Sorry, I’m really shit about short-notice posts about events I’m doing. Tomorrow night I’m speaking at the MKZ about anarchism in the United States. It’s at 20:00, and it’s free. I might even have visual aids, but I’m not certain about that yet. This was a special request from friends here in Amsterdam that I speak on this subject, and I hope to do justice to the actually really vibrant and diverse scene that I hail from.
I don’t actually really know what epistomology means (and I have no idea if I’m spelling it right, cause this computer is spellchecking thinking I’m writing in Dutch), but today I ran across anarchapistemology. It’s a rather interesting anarcha-feminist blog. They’ve got a really solid analysis… almost non-analysis, of what happened in Pittsburgh at the g-20 (parts two and three are worth reading as well.) From the last post:
I wanted to write about the street medics who had created a clinic with skilled medical volunteers, anarchist staff, massage, acupuncture, herbalists. The street medics who stayed behind in Schenley Park to treat college students while all the activists got the hell out, and who got arrested mid-treatments, prevented from helping, held chained on buses for hours and hours in the cold, came out with handcuff injuries and tears. The injuries and the emotional trauma. The fear, the helplessness felt by unprepared victims of completely arbitrary police violence. The helplessness felt by the medics and friends trying to support a crowd of people who they couldn’t get to. Medic work is hard and important, and shouldn’t ever be overlooked or thankless. It is one of the greatest contributions to the new world that we are actively building right there, right there within the act of destroying the old!
The thing I love about this is that it sidesteps a false dichotomy. There are people who say “protests are traumatic, therefore we shouldn’t go to protests, and anyone who says we should is practically responsible for causing the trauma themselves.” and this irritates the piss out of me. And there are people who say “who cares about sissy stuff like trauma? we’ve got cops to fight! er, I mean, summits to counter-demonstrate!” who, clearly from my sardonic tone, I have no time for either. Instead, the author goes about describing how we can learn to be powerful, how we can address the mental wounds we will be taking as we confront state power.
I just came from a memorial for an israeli anarchist friend of mine, Tal, who died this past winter of cancer. She was one of the most powerful and vibrant and stern people I’ve known. It’s always the case that when people die, we use hyperboles to describe them, but Tal really was one of the most bad-ass folks I’d met. I, of course, wish I’d known her better. But when I came back to Amsterdam the second time, in 2006, she let me stay at her place. I was worrying about this or that emotional thing. She looked at me sternly: “You american anarchists. You’re all too sensitive.” Sometimes, I think she’s right. I’m a bit fond of cold, emotionless cultures myself. But we can’t just “toughen up” all the time, not internally, not within our own discourse among people who should be our allies.
Several people I care about are facing serious charges resulting from May Day.
In Santa Cruz, the illustrator of Times Square, my friend Wes Modes has been labeled as the “leader” of the local anarchist movement it seems. He was already being harrassed and facing charges for a bunch of bullshit, but now the police are harassing SubRosa Infoshop and, near as I can tell from being quite far away, accusing Wes of basically orchestrating everything. This is, of course, absurd. It’s always absurd when they accuse us of having authoritarian leaders, but it’s always even more absurd the people they pick to harrass. I personally think they’re picking people who are the oldest and most public men.
In Asheville, 11 anarchists are facing serious charges of vandalism, etc. for being present at a May Day protest that targeted some property. They faced ridiculously high bail, disproportionate, of course, to the amount of damage that they’re accused of inflicting. Fortunately, the Boulvedier has fashion advice for them.
Oh, and a US IWW member, Alexandra Svoboda, was found guilty of having her leg broken by a cop a march in 2007. As we all know, getting the shit beat out of you by cops is a crime in this country: it’s called assaulting an officer. Basically, any time the police injure you, they need to manufacture a case that you attacked them. In this case, they claim that she hit the police with a pair of drumsticks. Drumsticks? You’d be better off hitting someone with your fists! Yeah fucking right she attacked the police with a pair of drumsticks. Look at her leg and tell me the police haven’t committed a crime. Anyhow, now she’s facing four years in jail, cause she got found guilty.
