitalist (Zine in PDF format). Written by some anarchists.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

The beginning of OccupyICE Philly started out as a beautiful event which had so much potential. Before the end of the first night that was actively squandered by the “central committee” of the “occupation”. What began as a direct interruption of ICE’s ability to operate their office devolved into a purely symbolic self-victimizing spectacle, one that was unable to defend itself or escape enemy capture.

To recap, throughout the day anarchists and other folx who were not complacently just linking arms and singing (as the Left has done in contemporary times, only to get beaten and arrested symbolically,) were taking actions of tactical defense and escalation. These were the individuals who are actively trying to destroy and shut down ICE via tangible, time tested methods.

Banners (and a couch) were used to initially block the streets, put up in open defiance of police asking people to stop, while also sending other radical and intersectional
messages through their imagery. The occasional projectile was thrown. Barricades were built using construction materials, chairs, a dumpster, and a couch. Entire streets were blocked off in order to create a defendable zone for the occupation. A van arrived to aid the blockade while blasting tunes for what was feeling like a beautiful and empowering block party.

Anarchists attempted to open up conversations to share thoughts, coordinate, and deepen analysis. The socialists’ marshals and other self-appointed “leaders” were neutral
or even hostile to these autonomous initiatives. The suggestion of open and horizontal discussion seemed to frighten and upset the marshals, who quickly swooped in and informed us that they were meeting and that we were welcome to send a delegate from our “group” if we wanted. A bottle thrower was shamed. Barricades were alternatively applauded and criticized throughout the night. Anarchists in Philly have been busy for years attacking capital, the state, and fascists. There is a certain familiarity with occupation and conflict that many of us felt we could contribute. It would be an understatement to say that we are disappointed (but not surprised) at how the marshals behaved.

The first concession to the cops was to obey their order to move the van. This is understandable since it was probably connected to someone’s name, but it was
replaced by a singing human chain. For some reason (another police order?) a little later, the socialist human chain then backed off the street and willingly lined up with their backs to the wall of the building. Anarchists then built barricades around them and began fortifying those in the streets.

This might point to a big difference in tactics and experience. To anarchists it seemed obvious for many reasons to hold the entire space rather than just block the building: for one, it required less material (whether bodies or pallets) to blockade across the streets rather than along the entire building, but it also gave everyone more room and safety, and would have been more effective and defensible. The barricades asserted our autonomy and at the very least would have bought some time if they had to be taken down by the city.

The liberals (in which we include communists/socialists/ red “anarchists”) got scared when the police gave their 4th or 5th “final” warning to unblock the street and take
down the tents. Like good little subjects of the state, the liberal ”central committee” of organizers convened and decided to take down all the barricades. They flipped a dumpster upright that was tipped over and they started handing barricade building materials and trash TO THE POLICE! As the police were trying to clear the area of all trash. Like they literally handed things to the police. After an entire day of ‘fuck the police’ this and ‘there’s no good cops’ that, they fucking helped them, this hypocrisy is disgusting, cowardly, and completely dishonest. Their “revolutionary” politics is nothing but a self-congratulatory and self- victimizing performative social scene. Why talk such a tough game only to retreat again and again?

It is no surprise that the socialists were willing to cooperate/collaborate and do the cops’ work for them, because as statists they wish not to destroy the police but to become them themselves. This is made clear by their incessant policing of others at demonstrations. For instance, after an anarchist, visibly upset that the barricades were being taken down, yelled into the crowd that the socialists had given up, he was swarmed by people in yellow vests (organizers). They proceeded to say things such as “Oh nuh, uh white boy, you don’t get to just yell, we’re going on a walk, you have to listen to me a brown woman of color” the same person proceeded to snitch jacket the anarchist, telling him that “I haven’t seen you around” “What do you organize?” “you’re acting like a cop”. The irony of calling someone cop-like for criticizing the marshals’ policing (and doing the cops’ work of clearing the barricades for them) seemed to completely fly over heads of the self-appointed leadership. The anarchist told the organizer he didn’t want to see them get lied to and beat up by the police and the organizer said that if that anarchist had a problem he could have approached an organizer. When he replied that he was actually fundamentally opposed to their decision making process, and that if they had announced the occupation to the public and were calling for public support then they’d have to let go of their control, the organizer shook their hands by his face screaming “You stupid fucking anarchist!” Very approachable. He was then told he could stay if he wanted but a few minutes later was asked why he was still there.

