The post Missouri Prisoners Engage in Sit-in and Destroy Property Across Racial Lines appeared first on It's Going Down.The following report about a recent prison rebellion at Tipton Correctional in Missouri was anonymously submitted to It’s Going Down.
Following a riot that occurred at the Crossroads Correctional Center in Missouri in May, prisoners at Tipton Correctional staged a sit-in and destroyed prison property on the night of July 4th.
One prisoner wrote in to an anarchist prison newsletter:
We are currently on lock down ‘cause last night (the fourth of July) at nine when the yard closed people staged a sit-in and refused to go inside the house. After about an hour they returned to their housing units but then all the COs left and had us locked inside, and ‘cause this open bay shit got crazy. In one of the housing units they did a lot of damage like knocking down walls, destroying desks, and breaking windows.
We were locked inside the hosing unit all the way till about 8 am when they came in with an emergency riot team and began taking each house out one by one cuffing everybody…The shit was crazy and it’s no telling how long we’ll be on lockdown, but it was good to see black, brown, and whites come together inside.
The same prisoner wrote, “the protest was cause of the petty ass rules and how people are getting treated.” Local news specifically cited a new rule at the facility which prohibits prisoners from congregating in groups.
This disturbance occurs ahead of the scheduled August 21st national prison strike, which was called for by prisoners in South Carolina and has received pledges of support from others in Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, and elsewhere.
The post Xayakalan, Michoacán: Restoration of the Narco-Government Puts Community on Alert appeared first on It's Going Down.This piece comes from the autonomous media collective Subversiones. It speaks to the recent return to municipal power of narco-affiliated politicians in the municipality of Aquila, Michoacán, and the inevitable conflict this new government will have with the ongoing movement for communal autonomy in Santa María Ostula.
By Dante A. Saucedo and Regina López
On June 29th, on the Sierra-coast of Michoacán, the Indigenous community of Santa María Ostula celebrated the ninth anniversary of the foundation of Xayakalan—a town in struggle. After following the juridical and political route, in 2009 the communal guard recuperated, through their own action, 1200 hectares that had been taken over by small land-holders.
There, on the northern edge of the community, San Diego Xayakalan was founded; a bastion of resistance of Santa María Ostula. Its location is strategic: in the portion of territory that had been taken over, there are various mining concessions. Through the simple act of living, the inhabitants of Xayakalan are stopping the plunder.
Beyond the mines, the small land-holders had their eyes fixed on the fertile land of the coast. Mario Álvarez—ex-municipal president for the PRI party—and Guadalupe Mejía—better known as Huizapol—planted tamarinds and mangos on the land that they had usurped. The lands that today are milpas were previously devastated, serving as pasture lands for cattle.
Although the environment was festive during the anniversary event—workshops for the children, dance, sharing—concern regarding the July 1st election was evident. In Ostula, the tension was apparent last April. In a communique, the general assembly—maximum organ of community government—denounced the reorganization of the cells of the Knights Templar Cartel in the region, commanded by Juan Hernández, the municipal president from 2012-2015.
The community also pointed to acting municipal president, José Luis Arteada Olivares, and Cemeí Verdía Zepeda, who for years was commander of the Ostula communal guard and leader of the self-defense movement in the Sierra-coastal region. Behind the backs of the assembly, Verdía accepted candidacy for the position of local deputy of the National Action Party (PAN). In various photos, the ex-commander appeared in public events with Julio Mejía, the son of Huizapol, and with the brother of Mario Álvarez; that is to say, with the local caciques that for years invaded the lands of Santa María Ostula and who still hope to return.
The municipal president of Aquila, the municipality where the community of Ostula is located, was the center of the most serious dispute. Whoever took the position would have political and economic control of the region. The PRD candidate was César Olivares Fernández—cousin of the acting president—and the Green Party candidate was Mohammed Ramírez, cousin and friend of Juan Hernández. Morena, on their part, put Ebenezar Verdía as their candidate, a community member of Ostula.
In spite of some media attempts seeking to implicate the people of Xayakalan in electoral crimes that did not take place, the election day on July 1st was carried out in relative calm in Santa María Ostula. The assembly decided to allow the installation of voting booths and furthermore, the communal guard oversaw the elections and the entrance of the electoral packages.
The result, however, was the worst-case scenario for the community of Santa María Ostula. Mohammed Ramírez Méndez, PVEM candidate, won the Aquila municipal presidency. Ramírez, an engineer, is known throughout the region for being a family member of Juan Hernández and one of the principal actors of the network of politicians linked to the Knights Templar Cartel.
Ramírez Méndez was pre-candidate for the PRI for the same position in 2012, but the Electoral Tribunal of the State invalidated his candidacy. His cousin and friend, Juan Hernández, took his position and served as municipal president until 2015. During his command, the Knights Templar ravaged the region and assassinated more than 30 community members of Santa María Ostula. Hernández, furthermore, opened the door to resource plunder—wood, minerals, etc.—that intensified beneath the cartel’s control.
In 2015, after the self-defense movement cleaned the region, Ramírez participated with Hernández in a series of meetings with other regional leaders of organized crime. In the meetings, an agreement was made to try to assassinate Cemeí Verdía—self-defense leader at that moment. That was the last attempt to maintain control by organized crime through the use of governmental positions.
In the 2015 election, Ramírez competed for the Green Party, while Julio Mejía—cousin of Frederico González, aka El Lico, boss of the northern zone of Ostula—postulated for PAN. After losing the election, Mohammed Ramírez returned to the community of Pómaro, where he is from. There he was elected, beneath the influence of organized crime, commissary of public goods. From that position he concessioned mining projects to caciques and to the ancient leaders of the Knights Templar.
Although the period from 2012-2015 was relatively calm for the people of Ostula, the clan of politicians, caciques and narco-traffickers led by Juan Hernández and Mohammed Ramírez, continued operating to the south of the community. The locations of Maruata and Huahua were their principal strongholds and from there they organized aggressions and harassment against the communal organization of Ostula.
The triumph of Mohammed Ramírez in this 2018 election cycle signifies the restauration of the narco-government in the municipality of Aquila. It’s a compact and organized group, sustained by family relations and comradery. The old cacique structures, typical of the Mexican PRI, are joined by the fire-power of organized crime.
Ramírez and Hernández are the vanguard—politically and visibly—of a group that seeks to completely control the region: control the traffic in the ports of Lázaro Cárdenas and Manzanillo, promote the entrance of mining companies, take control of the agricultural and livestock production, restart the logging of sought-after woods, and generally charge whoever wants to use the territory.
The principal obstacle for that group is, of course, the collective force of Santa María Ostula. Thus, the community members know that the following three years will be difficult ones, that the most cruel and direct aggressions will return, along with the fear and persecutions. But they also know that they can resist if they strengthen their assembly, their communal guard, their organization.
After the divisions generated by the political party democracy, the Nahua people of Ostula know that it is time to turn all their energy to communal organization. “Here our maximum authority is not the municipal president, not even the president of the republic. Here our maximum authority is the assembly”, said a community member the day after the election. Faced with the restoration of the narco-government in Ostula, it is clear that strengthening their autonomy signifies defending themselves, surviving.
The post Mass Mobilization Against the Alt-Right in DC, August 10-12 appeared first on It's Going Down.The following is a call for a robust mobilization and defense of the Washington DC area, as a collection of neo-Nazis, Alt-Right trolls, and white supremacists prepare to converge.
CW: Right wing violence. Photo from Spencer Platt.
We are calling all anti-fascists and people of good conscience to participate in international days of action August 10 through August 12 and a mass mobilization in Washington DC.
This is for Heather Heyer, ICE abolition, open borders, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and ending the settler colonial system. We will confront fascism, antisemitism, islamaphobia, white supremacy, and state violence on August 10-12.
Our lives were forever changed on August 12, 2017, when neo-Nazis, KKK and militia members, and Alt-Right trolls from across the US and North America converged on the town of Charlottesville, Virginia.
White supremacists lit torches and attacked students as young as 17 last year while the police looked on and did nothing. The next day, people bravely confronted hundreds of armed racists. In the ensuing confrontation, one person gave her life, and many more were scarred forever. Tens of thousands immediately took to the streets. Suddenly, the world would never be the same.
Old statues fell. And a new street-based, grassroots power rose.
Now the white supremacists want to come back. On August 12, 2018, the Alt-Right will hold “Unite the Right 2” in Washington DC in front of the White House at Lafayette Square. Jason Kessler, Richard Spencer, and the Trump Administration are all implicated in the murder of Heather Heyer. The Alt-Right relentlessly harass and threaten people of color, women, sex workers, trans and non-binary people, and the undocumented.
Their rallies are all public displays of violence and calls for genocide. They are Brian Trainer and every killer cop. They are the ICE agents. They are the prison system that breaks up families. In Portland, DC, and Philly, the movement grows. We occupy ICE offices, confront racism, antisemitism, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, and white nationalism.
We will be in the streets on August 10-12, and we intend to win.
For updates follow @ShutItDownDC on Twitter
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgOther Calls to Action
In Charlottesville: Community members are mobilizing to show that anti-racist, anti-fascist resistance continues regardless of whether Nazis actually show up. Join and support them on August 11-12.Inside D.C.
Jason Kessler will find no rest, no refuge, no respite. Communities in DC will unite against hate, borders, prison, and the vision of Unite the Right.Outside D.C.
If you can’t make it to Washington DC on August 10-12, take to the streets wherever you are. We call on our comrades to organize demonstrations and other actions for the night of August 12. Occupy an ICE office, shut down a hub of repression, or demonstrate at the home of a local racist, ICE agent, or prison profiteer.Outside the United States
If you are living outside the US, you can take action at US embassies, borders, or other symbols of colonial power. Our allegiance is not to “making America great again,” but to all of humanity and the planet.
- Black Lives Matter Charlottesville
- Black Lives Matter D.C.
- Charlottesville Summer of Resistance Welcoming Committee
- Crimethinc Ex-Workers Collective
- Crushing Colonialism
- D.C. Antifascist Collective
- The Future Is Feminist
- Holler Network
- Interntional Capoeira Angola Foundation, D.C.
- March for Racial Justice
- Maryland Antifa
- One People’s Project
- Philly Antifa
- Resist This (Former DisruptJ20)
- Rising Tide North America
- Smash Racism D.C.
- Showing Up for Racial Justice Charlottesville
- Workers Against Racism
- 350 D.C.
As part of the #WorkerCoops project we've been collecting oral histories from individuals involved in the worker co-op movement from the 1970s-90s. Here's a clip from one of the interviews with @annitownend , a member of Down to Earth wholefood co-op in Sheffield. #HLFsupported pic.twitter.com/CJ9akswLWS— National Co-operative Archive (@CoopArchive) July 10, 2018
Go to the GEO front page
In anticipation of Donald Trump’s Global Chaos Tour a couple of days ago I told everyone to get ready, because it was going to be wild. Upon his arrival in Brussels for the annual NATO meeting, the president opened the show with a fusillade of insults toward America’s allies, a grand display of ignorance on every key issue and a total disregard for history, diplomacy or the national security of the United States. And then it got really crazy.
He started off at a morning breakfast photo-op on Wednesday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and members of their staffs. Trump proceeded to whine, complain and caterwaul once again about how the NATO countries aren’t contributing enough money to what he still portrays as some common NATO piggy bank and implied that they owe the US for overdue payments, which is simply daft. But he made big news when he claimed that Germany is “totally controlled by Russia,” which he apparently believes means that Chancellor Angela Merkel is Vladimir Putin’s puppet.
He based this upon a bogus claim that Germany gives vast sums of money to Russia in exchange for 70 percent of its energy and therefore, they are a “captive of Russia” and are the ones betraying the NATO charter. (As usual, he was wrong on the facts. Germany gets about 9 percent of its energy from natural gas, which is the energy in question. About 70 percent of that comes from Russia.)
When Stoltenberg tried to explain that NATO was not about trade, Trump replied:
How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection against? I think it is a very bad thing for NATO and I don’t think it should have happened and I think we have to talk to Germany about it.
The fact is that of course NATO countries trade with Russia. So does America. But there’s little point in trying to make sense of what he was saying because he clearly had no idea himself.
Later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement saying that that instead of the 2 percent of GDP that the NATO countries have agreed to budget for military spending by 2024, Trump is now demanding that they double that to 4 percent. Shortly thereafter, Trump tweeted this, which slightly walked back his imperious demand:
What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
Before leaving Brussels, Trump held an unscheduled press conference on Thursday, during which he claimed that all NATO member nations had promised to “substantially up their commitment” to defense spending after he had told them he was “extremely unhappy.” As the Washington Post drily reported, “It was not immediately clear what specific new commitments had been made.”
No one quite understands why the president is so intent upon everyone arming themselves to the teeth, but we know it isn’t because he wants America to cut back. He wants to increase US defense spending as well. Evidently, he wants everyone putting vast amounts of resources into a global war machine. What could go wrong?
The truth is that this is completely unrealistic. So the more obvious explanation is that Trump is seeking to break up the NATO alliance the same way he tore up the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear deal. He also plans to abrogate NAFTA, withdraw from the WTO and who knows what else. ( He says right in that tweet: “What good is NATO …?”)
At least that was how Russian state TV saw it:
#Russia‘s state TV:
“I never thought I’d live to see this—neither the USSR nor Russia, who tried many times to drive the wedge between transatlantic allies, but Washington is doing everything to break down the foundations of transatlantic alliance & unity.”©️ pic.twitter.com/AlG3QytN8S
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) July 11, 2018
Perhaps that’s one of Trump’s “deliverables” for his upcoming summit with Putin in Helsinki.
