Tag Archives: Activism

Photos – Reclaim the City demonstration in Mainz, Germany

Alright! I just figured out how to automatically post entire sets from my Flickr to this page. This should make posting photos less of a headache in the future. I step boldly into the 21st century and all of that.

These photos are of a Reclaim The City demonstration that was held here in Mainz, Germany this last weekend. There were thousands of revelers and protesters, three sound trucks playing all sorts of underground techno, drum and bass, punk, hip-hop, anything that can be danced to. We snaked through the city for hours, the crowd getting drunk and dancing, shouting along to anti-fascist music, listening to DJs who worked turntables in front of circle-A banners. The point of the demonstration was to declare that the city needs more autonomous spaces, social centers, etc. and less gentrification, and that they would take the city back for themselves if need be.

It’s an interesting contrast with Queens Day, which is similar drunken revelry in Amsterdam but with an entirely status quo outlook: celebrating the one day of freedom that the queen grants. Both are street parties, but I think that it’s important that Reclaim The City (or Streets) is one that we throw ourselves, by and for “the people,” not something given to us from up on high. Something that says that culture isn’t something that is handed down to us from the almighty radio, but is something that we create ourselves, that we participate in.

The photos trace our walk from the Wagenplatz down to the central station where the march started, then continued throughout the night.

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$100,000 bail set for civil disobedients in West Virginia

Mountaintop removal is probably the single biggest act of hubris committed by humanity against the earth that I can think of. They blow up mountains and dump everything but the scraps of goal they can find into nearby valleys, destroying everything. There’s a committed grassroots coalition fighting tooth and nail against this, and those who speak out against the coal companies in West Virginia routinely have their lives threatened, their dogs shot, etc. etc.

One group, Climate Ground Zero, uses non-violent direct action to confront the mining and the mining companies… things like treesits, blockades, mass trespassing, etc.

Yesterday, two civil disobedients blockaded the entrance to Massey Energy, one of those rare genuinely-evil corporations (for christ’s sake, just look at their logo). Massey is known for breaking the union in the 80s, for being a main proponent of MTR, for poisoning entire cities and wiping out entire towns. The CEO is this guy named Don Blankenship, the highest-paid person in the coal industry. He’s got a hitler mustache, lives above a city he poisoned on a mansion on a mountaintop, where he comes and goes by helicopter. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up: no one would believe a fictional villain this gross. He attacked an ABC reporter and told the journalist that he would be shot if he tried to film him. (I’ve seen the video of it, but can only find that article with stills online).

Right, anyhow, two people blockaded Massey’s office, and now bail is set at an incredible $100,000. West Virginia loves its coal companies, even as they destroy West Virginia physically, economically, and socially (whole towns wiped out regularly, everyone young just leaves the state, etc. etc.).

Help out Firestorm Cafe in Asheville (by voting for it on this thingy)

One of my favorite infoshops in the US is Firestorm Cafe & Books. I’ve written many a zine and a good chunk of a book while sitting there eating tofu wraps. Mmm. Anyhow, they’re an awesome group, and they’re in a position to win some grant money from a “slow money” foundation. If you go to http://www.firestormcafe.com/slowmoney, you can vote for them up to three times, and please please do. Further, the company in second place is a company that raises animal for slaughter. So you’re helping out the anarchists and keeping the animals safe, all at once.

Portland Holds Space

One thing that warms my heart are my friends and comrades who keep it up, who’ve been at it as long as I’ve known them. Marco holds it down as a community organizer and anarchist outside the radical niche, because that’s what he thinks is useful and that’s where he lives.

Here’s an article about the action from Portland Indymedia.

Today, fifty anarchists arrived at five p.m with the intention of taking and holding space at the intersection where the death of James Chasse occurred. At some point during the night, a creative and sneaky comrade had changed the street sign at the intersection to read “James Ave,” a tribute to the lost community member who was killed at the hands of the Portland Police in 2006.

