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Anarchist News and Counter-Information
Updated: 9 hours 51 min ago

We Don’t Forget J20: Action Report Back from the Greater Seattle IWW General Defense Committee

8 hours 28 min ago

The post We Don’t Forget J20: Action Report Back from the Greater Seattle IWW General Defense Committee appeared first on It's Going Down.

This report back from the Seattle General Defense Committee (GDC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), details a rally that took place to commemorate a GDC member being shot by two Trump and Milo Yiannopoulos supporters a year before. To see past coverage of the original shooting, go here and here

January 20th, 2017 is a day that many of us remember as tumultuous, repressive, and traumatizing – a day that pointed towards an uncertain future full of certain struggle. It was on this day that neoliberal state actors both facilitated and supported the procedures and policies that allowed a molesting bigot on a populist fascistic platform take office in what is arguably the most highly-regarded seat of violently concentrated political power on Earth. It was a day that the protests against such a revolting spectacle led to the indiscriminate arrest of 188 protesters and journalists in Washington D.C. during the inauguration – a third of which still have charges that could result in decades behind bars hanging over their heads.

January 20th, 2017 was also a day of agony for the Greater Seattle IWW General Defense Committee as one of our own was nearly taken from us in an attempted murder by a supporter of bigot and former Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, who was given a platform by the University of Washington to spew his vitriol in Kane Hall on campus that night. As he was attempting to de-escalate a conflict during the protest, the gunshot that nearly killed our fellow worker and defender rang through the square that night, it tore into his partner, his family, his friends, and his community, which has left wounds that may never heal and abundant scars to show for it.

A year later, members of the Greater Seattle General Defense Committee, the Seattle Industrial Workers of the World, and many more sympathetic leftist and radical hearts and minds, gathered to commemorate the events of that day one year ago, in both remembrance of what happened here in Seattle as well as across Turtle Island, to create catharsis as well as produce a resounding statement that made it clear that we don’t forget. That we know and understand the threats we work around and within. That together, we are yet unafraid and that we do persevere stronger than ever.

The day’s rally began at the very spot our fellow defender was shot. Revolution Staging amped the crowd up with a poignant playlist played over their loudspeakers. Speeches were made by many friends and comrades who were there that very day a year ago, letting loose against the UW administration, UWPD, the SPD pigs, who murdered pregnant black mother Charleena Lyles last year, and the College Republicans – who quite intentionally set up a propaganda booth right across from the rally. What likely was thought by them as a coy chance to provocatively push their poison inevitably turned into an amplified and merciless roast of them and every form of oppressive ideal that they complicitly stand for and with. It is worth noting that standing with them that day was none other than Cascade Legion neo-Nazi leader, Christopher Robertson.

Despite the amusingly muted jeers and ignored attempts for pointless debate from the College Republicans, local musicians performed and the DJ blasted songs throughout the square. Not much later began a rousing march through the campus and down the University Avenue main thoroughfare. There was no shortage of visibility in a beautiful display of solidarity, strength, and life-giving disruption in an otherwise bleak world of manufactured order. The contingent returned to Red Square to disperse, marshals offered escorts to those leaving, all were accounted for, everyone safe this time – all had gone without a hitch, undoubtedly much to everyone’s relief.

We hope to see in this coming year a defiant retort to any and all repression. That we cannot be held back, whether that’s at the end of a gun or under a judge’s gavel. We must work to produce truly liberatory avenues on which we can find solace from a world built on hierarchies, exploitation, and bigotry. We most certainly and most importantly must not forget.

Categories: News

Arrests and Injuries as Mexicali Resiste Defends Blockade Against Police Attack

8 hours 50 min ago

The post Arrests and Injuries as Mexicali Resiste Defends Blockade Against Police Attack appeared first on It's Going Down.

Editor’s note: For more than one year, residents of Mexicali have been organizing against the construction of a brewery and aqueduct by the U.S. company Constellation Brands. If completed, the facility would produce beer for export to the U.S. and consume seven to thirty million cubic meters of water annually. (A city of one million uses around 20 million cubic meters.) Earlier this month, members of Mexicali Resiste began blockading aqueduct construction. On January 16, state and local police forces attacked the blockade and an hours-long confrontation ensued. While the blockade was successfully defended, at least five were arrested and ten injured. Below is a translation of the statement released later that day by Mexicali Resiste.

#Mexico: At least 5 people were arrested and 7 injured during clashes between police and protesters at the #Mexicali site where beverage company Constellation Brands is building a plant, Jan 17. #MexicaliResiste #WaterIsLife #WaterCrisis
Background: https://t.co/EnwWZFJcBr pic.twitter.com/QWOzgYArAd

— ubique (@PersonalEscrito) January 22, 2018

To the citizens of Mexicali, Baja California, and Mexico
To regional, national, and international media,
To the three branches of government in Baja California and the Mexicali city council,

Compañeros and compañeras,

Today’s events are proof of how far our governments will go when the interests of our so-called representatives come into play. After all, it’s not our interests that are threatened by stopping construction of an aqueduct that will feed 7, 20, or even 30 million cubic meters of water to a foreign-owned multinational factory. Our interests — that is, the interests of families from Mexicali who seek peace, health care, education, housing, land, and freedom — are doubly trampled upon: In addition to building corporate projects designed to steal from us, our supposed representatives do it with public money. Year by year, they continue taking land from those who got it in 1937.

A few hours ago, we saw the fiercest confrontations that the Mexicali resistance has seen to date. At around 4:00 PM, municipal and state police, supposedly under orders from the CESPM (the State Commission for Public Services in Mexicali) and the local government, but clearly in service of Constellation Brands, the corporation behind the plant, arrested Jorge Benítez, Javier Guillén, José Luis Pozos and two as-yet unidentified women. As of 6:00 pm, we don’t know where they have been taken. What’s more, men and women in the resistance suffered injuries to their heads and bodies. Those hurt include Tania Gallaga, José Fierro, and Carlos Bernal, among others. Today, we have seen our blood spilled for trying to defend what belongs to us, to our children and grandchildren.

As a result of the clashes, demonstrators were not the only ones to suffer injuries. A member of the press was hit in the head with a rock earlier in the morning. After this compañero was injured, it has been stated repeatedly in various media outlets that the demonstrators attacked the press, and a radio announcer, Cosme Collignon, went so far as to say that “Mexicali doesn’t need them” in reference to the demonstrators. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are a peaceful movement, and although some demonstrators don’t have good relationship with certain members of the media and make this known verbally, no demonstrator has physically attacked a representative of the media during their work or reporting.

Despite the fact that we’ve already stated that we are a peaceful movement, we will not allow ourselves to be pushed to the side, allow our dignity to be trampled upon, and let the wealth of a group of multimillionaires allow them to do to us as they please. Thus, we are also a movement of Resistance. We carry our rage and our rebellion close to hand and aflame in our hearts. The governments must know that we will not allow these injustices to be perpetrated on the people without consequence. The governments must know that every action of power will also be met with a citizen reaction. The betrayal that Francisco Vega, Gustavo Sánchez, and Francisco Rueda are carrying out from their seats of power is the same as that suffered by Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, the same that betrayed the values of our Revolution and our Constitution, the same that gave the order to kill the students in ’68 (in the Tlatelolco massacre), and it’s the same that is selling Mexico, that is selling Baja California, bit by bit to foreigners. Therefore, we will hold the following individuals responsible for anything that happens to any compañero or compañera within any of the resistance movements: Francisco Vega, Francisco Rueda, Gustavo Sánchez, Ulises Méndez (the Chief of Police), and Hugo Tafoya (Ulises Méndez’ right-hand man.)

Night has fallen on this January 16th. We are here in Rancho Mena, in the ejido of El Choropo, at mile marker 8 on the San Felipe highway — protecting the water and, above all, protecting that which belongs to all of us, that which every human being deserves for the simple act of being born. They’re not leaving us any other option.

Death to the bad government!

MEXICALI RESISTE

#MexicaliResiste
Boicott #ConstellationBrands
Gobiernos federal @EPN y estatal entregan agua a trasnacional cervecera
Defender el agua es defender la vida ✌pic.twitter.com/rwRlTm6ck9

— Coordinadora1DMX (@Coordinadora1DM) January 22, 2018

Categories: News

San Diego, CA: Report on Autonomous Activity Over Last Week

8 hours 57 min ago

The post San Diego, CA: Report on Autonomous Activity Over Last Week appeared first on It's Going Down.

Food Not Bombs of San Diego/Drop the Ban held one of several actions defying El Cajon’s new law against feeding houseless people in public on MLK Day.

Earlier in the day, reportedly a blue lives matter flag was captured from a local business in an increasingly gentrified, hip part of town, and the words “I CAN’T BREATHE,” were seen painted onto the side of the building.

Recently, the city has claimed that their new law is a response to the Hepatitis A outbreak, when it is really one of many recent attacks on the houseless population of San Diego. A week ago, 12 people serving food were recently given citations, however there are plans to continue feeding despite the cities actions.

“If you are having a birthday party here that’s perfectly legal you may feed anyone you wish at a birthday party. Your soccer team, they win, they come here let’s have a pizza party, no problem that’s completely legal,” event organizer Leslie Gollub said. “The only people not allowed to be served in this park and all of El Cajon are the homeless.”

And speaking on the condition of this park as well, “That is a basic human right to have food,” said Nicole D’Angelo, another event organizer. “Hepatitis A is spread by human feces and not washing your hands after you use the bathroom. Not only does the city have the restrooms closed where there is no running water to wash their hands after they go to the bathroom, there’s also trash here contaminated with human feces not being picked up by the city. That’s what spreads Hepatitis A, not by feeding people.”

Meanwhile, signs have been put up in all of the popular panhandling spots with the words “DON’T SUPPORT PAN HANDLING. CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOLUTION…” Suggesting people donate to other services online instead. These signs are promptly being vandalized.

Lastly, on January 20th, in solidarity with the J20 defendants and increasing border struggles a very large banner was dropped over the busy I-15. The banner read:

“WE ARE STILL HERE DROP J20 SMASH THE WALL!” A bold three arrows on one side and a circle A on the other.

 

Categories: News

Third Black Cville Resident Arrested in Wake of ‘Unite the Right’

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 23:20

The post Third Black Cville Resident Arrested in Wake of ‘Unite the Right’ appeared first on It's Going Down.

The National Lawyers Guild of Central Virginia announced yesterday that yet another black resident of Charlottesville has been charged with a felony. Please read their statement below:

Mr. Donald Blakney was arrested at his home on Friday by Charlottesville Police Department (CPD). He is charged with Malicious Wounding — a felony that carries a 5 year minimum and the possibility of up to 20 years in prison.

On August 12, he was physically attacked by a participant in the Unite the Right rally, who also yelled racist slurs at him. Later that fall, he was questioned by CPD and the FBI under the pretext of the ongoing criminal investigation into right-wing violence that day.

The charges against Mr. Blakney are apparently based in part on a video broadcast by the ABC News program 20/20 that depicts him at the scene.

Mr. Blakney is the third counter-protester to be arrested and charged arising out of the events in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. Corey Long and DeAndre Harris are both also facing criminal charges. All three are Black men and local residents who were attacked that day.

Mr. Blakney was released on personal recognizance Friday. He has an arraignment tomorrow, Monday, January 22 at 10AM in Charlottesville General District Court and is requesting that supporters come in solidarity.​ ​Mr. Blakney is represented by attorneys Sandra Freeman and David Baugh.

We demand that the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Charlottesville Police Department immediately drop the charges against Mr. Blakney and cease the racist targeting and harassment of people of color who bravely confront white supremacist violence.