Earlier in the day, the same people got upset at the anarchists for shouting more conflictual things on a hijacked megaphone. They even tried so hard asking around to find out who the people on the megaphone were. The marshals did not seem to understand autonomy, diversity of tactics, or horizontality. They made clear that their idea of solidarity was everyone doing the same thing (ie: doing what they said people should do) rather than the understanding the those who struggle against oppression without hindering each other benefit each other. One of the more strange hypocrisies coming from the organizers/marshals was their supposed support of both unity (“there can only be one line”) and a diversity of tactics, this is a contradiction that became more andmore clear as they tried to reign in those who did not follow their plan.

In response to anarchists agitating and spreading messages against ICE and cops, marshals said that it was counter to the messaging they were trying to spread, while a
line of people had their arms locked, ready to dislocate their shoulders, all while singing kumbaya or this land is your land. Again the irony of a group of mostly white people singing about land ownership at a demonstration challenging borders was lost on many.

Back to the organizers accosting and snitch jacketing a friend (snitch jacketing is the dangerous practice of accusing people of being snitches or cops without substantial evidence, often as a way to insult or discredit someone). Something happened and one of the organizers proceed to get in the face of another anarcho, trying to flex, this created a very tense situation. There was some arguing back and forth, the liberals saying they respected diversity of tactics (despite actively dismantling other people’s hard work which is antithetical to respecting diversity of tactics). The points were made that A.) a lot of the anarchists have been around and seen the failures of several movements and here we are doing things we think could have made them better B.) Liberals literally do this every time anarchists try to participate in demonstrations and movements, they actively push us out, snitch jacket us, rat us out to the cops, etc. It is whya lot of anarchists, particularly in Philly do not fuck with demonstrations. This happens every fucking time. C.) We’re anarchist, we’re not trying to do what you tell us to do, we’re gunna do what we want. There were more discussions, a liberal got socked for being an ass, and many anarchists left, those who stayed are anarchists in name, but their submissive and streamlined participation in hierarchical organization baffle us. We clearly were not wanted or respected at this demo that night. We were the ones going hard all day, the heat exhaustion and cuts on our hands show that. Maybe when the police move in and they are getting their asses beat and arrested, they’ll understand. Enjoy the camp out, sucks you don’t have tents, it’s hot.

We hope a number of you socialists realize that you were being led by hypocritical bigots, getting conned into being beaten up for a symbolic protest. We hope that upon
reflection you might recall that the space felt safer, more effective, and more fun when anarchists were building barricades and openly defying the police. We hope you realize the limitations, contradictions, and oppressiveness of hierarchical organizing, especially when it comes to public occupations, and that your leaders’ authoritarian resistance to a diversity of tactics in effect sabotaged any chance of an effective defensible occupation. We hope you quit your sheepish roles in your organization and to see you in the streets as individuals fighting for our collective liberation.

It’s important to take a look at some of the tactics that authoritarian organizers use to maintain their control over events like these. From the beginning, there was a necessary level of secrecy around the plan to take the space. Cool. However, once the space was taken (again, largely because of the efforts of autonomous elements to actually keep cops out of the space), organizers actively undermined efforts to open up space for conversationaround tactics and strategy.

Throughout the more promising hours of the occupation, anarchists tried initiating conversations in a number ways, from just approaching People With Vests and asking “Is there a plan to initiate some sort of assembly?”to just stealing megaphones and declaring that such aconversation would take place.

