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The New Prison Movement: The Continuing Struggle to Abolish Slavery in Amerika

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 19:41

The post The New Prison Movement: The Continuing Struggle to Abolish Slavery in Amerika appeared first on It's Going Down.

New essay from Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, political prisoner and incarcerated journalist, tracks the history and growth of the new prison movement to abolish prison slavery.

Across Amerika (home of the world’s largest prison population) growing numbers of the imprisoned are coming to realize that they are victims of social injustice.

Foremost, as victims of an inherently predatory and dysfunctional capitalist-imperialist system, which targets the poor and people of color for intensified policing, militaristic containment, and selective criminal prosecutions. While denying them access to the basic resources, employment and institutional control needed for social and economic security. Deprivations which generate “crime”: economic crimes, crimes of passion, and crimes of attempting to cope (through drug use and addictions).

Secondly, once imprisoned they become victims of inhumane abuses, warehousing, and one of the most decadent and dehumanizing forms of social economic injustice: slavery.

This rising awareness among the imprisoned has prompted increasing numbers of prisoners to unite in resistance proclaiming “no more!” And the momentum is building.

This “new” Prison Movement is seeing growing waves of open resistance to slave labor and conditions of abuse, which is eroding the structures put in place beginning nearly 50 years ago to repress the Prison Movement of that era, such as solitary confinement.

From Yesterday’s Suppressed Prison Movement

During the earlier wave of the Prison Movement (of the 1960s-70s), when the courts barred their doors against prisoners’ lawsuits seeking redress against the inhumane conditions that pervade U.S. prisons, the prisoners rose up in resistance.

In a dialectical relationship their movement both informed and was informed by revolutionary ideas then prevalent in the broader social movements of the time, which exposed and challenged the capitalist system. At the forefront of that movement was the original Black Panther Party and allied groups on the outside and Comrades like George Jackson who formed the BPP’s first prison chapter on the inside.

To suppress that movement and stamp out its revolutionary consciousness, the Establishment began constructing and operating solitary confinement prisons and units (called Supermaxes and Control Units) at an unprecedented level. Beginning with the Marion Control Unit which opened in 1972, after the assassination of George Jackson by guards, and the peaceful 1971 uprising at Attica State Prison that officials suppressed by murdering 29 prisoners and 10 civilians, then tortured hundreds more, sparking international outrage and exposure of the inhumane conditions in U.S. prisons.

In a rare admission of the actual political purpose of subsequent high security units, Ralph Arons, a former warden at Marion, testified in federal court: “The purpose of the Marion Control Unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in prison and society at large.”[1]

Alongside this repression also came concessions to the Prison Movement, including prison officials granting prisoners more privileges and the federal courts opening their doors to prisoner litigations challenging their living conditions. But this did not last.

As the U.S. prison system expanded eight-fold and solitary confinement units contained prisoner resistance the concessions were rolled back and the courts soon made rulings like Turner v. Safley[2] and laws like the Prison Litigation Reform Act[3] were enacted, that in effect reinstated the courts’ old “hands off” doctrine towards prisoner lawsuits.

Oppression Breeds Renewed Resistance

With these reversals abuse conditions intensified especially with the vastly expanded use of solitary confinement, a condition which the U.S. Supreme Court found to be cruel and unusual and constituted torture back in the late 1800s,[4] and the attendant enlargement of prison labor pools to be exploited as free workers. Under these conditions of heightened abuse and exploitation a new Prison Movement has emerged and is only growing.

At each stage of this new movement record numbers of prisoners have joined and forged unity across racial and tribal lines that the system has traditionally been able to keep prisoners divided and controlled by. Even more monumental is unity in these struggles has been achieved not just within individual prisons, but across entire prison systems and now across the country, with public support spanning the country and reaching international levels.

This has and can only inspire greater levels of resistance and help us refine our forms of resistance, and methods of organizing and communication.

To these ends I’d like to summarize the major events in today’s growing waves of prison resistance and call on readers to join and support the struggles to come.

And Resist We Have!

When in 2008 a migrant Jesus Manuel Galindo was left to die in a solitary confinement cell from untreated epilepsy, hundreds of detainees at Reeves County Detention Complex in Pesos, TX took over the complex and put it to the torch. Over $2 million in damage was reported in an uprising that united detainees from Cuba, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Mexico.

During December 2010, prisoners in six Georgia prisons went on a mass strike, protesting unpaid slave labor; solitary confinement, and other oppressive conditions. Latinos, Blacks, whites, prison tribes of all orientations, Muslims, etc. united in this protest. Following the week-long strike, two years later at Jackson State Prison, where many of the 2010 strike leaders were transferred to, a 44 day hunger strike was staged as guards violently retaliated.

In 2011 and 2013 three historical mass hunger strikes were undertaken by California prisoners protesting indefinite solitary confinement and other abuses, where 6,000, 12,000, and 30,000 prisoners respectively participated. Prisoners in other states also joined the strike – in Virginia, Oregon, Washington state, etc. This strike united and was led by Blacks, Latinos, and whites, and all the major California prison tribes. Which led to a call by the prisoners to end all racial and group hostilities, and which Cali prison officials have repeatedly tried to sabotage. This strike and unprecedented unity alongside legal challenges by some strike leaders and participants forced the Cali prison system to reform its long term solitary confinement policies and release some 2,000 prisoners to general population in 2015.

Inspired by the 2010 GA prison strike, in 2013, prisoner leaders of the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) called for a strike in protest of Alabama’s “running a slave empire” and “incarcerating people for free labor”. In January 2014, prisoners at four Alabama prisons took up the strike. As a result of FAM’s organizing efforts and collaborating with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a committee within the IWW was formed called the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), which now has over 800 imprisoned members in 46 states. The IWOC has since played an important support role in subsequent strikes and building public support. Shortly after the IWOC’s founding, the IWOC and the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter united as allies in this work, and I as a co-founder of the NABPP and numerous other NABPP members joined IWOC.[5]

In 2014, all 1200 detainees at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, went on a 56 day hunger strike, which spread to the Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe, Texas, all protesting oppressive conditions at the facilities. Outside protesters organized in support of the strikers.

In April 2016, prisoners in seven Texas prisons went on a work strike at the call of leading comrades of the NABPP’s TX branch and IWOC. The month before a spontaneous uprising took place in Alabama at Holman prison, where the new warden, Carter Davenport, known for his role in physical assaults on prisoners, ended up on the receiving end of violence.

These initiatives in early 2016 inspired a call to prisoners across the U.S. to engage in a county-wide strike beginning on September 9, 2016, a date chosen to commemorate the 1971 Attica uprising.

September 9th proved historical as over 30,000 prisoners in up to 46 facilities in 24 states took up various forms of protest from refusing to work, to hunger strikes, to prison takeovers, to disrupting operations. Outside protests took place in various cities across the U.S. in support of the prisoners.

In response to the rising voices of prisoners resisting slave labor and abusive treatment, on August 19, 2017, a March on Washington was undertaken in support of prisoners and against the 13th Amendment which, enacted at the end of the Civil War in 1865, legalized enslavement of the criminally convicted, in violation of international law written and ratified by the U.S. after World War 2, which forbids all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude.[6]

Shaken by the protests of September 2016, in an unprecedented move states like Florida locked down their entire prison system hoping to head off any possible uprisings attending the August 19, 2017, Washington March. Florida went even further to serve its prisoners special gourmet meals during the entire four day lockdown (from August 18-21).

Despite this move Florida prisoners made an end run around officials and still undertook a strike codenamed Operation PUSH, beginning February 12, 2018, on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. PUSH involved prisoners across the state refusing to turn out for work and boycotting the prison commissary. They were protesting unpaid slave labor, price-gouging in the system’s commissary and packaging services, the gain-time scam that replaced parole, compounded by extreme overcrowding caused by extreme sentencing, causing inhumane conditions.

As Florida prison officials scrambled to replace men who refused to work with more compliant ones and transferred and carted off strike participants to solitary confinement, they falsely reported to the media that no strike and no retribution against participants occurred. An outright lie.

As one of Operation PUSH’s main outside supporters informed me in a letter during latter January 2018:

“I am receiving mail daily from prisoners all over FL who are either participating in Push or being retaliated against for having literature or correspondence with outside organizations that support the strike, such as IWOC and FTP. Some have been outright threatened with punishments if they continue to talk to us … There was only 6 weeks of planning and it was covered by 50 news outlets including Newsweek, The Nation, Teen Vogue! I think we’re off to a good start and the DOC is lying that no one is participating.”

Not only this but I can bear witness to Florida officials’ lying about there being no strike nor reprisals, because I also participated.

On the eve of the strike the warden at Florida State Prison (FSP) had me and nearly a dozen others with whom I was known to socialize split up, which we’d anticipated. This did nothing to prevent our planned boycott of the commissary for several weeks. In fact it allowed us to spread the word.