DONATE TODAY to contribute to legal support for community members like Donald Blakney and Corey Long.

Categories: News

Neo-Nazi Virginia Tech Employee Mark Neuhoff Continues Online Rants Against African-Americans and Jews

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 22:44

The post Neo-Nazi Virginia Tech Employee Mark Neuhoff Continues Online Rants Against African-Americans and Jews appeared first on It's Going Down.

This following report from New River Against Fascism, details the ongoing exploits of Graduate Assistant Mark Neuhoff, a current employee of Virginia Tech University. Despite ongoing outcry, the university refuses to remove or expel Neuhoff, who spoke to It’s Going Down in mid-November about his self-identified white supremacist ideas and the ironic fact that he is married to an Asian woman. Neuhoff became embroiled in controversy when posts from his Facebook account (he denies he was the one who posted them) encouraged Alt-Right trolls to harass a student (who in turn received rape and death threats) opposed to him on campus.

Another year, another semester, and if there is anything that Virginia Tech, its English Department, and Graduate Assistant Mark Neuhoff would want you to do, it is to forget the hard work of students and community antifascists that went into exposing the antisemitism, racism and violence hiding within the safety of their classrooms. Despite Mark’s blatant hatred for anything other than his delusional self, he is still employed by Virginia Tech; however, he has stepped out of the classroom and instead, is writing a class on (get a load of this shit) Free Speech. That’s right folks. Virginia Tech believes the best thing to do with a bigot is to let them design classes on inclusivity. Given Mark’s opinion  that the “Truth is Antisemitic” we have to wonder what truth, if any, is behind his final graduate project?

Luckily for the community, Mark, for some reason can’t understand that most good, decent, honest people are antifascist, antiracist, and do not want him or his wife at their university (she’s now banned) or in their community. So after having taken a short leave of absence for fear of the continued tracking of his Facebook posts, Mark’s friends have once again leaked to us FB posts that show he still harbors all the same hatred, conspiracy, and vitriol of past pseudo-intellectual ramblings, plus a much more outright propensity to violence towards progressives, women, and the people around him.

How Virginia Tech can continue to employ this anti-Semitic piece of shit, let alone allow him to work on creating classes around free speech, when clearly, he has no understanding of the difference between hate speech and free speech, is beyond us. Virginia Tech’s inaction towards Mark has only emboldened his violent rhetoric and seeking out a platform for his message. Mark has given interviews on so called revisionist podcasts and far-right print papers. As a so called leading Higher Education Institution, Virginia Tech appears to completely fail at protecting its students and whatever intellectual discourse that actually occurs there, instead choosing to sell its student body out while Mark openly discusses joining Right Wing Death Squads, lynching previous employers, and the same Jewish Conspiracies celebrated by the most violent individuals in history.

We are truly worried about the safety of those individuals in which Mark has to share a space. These threats are no joking matter given that last year White Supremacists and Far-Right identified individuals killed more Americans than any one single group [other than the State] in 2017. Mark shows all the signs of being among the worst the Far-Right is has to offer. It doesn’t matter if he calls himself a Paleoconservative, Monarchist, or Traditionalist, because when the ideology is stripped bare, it is all the same. Violent, evil, hate speech.

Given Virginia Tech’s infamous history with male violence, we cannot fathom that Free Speech is behind allowing Mark to continue to receive free tuition and a paycheck at the expense of donors, other students, and the State. How can anyone justify the murderous ramblings of butchering perceived enemies and reducing women’s “value” to nothing as Free Speech?  By allowing Mark to remain, Virginia Tech’s Administration has only emboldened him and demonstrated, once again, that we cannot and we should not depend on the State, bosses, presidents, police, or hierarchy to keep us safe. Not only does Mark need to be fired for this continued bullshit, he needs to GTFO of our community! We need to make sure that he knows that his ideology is not welcome here in the New River Valley.

#DefendNRV
#NoFascistGTA

Categories: News

Berkeley, CA: Antifa Patrol Turns Up Zero Alt-Right Posters

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 21:58

The post Berkeley, CA: Antifa Patrol Turns Up Zero Alt-Right Posters appeared first on It's Going Down.

Thanks to antifascist research and intelligence shared on IGD, we anticipated a poster campaign at UC Berkeley from local racists and misogynists to start the night of January 21. Despite the very light rain, crews of antifascists planned to be out patrolling the campus to watch for anyone putting up alt-right flyers and take anything down if we happened to come across it.

We went out for a few hours checking buildings that house particular departments intended as targets such as Gender and Women’s studies. Other areas of interest that we were sure to check were popular flyering areas on campus as well as other sites where we had previously found alt-right propaganda.

By the end of the night we ending up finding zero Pepe trolls. Monday morning chats on the far-right discord server coordinating this action suggest local fash were discouraged by the “pouring rain,” though to be honest it wasn’t raining very much and this seems like a poor excuse.

Along the way, we were able to put several anti-fascist stickers up on campus and the surrounding area. So in the end, what was to be a 4chan propaganda night ended up becoming yet another opportunity to make it known that Berkeley is an antifa zone!

Categories: News

Immediate Call-In To Support NC Prisoner Facing Dire Medical Neglect

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 21:41

The post Immediate Call-In To Support NC Prisoner Facing Dire Medical Neglect appeared first on It's Going Down.

We just received word from multiple inside sources that prisoner Akeem Paige, incarcerated at Bertie CI in Windsor, NC, is facing a dire medical situation after nearly a year of brutal neglect. Fellow radical prisoners who organize at the facility are deeply concerned that based on his symptoms Akeem could have colon cancer, which has gone undiagnosed for nearly a year and might be fatal. The following is from a letter from Akeem:

I have been having health complications that I have been requesting the medical staff here at Bertie Correctional to help me with since 3/28/17, when I first made a complaint about sharp rectum and groin pain, along with bleeding in my rectum. I was seen by nurse staff but never properly examined by x-ray, and continue having pains in my rectum, groin, abdomen, side, and back…

Now my health is at a very, very low point and don’t know if I will make it. I truly believe that I may have colon cancer, and that it has spread throughout my lower and larger intestines, but could have been prevented id the staff here at Bertie got me a proper exam. Now I feel that my days may be numbered due to medical neglect and processed food that the state forces us to eat. I would like the world to hear my voice and to always stand up for what’s right, and to keep fighting because these oppressors are killing us off daily around the world. Black lives matter / save a life! Dare to struggle, Dare to Win.

PLEASE call-in to the administration at Bertie to DEMAND that Akeem immediately be seen by a real doctor to examine his health and offer real medical treatment. The prison can be reached at (252) 794-8600.

In love and rage,

Floodgates Prison Newsletter Crew

Categories: News

Rashid Johnson Faces “Inciting a Riot” Charge for Reporting on #OperationPUSH

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 10:17

The post Rashid Johnson Faces “Inciting a Riot” Charge for Reporting on #OperationPUSH appeared first on It's Going Down.

Incarcerated Florida organizer and Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) Kevin “Rashid” Johnson is facing political repression in the form of an “inciting a riot” charge for reporting on Operation PUSH.

Read a transcription of a letter we received from Rashid here:

1-12-18

Dear [        ]:

I presume you’re aware of my recent article “Florida Prisoners Are Laying it Down”, concerning the upcoming protest here in FDOC.

Well the warden here just had me written a disciplinary report in retaliation for the article, claiming I was inciting or attempting to incite a riot or demonstration, which is an obvious lie; and can be easily seen by anyone who reads it. Here’s what the DR says (it was written by a Lt. Martin Sanders on 1-10-18):

“A approximately 6:17 am on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 while assigned to Florida State Prison as an administrative lieutenant, I received an email correspondence from warden B.V. Reddish. In the email an article was attached written by inmate Johnson that had been submitted to and published on https://itsgoingdown.org. Inmate Johnson’s article is titled, “Florida Prisoners Are Laying it Down”, and opens with the following statement: “During early 2018 prisoners across Florida are gonna ‘laydown’ in nonviolent protest of the intolerable conditions in Florida’s prisons.” This article is included with a series of other articles related to “operation push” which is a possible upcoming prison strike that is being planned by numerous inmates across the state of Florida. Inmate Johnson makes numerous allegations of mistreatment of inmates at Florida state prison and proclaims Florida to be the worst prison system of the four various states he’s been incarcerated in. The full article is attached to this report. This formal disciplinary report is in accordance with section 33-601.303, FAC.”

The article does nothing but state the conditions that Florida prisons are protesting and confirms how vile those conditions are. Nowhere is anyone told to do anything. It is only a piece of journalism, which is constitutionally protected exercise of speech and press. Also FDOC prisoners have no internet access, so how is something published online inciting prisoners?

This is retaliation plain and simple for publicizing abusive conditions, and why and that FDOC prisoners are planning a protest. These pigs don’t like that these conditions are being exposed and prisoners portrayed positively.

I need everyone’s help/exposure drawing attention to this retaliation. I’m gonna try to get an article done and in the mail by Monday – today’s Friday. I just received the DR last night and don’t have time to get an article done by time the mail goes out.

Be well and PL!

Rashid

Categories: News

The Heat is On: Update on Week 1 of #OperationPUSH

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 09:48

The post The Heat is On: Update on Week 1 of #OperationPUSH appeared first on It's Going Down.

One week ago prison rebels across Florida launched Operation PUSH. Their demands were simple: end prison slavery and price gouging, restore access to parole, and put an end to the brutal conditions they are subjected to daily.

Information has been slow to trickle out due to intense repression and communication blackouts, but we know there has been strike participation at 15+ prisons, and we know that support on the outside is growing, with 150+ organizations endorsing the action and major solidarity actions in Florida occurring at various locations, including a 5-hour long occupation of the DOC office in Tallahassee.

The repression is already starting to come down: people being thrown into solitary confinement; being threatened with violence; being bribed to end their action and inform on other strike organizers; being transferred to new facilities to disburse strike activity throughout the system and isolate people.

One disturbing feature of this repression is DOC’s focus on identifying specific groups coordinating support on the outside such as the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons and IWOC and disrupting prisoners’ communication with these groups.

Prison organizers who correspond with these groups are being targeted for having their “security threat level” increased–a practice that translates into greater isolation and harsher conditions of confinement. One prisoner was told point blank, “As long as you communicate with these people you’re always going to be labelled a security threat and you’re always going to be put under investigation.”

Communication has been curtailed so severely that it’s hard to know how much of an economic impact the strike has had so far; we do know that in some cases scab labor has been brought in to keep facilities running. This state of uncertainty is a strategy prison administrators use to sap organizing energy. As IWOC recently wrote, “a common theme among report backs is the attempt to sever communication in order to create the perception of inactivity and break the spirits of those participating in the strike.”

But strikers won’t be fooled so easily, and neither will we. We will keep showing up because those on the inside are putting it all on the line, and we are in absolute solidarity with their courageous acts of resistance.

NOW IS THE TIME TO STEP UP OUR SUPPORT! More Infonn
Categories: News

Minneapolis, MN: Banner Drop in Solidarity with #J20

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 09:28

The post Minneapolis, MN: Banner Drop in Solidarity with #J20 appeared first on It's Going Down.

Following photo and short report was anonymously sent to It’s Going Down, which we reprint below. 

It reads:

Solidarity from comrades in the Twin Cities IWW/GDC! The banner reads: Drop The Charges #Defendj20!

Categories: News

Banner Drop in Southern Oregon in Solidarity with J20 Defendants

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 09:25

The post Banner Drop in Southern Oregon in Solidarity with J20 Defendants appeared first on It's Going Down.