And finally, the 5th of May in Greece was the day of a general strike. Over 200,000 people poured into the streets. When a bank was set on fire with a molotov, three employees died of smoke inhalation. To say that this is tragic is an understatement. To say that it is embarassing is, well, sort of vain. But it’s tragic and it’s embarassing, regardless. Already, everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else about who’s fault this is. But as much as I’m mournful that it was probably anarchists throwing a molotov that caused this death directly, the most damning thing I’ve seen is this letter from an employee of the bank that places the blame on the employers, who actually locked the employees in the building, threatened everyone with firing if they joined the strike, and denied them internet access for the day to keep them communicating with the outside world. Wage slavery, indeed:
“I feel an obligation toward my co-workers who have so unjustly died today to speak out and to say some objective truths. I am sending this message to all media outlets. Anyone who still bares some consciousness should publish it. The rest can continue to play the government’s game.
The fire brigade had never issued an operating license to the building in question. The agreement for it to operate was under the table, as it practically happens with all businesses and companies in Greece.
The building in question has no fire safety mechanisms in place, neither planned nor installed ones – that is, it has no ceiling sprinklers, fire exits or fire hoses. There are only some portable fire extinguishers which, of course, cannot help in dealing with extensive fire in a building that is built with long-outdated security standards.
No branch of Marfin bank has had any member of staff trained in dealing with fire, not even in the use of the few fire extinguishers. The management also uses the high costs of such training as a pretext and will not take even the most basic measures to protect its staff.
There has never been a single evacuation exercise in any building by staff members, nor have there been any training sessions by the fire-brigade, to give instructions for situations like this. The only training sessions that have taken place at Marfin Bank concern terrorist action scenarios and specifically planning the escape of the banks’ “big heads” from their offices in such a situation.
The building in question had no special accommodation for the case of fire, even though its construction is very sensitive under such circumstances and even though it was filled with materials from floor to ceiling. Materials which are very inflammable, such as paper, plastics, wires, furniture. The building is objectively unsuitable for use as a bank due to its construction.
No member of security has any knowledge of first aid or fire extinguishing, even though they are every time practically charged with securing the building. The bank employees have to turn into firemen or security staff according to the appetite of Mr Vgenopoulos [owner of Marfin Bank].
The management of the bank strictly bared the employees from leaving today, even though they had persistently asked so themselves from very early this morning – while they also forced the employees to lock up the doors and repeatedly confirmed that the building remained locked up throughout the day, over the phone. They even blocked off their internet access so as to prevent the employees from communicating with the outside world.
For many days now there has been some complete terrorisation of the bank’s employees in regard to the mobilisations of these days, with the verbal “offer”: you either work, or you get fired.
The two undercover police who are dispatched at the branch in question for robbery prevention did not show up today, even though the bank’s management had verbally promised to the employees that they would be there.
At last, gentlemen, make your self-criticism and stop wandering around pretending to be shocked. You are responsible for what happened today and in any rightful state (like the ones you like to use from time to time as leading examples on your TV shows) you would have already been arrested for the above actions. My co-workers lost their lives today by malice: the malice of Marfin Bank and Mr. Vgenopoulos personally who explicitly stated that whoever didin’t come to work today [May 5th, a day of a general strike!] should not bother showing up for work tomorrow [as they would get fired].”
– An employee of Marfin Ban
This is awesome: Glen Beck is giving more PR for the radicals, this time for anarchists. (Last time it was for “The Coming Insurrection,” this time for We Are An Image From The Future, a book about Greek anarchism). Of course, he tries to claim that these books weren’t written by anarchists (right in one case, wrong in another). But then he goes on to say that all the leftist groups are all happily working together as one big strong movement.
I think he’s afraid of the (A) word because he figures his libertarian viewers might be sympathetic to us.
May Day is my favorite holiday. Actually, it’s kind of my only holiday. I celebrate christmas with my family, and my dad calls me on winter solstice to wish me a happy new year, but May Day is the one I really feel a connection to.
This year, I took a train to the city of Nijmegen in the east of Holland to attend an anarchist demonstration there. The Dutch haven’t had much of a May Day tradition in something like 50 years, so it was wonderful to be part of the largest such event in decades. Anyhow, the local anarchists had even gone ahead and gotten a permit for the event, since May Day is intended as a celebration, and they wanted the event to be as kid friendly as possible. But the police simply cannot be trusted to keep their truncheons to themselves.
