Friday, December 31, 2010

One final note for 2010

In these final hours of this year I'd like to recollect on some of the notable events, the highs and lows we experienced, and to share one last victory before hitting the town tonight.

2010 was defined by the struggle against racist legislative attacks (SB 1070, 287(g) secure communities) and the militarization of the border, so it was fitting that we kicked off this year with the force of the DO@ (Dine', O'odham, Anarchist) bloc. This contingent in the streets at January's anti-Arpaio march was a blueprint for the possibilities of solidarity between anti-authoritarians/anarchists and indigenous people after years of dialogue, action, and building trust through struggle and support. It is both a critique of the limitations of the movement and the marginalization of radical and indigenous voices, and a presence in the streets against the attacks on Latino, immigrant communities, and indigenous people across the state. The only response the state could muster was to attempt to isolate and silence those who resist by mounting a vicious attack on that section of the march.

Anarchists holding a banner at an anti-SB 1070 demo in May. Hacks (organizers) from the mainstream immigrant movement attempted to eject the comrades for bringing the "radical" message against the border.

Much of 2010 was spent in the defense of our comrades who were arrested at that march and faced a variety of penalties, but rather than let the authorities intimidate our movement into silence, we organized and pushed back. Anarchists across the valley continued to be a force at immigrant marches, even if the conservative immigrant leadership made it clear that anarchists and allies were not wanted.

Indigenous comrades and anarchists created a presence at the state capitol through out April, May, and June. Markers, paint, posters, and banners were made available for all who wanted to bring their own statement to the frequent immigrant rallies held at the capitol. This small camp came under frequent threat of removal by mainstream immigrant leaders, occasionally with implied arrest by state capitol police. Although one man tried to cut down the banners, the comrades stayed put, maintaining an anti-authoritarian presence through out the rallies leading up to the passage of SB 1070

Valley anarchists kept things interesting in the lead up to SB 1070 with unpermitted night time marches, a counter-rally with music, food, and free literature at a Phoenix park (that was forced out by dozens of Phoenix cops), hitting the streets with self organized copwatch patrols during the frequent immigrant sweeps carried out by Sheriff Arpaio and the MCSO, and through projects of solidarity supporting indigenous people and communities of color fighting back against repression and controls from the authorities.

We were inspired by the comrades from Tucson who blocked the highway to Mexico; there were those outside the state who dropped banners, locked down, and took to the streets in solidarity with those struggling here; and by those actions of the unknowns and disobedients who spray painted walls, left messages on the capitol, and confronted the wave of racism in their communities with night time actions and spontaneity. I know we at PCWC, were especially inspired by all the Latino and non-white youth from Arizona who walked out of class, attacked the racists and the police at the capitol, and confronted the system over the ethnic studies ban and the criminalization of their communities. These were truly some different days here in Arizona.

Indigenous, latin@, and anarchist allies shut down the lobby to the Tucson Border Patrol HQ in May. The comrades called for an end to the white supremacist and colonial attack on border communities through the laws, IDs, checkpoints, racial profiling, raids, deportations, and border militarization.

This was a banner year for Phoenix anarchists in so many other ways, we were fortunate enough to have a grip of speakers and presentations come through town, I know some of my favorites were having the Greek anarchists, John Zerzan, and Lawrence Jarach for their respective appearances at Beer and Revolution. I also admired all of the writing projects, art projects, and hard working distributors getting their hustle on in town.

The Tempe march against SB 1070. Door to door organizing initiated by anarchists and joined by their neighbors, resulted in community discussions, a march, and attempts at leveraging the city to take a non-enforcement stance on the anti-immigrant law.

Perhaps the finest moment of the year was the response to our call for a second Inglourious Basterds bloc to confront the small number of nazis from the National Socialist Movement who came from across the country to march against immigrants and in support of SB 1070. While the
nazis only made it to the federal court building because of the massive police presence and their liberal use of chemical weapons, it is widely agreed upon to have been a victory for Phoenix anarchists, anti-fa, anti-racists, and haters of nazis. However, it is in these final hours of this year that we claim one more win from these nazi chumps.

From the Feathered Bastard blog:
NSM "captain" Charles Wilson has informed me that the NSM may be back for another round in December.
Well, they didn't come back. They wanted to pretend that they weren't phased by their latest trip to the valley of the sun, and they threatened to march again a month later to prove it, which would have been sometime this December. They didn't. Something to keep this in mind if you're nursing a hangover tomorrow: we won, again.

Happy new year to you and yours!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Riot, Si Se Puede! [by lilprole]

First, an introduction from the Phoenix Class War Council:

It's been a fucking hell of a year here in Phoenix and I suppose lilprole's article about his anti-Nazi adventures with us (see below) is a good enough time to reflect a bit. It's hard to believe it's been only a year since our first face off with the NSM as the Inglourious Basterds Bloc. Although this year certainly had it's very high highs, it's also had its share of low lows. For me? High: the student wildcat walkout and mini-riot that defied the conservative professional organizers before and on the day that SB1070 was signed into law. Low: sitting at home on the day it went into effect with a freshly cop-caused broken arm, forced to watch the largely symbolic and controlled melodrama downtown play out on television.

Still, in more than a decade of organizing in this town, I can honestly say I've never experienced a more inspiring and more intense year. I really feel invigorated by the broad uprising that Arizona anarchists have incited here. Spanning the whole range from the street militant to the creative theoretician, I am excited by the breadth of our struggle and, this being my hometown, I feel like we've again begun to live up to the fiery moniker of our eponymous city.

Even though this was our second manifestation as the IBB, one thing that should be pointed out is that it was in no way a copy of the first. Despite deep and abiding hatred of the NSM, we in PCWC really debated about whether it was worth calling for a second manifestation for a variety of reasons. For one thing, when it came to IBB2 we knew the cops would have done their homework since last time, so we wanted at all costs not to fall into old habits. And we didn't want to give the NSM what they were looking for, a moral victory in which they look like innocent victim, defender of free speech, and other nonsense. For us, this had nothing to do with free speech. Those who wrung their hands about free speech, I think, never understood the terrain of battle. We had a different narrative in mind. And we like when we win, so we know the key is keeping it fresh and plugging in everyone's diffuse individual and collective creativity. For another thing, we didn't want to wind up in a default oppositional relationship to the NSM, where we are the yin to their yang, or whatever. This isn't about keeping the universe in balance or some hippy shit like that.

Additionally, in no way did we want our organizing to open a door for the left and their sabotages. There were times this summer when we anarchists in Phoenix were fighting off attacks and recuperations from several out of town leftist, liberal and so-called revolutionary organizations at once, each seeking to parasitically latch on to a movement that was on the verge of finally exploding beyond the limits of politics -- borders placed on it by the bourgeois liberal movement leadership. While we did see things pop off a couple times, it was nothing near what would have happened, in my opinion, had those confused radicals and political opportunists dropped their own pre-determined agendas and offered genuine support to the people struggling outside the liberal non-profit complex.