Following report and photo were anonymously sent to It’s Going Down, which we reprint below. 

The report reads:

This morning several anarchist mountain beavers dropped two banners over Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon in solidarity with J20 Defendants. One year ago, 230 people were mass arrested at the anticapitalist and antifascist march against Trump’s inauguration. One year later and we still hate the State.

While we excitedly nibble our teeth on the bones of fascists at the news of 129 of our comrades having their charges dropped, we snarl with rage that 59 folks still face seven felony charges and potentially 60 years in prison.

Burn the prisons, cut the border fences, and play in the woods!

Categories: News

Communique of the Youth Council of Cherán Regarding the Femicide of Guadalupe Companur Tapia

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 09:11

The post Communique of the Youth Council of Cherán Regarding the Femicide of Guadalupe Companur Tapia appeared first on It's Going Down.

On January 17th, 2018, our compañera and community member of Cherán, Guadalupe Companur, was found dead in the area known as Irapio, in the Municipality of Chilchota, Michoacán.  We want to clarify that her assassination did not occur inside the community, nor in the territory of Cherán.  In spite of the measures of community security we have developed in our community, the region continues suffering from problems of insecurity and violence.

Today we reiterate the lack of work done in uniting the communities, one with another, to defend the life and integrity of our people.  Above all, we ask as the Youth Council, as community members of Cherán, that this terrible act committed against our compañera Lupe is not belittled or normalized.  That courage has to keep us moving and keep us sensitive to the violence, in order to continue these struggles from the heart, from courage, converting fear into a valuable social force, to recognize that there is still much to be done to resist the war they impose upon us.

This pain that we feel reminds us of the difficult moment we have been through as a community.  It is complicated to digest that a community member like Lupe who had contributed so much to this process of struggle and defense of our forests (being part of a barricade, of the assembly of a neighborhood of this community) is not with us.  That dreams have been taken away in such a painful manner.

We also want to clarify that compañera Lupa was not reported disappeared by her family members, since they expected that she would return to the house soon after having left the community some days before.  This does not imply that she is in any way responsible for the acts.  She will never be responsible for what happened.  We are at a critical moment where arguments are being sought to criminalize and blame women, but that will not be the case.  We are conscious that she did not deserve to die.  In that context, nobody denies that the atrocious act of her assassination has to be punished.  Her life, equal to all of the community members of Cherán, deserves complete respect and we will not permit that she is criminalized or stigmatized.

Today a profound pain overwhelms our community.  We feel vulnerable and anxious, because although we have constructed a system of communal government through community cooperation to establish a climate of security in our territory, there are limits because in the surrounding communities this isn’t the case.  As the community of Cherán, we have a serious challenge to confront this difficult situation and we need to continue demanding justice, as we have on many other occasions when we have lost our community members.  It is unacceptable that acts like these continue occurring in our country with nothing happening in response.  That the assassination of various peoples is not clarified or punished.

From Cherán, we condemn the femicide of Lupe and we demand justice. We demand that work is done to encounter those responsible for the acts and that never more are these hateful crimes repeated.

Categories: News

Chicago: Solidarity with #J20 Defendees Coordinated Banner Drop

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 09:06

The post Chicago: Solidarity with #J20 Defendees Coordinated Banner Drop appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following short report and photos were anonymously sent to It’s Going Down, which we reprint below.

Report reads:

On the one year anniversary of the J20, partisans in Chicago coordinated a series of banner drops in support of the 59 remaining arrestees. We will continue to organize and fight with our comrades until each and every one of them is free from the state’s repression.

Fuck off Kerkhoff!

Solidarity with J20 Rebels!

Free all Prisoners! Burn all Prisons!

 

Banner1.jpgBanner2.jpgWheatpaste2.jpg

Categories: News

J20 Solidarity Demonstration in Grand Rapids, MI

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 08:47

The post J20 Solidarity Demonstration in Grand Rapids, MI appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following report was submitted anonymously to It’s Going Down about a solidarity rally with J20 defendants in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

On January 20, about 30 people held an event in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan in solidarity with the remaining J20 defendants. There was a short rally with speakers about the J20 case, ongoing struggles, and the importance of fighting back. Following the speakers, the crowd burned an American flag and a Trump banner before setting off on a march through the center of the city. There were numerous people masked up, anarchist flags were flying, and anti-fascist chants were plentiful.

 

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Categories: News

Albany, NY: Support for Dawedo from Capital Region Anti-Repression Committee

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 08:38

The post Albany, NY: Support for Dawedo from Capital Region Anti-Repression Committee appeared first on It's Going Down.

Here in Albany, a community member is being targeted by ICE. Dawedo Sanon was taken and is being held in an immigration facility in Buffalo, NY. She is facing court dates, and her family is navigating how to keep her home. They’re raising funds to get her out of the facility. Her family has set up a fundraiser, which you can donate to here.

The Capital Region Anti-repression Committee (CRAC) is forming in response to this attack. We are committed to resisting ICE from tearing people away from us. Dawedo is the sister of a Free School teacher and we want to do everything we can to support their family during this time and to bring her back home. We are committed to fighting for our families, loved ones and community members.

In addition to donating funds, we are also looking to compile legal resources. If you have any to share or want to reach out in support, you can contact us at: CRAC518@protonmail.com.

From the Fundraiser:

My name is Mahyana Sanon, sister of Dawedo Sanon. My sister Dawedo was born in Haiti and was brought here as an adopted child at the age of 5. When we were young our adopted mother left the country for a family death. She has not returned, as her work with the United Nations is done abroad. Our father, having already fled Haiti, decided to stay with us in the US. 

Dawedo grew up in Hudson, NY and graduated from High School in Albany. As an aspiring nurse she worked hard to pay for college courses at Schenectady Community College. She gave back to the community by volunteering at a homeless shelter, the Salvation Army and participating in the local Boys and Girls Club. Over the summer Dawedo’s long time boyfriend proposed to her and she said yes!

In July of 2017, Dawedo’s TPS expired and she didn’t renew it due to the administrations limited extension and eventual cancellation of TPS for Haitians. Before Christmas, Dawedo was taken by ICE and is now being detained in Buffalo.

The lives of our family and her fiance have changed drastically since she was taken. The stark absence of her energy, frankness and silliness were all missed over the holidays. The place at our table where she usually sits and make us all laugh is empty. Her fiance desperately awaits her release so they can finally get married and he can petition for her to stay here permanently.

Dawedo is a smart, beautiful and passionate young women. We ask our community to support us during this difficult time and work with us to secure Dawedo’s freedom.

Categories: News

Two Paychecks Podcast#2: Hex Speaks on Anniversary of Alt-Right’s Attempt to Murder Him

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 08:29

The post Two Paychecks Podcast#2: Hex Speaks on Anniversary of Alt-Right’s Attempt to Murder Him appeared first on It's Going Down.

Episode #2 of the Two Paychecks Podcast, is the first part of an interview with Hex, a member of the General Defense Committee (GDC) . Hex was shot outside of a Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking event at University of Washington in Seattle while trying to deescalate violence being carried out by far-Right milo fans.

The couple behind the shooting was none other than Trump, Milo, and Alt-Right fans Mark and Elizabeth Hokoana, who came out with the intention of shooting “snowflakes” at Milo’s event. When Hex attempted to take away pepper spray from Mark Hokoana who was using it to attack protesters, Elizabeth shot him in the abdomen, nearly killing him.

Hex isn’t interested prosecuting the Hokoanas who attempted to murder him. He’s against America’s justice and prison system. He had been reading a lot about prisons before he was shot and fails to see how it can rehabilitate. He talks to us about the restorative justice that he seeks.

Hex didn’t press charges against the Hokoanas, but The State has. He talks about being re-traumatized by the court proceedings. Hex is a warm human being, with a deep sense of compassion. It was an honor to interview him and I think it would do everybody good to listen to him.

Categories: News

Central Maryland: Solidarity Action Against Trump and His World

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 08:00

The post Central Maryland: Solidarity Action Against Trump and His World appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following anonymous communique was submitted to It’s Going Down, which we reprint below. 

The communique reads:

On the night of the waning crescent moon about a week ago, one full year after Trump was inaugurated, we wanted to do something to make our complicity with the rebels of J20 concrete. We were also inspired to do something dedicated to our buddies apathetically dreaming of a world in which all forms of life can thrive. So we took our small scratch at the hyper surveilled open air prison in the center of the global empire.

This took the form of a Howard County sheriff cruiser which presented itself to us parked less than a mile from the Central Maryland Correctional Facility. So we snuck up to it and sliced each tire several times. As we were leaving we whispered “fuck the cops!” and felt happy imagining how the sheriff would feel upon discovering this in the morning. We were quite nervous beforehand but afterwards we were laughing at how easy and low key it was. Clearly this is an almost laughably small gesture but we have many nights ahead of us.

A year ago, a whole bunch of our friends threw down hard against Trump’s inauguration. The actions they took pushed the boundaries of what typically goes down in the capital city of the amerikan empire and sent a message that the rise of the alt-right would not be taken lying down. The resulting images and stories were inspiring to us as anarchists, and were widely covered in the mainstream news worldwide, for whatever that’s worth. All this really did something significant to make the old dream of a new liberated world seem viable again. Given the circumstances, backlash from our enemies was inevitable, but the way we are going to talk about these things and respond to them is up to us.

We can safely leave talk of innocence, justice and rights in the courtroom for two-faced lawyers to argue about. Legal defense strategies are one thing but as anarchists who are as yet still at large, we have no need for this sort of hypocrisy. To position ourselves against what has been going on here for the last 500 years is necessarily to position ourselves as criminals. We need to take a step back from our immediate situations to see these things in perspective. We are a tiny part in a continuous resistance that started long ago and that has to keep going until we win. We have to believe in the invisible threads of solidarity or complicity or love or whatever you’re going call it that connect all the ones with glowing hearts together as comrades, even when that can be hard to feel.

If we are to maintain our anarchist politics only up until the point where we start to see some harsh repression and then suddenly we decide that we need to take a liberal turn and start crying for justice and fairness in a “democracy,” then what was the point in the first place? Obama, Trump, even president Oprah Winfrey, for us, it really all comes to the same thing. We’re going to need to keep pressing our attack forwards, making our way quietly through the video-taped streets and tiny stands of forest to attack the institutions of capitalism and colony.

With fierce love for all of those facing repression for the actions of j20, especially the “guilty” ones. Until all of the cages are empty. Until all of the borders are erased. Until all of the cop cars and limos are in flames.

Categories: News

Alt-Right Trolls Plan to Crash Women’s March in Boston

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 03:10

The post Alt-Right Trolls Plan to Crash Women’s March in Boston appeared first on It's Going Down.

The Cambridge/Boston Women’s March organizers describe Saturday’s rally as “an occasion to recognize the resistance efforts undertaken thus far, and to further mobilize our collective energies for the year ahead.”

Unfortunately, the alt-right group Resist Marxism has taken the rally’s statement that “all are welcome” as an invitation to promote their racist organization and spread xenophobia and Islamophobia under the auspices of “women’s rights.”

One of the main organizers for 'Resist Marxism' protest in #Boston this weekend attended neo-Nazi Unite the Right rally, and is a member of 'AntiCom,' a violent group shown to be planning bombings and murder in their online chat rooms. https://t.co/d4ncLFmgl4 pic.twitter.com/wyv2DSSBGh

— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) November 17, 2017

What is Resist Marxism and what do they believe?

