“If I Die in Police Custody, Burn Everything Down!”

Originally posted to IT’S GOING DOWN:

Across the US, in response to the outpouring of rebellion in the wake of a tidal wave of police murders, a handful of cops have been charged, several have been fired, and a few have simply quit. Those in power, from president Obama to the local police chiefs, rush to make cosmetic changes to an ever militarizing police force. They hurry to buy police body cameras while at the same time departments spend millions on decommissioned military vehicles and weapons to suppress future rebellions.

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They say the conversation on policing and race and America has changed, but the daily reality of American life continues to produce piles of dead bodies and millions of people incarcerated. Since Mike Brown’s murder by Ferguson police, over 1,100 people have been killed by law enforcement in the United States.

We aren’t in a crisis of policing – we’re in the middle of a war.

“That’s the Only Way Motherfuckers Like You Listen!”

At the same time, due to the ongoing rebellions in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Oakland, those in the “opposition,” from the unions, to Jackson and Sharpton, to the Nation of Islam, have all intensified their rhetoric. The commemoration for the ‘Million Man March’ is entitled, “Justice or Else!” The recent disruptions of the Presidential debates, from Sanders to Clinton to Bush all point to a growing anger at politics as usual and an acceptance of more radical action. But these protests also continue this idea that if “justice” is not served, there will be consequences. “If you don’t negotiate with us, we’ll set the rabble loose!,” say the activists and politicians in waiting.

But it hasn’t been the ‘leaders’ of the official Black Lives Matter group, the New Black Panthers, or any of the leftist parties that have pushed the current uprisings; the revolts has by and large been carried out by the people themselves and the youth in particular. In Baltimore, it was high-schoolers who trashed cop cars and threw stones at police, driving them out of the neighborhood. In Ferguson, it was the neighborhood of Canfield which fought back every night for weeks in the face of a military occupation. It was a collection of graffiti writers, youth of color, and anarchists who held the streets and blocked freeways in Oakland for close to a month.

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During these rebellions, the “official” organizations, whether the Democratic Party or the non-profits, were all trying to smoother the uprisings. Now, they hope to turn this energy into votes and new members. But while the official groups try to match their rhetoric to the actions of the people, all they have as leverage against those in power to make changes is the actions of the people they hope to drown out. “Listen to us and we will make sure there isn’t a riot,” they say. “Make these changes, put us in power, and there won’t be an uprising.”

But things must change, everything must change.

The riots were just the start, we must go much further.

“Rise the Fuck Up! Shut that Shit Down!”

Buildings have been burned, freeways have been blocked, and millions of dollars of property and police equipment has been destroyed. “But nothing has changed,” we hear people say over and over again. And they are right.

With each cycle of revolt, things only seem to get worse. The anti-war movement, the student movement, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter – all of these moments were largely based around the idea of exacting a cost on a system in order to push it to make structural changes. From blocked freeways, to burned buildings, to shaming hashtags, “Here, have a taste of our anger,” was our mindset.

But those in power became quite adapt at making changes – changes that didn’t amount to shit. Their rhetoric changed; they said words like, “the 99%” and “Black Lives Matter,” around election time. They put cameras on police, but in the end the cameras are still pointed at us. They took healthcare away from prisoners and diverted it into higher education. They passed laws upping the minimum wage to $15 in several years time; keeping us squarely locked in poverty. All the while, this society continues to break down and the ecological system continues to hurtle us towards apocalypse.

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The militant movements of the last several years have been failures because they have only sought to generate reforms from the present system, even if they didn’t make demands. We went into the streets knowing something was wrong, but in the back of our minds we hoped those in power would listen to us and make changes.

Those in the Left groups with their newspapers claimed we lacked a vanguard party to guide us. The unions claimed we lacked representation in the workplace. The churches and mosques said we lacked moral superiority in the face of state violence. The non-profits whined we had a poor outreach strategy.

The riots, blockades, occupations, and shut-downs failed because they didn’t go far enough.

Revolutions that go half-way, dig their own grave.

“If I die in police custody, don’t let my parents talk to…Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, or any of the motherfuckers who would destroy my name.”

Being a revolutionary in the present terrain means knowing that things aren’t going to get better; that currently there are no reforms that the system can grant that will get us out of the current crisis. Those in power will continue to offer only more repression, surveillance, incarceration, and policing to quell in rebellion, while also attempting to placate to popular anger by attempting to offer cosmetic changes or “expand the dialog.”