And that's something in which we've gotten a real refresher course this year -- especially over the summer when every leftist hack on the West Coast, whether non-profiteer or Stalinist cultist, parachuted into the depths of the New South to take the anti-racist activist equivalent of the tourist's facebook vacation photo next to a Saguaro. Which wouldn't have been so bad in itself, if they hadn't then spent their time after the camera flash lecturing us about the need for common fronts and lining up to support the very same leftist organizations that had been behind the attack on the DO@ in January and the strangling to death of the movement generally, amongst other offenses too numerous to mention.

Naturally, it hurt the most -- and it was the most disruptive -- when the admonition to moderation and accommodation came from "protest vacationing" so-called anti-authoritarians and anarchists. Any out of town radical who thinks this is a time for moderation and accommodation in Arizona doesn't know their creosote from their tomatillo. Fortunately, some, and they know who they are, out of towners stuck to their anarchist guns, supporting us and our comrades in some of our darkest moments of struggle, and bringing insights, not programs with them. For that I'm definitely thankful.

It's funny, because one thing we in PCWC have tried so hard to do is to help develop a truly regional anarchy. I think anyone who reads our stuff and sees or participates in any of our actions or events knows that. For example, what works (or maybe doesn't work, who am I to say?) in the Bay area won't necessarily work here, or at least has to be adapted to our specific circumstances and history.

Consider for instance that we're a right wing state with a very influential libertarian right. It was they who almost scuttled SB1070 in committee, not liberals or their sad organizations. Nevertheless, so many tried to import their specialized knowledge into Az this summer, to impose on us the conditions from where they live as if it's all the same, and to refuse even to consider real dialog with anarchists born here who have been struggling against these conditions for years and years, and who know these movements. We saw this in the off hand and reactionary rejection with which some received our very fruitful engagements with the libertarian right. Leftists from out of town see only the right wing, and not knowing any better, only know how to line up against the whole monolith. They reify it into one giant thing, rather than engaging its nuances and contradictions. That's telling, I think.

That very leftist tendency towards misunderstanding and arrogance above is why we've always gone so hard at the left. We know what it does. I remember a handful of California RCP hacks showing up to the IBB2 call, toting their papers and stickers. We don't have them here in Arizona, and not because we're lucky, but because we've actively worked to drive them out any time they've decided to show their creepy MLM-asses in these parts. We've seen what they do in other cities and we don't want it here. Anyhow, these folks show up and immediately set about handing our their rags, asking if people know who Bob Avakian is and shit. They were instantly confronted. "We all want the same thing," they said, "We're here to oppose fascism!" Oh yeah? "Well, then why do we see you recruiting for your cult instead of fighting Nazis?" They were hounded for the rest of the day. "We're not a cult," they assert. "Then why are you all wearing the same shirt with John Goodman on it?" came the response. We are not interested in popular fronts against fascism -- we are interested in defeating fascism, capitalism and communism. We want anarchy.

The other day, a hack from one of the leftist, non-profiteer immigrant groups showed up at one of our local haunts around last call. She came by the table, telling us that she was saying to everyone in the Bay while she was out there about our fight with the Nazis and how it represented what we all have to deal with here in Az. Well, for one thing, it was like: What do you mean WE ALL have to deal with, I didn't see you out on those streets; you were safe in the Bay raising money during that fight! But she was quick to retort with that same old, tired by now, "Well we're all fighting for the same thing!" Really? It didn't seem that way on the 16th of January. Or: Oh, I didn't know you were for the destruction of the hierarchy, the state and capitalism and it's replacement with freely federated libertarian and libertine communes! You should've said that from the beginning, it would've saved a lot of trouble!

But, of course, we're not fighting for the same thing. We're fighting for anarchy and they're fighting for capitalism, and the state, and the university, and for more jobs, and for better regulated border traffic, and for 501c3 and for better tv shows, and for nicer cops and on and on. None of which interests me in the least. You know, at one point before the IBB2, I had this vision of a great bit of street theater, where someone in an Obama costume tries to join the NSM, hand waving to get their attention and shouting, "Hey, let me join you, I'm a socialist, too!" That's what I mean.

So here we are, on one of the front lines in the fight against the state, capitalism and, in particular, white supremacy. In this little state across from Mexico, which no one paid much attention to until just very recently. And we're trying to figure out a way to build an anarchist movement here -- not in the Bay, not in NY (how to do that is their business) -- which seeks to understand and define the characteristics of our own struggle and our own conditions rather than just picking up a template from somewhere else.

As I've said many times, we'll take what is worth taking, what is useful, and dump the rest. If we're lucky, maybe we'll innovate something or combine a couple old things in a way that others can use. We're certainly on the lookout for those kinds of things from others. I know there are other anarchists doing the same thing in other places outside of the activist capitols. Places like Modesto, for example, which is probably why PCWC and Modesto anarchists have grown so close over the last several years.

Across North America, our anarchies may look different from each other in various ways, but I know we in PCWC are very interested in having the kinds of conversations that can lead to mutual understanding, mutual aid and the sharing of ideas, tactics and strategies that can finally kick this corpse machine over once and for all.

And, I suppose it goes without saying, but we don't have much time left.

Phoenix Class War Council

Riot, Si Se Puede!

by lilprole
Special to Phoenix Class War Council

"[When] we permit the police, Klan and Nazis to terrorize whatever sector of the population they wish without repaying them back in kind. In short, by not engaging in mass organizing and delivering war to the oppressors, we become anarchists in name only."
-Kuwasi Balagoon

Canisters are hurled into the sky, exploding into smoke as they hit the ground, only to kicked back towards the police. Purple smoke billows into the air, making its way upward, encircling the towering buildings. The sound of shots fills the street, as police fire round after round of pepper balls into the crowd. Your proletarian hero is at it again. I’m in the southwest now, Phoenix to be exact, and I'm standing on what appears to be a completely deserted street in the heart of the desert. Save of course for three groups: the anarchists, the Nazis, and the police. The latter two groups though, seem more of a coalition than two separate entities…One can almost hear the music in the background playing, "Wow-wow-wa-wa-wow...wa-wow-wow," as if I was stepping out onto a street from a dusty old saloon, hand cocked on a pistol. But it's smoke grenades that are rumbling past me - not tumble weeds, dear readers. Still, for the two groups assembled here today, this town is by no means, big enough for the both of us.

Taking a moment out of the riot, I pause to clutch my face, as my eyes and skin burn from a cloud of pepper spray that has made its way right for me. Through my burning eyes however, I notice that people aren't running away. The line is being held. People fall back when the police attack, but only for a bit, just enough to avoid the gas. Then they regroup, aided greatly by medics and friends, cleaning eyes and helping comrades. Together now, they unleash rocks, bottles, and hunks of concrete, which rain down on the police and the group of about 30 Nazis behind their lines who carry American flags and shields with swastikas. I learn later that many within the Nazi’s group had to leave early because of the violence. Several newspaper boxes are quickly appropriated and placed in the middle of the street as a barricade. Together, people beat the boxes, making a primordial rhythm. A banner, one of the ones that the police have not yet taken and destroyed, reads 'WE ARE WAR MACHINES!' The crowd gathers again, some all in black with masks, others wearing only street clothes. They look at the advancing police army surrounding a group of Neo-Nazis and declare, "!No pasaran! They shall not pass!" I stopped to catch my breath as I realized that people have been doing this for close to an hour...