Meanwhile, back at home there was some highly unusual activity in Congress. You may recall that a delegation of Republican senators visited Moscow over the July 4 holiday and were quoted as being extremely accommodating, if not downright servile, to their hosts. The leader of the delegation, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said they were there to “strive for a better relationship, not accuse Russia of this or that or so forth.” Others were even more generous:
Sen. Ron Johnson reportedly said that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election “is not the greatest threat to our Democracy,” after a group of Republican lawmakers returned from a trip to Moscow. pic.twitter.com/VXk3rkWHCP
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 12, 2018
Someone must have pointed out that they had come off as useful idiots because according to the Daily Beast, several senators who were there are now saying that the meetings were confrontational and tense, with the Russians leaning heavily on the senators on the issue of sanctions, while insisting that the election interference never happened.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said the Russians had been under the impression that only Democrats believed that Russia had been involved. It’s not hard to understand why they would have made that assumption. This is the first time we’ve seen any Republican elected officials, beyond a handful of retiring senators, give even the slightest indication that they are concerned about it.
Somewhat surprisingly, both the House and the Senate passed nearly unanimous bipartisan resolutions affirming support for NATO. They don’t actually mean anything and they won’t do anything serious to restrain Trump, but it’s possible that Republicans making some slight attempt to tell the world that Trump’s bellicose comments are not endorsed by his party will provide some reassurance.
That wasn’t all. The Senate also voted 88-11 for a non-binding resolution to stop Trump from using national security as a rationale for imposing tariffs willy-nilly when he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning. Analysts are saying it was a test vote to see if they can override a veto. It’s unclear how many Republicans would hang tough if Trump actually bothers to veto the bill.
Finally, a bipartisan group of senators has introduced a resolution condemning the Russian incursion in Crimea and calling on the Trump administration not to recognize Russia’s land grab. That too will not be binding, but its timing just before the summit with Putin is not an accident.
Perhaps this is all just CYA behavior for Republicans who can see the handwriting on the wall in a tough election season. Or maybe they only manage to find their lost intestinal fortitude when the president is out of town. But it’s also possible that Trump is starting to scare some of them as much as he’s scaring the rest of the planet.
This NATO debacle was just the opening act of the Global Chaos Tour. Now he’s off to London, where he’ll meet the queen, encounter large protests and be followed around by a gigantic “Baby Trump” blimp. That should be highly entertaining. It’s when Vladimir Putin joins him on stage for the big finale in Helsinki that we’ll see the real pyrotechnics.
The post As Trump Runs Wild in Brussels, GOP Senators Start to Back Away appeared first on Truthout.
Legal moves to increase police powers in the name of fighting terrorism are hardly new territory for Europe. The UK’s 2016 Investigatory Powers Act is one recent example; Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 antiterrorism law, which ended France’s state of emergency by writing many of its provisions permanently into law, is another. But when Germany starts granting its police sweeping new powers of surveillance, arrest and detention, the symbolic and constitutional implications are extremely concerning.Region by Region
That is precisely what is currently happening, although Germany’s federal structure disguises the fact. Of the sixteen states that make up the Federal Republic of Germany, only one (Thüringen) has not announced any plans to tighten its police laws. In May, 30,000 people took to the streets of Munich to protest a new law giving the Bavarian police unprecedented powers of surveillance, undercover policing and – most eyecatchingly – the right to carry hand-grenades. To no avail: the law was passed by the CSU majority in the Bavarian parliament: the same majority that in recent weeks threatened to unilaterally instruct the police to defy federal government policy and turn away refugees at the Austrian border.
This Saturday, an estimated 20,000 demonstrators marched in Düsseldorf to protest a similar piece of police legislation in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous federal state.
The Düsseldorf protest was notable for its diversity: unions, civil liberty groups and antifascists marched alongside football fans, lawyers and environmentalists. Placards from all corners of the spectrum displayed inscriptions referring to the lessons of Germany’s past – many of them referencing 1933, the year that the Gestapo (Secret State Police) was formed under the Nazis.
“We in Germany know full well what happens when a state takes complete control,” explains Nils Jansen, the mobilisation’s youthful spokesperson: “that’s why we’re saying now that it must never happen again.”
As in Bavaria, the crux of the new law hinges around the term ‘impending danger’. This legalistic formulation enables the police to act against an individual without having to produce concrete grounds for suspicion, meaning, Jansen argues, that “everyone” could potentially be a target: “strike organisers, demonstrators, whistleblowers, football fans, someone who clicks on the wrong website or happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – they could all end up in the police’s sights”. At the Düsseldorf demonstration it’s a message that seems to have resonated with everyone from the digital activists wanting the police to “stay out of our smartphones” to the football fans singing about just “wanting to get to the stadium in peace”.
Alongside the problematic concept of “impending danger”, the NRW police law introduces a whole suite of restrictive policing measures such as the use of tasers as service weapons, dragnet controls such as stop and search, increased video surveillance of public spaces, telephone hacking and digital data collection, temporary injunctions limiting a suspect’s right to freedom of assembly and freedom of association, electronic tagging and preventative custody of up to a month on suspicion of terrorism or seven days for the purposes of identification.Free Citizens
Christian Mertens is a Cologne-based lawyer whose clients include environmental activists engaged in an ongoing struggle to protect the Hambach Forest, an area of ancient woodland caught in the path of energy giant RWE’s mammoth open-cast mining operation. “It is clear,” he says, “that there has been a conscious political decision to roll out this legislation region by region.”
Mertens sees environmental activists as being specifically targeted by the new law, claiming that the provision for seven day preventive custody for identification purposes is a direct response to tactics employed during recent anti-coal actions: “it’s not about ascertaining identity: they know who these people are! They do it as a punishment, or as a way of educating them. It’s like a kick in the backside to show them that they’re doing things the wrong way, and ninety nine per cent of the time it’s directed against environmental activists.” It is, Mertens speculates, likely to be “no accident” that the Kerpen police force, tasked with policing protest actions in and around the Hambach Forest, will be amongst the first to participate in a taser trial.
Mertens’ concerns are constitutional as well as practical. The German Constitution was signed into being in 1949, a document designed to set out the values and mechanisms of a Germany in which the horrors of the Nazi era could never be repeated. One of the values or ‘basic rights’ is privacy of correspondence and telecommunications: a fact which is likely to prove key should the law be taken before the federal constitutional court.
One of the mechanisms is the so-called “Trennungsgebot” or “separation order” which establishes a clear division between the executive powers of the police, and the surveillance powers of the federal intelligence agency. The hollowing out of this constitutional firewall represents a weakening of a legal structure born directly out of the German experience of state fascism. “The free citizen”, says Mertens, “should be allowed to do anything, as long as it’s not explicitly forbidden. The police should be allowed to do nothing, so long as it’s not explicitly allowed.”Imprisoning the Innocent
NRW’s hardline Minister of the Interior, Herbert Reul, sees things differently: “where there’s an impending danger of terrorism, it’s constitutionally possible to give the police increased scope of action,” he told the Rheinische Post, “now we’re saying: with other crimes too, we need to be able to act before they can take place.” It’s a claim he has repeated on camera, saying that it is “better to lock up one innocent person, than risk the lives of many more.”
Lawyer Christian Mertens has a clear counter to that argument: “in the legal profession we have the saying: ‘better to let one hundred people go free, than imprison one single innocent’”. Verena Schäffer, spokesperson for the regional Green Party faction, puts it even more sharply: “Interior Minister Reul is himself a risk to freedom and to our constitutionally chartered rights.”
NRW, however, is not Bavaria. Interior Minister Reul does not enjoy the support of a one party majority in the regional parliament. Instead, the CDU is part of a slim-majority coalition with the (economically) liberal FDP, who, under the growing wave of public pressure, have already voiced significant enough concerns to result in the CDU abandoning its previous plans to push the law through before the summer recess.
There is, in other words, still all to play for and the consequences of Saturday’s showdown in Düsseldorf will reach far beyond the state of NRW. “The resistance”, says Nils Jansen of the No Police Law Alliance, “doesn’t stop here – it’s only just beginning”.
The post Protesters Hear Echoes of the Past in Germany’s New Police Laws appeared first on Truthout.
Amicus Solar was founded in 2011 by six independent solar companies, including employee-owned cooperative and certified B Corp Namaste Solarand another B Corp, Technicians for Sustainability. Amicus Solar is led by cooperative veteran and former Namaste Solar employee-owner, Stephen Irvin, who serves as its president. Today Amicus includes 48 local and regional solar photovoltaic (PV) installers and developers who openly share and collaborate on a wide range of business issues, from operational efficiencies to sales and marketing strategies.
Similar to Best Western and Ace, Amicus is democratically owned by its members, 40 percent of which are B Corps and a growing number of which are employee owned. With five Amicus members having joined the cooperative as employee-owned companies (A&R Solar, Namaste, North Wind, PV Squared, and South Mountain), Amicus has made a conscious effort to educate its members about worker ownership. As a result, five member businesses (ReVision Energy, Technicians for Sustainability, SunBug Solar, Positive Energy, and Sunlight Solar) have converted — and another five are considering converting — to either become worker co-ops or employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). The purchasing co-op has become a means of “industry contagion” — a way of rapidly spreading employee ownership.
Go to the GEO front page
At 11:15 a.m. on Sunday November 24, Cleveland police rushed to the 5500 block of Linton Avenue, where they found sixteen year-old Darnell Jones shot in the neck. Paramedics took him to the MetroHealth Medical Center, where he later died. There was no profile of who he was or wanted to be; no interviews with his parents. Beyond official records there is no further evidence that he was ever on the planet. And so it goes on. Another twenty-four hours and the first of yet another slew of slain children whose stories will not be told and whose passing will provoke no outrage.
Researching and writing this book has made me want to scream. I’ve wanted to scream at Edwin and Brandon that guns are not toys, at Jerry to either take the kids on his trucking run or stay home, at Stanley to quit hanging on the corner, at Gustin to watch who he hangs out with, and at Tyshon’s mother to move. I’ve wanted to scream at journalists and police to treat these deaths as though the lives mattered.
But more than its making me want to scream at anyone in particular, it has mostly made me want to just howl at the moon. A long, doleful, piercing cry for a wealthy country that could and should do better for its youth and children — for my children — but that appears to have settled, legislatively at least, on a pain threshold that is morally unacceptable.
I want to bay toward the heavens, because while kids like those featured in this book keep dying, the political class refuses to do not only everything in its power but anything at all to minimize the risks for the kids who will be shot dead today or tomorrow.
As I explained at the outset, this is not a book about gun control. The challenges facing the people profiled in this book are more thorny and knotted than that. Poverty and inequality foster desperation; segregation is a serious barrier to empathy. The more likely you are to be wealthy or white, the less likely you are to believe that these children could be your children. Statistically that is true, but the fact remains that they are somebody’s children, and those parents grieve like everybody else.
Better education, youth services, jobs that pay a living wage, mental health services, trauma counseling, a fair criminal justice system — in short, more opportunity, less despair — would contribute to the climate where such deaths were less likely.
You can’t legislate for common sense and human decency. Neither poverty nor racism puts a gun in anyone’s hand, let alone tells them to fire it. But they are a starting point for the conditions of alienation, anomie, and ambivalence in which a gun might be used and some gun deaths ignored. People have to take personal responsibility for what they do and live with the consequences. But societies have to take collective responsibility for what they do and live with the consequences, too.
As I argued in the introduction, this is a book about what happens when you don’t have gun control. Americans are no more inherently violent than anybody else. What makes its society more deadly is the widespread availability of firearms. Every country has its problems, unique to its own history and culture. But in no other Western society would this book be possible.
To defend this reality by way of the Second Amendment to the Constitution has about the same relevance as seeking to understand the roots of modern terrorism — either to condemn or to condone it — through readings of the Koran. To base an argument on ancient texts is to effectively abdicate your responsibility to understand the present by offloading it onto those who are now dead. It denies not only the possibility of new interpretations and solutions but the necessity for them.
None of the family members I spoke to raised the Second Amendment one way or the other. Almost all believed guns were too readily available; none believed there was anything that could be done about it. Brilliant community groups, often operating on a shoestring, like Mario’s in Charlotte, exist across the country and campaign tirelessly against gun violence or for commonsense gun legislation, or both. But those who concentrate on protecting “babes” and “angels” from felons and gangsters stand little chance of finding roots in the very communities where the problems are most acute. It would appear that, of all the parents who lost children that day, only Nicole, judging by her later Facebook postings (including a spoof children’s book called The Gun That Went Around Killing Children All By Itself ), seems to be engaged in some kind of advocacy around the issue. But even she clearly finds the broader conversation about gun control too toxic to engage with. Alongside portraits of hundreds of children shot dead since Sandy Hook, which included a photo of Jaiden, she wrote:
Jaiden was one of the hundreds of children under the age of 12 killed by gun violence in the one year after the Sandy Hook massacre….
As the 3rd anniversary approaches for Sandy Hook, there is going to be news coverage, memorials and articles about gun control etc — I don’t want to get into a debate about gun control or violence or mental health problems but what I would like is to ask each of you to take a moment and look at these beautiful gorgeous children and remember them and their families during this holiday season in addition to all those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Otherwise, it’s as though each death took place in helpless, hopeless isolation: a private, discrete tragedy complete unto itself. The broader context of race and poverty was clear to many. But when I told them of other families that had lost children that day, all seemed genuinely shocked that their grief overlapped in real time with that of others. It’s as though they had lost a loved one in a war without any clear purpose, end, or enemy — a war they could do nothing about; a war they long knew existed but hoped by luck, judgment, discipline, and foresight that they might be able to protect their kids from; a war that is generally acknowledged in the abstract but rarely specifically addressed in the concrete. A war that took their children but offered them no allies or community in their grief. A war they knew was taking place elsewhere but experienced alone, as though it were happening only to them — when in fact it was happening to America. Every day.