Resist Marxism is an alt-right organization led by Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman. Chapman, described as the “celebrity leader of a nascent paramilitary wing of the alt-right” (Buzzfeed), leads the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, a Proud Boys affiliate described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an “alt-right ‘fight club’ fraternity ready for street violence.” Needless to say, such violent activity runs counter to the stated goals of the Women’s March, which include “resisting the harmful consequences of President Trump’s administration on women, [and] other marginalized groups.”

Resist Marxism, which claims to “Defend the Constitution against violent extremists and the Regressive Left,” was a leading organization behind the so-called “Rally for the Republic” in November, alongside militias such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. These groups have lengthy track records of racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and xenophobic activities. Their violent ideals do not belong at a peaceful women’s march for equality and resistance.

Speakers

Resist Marxism’s plan for the Women’s Solidarity March is simply to show up with megaphones and their own battery of prepared speakers in an attempt to drown out other voices of resistance. They are not affiliated with the event organizers and have simply decided to crash the march for the purpose of distracting, disrupting and recruiting. And their speakers are, at best, unqualified.

  • Ylva Morrigan: Will be speaking against abortion rights. Morrigan’s public Facebook page contains disturbing rants detailing how “Christians are under attack” and warning of a “Sharia takeover” of America. At a time when the right to safe, legal abortion and Muslims’ freedom of religion are truly under attack, this rhetoric represents a dangerous targeting of vulnerable women and communities.
  • Samson Racioppi: Was previously arrested for “reckless conduct” and has a history of violent and xenophobic behavior, is set to speak on women in Islam. The lives and experiences of Muslim women are not things to be ogled or treated as props in the service of a political group with both sexist and Islamophobic platforms. Further, a male, non-Muslim with a known history of violence should not speak for women who face extreme threats, including from unpredictable men like Racioppi.
  • Lily Marsden: 19 year old newcomer to the far-right scene, is a self-proclaimed libertarian and “anarcho”-capitalist (two ideologies which provide an entry to fascism) and who has already adopted some of the alt-right’s distinctive rhetoric online. She will be speaking on “Third Wave Feminism issues.” While third wave feminism is most notable for its emphasis on an intersectional approach, one which takes into account the multidimensional ways in which women are oppressed, the alt-right has doubled down on the movement, claiming it is built on factual and logical inaccuracies. Third wave feminism seeks to include all women, yet the alt-right and their ideology around feminism and women in general seeks to include only women who are deemed socially acceptable.
  • Michael Moura: A young, but already a regular at far-right nationalist events. Notably, he is a supporter of Kyle Chapman and met with him at the “Mother of All Rallies” in Washington, D.C., (in violation of the terms of Chapman’s bail) last September. That event was promoted by and featured Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson, a man who has refused to make any effort to prevent explicit white nationalists from attending his events on the West Coast. Due to Moura’s association with individuals like Chapman and Gibson who espouse dangerous white supremacist ideals and endorse violence, we are concerned that Moura will use this platform to encourage violence against immigrants and other women.

Resist Marxism is blatantly taking advantage of the “all are welcome” approach of the Women’s March in an attempt to establish an ideological foothold for their hateful ideals.

We reject Resist Marxism’s cynical attempt to co-opt the feminist movement in search of an entry point for spreading their bigoted and dangerous rhetoric. If the organizers and participants of this march truly stand by their commitment to “basic human rights for all individuals, regardless of gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, race, age, religion, nationality, immigration status, disability, economic status, geographical residence, health status, culture, and political affiliation,” we expect them to:

  • Unite against Resist Marxism’s message of hate.
  • Deny Resist Marxism and their hateful ideology any platform by which they may disseminate their propaganda.

Resist Marxism and their supporters will meet on Saturday at 12PM in Cambridge at the John Harvard statue before heading to the common. We encourage everyone to show up to confront them and reject their message, and make it clear that they are not welcome in any activist spaces around here.

Categories: News

The Cinema Committee Reflects on 2017 from Belarus to Philadelphia

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 02:42

The post The Cinema Committee Reflects on 2017 from Belarus to Philadelphia appeared first on It's Going Down.

From The Cinema Committee

We’ve all heard the story before. People still tell it from the moldering dankness of their mom’s basement. It goes like this: George Soros contacts The Anarchist Antifa Supersoldiers and hands over bulging bags thick with gold in exchange for doing his bidding. Interesting story, right? Well, turns out plenty of shitholes on the internet tell it nearly every week. Since we can’t seem to convince anyone that we’re broke a a joke, and since everyone is calling everyone else a Russian spy, we thought it appropriate to celebrate our current predicament by weaving it all together in a simple and clear narrative. Contrary to popular reports, the international anarchist movement is beholden to neither George Soros or Vladimir Putin. All flags look the same to us. Every country is our homeland.

While the techno-overlords continued to blast the San Francisco Bay Area with their continuously stoked housing crisis, several individuals found it wise to begin burning down luxury housing developments in the city of Oakland. These fires began in 2016 and continued into 2017, each of them completely destroying their targets and costing ten of millions of dollars. The latest was in July when a luxury apartment block caught fire in the heart of Downtown Oakland. These arsons have been wisely left unclaimed by their authors. With the housing and homeless crisis plainly visible for all to see, the sight of burning luxury apartments is a simple message difficult to misinterpret.

Across the continent in Philadelphia, the local anarchist movement has grown quite strong in the past years and become popular for organizing and marching against Trump. Since the fall of 2012, local anarchists have printed their paper Anathema and chronicled events in their city and beyond. With housing costs rising and homelessness increasing, some individuals found it wise to sneak into some luxury developments and torch them to the ground. This arson took place in the Point Breeze neighborhood in 2017 and garnered wide attention in the local media. In another act of rebellion, a group of fifty people rampaged through a series of new developments and trashed everything that reeked of luxury. These two events happened within weeks of each other and sent a clear message against this new luxury development most liberals view as normal. Because of the fluid and toxic news cycle of our current era, few people remember these important activities outside of Philadelphia.

Over the course of 2017, the anarchist struggle against capitalism accelerated in the United States without anyone really noticing. While much attention has already been given to the popular mobilizations against Trump and his fascist goon squad, other anarchist activities often fall into the memory hole. One such event took place further inland in the city of Pittsburgh. After mobilizing to support striking inmates in the Allegheny County Jail and holding protests outside the walls, a group of people decided to physically attack the jail and the police with sticks and rocks. After smashing windows and getting into a brawl, several people were then arrested and thrown inside. The next day, another group camped out in front of the jail with coffee and food. They hung banners on the walls weighted down with rocks similar to the ones thrown the night before. With a palpable sense of humor, this group waited for their comrades to be released and showed no fear in the face of repression.

Throughout all of this, the alt-right were in their college dorm basements making Youtube videos about Antifa Terrorists burning luxury developments and Violent Thugs smashing cop car windows. Perhaps this is why our actions fall into obscurity. Under the weight of a dozen counter-narratives, clear our actual message often gets lost. For example, we are definitively against capitalism and all political parties, yet according to the internet we have been variously employed by Hillary Clinton, George Zoros, The Illuminati Lizards, the Koch Brothers, and Vladimir Putin. Despite the mountain of public evidence to the contrary, the internet is still convinced of its deranged fantasies about anarchists. In order to help set the record straight, we felt it appropriate to highlight some bona fide anarchist activity within and around the Russian Federation. While we may be denigrated as Illuminati Lizards, our comrades in Russia are labeled as CIA agents and often forced into clandestine activity. The operations is identical.

In an illegal act filled with rebellion and defiance, a group of anarchists held a fiery march in November of 2017 through the streets of Moscow that defied the police-state ready to punish them all. Each step was a risk for this group and yet they took them anyway. Further to the west in the contested land of Ukraine, a group of individuals have been attacking targets in and around the city of Kiev. This past November, a group burnt the offices of an extortionist utility company in response their raising of gas and electric tariffs. Earlier in the year, another group burnt the headquarters of a fascist group who harassed anarchists during the 2014 Euro Maiden protests. In the meantime, different groups have also taken out earth destroying equipment and vehicles outside Kiev. In one unique instance, a lone individual decided to take a pistol into the streets of Kiev and shoot empty luxury vehicles. In a country split between CIA-supported Neo-Fascists and Russian-backed separatists, this anarchist activity is refreshing to say the least. But hey, don’t go telling the internet about it. They might get the idea we’re against capitalism, the state, and its fascist cronies.

But it doesn’t stop there. A lot’s been happening just to the north. In the spring of 2017, anarchists in Belarus began organizing popular demonstrations against a proposed “parasite tax” aimed at the poor. These demonstrations grew until they were repressed by the state with many anarchists thrown into jail. In response to these arrests, a wave of solidarity spread from Belarus to Ukraine and then to Russia. Anarchists in all three countries supported each other in various ways throughout the year and as a result have grown stronger. After the repression of the popular uprising, anarchists in Belarus kept on with their work spreading texts, hanging banners, pasting posters, painting slogans, burning offices, and engaging with their surroundings. Because the proposed “parasite tax” effected the entire country, anarchists became stronger in multiple cities including Brest and Minsk. Their recent contribution to the social struggle has not been forgotten by the dispossessed of Belarus.

In conclusion, we’d like to turn to the wonderful neighborhood of Exarchia in the city of Athens. It has been an anarchist neighborhood for decades and decades and has become more powerful since the uprising of 2008. Most recently, anarchists build barricades at the edge of the neighborhood and fought the police on December 6, 2017, the ninth anniversary of Alexis’ murder. While these clasdeadly storyhes happen every year, 2017 solidified the strength of what anarchists have built in Athens. There are now several squats housing refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, among other places. The police-sanctioned drug dealers have been pushed out of Exarchia after a long and deadly story that has barely been told in English. While there is still internal conflict in Exarchia, every year the anarchists show how strong they are. Since 2014, the neighborhood has been barricading itself during its fights with the police. This didn’t happen organically, it took people making the call and a lot more people organizing to make it happen.

We leave you here, in center in Athens, and wish you all the best through the coming year. In case you didn’t notice, the movement is huge now. Keep it growing and make it thrive. Stay safe and never stop. Capitalism will end anyway. You decide when.

Categories: News

Crimethinc Podcast #61: The Olympia Train Blockade

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 02:27

The post Crimethinc Podcast #61: The Olympia Train Blockade appeared first on It's Going Down.

In this episode, we take an in-depth look at the blockade in Olympia, WA that stopped a train carrying fracking supplies for twelve days.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/exworker/61_The-Olympia-Train-Blockade.mp3 Notes and Links Transcript

Alanis: The Ex Worker: Clara: An audio strike against a monotone world;Alanis: A podcast of anarchist ideas and action; Clara: For everyone who dreams of a life off the clock. Clara: Welcome back to the Ex-Worker! In this episode, we’re taking an in-depth look at one of the major success stories of 2017: The blockade in Olympia, Washington that stopped a train carrying fracking supplies for twelve days—making it the second longest train blockade in US history.

Alanis: People went hard in early 2017 during the inauguration and the airport shutdowns, but most of the year felt like we weren’t gaining momentum. That’s all the more reason why this action was so inspiring—it renewed hope and forged new relationships at a time when many weren’t expecting that.

Clara: But nothing ever happens in a vacuum. We’ll take a closer look at what made this action a success, what it looked and felt like on the ground, and what lessons we can learn from it—but first, let’s take a look at what led to this blockade. For more resources and information on the ideas we talk about today, check out our show notes for links!