On Saturday, November 13th, several hundred people responded to a call from the Phoenix Class War Council (PCWC, say it again with me, Pee Cee Dub Cee), to face off against 20-40 members and supporters of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), perhaps one of the largest white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups currently in the United States. The NSM, which does about one public event a month according to the white nationalist website Stormfront, came to town in November of 2009. Like this year, in 2009 hundreds of protesters responded to a similar call as the NSM rallied on the steps of the State Capital. While police forced the NSM to shut down the rally ahead of time due to such a large and rowdy counter-protest, (which included a small amount of rocks thrown), the violence was nothing like what occurred on the 13th.

The scene from the street on Jefferson was one that does not usually play itself out for anarchists in the United States. I almost had to ask myself - was I watching a street battle in Europe or Latin America? No, this was Phoenix, not Athens or Santiago. We were in the almost nearly deserted downtown; surrounded by glass buildings and near empty streets, save for several stragglers, cars, police, and those at the protest. The riot against the NSM is perhaps the largest uprising that anarchists have participated in the city of Phoenix in the last 10 years, and its success brings up several points of discussion as anarchists continue to struggle and intervene in Arizona and around the world. Furthermore, the actions of the police only further help drive the nail in the coffin against the liberal notion of “free speech,” and leave only more sinister questions for the revolutionary movement.

“Who’s Streets? O’odham Land!”

Since the NSM made its way to Phoenix in November of last year, only to be escorted by the police back to their cars before their permit even expired – much has happened. Tensions over speed cameras have continued – as anarchists have pushed for a critique of them from an anti-border and anti-white supremacist perspective. Anarchists in the PCWC have continued to push the fractures and tensions with the Patriot/libertarian/constitutionalist movement, and instead support a pro-proletarian and anti-racist line of attack. In early December, anarchists helped shut down a speaking event of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, seen by many to be the figure head of the pro-law enforcement anti-immigrant assault on immigrant workers in the state. In January of 2010, anarchists in Phoenix helped organize for a revolutionary bloc within the massive march against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio has become a focal point for the immigrant movement, as the Sheriff has made it a point of his administration to use his cops to make sweeps of various towns and deport thousands. But what made the bloc at the anti-Arpaio march different from others was the nature of who it represented. The bloc was called the DO@ bloc, and represented a union of Dine’ (Navajo), O’odham, and anarchists. In the North area of Arizona, Dine’ people claim their indigenous home, and in the area close to Phoenix and Tucson, O’odham people live, on both sides of the US/Mexican border. The indigenous and anarchist organizers of the march made it clear that the purpose of the march was to not only to stand in opposition to Arpaio and the state, but also against the recuperative and bureaucratic organizations that had called the march. As the call for the march read:
“We hope to use this formation on the streets at the January 16th march against deportations in Phoenix to project a vision for a different mode of resistance that breaks with the stilted, uncreative status quo that dominates movement organizing in town. This document is our explanation of the type of force we would like to put out there and why we think it’s necessary.”
The DO@ made a clear connections between the forces that oppress, destroy, and colonize indigenous communities, deport and hinder organizing of Latin American migrants, and attack working class “citizens” throughout the United States. That force is the economic system of capitalism, and the government that exists to make sure that that system stays in place. Again from the call:
“We recognize what appears to be an unending historical condition of forced removal here in the Southwestern so-called US. From the murdering of O'odham Peoples and stealing of their lands for the development of what is now known as the metropolitan Phoenix area, to the ongoing forced relocation of more than 14,000 Diné who have been uprooted for the extraction of natural resources just hours north of here, we recognize that this is not a condition that we must accept, it is a system that will continue to attack us unless we act. Whether we are migrants deported for seeking to organize our own lives (first forced to migrate to a hostile country for work) or working class families foreclosed from our houses, we see the same forces at work. Indeed, in many cases the agents of these injustices are one and the same.”

Flashback: the front of the D.O.A. contingent at the January 16 anti-Arpaio march

The DO@ bloc was historic. It represented a revolutionary coming together of forces from both the anarchist movement and indigenous struggles (not to mention those that do not see a distinction between the two currents). It was anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, and anti-statist. It was also clearly against the Leftist and mainstream protest organizations that wanted to work with the system – it instead pushed for direct action. Lastly, it also was strongly in favor of working class resistance to capitalism, linking the struggles of working and poor people with migrants and the indigenous, not separating them, while at the same time, attacking white supremacy as a cross-class relationship that hinders the liberation of all peoples.

In mid-January however, at the end of the massive Arpaio march in which the DO@ bloc participated, the police moved in, attacking, punching, and arresting several people. The attack was un-provoked – with police clearly singling out the DO@ bloc for attack. Five people were attested, and ticketed with trumped up charges of assaulting an officer and rioting. As this article is finished, one young woman enters into jail for 30 days, while others still have charges pending or are facing various fines.

The police made one thing very clear: they were not interested in protecting the “free-speech” of those that were part of the DO@ bloc, which was part of a legal, permitted march. Their very presence was enough for the police to react with violence. The coming together of working class whites, anarchists, migrants, Chican@s, and Native peoples represented too dangerous a force to be allowed to publicly march. Proving to be the all too “loyal” opposition, Puente, a mainstream immigrant organization (the organizers of the march), denounced the DO@ bloc, supporting the police line that the marchers brought the violence on themselves by attacking the police first. Anyone who watches footage from the march can easily see that the police acted first against the marchers, and used the opportunity to make arrests, leaving various militants with hefty jail times and fines. The Puente leadership, which coddles up to the mayor and other city elites, has nothing in common with those in the DO@ bloc, so it’s clear why the lines are drawn between the revolutionary segments and the reformists.

It is also is not surprising that Puente did not make a public call to support resistance to the NSM – a call which could have brought possibly hundreds of supporters out to the event. Knowing that supporting such an event would lead their followers into a situation that they couldn’t control was too much for Puente. Groups like Puente see the management of these events and movements as an opportunity to gain supporters and thus power. We, however, are interested in getting organized against capital. Thus, many people I talked with after the anti-NSM riot were ecstatic about the possibility of many people within Phoenix waking up to the possibilities of action outside of legal, permitted, and tightly controlled protest. The anti-NSM riot showed that there was a new power on the street – one uncontrolled by any bureaucratic non-profit, forging a history and confidence on the street and between comrades in struggle.

As we continue, it is important for the rest of this essay to keep the attack on the DO@ bloc very much in mind as we talk about the resistance to the NSM in November of 2010, because as we will see, the police are willing to beat, arrest, and attack one group while protecting and in some cases, working with, another.

This is How We Do It
“And I can see through the walls now, we need to go to City Hall and try to tear the walls down!” -Willy Northpole

On November 13th, about 40-50 (a size that became smaller) Nazis with the National Socialist Movement were confronted in the streets of Downtown Phoenix by about 200-300 counter protesters. The group was made up a variety of groups, but the largest was made up of anarchists, Native warriors, and small groupings of Leftists, pro-migrant peoples, and religious organizations such as the Unitarians.