But what would a revolutionary strategy look like? What has already taken place in the streets that can show us a way forward? In the past several years, across the world, from Oakland to Egypt, we’ve seen the proliferation of various tactics and strategies – all responding to a historical moment of crisis that defines our era.

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We have seen the proliferation of occupations, whether in camps, squares, or buildings. These communal spaces serve as a vehicle to get organized from and meet the needs of the insurgents involved. We saw this in many Occupy camps, in Tahrir square, and in Ferguson around the burned QT building. All insurrections need bases of operations; they need space. But we have to push and expand this space, into schools and universities (such as in various occupations across Chile and Europe), in occupied union halls and workplaces (such as in Greece), and into public areas and whole regions (such as in Turkey at Gezi Park, throughout the Rojava Revolution in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, indigenous blockades of pipelines such as across Canada, and at the ZAD in France).

Autonomy is power.

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Beyond just being a place where people talk and make plans, these places need to expand the communal activity of people organizing themselves and meeting their needs directly. But such space will always need to be defended. Whether it is the streets of Ferguson from the police and the National Guard, or the occupied Egyptian squares, rioting has been the offensive capacity by which people have defended themselves from government forces and expanded their territories.

“Let them know, that my sisters got this!”

Rioting, in a defense and offensive capacity also allows people to attack the infrastructure of the enemy: namely the police, surveillance systems, and the like. However, beyond bank windows and burned patrol cars, the use of blockades has proven to be a very effective tactic in shutting down the flows of capital, stopping the construction of a project, and preventing the movement of state forces. We can see this most spectacularly in the indigenous struggles in Canada (such as the Mi’kmaq and Unist’ot’en), where Native groups are setting up encampments to stop the development of fracked oil pipelines.

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But these tactics by themselves are just that, tactics. Blockading a freeway against white supremacy might be the start of a longer revolutionary struggle or a way to gather our forces, but simply going onto a freeway and hoping that something will materialize (or worse yet, someone will listen,) is delusional thinking. If we want to build a revolutionary force capable of destroying this system of domination, white supremacy, and exploitation, then we have to think about tactics in terms of a strategy.

Thinking about a strategy means paying attention to the situation we are in both locally where we live, but also nationally and internationally. We have to think about how the Left and those that try and control social struggles will react and try and hinder our efforts. We have to think about how the state will try and repress us for attacking the social order.

But above all, we have to think about how our actions can grow, expand, become more powerful, and ultimately link up with others across the social terrain.

 

The above text has been condensed into a flyer which you can download below. Use the box to fill in a link to local projects. 

Whole page. Quarter sheet.

August 10 is Prisoners’ Justice Day: Let’s Bring the BOP’s Plans for a Prison on Mountaintop Removal Site to the Forefront

From Earth First! Journal:

By Panagioti / Prison Ecology Project

August 10 is a day that prisoners have declared Prisoners’ Justice Day. It’s a day to demonstrate solidarity in remembrance of those who have died unnecessarily behind bars—victims of murder, suicide and neglect—at the hands of the police state.

August-10-plants-break-cuffs

 

It started in Canada in 1975 following the death of prisoner Edward Nalon in a solitary unit of Millhaven Maximum Security Prison located in Ontario, and it has remained most recognized in that country. While there has been some success in calling to use this day as a way to bring awareness to the plights of incarcerated people who suffer injustice worldwide, it still hasn’t quite caught on in the U.S. … yet.

[Check out a collection of reflections from Prisoner Justice Day in recent years here, specifically this “open letter to construction workers at prisons” released in tandem with a 2012 call for blockades of work aimed at expanding the Collins Bay and Frontenac prisons.]

But anti-prison activists in the U.S. and abroad, particularly those with an interest in environmental justice, should note that this year’s August 10 is marked by the proposal to build a new federal maximum security prison in the Appalachian mountains of Letcher County in eastern Kentucky, on top of a former mountaintop removal coal mine.

Just this week, after several years of local debate about the economic failures of building prisons on low-income rural areas, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has announced plans to move forward with another prison in a region that has been dubbed Appalachia’s Gulag Archipelago.

Despite the area’s long history of pollution from decades of blasting for coal, politicians like U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers have insisted on piling prisoners into this remote location which is likely to poison prisoners with tainted water. It also happens to be far from any reasonable transit options for family visitation, not to mention being planned on threatened and endangered species habitat of the incredibly biodiverse region.

What to do about the BOP’s Letcher County plan this Aug 10? 