The post The High School Massacres Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg Among Youth Gun Deaths appeared first on Truthout.
Susan Reed is managing attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), a legal resource center for immigrant communities in the state, which is part of the Michigan Advocacy program. Reed was one of a group of legal aid attorneys who founded MIRC in 2008. In this interview, Reed discusses her experiences supporting clients detained in raids, the role of advocacy organizations in supporting these clients and the ways in which the immigration system was built to maintain a system of white supremacy.
What is your experience with immigration raids and immigration enforcement?
Susan Reed: I’ve been supporting people who are preparing for raids and representing people detained in raids for about 15 years. The most common way for people to get arrested seems to change with the times. When I started doing this work during the Bush administration, DUI [driving under the influence] stops and workplace enforcement were the most common ways people in the community I serve seemed to be getting detained. Throughout the Obama administration, driving without a license became far more common as a reason for detention, but toward the end of the administration, those detentions didn’t lead to deportation as often.
I have no idea how this lines up with statistics, but I find that shift interesting because there’s a lot more potential for profiling in a “no-ops” [traffic stops in which the driver has never had a valid driver’s license] stop than a DUI. Among those in detention in this administration, driving without a license is still the top way people living long-term in the US end up in detention, but we’re seeing an uptick again in “collateral damage” from home- and business-based raids that are allegedly targeting one particular individual.
In September of 2017, ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] went to a blueberry camp in New Era, Michigan, with four empty vans and one removal order. They ended up arresting 10 people who they managed to engage in conversation about their status. Those people were taken more than 400 miles away to Youngstown, Ohio, and their cases were heard by the immigration court in Kansas City. We represented some of them and it was a logistical nightmare.
What is the role of advocacy organizations in combating deportation? In combating immigration raids?
We partnered with the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] on a piece of litigation called Valdez et al v. United States. Our clients, Telma and Luis Valdez, were mother and son, permanent resident and US citizen, respectively. They showed up at a relative’s home while a raid was underway and were physically assaulted, handcuffed and detained by ICE even after they presented ID and proof of status. The case settled for money damages. It’s hard to tell from the outside, but I hope the impact was significant in terms of letting ICE know that we’re out here and we’re watching and that brave people like Luis and Telma won’t just take whatever abuse is being doled out on any given day.
I think that litigation had an impact, but compared to the election of an expressly anti-immigrant president who repeatedly — and technically, incorrectly — claimed he had the endorsement of ICE? (He actually had the endorsement of the ICE agents’ union.) Compared to his election, our impact is probably limited, but we’ve got the tools we’ve got. We’re co-counsel with ACLU National, ACLU of Michigan, CODE Legal Aid, the International Refugee Assistance Project and Miller Canfield in the Hamama v. Adducci case now, and I think that case is having a significant impact on the way ICE works. Finding ways to get in front of federal judges is unquestionably the best strategy we have (which is why stripping people’s right to have their case reviewed by a federal judge has been a high priority of anti-immigrant legislators for decades.)
We can’t file a federal lawsuit about every raid. Mostly what we do is advise immigrants about preparing for a raid and represent individuals in the aftermath. So, I can’t really claim that I’m combatting raids and deportation in a proactive way most of the time. We react a lot, but that’s what our clients need. ICE has the resources to keep us up on our heels.
Many people who do not work with or are not themselves part of immigrant communities are not familiar with immigration raids. If you could tell them one thing about raids, what would you say?
I did an interview recently with a woman who had been napping alongside her 4-year-old one weekday afternoon while her other children were at school. She never heard a knock at the door; she didn’t hear them kick it down; and she only woke up when agents entered the bedroom and started screaming at her and her child. (Kicking down the door isn’t usually within their powers under the Fourth Amendment, but in this case, they had gotten her information from an employer and secured a federal criminal indictment for allegedly working with a fake [Social Security Number] at a minimum-wage, meat-packing job.)
Just to be able to work at a minimum-wage job, she had to expose herself and her child to that terrifying reckoning. I think it’s easier for communities of color that are used to aggressive policing to imagine, but I grew up in an affluent suburb. People talked about working a minimum-wage job like that itself would be a terrible fate, and so to think of the risk and the price someone like this woman paid just to have the chance to do it? I wish the people I grew up with understood the cost they exact from other human beings in order to eat cheap, sliced meat.
It’s frequently stated that advocacy movements are siloed — that is, advocates do not work across issues. Do you see links between the work you do and that of other movements?
Our immigration system was designed to perpetuate white supremacy, so it’s inextricably linked to the movement for Black Lives and movements fighting racism, specifically anti-Black racism. (And of course, many immigrants are Black and the majority of recent immigrants are people of color.)
Unfortunately, there are anti-Black sentiments among both immigrants and allies that we have to keep working to change. We’re busting the links all the time when we say things like: “We are all immigrants!” (No, we aren’t: Some of us are Indigenous people, including so many immigrants, and enslaved Africans were not immigrants.) “Immigrants do jobs Americans won’t do.” (Not really. Think about agriculture — it has always depended on coerced labor, from slavery to sharecropping to migrant workers fleeing Jim Crow, and it just moved on to undocumented folks as African Americans made progress. When we say immigrants are hard-working — compared to whom? Who is not hard-working? What group of people in this country is consistently portrayed as “lazy” and not interested in work? You get the picture.)
Even in refugee resettlement, I feel like refugee leaders and advocates slip into a pattern of suggesting that American “inner cities” are full of people who obviously lack economic potential, and that refugees have some kind of innate superior qualities as economic actors that will magically revitalize things. That’s not to say that refugee resettlement can’t drive shared prosperity in cities — it can — or that there aren’t sometimes alignments between skills and capital that immigrants bring that can generate beneficial economic activity — there are. But taking advantage of that already-existing imported human and financial capital should only happen alongside similar investments and initiatives to ensure the development and flourishing of those already in an “inner city,” and I don’t always hear that in the conversation.
The post With Escalation in ICE Raids, Immigrant Legal Resource Centers Double Down appeared first on Truthout.
From Civic Critic
A process of ongoing high-level cooperation between European governments following the G20 in Hamburg this time last year has led to the creation of a "black bloc task force," as well as what appears to be a Europe-wide digital database of so-called "left wing extremists" based on a dubious and toxic ideological framework, according to a series of articles, activist commentary, and government documents.
Over the past few months, a huge number of activists from Switzerland, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, France and Germany have been arrested by police in conjunction with the G20 protests. The raids in Italy, Spain, France and Switzerland were conducted by a "black bloc task force," according to DW.
The black bloc task force, DW says, has been "combing through terabytes of police footage, CCTV recordings, and private videos with the help of facial recognition software and geolocation data." It has been disclosed also that police infiltrated many of the G20 protest groups with informants. Meanwhile, police in France (the CRS) have discussed experimentation with "chemical, invisible, and remote markers" of "antifas or other black blocks known for their violence."
The task force is part of an investigative commission in Germany and is supported by police from multiple countries, as well as Eurojust, a European-wide agency.
While the recent arrests have garnered the attention of many on the European left, the creation of a database of "extreme left" individuals and data was in fact proposed directly after the summit, as well as well beforehand.
In 2001, just a month before the Genoa G8, member states agreed to pursue "violent troublemakers," and collect data on those "notoriously known to the police," while in 2007, Wolfgang Shauble demanded the pursuit of "Euro Anarchists." Ministries of police told their officers to act "internationally and conspiratorially" in tracking and infiltrating "Euro-Anarchists" and "left extremists," while claiming that the "anarcho-scene" was highly internationalised, with cooperation with leftists from the United Kingdom to Greece. Ahead of the G20, it was announced that robots would be installed to crawl through the sewers, without explanation of their function.
While these prior declarations could be seen by some as flashes in the pan (although the British spycops experience sheds doubt on this), calls made after the G20 last year appear to have developed into action at a frightening speed.
On the final day of the protests, then-minister for justice Heiko Maas expressed in BILD, an extreme-right Atlanticist tabloid, the need for "a European-wide database of left-wing extremists" to stop them from crossing the borders. Since that date, BILD itself has seemingly played an important role in this process, asking readers to identify and reveal protestors, and releasing their photos to the police. In addition, at least two G20 activists have been included in the SIS II Schengen blocking system.
In a Wall Street Journal article written a few days following the summit, it was disclosed that Mass had written a letter to fellow justice ministers, saying, among other things, that "many photos and video recordings are currently getting assessed to identify the perpetrators....we must stop this brutal riot tourism in Europe."
In the following election that fall, the manifesto of the CDU/CSU included calls for "the storage and recovery of [internet] traffic data," and wanted sympathy for "associations" to become a criminal offence. Under the new Bavarian police law, German states will receive "intelligent" video technology and facial recognition services.
In the German prisons, ecologist activists have been threatened with physical violence by security forces and demands that they reveal which European capitals they have been to and who, including anarchists, they knew in each of them.
It appears that the database was given a trial run in Hungary during the election period, where authorities set up a CCTV system preloaded with biometric data for wanted anarchists.
Aside from the obvious reason that constitutional rights are a dead letter in all "western democracies," it is worth considering the state's official rationale for imposing such drastic repression on what amount to political ideologies (anarchism, communism, etc).
The Federal Republic of Germany, has, since reunification, adopted "extremism theory" as what amounts to an official ideology, to the point where the "protection of the constitution" requires annual reports on parties, organisations, social movements, media, and ideas of the "extremes."
The cornerstone of this theory is a belief (put more accurately, an assumption held with the intensity of faith) that there is a democratic, liberal centre, and that anything outside of this is extreme, unconstitutional, and criminal. Crucially, and most ominously, it is held that communism and anarchism - essentially, any fundamental critiques of capitalism - are placed on the same level of historical and ideological condemnation as Nazism and other forms of fascism. An Indymedia post summed it up by saying that "extremism theory is designed to isolate left-wing people and groups so they can no longer influence society." This means the confiscation of Indymedia servers and the closing down of left-wing squats like the Rote Flora, called for in the CDU/CSU electoral platform.
Making an equivalence between elements of the far left and Nazism is a perspective with unsavoury historical roots. For starters, it has long been held by apologists for the Third Reich, which have in recent years been given increasing power in German and Western universities, that Nazism was an "equal and opposite" desperate reaction to Bolshevik-style socialism, and that the two ideologies are "totalitarian twins." This view, thrown into prominence initially by discredited historian Ernst Nolte, has since been picked up by historians such as Anne Applebaum and Timothy Snyder, after being polished to look half-respectable by François Furet and Bernard Henri-Levy, both writers who have served as intellectual inspirations for Emmanuel Macron.
Similar arguments conflating and equivalating far-right and far-left in the name of "liberal democracy" were also put forward in the 1950s by Cold War Liberals often funded by the CIA's Congress for Cultural Freedom. These figures, vehement opponents of communism but also anarchism and "left radicalism," later went on to form the intellectual basis of neoconservatism.
All of this is weaponised to justify a situation where the far-right Alternative For Germany, unlike left-wing websites and groups like Linksunten Indymedia and the KPD, is allowed to operate and influence the SPD and CSU into implementing blatantly sinister detention camps for the processing of refugees. Combined with the "left extremist database," this effectively means that Germany's state-defined "extremism" theory has been adopted by all European states de facto.
Meanwhile, surveillance and tracking of protestors and activists is set to intensify. Poland will target the personal data of all environmental advocates, even NGOs via a new law implemented for the COP24 summit. Corporations are developing smart walls to detect movement and spray-paint, as well as furthering the rollout of software designed to detect, track and report "troublemakers." At a certain point, one may begin to wonder whether they live in democratic Europe, authoritarian China, or Suzanne Collin's Panem.Tags: europeg20the stateRepressionanarchists in troubletechnologycategory: International
Today we bring you a conversation with George Ciccariello-Maher, a writer and organizer based in Philadelphia and a visiting scholar at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Ciccariello-Maher discusses the movement to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and how activist groups are setting up encampments to occupy ICE buildings. He also talks about how a supposedly progressive Democratic mayor is doing the work of Trump.
Sarah Jaffe: We are talking about Occupy ICE, which has sprung up in quite a few cities now. Do you happen to know how many different places have an occupation or have had one?
George Ciccariello-Maher: I have seen different numbers, but well over half a dozen cities over the past couple of weeks have seen these sporadic occupations, some being evicted, some being more sustained in the long-term. All have been subject to very different strategies for repression by local and federal authorities.
Talk a little bit about the one you have been involved in, which is in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia began an occupation just a week ago, honestly, outside an ICE facility in downtown Philadelphia and set up an encampment that very quickly blocked access by ICE vans to a building. Very quickly … this was pushed out by federal law enforcement in association with … Philadelphia police. They were pushing the encampments beyond the doors to create access to the building.
Now, I think people in Philadelphia were hoping for something like what happened in Portland, where local authorities were really unwilling to go along and be the shock troops of ICE, but in Philadelphia, despite the claims of being [a] sanctuary city and the attempts to cultivate progressive credentials by Mayor Jim Kenney, what you have seen actually is very much a willingness to participate with those federal enforcement agencies.
I want to unpack that a little bit. First of all, for people who aren’t familiar with the terminology, “sanctuary city” has a very specific political meaning, but also a broader meaning of being a safe place for immigrants. Can you talk about the specific policy connections that have gone into calling some place a sanctuary city?