In one-on-one conversations, People With Vests frequently responded that The Plan was ultimately to withdraw from barricades and use bodies to block the garage doors. Often, these individuals didn’t seem to know who made The Plan, if it was a *good* plan, or how to create space for broader numbers of people to discuss. During one more open conversation, a couple authoritarians asserted that the police were going to successfully
reclaim the space *no matter what* so therefore efforts to build up barricades *or even make space for tactical discussions* were futile.

So, organizers were starting from a place of assumed total weakness and with zero intention of actually attempting to hold the space in a directly disruptive way long-term. However, their attempts to stifle broader conversation meant that this was never asserted plainly, nor was there opportunity to propose that other approaches could be possible or desirable.

During the arguments later in the evening, People With Vests who were berating anarchists insisted that they were and had been available if anyone had any questions
or proposals. Thing is, we weren’t trying to just ask clarifying questions or seek approval from these selfappointed leaders. We wanted to make space to assert that it was possible to emphasize building up the space so that it could be better defended and to find and encourage others for whom that idea resonated.

People With Vests and other official organizers were able to prevent that from happening by presenting themselves as the only ones to talk to, and then dismissing any ideas that ran counter to their strategy of preemptive defeat. They deftly managed to gatekeep information, shut down participatory decision-making or discussion spaces, then made decisions in closed (or at least not announced) meetings of authoritarians. After making and imposing unilateral decisions, they’d defend this by insisting “well, this is the decision we democratically voted on.” Just wait until you hear our thoughts about democracy!

Our idea of struggle is to struggle ourselves, their idea of struggle is to manage how others struggle.

Despite our frustrations with the way things went down, there were still some things we really liked about the occupation and wanted to voice appreciation for. First, it’s important that people even took the initiative to make the occupation happen in the first place. It started off tactically smart by blocking all the entrances to the ICE building, which was a crucial element to the actual disruption of ICE’s functioning. The use of a bike barricade was also effective in blocking the cops, and the van which served as part barricade, part sound system created a fun atmosphere for the crowd. These initial barricade tactics helped form solid barriers between our space and the cops, which allowed for more freedom of movement within the space itself and created an overall
more pleasant mood. The stronger the physical barrier between us and the cops, the more time and effort it will take the cops to break the occupation, which also means the more time people have to escape arrest, and less of a likelihood of people getting hurt (especially compared to people using themselves as an obstacle). Our favorite part of the night, was building stronger and secure barricades of pallets and larger materials including an overturned dumpster and stolen police fences. It was really cool to watch the spark of inspiration spread as more people began to take it upon themselves to source supplies and contribute to the construction without being told to by anyone. Shout out to all the anarchists and unknown comrades who held it down. It’s unfortunate that all of the hard work put into these tactics was repeatedly willfully abandoned or destroyed at each request of the police. The cops were probably laughing as the protesters wound up doing their dirty work for them. Besides that, we thought it was great to see so many people bringing in supplies. There was never a shortage of food and water and its not surprising that sharing and comfort were such strong priorities for the commies, we just wish they could have expanded their imagination on other types
of supplies, strategies and possibilities needed to create and maintain an effective occupation. Our goal is to destroy ICE (and all forms of prisons and replications of the state honestly), but their goal is simply “to stay as long as possible.” What does that even do? Causing a spectacle is merely a parade and does little to dismantle this horrifying reality we face.

We are anarchists. We are enemies of authority, hierarchy, and domination. This means we fight government and economy, both within and outside of our struggles, in this case specifically we are against both ICE and the protest marshals who imagine themselves to be our leaders. We do not organize anyone but ourselves, and we refuse to allow others to make decisions for us.

Additionally, anarchists aren’t making moves in order to loudly take credit. We also tend to do things that need to stay anonymous for multiple reasons. So, when you shout “I haven’t seen you at anything you do literally nothing ever!” that’s because we’re not trying to recruit people to a cultish political party, get our faces on the news so we can raise funds for said cult, or get arrested just to collect war stories.

We want some of our shit to be opaque. We also want it to be inviting. To act in ways that refuse the specialization and elitism of Activism and assert that anyone can attack, defend, build, whatever, in innumerable ways.