Prisoners’ Justice Day is fast-approaching, but it’s not too late to plan for action. A quick place to start is sending over a letter to the BOP within this 30-day window telling them that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS )is insufficient, as it does not recognize the civil rights that prisoners have to receive environmental justice protections. This is, of course, in addition to the myriad concerns related to perpetuating the racist and classist mass incarceration system by building more prisons to extract poor people from their communities and warehouse them in toxic places.

Also worth noting is that there is a major PR firm called Cardno who is contracted by the BOP to conduct the EIS study. They are likely representing many more of your corporate and state enemies as well. According to their website, “Cardno now has about 8,200 staff working in 300 offices, on projects across more than 100 countries around the world.”  Their corporate offices are located within the following regions:
Australasia    Middle East    UK/Europe
North America    Africa    Asia
Latin America

 

 

The following text provides some additional history on Prisoners Justice Day becoming international day of solidarity with prisoners:

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In 1983, prisoners in France refused to eat in recognition of August 10th, the following statement would be read on the Paris radio station Frequence-Libre:

Why not have on August 10 an international day of solidarity with our imprisoned brothers and sisters,

For here or elsewhere, prison kills,
Whether it be Nalon in Ontario, Bader or Meinhoff in West Germany,
Claude or Ivan in Switzerland, Bobby Sands in Ireland,
Mirval, Haadjadj, Onno, Youssef or so many others in France,
Whether they are serving 53 years like Alexandre Cotte or 16 years like Youssef,
Whether they are considered political or common prisoners,
PRISON KILLS!

By the mid 1990´s prisoners in parts of Germany, England and the United States would join this day of protest.

The number of issues focused on over twenty-five years has been extensive:

Double Bunking
Youth Incarceration
Safe Tattooing Inside
Special Handling Units
The Wrongfully Convicted
Twenty-five Year Sentences
The Right to Freedom of Speech
The Women Self-defense Review
Abolition of National Parole Board
The Right to Vote in Federal Elections
Decriminalization of Victimless Crime
Health Care Needs of Prisoners With HIV & AIDS
Return to Shorter Sentences with 1/3 Time Off For Good Behaviour
Medical Care and the Same Options for Treatment as Outside Prison
The Integration of Protective Custody prisoners into General Population
Decarceration – Release of Prisoners Who Already Served Their Sentence
Alternatives to Incarceration – the Eventual Abolition of Prisons
The Recognition of Political Prisoners in Canada
Early Intervention Programs for At-Risk Youth
Moratorium on the Building of New Prisons
The Incarceration of Refugee Claimants
The Prisoners´ Right to Unionize
Privatization of Food Services
Needle Exchange Programs
Privatization of Prisons
Involuntary Transfers
Education Programs
Gating of Prisoners

The Right to Recognize August 10th Without Reprisals

PRISONERS’ JUSTICE DAY IS…

…August 10, the day prisoners have set aside as a day to fast and refuse to work in a show of solidarity to remember those who have died unnecessarily — victims of murder, suicide and neglect.

…the day when organizations and individuals in the community hold demonstrations, vigils, worship services and other events in common resistance with prisoners.

…the day to raise issue with the fact that a very high rate of women are in prison for protecting themselves against their abusers. This makes it obvious that the legal system does not protect women who suffer violence at the hands of their partners.

…is the day to remember that there are a disproportionate number of Natives, African-Canadians and other minorities and marginalized people in prisons. Prisons are the ultimate form of oppression against struggles of recognition and self-determination.

…the day to raise public awareness of the demands made by prisoners to change the criminal justice system and the brutal and inhumane conditions that lead to so many prison deaths.

…the day to oppose prison violence, police violence, and violence against women and children.

…the day to publicize that, in their fight for freedom and equality, the actions of many political prisoners have been criminalized by government. As a result, there are false claims that there are no political prisoners in north american prisons.

…the day to raise public awareness of the economic and social costs of a system of criminal justice which punishes for revenge. If there is ever to be social justice, it will only come about using a model of healing justice, connecting people to the crimes and helping offenders take responsibility for their actions.

…the day to renew the struggle for HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment in prison.

…the day to remind people that the criminal justice system and the psychiatric system are mutually reinforcing methods that the state uses to control human beings. There is a lot of brutality by staff committed in the name of treatment. Moreover, many deaths in the psych-prisons remain uninvestigated.

Info on Prisoners’ Justice Day courtesy of PrisonJustice.ca.