The day started with people gathering in front of the federal building, where the Nazis were planning to rally later in the day. A banner was dropped shortly after people began gathering around noon, and at about two, the Nazis were sniffed out by a roving black bloc, as they were marching from their parked cars (which was the same site as last year) to the Federal building.

The larger group waiting outside of the Federal building then started to run around the corner and down the street towards where the NSM was marching in formation with police out in front for protection. A standoff then began between the anarchist led group and the NSM protected by the police from about 2pm to about 2:40. The street was held and as expected, both groups chanted and traded insults. The fascists almost sadly jokingly begged the police to, “Move those Jews out of the way!” A friend that was positioned behind the Nazis videotaping got to here more back and forth interactions between the police and the Nazis, as the NSM became more and more angry that the police were unwilling or unable to move their march forward and get the group towards the capital. As 3pm quickly approached, more and more people within the crowd thought that as soon as the clock struck 3, the police would call off the rally and lead the Nazis back to their cars, being that their permit expired at that time.

The black bloc went into action around this time however, getting into a formation which allowed reinforced banners to hide the group and allow the militants the ability to launch projectiles. After several rounds of attacks launched on the fascists, the police sent in a snatch squad, and one section of the black bloc moved away from the front of the line in order to avoid arrests. However, after that section of the black bloc fell back, the snatch quad simply withdrew into the larger crowd of the police. It was around this time that the police decided to unleash the dogs of war, spraying the front of the crowd with pepper gas. At this time I had my back turned, and was trying to give a young hooligan my pink and black bandanna, when the gas entered the air and everyone started to run.

Far from being skeered, the crowd instinctively looked for the nearest projectiles and quickly returned fire. Medics and those in the crowd not throwing rocks and whatever else was humanly possible, helped those with burning eyes and skin tend to their wounds. The crowd quickly re-massed and again held the line. What then began was a running street battle between the police and the anarchists that lasted to 45 minutes, until the Nazis were finally delivered to the Federal building, which was located down the street. Anarchists during the skirmish acted with the utmost bravery, un-arresting people, taking blast after blast of pepper spray, and not being afraid to physically combat their enemies.

When the Nazis finally made it into the Federal building courtyard, they only stayed for about 45 minutes, as their tired and boring speeches were drowned out by the counter protesters who came to taunt them. Even NSM write ups of the event point out that NSM supporters were not able to hear the speeches or participate in the rally. Afterwards, the NSM members were taken back to their cars by the police. Cops then arrested two protest participants as they were leaving the event. Support work is being done as we speak to help the two young people who were arrested by the police, and charged with a variety of felonies.

According to many organizers that I spoke with, the riot that occurred in Phoenix broke out of the bounds of what normally occurs at anarchist street actions in several ways. Firstly, the anarchists were in a leading role, not simply coming to another event and hoping for the best. They organized good and hard for this outcome, and their organization paid off. Revolutionaries who came to shut down the NSM had clear goals and clear ideas about how to achieve these goals. This allowed others to plug into these actions and see how their energies could be best placed. In a movement wracked by apathy towards getting anything accomplished, it was refreshing to be around others who took their ideas and actions seriously enough to put a fair amount of time and energy into them.

Through the various affinity groups within the cities coming together and plugging in where they could, they helped to create the conditions that aided the larger organic uprising against the police and the NSM. These affinities and level of organization has also not come out of this air, but years of hard and ongoing organizing and various state wide meetings between various groups, collections, and organizations. Furthermore, people simply were not afraid of the police. Instead of running when police brought out the pepper spray, or when the advanced, they simply stepped back, and then again held their ground, all the while using the opportunity to attack with projectiles. As one friend said after being spray, “Your eyes hurt for a minute, but then you realize you’re still alive, and then you’re back in it.” This self-valorization – the process in which we discover new ways of life, relation, and become powerful through struggle - was all part of the spark which drove those fighting on the 13th. Through the pepper spray and hurled stones – you could make out laughter and see smiles, even through the masks.

Take the Knife Off the AK, Cut These…

“You better have you’re gats in hand, cause man…” -Biggie

It has to be said. People were packing, again. It was a thrill to see people in the streets running with us while packing on the side. Also, being in Arizona, who knows how many other people were also carrying concealed, which is legal without a permit. Like last time though, we can assume that the other side was doing the same thing. While a shoot out between the two groups would have been bloody, we should keep in mind that opponents to fascism are still armed and willing to openly show it.

The Lie of Free Speech, and Necessity of Direct Action

“There is free speech only for the rich.” – George Lincoln Rockwell, American Nazi Party

During the entire event, police acted and coordinated with those within the march. They were seen using hand signs towards the rest of those marching behind them, giving a clenched fist when they need the group to stop. At one point, police even moved to the right side of the street, allowing the NSM ‘stormtroopers’ to move to the left side of the street. Perhaps this was done in an attempt to move the anarchists out of the way, or simply bait them into attacking the Nazis, which was attempted, so they could then be gassed by the police.

Police also allowed J.T. Ready, a former Republican precinct committeeman and on and off again NSM member, to walk into the crowd to engage with protestors. At one point when the crowd began to hurl spit, insults, and projectiles at J.T. Ready, a large African-American man came up and protected him as he walked back into the Federal building area. He stated, “You have every right to be here.” This is interesting yet sad, considering Ready thinks that he has every right to deport this man ‘back to Africa.’ This man was later heard saying, “If they kids had better education in school, they would know that non-violence works…”

The thoughts and actions of this man represent the poverty of thought behind the “Free Speech” position. Though we’ve all heard it before, the idea of free speech is based upon the concept that the government of the United States allows us all the freedom to say what we want; to express ourselves politically in the peaceful way as long as we do not break the law. Thus, any attempt at limiting the free speech of others is an assault on the free speech of all of us, so the line goes. Furthermore, we should not attack those who which to do us harm, because the government exists to stop any sort of extremists that are attempting to illegally harm citizens of this country. Meaning, even if we don’t like them, Uncle Sam has our back and will take care of them.

The problem with this line of thinking is that the state and its police are not neutral. The state for example, has organized itself numerous times to attack social movements aimed at transforming and liberating society. The government attacking groups such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense are good examples. Furthermore, the entire COINTELPRO organization, during the 1960’s -70’s, was designed to stop and hinder social movements for liberation in the United States (and even some on the right). Through a campaign of disinformation, murder, and terrorism, the US broke apart, assassinated, and destroyed various organizations and people for the sake of keeping the status quo.

One need only take a trip to Berkeley, and visit the site where logging industry goons, instructed by the FBI, set off a bomb under the car of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, two Earth First! activists involved in protecting wilderness and unionizing loggers in the 1990’s – to see just how committed to “free speech” this government is. In this country, if you challenge capitalism in a meaningful way, you will face repression. This is why the state tries to steer us into legal avenues. Want to protest? Sure, get a permit and make sure the police are there to keep you on the sidewalk. Want to strike? Sure, make sure you go to the union bosses with your problems, they’ll work it out with management. Want to make the world a better place? Sure, get a job with a non-profit, which gets state money to do the work that the state used to do. To the state, you are only free to speak as long as you’re reading from their script.