Of course, the category of sanctuary city has been very debated and fraught over the past year — in particular, with Trump attempting to figure out different ways to punish sanctuary cities to withdraw funding. I know there has been some pushback in the courts on that. But in Philadelphia, what we have actually seen is the words “sanctuary city” being used by … a slightly progressively branded mayor, but you have seen in reality just simply a delay of what I would think would be the key policy mechanism, which is a decision on whether or not Philadelphia police will participate in information sharing with ICE.
This is called [Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System (PARS)]. The PARS agreement … would pass arrest information directly to federal officials, allowing for ICE to then sweep in and detain and potentially deport people. This is something that the mayor has not come out and said he is opposed to. What he has done is to delay this decision. You had just the other day a meeting by an excellent organization locally called Juntos with the mayor pressuring him to, among other things, refuse to share that information with ICE officials. In addition to that, there is a long-standing campaign to close down the Berks County Detention Center, which is an immigrant detention center.
The meeting with him came about after the Philadelphia police were involved in evicting the occupation, right?
Absolutely. After Philadelphia police pushed the occupation beyond the gates of the ICE building, then attempted to push them further, what you have is a completely unannounced intervention by the police, again, to fully evict. People have been bending over backwards too far to placate them … and I think my argument consistently is that they are still going to evict you when the time comes, which is exactly what happened.
The camp was fully evicted by Philadelphia police and this looks terrible for a progressive mayor — or so-called progressive mayor, I should say. We are not talking about a very progressive mayor. We are talking about someone who uses a progressive narrative. Regardless, the headlines were not good for Jim Kenney. They looked bad. They looked like here he was not only doing the work of federal officials, but doing the work of Trump. This is really Trump’s work. For a “progressive” Democrat to be doing the work of Trump, of course, looks very bad.
The encampment then moved to City Hall, where the mayor promptly said he had no plans to evict them. This is only possible, of course, because of the public pressure brought by the occupation, the insistence on staying, but then also, the bad press that came about as a result of the repression of that. This is something that we see pretty consistently in occupations, going back to Occupy.
I did want to go back to Occupy because we are seeing … a resurgence of this tactic — in this case, with a very specific demand to abolish ICE…. You have mayors who came in, sort of taking movement demands and claiming to be more progressive than the people who were in charge when the Occupy encampments were evicted…. But the Occupy ICE encampments are not getting that much nicer treatment from mayors who are supposedly more receptive to movement demands.
Absolutely. You saw something similar during Occupy in the sense that with Democratic governments in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Oakland — the occupations were repressed in the same way, were evicted despite the attempts by those Democratic mayors to spin what it was that they were doing.
What you have seen … is a slightly more progressive brand of Democrats. In Philadelphia, you have Jim Kenney instead of Michael Nutter and you have, at the very least, some kind of reliance on some kind of progressive claims. Jim Kenney has said some slightly progressive things when it comes to mass incarceration and policing. We haven’t seen much change in practice.
We have seen a progressive district attorney, which has made a lot more difference. Those who were just arrested at the Occupy ICE protests were given small citations and were released within an hour. This is kind of unprecedented…. But this question of who the mayor is has definitely allowed those occupations to leverage the claims being made by these progressive Democrats, even if it hasn’t resulted in much in practice.
Moving forward, people are still planning nationwide mobilizations around family separation, but the Abolish ICE demand has really taken off in the last few weeks. It has gone from being a demand of a few fairly far-left immigration organizations to a demand that we are seeing everywhere and that politicians are now sort of signing on to. I am wondering about your thoughts about the growth of this as a demand and then, how folks are moving on it.
I think it is really interesting. I think we are used to abolitionist language seeming really extreme or long-term or pie in the sky, and yet, we have seen this claim take root and spread. Partly because of the real brutality of what ICE is doing and the transparency of what is going on.
I think it is also really important to remember that one of the first things … we should do … is to historicize, to think about the fact that ICE is not that old. ICE is a new institution…. Abolishing it really should not be that difficult. That points both toward the potential and the possibility of this claim to actually come about. I think that is why you see many Democrats, or some Democrats at least, talking about the abolition of ICE, but it also points toward the dangers, because we are in a strange situation where you are talking about abolishing something, but it is really just an intermediate demand because the last thing we want is to see ICE simply replaced by [the Immigration and Naturalization Service], by Border Patrol doing the same exact work or going back to an old status quo, which is not good enough for us.
I think we need to be very careful to tether the demand to abolish ICE to the demand to not replace it. This is actually what a lot of Democrats have been insisting on: “We will find a better replacement.” No. We don’t want any replacement for this. We want to roll back the powers that have been granted even to Border Patrol in recent decades and the dramatic expansion of that agency and the dramatic expansion of its budget and expansion of its ground force on the border. We want a radical transformation, ultimately, that points toward border abolition by the end.
One of the things that has come back up – to sort of link back around to this question of sanctuary cities and the question of local police cooperation with ICE – the argument that is used against things like police and prison abolition is often that it is “unrealistic,” that you can’t do this and that regular people won’t relate to this. It is interesting to see the way that this demand is challenging that whole idea.
Yes, absolutely. If anything, it is too easy to abolish ICE. I don’t mean that to be glib. The struggle is actually going to be a very hard one, but again, we don’t want to get caught up in acting as if that is our ultimate goal and then we get trapped in the mere replacement with something else.
I think what we can do and what we need to do is to constantly present this insistence and this argument that this is a new agency, it didn’t need to exist when it was created after September 11, it doesn’t need to exist now and we need to abolish it on the way to building a different kind of world, on the way to other kinds of abolition. Here, I actually think that what is crucial as well, is to resist, on the one hand, the separation of Black and Brown and immigrant struggles from each other and to actually insist on what we are seeing in policing on the one hand, and ICE and migration and Border Patrol on the other are very similar phenomena and that the abolitionist claim should actually be very much understood in similar ways for both.
We want to abolish the police because we want a very different kind of society and we want to begin to imagine that society through the process of fighting for abolition. We are not going to get abolition right away, but in so far as we push back the power of the police, the power of Border Patrol and ICE, we begin to imagine a very different kind of world.
How can people keep up with you and how can people keep up with the occupation of ICE in Philadelphia?
There is a lot of information on Twitter about the ICE occupation in Philadelphia. #NoICEPHL. Please follow Juntos on Twitter. Also, be aware that what is said on Twitter is not always true when it comes to what is going on — on the ground. So, come out to the occupation, see them. A lot of the drama you hear about is maybe a little overblown and people on the ground are really just working to build and to continue this occupation and to press these demands moving forward.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.
The post Abolishing ICE Is a First Step Toward Abolishing Borders appeared first on Truthout.
We're here to raise money for Eric's partner, and their two children who are currently experiencing financial hardship. Life is already tough as a mother of two with her partner in prison, but she was also recently in a car accident, which thankfully left her in okay shape, but has left her care in unsafe conditions for long distance or highway driving. Even more recently she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the severity and treatment of which is still being determined. Treatment for the pain alone will financially destabilize the family, on top of future specialists visit, car repairs, and potential unemployment (due to the chronic pain experienced).
Eric’s partner tirelessly supports him, facilitates excellent communication between Eric and the outside world, consistently advocates for his rights inside the prison, emotionally supports him through the political battles on the inside, and drives hours to visit him every week, on top on tending to the needs of their children and working.
The recent developments in her life could have devastating impacts for her and her family. Donations are needed asap as the financial toll of these recent development have already taken effect. All of the funds donated will be used by her to support herself and her children in this difficult time in her life.
We will accept any amount from either debit or credit.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at: erickingsupportcrew (at) riseup.netEric Kingfundraisercrowd fundinghealthanarchists in troublecategory: Other
The May 1st protests that took place at the UIN Yogyakarta area, against the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) and the monarchy-feudalism related to Sultan Ground/Pakualaman Ground. Resulted in 11 comrades being detained at the Yogyakarta Regional Police Station (Polda Yogyakarta) suspected of destruction and arson of State facilities (a Police Station).
The comrades were supposed to be transferred to Cebongan Prison at the end of June, but due to further investigation, on June 29 only 4 comrades were transferred to Cebongan Prison and another 2 comrades were transferred one week later. And 5 comrades are still detained at Yogyakarta Regional Police Station, including Brian Valentino (Ucil). We have received information that the 5 comrades will be transferred to Cebongan Prison at the end of July.
For now the prisoners of war class that are still being held at Yogyakarta Regional Police Station are in good health and full of spirits as usual. As for the condition of the class war prisoners who were transferred to Cebongan Prison, we don't know any information about them so far, however we will give the any updates as soon as we know the information about them. We hope that our comrades around the world will continue to show solidarity with the Yogyakarta anarchist prisoners (such as writing letters) to keep the fire inside their souls burning and so that they do not feel isolated or alienated behind the prison bars and walls.
Instagram account : palang__hitam
Website : palanghitam.noblogs.org
Email : email@example.com
It’s no secret that, as the saying goes, “The rent is too damn high.” Across the nation, housing is becoming increasingly expensive for many Americans. But the story of the present-day housing crisis is not just a story of rising rents; it’s also a story of systemic racism. Today’s rising housing prices exacerbate the racial wealth gap in the US by making it more difficult for Black people to accumulate wealth since the 2008 recession, thus further decimating Black wealth.The Racial Wealth Gap
There is a large wealth gap between white families and nonwhite families — a gap that impacts the economic stability of entire communities. According to 2016 Federal Reserve data, median wealth for white families is $171,000. Black and Latino families, meanwhile, have far less wealth: Black families have a median wealth of $17,600, while Latino families have $20,700.
It would take decades to centuries for Black families to achieve the same amount of wealth that white families have. According to a 2016 report from the Institute for Policy Studies, it would take Black families 228 years to reach the same amount of wealth that white families have today.
The racial wealth gap matters because wealth is an important economic resource and a form of power. Wealth builds and sustains communities. It helps communities weather economic hardships and supports future generations. Those with more wealth can use it to influence the political system, as evidenced by the control wealthy donors and large corporations have on US politics.The 2008 Recession and Today’s High Rents
The 2007 subprime mortgage crisis and 2008 recession decimated Black wealth. Americans of color were disproportionately targeted and tricked into buying risky subprime mortgage loans. Those loans were converted into risky but lucrative financial securities on Wall Street and garnered huge profits for investment banks. The housing bubble, backed by subprime mortgages, burst, triggering a massive economic recession.It would take Black families 228 years to reach the same amount of wealth that white families have today.
All Americans saw their wealth decline after the Great Recession in 2008, after the housing market collapse. However, Black and Latino Americans were hurt the most. In 2007, the median net worth of all households was $135,700, according to Pew Research. That dropped to $82,300 in 2010 and $81,400 in 2013. Nonwhite Americans already had less wealth than whites and saw what little wealth they had deplete even more. In 2007, the median net worth of white households was $192,500. White median net worth dropped to $141,900 in 2013. Meanwhile, what little wealth Black and Latino households had prior to the recession was further depleted. In 2007, Black median net worth was $19,200, while Latinos had $23,600 in wealth. Their wealth, in 2013, dropped to $11,000 for Black households and $13,700 for Latinos.
Obama’s homeowner relief measures did very little to provide relief. For example, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) helped homeowners refinance their mortgages, but only for those not in danger of foreclosure. As a result, it did not help the homeowners most in need, particularly subprime borrowers. This especially hurt Black and Latino borrowers since their refinance rates under HARP were lower.
The post-recession “recovery” has seen an obscene increase in housing prices across the nation. As of this month, according to Zumper, median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,500 a month. But San Francisco isn’t the only expensive city. Median rent for a one-bedroom in New York City is $2,860 a month, in Seattle, $1,990, and in Miami, $1,800. According to a recent RENTCafé report, the national average rent reached $1,405 last month.
Housing prices are also outpacing wages. The median wage for US workers is $30,533.31 a year, according to Social Security Administration data. Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not enough to afford a two-bedroom rental home anywhere in the country. Not even $15 an hour is enough for most locations. One would have to make $22.10 an hour, on average, to afford a two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 an hour for a one-bedroom, according to a National Low Income Housing Coalition report.
Because apartment rents and home prices are so high, it is incredibly difficult for young people of color to buy homes and accumulate wealth to pass down to their offspring. University of California, Berkeley, professor and housing expert Carolina Reid told Truthout that renters “are compelled to pay increasingly more of their income on rent, and there’s no wealth gains to be made from rent.”The median wealth of Black Americans will drop to zero by 2053.
Reid also warned that if someone is struggling to pay rent and their rent continues to increase, they are more likely to take out a predatory loan. In fact, loosely regulated independent mortgage companies are creating half of new mortgages compared to nearly 20 percent in 2007, according to the Brookings Institution — echoing signs of the previous collapse. Many of these loans are to low-income people. Even if another financial crisis does not happen, Reid says, “Your ability to save for a down payment to buy a house in the future is compromised.”
At a recent Fair Housing Act meeting in Concord, California’s City Hall, a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) official told Truthout that, “The effect of the current housing crisis and escalating rents on people’s ability to save to be able to buy a home to begin with is pretty intuitive.” The weak federal homeowner relief combined with today’s high housing prices will make it harder for Black and Latino people to accumulate intergenerational wealth.
While the impact of today’s housing crisis on the racial wealth gap remains to be seen, there is enough evidence to show that it will get worse in the coming years. A 2017 Institute for Policy Studies report found that the median wealth of Black Americans will drop to zero by 2053 and Latino median wealth will drop to zero 20 years after that. Meanwhile, “median white household wealth would climb to $137,000 by 2053.”What Drives the Racial Wealth Gap?
The most common explanation for what drives the racial wealth gap is lack of Black homeownership. A recent study from Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity dispels several myths about the racial wealth gap — including that homeownership is the driving force.