Hey Denver, join us next week for a radical series of events!

We’re inviting everyone to join Denver ABC and friends for three very special events on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week. Please spread the word and bring your neighbors, friends, and families. We’ll see you there!

Monday April 27th,
Black Flags and Windmills

https://www.facebook.com/events/1576721502591867/
NOTE EXACT LOCATION: Science Building Room 1067 University of Colorado Auraria Campus 80204
blackflagsandwindmills

This visual and engaging presentation will show what ordinary people can do to change their own worlds and create power from below without coercion. How the ideas of anarchism have shaped and influenced modern political movements from the post-Seattle alternative globalization movements to the Common Ground Collective after Hurricane Katrina, the Occupy uprisings and beyond. It will also cover the rise of the surveillance state and the implications of activism being labeled ‘terrorism’ .The presentation which is equal parts personal story, radical history and organizing philosophies asks questions about how we engage in social change, the real and perceived challenges presented by the state and power and dares us to rethink how we engage in creating our futures.

Organized by CU Denver’s Social Justice Minor with co-sponsorship from Auraria Climate Justice Coalition

scott crow is an international speaker and author. He has spent his varied life as a coop business owner, political organizer and educator, strategist, and underground musician who is a proponent of the philosophy and practices of anarchism.
He is the author of the acclaimed book Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy and the Common Ground Collective (PM Press). He’s a contributor to the books Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab (AK Press), The Black Bloc Papers (LBC), Witness to Betrayal (AK Press /Emergency Hearts) and What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race and the State of the Nation(South End Press) as well as within radical and alternative publications He appears frequently in international media including the New York Times, Democracy Now, CNN, NPR, RT News, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, Der Spiegel and Vice as well as in the political documentaries and Informant (Music Box), Better this World (PBS)and Welcome to New Orleans (Fridthjof Films). . He was under surveillance by the FBI as an alleged domestic terrorist threat for a decade without charges being brought. The New York Times characterized him as “anarchist, veteran organizer and an aficionado of civil disobedience”, the FBI noted in a memo “…crow is a puppet master involved in direct action. “ and NPR’s This American Life called him “a living legend among anarchists”. He can be found at www.scottcrow.org

Tuesday April 28th,
Political Prisoners and the Perpetual Amerikan Conquest

https://www.facebook.com/events/820648224692843/
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From three former revolutionaries, an illuminating analysis of the current Amerikan police state, and how to fight it. Three former political prisoners and longtime activists, Ashanti Alston, Sekou Kambui, and Ricardo Romero, will share their perspectives on the ongoing repression in the U.S. in relation to political prisoner support and mass incarceration, and will take a look towards the future, at what is needed in the fight for a free society.

What has been done to free Amerikan political prisoners in the past that can be repeated? How can those tactics be adapted and added to in the fight against mass incarceration? What are the psychological, emotional, and spiritual demands on a revolutionary? How can we, in short, work to free our political prisoners first and foremost, and realize the revolutionary potential in ourselves and our communities? Three experienced activists and former prisoners speak out.

Organized by Denver ABC and Auraria Climate Justice Coalition.
Endorsed by Denver Community Defense Committee.

Wednesday April 29th,
Anarchist Movie Night: Historic Denver Protest Footage

https://www.facebook.com/events/1577277932555801/
copcarflip

Wednesday 4/29, at 8pm we will be showing footage from Denver actions of the past:

-1992 MLK protests against against the Klan
-Riots following the murder of Marvin Booker
-2006 Columbus Day protests
-2011 O22 March Against Police Brutality
-Various footage from current day Denver actions

Hosted by Denver ABC at the Mutiny Information Cafe on Broadway and Ellsworth(2 S. Broadway).

My Comrade, Richard Aoki

From the San Francisco Bay View:

by Elbert “Big Man” Howard

Their revolutionary spirit as strong as when they met 42 years earlier – despite life-threatening maladies – proud Black Panthers Richard Aoki and Elbert “Big Man” Howard enjoy coming together for the Oakland premiere of the award-winning documentary, “Merritt College Home of the Black Panthers,” in October 2008. – Photo: Carole Hyams

At almost 75 years of age, there are very few things in life that surprise me anymore. However, I can say I was not only surprisedby the allegations made against my comrade Richard Aoki, I was sickened. I should not have been surprised because I know that this government still has unfinished business with us, we Panthers, and being dead doesn’t free us from their need to persecute us and create chaos and mistrust among those of us who remain.