Alanis: Olympia, Washington has a long history of environmental activism, with a focus on fracking since 2013, when the port of Olympia began to ship fracking equipment as cargo. That year saw many protests at the port, some of which included anarchists and others forming a soft blockade of human bodies in front of logging trucks, and generally trying to hinder port operations as much as possible. These smaller actions eventually lost momentum though. In the summer of 2016, the port of Olympia opened negotiations with the US military to start shipping military cargo through the port again. This galvanized a new resistance, with anarchists and other activists forming a Port Militarization Resistance network similar to one that had existed a decade before. The port eventually backed down from the contract, perhaps because of the resistance already mounting against it, but the new relationships built through organizing against it stayed strong. More and more people started paying attention to the port, and people began to gather information that helped them track shipments of ceramic proppants.

Clara: Manufactured by Rainbow Ceramics and shipped by war profiteers Halliburton (who have ties to the Bush family and former Vice President Dick Cheney), these proppants are small ceramic balls used during fracking to prop up the wells and prevent collapse when the natural gas is removed. They don’t always work as promised, as is evidenced by the frequent earthquakes and other disasters that accompany natural gas extraction. The proppants moving through the port of Olympia travel on ships from China, and then trains that leave from the port and head south to the Columbia Gorge, and then east towards the fracking wells of North Dakota, and more recently Wyoming.

It was right below the point where two train tracks merge—one leading from the Pepsi bottling plant, the other from the Port of Olympia—that people built the first train blockade in 2016.

Alanis: In November of 2016, at the height of the months-long struggle on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, people who had been steadily tracking the schedules of proppant shipments gathered to disrupt their delivery to the fracking wells. While the shipments had been moving through the Port of Olympia for a few years, it may have taken the actions at Standing Rock to galvanize a larger number of people to react with means that could actually have an effect on the shipments. Between November 11th and 18th, some of these rebels set up a blockade on the rail line leading out of the Port. This week-long blockade led Halliburton, the corporation responsible for shipping the proppants, to declare that they would never do business with the Port of Olympia again. This blockade was ultimately attacked and cleared by the Olympia Police Department in the middle of the night. At the time, the Olympia Chief of Police declared that he had sympathy for the blockaders’ cause, and didn’t want to do his job. His actions showed that his feelings didn’t matter as much as the flow of commerce and the role that extractive industries play in it. Ultimately, those proppants made their way to the Dakotas, just as the Dakota Access Pipeline was fully constructed, despite massive opposition by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters.

Clara: Fast forward to November 2017: word spread once again that a shipment of proppants was scheduled to move through the Port of Olympia. So in the wee hours of November 17th, folks braved the wet Pacific Northwest night to set up a blockade at the same site as last year, just below the junction of two tracks, several blocks from the entrance to the Port.

Alanis: Though disrupting fracking was a primary goal for many of these folks, not all blockaders had the same concerns, and fracking wasn’t the only target. When the Port of Olympia tried to garner sympathy by claiming that they had no plans to ship proppants, but rather that the blockade had halted a train carrying high-fructose corn syrup to the Pepsi bottling plant, many felt this was icing on the cake. Not all blockaders had a unified sense of purpose, message, or tactics, either. While plenty of folks went to meetings with the Port and City Council to try to convince them to change their behavior, others chose to let the blockade speak for itself, refusing to negotiate with the authorities in any way. While the Port tried to deny what was being shipped through its gates, others scouted out and documented firsthand what was in the port, noting the bags of proppants clearly marked with the name of their manufacturer, and the Halliburton rail cars clearly marked with their call sign: HWCX.

Clara: The blockade itself was built from pallets scavenged from capitalism’s detritus, barrel fires, tires, hay bales, and other objects that continued to grow as the days passed. Countless passionate souls spent innumerable hours maintaining this encampment and making sure the Port’s cargo couldn’t make it through. Over the course of twelve days, these rebels would share meals, hold meetings, organize movie nights, lead skillshares, play music, write communiqués, eat and sleep together, and disrupt the flow of commerce, if only for a little while.

Alanis: Twelve days after this blockade began, the camp was raided by the Olympia Police Department, backed up by Union Pacific’s Railroad Police, armed with riot gear and armored vehicles—but nobody was there. The rebels had vanished into the night, evading the police in favor of fighting another day.

Clara: We don’t claim many easy victories in revolutionary struggle—we’re usually painfully aware of what we haven’t won, what we still need to change. By most standards, though, this blockade was a big win. The blockade cost the city, the port, and corporations a large amount of money, while losing us nothing except the garbage left behind at the camp. There were no arrests, no bail money or legal fees needed, no time lost to jail support or court solidarity. Even more surprising, the Olympia blockade saw the beginning of new relationships of solidarity between people who ordinarily wouldn’t have found much common ground.

Clara: We were able to talk to some of these comrades on the ground, and the stories we share with you today are from a handful of people who helped to make this extraordinary space possible.

Alanis: On the last day of camp, the blockade in downtown Olympia had grown into a temporary autonomous zone. Seen from the hill above, its network of colorful tarps looked like a city in miniature, with the edges surrounded by pallets and plywood and other objects that seemed about ready to become something new the moment you looked away. Even on the last night, blockaders were making plans for expansion. The entrance to camp, at that point, was surrounded by a circle of hay bales and enclosed with pallets and one giant circus tent that stretched 20 by 60 feet. Its tarp had been branded by Red Bull but was quickly beautified and profaned with other messages. A black flag flew above the many intersecting tarps and tents and open spaces, including the open square where a 55-gallon barrel held a fire where blockaders could warm themselves at any time, day or night. The sprawling hive of tarp structures had walls made of pallets and metal road signs, and held couches where people often slept. A kitchen area always had pastries and often hot food, as well as carafes full of hot coffee and herbal tea that supporters regularly refilled. Smaller structures built of PVC pipes and tarps became designated for specific purposes: one was a free school and quiet study area; another became a safer space for women, trans, and femmes to meet, sleep, and socialize. A medical cabinet included first aid supplies, tinctures, and fire cider. One wall was itself a barricade, made of an impressive array of junk that stretched onto the tracks leading toward the port—including, amongst other things, a piano.

And at the entrance of the blockade a banner stretched, reading “this is Squaxin Nisqually land” Within this liberated space, which grew more ambitious and stranger each day it existed, countless people came together to create a different kind of world.

Clara: The first question we asked blockaders was how this happened—what made this year’s blockade different than last year?

Chanting: Water is life

Blockader 1: A bunch of people showed up Friday, November 17 with one huge banner and a bunch of other signs. There was probably like 20–30 people there. There were a few pallets just randomly thrown over the tracks. The cops showed up, messed around, maybe they said something or, I don’t know, and then overnight, a barricade and an encampment were set up, about the same size as last year’s. And immediately donations started flooding in, especially in context of 2016. The community already knew what to expect a little bit—“Oh, they’re doing another encampment, remember what happened last time?”—So immediately, all the people who had supported last time came down. And tables and pop-ups and cooking gear and extra food all started showing up, pallets started showing up en masse. So many couches and mattresses started showing up, we didn’t know what to do with them for a while and eventually, when people were asking “what can we do?” we were more asking them for free hands than for more stuff because we had so much stuff. We physically shut down the port of Olympia so fracking proppants weren’t able to move and also a local Pepsi bottling plant wasn’t able to bottle their Pepsi, which is totally fine in my book.

Blockader 2: And this could be seen from the outside as doing something again and making it this symbolic annual thing, but I think that this year is built a lot upon what happened last year. Even though it was obviously the same tactic of blocking a train, and the same type of train, I see it as an escalation of what the blockade was last year, and of having learned a lot from the blockade last year. That’s really exciting; it wasn’t just the same thing twice. Last year, the train was stopped with essentially a demonstration, with people, and then no one actually planned for there to be a barricade or blockade that people would stay set up. People just didn’t want to leave and it happened organically, and that was really beautiful, but it also meant that it was like 24 hours before people were like, “Whoa, I guess we’re not going anywhere. We should build a tent.” And stuff like that, and this year, after the barricade had been up twelve hours, it was already as strong as it was on the seventh day last year. There was never any stagnation. From the moment the train was stopped, all the way to the night, even when people thought the cops were gonna come in a couple of hours, people were continuing to build and expand, to make more space for people to sleep in and live in and also to make the barricades on the tracks stronger and more complicated, harder to see, which would make the raid more complicated and harder to take apart. Yeah, it was like, it was bigger and better and longer than last year for sure, and that was really exciting.

Blockader 3: I think there were two major lessons and some several minor lessons that informed this year. One of them was a willingness to immediately begin expanding and growing the occupation and to assume that we were going to be around for a while. Last year, there was a lot of hesitancy. People thought we were going to get raided right away and weren’t willing to commit resources. And this year, we just decided to turn it into something really big and beautiful as quickly as possible, which in turn affected the ability of the space to hold people comfortably. And I think the second was a more strategic orientation towards the police, so a combination of tracking their movements, of trying explicitly to avoid symbolic arrests, and in creating a lot of opaque space with the use of tarps and different chambers and different corridors which made it difficult for them to surveil us and to accurately judge our numbers. I think those things are responsible in large part for how long and how successful this occupation was, and for us getting out at the end with zero arrests, no drawn out court cases and no bail money drain, which means ending strong instead of burning out. I think there’s a lot more energy now than there was after the end of last year’s blockade. I think last year felt really inflected by the presidential election; there was a lot of tumult around the country, and it also felt really inflected by the level of struggle at Standing Rock, while this year things, especially in this corner of the country felt kind of low, at a low level of struggle and I felt pretty excited that we were able to pull this off. I think it’s possible anywhere. I think we’re seeing these types of activities happen more and more especially related to oil extraction, and oil transportation industries but you know we’ve been seeing people using this strategy of blockades and occupations targeted towards logistics and infrastructure of capital a lot in the last ten years and I think we’ll see more of that. So I think there’s a couple of things that felt really unique to Olympia in this occupation. One of that is just the history of blockading the port. So, back in 2006, 2007, 2008, people were blockading military equipment being shipped through the port of Olympia. I actually was around in 2007 for some of those struggles and I think that history and the victories won back then kind of affected the imagination in the present. It meant that people knew it was possible. It put it on the table. I will also say that this shit was way cooler, way more effective, and way longer lasting than anything that got pulled off ten years ago so that’s pretty awesome. I think another thing that felt unique to Olympia was the good relations and the level of connections between houseless folks who were participating in the blockade. And I think those just—there’s a big street community in Olympia, and there’s a lot of crossover in the radical community here between those two milieus and I think that that allowed people to take a more nuanced and productive approach than I saw in things like Occupy where there was a lot of conflict between the so-called political people and the houseless people who would show up. That felt present here, but much more nuanced and complicated and much more productive. I think the main thing I want people to know in other places about it is that it is entirely possible to pull it off, and that the more that you assume success from the start, the more interesting and lively it will be instead of planning for failure.

Blockader 4: We were on public property and we were on railroad property. So there’s kind of this chain of command that has to happen, where the railroad has to ask for the state sheriffs’ assistance, and then the sheriffs have to ask the local Olympia police department for assistance. And actually, ironically enough, they call these agreements mutual aid. What we found out last year is that we put ourselves in this jurisdictional no man’s land being on the tracks, but also on public property, and our Olympia police department basically just didn’t want to touch it, and I think that might be because of the history of the fierce resistance that has always been put up to the police here in Olympia. Not always, but quite a bit. There was a lot of people talking in year one about how, where did all the skills that people supposedly learned during Occupy, where did those go? It felt like that there was a really big gap in knowledge and skills, in the crews and in the people who showed up. And that was definitely not a topic of discussion this year. It was very clear from day one that people had the skills, had the knowledge, and had the vision of what we were doing. At the port meeting there was a very impassioned, you know, grey haired, liberals and other kinds of folks who were saying “you need to take these people seriously, what they’re doing is right.” And so we do have a swath of support from outside of our normal political channels, as far as when it comes to like the stopping of shipping of fracking sands, you know?