First, homeownership is one component of wealth. Indeed, wealth or “net worth” is measured by total assets minus total debt. Owning a home is only one of many assets a person or family can have.Because of slavery and generations of institutional racism, white people were able to accumulate intergenerational wealth while Black people could not.
Even when homeownership is taken into account, white Americans still hold more wealth. The study points out that while wealth is low among non-homeowners, Black households that don’t own homes have a measly $120 in net worth, while non-homeowning white households have $3,775 in net worth. Neither amount is much, but the gap is wide. As for those who do own a home, median net worth for white homeowners is $239,300 compared to $99,840 for Black homeowners.
The authors do not dismiss the idea of increasing Black homeownership as a worthy goal. However, they question the idea that homeownership drives the racial wealth gap. As they point out,
Rather than homeownership creating wealth, having family wealth in the first place leads to homeownership, particularly high equity homeownership … [B]lacks have minimal initial wealth to invest in homes or pass down to their children to assist with down payments…. [W]ithout sufficient wealth in the first place, households have limited means to invest in homeownership. Wealth, after all, begets more wealth.
Since owning a home is a major non-depreciating asset for most US families, homeownership is important for building overall wealth, but it is just one piece of a larger pie. Looking at the racial wealth gap requires more than focusing on homeownership; it also requires looking at other assets and actual home equity. Federal Reserve data show that white households hold far more home equity than Black households — $215,800 among whites, $94,400 among Blacks. Because of slavery and generations of institutional racism, white people were able to accumulate intergenerational wealth while Black people could not.Slavery and Redlining
The racial wealth gap started with slavery. During the transatlantic slave trade, between 10 and 12 million Black African slaves were kidnapped from West Africa and trafficked to the southeastern United States, the Caribbean and South America.Slavery was a massive transfer of wealth from Black labor to white capital.
Black African slaves, by definition, were not paid for their labor. Instead, they were legally considered the “property” of their white slave-masters. In addition, slavery was passed down from generation to generation as the children of slaves were legally considered slaves, as well. Because of this, Black slaves could not accumulate wealth to pass down to their descendants. As a result, slavery was a massive transfer of wealth from Black labor to white capital. This transfer of wealth impacted the descendants of African slaves and laid the foundation for a racist hierarchy that relegates Black people to the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. The racial wealth gap is an empirical measure of this.
Moreover, slavery built modern capitalism. Since they were considered property, slaves were bought and sold in international markets. Slaves cultivated important, wealth-generating crops such as, cotton, tobacco and sugar. Additionally, slave labor produced commodities that were sold in markets for profit, a key component of capitalism. Cotton in North America and sugar in the Caribbean were the most valuable commodities. Cheap cotton and sugar produced by slave labor were crucial to building the modern international capitalist economy and the US’s economic power. Capitalism and the West’s wealth were built on the back of slaves.
In fact, Wall Street was originally a slave-trading market where Africans were bought and sold. Slaves also built the wall that gave Wall Street its name. Several major financial institutions profited from the slave trade by providing insurance and financial services to slave-owners. AIG and Aetna provided insurance to slave owners, while predecessor banks to JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo allowed slave owners to use their slaves as collateral when seeking loans. If owners defaulted, the banks often took possession of the slaves.Wall Street was originally a slave-trading market where Africans were bought and sold.
After slavery, the racial wealth gap went through a metamorphosis in the form of redlining in the 20th century’s first half. Redlining is the systematic denial of financial services such as mortgages or insurance to residents or communities based on their race. During Jim Crow racial segregation, banks and the federal government denied home loans to Black communities, which further decayed their neighborhoods.
Even though the 1968 Fair Housing Act outlawed redlining, it has shaped the economic and racial makeup of today’s neighborhoods. For example, according to a report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, neighborhoods that were redlined in the 1930s are still predominantly nonwhite, lower-income and economically disenfranchised.
Americans of color are also still denied basic mortgage loans more frequently than white people. A Reveal study found that “black applicants were turned away at significantly higher rates than whites in 48 cities, Latinos in 25, Asians in nine and Native Americans in three.” It points out that across the US, “loan applicants told similar stories, describing an uphill battle with loan officers who they said seemed to be fishing for a reason to say no.”
Because housing is so expensive, there’s been an uptick on tenants’ organizing and housing rights activism across the country. Perhaps the top reform being pushed for, particularly in California, is rent control. However, alleviating the racial wealth gap requires more than expanding rent control. The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) issued a thorough policy proposal for addressing the dearth of Black wealth. M4BL advocates overhauling the tax code to redistribute wealth to the Black community, along with a reparations program. Given the problem’s complexity, there is no “magic bullet” solution, but will seem to require a multitude of policy reforms.
The post Black Americans’ Median Wealth Could Disappear in One Generation appeared first on Truthout.
I’ve often written about the fact that gun control is every bit as much of a women’s issue as equal pay and maternity leave. Anyone who believes in destroying the … Read the rest
The post 3 Times LAST WEEK Women Defended Themselves and Others With a Gun appeared first on The Organic Prepper.
via 325Yvelines, France: Arson Attack Against a Telecommunications Relay Tower Cuts Off TV, Internet and Mobile Signals for Several Days
11.07.18: Shhhh! Don’t tell anybody that at dawn on Thursday, July 5th, a few hours before the World Cup quarter-finals, we put a TV broadcasting tower out of action between Saint-Rémy and Chevreuse, in Yvelines, the main department of all digital communications.
Don’t tell anybody that the ‘technical problem’ was in fact an arson attack that destroyed its transmission cables, completely cutting off until today not just the television, but also the internet and three mobile phone operators (Free, Sfr and Bouygues) signals for the whole area.
Let’s continue to sabotage the spectacle.
Let’s attack all the technological cages.
From Black Rose Anarchist Federation by Mark Bray
We are excited to present “Horizontalism” by Mark Bray which appears as a chapter in the recently published Anarchism: A Conceptual Approach, published by Routledge and edited by Benjamin Franks, Nathan Jun, and Leonard Williams. Bray is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook and Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street and a member of Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation. Given the length of the article we are also introducing a beautifully designed PDF reader format of the article which you can download by clicking on the reader image below.
In this piece Bray relates a range of global movements from mass neighborhood assemblies in Argentina, to the squares movement in Europe and Occupy Wall Street to various political conceptions of power, movement building and electoral politics. He begins with drawing a distinction between horizontalism as a specific form of popular mobilization that has recently emerged and more broadly the practices of horizontal style organizing. From this he points out that while anarchism is horizontal in it’s approach to organizing and movement building, horizontalism is much more fluid, “non-ideological,” and lends itself to decidedly non-horizontal directions of electoral organizing – politics which anarchist have traditionally contrasted their politics in opposition.
By Mark Bray
The decades that have followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 have witnessed a historic resurgence of directly democratic, federalist politics among global social movements on a scale unheard of since the ﬁrst decades of the twentieth century. From the Zapatistas and Magonistas of southern Mexico, to the global justice movement, to the squares movements of Tahrir Square, 15M (15th of May), Occupy, Gezi Park, and many more around the world, to Black Lives Matter, we can see the powerful impact of the style of leaderless (or leaderful),  autonomous, direct action-oriented organizing that has characterized resistance from below during this era. Some of the groups and individuals that composed these movements were directly, or indirectly, inﬂuenced by the enduring anti-authoritarian legacy of anarchism, whose international popularity has surged over recent decades in conjunction with a heightened interest in federalist, anti-capitalist politics. Many more, however, came to reject the hierarchical party politics of authoritarian communism not as the result of an explicitly ideological inﬂuence, but rather because occupations, popular assemblies, and consensus decision- making were widely considered to be the most ethically and strategically appropriate forms of struggle given existing conditions. Such was the case for most of the Argentines who rose up to occupy their workplaces and organize neighborhood assemblies in the wake of the ﬁnancial crisis of 2001. Out of this popular rebellion against neo-liberalism came the term “horizontalism” (horizontalidad). While this slippery term has meant slightly diﬀerent things for diﬀerent people, it generally connotes a form of “leaderless,” autonomous, directly democratic movement building whose adherents consider it to be non- ideological. Since the Argentine uprising, the term “horizontalism” has established itself as the overarching label for this amorphous form of directly democratic organizing that has swept the globe.
Certainly horizontalism and anarchism overlap in their advocacy of federal, directly democratic, direct action-oriented, autonomous organizing. Long before the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, anarchists railed against the inherently deleterious eﬀects of hierarchy and authoritarian leadership while building large-scale federal models of workers’ self-management in the form of anarcho-syndicalist unions with memberships in the hundreds of thousands, or even above a million in the case of the Spanish CNT in the 1930s. In some cases, such as the French CGT in the early 20th century, anarchist unionists even endorsed creating non-sectarian revolutionary syndicalist unions that could group the working class beyond political divides (Maitron 1992, 326; Maura, 1975, 495). It is unsurprising that many anarchists have thrown their lot in with the horizontalist mass movements of the past decades in order to safeguard and promote their anti-authoritarian tendencies. The intense proximity that exists between these two currents raises some important questions: is horizontalism merely a new name for anarchism? Are they basically the same idea masquerading behind diﬀerent histories? Given such a high level of overlap, are we simply quibbling about semantics if we insist on a distinction between the two?
To answer this question, I will draw a distinction between “horizontalism,” which I use as a historically speciﬁc term to demarcate the wave of directly democratic popular mobilization that has emerged over the past few decades, and “horizontal,” which I use as an analytical descriptor to describe any form of non-hierarchical activity, regardless of context. Once this distinction is drawn, it is apparent that although anarchism is inherently horizontal, the historical horizontalism of recent years is a ﬂuid entity that occasionally promotes values and ideas that are at odds with anarchism as a result of its minimalist, “anti-ideological” ideology. Although some anarchists and others have characterized anarchism as “anti-ideological” as well, the history of the movement shows that most of its militants and theorists have viewed it as a solid, though ﬂexible, doctrine anchored in a set of anti- authoritarian tenets. This stands in sharp contrast with the prevalent post-modern tendency of proponents of horizontalism to view it as a malleable set of practices disconnected from any speciﬁc political center. This “anti-ideological” focus on form over content, which is to say, its emphasis on how decisions are made over what is decided, has created signiﬁcant tensions in the context of more or less spontaneous popular horizontalism for anarchists who are supportive of mass organizing and hopeful about the political openings provided by such movements. Because horizontalism attempts to divorce itself from ideology, its structures and practices are susceptible to resigniﬁcation in decidedly non-horizontal directions, such as participation in representative government.
It is important to clarify that this critique of the “anti-ideology” of horizontalism applies to essentially spontaneous popular movements where thousands of random people suddenly engage in direct democracy with each other for the ﬁrst time, not to examples like the Zapatistas of southern Mexico whose horizontal practices developed slowly over generations and were inextricably bound to widely shared values. When assemblies emerge without the opportunity for such steady growth and development, their lack of formal ideology greatly reduces the barriers to entry for a mass of disaggregated, disaﬀected people, yet it also makes the movement’s content and trajectory capricious. The implicit horizontalist assumption that horizontal decision-making mechanisms are suﬃcient to yield egalitarian results stands in sharp contrast with the avowed anarchist commitment to both horizontal practices and anti-oppressive outcomes. This demonstrates that although anarchism is horizontal (in the analytical rather than the historically speciﬁc sense of the term), and horizontalism is anarchistic (meaning it bears many of the traits of anarchism), horizontalism and anarchism are not identical.
In late 2001, a spontaneous rebellion erupted in Argentina when the government decided to freeze bank accounts to forestall a mounting ﬁnancial crisis precipitated by the IMF-mandated privatization and austerity measures of the 1990s. In under two weeks, popular mobilizations ousted four governments. Against the hierarchical machinations of the political elite, social movements organized democratic neighborhood assemblies and workplace occupations around principles that were increasingly encapsulated in the concept of horizontalism. Occupied workplaces forged networks of mutual aid and assemblies formed locally before establishing inter-neighborhood organisms of direct democracy guided by both the sentiment and the practice of consensus decision-making. This uprising was eminently pre- ﬁgurative as it sought to embody the society it desired in its everyday practices. As Marina Sitrin (2006, 4) argues in her inﬂuential Horizontalism: Voices of Power in Argentina, horizontalism “is desired and is a goal, but it is also the means – the tool – for achieving this end.” For many, it was “more than an organizational form,” it was “a culture” that promoted new aﬀective relationships and communal solidarity (Sitrin 2006, 49). This culture of openness and rejection of dogma could even impinge upon the consolidation of horizontalism as a ﬁxed entity since, as the Argentine Colectivo Situaciones argued, “horizontalidad should [not] be thought of as a new model, but rather horizontalidad implies that there are no models…. Horizontalidad is the normalization of the multiplicity … The risk is that horizontalidad can silence us, stop our questions, and become an ideology” (Sitrin 2006, 55).