Then on January 10th the warden had me charged with a disciplinary report for inciting FL prisoners to riot, in retaliation for me writing an article explaining the strikes purpose and the prisoners’ need of public support that was published online.[7] After a prompt kangaroo hearing and conviction of the infraction I was put in an unheated cell with a broken window as outside temperatures dipped into the 20s, and guards kept exhaust fans on 24/7 sucking the freezing air into the cell.[8]

Yet another call went out, initiated by any NABPP’s Comrade Malik for a renewed round of strikes across the U.S. to begin on Juneteenth (June 19, 2018). As I and several dozen prisoners at Florida’s Santa Rosa prison where I was then confined prepared a commissary boycott for this strike, and undertook to build unity among the prisoners there in solitary (to counter the culture of guard-manipulated violence between them), I was abruptly interstate transferred back to my home state of Virginia and promptly assigned to a permanent solitary confinement status called Intensive Management.

The Struggle Continues

But the struggle doesn’t end there. A broad call has gone out for a sustained prison strike from August 21-September 9, 2018, for prisoners across the US. Participants are called on to participate in any, several, or all of the following manners:

  1. Work strikes: prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
  2. Sit-ins: In certain prisons, people will engage in peaceful sit-in protests.
  3. Boycotts: All spending should be halted. Those outside the walls are asked to not make financial judgments for those on the inside. People on the inside will inform you if they are participating in this boycott.
  4. Hunger strikes: People shall refuse to eat.

The strike will raise the following 10 general demands:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned people.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No humans shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racist overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and Brown people. Black people shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and Brown people.
  7. No imprisoned person shall be denied access to rehabilitative programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitative services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all U.S. states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count!
Conclusion

Slavery and oppressive “containment” of the marginalized and poor never ended in Amerika. The 13th Amendment was passed as a compromise to previous slave owners whereby they could continue to exploit the labor of disempowered people, but now free of the burden of paying for their upkeep. This was done at taxpayers’ expense.

This oppressive dynamic must continue to be resisted as must the inhumane and dehumanizing conditions that attend imprisonment in Amerika. It was only by resistance that the slaves of the old antebellum slave system effectively countered the lies and logic of the ruling powers of that system erected by them to justify their institutions of slavery; it was only by unifying in that resistance and sabotage and ultimately fighting for their freedom, with the support of outside allies and comrades, that the slaves of the old South destroyed the system as it was.

But it was only reformed into the system of penal slavery that it is now. So we still have much work to do until slavery in Amerika is abolished once and for all.

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!

Notes

[1] Quoted in Stephen Whitman, “The Marion Penitentiary – It Should be Opened-Up Not Locked Down,” Southern Illinoisan, August 7, 1988, p. 25.

[2] Turner v Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987), basically established that if prisoner officials can invent a rational sounding justification for violating a prisoner’s established constitutional rights the courts will allow them to act illegally.

[3] The “PCRA” is a federal law passed by Congress that makes it difficult for prisoners to sue in federal courts and get meaningful relief when they do. Many states have adopted similar laws.

[4] See, In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160 (1890).

[5] Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “Black Cats Bond: The Industrial Workers of the World and the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter.” http://rashidmod.com/?p=1251

[6] See, Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

[7] Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “Florida Prisoners Are Laying it Down.” (2018) http://rashidmod.com/?p=2498

[8] “How to Organize A Prison Strike,” Pacific Standard (May 7, 2018) https://psmag.com/social-justice/how-to-organize-a-prison-strike

Categories: News

Educate Me: On Canceling the Sex-Ed Reform

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 19:27

The post Educate Me: On Canceling the Sex-Ed Reform appeared first on It's Going Down.

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

Only a few weeks into his time as Premier, Doug Ford has already moved on a key promise he made to social conservatives while securing the Progressive Conservative party’s leadership nomination. By canceling the sexual education reform and restoring the 1998 curriculum, Ford has provoked some significant popular anger. This is interesting because the level that people feel impacted by this is much more than at other moments around the same issue, for instance, in 2010 when Dalton McGuinty’s government proposed and then withdrew a very similar reform, or in 2015 during consultations by the Wynne government to write the new curriculum

In large part, this can be explained by Ford’s hateable face, but also by his willingness to hand wins to the religious right. That he is emboldening and bringing in the same groups that push an anti-queer and anti-women agenda more broadly makes this a much larger threat than just an issue of curriculum.

In this short text, I want to pose a couple of questions for us as we move ahead on this issue: what are the possibilities of a grassroots response? Is canceling the reform actually going to change anything? And how can we think about the groups behind the campaign that led to the cancellation? (For details about the reform and its cancellation, see links at the end)

There were already queers, radicals, and feminists organizing to plug into the sex-ed portion of the school curriculum. This wasn’t a mass effort, but there has been for a long time a constellation of volunteer and not-for-profit groups that support teachers in providing quality sex-ed content or talking about consent or LGBTq issues in schools. It sounds like many people are seeing the value and urgency of this work now and are trying to organize themselves to either get into classrooms or provide after-school programming or printed resources.

This is direct action and it’s a very positive step. However, the scale of the problem is very large and its unlikely that decentralized groups focused on service provision will be able to make a dent. In Ontario, there are 125,000 teachers working in almost 5000 schools with a budget of 23 billion dollars.

The Liberals and NDP (and their supporters) will point to this problem of scale when arguing that the only answer is to support them, in the Canadian tradition of social progress coming from the top. However, we can understand the problem differently and ask if we really accept a situation where the state has almost total authority to decide what children learn and how.

There is a lot that has been written in critiquing the mainstream, state-centric education model: that it is most concerned with authority and obedience, that it is homogenizing, that it seeks to make docile workers rather than well-rounded individuals, that it reproduces class society, that it is a key tool in cultural hegemony, that it breaks apart other forms of community and rebuilds us as a mass… This might be a moment to dream a bit bigger than just a pressure campaign about curriculum.

At times, there have been very interesting FreeSkools in Ontario, providing free (like freedom) and decentralized education, mostly aimed at adults. Like in many places, there are also large networks of parents unschooling or homeschooling their kids in response to critiques like those described above. Are there skills, tools, and analyses in these experiences that could be brought to bear alongside the specifically sex-ed work comrades have been doing that could provide a vision for what taking grassroots control over school, schooling, and education can be?

It’s also possible that the issue of sex-ed in schools is being overstated. Social movements in Ontario have very little autonomy from political parties and unions, which can make it hard to tell when an issue is actually critical and when its just being mobilized as a partisan wedge. After all, the new curriculum never came into effect, so Ford’s cancellation of the reform is a status-quo move. Definitely, there was real reason to be excited about the changes and having a provincial government that caters to reactionaries is a cause for concern. But materially, the situation around sex-ed is the same as last year.

When I went through school, I started under the sex-ed curriculum that the 1998 one replaced: I got an explanation of what kinds of touching might be inappropriate in grade 3, the full anatomy lesson and where babies come from in grade 4, and discussion of puberty in vague terms in grade 6. In high school however, ostensibly under the 1998 curriculum, my whole school, in the public board, got abstinence-only education, anatomy that talked about the skeletal and muscular systems but not ovaries and testicles, and the only discussion of sex or dating was when the gym teacher put on a film about hockey bros hooking up with girls in Alaska.

All that to say that if teachers in my high school could fall so far short of the 1998 guidelines, then probably there were other teachers already exceeding it and teaching about how some people are gay, gender is complicated, consent is a thing, and that sex can be fun. And very likely individual teachers still are able to do so if they feel that they can get away with it and have the supports they need.

One aspect of this that’s particularly interesting is the composition of the movement against the sex-ed reforms. Although the movement is heavily and explicitly Christian, there is large and visible participation by conservative Muslims. Their campaign against the sex-ed reform has been ongoing since 2010 – it’s worth asking how much this multicultural alliance of religious reactionaries has been a factor in the far-right’s failure to import the kind of anti-Muslim organizing that has occurred in Quebec.

The only people involved in the anti sex-ed campaign in my life are Muslims and both of them were already pulling their kids out of the sex-ed classes under the old curriculum, as were some religious Christians (who also gravitated towards religious private schools). What do they gain by restoring a curriculum they were already boycotting?

Perhaps this campaign, through its truly shocking levels of dishonesty, managed to present the sex-ed reforms as so radical that families who had not objected to the old curriculum now do. The biggest wedge issue here is homosexuality – the movement against the reform is unapologeticaly homophobic, and much of their discourse claims that the curriculum is teaching children to enjoy anal sex. Certainly public acceptance of non-hetero couples has increased a lot in the past 20 years, so perhaps this is something of a last stand for social conservatives on this issue.

Understanding the composition and goals of the conservative religious movement that coalesced around sex-ed is important, especially if the coalition manages to hold together and turn its sights on other issues – are we likely to start seeing protests outside of abortion clinics again, which were banned under a year ago by the Wynne government? How about the protests that attempted to disrupt Pride events across South-western Ontario? Are they a continuation of the hundreds of rallies against the sex-ed curriculum? Some of those big signs about sodomy look pretty familiar…

Handing a win to this coalition of religious assholes is probably the biggest aspect of the cancellation. Finding ways to target and disrupt the groups behind the campaign will be important if Ford really does go ahead with fresh consultations and the drafting of a new curriculum.