Blockader 2: So, the blockade started on a Friday, and then when we got to the next Friday—cause trains normally leave the port on Tuesdays and Fridays at like two or three in the morning—I was like “they’re definitely gonna come; Friday’s the day that the train normally goes by. It’ll be the week mark; they can’t let it last longer than a week.” I really was in that mindset, and at 4:17, which is the time that we got the dispersal order last year, people put on music really loud and everyone cracked a beer and everyone was—we counted down from ten and it was a huge celebration of making it longer than the year before. It just felt incredible; everyone was so happy, and also that celebration was happening in the street, in the front of the blockade, in the intersection. So this year’s blockade lasted twelve days which was much longer than last years which was raided on the seventh day, and on Wednesday morning it was raided by a combination of Olympia police, state police, county police and rail police. There was no arrests and they came at about five. When the police arrived, everyone who was in camp left, which was a difference from last year and was what allowed it to happen without any arrests, which I think is a really positive thing because the arrests from last year’s blockade, their court proceedings just got finalized and they got a plea two weeks ago, so they are in court and dealing with that for an entire year which is a huge strain on people’s time and money and ability to do other things.

Alanis: So there was a coordinated effort to alert people before the raid?

Blockader 2: Mm-hmm. Last year people were alerted before the raid. People knew that the police were coming. They were tipped off by an employee somewhere downtown and then also saw police amassing in riot gear. However, last year many people were less sure how the police would act and made the decision not to disperse when the police came and to stay and see how long they could keep the camp. And I think that that was a decision that made sense for that time and people hadn’t discussed all their options but this year, people were trying to do it with at least no “purposeful” arrests. Police are going to do what they’re going to do, but no arrest that’s like you doing something that is like 100% you’re definitely going to get arrested. The morning the raid came there was a little bit of notice, although less than last year. Because police actually staged somewhere else and came off of the freeway, already with their lights on. So they were able to surround the camp really quickly. Last year, they staged by the capital so people just saw them putting on their riot gear a long time before they came. But there was some inkling that they were coming from various sources. So people thought that that might happen but it was less confirmed and there was less time period of actually seeing them getting ready. But people were able to all make it out of the camp by the time that the police got there. There are really funny videos of them. You can’t see into the blockade, the way it was set up, and so they issued four dispersal orders to an empty camp and then brought a swat team to go and clear every single tent, because they seemed really, really afraid that there was no one coming out and thinking that people were in there still.

2017 raid Noises

Blockader 4: I was shocked at the amount of police that came to evict the camp. I mean, with the MRAP that was there, with the—you know, up in the sky, there was like three or possibly four different airplanes, helicopters, things like that. Now, one of them was actually a news helicopter, which later I went and looked at footage of.

[chanting]

Blockader 3: They were certainly prepared to raid the camp, [that is] when they raided it, although it took them ten days to get organized for it. But we were also prepared for that raid; we had preempted it. We had scouts and people were able to leave the camp. They spent a huge amount of time and money on an operation which cost us mostly some garbage, that we left in camp. I think that we certainly pushed things further this year. And learned that lesson from last year, and that was super important. And the other thing that I wanna say is that an eviction or an end of the blockade isn’t necessarily a failure. I think it’s a piece of information that lets us judge our capacity accurately. The police are always going to raid us at some point. They are always going to stop what we’re doing. In a certain sense, they’re a hard limit that we’re going to push up against. So it’s not a failure when we lose to them; it’s just a way for us to judge our capacity. It means that next time, if we want this to last, we need more support, we need more material, more resources, and more capacity to defend ourselves and to keep living together.

Alanis: Everyone we interviewed stressed one thing in particular about the camp:

Blockader 2: That it was fun! And I feel like people feel like that’s a silly thing but I think that a lot of people who are interested in taking some sort of direct action and are angry about fossil fuels or just about the entire world can see things and think that they are difficult and grueling and something that is not something they can do. And of course there’s nights that you are standing in the cold rain from 7pm to 7am drinking coffee. That’s not easy. But also really want to convey to people that that never felt like work. That always felt like something that I was not just okay with doing but happy to be doing, and it gave me joy and energy. People talk about burnout, and that can be a real thing, but also thinking about—what we think makes us tired is not what actually makes us tired. It’s the whole rest of the world that makes us really tired. In moments where we can resist that, together, whether it’s for twenty minutes in a riot, or for twelve days in a blockade, or for hopefully much longer that that, that is fun and energizing and, it’s not like “the struggle” in the negative sense that people might think it is.

Blockader 4: I mean the camp, the actual physical infrastructure of the camp this year was three times as big as the infrastructure last year. You know, we actually—during all this we found some notes that were taken from last year’s debrief and what types of things that we wanted to do. And basically every single thing that was listed—well, not every single thing—but a lot of the things that were listed happened this year. Last year, we listed that we wanted to do workshops. This year, we did workshops. Last year, we listed that we wanted to have music. This year, we had three concerts. We had two kind of folky concerts and then one all night punk show. We had a skillshare day. We had much more fortified barricades. We had a look out post that was positioned out back of the camp. It’s always just really incredible, because a lot of times these types of occupations, at least in the US, are more rural occupations of logging roads and stuff like that, and I think it’s really powerful to see this kind of rip open of occupation in the middle of the city. And that was just in and of itself really inspiring. And just the fact that we’re creating the space that we want to see in the middle of this shit.

Blockader 1: And I think people have really just gotten to the point where they understand the realities of structural violence, and the reality that actions that include a stop to capitalism and economic trade and a potential destruction of property in response to structural violence isn’t the same thing and isn’t violence. So I didn’t really see anybody needing to have that discussion this time around, which was refreshing.

Blockader 2: Yeah, I think that a multiplicity of relations was opened and that’s part of what makes it so exciting. Not to say that there weren’t problems and that it wasn’t difficult, but for 12 days I really think that we got to experience a life that’s worth living; that was incredible. And there was what I feel was an incredible opening of relations made possible by that space in a lot of different ways. One of which being that by making the barricade that necessitated people being there all the time which necessitated making a dry and warm sleeping space, you automatically have created a space that has been needed by so many and is needed by so many in town, and ten to twenty unhoused people had a drier and warmer and more comfortable place to sleep every single night while the blockade was happening. Which was incredible, and then also created a lot of relationships that wouldn’t have been forged otherwise because it’s often difficult to make connections between housed and unhoused people and also a lot of the ways that that’s often gone about can be really condescending.

Blockader 1: What do I most want people to know? That it was and is a movement for everyone. That we want people to get involved, that it’s kid-friendly. We had a kid space, we had paint going on. We had people hanging out all day. And so I was really really happy with the tone of friendliness and community and family. I really felt at home down at the barricade, more than I do in my own house, and I think a lot of people share that sentiment as well. And that made me super proud.

Blockader 3: You know, the buildings nearby slowly got covered with more and more beautiful graffiti. It felt like this funny, weird safe-zone that people could go into and come out dressed as a different person and commit whatever things they wanted to do and return to camp. It felt like a little home base in an interesting way. And it think that it was a really interesting example of a successful diversity of tactics, in a really true way, in that people were, you know, doing whatever they were doing to the train tracks. People were cooking food, they were tagging buildings with anti-fracking, anti-capitalist graffiti. People were talking to interlopers and talking to passersby. All of these different things were going on. No one was trying to hamper most of those things. So it felt like a really interesting and productive combination of clandestine and public disobedience.
Lots of people were going in and out pretty casually. Certainly many people didn’t cover their faces in camp, but it was also pretty normal for people to walk around fully masked-up.

Blockader 1: We also opened up a space for houseless people to stay in, which was a huge part of this blockade. It wasn’t only about fossil fuel extraction. It was also about creating autonomous community. And I think we opened up a space for the community at large in this area to start having bigger discussions.

Alanis: What did you personally find most inspiring?

Blockader 2: I would say how joyous it was. I feel like it’s one of the few places and actions that I’ve been a part of that no matter what frustrations there were, I didn’t lose sight of the joy in it. And I think that a lot of people did a good job of fostering that and that was incredibly beautiful and I think that that’s related to it always expanding and people experimenting and not letting it stay stagnant. Because there was a point where there was a very strong barricade on the tracks and there’s not necessarily a need to keep building. But people chose to be like, “Ok, what would it look like if we closed the intersection with hay bales so that we could have games and play shows?” That kind of experimentation helped foster this sense of joy, constantly changing and reigniting joy, so I wasn’t just like, “Uhh last night more of my friends were here than tonight, this sucks.” Instead, I was like, “Oh my God, there is a huge new structure that has some weird new activity going on in it that wasn’t here yesterday.”

Clara: We were also curious about what led to the action’s success—and if there was something particular about Olympia and this current moment that made this possible, or if blockades like this could proliferate?

Blockader 2: I think this action is incredibly repeatable and should be repeated everywhere, as soon as possible. The very crude first barricade on the tracks was by just a group of people with a reinforced banner and nothing had been set up as far as a barricade or a camp yet, because they weren’t sure what time the train would leave. And then, two blocks down, the first barricade was set up by five people in twenty minutes. And it wasn’t the big, beautiful barricade that it was 12 hours later, but it was a thing that had to be moved before a train could pass. That’s such a simple thing to do. In other places, the response from the state might be different, [but] the construction of a barricade, and barricading infrastructure, fossil fuel or otherwise, is extremely repeatable. I think that people look at pictures of the camp on day 10 that are taken from far away and it looks like a sprawl of tarps and mess and you think, “they’ve been there for ten days.” It seems like a big thing and it feels like this big thing in some ways, but I think it’s important to remember there was a barricade up in twenty minutes. Anyone can do that at any time and I don’t think that there is anything about that that is unique to this place or this situation in any way. And that can be done with a very small group of people.

Blockader 4: The question is also, if you are able to outgrow the ability of you local police department to respond very quickly, then you’re good at least for a certain amount of time until they are able to rally a certain amount of support to get all of their police departments there. With the Olympia police department, they had to call in police officers from the surrounding areas to take all of their normal calls while they were responding to the eviction of the blockade. So there’s a lot of different bureaucratic mechanisms that have to go into place and a lot of agreements that have to go into place if an eviction is able to outgrow the local police department’s ability to respond. That’s a possible repeatable part of this action. So now, as far as I can tell with the research that I have done, the second and the third longest blockades of the railroads in United States history has happened here in Olympia. The longest was an indigenous blockade about mining shipments that essentially, they won. And the similar thing about that blockade and the Olympia blockade was the fact that there were these bureaucratic mechanisms that basically didn’t want to touch it because in this indigenous blockade, essentially, the state ruled it a treaty issue and put it into a federal jurisdiction. And the Feds basically couldn’t figure out what to do with it and so eventually, they got an EPA research team on the ground to check out the feasibility of what was going on at this mining site. Long story short, they won, the mine was shut down, and they took down their blockade. It’s always really good to do your research and find out exactly what the jurisdictional no man’s land is in the state because the state’s ultimate tool is their appearance of omnipresence and of solidity, you know, that they’re solid. But they’re not, and they have all of these gaps and it’s not like a monolithic—you know, while we talk about it and we think about it —and it’s a very useful tool to talk about it and think about it in a monolithic fashion—the fact that it’s not and there are all of these different parties within it and that, while we want to smash all of them, we can cause them to fight each other sometimes. And to figure out how we can more effectively agitate those areas is something that is always worthwhile thinking about. And then always finding the gaps where it’s exploitable and perhaps there can be more experimentation with seeing if other blockades in other places find the same jurisdictional gap, essentially, with local police departments not wanting to mess with protesters that are on rail police’s land. And the first year, something that is really important to think about is that there was a giant anti-Trump march marching around Olympia, and, as well, a pro-Planned Parenthood protest going on. And so if there are, knowingly, going to be other, really large scale actions happening, where the police are gonna be tied up, those are also possibly exploitable places in which people could take those actions.

