Bloc Party: Insurgency, Repression, and Prisoners

Originally posted to It’s Going Down:

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This being the inaugural writing of our bi-monthly column here at It’s Going Down, we’re going to take a brief moment to fill y’all in on what you can expect to find in this space. As two anarchists who have long been immersed in movement defense work we find that the connection between what is happening on the inside of prison walls and what occurs on the outside is too often disconnected. We hope to highlight the connections, broadening all of our definitions of movement defense in regards to prisoner support and anti-repression work. You can expect to find a mashup of prisoner updates, repression news from across North America, and some analysis on both the connections and the general state of movements.

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In the spirit of expanding our ideas about repression, we strive to open up new questions and dialogue about what it will look like to prepare and intensify our struggles. Since the uprisings in Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD, and all the smaller ruptures over the last year, we think its fair to say that there is a consistent, low-level insurgency developing in the U.S., that we haven’t seen in the last 30 years. The pigs and the State have been looking at various populations of people as potential insurgents for decades. Its time we start seeing ourselves as such, and act accordingly.

“As two anarchists who have long been immersed in movement defense work we find that the connection between what is happening on the inside of prison walls and what occurs on the outside is too often disconnected.”

We know that the State tries to bring its hammer down inside prison walls, and it appears to be ramping things up on the outside as well. Folks who are newer to political struggles can be shocked or dismayed at the lengths the State will go to in attempting to keep back the crashing waves of revolt that have been sweeping the country. The more spectacular expressions of state repression, such as conspiracy charges, grand juries, and informants, have the effect of spreading paranoia amongst comrades and creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear that can deter new people from engaging.

Often times, as we have seen just in the last few years, heavy-handed crackdowns can have their drawbacks. Though many find themselves galvanized into joining struggles after the State appears to overstep its bounds. The contradiction of U.S. values of free speech and stormtroopers in riot gear become too obvious for even the most hardline fence sitters to continue to ignore.

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Sometimes, its the less overt forms of repression, that come long before the big news headlines, tear gas, and drawn out court cases, that can do the most damage to our movements. Everyday policing and thinly veiled “investigations” of various communities have the effect of beating down the collective confidence of populations. It is no coincidence that these things intensified and have befallen poor communities of color alongside the rise of Black and Brown Power movements of the ’70s. When a community begins to see itself as a community-in-struggle, folks tend to get too uppity and its time to criminalize and harass them into submission.

Since the racist murder of 9 Black people in Charleston, SC, there have been sweeping direct actions against symbols of the Confederacy across the South. After Bree Newsome declared war on the rebel flag by scaling the flagpole on the Capitol grounds in SC, a flood of similar actions spread across the Southern U.S. and beyond. In Chesterfield, VA alone, just in a few weeks there were 2 confederate flags stolen from front porches and burned, garnering hyped-up coverage by local news outlets.

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Confederate monuments across the region have been vandalized, some even hit multiple times, resulting in more news coverage than graffiti would typically garner. There has even been an occasionally trending hashtag, #noflagginchallenge, of people videotaping themselves stealing confederate flags from porches and the backs of trucks, sometimes in the middle of traffic. Aside from the unadulterated joy that comes from watching white middle america fly into a frenzy over what is essentially Bart Simpson-style antics, it is important to note the mainstream media’s coverage of these actions. At every opportunity, petty, political pranksterism becomes a reason to lock your doors at night, even without flying racist symbols outside your house.

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After over 2,000 people attended an Anti-Klan counter-demonstration in Columbia, SC, the only arrests made were anti-racists, with almost comical media narratives making the pettiest of charges strike fear into the heart of already fearful white people. Two of the arrestees, Eddien Patterson and Stephen Loughman, are requesting financial aid and other support. While Stephen’s charge of “Breach of Peace,” may seem insignificant, the media portrayal of him paints him as a random white hooligan with no clear anti-racist affiliations. This also serves to widen the distances between communities of color in struggle and potential white accomplices. Eddien has been portrayed as an ultra-violent Black man with no political analysis around race of his own, leaving him to only fit within a racist narrative of “gang bangers,” and “thugs.”

“The more spectacular expressions of state repression, such as conspiracy charges, grand juries, and informants, have the effect of spreading paranoia amongst comrades and creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear that can deter new people from engaging.”

While many of the actions described appear small, we don’t want to seem as if we aren’t elated at a new tradition of militancy re-surfacing across the country. This low-level but consistent attack on white supremacy sets the bar for how far future ruptures can go, legitimizing tactics in the popular imagination that previously were off the table except to the most militant political factions. Evidence of this is seen in the political landscape of the St. Louis area, forever changed by the events of last August.