And, we do not need a government to allow us to say what we want, and organize in public. As the Eugene based anarcho-punk band Axiom growled, dude, that’s a “natural power, not a right.” As we have seen, the government will stop us, with violence when they need to, when our movements become a threat to the established order. Lastly, we can’t rely on the government to protect us from right-wing racists who may simply talk about deporting mass amounts of people and imprisoning many more, when that is exactly what this government is clearly doing, especially in Arizona. The state is not here to protect us at all, and so, the state is not concerned with ‘free speech’ at all. States everywhere are designed to make sure that society does not tear it apart based upon class tensions; between those that own and control the means of existence and those that do the work in this society. It is thus concerned with keeping the social peace, and so sees revolutionary groups very much a threat.

Sure you’re angry! You have a right to be. So, write a letter, hold a sign, even read a socialist newspaper if you want! Just don’t go on wildcat strike, firebomb the police state, or loot a grocery store, or try and stop a Nazi march! We can say things in this society, but it’s important that it stays there. That is why the state is willing to attack anarchists within the immigration march in early 2010 while defending the Nazis in November. Police wanted to send the message that a demonstration legally sanctioned by the state (the NSM rally) was going to be protected with the full power of that state. And all those who were willing to do exactly what Hitler claimed was the only way to stop the rise of fascism, or “fighting them in the streets” – were going to be put down with massive force. The same way it wanted to send a message during the legal march against Arpaio by attacking the anarchists. Its message was to the immigration movement and was as clear as crystal. That message was this: get with the revolutionaries, and you will be arrested and attacked with the power that Unkie Sam can muster. Anyone who supports the idea and line of “free speech” supports the government’s platform. But we anarchists are not here to play by the state’s rules – we are here to destroy the capitalist government.

We must also keep in mind that regardless of whether the Nazis ever get close to power, the state already violently carries out the mass deportations and incarceration of huge segments of our population, often against communities that have been exploited by capital through colonialism and the racialization of the working class. To allow those that would use their actions to usher in yet another form of totalitarian government while we sit by, while another totalitarian government protects them, is sick and sad. People can say whatever they want, but when they call for genocide, violent deportations, fascism, and race war, they can only be met in the streets with force. The mouths that scream “free speech” one minute only to cry “race war” the next can only be argued with bricks, fists, and whatever means necessary. We will not allow the ideology of the bourgeois state to dictate our actions; we organize on our own terms.

Give Up (Aryan) Activism

When I returned from Phoenix, I began reading a lot about fascism, the Holocaust, and one of the ‘pioneers’ of Neo-Nazism in the United States, George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party (ANP). Rockwell is important, because after his assassination in the late 1960’s, former party members would go onto form organizations that would lead to the formation of the National Socialist Movement. Politically, the ANP, and thus the NSM who followed its lead, pursued an activist and electoral mode of organizing. If they were Leftists, they’d be as hard as racist ACLU members, or something. Anyway, for the ANP and the NSM, this means constantly being in the public eye, getting as much media as possible, and being on the streets whenever they can. The more they fly the flag, the more people will come rally to them. They contend that it’s only a matter of time before things get so bad that white people will wake up and realize that the NSM is the only game in town not taking it for the Jews.

Rockwell had standard politics for a ‘National Socialist’ at the time, although he stressed he was not a ‘fascist,’ because he supported free enterprise. More racist lemonade stands, and less racist state owned factories, yay! Rockwell never led an organization of more than 200 active ‘stormtroopers,’ or men that lived in ANP barracks and outfits, although the ANPs influence through supporters and literature reached out far beyond its membership base. What is interesting about the ANP though, unlike the KKK, is the importance that placed on staying inside the law. Rockwell envisioned that he could gain power by being in the public eye, making them aware of his program, and then during a time of economic downturn become more and more popular until he could run for President.

The ANP used the civil rights movement as a ‘point of intervention,’ hoping to gain support among those that opposed desegregation, Leftists, and supported the war in Vietnam. Strangely enough, Rockwell also saw the fact that they were called ‘Nazis’ and publicly displayed the swastika and gave the Hitler salute as a plus for the organization. Without the word “Nazi,” Rockwell commented, the news would not cover the ANP. With few members, police harassment, the threats of violence at all times, and low funds, ANP actions never went beyond simple rallying, passing out flyers, and giving speeches, and failed to awaken many “whites” to an Aryan consciousness. However, such organizing on the part of Rockwell did turn many onto Neo-Nazi politics, and helped to usher in a new generation of racists that today comprises groups like the NSM. While the ANP failed to take power, it did succeed in at least creating the next generation of foot soldiers.

Seeing Rockwell’s ANP as their political forbearers, the NSM holds onto their activist, electoral strategy in order to gain entry into the higher halls of power in the United States, hoping to totally transform it into a fascist empire. Like the ANP, the NSM is using the politics of the day to make a name for itself. In the 1960’s it was Civil Rights, and today it is border issues and the fight over immigration. The NSM is thus hoping to use anti-immigrant sentiment to its advantage and pull more mainstream Americans into its ranks. Like the ANP, it uses the Nazi imagery of the part to gain media publicity, although it helps to soften its image by constantly referring to itself as a “law abiding, white civil rights organization.”

Being legal is important for these groups. Rockwell, for all the venom he aimed at the “Jewish” US government, worked closely with the FBI, giving them information on each and every stormtrooper, letting police know where they would be traveling and where they would protest, and much more. When ANP members left the organization he alerted the FBI, that way, if the ex-ANP members committed any acts of violence, they could not be traced back to Rockwell. This is funny, because the ANP was ripe with infiltrators, as we can be sure the NSM is as well. Some on Stormfront even accuse J.T. Ready of being a fed! Perhaps he was caught stuffing his chipmunk cheeks at Taco Bell…? Anyway, in an interesting note about the ANP, COINTELPRO was even involved in disrupting the organization (and causing infighting with the Klan) and playing off various members of the ANP against each other. Rockwell could wave the flag at the FBI all he liked, they still didn’t like him; but they saved their real guns for the Fred Hamptons of the world.

Despite this, following the state’s rules does bring protection, and allows you to be a Nazi out in the open while the police beat back your detractors. This is a formula that the NSM has followed everywhere it goes. It arrives with swastika flags, counter-protestors attempt to attack, and the cameras go click. And thus, the NSM is quite at a crossroads. It needs the Nazi imagery just to get attention, but it also needs to appeal to main street whites to try and get numbers – which the whole Nazi thing kind of kills. At the same time, while riots against it, whether in Toledo in 2005, or Phoenix in 2010, give it publicity, it also makes the NSM seem weak and under attack.