Immediately, individuals began to break into affinity groups and carry out the tasks they had agreed to do together. While people began stringing caution tape across the intersection, others grabbed wooden pallets and began to stack them together to create a barricade. Banners were hung across these impromptu structures. Others grabbed trash cans, cardboard and other reinforcements. Soon, a dumpster was reclaimed from a near by business and rolled into the intersection and then overturned. Another dumpster soon followed. These dumpsters soon became drum sets, and voices rose to greet them with chants of “another man is deceased, who’s to blame, the police.”

Crowds begin to gather, curious to see why people are demonstrating here. Someone explains that this is the intersection where James Chasse was killed by the Portland Police Department, a man who was a singer and poet, beaten to death by our “boys in blue.” It took the Portland Police Department twenty five minutes to respond. The Portland Police Department deployed roughly fifty bicycle cops and fifteen motorcycle cops. It was also noted that many plain clothes police officers were seen casing the area. The police blocked off two streets and watched while anarchists chanted, spoke and danced inside their barricades. It looked as if the police were very unsure as to how to proceed, and understood that they were being watched by almost two hundred by-standers. The march was able to disperse safely at six p.m, as decided. The action happened on their terms, just like it was intended to. The downtown area was still swarming with police at 6:15 p.m. So far, there have been no reports of arrest.

The intention of the action was to hold the intersection for an hour in remembrance of the death of James Chasse. Four years have passed and we still have not forgotten the brutality inflicted upon him by the police, and the tragedy of his murder. The officers responsible for his death, Chris Humphrey and Kyle Nice, are still employed by the Portland Police Bureau and so far, no disciplinary action has been taken against them.
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Science Fiction Author Found Guilty Of Being Slightly, Peacefully Upset After Being Beaten By Border Guards

Sci-Fi author Peter Watts was found guilty and is facing two years in jail. The media relays that one border guard claims Peter tried to choke him, but Peter points out that this accusation was disproved in court. In short: Peter was driving across the border, the guards beat the everloving shit out of him, and like always happens, then accused him of assault. He was found guilty, because after he was beaten and stepped out of the car, they ordered him to the ground and instead he said “what is the problem, officer?”

for asking that, he’s facing two or three years in prison.

Protesting Sea Lion Slaughter at Bonneville Dam

In what is essentially a textbook case of scapegoating, Fish & Wildlife have begun this years round of sea lion killing. For background about the whole thing, there’s an ORC article from two years ago that sums up the problem (the short version is: there’s a dam in the river that kills salmon, and the fish pool up at the base of it, so sea lions hang out at the base to hunt, but people get upset because they want to raise fishing quotas and can’t because the sea lions are eating some tiny percentage of the fish). Anyhow, In Defense of Animals set up a protest the day after the first killing of the season. We drove up to Bonneville Dam and had ourselves a little media spectacle of a protest. What matters, though, is a continued presence, to let people know that yes, folks are watching this despicable act.

I also got to see a fish ladder in person, and see some awesomely pretty fish. More pictures after the break.
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Palomar Pipeline, Solo Timber Sale

I’ve been continuing to document the Palomar Pipeline and its course through the public lands of Oregon. This time, I went out to the Solo Timber Sale (timber sales have funny names like “Straw Devil”, “Biscuit”, and, in this case, “Solo”). It was a controversial timber sale that’s been fought for by environmentalists and won. Tree sits were erected, rare lichens were found, and the courts and the public reached the conclusion that it ought not be logged. But, of course, pipelines are immune to all those pesky environmental restrictions, so they’re planning on punching right through this isolated, beautiful bit of old growth forest. A friend and I went up to explore, and I took my sturdy minivan on sketchy icy roads that of course I probably ought not have.