The accounts Sitrin gathered from the direct participants in the Argentine uprising demonstrate that for many, horizontalism was perhaps an anti-ideological ideology composed of a ﬂuid mixture of ﬂexible, participatory, non-dogmatic values and practices oriented around consensus, federalism, and self-management. However, these attitudes and outlooks emerged in a number of diﬀerent groups and movements long before they were associated with the term “horizontalism.” In Unruly Equality: U. S. Anarchism in the 20th Century, Andrew Cornell (2016) demonstrates how the diﬀuse remnants of early twentieth-century anarchism that were increasingly inclined toward paciﬁsm and the avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s
provided theories, values, tactics, and organizational forms, which activists in the antiwar, countercultural, and feminist movements took up [over the following decades]; in turn, these mass movements radicalized hundreds of thousands of people, a portion of whom adopted anarchism as their ideological outlook. (245)
The destruction of the American anarchist movement in the middle of the century and the polarization of the Cold War led many American anarchists to experiment with new tactics and strategies. This included consensus, which was ﬁrst used by American anarchists in the radical anti-war organization Peacemakers in the late 1940s (Cornell 2016, 180–181). More than a decade later, consensus was introduced into the civil rights organization Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) by Peacemakers organizer James Lawson (Cornell 2016, 229; Carmichael 2003, 300). This inﬂuence carried through Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and other groups into the 1970s and 1980s where the New Hampshire Clamshell Alliance pioneered the use of spokescouncils and aﬃnity groups in the anti-nuclear movement, feminist consciousness-raising circles experimented with non-hierarchical organization, and the Movement for a New Society (MNS) incorporated Quaker consensus methods (Farrell 1997, 241; Anarcho-Feminism 1977; Cornell 2011). During the same decades, similar tendencies were at play in Europe with elements of the feminist, anti-nuclear, and autonomous movements (Katsiaﬁcas 1997). The tradition that these groups forged was adopted by subsequent groups such as the direct action AIDS group ACT UP, the radical environmentalist Earth First!, Food Not Bombs, and others feeding into the global justice movement at the turn of the twenty-ﬁrst century (Gould 2009; Wall 2002; McHenry 2012). The squares movements of the Arab Spring, 15M, Occupy, Gezi Park, Nuit Debout, and others were in part a reboot of the assemblies, spokescouncils, aﬃnity groups and direct actions of the global justice movement oriented around a speciﬁc geographic space in the form of the plaza. Others have been inﬂuenced by the concept of rhizomatic organizing put forth by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1987; Chalcraft 2012; Anderson 2013). While the speciﬁc practices of these groups and movements varied,
their investment in deliberation, consensus-building, individual participation, diversity, novel technologies, and creative engagement stands as a self-con- scious counterpoint to doctrinaire and hierarchical models of mobilization, political, and religious sectarianisms, polarizing debates over national identity, and even representative forms of democracy. (Anderson 2013, 154)
Horizontalist opposition to representative democracy usually comes in the form of consensus decision-making. Rather than formulating a proposal and simply concerning oneself with accumulating enough votes to push it through, consensus requires participants to take the concerns of the minority seriously and cater proposals to their outlooks. The idea is not that everyone has to agree all the time (the strawman portrayal of consensus), but rather that the majority is forced to make concessions to the minority and, for the group to function, the minority must grow accustomed to tolerating decisions that it ﬁnds less than ideal. Consensus seeks to promote not only the formal practice of assuring that proposals will satisfy the minority, but more deeply, a sense of unity within the group and a culture of care that can all too easily get trampled in the pursuit of a voting majority. This form of decision-making works best when all members of a group have a shared sense of purpose. When they don’t, the process grinds to a halt. For example, Occupy Wall Street implemented modiﬁed consensus, only requiring 90% rather than 100% agreement, to provide a little breathing room for such occasions. Nevertheless, when members of a body are working at cross purposes it only takes 11% to shut down the objectives of the other 89%. Occupy Wall Street and many of the other squares movements encountered such problems when spontaneously incorporating thousands of random individuals into their decision- making bodies. Even when consensus is practiced by a cohesive group with a shared purpose it carries an inherent bias toward the status quo by making it more diﬃcult to pass a proposal or resolution. As George Lakey of Movement for a New Society remarked, “consensus can be a conservative inﬂuence, stiﬂing the prospects of organizational change” (Cornell 2011, 47). Clearly consensus carries a number of pitfalls, but so does majority voting. Ultimately it is very diﬃcult to navigate conﬂict which is why anarchists place such a great emphasis on voluntary association (and, therefore, voluntary disassociation). Sometimes the only solution is for two groups to go their separate ways rather than forcing them to coexist.
Many of horizontalism’s most energetic advocates view it as means and ends wrapped together into a uniﬁed set of practices and values. From this perspective, values inform practices which shift as they encounter varied circumstances. In turn, the horizontalist hostility to “dogma” allows values to adjust to the needs of the people as movement contexts twist and turn. Horizontalism’s “non-ideological,” “apolitical” focus on form, practice, and immediate problem-solving over large- scale “sectarian” conﬂicts has endowed this historically speciﬁc tendency with a portability and adaptability that has allowed it to ﬂourish in contexts as diﬀerent as rural Greece and lower Manhattan, Istanbul and Hong Kong. Unsurprisingly, the politics undergirding horizontalism have varied drastically. This is unproble- matic if one has no predetermined goal; if one adheres to the liberal notion I have referred to elsewhere as “outcome neutrality” (Bray 2014). Yet, anarchism has always been about much more than direct democracy; it is a revolutionary socialist ideology grounded in anti-domination politics as well as non-hierarchical practice.Anarchism and Horizontalism
Anarchist responses to the growth of popular horizontalism have ranged from elation to disgust, with many in between. Those who have been more enthusiastic have viewed horizontalist movements as opportunities for the mass promotion of non-hierarchical politics while critics have seen them as betrayals of truly horizontal principles especially as they have ventured into electoralism. There are a range of anarchist responses to horizontalism, as the examples below from Spain, the United States, and Turkey will demonstrate.
The shared federalism  of anarchism and horizontalism can be traced back to the eighteenth century. While one can also trace it back even further, in terms of the history of socialism it makes sense to start with the inﬂuence of the dictatorial Jacobin “republic of virtue” during the French Revolution, which pioneered elements of central planning and modern conscription. Over the following decades, the European republican movement was split between Jacobins and their sympathizers who longed for a renewed “reign of terror” and federal republicans who were aghast at the bloody consequences of centralized authority, even in the hands of republicans, and instead advocated local and regional autonomy. Unsurprisingly, many of the ﬁrst disciples of the anti-authoritarian works of Proudhon and Bakunin began their political lives as federal republicans while many Marxists have hailed the Jacobin dictatorship as a preview of their desired dictatorship of the proletariat (Zimmer 2015, 73; Esenwein 1989, 16–17; Maura 1975, 68; Toledo and Biondi 2010, 365; Lenin 1975; Mayer 1999).
Anarchists advanced the federal republican opposition to centralization by forming a critique of the state, whether federal or centralized, and developing modes of struggle and methods of self-organizing that reﬂected the world they sought to create. Most Marxists reject the notion that anything approximating communism could be enacted in a capitalist society and therefore conclude that the form that an organization or party takes is only of instrumental value. For Marxist-Leninists, for example, this essentially amounts to the position that it is acceptable for a vanguard party to act in the best interest of the proletariat – to act as the proletariat would allegedly act if it had already achieved full class consciousness – as long as the same end result of communism is eventually achieved (though, of course, it never was). For most anarchists, however, the society of the future will inevitably reﬂect the values, principles, and practices that went into making it.
To understand how anarchists have attempted to put this idea into pre- ﬁgurative practice, it’s important to distinguish between what David Graeber (2002) and others have come to refer to as “capital-A” and “small-a” anarchism. Although the gap that separates the two tendencies is often vastly overstated, the distinction can help us identify the connection between consensus and majority decision making and the areas of overlap that exist between anarchism and horizontalism. The anarchists that Graeber referred to as “capital-A” anarchists are much more self-consciously inﬂuenced by the legacy of “classical” anarchism (from roughly the 1860s to 1940). They tend to focus on the construction of large federal organizations, such as anarcho-syndicalist unions or anarchist communist federations, that operate by majority voting with a strong focus on class struggle and mass resistance. Historically such organizations have operated by federating local unions or political groups into regional, national, and even international bodies that operate by majority voting as carried out by recallable mandated delegates. As opposed to parliamentary democracy where elected representatives decide on behalf of their constituents, anarchist delegates are only empowered to express the perspective of their union or locality. Legislative power remains at the base level while allowing collective self-management to scale up. This does not mean that such systems become hierarchical, rather they allow locally-grounded decision-making bodies to coordinate across large regions. Lately consensus has become so ubiquitous in certain horizontalist/anarchist circles that some don’t realize that the majority of anarchists throughout history have implemented majoritarian voting.
The anarchists that Graeber referred to as “small-a” anarchists are generally those whose anarchism has grown out of the anti-authoritarian and countercultural currents of the Cold War era rather than “classical” anarchism. They tend to create smaller, less formally structured groups and collectives that operate by consensus, associate with more countercultural milieux, and focus on non-class politics such as environmentalism or feminism. “Small-a” anarchist collectives are essentially examples of small-scale horizontalism infused with anarchist politics. This is unsurprising considering the fact that horizontalism and “small-a” anarchism grew out of the same post-war constellation of non-hierarchical, consensus- oriented groups discussed above, and “small-a” anarchists were among the original organizers of many recent manifestations of popular horizontalism. This demonstrates that, to some extent, horizontalism grew out of certain strains of anarchism. They part ways, however, when horizontal practice is divorced from anti-authoritarian politics. Certainly some anarchists eventually disowned the horizontalist movements they helped create because they allegedly strayed too far in a popular and/or reformist direction away from the more intentional and explicitly radical designs some of their early organizers had envisioned. Yet, pro-mass-movement anarchists (whether of a “smaller” orientation or not) have continued to play important roles in horizontalist movements because they see them as opportunities to promote elements of anarchist politics on a large scale.
I was certainly among those who joined Occupy Wall Street in order to advance the movement’s non-hierarchical agenda and infuse it with more anarchist content while maintaining its popular appeal. I made a case for such an approach in my book Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street where I documented how 72% of OWS organizers in New York City had explicitly anarchist or implicitly anarchistic politics (Bray 2013). For these anarchist(ic) organizers, and their counterparts in other movements, the horizontalist movement is a broad, dynamic space where popular struggles can interact with revolutionary politics, ideally shifting through such comingling. Such struggles are opportunities for anarchists to reclaim the mantle of democracy and attack what they consider to be the fraud of hierarchical, capitalist, representative government. In the United States, for example, anarchists have had some of their greatest successes winning liberals and centrists over to their ideas by arguing that non- hierarchical direct democracy is the only true democracy. In a country where the ideal, if not the actual practice, of democracy is universally revered, such arguments can strike a popular chord.
Yet not all anarchists have been equally enamored with the squares movements. Some anarchists rejected Occupy either because their local encampment truly was reformist (the politics of the many Occupy encampments ranged widely) or because they were hostile to popular politics that was not explicitly anarchist (Bray 2013, 168). In Spain, for instance, many anarchists supported and participated in their 15M movement for similar reasons as the anarchists of Occupy, but a signiﬁcant number withheld their full support because they considered the movement to be reformist (Taibo 2011; 2014). Even when some of the anarchist unions wanted to support a 15M march, for example, they were frustrated by the movement’s refusal to have unions and parties march with their ﬂags which stemmed from the 15M’s desire to remain “non-sectarian.”
Another interesting element of the relationship between the 15M and Spanish anarchists is that they generally don’t attempt to reclaim the mantle of “democracy” from the political parties and government. For example, a popular 15M chant goes “They call it democracy, and it isn’t.” Once, however, I was marching near a group of anarchists who sarcastically chanted “They call it democracy, and it is!” Here, the intent of the chant is to convince listeners that the corruption and disregard for the masses that epitomized the government is inherent to its very nature. From an anarchist perspective, that is what governmental “democracy” is and will always be. In part this stems from the popular association between the post-Franco parliamentary regime and the term “democracy.” For many Spaniards, the government that has been in power since the 1970s is “la democracia,” and therefore the term has more of a speciﬁc meaning than in the United States, where it is understood more as an egalitarian decision-making method that the government allegedly happens to embody.
In 2013, the Spanish Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados (Coordinated Anarchist Groups) published a little book called Contra la democracia (Against Democracy). This book created quite a stir in Spain in December 2014 when it was cited as evidence to support the arrest in Catalonia and Madrid of eleven people from Spain, Italy, Uruguay, and Austria accused of being members of what the state claimed was “a terrorist organization of an anarchist nature” responsible for “several bomb attacks” (“Catalan Police” 2014). In what came to be known as Operation Pandora, seven of the original eleven were held on terrorist charges because they had “Riseup” e-mail accounts, owned copies of Contra la democracia, and were found with a canister of camping gas. Later, the Chilean anarchist Francisco Javier Solar, who was ultimately convicted with fellow Chilean Mónica Caballero of bombing the Pilar Basilica in Zaragoza in 2013, denied accusations of being one of the text’s main authors (Pérez 2016).
Given the importance that the authorities placed on this text, one might assume that it’s a bloodthirsty bomb-making manual, but in fact, it’s simply a historical analysis and critique of democracy. The book’s introduction concludes by arguing that “If we believe that democracy is liberty we will never stop being slaves. We will unmask this great lie! We will construct anarchy” (Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados 2013, 8). Later, in its only reference to the 15M, the text attacks the movement, because it “asks for electoral reforms that beneﬁt the small political parties … it propagates citizenism (ciudadanismo) as ideology; a ‘democratization’ of the police … [and] the total paciﬁcation of conﬂicts through mediation and delegation by a corps of social services professionals” (Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados 2013, 68). Yet, despite these critiques of “democracia” and the 15M, the authors of this text are not against all directly democratic organizing. They advocate the creation of networks of social centers, free schools, and other bodies “to build a new society capable of freely self-managing (the only real sense that the term ‘democracy’ could have) …” (Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados 2013, 66). That, of course, is exactly what anarchists who call for true direct democracy have in mind. Contra la democracia shows us that although many anarchists in Spain and elsewhere may have a very similar vision of the future self- management of a post-capitalist society, some ﬁnd it strategically useful to ﬁght to reclaim “democracy” while others seek to permanently discard it.