We don’t want a state, which you [authoritarians] do and are trying to prefigure. We know about the comments after the arguments when you finally got honest and said you’re gonna shoot us if you win. Please maintain that level of honesty in the future! You actually got people to line up against a wall, this time just to get sacrificed to the police. When you become the police… yeesh.

We want to end domination. We are your enemies.

Obviously, we want to call out the organizers of this occupation for the many faults that were present because we hope this critique will cause them to think more critically about their strategies, tactics, and shortcomings. We want to offer some insights and suggestions so that maybe they’ll be less alienating, authoritarian, naive, and submissive if they attempt to do things like this in the future. We also want to provide these suggestions for anyone who may organize a similar action or find themselves in the midst of one and feels it could be improved upon.

Suggestions on how to not be alienating:
In any situation where there are intentions of liberation, it is important to be open to dialogue with other people and to listen to critiques. If you’re on some “we the people” tip you’re gunna have to expand conversation to outside of your governing body of marshals. There were multiple times in the night where conversations surfacing outside
of the jurisdiction of the marshals were shut down. We thought it was especially dismissive that after bringing mad energy and ideas to the occupation, the People with
Vests refused to engage in critical dialogue with us and even went as far as to propose we send them an email instead of talking directly. Welp, here’s your email.

All the while this was happening, there were plenty of people who were shouting their opinions and trying to discredit the anarchists. You don’t need to be rude to people who are trying to help just because they’re opinions and strategies are different from or unfamiliar to you. Conflicts are healthy and good to explore. Don’t just shut them down or ignore them, they are prime ground to learn from.

Suggestions from an anti-authoritarian perspective:
Consensus is not the same as being in charge, even though often times it is used as a ploy in making things play out in a limited and restrictive way. Removing people’s individual autonomy for the uniformity of a group is stifling and restrictive. It’s impossible for everyone to come to an agreement in a group where people’s needs and desires are manifold. Don’t hide your objectives of running things or trying to control a specific outcome under the guise of false unity. We don’t all want the same things. Another suggestion is to make proposals and suggestions instead of giving orders. When you tell
someone what to do you’re policing them, and assuming you know better than them what they should be doing. As anarchists, we hate all cops, even the self appointed ones. So don’t be a bastard and don’t tell us what to do! Being leaderless and uncontrolled feels better and honors autonomy– is freedom not your ultimate goal anyway? If so isn’t non-hierarchical organization an essential part of getting there? If it’s not, you are just replicating the state and we want nothing to do with you.

Throw away your yellow vests, they send the message that you’re in charge, when really no one should be “in charge”. If you let go of your hold onto power there’d be a lot more room for things to open up in interesting ways.

Along with abandoning control and a central organizing body, decentralizing activity not only allows for the potential of people to figure out their own desires better and to make their own moves towards them, it is also a really smart strategic move to confuse and baffle the police. Whether at a public occupation, or in other means of direct action, when there is no central group for cops to pinpoint activity on, we become harder to trace, fostering a better culture of security and safety. This not only makes it harder for the cops to figure out what we’re up to and know how to plan for what moves we’ll make, but also gives us more chances of being successful in our actions by remaining outside of their reach. Additionally decentralization leaves room for any and everyone to
struggle and express themself as they see fit, to associate with whoever they want to collaborate with, and distance themself from whoever they do not want to cooperate
with. If we believe none are completely free until all are completely free, we should organize ourselves in ways that reflect this idea.

Suggestions on flexibility:
Understand that you may have to adapt to the situation at hand. We heard over and over that people had been planning this for weeks and that every decision was strategic, but you can’t cling to a rigid model; it’s important to be able to switch up your methods, especially when attempts grow predictable. The cops being able to predict what is going to play out is a bad idea, and why it’s cool to embrace diversity of tactics! This argument was relied on as an attempt to undermine any unplanned tactics used. Stop clinging to your ‘Activist’ identity, and instead be receptive to new and changing ideas and methods.