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All Power To The People

I just returned from the PIELC conference in Eugene, Oregon. PIELC stands for Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, and it’s pronounced “e-law” owing to people’s fine habit of ignoring when things change their name.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about PIELC and the amazing workshops I went to, and you can learn all kinds of good stuff about biomass electrical generation (in short: it’s bad). Tonight though, I just came back from the saturday night show. Two bands played: Samba Já, a 30-piece drum corps; and Blackbird Raum, my friends and comrades from Santa Cruz. Activist and ex-prisoners Jeff “Free” Luers and Ramona Africa of MOVE.

Until his release last December, Jeff Luers had been in prison the entirety of my involvement with anarchism. The short of it was that he burned two SUVs at a car dealership in the middle of the night as a statement against car culture’s destruction of the earth, and was sentenced to 22 years for something like $40,000 dollars in damage. After years of appeals, his sentence was dropped to 10 years, which he served. He’s a natural speaker, and he talked about the need for the environmental and social justice (and anarchist) movements to stop being so divided. About how our commonalities are so much more important than our differences. That we need pretty much every tactic available to us: not just direct action, and certainly not just arson. We need lawsuits and marches, we need public awareness and we need media campaigns, and we need direct action.

Blackbird Raum has always been dear to my heart. I don’t want to talk shit, but I’m not really a fan of “folk punk,” by and large. Usually, it kind of takes the worst parts about bad punk (three random chords on a guitar, bad lyrics) and the worst parts about bad folk (lack of energy), and combines them into, well, the worst of both worlds. (Folk metal, by the way, is the inverse: the good stuff out of metal and out of folk). Anyhow, Blackbird Raum is the good stuff out of punk (anger and alienation expressed intelligently, plus the unity and comradery of mosh pits) and the good stuff out of folk (accordions, washtub basses, interesting and complex music, great shit to dance to). This was the first time I’d seen them on a stage and all electrified and such, but it was amazing nonetheless.

And then, Ramona Africa. Ramona Africa, well… in 1985, the philly cops firebombed the MOVE (a primarily african-american environmental organization) house, killing everyone except Ramona and one child. The fire eventually consumed the entire city block, all to stop the group from composting and broadcasting their political messages. Anyhow, Ramona is still part of MOVE, which continues to this day, and her speech was simply astounding. She was a keynote speaker earlier at PIELC, so I heard her twice today.

There’s that cliche, “all power to the people.” And you know? I’d never heard it explained. But it’s beautiful. The idea is simple: the power is always in people, in us as individuals. Governments only have power when we pretend like they do. If we stop believing they exist, they will cease to be. Obama doesn’t go to war: soldiers go to war. When we say “all power to the people,” we are saying “we are responsible for our fate. Always have been, always will be. The government isn’t going to stop oppressing us of its own free will.” We are awknowledging that we all have responsibility for what’s happening. We need to stop abdicating our power. We need to bring the power back to the people.

“The people,” isn’t just a mythical thing, an abstraction like “The Man.” “The people” is us. It’s not like “hey, we’re the people, so our protest is instantly right and everyone needs to agree with us, cause we’re the people.” It’s that we’re the people, you’re the people, even the people who hate us are the people. But we, the people, have all of the power. Always have, always will. It’s not a request, it’s not a demand, it’s a statement of truth.

Palomar Pipeline, Clackamas River Crossing

On Sunday I went out with some friends to where the Palomar Pipeline is set to cross the Clackamas river. It’s one of the many, many places that this pipeline will be remarkably disruptive: in this case, running across a beautiful section of river and then clearcutting a whole bunch of old-growth. For fun, go ahead and check out the gas company’s myth-busting of common Palomar myths! For example:

MYTH: Palomar will require clear cutting, and the construction will destroy sensitive environmental areas.

Clearing the right-of-way is very different from the clear-cutting claims project opponents have made. Palomar proposes a temporary 120-foot-wide construction easement reduced to a 50-foot-wide permanent easement once construction is complete

this one is awesome cause it’s like: myth: we’ll be clearcutting. When in fact, we’ll be clearcutting. The myth about eminent domain is pretty good too.

anyhow, more pictures of the area after the break.

Continue reading Palomar Pipeline, Clackamas River Crossing