Much of the reluctance that anarchists have had in getting involved in the Spanish 15M and other movements has had to do with the prevalent tendency of horizontalist mass movements to be siphoned into non-horizontal, electoral politics. The allure of representative government is so powerful that although early on movements may proclaim “¡Que se vayan todos!” (“Get rid of them all!”) in Argentina or “¡Que no nos representan!” (“They don’t represent us!”) in Spain, frequently such cries are transformed into calls for horizontalism to be extended into oﬃce through the ballot box. Often such arguments are couched in terms of the perspective that after the initial wave of protest has raised awareness about an issue, what is necessary is to transition into the “serious work of making concrete change” through governing. In Spain, the most signiﬁcant party that grew out of the 15M was Podemos (We can) which has formed electoral coalitions with other similar parties and platforms like Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona in Common) and Ganemos Madrid (Let’s win Madrid) which calls for the promotion of “democratic municipalism” and the creation of political structures that are “democratic, horizontal, inclusive, and participatory …” (Ganemos Madrid 2016). Their rhetoric is rife with horizontalist references to “autonomy” and “autogestión” (self-management). They essentially claim to be merging the spirit and ideals of horizontalist assembly with the lamentable “necessity” of taking oﬃce. Moreover, they fully embrace horizontalism’s antagonism toward formal ideology by rejecting the left/right binary and eschewing the usual trappings of leftism. Yet, within a year Podemos had already drastically moderated its platform to cater to the electoral center, thereby alienating a number of the party’s more leftist leaders who later resigned (“Spain’s Poll-Topping” 2014; Hedgecoe 2016). After the June 2016 elections Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias announced that it was time for his unconventional horizontalist party to become “normalized,” and enter a phase “of much more conventional politics.” He even went so far as to argue that “this idiocy that we used to say when we were of the extreme left that things change in the street and not in the institutions is a lie” (Ríos 2016).
Turkish anarchists also formulated critiques of horizontalism. As the Gezi Park occupation movement of 2013 in Istanbul’s Taksim Square developed, the Turkish anarchist organization Devrimci Anarsist Faaliyet (Revolutionary Anarchist Action, DAF) distributed hundreds of copies of a pamphlet it had written called “An anarchist criticism to ‘Occupy’ as an activity of ‘99%.’” The pamphlet sought to diagnose what the group perceived to be the reformism and depoliticization of Occupy. It argued that the tactics of Occupy have “worn a libertarian discourse but [are] far far away from practicing it …” and instead the movement tended, in their eyes, “to consume concepts such as occupy, direct democracy, freedom, action etc.” While the pamphlet contains many insightful critiques of Occupy, certain elements of the authors’ analysis suﬀered from the extreme distance separating them from events on the ground. At a meeting with several of the pamphlet’s authors years later at the DAF oﬃce in Istanbul, I had the opportunity to answer their questions and clarify some misconceptions that they and many others had developed about Occupy Wall Street through the press and speak about the centrality of anarchist organizers. Nevertheless, the heart of their critique about the misapplication of libertarian principles applied to many (if not most) Occupy encampments and horizontalist movements in general. Despite the presence of DAF and their pamphlet, the Gezi Park movement also experienced electoral spinoﬀs such as the Gezi Party. Seeking to remain true to the movement’s horizontalism, the party claimed that its leaders would only act as “spokespersons” (“Oﬃcial Gezi Party” 2013).
Similar developments would have unfolded during the Occupy movement in the United States if it weren’t for the narrowness of the two party system. Yet, several years later, many former Occupiers campaigned for Bernie Sanders in his failed bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Certainly many who participated in Occupy before supporting Sanders were simply leftists who travel from one manifestation of left populism to the next without any allegiance to (or often direct knowledge of) horizontalism. Others, however, attempted to argue that the Sanders campaign was an extension of Occupy. This was manifest in an article titled “Occupy the Party” from the Not An Alternative collective that appealed to former Occupiers to treat the campaign “like any street or park and occupy it” (Not An Alternative 2016). In the name of pragmatic populism, this article sought to drain the term “occupy” of its associations with direct action, direct democracy, “leaderlessness,” and revolutionary politics to convince readers that it can be used as a catchy shorthand for buying into the cult of personality developing around a moderate social democrat attempting to burrow into a strati- ﬁed, capitalist political party. From an anarchist perspective, parks and streets are terrain of struggle that can be occupied because non-hierarchical, direct action politics can be transplanted onto them. Working within political parties, especially those like the Democratic Party, requires jettisoning those practices and incorporating oneself into the party structure. As the Irish Workers Solidarity Movement organizer Andrew Flood (2014) argued in his essay “An anarchist critique of horizontalism,” “horizontalism without a vision and method for revolution simply provides protest fodder behind which one government can be replaced with another.” Indeed, many anti-horizontal organizers, have been perfectly willing to humor the directly democratic “quirks” of horizontalist movements while biding their time waiting for opportunities to convert popular upheavals into “protest fodder” for reformist objectives cloaked in the imagery of rebellion.Conclusion
Debates over electoral participation within horizontalist movements are merely the latest rounds of a conﬂict that has challenged the broader socialist movement since the nineteenth century. Although his position changed several times, ever since Proudhon advocated electoral abstention in 1857 in response to the authoritarianism of Napoleon III, conﬂicts over electoralism have raged (Graham 2015, 62). Historically anarchists have opposed parliamentary participation for a variety of reasons, including their opposition to the hierarchical nature of representation, their rejection of the social democratic notion that it is possible to vote away capitalism (a goal that social democrats eventually discarded), and their argument that, as Mikhail Bakunin phrased it, “worker-deputies, transplanted into a bourgeois environment … will in fact cease to be workers and, becoming Statesmen, they will become … perhaps even more bourgeois than the Bourgeois themselves” (quoted in Graham 2015, 116).
In 1979 a group of German radicals attempted to bypass the dichotomy of socialist workers’ parties and anarchist abstentionism to create a non-hierarchical “anti-party” that would operate based on consensus and rotate their representatives to preserve their commitment to direct democracy. This attempt to stuﬀ horizontalism into the ballot box was called the Green Party. Despite the best of intentions, internal conﬂicts and “realist” calls for “pragmatism” doomed the party once it entered parliament. Within less than a decade it had become simply another left party (Katsiaﬁcas 1997, 205–208).
In the wake of the sectarian strife of the twentieth century, many radicals have found refuge in the anti-ideological ideology of horizontalism. Yet, as we can see, it is often insuﬃcient to guarantee truly horizontal and non-hierarchical outcomes. Even apart from electoralism, horizontalist movements have at times struggled to counteract the encroachment of patriarchal, homophobic, transphobic, white supremacist, and ableist tendencies that inevitably come when broad swaths of society are suddenly brought together. I can still hear the common refrain of many white men in Occupy Wall Street that we had “lost sight of Wall Street” as our main focus when we addressed race or gender. Horizontalist movements spread notions of direct democracy, direct action, mutual aid, and autonomy far and wide. This is incredibly important insofar as they inﬂuence broader cultures of resistance and extend beyond the standard reach of most radicalism. Since political ideologies are digested whole only by their most committed militants, shifting political sentiments and practices in mass contexts is essential. Yet, the horizontalist reliance on form over content runs the risk of producing a muddled populism that is easily redirected away from its non-hierarchical origins. As the work of Michael Freeden (1996) suggests, the meaning of horizontalism shifts depending on its political content. From an anarchist perspective, this illustrates the value of anarchism’s holistic analysis of the interrelatedness of all forms of domination and the interconnectedness of forms of self-management and their political outcomes. While they diﬀered on the details, anarchists from Mikhail Bakunin to Errico Malatesta, from Nestor Makhno to the creators of the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI) in Spain have agreed on the need for anarchists to collectively engage with mass movements to disseminate their truly horizontal political visions.Notes
- I would like to thank Stephen Roblin, Deric Shannon, Miguel Pérez, Özgür Oktay, and Yesenia Barragan for their insightful feedback and helpful information.
- By “leaderless,” Occupy and others really referred to the absence of institutional leadership, not the absence of those who lead. Hence the shift some made toward the term “leaderful” which implied that in a horizontalist movement anyone could become a leader by getting involved.
- I use the terms “federal” and “federalism” to refer to broadly decentralized forms of organization. Certainly the anarchist use of the terms “federation” or “confederation” to describe their organizations, such as the Fédération Anarchiste in France and Belgium or the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo in Spain, entails a greater level of decentralization than the federal state advocated by federalist republicans. Nevertheless, there is a shared tendency
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Bray, Mark. 2014. “Five Liberal Tendencies that Plagued Occupy.” Roar Magazine, May 14. https://roarmag.org/essays/occupy-resisting-liberal-tendencies/.
Carmichael, Stokely, with Ekwueme Michael Thelwell. 2003. Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). New York: Scribner.
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Chalcraft, John. 2012. “Horizontalism in the Egyptian Revolutionary Process.” Middle East Report 262: 7.
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Graeber, David. 2002. “The New Anarchists.” New Left Review 13 (January-February): 61–73. Graham, Robert. 2015. We Do Not Fear Anarchy, We Invoke It: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement. Oakland, CA: AK Press. Grupos Anarquistas Coordinados. 2013. “Contra la democracia.” https://es-contrainfo.esp ivblogs.net/files/2014/07/contra-la-democracia.pdf.
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Hedgecoe, Guy. 2016. “Podemos Leaders Under Pressure Over Resignations.” The Irish Times, March 19. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/podemos-leader s-under-pressure-over-resignations-1.2579053.
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For more content by Mark Bray we recommend his interview with WNYC “Antifa Means No Free Speech for Fascism.” For more on anarchism generally we recommend listening to Mark Bray’s interview on Revolutionary Left Radio.
Tags: Black Rose Anarchist Federationhorizontalismcategory: Essays
From CrimethInc.Another Perspective
We are publishing one more analysis from participants in the blockade of the Portland facilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). After our previous reports, “The ICE Age Is Over: Reflections from the ICE Blockades” and “Occupy ICE Portland: Policing Revolution?” we reached out to other participants for an additional perspective on the situation. As we emphasized before, our collective has no official position on issues internal to the occupation; we are simply passing on the reports of anarchists who are involved. We urge you to support those arrested in the ICE blockades and participate in the struggle for a world without borders or white supremacy.
A nebulous line exists between reality and dreams. This line, like any other border, is itself unreal. We know that our dreams can and do become reality. Thoughts become deeds. Lies, told often enough, are considered true. Those in power absorb radical messages (even #AbolishICE) and twist them into new horrors. How do we intervene when our words and actions will be used against us?
With this analysis, we hope to add to conversations that are occurring all around the world. We encourage strategic thinking and storytelling, mourning, celebration, hostility, and rest. We will explore three key issues within the Portland occupation and other Occupy movements. We hope that you can find ways these relate to your local movement or occupation and perhaps to other situations moving forward.
Anarchism is an ideology of both subtle distinctions and hard lines. Sometimes, an uncompromising action can shift the Overton Window in dramatic and inspiring ways. Introducing anarchistic ideals into popular discussion is a way to move toward freedom and liberation and away from repression and authoritarianism. Already, thanks to the daily efforts of various affinity organizations around the US, we see the discourse on immigration reform shifting to include conversations about abolition: abolishing the agencies that are the militarized arms of enforcement, abolishing the criminalization of migration, abolishing national borders altogether. Many of these conversations were previously unthinkable within the prevailing narrative.
We hope to address the conflict between working within or replicating the structures and methods of the state, on the one hand, and creating a space for autonomous organizing that can maintain integrity while accomplishing a set goal, on the other. We argue that the analysis that gives rise to reformist tendencies is incomplete, which makes it dangerous—especially when it comes to planning direct action campaigns with participants who are targeted by state violence.
We also intend to address the emergence of individualistic dynamics within ostensibly collective projects, the ways that hierarchies can emerge within horizontal groups, and the complicity of the government of Portland with federal actors. We continue to examine and learn from our mistakes and successes, and hope others can learn from them, too.Reform and Abolition: The Defanging of #AbolishICE
One of the lessons that our time at the camp drove home is that reform will never accomplish our goals. The state is a machine that aims to destroy us. Even if, in times of emergency, we may have to work with representatives of the state to ensure the safety of our neighbors, we must always be aware of the state’s motives—which revolve around profit and control, never around liberation.
We saw this play out on many levels. A few days after the establishment of the camp, the first round of reformists arrived. These were local groups and individuals, self-appointed or charismatic leaders, who saw an opportunity, smelled notoriety. They brought local influence, connections to sympathetic politicians, and a kind of celebrity that brought in numbers and offered a degree of legitimacy with business owners and middle-class society. These low-level influencers began the process of softening the militancy that had originally established the camp. There were discussions about the barriers that should be put in place for the community. General Assemblies were made less general, with more qualifications imposed on who was a part of the “community,” depending on amount of time spent in camp and personal preferences. Discourse began to form about “good” and “bad” protestors. Decisions were made unilaterally. A group was told to leave the camp for graffiti and others for personal misunderstandings. As liberalism crept in, respect for autonomy evaporated. The original discussions about self-determination were discarded in favor of “security teams” with arbitrary training standards that were imposed upon the camp rather than agreed on by participants. Another danger of reformist thinking is the constant replication of statist structures and a seeming inability to see beyond those false parameters.
The stage was set for activists who aim to get elected. Liberals hold that the abuses of ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be resolved by bureaucratic restructuring and that it is possible to negotiate with the heavily armored Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). The most explicit example of this was when activists assisted federal police in dismantling the camp’s defensive barricades, but there are many other examples.