On the anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder, thousands flooded the streets to mark his death and celebrate the uprising. Demonstrations and disruptive actions went off around the country, spilling over into the week after. Showing again who they really are, the police tried to kill again that night, a shoot out erupting in the middle of the protests that details are still very fuzzy on, even from the protestor’s side. A state of emergency was declared as anger in the streets flared once again.

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Then once more, 10 days later, on the anniversary of the police murder of the Kajeme Powell, police killed Mansur Ball-Bey. Media estimates anywhere from 100-150 people, mostly from the neighborhood engaged in the initial protest immediately following the shooting. Riot police quickly came in force, forming lines and beginning to push back against the crowd. Before too much time had passed, fires were lit and tear gas was deployed. A new tone is being set in St. Louis and Ferguson that has spread like a wildfire across the country.

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Moving our attention back to what’s been going down on the inside, in the last two weeks of political prisoner news there have been some major losses. While many hearts are aching from the murder of Yogi Bear on August 12th, the resolve to fight against the state apparatuses that wish to destroy us can only grow stronger. With hearts heavy, but fists up, here is the last two weeks in North American political-prisoner news.

“This low-level but consistent attack on white supremacy sets the bar for how far future ruptures can go, legitimizing tactics in the popular imagination that previously were off the table except to the most militant political factions.”

Yogi Bear, aka Hugo Pinell, died under mysterious circumstances after having spent the majority of his 50 year imprisonment in solitary confinement. Yogi Bear died much as he lived, in struggle, as his death was during a uprising and riot within the prison. The details of his murder are still unclear and we can only imagine how little help CO’s and prison administration will be in providing answers. This Black August we remember not only the uprising at San Quentin more than 40 years ago, but we remember our fallen comrade. Rest in power, Yogi Bear.

There is a fundraising effort that has started with the goal of creating a public memorial for Yogi Bear. You can learn more and donate here.

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On August 19th, Bomani Shakur (Keith Lamar) released a statement about the denial of his appeal to the Sixth Circuit United States Court of Appeals. At this point his case will go before the Ohio State Parole Board who will then set an execution date. Bomani released a brief statement this week that can be found at Lucasville Amnesty. While this news comes as yet another blow to those in struggle alongside Bomani, his head is up and heart is strong “It’s not over yet–and even if they succeed in murdering me, I won’t let that stop me from living my life NOW. I’m not going to unravel, or break down in a heap of sorrow.”

Eric King, anarchist prisoner awaiting trial in Leavenworth, Kansas released a new poem through his support crew this week. His support crew are currently raising funds to help with the bullshit costs of incarceration as well as travel funds for attendance to his trial coming up this Fall. With Eric’s recent return from solitary housing to general population, he now has greater access to recreation time and communications. Drop him a line of support at:

Eric King
27090045
CCA Leavenworth
100 Highway Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048

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Chelsea Manning, currently being held at Fort Leavenworth, was found guilty on allegations of prison infractions. Apparently having expired toothpaste and LGBTQ publications is a no-no in military prisons. Chelsea was being threatened with solitary confinement, but instead received restricted access to recreation time for 21 days. While this is certainly better news than indefinite solitary confinement, it isn’t without possible long term ramifications as Chelsea reminded folks in her recent statement: “Now these convictions will follow me thru to any parole/clemency hearing forever. Was expecting to be in min custody in Feb, now years added.” Chelsea also has a current fundraising effort to gather legal fees for her appeal. Find out more about donating or instructions for writing Chelsea here.

Abdullah Majid, New York state political prisoner, is currently launching a campaign around his parole. He is in need of financial support during his parole process as hiring legal representation and an investigator is an expensive endeavor. You can make donations to:

Abdullah Majid Freedom Campaign
Post Office Box 1274
Bronx, New York 10467
718.512.5008
info@abdullahmajid.com

‘Krow,’ aka Katie Kloth, is also in need of legal defense funds. There is a fundraising site that also breaks down Krow’s wishes of how donations are being split between their own legal fees and some radical projects. Remember though, even when you don’t have the funds to donate, a letter of support is of massive importance! So write Krow a letter:

Katie Kloth
300 Taconite Street
Suite 226
Hurley, WI 54534

All letters must be addressed to Katie Kloth (not Krow Kloth) or they will not be received.

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Brandon Baxter of the Cleveland 4 has been in SHU since June after having been assaulted by a correctional officer after having called out the CO’s for their negligence in handling a sexual assault of one inmate by another. It is unclear how long Brandon will be housed in SHU, but several more months are expected. SHU is torturous and your letters of support are vital during this time. Send Brandon some love and soli at:

Brandon Baxter
#57972-060
FDC Oakdale
P.O. BOX 5010
Oakdale, LA
71463

Michael Kimble, a black gay anarchist, currently serving a life sentence for the murder of a white, homophobic and racist asshole. Michael has served 28 years is up for parole this December and needs support in this process! Letters, petitions and phone calls of support are requested. You can find all the details to support Michael over here.