Suggestions regarding media:
Don’t depend on the media to represent you fully or garner you enough sympathy to make your struggle ‘successful’. The media will spin their story however they like, generally cooperate with the cops and will hand over footage to them if they want to arrest or convict people. It seemed a huge part of the tactical strategy for the marshals was to time it appropriately for mediaattention, which seems to hold far too much faith in the media. Theres also a difference between spreading information and being preoccupied with self promotion (get off your instagram). Again, what goes online can be
used against people.

Suggestions on anonymity and security:
Get yourself some damn masks.

Suggestions for the naive:
Why does it feel reasonable to use yourselves as barricades when you could place objects in the street instead? This means barricades only need to be built once and then you are free to spend your time doing something else. If it feels important to create a human chain to stop the cops, it can always reform when the cops are advancing. Regarding the police; they are the enemy! They should not be trusted (we heard they beat and arrested some of you after telling you they wouldn’t, which is very unfortunate, but should come as no surprise). They are the modern day slave patrol. It is their job to maintain the social order, crush dissent, kill and imprison the excluded and exploited, and generally stand in our way. To draw a connection that should be obvious; ICE are cops! Aren’t we against ICE?

We suggest it’s best to figure out what you want to do and then how you’ll make it happen. There was a lot of flip flopping the first night. Organizers saying they were cool with barricades only to take them down, saying they respect a diversity of tactics only to shame those whose actions didn’t fit their program, wanting anarchists to stick around and then completely alienating them, etc. For authoritarians who had discussed the occupation together for days you all seemed awfully hesitant and unsure of what you wanted to do. We feel like some of your preparation time would have been better spent
researching and understanding other tactics. The only proposal (order/command actually) you had on offer was to link arms, and prepare for symbolic arrest. Occupations have been popping up all over the country, and there have been occupations here and elsewhere before we can learn from. One that we found particularly interesting was the train track blockade in Olympia, WA against fracking
supply transportation.

There was a genuine fear and aversion to anarchist ideas and organizing styles, we have our bias as anarchists, one of which is that you should get over this fear and aversion. Anarchists have been involved in struggles against borders, policing, and imprisonment for a long time. Local anarchists have years of experience fighting against these systems. Our tactics and approach may seem confusing to those who don’t understand them, but we assure you they are thought through and taken with intentionality. Consider that anarchists started the Occupy movement to which the ICE occupation is tactically and strategically indebted, that anarchists have been organizing against imprisonment locally for years, and that anarchists have been at the forefront of direct efforts against gentrification, against Amazon, and other struggles here.

Suggestions on overcoming submission and complacency:
Stop it with the tired chants that are dishonest. When you say “no justice, no peace” and “we’re not scared of the police” how are you going to stand by what you say? Are you really not afraid of the cops? why wouldn’t you be? Don’t talk big only to submit, we have yet to see you stay true to your words. If you say “no justice, no peace” what are you including in your measures of “no peace”? More often than not, violence is a necessary response and/or offensive move in systems as violent as the ones we live in, we have yet to see the you toe your own line about this. To add to that, defense without offense is bullshit. If you are just retreating and responding, you are not actually fighting anything. Expanding is better than shrinking. We mean this in the most literal sense. Shouldn’t an occupation be about building our power, expanding our reach and the capacity of what we can achieve? You can’t grow “a movement” by cowering the crowd into a corner. The cops should be the ones cowering, but to do that we need to be conflictual. Conflictuality delays cops, not submission. You make it easier for them every time you submit to their orders of what they want you to do.

The last tip of advice is just to have more fun. Fun and joy are some of the most powerful strengths we have that can help thicken our solidarity to each other and our causes.

Shout out to all the anarchists near and far who stay making shit happen, holding it down, all the while having to deal with heaping loads of liberal bullshit. Shout out to the unknown comrades who actively decide how they engage with the occupation rather than choosing the easy path of obeying the marshals or the cops.