The Doug Ford era is just getting started. Rather than rushing into each issue with urgency, it’s a good time to go slow and take stock of where we stand. The kinds of organizing that shut down the province against Mike Harris twenty years ago are a distant memory, so if we’re going to get ourselves in a position to actually stop anything Ford wants to do, we’re going to have to put time into building networks and deepening our analysis. Finding direct action responses to the sex-ed cancellation that go beyond service provision and that are independent of partisan politics is a great starting point. Turning up the heat on the religious right is another. But the opening shots are fired and we’ve got four years to go.

Resources:

Categories: News

Avalon, PA: Neo-Nazi Group Linked to Republican Party Attacks Black Man at Bar

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 19:13

The post Avalon, PA: Neo-Nazi Group Linked to Republican Party Attacks Black Man at Bar appeared first on It's Going Down.

Report from Philly Antifa about a recent racist attack carried out by the Keystone State Skinheads/United, who includes a member which is active within the local Republican Party.

Coming a few weeks after holding a picnic in the area, Keystone United members were cited by police (but tellingly not arrested or charged) following an unprovoked attack on a regular patron of the Jackman Inn in Avalon PA on July 7th.

According to a local news report:

“An alleged neo-Nazi group is being accused of targeting an African American customer, assaulting him and using racial slurs against him at the Jackman Inn…

It happened when the victim, patron Paul Morris, walked into a backroom where a group of men were playing pool. The men allegedly used a racial epithet against the victim.

Police say the group of men may have been from Keystone United, which they describe as a racist neo-Nazi group formerly known as the Keystone State Skinheads…

when the bartender asked the group to leave, they attacked Morris…

‘Eight of them jumped Paul,’ (the bar manager) said. ‘He was hit in the face. He bent down to pick up his glasses. He was hit again’…

Morris is now California, but KDKA’s Andy Sheehan spoke with him on the phone. He says one member who called him the n-word said his group would eradicate blacks one-by-one, and then he attacked.

‘They attacked me because they had hate in their hearts. I didn’t do anything to these people,’ Morris said.

Avalon Police detained some members of the group, but did not charge them. Avalon Police Chief Thomas Kokoski said he believes they will be charged, but the incident is still under investigation….

The incident happened on July 7, and Morris’s lawyer, Fred Rabner, questions why no arrests have been made, saying they should be charged, not only with assault but with ethnic intimidation.

‘This is a hate crime, there’s no doubt about it,’ said Rabner. “

Fortunately, Morris received no serious injuries, nor did the bar employee, who was also attacked when they intervened.

It is unknown which KSS members were involved in the attack, but the event is not dissimilar from an attack on a black man by 3 KSS members in Scranton, PA back in 2003, one of whom was Luzerne County republican committeeman and co-founder of KSS Steve Smith.

Steve Smith is a longtime Neo-Nazi. He is a former Klansman, co-founder of KSS and Luzerne county republican committeeman.

Smith was in attendance at the KSS picnic in the area at the end of May, but it is unknown if he was involved in the attack on the 7th.

We could go on forever about state/cop bias in favor of white supremacists (and white people in general), for example, participating in an Anti-Racist march where some windows got broken can get you arrested and looking at 70 years while attacking 2 people during a hate crime gets you cited with no charges. Or we could belabor that those who equate Antifa with Nazis, or claim we have “Anti-White Bias” would be hard pressed to find an incident where Antifa randomly attack a white man for his race when he comes into a bar to deliver a thank you note to one of the employees, but we won’t.

This was a horrific attack that could have ended in much more serious injury or even death, as attacks by KSS members have in the past. We are glad Mr. Morris and the bar employee escaped serious injury.

Keystone United/KSS have been a blight on PA for too long. If we can hope for any silver lining to this attack, it is that people in this state will start taking the threat they represent seriously again, and that the years of PR spin KSS has employed to try and convince people that their “old days” of randomly attacking People of Color, Queers and Anti-Racists were behind them in favor of “positive white activism” have been debunked.

Anyone with information about this attack, specifically which KSS members were involved, should contact us. We plan to identify those involved and release their names, which is more than the state could be counted on. No one should be able to commit a racist assault on Saturday and go back to anonymity on Sunday.

Time to shut these fucks down. More to come.

Categories: News

Beyond Occupation: Thoughts on the Current #OccupyICEPHL and Moving Forward to #EndPARS

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 18:46

The post Beyond Occupation: Thoughts on the Current #OccupyICEPHL and Moving Forward to #EndPARS appeared first on It's Going Down.

Friendly Fire Collective offers up some thoughts and critiques on the ongoing occupation in Philadelphia. This article was originally published on Philly Anti-Capitalist.

We are two weeks into #OccupyICEPHL. We have ceased occupying the ICE offices since July 5 and the current encampment at City Hall has lost a lot of its original momentum. The Left in Philly united on July 2nd for the original occupation, but it has been fractured by burnout and internal conflicts. A lot of us are wondering, how did we get here and how do we move forward?

The Encampment at City Hall

After the camp was dismantled on July 5th by homeland security and Philly cops, a meeting took place in the evening. Hundreds gathered, sharing reflections and potential strategies for moving forward so that we could effectively pressure Mayor Kenney to not renew the Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System (PARS) contract, which allows ICE access to the PPD’s database.

Following the meeting, an autonomous group decided that one strategy in continuing the fight was to begin a camp at City Hall in order to be a confrontational presence for city officials, and to educate the public about both PARS and ICE. Within minutes, they set up at City Hall, bringing yoga mats, signs, umbrellas, chairs, and food.

Picking up on the momentum of the previous camp, many came around to provide support. The camp was quickly built up with a medic and food storage tent, as well as a table of leftist literature, including flyers on both #EndPARS and #AbolishICE. Participants were flyering; workshops and teach-ins happened throughout the day; food and water and other supplies were consistently being dropped off; chants were constant; and general assemblies were held twice a day (and they still are).

That being said, within the past week, the energy at the camp has been fizzling out. I was at the camp this morning and counted around 15 present.

DiCKjAEUcAAh7kO.jpg thumb

Skepticism of the New Camp

A number of leftists in Philadelphia have expressed skepticism of the camp.

This is fair.

More than half of those present at most general assemblies are white, and a majority of the principal organizers are white. Whiteness is a destructive force for all, with material consequences for those that cannot access its privileges. For those who are white or can access whiteness, it hinders empathy and results in moral deterioration to those who reap benefits from whiteness. We need to see and combat the way whiteness operates among us, making it a priority to center the needs and the voices of POC. In my experience, this is a constant struggle in leftist spaces, and in this sense the encampment is not unique.

It seems that a major reason why people have either backed away or have chosen not to support this camp is because they see the occupation as ineffective and believe greater action is needed. What should be noted is that this camp began with this in mind. A diversity of tactics is sorely needed and this camp was never envisioned as THE tactic for all to take. This camp was started to agitate at City Hall as part of a larger project which would include the continuing work of the original #OccupyICEPHL coalition as well as autonomous actions.

There is also skepticism because of the camp’s independence from the original coalition. Those in the camp desire to work alongside the coalition but are intentionally not bound to the coalition, structured so that those on the ground and actively involved decide the direction of the camp.

Some skepticism feels neither political nor strategic, but personal.

Infighting among leftists has been present throughout the whole occupation, even prior to the new camp. The first night of the occupation included coalition organizers squabbling with a few anarchists of a more illegalist, insurrectionist tendency. This was aired out very publicly through a zine that was published online and passed out at the final assembly at the previous occupation.

Tensions between those of a more anarchist orientation and those of a more Marxist orientation were heightened.

Some smaller orgs, especially those with a more autonomous bent, have expressed that they felt unheard and even shut down by the larger coalition.

A skepticism of anarchist organizers continues, leading some to view the new encampment as an anarchist project. Though the organization of the new camp is more horizontal, it is not solely anarchist-organized. Such thinking dismisses those houseless folks who are actively flyering, chanting, and keeping the camp smoothly operating – that do not identify as anarchists – as well as the presence of Marxists.

Again, I think some of this skepticism is a projection of people’s personal issues with specific organizers.

The stress of the original occupation, where participants were constantly surrounded by cops and federal officers, exacerbated disagreements among organizers. I cannot blame individuals for withholding their support because of being made to feel unsafe by certain organizers, but it would be strategically unwise to fully dismiss this camp because of that.

In the past week hundreds have come together to publicly agitate at City Hall. This camp is not meant to last forever, but it would be wise to not let it sputter and die out on such a sour note in such a public space. The forces-that-be want our inactivity and burnout so that the PARS contract can be renewed without a fight.

This occupation ending in such a way will reflect badly on all of us, and even more importantly, could hinder and even sabotage the campaign to #EndPARS.

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Moving Forward

Last week, running off the energy of the first encampment, the camp became a base for activity.

Occupiers were constantly talking to those passing by, providing information on the PARS contract and getting folks to sign the petition put out by Juntos. Media and public attention on the camp highlighted the PARS contract. Mayor Kenney and other officials were flooded with phone calls.

This base is limited, as action-planning cannot occur in such a public space. That said, it has been a space for educating, connecting organizers and people of good conscience, and most importantly, a very public way of getting Kenney’s attention.

I don’t think as much energy needs to be put into this project as the first encampment, but I think it is worth actively supporting this camp in order to strengthen our message. If more people were out on the ground, more people could take shifts. The burden of this camp would not remain on the same 20-30 people, many of which have slept in their own beds only a handful of times since the original occupation.