Blockader 2: The emergency that we are responding to is always happening. There will always be other people doing similar things and also other horrific, terrible things happening that you can reach out to other people resisting, no matter when you’re doing something but it’s important to understand that that’s true all the time and that’s not something to wait for. I also feel like there is a lot of talk about our current moment and political climate, and there are things that are unique about every time, but I think it’s important not to get into a space of acting like we need to wait for specific crisis or specific inspiring moments to do something, because both of those things are always there.

Chanting: You can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil

Alanis: Although it seems like the radical communities in Olympia learned a lot since the 2016 blockade, we’re not talking about one cohesive affinity group. Rather, the encampment included a spontaneous and chaotic range of people at any given moment, many of whom had never organized together and had their fair share of differences. That’s one of the most fascinating things about this story—one of the most effective actions of recent years happened despite the people participating in it not always feeling that they were on the same page. Many people might be familiar with this dynamic from the Occupy movement or other encampments.

Clara: As a tactic, public occupation will always bring up the same issues: Which groups and identities “belong” inside the liberated space and which don’t? How do we protect ourselves from oppressive speech and behavior within the space? How do we reconcile different desires for greater autonomy or greater unity? How do transform social relations between those who have more or less social power, whether that falls along the lines of race, gender, income, health, or any other division?

Alanis: These are all big questions, and none of them have easy answers. But we can take a look at the ways they crop up in actions like this to begin to solve the core problems that block us from doing more together.

Clara: So we asked some blockaders about the tensions and disagreements in camp. It felt important to include this not to shit-talk or take away from the success of this moment, but to be real about how messy occupations can be—they are spaces where people come together for diverse reasons, from diverse backgrounds. The challenge— and the joy—of these temporary autonomous zones is learning how to get along and become powerful with people who don’t share all of your political analysis.

Alanis: We don’t want to belabor the tensions that arose, but an honest look at social dynamics can teach us how to be better prepared next time. Some of the core tensions at the Olympia blockade arose because of fundamental differences around the idea of organization versus autonomy:

Blockader 1: There were many different positions and strategies that sometimes collided with each other and I think that if we had, as a group, decided on common ground, it could have streamlined a lot of the discussion and therefore the action within the encampment. There were a lot of colliding tendencies that could have been smoothed by common agreements which I know everybody shares in those spaces. I think that obviously the main thing people think of when they think of the Olympia blockade is that we’re blocking fracking sands, and therefore fossil fuel industry. And so, some people seem to think that just by being there it was enough, and that we didn’t need to focus on any further momentum or outside issues, that just blocking that one train spoke for itself, which is very true in a sense, but it’s also true that stopping one train for twelve days is a very small part of the problem and that the Port of Olympia is going to continue to ship fracking sands and other problematic freight. And so, the greater issue is getting the port of Olympia to stop doing that. And by doing that, we need to pressure them in various different ways, and potentially regain control as a community over that port. And rest it from the corporations. And that can’t be done by having a demandless, unidentifiable autonomous movement. Also, in terms of media—and we have our own media—It’s really important to get out a streamlined message and build people. Cause I think the greater public, a lot of times, do want to support these movements and these actions and it’s hard for people who don’t know what’s going on to support something that they don’t understand. I think that having a solid coalition that’s somewhat above ground with their message and their reasons that they’re in solidarity with each other, again, points of unity, is really important. But then people protecting their individual actions and taking autonomous actions within that framework is really important as well.

Blockader 3: Yeah, so there is certainly disagreement within the camp, especially over demands and whether we have them or whether we don’t. It felt a lot less divisive than last year. Last year felt somewhat dominated by a professional activist milieu and this year felt much more heterogeneous. Some people felt very strongly about establishing clear demands and felt strongly that we needed to present a unified front to the public. And other people felt that any form of unified demands opened the door to recuperation. This issue wasn’t resolved, so as a result, there were no formal demands issued from the group. That said, some lists of demands did come up, and it’s interesting to think about how those function. One group put out a list of intentionially absurdist demands, including things like “make the port a beach again,” “blow up the sun,” and “make the city manager, Steve Hall, fight a bear,” and so on. Another group put out a list of fairly typical activist demands: green energy, horizontal management of the port and so on. This tension often felt elevated at general assemblies between a few people who felt passionate about it but I think most people most of the time didn’t actually care that much about the debate and were much more interested by the immediate possibilities of the space. I, for one, was much more interested by what we could do in the moment with what we had than in what our ideological sock puppets were. I think that those people who are strongly opposed to demands have a really good reason to be wary of issuing demands to authority figures. I think they’re familiar with the way that recuperation has functioned throughout history. And I agree with them that I want to be as opaque as possible to the police and bureaucrats and our enemies. That said, I also want to find ways to be transparent to other people who might join us and I think we run the risk of being so opaque as to be irrelevant to anyone. So, communes, like revolutions, have to grow or die, and I’m interested in the ways that we can grow our relations with other people who are maybe “non-political” who might also feel interested in what we are doing. But it might be interesting to try to sidestep the question of demands all together and instead start articulating what we’re doing: we’re blockading the trains, we’re stopping fracking, we’re providing food and sleeping space for anyone who wants it, we’re trying to live in a different rhythm of life. All of these things and communicating those things are maybe more interesting than arguing about what demands we’re issuing since those demands will never be granted, regardless. It might just be a different way to engage with the nebulous public that gets really fetishized oftentimes.

Blockader 4: The same people who were pushing back against demands were the same people who were pushing back against organization or pushing back against the media team and, you know, while a media team can be problematic, it’s also possible to have a media team that is just dedicated to getting people who are gonna release media that are separate from each other together to talk, and not saying that they have to agree or have to agree not to release media or whatever. There was a lot of different media being released from a lot of different teams within the blockade. There was people who were releasing media that, in my opinion, was more about stuff that needed to be talked about within the camp and that people needed to sit down and have conversations about, and was more about internal dynamics of the camp and not so much a media release to the world. And, I thought it was a little passive aggressive that some of this stuff got released. But we’re trying to address that now. We’re trying to sit down and have those talks. Yeah, that’s my hope. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s as important to have a unified voice from a blockade, but I do believe that it’s important for the people within the blockade to be in more communication with each other than they are with the world outside of the blockade, and that’s one thing that we definitely could have done a lot better.

Blockader 2: There was a lot of space of solidarity open between groups of people that often disagree with each other and there was of course always arguments between tendencies or people who have different visions or whatever, but I think that, especially this year compared to last year, those arguments were conducted with a lot of care and respect. It was really exciting and also kind of unexpected to me because those arguments can be so emotional. There’s something about living together, even for twelve days, when it’s in that intense type of circumstance and doing something that people care about really deeply, that bonds people and that bond can create a lot of opportunities for working together in the future that would not normally be there. They were handled with more care than I expected, which does not necessarily mean that—people are also terrible to each other when they disagree; that’s something that’s always there. But I think people were thinking through that a lot and realizing that happened and trying to be more careful with those dynamics. I think that there is a lot of division there because some people feel that no demands should be made or that there should be no attempt to appeal to authority for what we want, and I think especially when you’re in the position of a blockade and we are enacting what we desire, it can feel to me like it takes away from that, to try to then appeal to power to stop the train when we already stopped the train, and that can feel really frustrating. Other people in camp definitely feel like by stopping the train, we are given this power and we should use that to demand things of local authorities. That’s the main point of contention and disagreement that’s actually specific to the blockade. But then a lot of that can spiral into the larger disagreements of what people want the world to be like. That can be frustrating sometimes. One thing that was good is from the beginning of the blockade, it was agreed upon that—there were nightly meetings, but the general assembly is not a decision making body, and there is no decision making body. There are certain tendencies that would see the GA as a place to make decisions, to vote on things. The agreement that it was not that and that that doesn’t exist as a starting point was really good and made it so that people could do things and voice different messages, but for the most part, people were very clear that that did not speak for everyone. Because I think that when those disagreements become really upsetting is when I feel like my action and investment in this project is being used as a pawn in someone’s legislative agenda. That that’s being spoken for me. But I think for the most part, that didn’t happen and people were able to speak for themselves from a variety of angles. Not having points of unity or anything that is presented as agreed upon by the whole group, because those things are never actually agreed upon by the whole group, and not having any body that is said by some to be endowed with decision-making power were really helpful in my opinion for that going more smoothly.

Blockader 3: Long-lasting seizures of public space, occupations, and blockades and encampments and things like that—there are certain issues that are just always going to come up. One of those is questions of safe or safer spaces and just what to do with oppressive behavior when it’s not just a subculture there but is open to all kinds of people. Another question and conflict that comes up is over who “belongs” there, and I saw this play out a few times in camp, just arguments over whether “apolitical” houseless people should be there or not. Most people there, and myself included, tend to reject the question or the concept of apolitical and I am personally more interested in having a space that’s really radically open as long as people aren’t being fucked up. But also, you know, fucked up things happen and we need to deal with those things and find ways to preempt them as much as possible. We’ve gotten good in the past several years in this country at looking at infrastructure and logistics, particularly of capital and of extractive industries, as points of intervention. So blocking ports, blocking railroads, blocking pipelines, blocking highways, these are things that tend to happen a lot nowadays—and that’s great, but there are a lot of other things that are more difficult to grasp tangibly that we’re also much worse at shutting down. Patriarchy, white supremacy, all of the really fucked up varieties of oppression that fall along axes of identity. In a certain way, those are a lot harder to see and to stop than a train or a line of police. We’re not very good at dealing with that stuff, no matter how many anti-oppression workshops we do. And there’s often some sense of urgency that privileges the immediate and makes it harder to have those conversations. So, one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is how blockades or occupations can also shut down those relations and open up new ways of experimenting with and interacting with each other.

Blockader 4: We never were able to really well organize, let’s say, a welcoming committee, and I think that with a welcoming committee, we would have been able to say like, okay somebody’s coming in, and that it’s important that right away we engage with them, we talk with them. And then also, then we can explain a little bit one on one about what’s going on here. And that never happened. People were kind of flowing into the camp, free-form. There was no attempt to interact with people right when they came into the camp. And that would have done a number of things, like for one thing, it would have kept the camp a little bit more secure, so that there was somebody who knew who’s coming in and out of the camp. Because a lot of times, infiltrators and alt-right people and stuff like that—if they came into the camp and right away somebody engaged with them, then that would have actually deterred them from going farther because I don’t think that they—essentially they would probably want to walk around and look around and maybe agitate and then walk away. Where as if somebody directly confronted them and tried to interact with them, meaning like, have a conversation with them and introduce them to the space, a lot of times just that amount of attention will deter people. The other thing that it would have done is that it would have given people who are maybe supportive or are looking for a place to stay dry or anything like that [a way] to understand that this is an illegal occupation. This is not necessarily a safer place to be than in a lot of other places in the city due to the fact of the higher police presence and the possibility of a raid at any point in time and the higher surveillance. And explaining to people, like, “Hey, this is a space where we don’t allow misogyny, we don’t allow transphobia, we don’t allow racism, we don’t allow sexism,” all of these things, and giving a moment to have that conversation with somebody. What that does is it allows them the chance, it gives them the opportunity to interact with the space in a way that A) isn’t harming or hurting other people and B) allows them to actually feel a part of what’s going on. Rather than when someone is coming in who is new to these things only having the shaming component, just having call-out culture—I think that wasn’t an ideal situation for the camp. I think that people pushed back really hard against a lot of forms of organization at the camp. I am not an anti-organizationalist per se. What I think happens, especially in these spaces, is that if we don’t organize ourselves effectively and anti-hierarchically, then all of the social problems that we try to deal with like sexism, racism, transphobia, all these things—all they do, unless we try to create organization to try and facilitate and maintain that culture, then the fucked up culture that’s outside of our camp is just going to recreate itself within the camp. And that’s kind of what happened on a number of different levels.