In many ways, groups like the NSM are a dead horse. Passed over by an era of facebook event invites and grassroots organizing – there seems to be little place for them and their tired and boring brand of simple flag flying and Nazi speechifying. Even when the NSM tried to make entries into the Tea Party they have gotten the cold shoulder. J.T. Ready was welcomed with open arms before he was outed as a Nazi, but when he and some of his racistas showed up to a teabagger shindig with a Hitler portrait, they violently got the boot. But, we should keep in mind that the threat of these groups lies not just in their existence, but in the idea that they will help to raise the next generation of Hitlerites. When are these guys going to get tired of waving the same flag and hearing Jeff give the same speech in his new coke dealer suit before they start getting other ideas? We can deal with the activist NSM, but one that is focused on direct action would be much, much scarier.

For now though, weak and under attack is exactly what the NSM is. Like the ANP before them, without massive police protection the NSM would be beaten down and broken apart at most of the rallies that they help organize. Like the ANP and much of the white power movement, the NSM is often derailed by in fighting between members and splits within the party. As anarchists and other radicals continue to physically confront the NSM, we are making it harder for these groups to organize and meet new people. We are also making it less attractive to join the organization due to the possible violence one might face. While media attention is drawn to the NSM when we physically confronting them, attention also goes to us, and we appear as the only ones willing to stand up and physically fight the Nazis, who are themselves seen as the extreme extension of what the state already is.

So while more people may know about the NSM, more people at the same time know that anarchists kick the shit out of them and have more numbers. We are also seen in the context of popular rebellions against not only the Nazis, but also the state and its police. Furthermore, we must also be wary of whatever the media tries to paint us as, and focus more on what the street has to say. In the aftermath of the riots in Phoenix, many people felt energized and ready for the battles to come – hoping that riot would provide a springboard for more radical actions. Moreover, these actions give credit to the idea that people can self-organize and act outside of the activist groups that seek to manage and control popular protest.

Anarchists however, should be keen to keep in mind several things. They should look at the communities that the NSM and other neo-Nazi groups reach out to: mainly working class and lumpen white communities. We need to be engaging with these communities, expressing that our enemies are not other poor and working people led by a mythical Jewish order, but the ruling class. Likewise, we need to keep in mind that these Nazis are simply reacting and feeding off of what the state is already doing. If we are not also struggling against attacks organized by the government on indigenous communities, the border, deportation of migrants, etc, then we will not be fighting the conditions that give rise to many of these ‘extremists.’ The NSM doesn’t operate detention camps and do sweeps breaking apart families, filling the jails – the state does.

Local neo-nazi Jason ("JT") Ready is consoled by a Phoenix cop after being confronted by the angry anti-nazi crowd

By the Time I Get to Arizona

“Government? Fuck Government, niggas politic they selves…” -Jay Z, Where I’m From

People on the west coast often ask me why I’m excited about Arizona. For one, I’m excited about a place where anarchists actually support each other and play a part in each other’s struggles. Living in a place where anarchists from the two other cities less than two hours away hardly ever come to my town, it is hard to believe the degree in which solidarity does exist. Arizona is inspiring to me, because the bonds that people have made there over the years are staying and growing more powerful.

People on the 13th could have been terrified. “Why should we go out into the streets to confront the NSM?,” they could have asked. The police were willing to attack them during permitted marches. What were they going to do at an unpermitted action? But people didn’t give a fuck. They came out with or without charges from the months before. Some might have held back, but people were not going to be scared of taking to the streets. And they weren’t. Anarchists in Arizona took their vengeance for the Arpaio march; the price was the blood of the fascists and the police who clutched their faces as rocks rained down on them while we cried pepper spray tears of joy.

We should keep in mind that these affinities and relationships that exist in Arizona between anarchists have not come out of nowhere. Anarchists have been holding state-wide meetings to talk about how they are going to respond to what is happening for a while now. In large street actions, they have found each other and tested their abilities. Groups such as the Phoenix Class War Council have also managed to develop a dare I say, oh so American anarchist theory that speaks to the current situation without looting too much from Europe or anywhere else. It is against white supremacy without the pitfalls of identity politics. It is insurrectionary without being idiotic or grad-studentish, (oh, I said that shit). It is class war without asking anyone to become a SEIU organizer. In short, advances have been made in both the world of theory and the world of praxis, all while not separating the two from each other.

Meanwhile, indigenous militants in groups such as the O’Odham Solidarity Across Borders collective and fighters from Flagstaff have also created, maintained, and built a revolutionary indigenous politics that has informed and grown within and alongside Arizonan anarchism. Lastly, the connections being made between all sections of the exploited and oppressed, from workers to indigenous – is inspiring. People are working together against common enemies and towards common visions; re-compositing themselves together despite the divisions that capital places between us. That in itself is inspiring.

So when they ask me why I’m excited about Arizona, I tell ‘em this.

It is the place where the sons of immigrants and the daughters of Natives and the children of settlers don masks and fight together. Where they chant: “Riot! Si se puede!” And indeed, it has been done. And in that moment, we can feel the common humanity that unites us all and reminds us, that together, we are fighting.

For freedom.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Photo of the day: Italian students carry book shields against police during day of action.

Striking back against the capitalist and state attempt to further privatize education and jack up fees, Italian students took to the streets to chants of "Block Everything". Exercising their power to shut down the functioning of everyday life, they tried to block parliament. They were met by police, who in turn came under attack by tomatoes, eggs and smoke bombs. More successful blockades took place at various other city institutions, like the subway and tourist attractions.

Aside from the blockades, one particular photo caught my eye: students deploying shields marked with the names of famous book titles! Notice those helmets in the background. They're ready to rumble. Bravo, kids! Offense gets all the glory, but defense can win the game (ask the Suns, who could use more of the latter these days, to be sure). One suggestion, though -- I don't see any Bonanno in there! I guess there's still a little homework to do even after school's out. Still, well done!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

TSA, Free Movement, and the Art of Not Being Governed

Watching the reactionary right wing debate the slightly less reactionary right wing in the media last week about the supposed TSA body scanner scandal and the most efficient way to control American's movements has me thinking. I'm not a right wing libertarian, of course, but I have to say it's telling that as far as I've seen the media hasn't had one of them on tv during this whole hooplah. Curious just because you see them in the media all the time when it comes to the economy and other issues (think CATO institute, for instance).

As much as I prefer the anarchist demand for free movement in general over the much more anemic right wing libertarian concerns over rights, searches, paid for tickets and such, it would be interesting to see one of them arguing with these various reactionaries that have been trotted forward in what are supposed to pass for "all things considered". I can just hear them now: "When I buy a ticket from Southwest Airlines, I am entering into a contract with the airline, not with Big Brother, so what right do you have to make me go through the scanner?! It's the airlines job to deal with safety, not the government's!" I probably ought to have written that in all caps to make it a proper tribute.

Instead, what we have seen, it seems to me, amongst everyone in general is this same old familiar kissing cousins argument that, since neither one deviates from the overall agenda of the ruling class for more controls on movement, naturally leads to conclusions with which the elite is quite comfortable. On the reactionary end we have people demanding exemptions for themselves (or, most often, for their poor grandmothers) from controls on movement because, well, they don't think they look like terrorists (i.e, the "Israeli style" being talked about). I call this the racist argument. On the other hand, unfortunately, we have the liberal argument, namely that everyone ought to face an egalitarian exposure to the naked scanners in exchange for desiring to travel. I suppose this is the "pay the devil his due" argument.