But, again, we need to do more.

We need to continue calling city officials, handing out flyers, flooding social media with information on PARS; but we also need to begin agitating with more creativity. Perhaps also at other strategic locations – maybe not to the point of occupation, but at least picketing. We need to be creative in finding ways to get our message out to the public and to our so-called “leaders” as well as hinder ICE operations. We cannot afford to waste time on infighting. We cannot lose sight of the goal, and therefore we must not lose sight of our current moment. Upset over ICE continues, despite the media trying to move on. The time is ripe. We must act.

Categories: News

Seven Reasons Anarchists Should Go All Out for August 21st

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 17:26

The post Seven Reasons Anarchists Should Go All Out for August 21st appeared first on It's Going Down.

An analysis on the importance and need for anarchists, anti-authoritarians and autonomists to get behind and support the upcoming #PrisonStrike.

Earlier this year, prisoners in South Carolina announced a call for a national strike, to begin on August 21st, the anniversary of the revolutionary prisoner George Jackson, and continue until September 9th, the anniversary of the Attica Uprising.

It goes without saying that, as anarchists, we are collectively invested in promoting, generalizing, and showing solidarity with these prisoners’ efforts. As a movement that has recently faced heightened repression, from the J20 prosecution to proposed “anti-antifa” legislation, that knows the feeling of visiting friends and family behind bars and has our own historic legacies of resistance on the inside, we directly identify with these prisoners’ struggles. We don’t just hate prosecutors, judges, wardens, and COs philosophically, we hate them personally.

But there’s more to it than that. In the midst of a busy August that will see continued (and necessary!) efforts to disrupt ICE, stop pipelines, dismantle the police, and stop the Alt-Right, here are seven reasons we particularly want to urge our comrades across North America to step up their game for August 21st.

  1. The April 15th massacre at Lee Correctional in South Carolina, which (partly) prompted the call for the strike, was the most violent prison riot that the US has seen in years. Prisons across the country are slashing their budgets and cutting down on staff, limiting the resources that prisoners have and creating situations that are ripe for internally directed violence. Now, as Trump is flooding federal prisons with immigration detainees, the already overcrowded prisons are becoming powder kegs. This strike initiative can set a precedent of solidarity, mutual aid, and collective struggle among prisoners and gangs within the system, as opposed to the brutal, state-engineered competition over diminishing resources. Collective resistance may be the only alternative to prisoner-on-prisoner violence.
  2. The September 9, 2016 national strike was an incredible success. Two years ago an unprecedented, nationally coordinated, prisoner-led protest hit around 26 facilities, resulting in marches, sit-ins, mass labor withdrawal that forced administrations to bring in scabs, riots that destroyed prison infrastructure, and more. To our knowledge, never before has a prison protest been pre-planned and coordinated over so many US facilities. Despite retaliation, administrations met many prisoners’ more immediate demands shortly thereafter. The concept of “prison slavery”, the loophole of the 13th amendment, and the uncompromising voices of radical prisoners forced their way into living rooms across the country. Prisoners found that they could be powerful, and that they had support on the outside. Anarchist organizing on both sides of the wall was key to this, spreading the word about the strike and facilitating prisoner organizing with conference calls, mailings, and more.
  3. We’re much stronger now than we were then. Anarchists in North America have been busy the last two years. Our participation in anti-pipeline struggles has spread from North Dakota to a whole range of different camps across the US and Canada. Local assemblies exploded in size after Trump’s election. Though they still exist, we’ve largely pushed the Alt-Right off the streets and back into their chat-rooms and basements. Tenant organizing in many cities has taken off. We’ve soundly beaten the prosecution in one of the largest group political felony trials in American history with decentralized coordination, robust solidarity, and an absolute refusal to snitch. The various kinds of anti-prison agitation and infrastructure we had in 2016 have grown and matured. More broadly, social movements have started to find their courage. For reasons both practical and philosophical, it feels like more people are willing to concede the anarchist position that there is no “political” solution to the disaster that is this world.
  4. Prisoners have already been throwing down, and are pledging their participation for August. This spring and summer there has already been a wave of small to medium-sized rebellions at US prisons. In January, Florida prisoners organized Operation PUSH across seven different facilities, forcing admins to lockdown prisons across the state. Following the massacre at Lee Correctional, there was a work stoppage at the famous Angola prison in Louisiana in early May, in which prisoners vowed to participate in the national strike in August. Less than a week later, prisoners at the Crossroads facility in Missouri staged a peaceful sit-in. After their demands were ignored, they hot-wired several forklifts and used them to enter and destroy the food area, kitchen, and a manufacturing facility. These prisoners directly mentioned the national strike as well. Then on July 4th, prisoners in Tipton, MO had their own sit-in, and ultimately rendered a housing unit uninhabitable by smashing windows, walls, and furniture. Just this week, a prisoner in North Carolina’s Lanesboro CI announced a call for NC prisoners to join the national strike with “Operation POW.”
  5. It’s time to go on the offensive. Whether it’s occupying airports over the travel ban, de-platforming the far-Right, defending our friends from legal prosecution and Grand Juries, or occupying ICE over family separations, many of the more spectacular, and often successful, struggles we’ve put our collective weight behind in the last couple of years have had to be reactionary in nature. But this strike is not a reaction to a new state-driven policy or some media-sensationalized act of Trump putting his racist foot in his racist mouth. As a force that directly and fundamentally has the power to subvert the dominion of 21st century state, capital, and whiteness, prisoners are proactively testing the waters of their own power. We are a part of that power, not as allies, but as accomplices who recognize with our actions that prison increasingly has no walls, that both the border and the correctional facility permeate all aspects of daily life. We’ve been on the defense. Let’s go on the attack.
  6. The recent wave of occupations of and encampments at immigrant detention centers were also an attack on prisons that made large sectors of society newly familiar with a relevant tactic. As one former detainee made clear at a recent anti-prison conference in Pittsburgh, “all detention centers are prisons.” Prisoners in SC have specifically expressed their solidarity with the occupations and with immigrants detained by ICE, and articulate their strike as a related struggle. There is no reason why a wave of encampments and barricades couldn’t also appear at jails and prisons across the country on (or before) August 21st, preventing guards’ shift changes as well as the busing in of scabs to replace prisoners’ labor. Likewise, there’s no reason this strike shouldn’t result in a renewed wave of attention and interest in already existing #OccupyICE encampments.
  7. The Left is badly positioned to co-opt or capture this struggle. Unlike certain Democrats’ cleverly timed (albeit completely meaningless) call to “abolish ICE”, or non-profits’ strategic positioning to capture the struggle against the Alt-Right and Trump, the institutionalized Left has very little organizational presence in the anti-prison movement on either side of the walls. The few reform-oriented groups that do exist desperately avoid engaging with prisoner-led actions, preferring to instead do little more than plead, “See, we told you so” to the authorities once the smoke and dust from the riots clear.
    This is in direct contrast to anarchists’ involvement in this movement, which has grown tremendously in the past 5 years and directly emphasizes prisoners’ own initiatives. Our infrastructure here is broad: it includes dozens of newsletters with prisoner-generated content, an array of podcasts and websites, prisoner reading groups, constant noise demos and call-in days, books-through-bars programs, commissary warchest funds, legal advocacy, radio shows, hundreds of prisoner members of the IWOC, and the largely invisible but constant personal relationships developed through one-on-one correspondence, visitation, and support. Some of this is done by large, publicly facing organizations like IWOC and Anarchist Black Cross; a lot is done by the myriad of smaller collectives and affinity groups coordinating with each other across regions. All of it will matter this August.

It hopefully goes without saying that this is not a declaration of priority or hierarchical importance; we are not attempting to raise this strike above other struggles or ask our comrades to set down their other work in favor of this singular moment. This strike will not be a momentary rupture but rather a period of heightened conflict in an ongoing social war, of which prisons and jails are simply one battlefield. But for the reasons laid out, we think it is particularly important to pull out all the stops in August, and not accidentally treat this as one more 24-hour, attention-grabbing news headline, after which a new series of crises and “holy shit 2018 is crazy” moments take over.

We are in this for the long haul, and our approach is multi-faceted and increasingly expansive. Because of this country’s history of chattel slavery and anti-blackness, and because prisons and jails are what they are, revolt against these institutions necessarily aligns with and heightens other struggles, even as it exposes the most brutal and contradictory elements of society at large. We have a world to destroy, and our freedom to win.

TLDR = August is gonna be lit,

Until every cage is empty,

some anarchists

Categories: News

Report from 2018 July National Conference of Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 17:15

The post Report from 2018 July National Conference of Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation appeared first on It's Going Down.

The following report details a recent conference held by our comrades in Bangladesh and details ways to support anarchist organizing there.

The Bangladesh Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation (BASF) held a conference in Sylhet, Bangladesh on 8 July 2018. The federation’s secretariat organized the conference. About half of the participating delegates were women, and the other half were men. International Workers’ Association (IWA) liaison Laury Akhi was present as a special facilitator and main guest.