“Maybe we just didn’t fully grasp our own power, and their strength on the inside and the result of that. Like every other direct action we just stopped at the gate, thought that it’s not going to succeed, that we’re just gonna go and make a stand, that people are going to film and we’ll have a little beef with the cops and that’s that. Maybe I’m guilty of not thinking enough of the possibilities, not imagining enough, not being fucking utopian enough, or hopeful enough… Maybe not fucking joyous enough, that we can bust them out and that we *can* do this. We were just not prepared, to run them out, to get it right…” -participant-accomplice in the 2002 breakout from the Woomera detention center

-some anarchists

Tags: philadelphiadramaoccupy icecategory: Essays
Categories: News

Affirmative Action in Jeopardy With New DOJ Order and Retirement of Justice Kennedy

Truth Out - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 15:38

The Trump administration is ending Obama-era policies calling on schools and universities to consider race as a factor in admissions, in the latest blow to affirmative action programs. The move doesn’t change the law, but it rescinds guidelines set by the Obama administration to foster diversity in elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses. The move comes as the Trump administration is reportedly planning a challenge to Harvard University’s admissions practices and as President Trump is nearing a decision on a Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was long considered a swing vote on affirmative action. In 2016, Kennedy wrote the majority opinion when the court upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions program. We speak to Dennis Parker, director of the Racial Justice Program at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Please check back later for full transcript.

The post Affirmative Action in Jeopardy With New DOJ Order and Retirement of Justice Kennedy appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News

Justice Kennedy’s LGBTQ Legacy May Be Short-Lived

Truth Out - Fri, 07/06/2018 - 15:36

Kennedy’s departure from the Supreme Court has, understandably, prompted widespread concern about Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. Equally at risk is the court’s progress on LGBTQ rights.

While he was on the court, Kennedy was the decisive vote for the court’s 5-4 pro-gay rights rulings. He wrote each of the court’s landmark gay rights decisions, outlawing bans on same-sex sexual conductLGBTQ political advocacy and same-sex marriage at the state and federal level. Kennedy is the voice of the court’s gay rights doctrine.

Having tracked judicial progress on gay rights over the last decade, I’d argue that Kennedy’s retirement puts this doctrine, and the movement, in jeopardy. Although his rulings on same-sex relationships have ushered in new freedoms for lesbian and gay couples, they rest on fragile constitutional arguments. With Kennedy’s retirement, there is greater opportunity for anti-gay activists to dismantle the court’s tenuous legal framework supporting gay rights.

An Unlikely Advocate

Prior to his ascent to the court, few could have predicted that Justice Kennedy would spearhead a judicial revolution for LGBTQ rights. Kennedy joined the court in 1988 as a Reagan appointee whose only decision on gay rights, written during his tenure on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, narrowly upheld military regulations prohibiting “homosexual conduct.”

In 1996, less than a decade after his appointment to the court, Kennedy would author his first of multiple Supreme Court decisions protecting the rights of lesbians and gay men.

The 1996 case, Romer v. Evans, involved a constitutional amendment enacted by Colorado voters in 1992. The amendment barred any state or local public official from including sexual orientation in local nondiscrimination laws. If upheld, the amendment would have rendered any discrimination against gays or lesbians in housing, employment and public accommodations both legal and untouchable. The state argued that they were protecting the “liberties of landlords or employers who have personal or religious objections to homosexuality” and were doing “no more than deny[ing] homosexuals special rights.”

Kennedy authored the 6-3 decision to overturn the amendment, arguing that the state’s reasoning failed to meet even basic legal requirements. The policy, Kennedy stated, was “born of animosity toward the class of persons affected” and rendered members of the gay community “unequal to everyone else.”

For the gay community, Romer marked what New York Times reporter Linda Greenhousedescribed as a “historic shift in the Court’s response to anti-gay discrimination,” stopping other states from following suit. It also provided “a strong statement” against anti-gay discrimination, because it was delivered by “a conservative member of a basically conservative Court.” Yet, in overturning the Colorado amendment, Kennedy rested his decision on the easiest of judicial standards – arguing that the state failed to provide any rational reason for the ban.