It started of nice enough, with a bunch of speeches I couldn’t understand. The crowd was decently mixed: mostly younger punk/squatter anarchist types, but there were a fair number of older folks and children as well. We left the station and paraded about, with a few younger kids putting up stickers and some folks wheatpasting. We told the police they would not be allowed to enter the march itself. At one point, a cop started walking inside the crowd. He was confronted and then left. We stopped at a beautiful squatted building with a fantastic mural. Then we marched to another neighborhood that was going to be entirely demolished to make way for gentrification. All along, the police horses were skittish, and the police clearly had poor control over them.
We marched through a tunnel. Once again, the police tried to get into the march. We didn’t allow them. Some stencils, stickers, spraypaint, and wheatpaste went up. On the other side, a police horse knocked an unaffiliated woman off her bicycle and sent her to the hospital. Shortly thereafter, a police horse trampled a man right in front of me (who I was both unable to help or photograph, so much for that cliched dillemma). After this, they started attacking the crowd. It’s almost a joke: we always say “the police started it” and the media always says we do. But honestly, we rarely start in with the violence. Here, the police trampled someone, then started freaking out about losing control, so they began to attack with sticks and horses. People defended themselves, with flagpoles and bottles.
After awhile, things calmed down a bit, and the police started marching us around. I got out and watched as people were forced towards the police station. The police station, though, was right next to the train station, and the remaining crowd was put into the station and told to leave town. Regardless of where they lived.
But in the end, only three people were arrested, all of whom were let out later that night. Most people eventually left the train station and reconverged for dinner and conversation.
Yesterday, April 13th, cops raided an anarchist collective space in Brooklyn without a warrant and have detained two folks. It’s hard to tell right now, but it seems to be related to the upcoming Anarchist Film Festival, which is held in honor of Brad Will, who was murdered by the government of Mexico during the Oaxaca teacher’s rebellion in 2006. Fuck, has it already been almost four years? I remember where I was when I found out he’d been killed. He was an almost painfully earnest fellow, one of those activists who I ran across everywhere.
The press release, from infoshop:
From the anarchist 1am collective
Today in Brooklyn NY, the NYPD entered without a warrant 13 Thames Art Space, a Bushwick based art and performance space where members of the Independent Anarchist Media (I AM) Collective have been organizing the Fourth Annual NYC Anarchist Film Festival in honor of Brad Will.
Two plainclothes detectives entered first, followed quickly by a Lieutenant and vans full of blue shirt officers. After corralling everyone present in the back room, they searched the space and detained two members of the collective.
The I AM collective was preparing for the NYC Anarchist Film Festival, a showcase of resistance movements and insurrectionary events from around the world presented from an anarchist and anti-authoritarian perspective.
Our response to the raid: regardless of these attacks, the film festival will happen as planned on Friday April 16, 2010 at Judson Memorial Church. The voice of decentralized creative communities will not be silenced by police repression. They cannot raid us, because we are everywhere.
and a one-minute video of the event:
I’ll be tabling at the 4th annual anarchist bookfair in NYC on April 17th for Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, along with my friend and fellow crud goth Enola of the wonderful zine No Gods, No Mattress (who is too curmudgeonly to have a website or put the zine online or anything).
April 17th, 11am to 7pm
Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, Manhattan
I’m typing up a book called The Myths of Property by my friend Karen Coulter. It’s fascinating, and throwing me into all kinds of fits and moods. Here’s a quote from Judge Read of Ohio in 1845:
Slavery is wrong, inflicted by force and supported alone by the municipal power of the state or territory where it exists. It is opposed to the principles of natural justice and right, and is the mere creature of positive law. Hence, it being my duty to declare the law, not to make it, the question is not, what conforms to the great principle of natural rights and universal freedom—but what do the positive laws and institutions … command and direct.
So basically he’s saying “well, slavery is abhorrent, but I’m just a judge, so I’ll work within the constraints of the law as exists.”
This weekend I attended what might have been the best anarchist conference I’ve been to. If nothing, else, NC Rising was more encouraging and inspiring than anything I’ve attended in a good long time. The workshops were good, but by far the best thing about it was to see anarchists and anti-authoritarians of all stripes networking together with only the slightest bit of shit-talking. So good!
I got to see The Chicago Conspiracy, a new documentary about the ongoing revolt in Chile. It’s a remarkable piece of work; well-made and engaging. It shows the viewer why people are fighting from a more personal position than simply explaining that the government is bad.