In the meeting, workers’ delegates said that the concept of “anarcho-syndicalism” is absolutely new in Bangladesh. Up to now, there has been a totalitarian labor movement as part of the outrageous, authoritarian politics here. The labor movement has done some positive work, but in general, it has produced a class of people who use their class privileges and resources for their own interests. In some cases, people in the political sphere who are not a part of the working classes enjoy their privileges and benefits that are possible due to the subjugation of our class.

Politicians use the working classes to satisfy the needs of political parties and not for working-class emancipation. The laboring classes are currently dependent on the whims of politicians. The attending delegates said that in order to strengthen the true labor movement, the existing revolutionary workers’ associations would have to create free labor organizations in their own workplaces. The conference’s special guest, IWA liaison Laury Akhi gave an overview of the international workers’ movement and its struggles, with insights of the struggle in Poland. She said that the people of the laboring classes are the creators of all human civilization, but they have been victims of oppression, exploitation and various deprivations throughout the ages. Farm workers produce food while they do not get food; clothing workers make clothes, but they do not have the clothing they need; workers build cars and roads and are the basis of civilization, but they do not have respect nor status in present society. Laury Akhi said that after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the laboring class hoped that their fate would change. But under the Bolshevik’s “revolutionary” politics, the old, oppressive social system was replaced with a new oppression.

The Communist Party replaced the czar. The legitimacy of the State was the ruling idea.  And this manifested in a strict authoritarianism, a state patriarchism that was imposed on all the people, including peasant and workers. The country became a prison in the name of socialism. As a result, people built up resistance against the oppressors. But the Communist Party ruthlessly suppressed dissidents and protests. Many people were killed in Russia.  Mass murders and disappearances were part of daily life. To the delegates’ agreement, Laury Akhi insisted that the anarchist movement’s trend in Bangladesh must not be authoritarian or cadre-based socialism. Rather, common people must freely participate in independent associations, federations, and confederations. The most effective work will be to create workers’ organizations in every sphere of production.

Farmers’ and workers’ association will be formed in the factory and fields. Similarly, news staff, shopping malls and other services and organizations will be formed in those areas. Each organization will then be able to maintain and protect their own self-interests by voluntarily forming federations with one another. The development of anarchist society will accelerate through federations.

AKM Shihab (basfsylhet [at] gmail.com)
Sylhet, Bangladesh
July 2018

We implore you to help develop the anarchist struggle in Bangladesh by donating money through their new website. Even small amounts of money in western currencies will go a long way in helping develop workers’ centers, education, strike funds, co-ops, and poverty relief. Donate here.

 

Categories: News

My Heart’s Home: Resistance in the Mattole

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 09:31

The post My Heart’s Home: Resistance in the Mattole appeared first on It's Going Down.

Radical People Podcast returns with an episode on the long running fight to defend the Mattole forest through direct action in Northern California. 

For twenty years, people have engaged in direct action in order to protect the Mattole forest in northern California from being logged. In this episode of Radical People, Eamon talks with Sweet Pea who has spent a significant amount of time as part of the fight to defend the Mattole.

Categories: News

Tree Sit Launched in the Path of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 09:16

The post Tree Sit Launched in the Path of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline appeared first on It's Going Down.

July 16th marks the start of the #RiseTogether Weeks of Action to stop the Bayou Bridge pipeline. The following report discusses the launching of a tree-sit in the path of the project.

Deep in the Atchafalaya Basin, one of the largest swamps in North America, aerial blockades have been established directly on the path of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

Water protectors are currently occupying multiple tree-sits on the pipeline easement.

Pictures from the aerial blockades in the Atchafalaya Basin. Tree-sits have been set up directly on the easement of the Bayou Bridge pipeline. ETP is clearing trees just two miles from the blockade. #NoBayouBridge #StopETP #RiseTogether pic.twitter.com/445cY3yfcM

— Leau Est La Vie Camp (@NoBayouBridge) July 16, 2018

We have petitioned, filed lawsuits and demonstrated. We have carried out nearly 50 worksite actions. But despite these efforts, construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline has continued. We are left with no other choice but to put our bodies, and our lives on the line to stop this pipeline.

The tree-sitters and their support team are living in inhospitable conditions, with limited resources and under close watch of Energy Transfer Partners. THEY NEED YOUR SUPPORT.

BREAKING. Deep in the Atchafalaya Basin, one of the largest swamps in North America, aerial blockades have been set up directly on the path of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Water protectors are currently occupying multiple tree-sits. #NoBayouBridge #RiseTogether #Resist pic.twitter.com/MtF5QES3Gw

— Leau Est La Vie Camp (@NoBayouBridge) July 16, 2018

Show your solidarity for those fighting on the frontlines, organize a solidarity action during the #RiseTogether Weeks of Action which kicks off today: www.NoBayouBridge.global/risetogether

During these Weeks of Action we are asking folks to target these banks which finance Energy Transfer Partners and other major pipeline companies:

Bank of America
Citi Bank
JP Morgan Chase
Wells Fargo
Bank of Tokyo
Credit Suisse
Royal Bank of Canada

You can also DONATE to support our resistance: https://www.youcaring.com/leauestlavienobayoubridgepipeline…

Or apply to JOIN US on the frontlines: http://bit.ly/JoinTheFrontlines

Bayou Bridge is the final piece of the Dakota Access Pipeline system. It’s being built by the same company, Energy Transfer Partners, that unleashed violence against peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock, and it would connect to the DAPL system to bring oil from North Dakota to export facilities in Louisiana.

The pipeline would end in St. James, a community of color that is already surrounded by toxic fossil fuel infrastructure. A state court ruled that construction on the pipeline must stop in St. James until an evacuation route was created for the community. Energy Transfer Partners has ignored the court order and continued with construction.

But this injustice ends here. it is time to stop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline and #StopETP once and for all. Join our resistance.

#NoBayouBridge #Resist

Categories: News

Tacoma, WA: At Least 170 Detainees Launch Hunger Strike Against Family Seperations

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 08:53

The post Tacoma, WA: At Least 170 Detainees Launch Hunger Strike Against Family Seperations appeared first on It's Going Down.

Report from Northwest Detention Center resistance on the latest hunger strike that is taking place inside the Tacoma detention facility, the scene of outside ongoing #OccupyICE protests.

This last Saturday we showed up outside the Detention Center like we often do, but this time we had Mariachi bands and we sang and danced as we shouted #ChingaLaMigra and #AbolishICE. We sang and we danced, honoring our belief in a world with freedom of movement for all, a world with no detention, no deportation, a world where families are not forcibly separated from each other by border agents.

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Vigil for hunger strikers

Posted by NWDC Resistance/Resistencia al NWDC on Monday, July 16, 2018

While we were there, people detained inside the NWDC decided to begin a hunger strike. They called us from inside the Detention Center to let us know. This is what hunger strikers told us over the phone on Saturday:

The people detained in the NWDC are appalled by what has been done to parents and their children at the border. They want those families released immediately from detention and reunited, and then all the parents detained at the NWDC released.

They are doing this action as a solidarity action and will go for three days or at least 9 meals. Geo Group (who owns and operates the Detention Center) has already begun retaliation against those on hunger strike, including threats by guards saying if they don’t eat, “things will be really bad” for them. There are at least 2 pods confirmed who started their hunger strike yesterday, Saturday, with a total of at least 170 people.

As those who are detained in the NWDC put their bodies on the line while on hunger strike, we on the outside will amplify their message. We will let them know that they are not alone. For updates on the hunger strikes and our work, follow us on FB or IG and head to our website to sign up for our email list.

Categories: News

Earth First!ers, Immigrant Justice Activists, and More Have Blockaded a South Florida Immigrant Detainment Facility in Protest of ICE

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 01:26

The post Earth First!ers, Immigrant Justice Activists, and More Have Blockaded a South Florida Immigrant Detainment Facility in Protest of ICE appeared first on It's Going Down.

Report from the Earth First! newswire on continued anti-ICE blockades.

Pompano Beach, FL—Activists decrying ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the Trump administration’s deportation system have locked down outside of Broward Transitional Center (BTC) today in Pompano Beach in protest of the agency. BTC is the primary immigrant detention facility for Broward County, run by Boca Raton-based private prison corporation GEO Group. Three activists have locked down in front of one entrance gate to the facility, two people have locked themselves to a car that is blocking the main entrance, and two more people are locked down to two separate pedestrian entrances.

Today’s action is being carried out by activists from social justice groups throughout South Florida, including Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, Broward DSA, Broward Immigrant Justice Coalition, Everglades Earth First!, and Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs. These groups are taking part in the movement to abolish ICE, which has seen ongoing protest encampments and actions across the nation, including in Portland, Oregon, New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.

Elijah Drummond, who participated in today’s demonstration, said of their involvement: “I’m here because deportations are unfair and ICE should be abolished. I think everyone should do whatever they can right now to make sure that happens.”

The #AbolishICE movement gained national attention and support after it was revealed that the Trump administration was separating members of undocumented families seeking asylum at the border and incarcerating undocumented children. Activists involved are calling for these families to be freed and reunited, and for ICE as an agency to be abolished.

Donate to the bail fund here

Categories: News

Rustbelt Abolition Radio: Native Resistance and the Carceral State

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 00:50

The post Rustbelt Abolition Radio: Native Resistance and the Carceral State appeared first on It's Going Down.