The court could have argued instead that members of the LGBTQ community have historically been excluded from a wide range of state protections – and have far more frequently been the targets of hostile policy actions. The court treats policies that target historically excluded communities as “suspect” and makes it more difficult for policies to prevail.

Policy actors who target historically excluded groups need to come up with a significant reason for creating the policy. They must also prove that there is no other way to achieve their policy goal.

More importantly, once a group is treated as historically excluded in court precedent any policy that targets the group will be evaluated with this more challenging standard of judicial scrutiny.

While Kennedy’s rulings have struck down important limitations on lesbian and gay rights, he has resisted treating the LGBTQ community as historically excluded – leaving them with a far less certain set of legal protections.

Relationships and Marriage

In 2003, Kennedy led the court’s majority in Lawrence v. Texas, overturning a Texas statute that criminalized same-sex sexual intimacy. In doing so, the court also overturned it’s prior 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, which upheld similar legislation in Georgia. Kennedy admonished the Bowers court for its “failure to appreciate the extent of the liberty at stake” and described bans on same-sex sexual conduct as “an attempt to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals.”

Bans on same-sex sexual intimacy licensed private citizens to treat lesbians and gay men as criminal. Free from the presumption of criminality, lesbians and gay men now had legal leverage to live openly and to fight for full equality.

Although the decision provided a legal mechanism for decriminalizing same-sex couples, Kennedy again resisted adopting the “historically excluded” framework. Instead, Kennedy argued that same-sex couples were being deprived, in this one instance, of important constitutional liberties.

Kennedy’s decisions on marriage equality provided similarly important but limited victories.

On June 26, 2013, Kennedy dismantled one of two barriers to marriage equality – a federal ban on same-sex marriage that prevented legally married same-sex couples from receiving the same federal benefits and protections offered to heterosexual married couples. In U.S. v. Windsor, Kennedy struck down the federal ban arguing that its only purpose was to “harm a politically unpopular group.”

State and federal judges used Windsor to overturn similar bans in more than 30 states.

Two years later, in Obergefell v. Hodges, Kennedy led the court in overturning the remaining state-level bans. Kennedy called specific attention to the ways in which bans on same sex marriage “harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples” and impose on them the “significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents.”

Windsor and Obergefell changed the lives of same-sex couples and their children. Children now have the security of being legally tied to both of their parents. Spouses can access critical health care or insurance benefits. And, in many communities, same-sex headed households have become more common and less vilified.

Yet, again, Kennedy sidestepped the question of historical exclusion, potentially limiting the reach of the decisions and weakening their capacity to withstand coming legal challenges.

Legal Challenges Remain

Kennedy’s gay rights doctrine is relatively new and still highly contested.

For instance, Texas’s ban on same-sex sexual conduct is still on the books, despite Lawrence. And, the Texas Supreme Court is still questioning whether Obergefell requires the state to provide benefits to married same-sex couples.

Wedding service providers are refusing to serve same-sex couples and are making headway in court. Kennedy recently upheld the rights of a Colorado baker to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He argued that compelling the baker “to exercise his artistic talents to express a message” that violated his religious beliefs could present a First Amendment problem. In the hands of a more conservative future court, that precedent could provide ammunition for the increasing number of states that are passing legislation allowing small businesses to refuse to work with same-sex couples on religious grounds.

Perhaps more importantly, there are many challenges to equality untouched by Kennedy’s rulings. This reality is a byproduct of his resistance to treating the LGBTQ community as historically excluded for the purposes of court doctrine. Discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in educationemployment, housing and public accommodations is still legal in more than 20 states. And recent legislative attacks targeting transgender individuals suggest that anti-LGBTQ activity is still prevalent in many communities.

There is no doubt that Justice Kennedy’s legacy has brought about an era of unprecedented – even unimagined – rights for gays and lesbians. The question is will his legacy persist and grow without him on the bench?

The post Justice Kennedy’s LGBTQ Legacy May Be Short-Lived appeared first on Truthout.

Categories: News