That’s the roundup for this edition. Until next time, keep those fires burning and the insurgency rising.

– Your friendly career bad kids

Repression in Denver

Defend Denver:

Over the last year there has been a strong resistance to police murder and terror across the city of Denver. This is only the most recent surge in resistance to police terror in our city, going back to the loss of Paul Childs in 2003 or more recently Marvin Booker in 2010.

Denver Police have been systematically targeting and arresting those actively involved in this organizing. Denver Community Defense Committee, a group which has organized extensive support for families of people murdered by police, has five of its seven members under prosecution or known to be under investigation by the Gang Unit of DPD. Prominent independent journalists, those with an expansive reach through social media, have been targeted and arrested while filming the police in Denver.

At a rally outside the statewide conference of Chiefs of Police on July 20th it was observed that DPD had a handbook with names, photos and details on local organizers or participants in demonstrations against the police. DPD has a history of this type of behavior with the “Denver Spy Files,” (http://articles.latimes.com/2002/sep/10/nation/na-spies10) where local law enforcement had kept files on those involved in social movements for decades. While it was found to be illegal by a federal court to compile such files on community organizers and activists, and while DPD settled with the ACLU and promised to cease politically motivated surveillance, it appears that they have picked up the practice once again.

Since Friday, August 7 at least three organizers in Denver have been visited at their residences by Denver Police officers. DPD has been asking for people by name and snooping around their homes. At least two activists have found out that police officers tried to enter their residences, without a warrant, while they were away from home. Others who have pending legal cases have had more charges added, many months later with no additional evidence, by the office of Mitch Morrissey, Denver District Attorney. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that after demonstrations were held in front of Morrisey’s home to protest his failure to indict killer cops, his office is maliciously adding false charges against police brutality protesters. There was also a petition to recall Morrisey as DA that garnered 20,000 signatures, a petition supported by the same protester community he is now targeting.

This morning two activists who have been targets of this harassment from DPD were taken into custody. A month ago they were detained while they were walking down the street and given a request to appear with a detective for an interview. They then were notified they were to be interviewed by the Gang Unit. Last Friday 8 officers came looking for them at a previous address. Today they chose to turn themselves in and are currently being held awaiting booking and the setting of bond. Please contribute to their bond fund at: Denver Anarchist Black Cross Bail Fund

Knowing your rights does not ensure that the police honor them. They do not care. They are legally allowed to lie to you, and will lie to you. However knowing your rights and methodically going through them might help you in your interacting with the police and might help you later if you end up having to go to court.

  • Anything you say will be held against you. Do not answer questions. Do not talk to the police.
  • If police come to your door, you do not have to let them into your house if they do not have a search warrant. You do not have to answer any questions. You can exercise your right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney. Videotape them from inside your home.
  • If you are stopped on the street ask if you are being detained. If the answer is no, ask if you are free to leave. If the answer is yes that you are free to leave, leave immediately. Get as far away as you can, call friends and comrades who you trust.
  • If the police are searching your belongings or home, say out loud “I do not consent to this search.” Keep repeating “I do not consent to a search without a warrant.” It will not stop them from searching necessarily but it may impact what is admissible in court.
  • If they do have a warrant ask to see it(they can show it through the screen or glass, or slide it under the door) verify that it has been signed by a judge. Make note of the items listed on the warrant of what they are allowed to search. If they attempt to search or take any additional items say out loud that you do not consent to items being searched that are not on the warrant.

Let’s keep our heads up and hearts strong. And remember always, Mitch Morrissey’s dog is an anarchist.

If you are an organizer or activist being harassed, detained or have officers come to your home let folks know at defenddnvr@gmail.com and people can be in touch as quickly as possible! 

Repression only makes us stronger! Haters make us love harder! 

Solidarity with those arrested during the march against police terror!

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During the march against police terror on February 14th, multiple people were arrested. These people are going to need our help and support. We are asking for any and all donations to help with court fees, bond, and other associated expenses. If you would like to donate, go to our Fundly at: https://fundly.com/donate-to-denver-anarchist-black-cross# You can also donate via paypal at denvercommunitydefense@riseup.net We thank you all in advance for your support. Solidarity with the arrestees and the families and friends of those murdered by the DPD!

Mother’s Day: Remembering the MOVE firebombing of 1985

On Mother’s Day 1985, Phildelphia police firebombed a row house on Osage Avenue, killing 6 adults and 5 children, completely destroying 61 houses, and making 250 residents refugees in their own city.