Rustbelt Abolition Radio talks with Nick Estes, who talks about the history of incarceration and its relation to Native genocide and colonization.

Nick Estes identifies the anti-Indian origins of the carceral state within the U.S. settler colonial project and argues that indigenous liberation offers critical frameworks for understanding how to abolish it. Estes is a co-founder of The Red Nation: an anti-profit coalition dedicated to the liberation of Native Nations, lands, and peoples.

He holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of New Mexico and is a fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.

Categories: News

Kite Line: Anti-Detention Occupations from Australia to America, Part Two

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 00:36

The post Kite Line: Anti-Detention Occupations from Australia to America, Part Two appeared first on It's Going Down.

Anti-prison radio and podcast show Kite Lines continues with coverage of ongoing occupations of deportation facilities.

Listen and Download HERE

Last week, Aren Aizura guided us through the history of colonialism in Australia, including racist measures to control non-white immigration, and later, in the 1980s, the implementation of mandatory detention for refugees. He focused on his experiences in an occupation outside the remote Woomera Detention Center, and the way that supporters on the outside grew in numbers, intensifying pressure on the authorities. Now, he walks us through the 2002 mass breakout of refugees there, all the way through the following standoff and its aftermath.

As we reflect on the inspiring actions at Woomera, we are also tracking the occupations underway across the US right now. Occupy ICE in Portland has been subjected to a brutal eviction, during which police shot occupiers with pepperballs at close range. Likewise, there was a mass arrest in San Francisco, following more than a week of occupation outside the ICE regional headquarters which halted all deportations in northern California. Occupations continue in Los Angeles, Tacoma, and Louisville, as well as many other cities.

Categories: News

Final Straw: Charles E. Cobb, Jr, on “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed”

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 00:30

The post Final Straw: Charles E. Cobb, Jr, on “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed” appeared first on It's Going Down.

Long running anarchist radio and podcast The Final Straw presents a talk from the author of This Non-Violent Stuff’ll Get You Killed,” about the use of firearms within the Civil Rights Movement.

Listen and Download HERE

This week we are very pleased to present a presentation done some months ago at Firestorm Books with Charles E. Cobb, Jr.  Charles Cobb is a journalist, writer, and current senior analyst at allAfrica.com, which is “is a voice of, by and about Africa – aggregating, producing and distributing news and information from over 140 African news organizations and our own reporters to an African and global public.” Cobb has had a long career full of landmark moments, for example being the first Africa correspondent for NPR and being the first Black staff writer for National Geographic Magazine, among many other achievements.

In this presentation, done on April 2nd 2018, Cobb talks about his 2014 book “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed”, which details his work from 1962 to 1967 for the SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), the most influential youth and student organization during the Civil Rights Movement. He also fills in a much overlooked gap in the understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, that is, the lived experiences of Black people living in the rural South at this time, gives his insights on embedding in communities for social justice purposes, and draws lessons from those insights as they pertain to the current Movement for Black Lives. In this talk he is being interviewed by Carol, who is a long time comrade and friend.

Categories: News

Hunger Strike Kicks Off at Wabash Valley

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 00:22

The post Hunger Strike Kicks Off at Wabash Valley appeared first on It's Going Down.

Report from IDOC Watch on hunger strike that kicked off on July 2nd with info on how to support. To listen to our podcast interview with IDOC Watch, go here.

IDOC Watch has received word that two inmates at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility are currently on hunger strike, protesting the violation of internal policies. The two inmates, Mjoseph Basford #260938 and Simeon Adams #249615 are being held in the Mental Health Segregation Unit of the CCU. Their strike began on July 2nd in response to “cruel, harsh, unfair, and abusive treatment the deputies dish out upon us.”

Basford and Adams detail how meal portions are not reaching the required 2800 calorie per day minimum as well as the violation of policy #02-04-102 pg 18 section P, which state that after 60 days of Disciplinary Segregation offenders are to be permitted Administrative Segregation privileges. These include: religious services, library services, education, recreation, and unrestricted commissary food items. Basford and Adams are requesting that WVCF follow its own policies regarding these matters and that they both be transferred to the mental health segregation unit at Westville where they believe they will not face the same selective treatment.

The issues these inmates bring forward touch on structural problems throughout the IDOC and Wabash Valley especially. The treatment of inmates with mental illness has been the subject of recent litigation between the Indiana ACLU and the IDOC. Indiana courts ruled in 2012 in the case of Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission vs. Commissioner, Indiana Department of Correction that the IDOC was in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by keeping mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement. Just this year, a class action settlement has been reached wherein the IDOC has agreed to not keep “seriously mentally ill” inmates in solitary confinement as well as provide “standard minimum treatment” to these same prisoners.  That the IDOC is not holding up its end of the contract is obvious to all who have a loved one facing mental health issues while incarcerated in the state of Indiana. For the last few months, IDOC Watch has encouraged supporters to call Wabash Valley Correctional Facility regarding the ongoing confinement and withholding of treatment and medication from Dennis Kendall. These three inmates are far from an exception.

Additionally, restrictive diets are a universal problem throughout the IDOC. Private corporations like Aramark, which provide food services in Indiana prisons profit by serving food in containers labeled “Not fit for human consumption: for zoo animals and convicts only”. Currently, the administration at Wabash Valley is keeping the temperatures on the CCU where Mjoseph Basford and Simeon Adams are being held unbearably low. The combination of non-nutritious food and harsh environment means that many inmates must turn to commissary items to supplement their diets and caloric intake. Suspending inmates from commissary services is a typical retalialiatory practice for Corrections Officers and is nothing more nor less than consciously enforced starvation.

We believe the condition of Mjoseph Basford and Simeon Adams to be critical and are requesting all supporter to call in to Wabash Valley as well as the IDOC Central Office to voice their concern.

Please Call:

Warden Richard Brown

(812) 398-5050

and

Commissioner Robert E. Carter

(317) 232-5711

Sample Script:

“I am calling today because I am concerned about the well-being of inmates Mjoseph Basford #260938 and Simeon Adams #249615 who are currently on hunger strike. These two inmates have been on strike since July 2nd and are protesting their lack of access to Commissary as well as their insufficient meals. They are requesting to be transferred to the Westville Correctional Unit or in the case of Simeon Adams either Westville or NewCastle. They have indicated that they will not cease the strike until they are transferred. Please see to it that you remedy this matter”

Categories: News

Some Notes on the Demonstrations for Antwon Rose

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 00:09

The post Some Notes on the Demonstrations for Antwon Rose appeared first on It's Going Down.

A critical look at recuperative and reformist elements with the Antwon Rose struggle and their impact in Pittsburgh.

As everyone now knows, on June 19th East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld murdered Antwon Rose Jr. by shooting him in the back three times as he ran from a traffic stop. When a video of the shooting went viral on social media, Pittsburgh exploded in protest. Explosions are relative of course, and the riots, looting, and torched convenience stores that characterized analogous uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore have here translated to peaceful marches to block traffic. Nonetheless the current situation is a major departure from the usual activist routine that anarchists in Pittsburgh suffer through. We offer the following points for consideration.

The cops are taking this very seriously.

Pittsburgh police chief Scott Schubert has showed up in person at at least two of the protests, and all of the actions inside Pittsburgh city limits have featured a gaggle of commanders and assistant chiefs, none of whom ordinarily work nights. Pittsburgh has also called in the PA state police on short notice for several protests. The cops call that “mutual aid,” but that doesn’t stop them from charging for it. Pittsburgh will be getting a bill from the state. The Pittsburgh cops have even switched to 12 hour shifts for the duration of the crisis, in order to monitor the protests and still carry out day-to-day oppression. This policy is reminiscent of the All Hands on Deck weekends in DC that the police union there fought against so bitterly, except it’s not just a weekend, it could last for weeks.

Yet despite the massive amounts of cops and money being thrown at the protests, arrests have been sparse. As of this writing there have been only five that we’ve heard of, not counting hecklers. This is not for lack of opportunity. The cops are obviously bending over backwards to avoid provoking an already furious community further and sparking a Ferguson style riot. One recent action provides a telling example.

On the evening of June 27th, a smallish crew held a noise demo at Rosfeld’s house near Penn Hills. The action was pre-planned, unannounced, short, and came off without a hitch except for one thing. Somehow word got out, and a bunch of latecomers rushed to Penn Hills, assuming reinforcements were needed. They got there after the first crew had gone home and taken most of the legal support with them. The “reinforcements” therefore arrived to a hornets nest of pissed off cops protecting one of their own, most of them from random boroughs in eastern Allegheny County that never see protests. It was the kind of situation guaranteed to send cold shivers up the spine of any experienced street demonstrator, but the bloodbath never happened. No arrests, no injuries. Even in Penn Frickin Hills the cops have now been inoculated against antagonizing protesters.

Anyone who thinks this forbearance indicates any good will on the part of the police should keep in mind the second prong of their strategy – shadowing every demonstration for Antwon with ridiculously obvious undercover cops (three at the morning march on the 27th had the flashers on in their unmarked cop car). Torchlight sources have spotted them at every march they have attended. People who have confronted them report that they seem very uncomfortable about being outed, so the obviousness is probably not an intimidation tactic, they’re just incompetent. They’ve still been taking tons of pictures however, presumably with the aim of identifying all the new protesters who have emerged since Antwon’s killing. This too is unprecedented here.