Both these arguments seem eerily familiar to me, I suppose, because of the analysis, investigations and interventions that PCWC did into the anti-speed camera movement here in Arizona over the last couple years. Now, sadly, that movement has turned away from what was once a pretty successful, creative and broadly supported direct action and political theater campaign that had the camera companies and polticians on the run. Unable to escape the white supremacist assumptions that underlay its politics (and despite the best efforts of some to prod it in new directions that challenged those contradictions), it mutated into a zombified, dead, boring and failed electoral movement which eventually had the main organizers in the right wing of the movement (avowed libertarians, many of them) lining up with the likes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and State Senator Russell Pearce in a truly desperate and pathetic plea to whiteness.

As predicted by its critics on this site, the movement, having failed to reconcile those internal contradictions, eventually fully succumbed to the gravity of white supremacy, in effect demanding free movement for whites but regulated movement for "illegals" in a mish mash politics that couldn't be clearly articulated and didn't even make sense to most whites, who were too afraid of Mexican illegal drivers on their streets to see the encroaching police state steadily encircling them as well. So, unable or unwilling to choose the side of liberty on this crucial question of free movement for everyone and rejecting the direct action strategy for electoralism, the movement has gone down to defeat after defeat.

Anyhow, as I was with the speed camera stuff, I have lately been again looking for new ways of considering the question of movement with regard to the TSA debate. So, as you can imagine, I was quite happy when I stumbled upon this video below, in which James C. Scott, Yale University Professor, discusses his book "The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia". The one thing that struck me in particular, in light of the TSA discussion, is his citation within those indigenous peoples that have resisted incorporation into the state a general tendency to block the abiding drive of the state to attempt control movement. As Scott says, "The state is the enemy of people who want to move around".

But Scott goes further, pointing out firstly that the hill peoples he studies not only cultivate an antagonistic relationship to the demands of the state for control of their movement, but that their movement itself is in fact a result of having resisted and escaped slavery in previous or nearby civilizations. In this sense, their demand for mobility is central to their resisting the imposition of slavery. With a right wing libertarian movement always going on and on about slavery and the NWO, you would think this argument would have some purchase and perhaps point at a way out of the TSA dialectic that defies rather than reinforces the arguments for increased state regulation of movement.

Lately I've been reading Alex Butterworth's "The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents" and that has reinforced for me the importance of free movement in our own anarchist history. Echoing a point I've noticed in other recent books I've read, such as "Under Three Flags: Anarchism And The Anti-Colonial Imagination" by Benedict Anderson or even John W F Dulles' "Anarchists and Communists in Brazil , 1900-1935", anarchists and anarchism (and, even national liberation struggles, as Anderson points out) have benefited from the mobility of 19th century anarchists, coerced as it sometimes might have been.

Of course, always caught between the home state's desire to be rid of a problem and the intention of other states, like Britain, to aid their enemies' revolutionaries ("Britain: friend of every revolution but it's own" went the old saying), that movement of anarchist revolutionaries served as a mixing pot of ideas and eventually became quite a threat to the established order of its day. Think Bakunin and Kropotkin in Switzerland, for example, or the Communards in London. Think France for Sabate. And on and on. Often even the state's deportations came back to haunt them, as we learn from Louise Michel's study of the native Kanaks on the prison island of New Caledonia, and the much-storied way she helped them cut the telegraph lines from the island to the home country. We see the same phenomenon on display in Dulles's book, with Italian anarchists, deported after the revolutionary upsurges of the 19th century playing crucial roles in the class war in Brazil. In fact Brazil later reported many Italian anarchists back to Europe, sending the struggle full circle.

Returning to Scott, note as well his highlighting of both settlerism and what he calls "distance demolishing technologies" (roads, communications, etc) as further weapons in the state's attack on free movement and, essentially, human liberty. Settlerism, the usually state-supported invasion of a foreign population into indigenous lands, assaulter of autonomous ways of living and resistant cultures (George Washington, surveyor, imperialist and American hero, was known as "Town Destroyer" by the Iroquois, for instance), remains a problem with which we in the Southwest are quite familiar. But consider that in the case of the TSA, the distance demolishing technology is not in fact the body scanner, but actually the airplane. Is it the airplane itself rather than, or in combination with, the body scanner that serves as the attack on our free movement? Worth thinking about, but I imagine Scott would answer in the affirmative.

So, continuing to move on from right wing libertarians then, I think these arguments that Scott makes are ones that anarchists are quite well-prepared to make and would bring a lot to the discussion raging on cable news channels for the last week (although overshadowed now by Wikileaks and Julian Assange's catch-me-if-you-can race with Interpol, though the similarities are perhaps more than many would like to admit). Certainly, if these instead are our arguments, they bring more to the table than the rightwing libertarians' sad economism, which only seeks to substitute the bean-counting dictatorship of capital for the all-seeing Big Brother state.

After all, why ought any of us have any more confidence in Google to regulate our movement than the state? As if they were ever enemies to be played off each other. Obviously our argument is a rejection of both. A true defense of free movement, then, both as the hallmark of a free people -- as a necessary condition of freedom -- as well as, importantly, a mode of getting free, can threaten to break through the narrow debate now leading us, state and capital hand in hand as usual, towards more regulation, more tabulation and, certainly, more tyranny.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Resistance Rising Tour w/ Holy! Holy! Holy!, Young O'odham United Through Health, & O'odham Solidarity Across Borders this Tuesday in Tempe!

We're excited for a couple of events coming up next week as Holy! Holy! Holy!'s Resistance Rising tour arrives for a couple of different gatherings in the valley, including one that we're hosting at ASU's main campus on Tuesday. If you read my buddy P.I.'s piece on the tour last week (check it out if you haven't yet), you have a good idea of what the HHH! folks plan to bring to the table, however we're pleased to announce some additions to this Tuesday's line-up. We're excited to have two groups of indigenous people join the line up to speak on the ongoing efforts to resist the colonialism of the occupied O'odham lands we are on.

The first addition comes from some younger people from the Tohono O'odham nation in southern Arizona who are hard at work on restoring strength to the people through food sovereignty. Since 2008 Young O'odham United Through Health (YOUTH) has been active in sharing traditional food and farming practices to empower Tohono O'odham youth, as well as organizing music and cultural events showcasing the talents of O'odham youth. Two of the youth mentors involved in the program will be making the trip up to Tempe to speak on the struggles and success they've experienced in building youth social, mental, and physical well being.

We're pleased to announce that our second addition to the bill comes is our comrades from the O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective (OSABC), a grouping of Phoenix-area based Akimel O'odham and Tohono O'odham youth who are pushing the struggle against the colonialism of their traditional lands. OSABC will be sharing their experiences with the struggle against colonialism and settler privilege in our movements, and what this means for the broader fight against the systems of exploitation, dispossession, and control.