Clara: From the folks we interviewed, there seem to be a few key areas where better communication could have prevented unnecessary tensions.

Alanis: One of the core splits was between those who wanted to issue demands and felt the blockaders needed to present a unified front and agree on one clear message, and those who preferred to act autonomously, either alone or with a few comrades they shared affinity with.

Clara: This is a really common division: while it didn’t prevent this group from pulling off an incredible occupation, it did cause some hard feelings and confusion.

Alanis: One possibility for the future would be to have clear conversations about how autonomy and organization don’t have to conflict: many comrades came away from this action believing that those who didn’t want to sign on to demands or points of unity were actively blocking the others from organizing the infrastructure they wanted to see—like a welcoming committee or a media team. This tension was exacerbated by communiqués on both sides not clearly representing just the authors who wrote them, but claiming to speak for the entire group.

Clara: Ok, I have to say it: fuck demands. I mean, why ask anything from those in power when our goal is to redistribute power? And there will always be people who want to work within existing power structures—how important is it to try to appease them?

Alanis: Yeah, I hear you, but this isn’t as much about giving in to ideologies you don’t share; it’s about building capacity across ideology—which is critically important right now. We don’t all have to agree, but we all benefit from establishing good relationships with other anarchists and anti-hierarchical organizers. For example, if points of unity were so important to some, those blockaders who wanted to could have signed on to a statement that expressed shared values, as long as they weren’t phrased as demands. Something like “we agree that this is a space that doesn’t tolerate oppression.” And it probably would have been a good idea to be more intentional about how to welcome people into the space, so as to set people up for success and help everyone feel responsible for shutting down oppressive behavior when it happened.

Clara: That all makes sense, but my concern is how quickly this can devolve into controlling behavior, where a few in the camp put a lot of pressure on the rest to sign on to their vision of how things should go. What’s more inspiring to me is when a highly diverse group can come together for different reasons, using different tactics, and still pull off something incredible. It’s worth considering that the most exciting things that came out of this action all happened autonomously, without a committee to approve of or direct them.

Alanis: Right, there was clearly at least one blockader who believed everyone should push harder to not just block the train but to disrupt and eventually take over the entire Port, essentially syndicalizing it. Clearly, this wasn’t what everyone was there to do. But in the model I’m proposing, we can all maintain our autonomy and our different goals—I’m just pointing out that anarchists who already believe in autonomy as a core value would do well to explain that to others—those who are more interested in social unity and consensus—how they can exercise their own autonomy. Some unity-oriented comrades feel blocked from acting if they can’t get everyone to sign on, and resent actions that they think “represent” the whole group.

Clara: So, it seems like one core lesson for any public occupation is that you can’t force unity, but you can work towards more transparent and welcoming spaces. I do think making our spaces friendly is important, and doesn’t have to come at the cost of sacrificing autonomy.

Alanis: Like, just being friendly as you remind people that they’re free to act in the ways they want to, and we’re going to do the same?

Clara: This seems like a no-brainer, but being open and warm to people as you explain your differences helps create the kind of social coherence that will actually feel good to everyone. That isn’t coercive.

Alanis: Right, and different circumstances will call for different social responses, clearly. Tensions always run high when everyone’s waiting for a raid and running on lots of coffee and very little sleep, so having these conversations as part of the fun times in camp will help them go better than if everyone’s urgently barking at each other at a general assembly.

Clara: So one conversation that could have happened early on would be something like: “Organizing a media team would be rad, go ahead and do it! Of course, many people will be creating media without coordination, but those who want to coordinate are free to do so!”

Alanis: Exactly. And if that wasn’t well received, following up with why you personally aren’t interested in having a unified voice come out of the blockade, and don’t really care what the mainstream media is printing.

Clara: Some comrades did seem really concerned about the image presented to the so-called “general public.”

Blockader 1: And I think, again, that it’s most important to be aware of everything you do and how it could affect the optics and the response from the community. A lot of that support came from people—not-so-radical ideologies and tendencies and people who you don’t tend to see organizing Olympia in the streets, and I think that’s really important to consider when doing actions like this. The way we present ourselves to the community ends up being really important. I have heard from various people calling themselves anarchists – whatever that means – that the general public hates us. The general public doesn’t want anything to do with us. No matter what we do, it’s not really going to change. It’s the same sort of rhetoric that you hear for the mainstream media, which is a lot more accurate I think. The mainstream media is always going to spin things for corporate gain; that’s what they do. But the greater public is a really diverse group of people and I think the friendlier of an environment we can create, the more support we ended up getting, and I think that that showed itself in this action.

Alanis: But other were less anxious about crafting a good story for the media, and appreciated the diverse communiqués coming out of the blockade.

Blockader 2: I think there was a lot of really solid media coverage from movement media, like It’s Going Down and CrimethInc. I saw a lot of good articles and texts come out of the blockade itself, that people wrote themselves and I thought that that was a great way for people to communicate their different positions and different ideas without needing a unified voice. I didn’t actually see that much mainstream media. There was a pretty solid Washington Post article that came out—unfortunately, on the morning that the camp was evicted. I think the title was something like “Anti-fracking protesters block train in Olympia and they have no plans to leave.” We unfortunately left literally as the article was published. And I think that if the camp had continued past that point for a few more days, there would have been a lot more attention drawn to it, which could have been good or bad.

Blockader 4: The news was very much curious about what was going on this year and was ready for the bloodshed. It was kind of this funny time one night where KIRO, a local news station, had contacted a protester and said, “Hey, we wanna go down and interview somebody.” And they said, “Okay cool. I’m not there; you go down there and I’ll call somebody to come and talk to you.” So they show up and I think that they’ve learned from May Day that they can’t really just show up with their KIRO van, because people don’t take too kindly to that. And so they showed up with an unmarked white van with stuff on the top so everybody’s thinking that it’s some type of surveillance van. And so they call this person—who’s not there—to say, “Okay, we’re here! And there’s people in masks who are starting to walk over to the van and they’re throwing rocks at the van.” And the protester who they had contacted had given them a fake name. They’re leaning out the window being like, “Riley sent us! Riley sent us!” Of course, like, nobody knows who the fuck Riley is. And so—but it was funny, because then some scouts essentially started following around this van, which was the KIRO van but people obviously were very suspicious and they’re like, “The so-called KIRO van has now moved over to 4th and whatever,” you know. It was just hilarious. When KIRO eventually did get to interview somebody, and then they video taped the blockade from very far away, we were having a dance night there and people were all blocked up and dancing around with black flags and it was really awesome. And actually, considering, the KIRO coverage was not overly negative. It did not actually say horrible things about the protesters. It was what I would say would be neutral to benign passive support coverage in the mainstream media—well at least with KIRO, not with our local newspaper.

Blockader 2: Our local paper is like, fucking garbage, but we always knew that. Some weird shit with them where they were basically asserting that proppants are not being shipped. And in the way they wrote the article, it was in this very vague, twisted language of being like, “There is not current plans to move them,” and then omitting the fact that there are bags of proppants in clear view in the port. Even though in comments and stuff, they were like, “It doesn’t say there is not proppants there.” But it doesn’t say that there are and it says that there are no plans to move them and that there hasn’t been a delivery since 2016. Strongly implying that this is literally a fake thing, which is just ridiculous. So it’s hard not to get annoyed by all the shitty, stupid things that are going to be said about any action. In a lot of ways, that matters less and less because I think that people who, in solidarity with our action, are going to be inspired by the blockade, are looking other places. I know that there are other perspectives that would desire for there to be a unified message but I think that showing others that there is a myriad of reasons to be blockading a train and also that it is possible for people whose affinity might begin and end with really not wanting this train to pass to be able to work together, and not only work together and tolerate each other, but to foster a really beautiful space and life together while also having flourishing and complex disagreements that are not just two sides but many, many-faceted and I think that sharing that and having many different perspectives shared is a huge positive.

Clara: The Olympia blockade has as many different stories as people who built it, moved through it, and made things happen there—you can find links to some of these in our show notes! Parts of it were really messy. Parts of it exposed social tensions that we’ll have to learn better ways of handling over the coming years—not only between different tendencies, but between white and indigenous organizers, cis and trans people, and all the other axes of structural oppression that we as individuals bring with us into spaces like this. What is most heartening about actions like these its that people keep showing up and keep trying to work together, despite these inevitable clashes.

Alanis: And even those who disagreed and experienced tension are still in communication with each other, months after the blockade ended. The relationships forged through this action continue to grow and transform.

Clara: Meanwhile, there’s a commune-sized hole in the hearts of the blockaders who shared that space for twelve days.

Blockader 4: We struck a huge blow. It fills me with joy and sorrow constantly in these few days after we’ve gotten broken up about what happened, what we did, the fact that they tore it all down. New connections. New hopes.

Blockader 3: So the entire thing feels pretty repeatable to me. We did repeat it. And I suspect we will repeat it again, but hopefully not in November. Hopefully sometime with sun. Like July. That’d be nice. I think that the things we learned last year really manifested themselves this year and I hope that the same things happen in the future. I hope the relationships and capacities and skills we are continuing to gain grow and spread rather than withering and dying.

Blockader 1: We opened up somewhat of a magical portal into kind of another dimension that while being supported by capitalism surrounding it was not so capitalist and gave a lot of people an idea of what different systems could look like and it was also about creating autonomous community. And I think we opened up a space for the community at large in this area to start having bigger discussions.

Alanis: In closing, we’ll leave you with the gratitude one rebel offers to the indigenous comrades who participated in and helped support the blockade:

Blockader 2: Yeah I want to acknowledge that we are on stolen Squaxin and Nisqually land, governed by the Medicine Creek Treaty tribes and I think it’s important to acknowledge that when we are occupying space, that we are already on occupied land. And then also specially when talking about fossil fuel infrastructure, that indigenous peoples are often on the front lines of both resistance to fossil fuels and also the negative impacts that are had by fossil fuel infrastructure and the environmental devastation that results. And I would like to also thank Nisqually tribal members and other indigenous folks from nearby tribes who did come to the blockade and did a lot of work, both there and then also other prayer work and ceremony work that I think was really important for the blockade’s success and also for us, for people who were there all the time to feel like we could keep going.

Chanting: Water is life

Clara: That’s our show for today. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you in the streets! Our weekly news show, “The Hotwire,” will be back with its second season in February. Subscribe by searching for “The Ex-Worker” on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. As always, thanks to Underground Reverie for the music. The CrimethInc Ex-Worker podcast is part of the Channel Zero Network. To listen to a 24/7 stream of anarchist podcasts, go to channelzeronetwork dot com. And check out a trailer for one of the other podcasts in the network now:

Radical Underground Podcast Host: Radical Underground is a podcast that connects underground music with radical politics from around the world, so if you like anarchy and good music about kicking fascists in the face, check us out on Channel Zero, SoundCloud, iTunes, and anywhere else you can find us!

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