Stephen Zappala’s job is probably safe.

“THREE SHOTS IN THE BACK, HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY THAT!?” Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala worked harder than anyone else to come up with an answer to that question. After a week of valiant effort however, he finally threw in the towel and admitted that no, he couldn’t justify that. That hasn’t stopped self-appointed organizers from first announcing an electoral campaign to unseat Zappala, and then scrambling to recruit a Black former public defender named Turahn Jenkins to take him on in the Democratic primary next year. In their haste they skimped on their research, and missed Jenkins’ blatant homophobia. Presumably they’re going to give it another shot however. We have said this before, but the electoral approach makes a lot more sense as a strategy to remove protesters from the streets than a serious attempt to replace Zappala. Just for fun though, let’s take it at face value for a minute.

As calculated and political as Zappala’s decision to charge Rosfeld with criminal homicide was, it’ll probably be enough to mollify white liberal voters who just need to be reassured the system still works. By next year’s Democratic primaries only the angriest of liberals will still hold it against him. Right wing voters on the other hand, are going to be pissed. Pittsburgh’s Fraternal Order of Police are unlikely to be any more enthusiastic about those 12 hour shifts than their DC counterparts, and all cops will be angry with Zappala for what they consider his spineless pandering to protesters. Reactionary douchebags and closet racists, who make a sizable voting bloc, will surely feel similarly. This leaves Zappala more vulnerable from the right than the left. If he has to run to his left to fend off a progressive candidate he will leave himself even more open to a Republican opponent in the general election.

There are other scenarios, most of them also unfavorable. A centrist law and order Democrat could win the primary if Zappala splits the liberal vote with a progressive challenger. A charismatic progressive-sounding candidate could beat Zappala and then turn out to be no less malicious a prosecutor. Or of course Zappala could capitalize on the donor network and connections he has built up over two decades in office to cruise to victory.

The liberals are taking reformist Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner as a model for Allegheny County. APAB of course, but Krasner’s reforms are lifting some of the weight of the prison industrial complex from the necks of Philadelphia’s impoverished communities. Liberals still need to ask themselves which is more likely, that a newly elected DA would actually carry out a facsimile of Krasner’s program upon taking office, or instead mend fences with the police, mollify the hardliners in his office, and reassure conservative voters that he’s not crazy after all by continuing business as usual with a thicker layer of progressive rhetoric.

The one ray of hope is that there just might be a progressive rebellion emerging in the Democratic Party. It’s not impossible that after another year of Trump Allegheny County voters will be fed up enough to throw the bums out, Zappala included. Turnout is lower in odd year elections, so it wouldn’t take that many voters to elect a Krasner 2.0 if one could be found. Nonetheless an election-based strategy would mean putting an awful lot of eggs in one basket with no guarantee of success and no consolation prize.

But of course that’s the point. Pittsburgh’s liberal establishment would like nothing better than to see militant resistance burn itself out in a failed election campaign and sink back into jaded exhaustion. A successful election campaign would suit that purpose nearly as well.

Brandi Fisher is really good at co-opting militant struggles.

A t-shirt popular during the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup runs read simply “SIDNEY CROSBY IS REALLY GOOD AT HOCKEY.” By that measure Brandi Fisher of the Alliance for Police Accountability absolutely deserves a t-shirt of her own. Her performance since Antwon’s murder has been at least as scintillating as was Crosby’s, and she doesn’t even have Matt Murray backing her up.

Put another way, Brandi is near-single handedly replicating the work of Al Sharpton and the army of Black clergy that descended on Ferguson to pacify the uprising over Michael Brown’s murder. Pittsburgh isn’t St. Louis of course, but that’s still some impressive shit.

Brandi’s sheer versatility is amazing. Whether taking potential rivals under her wing, canceling their demonstrations unilaterally, or segueing seamlessly from one to the other, she doesn’t miss a beat. Freezing white anarchist groups out of protest organizing, corralling angry street marches by strategic use of a bullhorn, coordinating with her friends among the police, lining white liberal groups up behind the APA banner – all part of Brandi’s extensive repertoire.

It’s not just the highlight reel moves either. Brandi also displays the attention to detail that is the hallmark of the true superstar. Take the name of her group. By calling it an “alliance” she conveys the impression of being a part of a diverse group of organizations, all focused on the same goal. APA is nothing of the sort of course, it’s just Brandi and a few of her cronies. She gets away with this trick because she was clever enough not to call it a coalition.

Between the three of them, Brandi, Zappala, and the cops have had an effect. The huge pre-announced highway-blocking marches that characterized the first week of the uprising have given way to smaller and more sporadic actions organized mostly in secret. These types of actions aren’t as disruptive, but they’re harder to control. Brandi’s influence is weaker in the suburbs than within Pittsburgh, and a hard core of pissed off Black women is emerging who don’t take her every word as gospel. Medics and legal observers have been a small but consistent presence at nearly every action so far, as have white anarchists, despite Brandi’s attempts to exclude all three. It’s a little early to tell, but there are signs of something exciting coalescing that could last well beyond the current upheaval.

Better late than never. It shouldn’t have required a tragedy for Pittsburgh anarchists to start making connections with those at the sharp end of police oppression, but now that we have an opening we should take it. It’s not going to last forever. We have a natural affinity with the ones who refuse to be intimidated by riot cops, pacified by liberals, or lulled by reforms. The time to start talking to them is now.

Categories: News

SeaSol Backs Tenants Against Mega Landlord

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 23:42

The post SeaSol Backs Tenants Against Mega Landlord appeared first on It's Going Down.

Report from self-organized direct action group Seattle Solidarity Network on a recent campaign.

After months of targeting and harassment by the landlord, tenants from American Campus Communities (ACC) have organized an association and executed the first of many visible actions. With help from SeaSol ACC tenants held an informational picket attended by 30 tenants and community supporters on Saturday, June 30th from 11 am to 1 pm in front of ACC’s flagship building Hub in the University District. Tenants from ACC first got in touch with SeaSol in April to seek help in their fight against their massive new landlord. Over the next few months we assisted tenants with door knocking, community outreach, and putting together their first association meeting earlier in June.

American Campus Communities, Inc. is an Austin, Texas based publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT) with an annual revenue of $796 million and 161 buildings over 68 campuses whose “primary business objectives are to . . . acquire and operate student housing communities”. ACC’s acquisition of Bridges@11th in October 2017 put the company’s dorm-style business model squarely in opposition to the single-family model at Bridges. ACC also purchased two more U-District buildings, TWELVE and Hub, in 2017, with ambitions to acquire ten times as many units should their Seattle market test succeed.

In the company’s first year in the city, ACC tenants have faced non-compliance of contracts and law violations including forcible entry into units by employees, illegal evictions, fraudulent billing practices, and forged documents, among a multitude of other issues. Tenants who spoke out have been targeted with increased surveillance and have even had their mail withheld.

After speaking with over 150 residents, with help from SeaSol and other organizations, tenants decided to form the ACC Tenants Association. In a letter to ACC’s CEO, Bill Bayless, the association demanded that the company “Recognize the Association’s Rights to Collectively Bargain! Stop Fraudulent Fees! Immediate Refunds of all Stolen Money! Stop Landlord Retaliation and Harassment! Rent Freeze now! Remove Illegal and Regressive Clauses From Leases! Safe And Secure Buildings! We Have the Right to Have Guests in our Homes and Spaces! Tenants Rights are Civil Rights!”

SeaSol looks forward to supporting ACC Tenants in their struggle as they utilize a diversity of tactics to win their demands. As some active tenants work to tie ACC’s hands with the legal system, others will work to build a strong direct-action presence in the community.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

Categories: News

Getting Ready in the Gulf

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 22:55

The post Getting Ready in the Gulf appeared first on It's Going Down.

Mutual Aid Disaster relief is gearing up for a new round of intervention in the hurricane season; and offering skills and workshops to anyone who wants to build power in the wake of capitalism’s crisis.

This month is filled with excitement and anxiety.  Once again, temperatures are topping records.  Once again, hurricane season is heating up.  But we are getting ready; hot on the heels of our first innovative and inspiring “Building the Movement for Mutual Aid” Training Tour, the next round begins.  Because it is always training season, always organizing season, always collaborative community building season.

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief trainers are responding to requests for workshops that will help communities around the Gulf of Mexico to prepare together.  We have scheduled trainings in Gainesville (June 22-23)Orlando (July 20-21)Lafayette (July 21-22), and Houston (July 27-28), as well as meetings with friends and allies in New Orleans and at L’eau Est La Vie Camp blockading the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

And some of us recently connected with friends from the other side of the Gulf too – two MADRelief trainers spent the weekend with Public Lab, an open-source citizen science and community technology organization that hosted, for the first time, a “Crisis Convening” that brought together dozens of organizers, educators, scientists, technologists, librarians, mental health professionals, permaculturists, and other locals in Newark, NJ.

There, we were pleased to see some of the incredible leaders of mutual aid in Puerto Rico.  These MADRelief trainers had not yet visited Puerto Rico, but had heard so many inspiring stories about the Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana (where MADRelief helped to put in a photovoltaic system).  An opportunity to meet and learn from members of this powerful project, along with a representative of the grassroots Maria Fund, was a moving experience.