Most perniciously, self-appointed “leaders” approached DHS and brokered a deal. Within 48 hours, Homeland Security and ICE had moved back into the building. These “leaders” negotiated this agreement on behalf of the commune without disclosure or consent. They did so without proper legal representation or good information about the relevant laws. This secret decision, made perhaps out of fear, brought fear to the entire camp. Always remember: the state does not have to tell you the truth. The purposes of law enforcement are well served when you are scared and unsure, cut off from your comrades and the real support that is provided by community, not government.
This prepared the ground for the next level NGO-type “mass mobilization” groups who wanted to use the fame of the camp to promote their own organizations’ specific policy goals. Other groups distanced themselves from the action to preserve their connections with governmental and private financing.
At this point, the desire of reformists to move the battle into some sort of policy framework came out into the open. Abolitionists confined themselves to demanding that the requested reforms be material rather than merely symbolic: not just catchphrase policies, but those that would support the long-term demands and goals of affected communities.
The purpose of anarchism is not to establish an anarchist state. It is to disrupt and delegitimize all the functions of the state itself and to agitate continually for increased autonomy. Liberalism and reform politics aim for compromise in a way that necessarily undermines true revolutionary work.
It is important to keep messaging clear from the start. We must establish up front that we do not want to replace ICE with an updated version of Immigration and Naturalization Services, which would still imprison people for traveling. We want to abolish ICE and everything it does completely. We do not want to secure the border. We do not want immigration reform, but to stop all deportations immediately, abolish immigration imprisonment, abolish borders in so-called North America, decriminalize movement, and undermine the logic of “citizen versus migrant.” This is not about simply the abolition of ICE, but the decolonization of North America. The toughest opposition to this messaging will always be the liberals and the people concerned about “optics” above all.
If you have the energy for it, you can talk with these people about how borders, imprisonment, and police perpetuate centuries of violence including slavery, the colonization of North America, and Western imperialism. If not, you could ask them to read this.
The intersections between “No Border” work and prison abolition have never been more salient. These are rich traditions that offer us long histories to build on. The fight against borders is not our struggle alone. We will not be the primary authors of this resistance. Just as new relationships have been forged in the uprisings against police brutality, the time is ripe for us to build new connections in the fight against the internalization of the border. This will require more nuances and a contemplative approach. It is time to resist specific strategies of enforcement and establish alliances based on shared goals—not necessarily on shared ideology.
Hierarchy and How It Weakens Our Movements
Leadership and influence are not bad things in and of themselves. Hierarchy is not defined by the presence of influential leaders alone. It is a form of manipulative leadership that makes secret decisions and frames dissent as unacceptable, often employing fear or guilt as tools to compel compliance (for example, “If you make the action too radical, you are responsible for what the police do to vulnerable communities”). It involves hoarding power and information—and hoarding information during confrontations with the state is very dangerous. People may do so out of a desire to feel important, rather than because they actually wish to collaborate with police, but regardless, it renders the larger group more vulnerable to the state.
For example, a local paper published an article mentioning that a
“document obtained by WW… suggests occupiers may be risking far more serious charges… Oregon’s chief deputy federal defender, Steve Sady… handed out copies of the document at a meeting with a small group of key protest organizers Saturday.”
This is a perfect example of how the state co-opts existing dynamics and plays on personal fear. This was collaboration with the state, plain and simple, without the knowledge or consent of anyone outside this “key” group. They made a secret deal with the state, placing the value of their own judgment above the judgment of the entirety of the rest of the camp.
Lack of information makes it impossible to make transparent, consensus-based decisions. It makes it harder to build a strong, cohesive movement, and spreads feelings of distrust and fear. People make poor decisions when they act out of fear. The state is counting on us being afraid so they can squash our movements before we even get started. This evolved into a tangible fear throughout the camp by the first weekend.
To reiterate, hierarchy is not merely the presence of power; power moves dynamically at all times, in all interactions. Hierarchy is the abuse of power and an attitude of egotistical entitlement to leadership, and often involves leaders whose leadership role the group has not consented to. This is how situations played out at camp, time and time again. There were no roundtable discussions, group consensus, or even transparency of information or intentions. Individuals appointed themselves “leaders” and the camp followed their instructions, allowing these “leaders” to take away their autonomy. This is how these “leaders” turned into “key protest organizers” and effectively sold the camp out to federal agents within the first five days of the occupation. Hierarchy and patriarchy work well together, and this empowered the “leaders” to do the state’s job for them.
To be clear, these hierarchical dynamics can occur within our own anarchist affinity groups. We need to remember how much work there is to be done. It is foolish to decide independently that your group of five will be the only people on site who are empowered to do security, or that only one single person should work on media messaging. We certainly don’t all share the same skills—and we don’t need to. Liberation movements need to empower everyone to contribute the skills they have, or else hierarchies will emerge and weaken the movement, stopping some people from contributing or developing their own strengths and stopping others from even being curious about what strengths other people might have.
Hierarchy is power calcified into tropes. In our society, the common tropes of power are white-skinned, bullying, and misogynist. We have to be careful not to fall into those tropes ourselves, no matter how radical our ideologies are. White supremacy and misogyny are so widespread that they offer opportunities for the state to undermine and disrupt radical movements. Even if the destructive dynamics are not coming from state infiltrators, the disruption and damage to the movement is the same.
To illustrate the toxic intersection between patriarchy and state violence, we can recall Brandon Darby, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans, which formed to take direct action in response to Hurricane Katrina, and then an activist community planning actions at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Participants had described Brandon’s behavior as patriarchal and predatory long before it turned out that he was working with federal agents to entrap unwary young activists.
In Portland, some of the leaders were not white nor male, but their actions perpetuated recurring issues of hierarchy, patriarchy, and capitulation to the state. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it’s a cop, an informant, a troll, or simply a liberal being a liberal. Pay attention to how people’s behavior impacts your collective ability to achieve your goals.
Our goal is not to spread paranoia or gossip among radicals regarding who might be a snitch, but to provide information on what has hurt us in the past and how to avoid replicating these dynamics in the future.
Collusion between State and Federal Actors: Greasing the Cogs of the Fascist Machine
City and state actors have collaborated with federal institutions like Homeland Security and ICE. This advances the aims of authoritarianism. We need to develop a widespread hostility to policing efforts, both those of state agents and the moral, political, and tactical policing of individuals who think they know how to govern the struggle.
Portland is a “sanctuary city.” A sanctuary city (or county, or state) is a governmental entity that limits its cooperation with ICE agents in order to protect low-priority immigrants from deportation—while still turning over those immigrants who have committed additional crimes.
In February 2017, Portland City Council voted to fund immigration assistance for migrants, and shortly after, voted to declare Portland a “sanctuary city,” expressing their disinclination to assist ICE in finding and deporting undocumented immigrants. Many people in Portland who believe in the workings of city government thought that this meant that the city council and the mayor would actively protect at least low-priority immigrants from deportation. “The City of Portland will remain a welcoming, safe place for all people,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement.
However, a local newspaper published an article debunking this:
“…review of more than 1000 internal communications between federal immigration and Oregon law enforcement agencies shows many local officials are already testing the limits of so-called sanctuary laws. At least 11 agencies—including the Oregon State Police, the Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon Department of Corrections—may have shared more information than was required in 2017.”
Regarding the mayor’s promise that Portland police “will not work with ICE to enforce federal immigration law,” the same article states that
“Portland police shared several unredacted police reports with the federal agency in 2017. But that was before a policy change on February 1. Unlike the DA’s office, Portland police decided that providing public records is barred by the state’s sanctuary law, a spokesman says. The bureau now charges federal immigration officials for the reports and redaction.”
So, the only thing that changed is that the Portland Police Bureau now makes money from the requests for information it still fulfills. This doesn’t protect people. It just makes money for the police.
Portland police are at OccupyICEPDX, even though the mayor stated definitively they would not be used to enforce federal law. Portland police have been onsite at Occupy since the second day, establishing their presence on the perimeters of the camp, directing traffic off the main road, and surveilling those staying at and supporting the emerging Temporary Autonomous Zone. Blogger and occupier Andrew Sorg had a strange interaction with a masked DHS officer, in which Sorg asked if he was a Portland police officer. The officer refused to answer and excused himself from the line shortly thereafter.
Portland’s complicity with the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) significantly affects the landscape of political action in Portland. Treating protest as a threat to national security means that all protestors are considered potential terrorists who can therefore be handled at the federal level. An attorney for the ACLU of Oregon, one of the groups active against the JTTF, states that “lack of transparency also makes it very difficult to know how and when rights violations involve Portland police officers who are deputized as JTTF officers and who operate under the authority of the FBI.”
On a state level, Oregon has had a sanctuary state law since 1987, a law that was prompted by the landmark civil rights case Trevino v. Dahlin. Oregon’s sanctuary law states:
“No law enforcement agency of the State of Oregon or of any political subdivision of the state shall use agency moneys, equipment or personnel for the purpose of detecting or apprehending persons whose only violation of law is that they are persons of foreign citizenship present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”
This law was supported by conservative lawmakers, law enforcement and civil rights organizations alike—by conservatives and law enforcement for keeping state funds from enforcing federal law, and by civil rights organizations for preserving civil liberties. Current efforts like Initiative Petition 22, proposed by the anti-immigrant hate group, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, seek to repeal these protections and encourage the use of state funds to pay for federal investigations and enforcement, at the same time that California and Texas are trying to pass state sanctuary laws that mimic the 1987 Oregon legislation.
DHS has jurisdiction on federal property, like the Portland federal courthouse and the plaza across the street, where fascist groups like Patriot Prayer and associated groups (including Traditionalist Worker’s Party, Identity Europa, Hellshaking Street Preachers, American Freedom Keepers, and the Oath Keepers) have organized eight different rallies in the last year in Portland alone. Time and again, DHS and the Portland police collaborate to referee rallies, protests, and counter-protests. They have collected information on protesters and bystanders alike during past actions.
The information that Portland police collect is now available either for free or at a small price to the FBI. This includes the personal information of those kettled in crowd control activity, which the police promised they would delete and did not. Increasing collusion between the federal and local government means more surveillance, tighter information networks, and increasingly punitive actions against protesters.Conclusion
Finally, we have to address how white supremacy in left-leaning and radical circles impacted the camp and the blockade.
To be clear, white people should never speak on behalf of affected communities. We should prevent white people from centering themselves in this struggle financially, physically, and politically. It makes sense to exclude white people from certain spaces. All incoming support should be directed to people and organizations that have been fighting against US ethnic cleansing. White people should be humble about their place in the fight.
With all that said, white people must not uncritically follow the leadership of people of color regardless of the political content of that leadership. Hostile forces have used this tendency as a tool to undermine the movement. We have seen the supposed differences between white and non-white activists manipulated and exacerbated. People’s motivations for using this rhetoric may have been narcissism, a desire to hold power, or a belief that they were carrying out orders. Ultimately, it does not matter. At the end of the day, these dynamics left the camp fraught with power struggles and vulnerable to manipulation. Between these problems and “leaders” negotiating behind closed doors, the camp’s on-the-ground effectiveness was reduced to nothing before the first week was over.
People of color are not a monolith. One person of color should not be given the authority to speak for all people of color or to frame any particular tactic or strategy as “what all people of color want.” Important decisions that affect the group as a whole must be made by group consensus, not by self-appointed leaders or figureheads. This goes double for decisions that specifically impact those who are most targeted by ICE and police forces.
We hope that you are able to apply these observations fruitfully in your own context, whatever that might be. Here are some proposals we consider useful:
- Research how the immigration system works. Who is involved? Who benefits? What are the bottlenecks, contradictions, and vulnerabilities?
- Make real connections with and follow the lead of grassroots groups that have been involved in migration and deportation defense.
- Don’t fixate on a single camp or occupation. The imprisonment and deportation system depends on legal, administrative, material, and information logistics. This means both that the system has many vulnerabilities and that the system is often versatile enough to work through disruptions. We should always be changing and innovating new tactics.
- Research these groups: GEO Group, CoreCivic (formerly CCA), Global Tel Link (GTL), and Corizon. Find them by their formal names or hidden behind their shell LLCs. Let everyone know who they are, what they do, how much money they’re making, and what people can do to stop them or cost them money. They are probably doing business in your area, so let the community know about their actions.
- Find out which local companies and contractors are supporting these operations. For example, we found out the name of the company that is leasing the fence to DHS. Put them on blast.
- Put pressure on local politicians, but expect them to betray you. Call your “representatives” if you want, but create a plan to hold them publicly accountable. Keep their feet to the fire of public scrutiny.
- Every deportation is potentially life-threatening. The increasing threat of deportation itself silences communities and endangers people. Remind everyone of this regularly and loudly. For some people, there is no “next time.”
- Download Canva and make memes. Share them. Do what you need to do to get your message trending in the digital age.
- Billboards and bus stop ads are usually not guarded at night. Get creative. Remember that keeping it simple and bold is the most effective method.
- We are in a war of attrition. We have to exhaust their resources and their capacity to operate, while undercutting the perceived legitimacy that protects them from the effects of public outrage.
- Take the initiative. You have complete autonomy. Find ways to take action while supporting yourself and the people around you.
Germans favor withdrawal of US troops, not paying more for US 'protection' - poll | 12 July 2018 | Almost every second German favors the withdrawal of US forces based there, according to a poll taken prior to the NATO summit, at which Donald Trump accused Berlin of relying on Washington's protection and not contributing enough. Some 42 percent of Germans are ready to see 35,000 US troops return home, a new YouGov poll, conducted on behalf of the German Press Agency, revealed. Only 37 percent wanted to see US troops stay in Germany in some capacity. The remaining 21 percent did not decide.