The intended goal of the police action was to remove the MOVE Organization, an anti-capitalist and deep ecology based movement mostly comprised of veterans of black liberation movements. MOVE had been a thorn in the side of city officials and the local ruling class for a decade. In 1978, a raid that resulted in the death of a police officer and the arrest and life imprisonment of 9 MOVE members, failed to destroy MOVE. By 1985, the city had made a decision that they would not fail again at liquidating the organization.

This Mother’s Day, remember those who were murdered by the Philadelphia Police in 1985, and drop a letter of love and support to the imprisoned members of MOVE who could only watch the news from their prison cells to learn of the fates of their loved ones.

More on the MOVE 9

South Africa: Murder charges against miners “provisionally withdrawn”

From NPR:

The South African government is reversing its decision to charge 270 striking miners for the murder of their colleagues. Sort of.

The BBC is reporting the charges are being provisionally dropped. However, prosecutors say they cannot completely dismiss the murder charges formally until the end of the inquiry into the situation. This means the miners could still be charged with murder under the apartheid-era “common purpose” law. Until the inquiry is finished, the miners are being released from prison.

The decision to provisionally drop murder charges has done nothing to ease public dismay at the situation. After all, the decision to invoke the “common purpose” law lays the blame for the deaths of 34 miners on the shoulders of their peers, not the police officers who actually shot them.

The logic is that when about 3,000 miners went on strike two weeks ago, the police were provoked into using deadly force to keep things from getting out of hand. They felt threatened, according to police, because the strikers were wielding machetes.

Here’s how CNN describes the incident:

Police spokesman Dennis Adrio said that some of those killed in the clash had gunshot wounds in their backs and that weapons were recovered at the scene.

The fatal incident occurred after negotiations between striking miners and mining company Lonmin broke down and police decided to fence in the machete-armed miners with barbed wire, police said.

The protesting miners moved toward police and were driven back with tear gas and rubber bullets. Police said they resorted to live ammunition when protesters attacked, leaving 34 people dead and 78 others wounded.

No police officers have been charged with the deaths pending a judicial inquiry and internal police review, which could take months.

It’s still not clear why prosecutors decided to invoke “common purpose” law. The doctrine was employed during the apartheid years to crack down on black opponents of the minority-white ruling party. Applying it to the current situation seems to highlight the growing tensions in South Africa over increased income disparity and high rates of unemployment.

In the meantime, negotiations between the miners’ labor unions and the mine operators, Lonmin, are still underway. The platinum mine, which is about two hours northwest of Johannesburg, has been closed for the past three weeks.

South Africa: Arrested miners to be charged with the murder of their massacred comrades

From the BBC:

Workers arrested at South Africa’s Marikana mine will be charged later with the murder of 34 colleagues shot by police, an official has said.

A prosecuting authority spokesman told the BBC that 270 workers would be tried under the “common purpose” doctrine.

They were in the crowd which confronted the police, who opened fire, sparking a national outcry.

Police have not been charged because a commission of inquiry would investigate their actions, the spokesman said.

Six of the 270 workers remain in hospital, after being wounded in the 16 August shooting at the mine owned by Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, in South Africa’s North West province.

The other 264 workers are appearing in the Garankuwa magistrates court near the capital, Pretoria.

About 100 people are protesting outside court, demanding their immediate release.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Frank Lesenyego said they would all face murder charges – including those who were unarmed or were at the back of the crowd.

“This is under common law, where people are charged with common purpose in a situation where there are suspects with guns or any weapons and they confront or attack the police and a shooting takes place and there are fatalities,” he said.

Mr Lesenyego said the updated indictments had already been given to the defence and these would be formally delivered to the accused in court, starting on Thursday.

The conflict at the mine was triggered by a dispute over pay and union recognition, which has paralysed operations for three weeks.

During a visit to the mine after the killings, President Jacob Zuma told workers he “felt their pain” and promised a speedy and thorough investigation of the killings.

Police said they started shooting after being threatened by large groups of miners armed with machetes.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the protests before the police shooting.

South African anarchist statement on the Marikana Massacre

From Anarkismo:

Joint statement on the Marikana Massacre issued by the Tokologo Anarchist Collective, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front and Inkululeko Wits Anarchist Collective.

The Constitution promises political rights and equality. It is quite clear that the bosses and politicians do exactly as they wish. They walk on the faces of the people. This is shown by the police killings of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

ANC THROWS OFF ITS MASK! WORKERS MURDERED!
Capitalists and politicians guilty! Stop police brutality.
No justice, no peace. No Zuma, no Malema, no LONMIN!
The Constitution promises political rights and equality. It is quite clear that the bosses and politicians do exactly as they wish. They walk on the faces of the people. This is shown by the police killings of strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.
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