We met many others with diverse experience in grassroots direct action disaster response, especially in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and learned about brilliant ideas such as Social Emergency Resource Centers.  All together, we discussed best practices to share with broader networks and we began to hatch plans for future Crisis Convenings and more trainings, drills, and practice to sharpen our skills and strengthen our connections.

Stay tuned for more updates – we will be rolling out our Fall Tour schedule soon!  See our events calendar HERE, or on our facebook page.  And we have an interactive CURRICULUM PACKET & TRAINING FACILITATION GUIDE in the works – we will publish a rough draft just as soon as we can, and then you can work with others in your community to begin training and preparing.

Categories: News

Milwaukee, WI: Anarchists Storm Bastille Day Festival in Solidarity with #PrisonStrike

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 22:21

The post Milwaukee, WI: Anarchists Storm Bastille Day Festival in Solidarity with #PrisonStrike appeared first on It's Going Down.

Kicking off the week of support and outreach for the #August21 #PrisonStrike, anarchists in Milwaukee put on a show at the Bastille Day festival.

We, a crew of anarchists and artists, staged a spectacle at Milwaukee’s Bastille Days festival on Saturday 14 July to kick start the week of generating support for the upcoming nationwide prison strike as well as for the ongoing campaign to close our local dungeon, the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility.

We arrived semi-nude with messages of prison abolition scrawled on our bodies in paint, chanting “Liberty! Equality! For eternity!” and trumpeting vuvuzelas. Handing out flyers to strangers can be rough and slow going, but the stunt generated real interest from the crowd. We started as 8 people, and over the course of our walk through the streets of the festival, gained five more.

There were definitely some sneers, but few truly negative responses. We were approached by police only to say that “mothers” had complained (think of the children having to view our pastied boobs and speedo-swaddled buttcheeks!).

For our safety and comfort, it was key that we remained in a group, and we frequently counted our numbers to make sure no one had been separated. Once it began to rain, we took advantage of the captive audience of fair-goers huddled under trees and tents to perform a modified version of a speech from Robespierre about using terror against the enemies of liberty.

While we confused many, we also got several new likes on the social media campaigns for Close MSDF and had good interactions with people in the street about the work we are doing, which we hope will get people out to our general assembly this Wednesday 18 July during the week of support for the strike.

On the whole, this anarchist recommends getting as naked as legally permitted with your friends and putting on a show – it’s a great conversation starter.

Categories: News

Nahuatzén, Michoacán: We Will Not Permit the Imposition of Political Parties

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 21:20

The post Nahuatzén, Michoacán: We Will Not Permit the Imposition of Political Parties appeared first on It's Going Down.

This communique comes from the Indigenous Citizen Council of Nahuatzén. On July 1st, the people of Nahuatzén refused to permit the installation of voting booths in their town, demanding recognition of their movement for Indigenous self-government and autonomy. Regardless of their rejection of the political party electoral spectacle, and the formation of an Indigenous Citizen Council in the town, the Electoral Institute of Michoacán has authorized the legitimacy of an election that didn’t take place, and a political party municipal president that isn’t supported by the people. This communique denounces this political theater and solicits better organization amongst the Indigenous communities that make up the municipality of Nahuatzén and surrounding area.

Brothers and sisters; let these words show our support of the work of the women and men that, without regard to age, social condition or religious beliefs, daily carry out collective work in the Communal House. This collective work seeks to recuperate the building in its entirety and provide better services based in principles of honesty, transparency and humanism. In the following week, we will continue with the collective work projects in the neighborhoods and the surrounding areas.

These FAENAS are work days that are carried out collectively and voluntarily as a service to the community. With these collective work days, we will get rid of the political trash from our streets and neighborhoods.

The Communal House, that is to say the house of everyone, is not a house of bandits, traitors or wolves in sheep’s clothing. Political parties do not have a place here.

They will not govern again, nor will they steal and enrich themselves with the resources of the people. For more than forty years they have occupied the municipal offices by handing down power in a hereditary manner.

We denounce and make clear that the Electoral Institute of Michoacán, in complicity with Martín García Avilés (president of the State Executive Committee of the Party of the Democratic Revolution) again seeks to violate the will and peace of our community. Their intention is to impose by public force, David Eduardo Otlíca Avilés, as municipal president. What they seek is to carry out a fraud disguised as legality.

The system of elections based in political parties has never benefited Indigenous peoples. How can there be democracy when the bad government threatens to impose a municipal president in a community where there weren’t even elections? What type of democracy is it when in a municipality with nearly 30,000 inhabitants, a “president” is elected by only 1,606 votes? The Electoral Institute of Michoacán authorized this farce election demonstrating that the official institutions represent the interests of groups of power and money.

Davis Otlíca is a person who is not welcome in our town. We will continually denounce that he is illegitimate because he does not have the will of the people to govern. In the municipality we are nearly 30,000 inhabitants and he obtained only 1606 votes that he bought in a humiliating and mocking manner with gifts of tarps, umbrellas, hats, and other crumbs that he gave to the people for their vote. We know that the bad government supports him, but we have the reason and the right. Justice is on our side and we will not permit this imposition.

The capitalist state, through the Electoral Institute of Michoacán, searches in every way to impose their will, violating their own laws. In a unilateral and deceitful manner, the past January 30th, they decided to suspend the citizen consultation ordered by the Supreme Chamber of the Federal Electoral Court, located in the City of Toluca, Mexico State. This citizen consultation was meant to determine the election system of our authorities and to transition our town from the system of political parties to one of our normative system of Uses and Customs. Instead of following through with the consultation, they waited for the election date to pass to afterwards have the consultation.

NOW, WE DO NOT NEED THE CONSULTATION. ON JULY 1ST, THE WILL OF OUR COMMUNITY ALREADY DEMONSTRATED THEIR REJECTION OF THE ELECTORAL FARSE. OUR PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY WOKEN UP AND NOBODY IS GOING TO STOP US.

We will continue exercising our autonomy through our self-government supported by Article 2 of the Mexican Political Constitution that, “recognizes and guarantees the right of the Indigenous peoples and community to free determination and autonomy”; and the San Andrés Accords regarding Indigenous rights and culture.

We invite our sisters and brothers of the communities that form part of the municipality of Nahuatzén to unite with us and not allow the puppets of the bad government to install their municipal offices in your communities to rob the people. Do not allow them to violate your dignity. Enough already of the humiliation!

The united people will never be defeated!

Council yes, political parties no!

Always until the victory!

SINCERELY,

COMMUNITY OF NAHUATZÉN

INDIGENOUS CITIZEN COUNCIL OF NAHUATZÉN

JUACHI HUINAPEKUA

Categories: News

Mother & Community Members Occupy Construction Equipment to Protect Children from Fracked Gas Pipelines

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 19:53

The post Mother & Community Members Occupy Construction Equipment to Protect Children from Fracked Gas Pipelines appeared first on It's Going Down.

It’s Going Down was sent the following communique on the recent occupation of VNG Pipeline Construction Equipment to protect children at the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and people everywhere from fracked gas pipelines.

CHESAPEAKE, Virginia – 12 people gathered at 5am on a Monday morning and readied themselves to greet construction workers at the Southside Connector Pipeline site right by Thurgood Marshall Elementary school. Banners were tied across equipment that read; “Methane Gas Blast Danger + Climate Disaster”, “Our Children Deserve Better”, “No Pipelines”, and “Blast Zone 540ft”. A handful of the participants sat on construction equipment, and others gathered nearby. The group identified one major reason for their presence- the children at Thurgood Marshall Elementary and children everywhere are put at risk by the presence of fracked/methane gas pipelines.

Community members occupy construction equipment right next to Thurgood Marshall. They held space and delayed construction for about 2 hours. Their message: “Children in the Methane Gas Blast Zone.”

The group was calm but deliberate in their message. Their concern was for the future of children here in Hampton Roads and children everywhere. The occupation of the equipment was a demonstration that children should not be put at risk in the name of profit. The police gave a warning that they would be charged with trespassing, which prompted some protestors to step away from equipment. But, one person, Kim Williams (a mother and Norfolk resident) remained in place until the police removed them from equipment and cited for trespassing. “As a parent, I am horrified by the thought of children, teachers, and school staff working daily so close to a potential methane blast. We must say no to new fossil fuel pipelines”, says Kim as she occupies the equipment.

Thurgood Marshall elementary is in the blast zone of the Southside Connector Pipeline. The group distributed literature (included below) and baked goods to Virginia Natural Gas workers with information on the hazards of a blast zone. The southside connector has a potential Blast Zone Radius of 300-600 feet depending on the operating pressure- with a max of 1,250 PSI. According to their info, in a worst-case scenario; “Homes within 540 feet of the blast were destroyed.” Thurgood Marshall Elementary is easily within 100 feet of the pipeline.

Methane gas and carbon emissions from pipelines in Chesapeake, VA and everywhere are also a significant threat for children. Each of these types of gases contribute to climate change and only accelerate climate change’s impact on sea-level rise, extreme weather, public health, and much more.

Links for more information:

Categories: News

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