The San Francisco Chronicle, like most mainstream press, loves this shit. It was not so long ago when this administration found a way to try to destroy my comrades, the San Francisco 8, decades after several of them had been tortured and the case had been thrown out. The brothers were amazingly strong and eventually most of them have been able to go on with their lives, but at a great cost to all of them.

My comrade John Bowman’s death was most definitely hastened by the persecution (not prosecution, persecution). The SF Chronicle, at a very sensitive time in the case, produced a huge front page spread by a writer who tried to link the murder of a young woman, a totally unrelated occurrence, to this case. So the fact that the SF Chronicle was so eager to publish and sensationalize the garbage put out by this so-called author, Rosenfeld, with his “30 years of research,” is not a surprise to me.

Full story.

King Blaze, ¡Presente!

Blaze with AIM Prisoner of War, Leonard Peltier at USP Leavenworth, 2004

We recently received news that a dear comrade and revolutionary Latin King, Gabriel Concepcion, AKA King Blaze, passed away in February. Due to internet email glitches, the news is very late in getting to us.

Blaze was a former prisoner and long time street member of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN). Since his imprisonment in the mid 90’s, Blaze became a devout revolutionary. He dedicated his life to trying to transform the ALKQN into a street level revolutionary organization. He was released from prison in 2007, and became involved with organizing back in his hometown of the Bronx in New York City. He passed away at his mother’s home on February 25, 2012.

The grief of this loss is very overwhelming, as this news very recently reached us. A longer writing will surely come. But for now, we invite you to read two articles about Blaze’s work with the former Allied Resistance Network, a prisoner revolutionary organization active from 2003-2009.

In love and solidarity! Remember our dead and fight like hell for the living!
King Blaze, ¡Presente!

Thoughts of a Latin King
The Pen is Mighty

Judith Clark’s Radical Transformation

By TOM ROBBINS, NY Times Magazine

On Oct. 20, 1981, a band of militant zealots armed with automatic weapons tried to rob a Brink’s truck in a shopping mall in Nanuet in Rockland County, N.Y. Before it was over, two armored-car guards were shot and two police officers — one black and one white — were gunned down at a roadblock. The crime was one of the last spasms of ’60s-style, left-wing violence. To the militants, it was an “expropriation” for something they called the Republic of New Afrika, a place that existed mainly in their fevered dreams.

Judith Clark was one of four people arrested that day for armed robbery and murder. She was 31, a veteran of the white left who traveled the radical arc from student protest to the Weathermen to the fringes beyond. A new single mother, she kissed her infant daughter goodbye that morning, promising to be home soon.

No one ever accused Clark of holding or firing a gun that deadly afternoon. But she was there, a willing participant, at the wheel of a tan Honda getaway car. Over the next two years while she awaited trial in jail, Clark became a fiercer warrior than she was on the day of the robbery. During court hearings, she told the judge she was a “freedom fighter” who didn’t recognize the right of imperialist courts to try her. She called court officers “fascist dogs!” when they clashed with her supporters.

Read the rest here.

DNC 2008: Anti-capitalista bloc scuffle started as staged fight between cops

From the Denver Post:

When a Jefferson County deputy unleashed pepper spray at unruly protesters on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, he did not know that his targets were undercover Denver police officers.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado is questioning whether that staged confrontation by police pretending to be violent inflamed other protesters or officers during the most intense night of the four-day event.

The protest occurred Aug. 25 at 15th Street and Court Place near Civic Center. Police ultimately arrested 106 people, the highest number of arrests in a single day during the convention.

According to a use-of-force police report obtained by the ACLU, undercover Denver detectives staged a struggle with a police commander to get pulled out of the crowd without blowing their cover. The commander knew they were working undercover, and the plan was to pull them out of the crowd and pretend they were under arrest so protesters would be none the wiser.

A Jefferson County deputy, unaware of the presence of undercover police, thought that the commander was being attacked and used pepper spray on the undercover officers.

The report says that the commander and an undercover detective were sprayed, but it does not indicate how many others were affected. The report also doesn’t say whether the pepper spray used on the undercover police was the first deployment of chemicals that night or whether the riot was already underway.

Denver police have said they were trying to control the crowd moving from Civic Center. The officers testified in court that they had intelligence that anarchists planned to gather in the park, then move toward the 16th Street Mall to wreak havoc at delegate hotels and other businesses. The activists had posted that plan on a publicly available website.

Full story here