The YOUTH project and OSABC are truly complementary examples illustrating that the struggle against colonialism is not simply an offensive- but also a mission to nurture, uplift, and prepare the future generations for the tasks ahead.

So once again, we have the night kicking off with a presentation from H!H!H! (along with selections of Franklin Lopez's new film end:civ), is followed by YOUTH's talk on food sovereignty and O'odham youth empowerment, and we'll close out with OSABC speaking on resisting the colonialism in our political movements and from those in power.

The Resistance Rising tour featuring Holy! Holy! Holy!, YOUTH, and OSABC will be held this coming Tuesday, November 23, in room 105 of Armstrong Hall (Sandra Day O'Conner College of Law) , at the ASU main campus in Tempe. Armstrong Hall is located on the southwest corner of McAllister Ave. & Terrace Rd. on the eastside of campus.

For those driving to the presentation there is a visitor parking garage just north of Armstrong hall on McAllister Ave. & Tyler St., all parking is free at this garage if you leave after 7 PM (payment is on exit), so you won't have to pay if you decide to park there for our event. The presentation will begin at 7PM, we have the room open for seating at 6:30, so it's a good idea to stop by with a little time to spare because we will be starting promptly at 7.

This event is free, but we are requesting that people donate money if they can to help cover the travel costs of our speakers.

Finally: Don't forget that Holy! Holy! Holy! is a real live band too, and some friends of ours have organized a live show the next night (8 PM Wednesday, the 24th) at Conspire (5th st. and Garfield) in downtown Phoenix featuring H!H!H! along with Di Nigumim, Travis James, Daryl Sherrer , and DxBx. I'm sure there will be a few other surprises as well, so please support both wonderful events this week in the valley!

No thanks, No giving! No border patrol on O'odham land!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photo of the Day: Undercover Blues at November 13th Anti-NSM action!

When myself and JR were in Barcelona a few years ago we happened to find ourselves in a really fun squatter anti-eviction riot in which a bunch of banks were fucked up, buildings were occupied, graffiti was thrown up everywhere, billboards were wheatpasted and a freeway was occupied. It was a blast. There was a really cool rally beforehand with all kinds of theater, fireworks and music. Quite impressive. They really had their shit together.

For the most part, until the freeway was taken over, the cops stayed at the back, kind of lurking back there or lingering on the margins. But once we all hopped the wall and got on the freeway, they finally let loose on us with everything they had, rubber bullets, batons and the usual. Quite exciting. Afterward, I remember being on the train, breathless from running, telling some Spanish guy, himself bleeding from a vicious welt inflicted by the cops, that we'd never seen anything like that in the US, and wasn't that too bad.

One tactic that the squatters used against the police in particular caught our attention. In order to keep plain clothes cops out of their march, they had constructed several stylized, giant fingers that pointed down towards the ground, saying "police" on them. The fingers were attached to poles so that they rose clearly above the crowd, in plain view of everyone. People carrying those signs would follow cops through the crowd, calling them out and driving them out. It seemed to work like a charm.

So, we've kicked around doing something similar here for quite a while but never did it, mostly because it seemed like we never needed to. However, the recent rise of the police tactic of using plain clothes snatch squads to infiltrate and grab people from within our marches and rallies reminded us of what we'd seen in Barcelona. So, before the anti-NSM action a couple of them were constructed and taken to the courthouse on the appointed day. They worked like a charm. In fact, one set of plain clothes cops fled never to be seen again that day. It says a lot that the only people arrested were grabbed after the action, I think. Of course, that means we need to think of ways to stop that from happening next.

So, our photo of the day shows one happy militant putting the tactic into practice. Look at the smile on his face! And the frustration on the officer's! Priceless!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More video and music from Saturday's confrontation with the NSM

Many folks from Az have probably seen this video but I thought I'd repost it here for our many readers from out of state. It was shot by local videographer Dennis Gilman who was right in the thick of the action. He got some good footage. I still haven't seen any footage of the Nazis choking when that smoke bomb exploded right in the middle of them. I'd sure like to see some responsibly edited footage of that.

Below Gilman's video you'll find the latest local anti-Nazi jam burning up the charts like a cop on fire. I love the increasing creation of music around anarchist actions in town. Keep it coming, the more ways we build our oppositional culture and celebrate and spread the stories of our resistance, the stronger and more broadly understood our resistance will become.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

N-S-M and P-P-D, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

Remember that photo from January 16th? Some may recall some months back, around January, when anarchists and others called out local immigrant organizations for collaborating with the police. The movement's leadership had decided that they would play with the Phoenix PD as part of their PR game with Sheriff Joe (they are each other's willing foil). They invited the cops into their planning meetings for what was then the most recent in a seemingly unending series of funeral procession-like marches to Arpaio's jails that stretched, like the domesticated anti-war marches of years before, into infinity towards both horizons with no end in sight. It was political pragmatism at its worst, since the PPD actually deports more people than the Sheriff Department does. Still, at the January 16th mobilization, the movement leaders worked closely with the Phoenix PD as it marched against Sheriff Arpaio.

This dance with the devil ended that day for most anarchists and anti-authoritarians with the police attack on the DO@ Bloc, a truly historic convergence of anarchists and revolutionary anti-authoritarian indigenous folks from around the state, which was an expedient conclusion for a movement leadership that was increasingly having to deal with anarchist and anti-authoritarian criticisms about the tameness, boringness and ineffectiveness of the struggle against the increasingly worrisome rise of the racist Right here in Arizona. Likewise the marginalization of many indigenous people within the movement and the hostility of the leadership to arguments that brought white people into situations that opposed white supremacy and controls on movement stood out to many of us as more than just problematic given the reactionary political circumstances.

We later found out as a result of the investigation following the Arpaio Five arrests that the police/movement collaboration had resulted in the compilation of a snatch/watch list which cops used to pick out particular people for arrest that day. Our understanding is that this list was in police possession ahead of time, placing more than a little doubt on the mainstream dialog about the police attack that says that cops were forced to attack by anarchist provocations. I myself was shadowed by cops while in the park and a comrade reported overhearing the officers talking about me. This was before the march.

At the time, the soft activist middle, eventually including almost every out of state radical who parachuted into town for the summer's glorious and oh-so-activist-hip fight over SB1070, refused to listen to anarchist criticisms of the cozy relationship between cops and the movement leaders, defending them without listening to local criticisms from people who had interacted with them for years. When we pointed out the obvious problems with working with cops tasked with deporting the base of the movement, not to mention the PPD's increasingly obvious corrupt and violent nature, we were treated like we had broken some taboo.

Denouncing us as sectarian, out of town activists and movement heavies combined to attempt to impose the most watered-down bourgeois popular front framework on a movement that by then was justifiably itching for radical action, regardless of whether it alienated the political middle (or forced them to choose a side). The time for moral appeals to the white center was clearly and at long last over for many people who itched for a fight back.

Well, here we are almost a year since January 16th and the latest clash with the National Socialist Movement offers us a perfect lesson that will be hard to ignore. Below you will find photos and video showing without a doubt the level of police collaboration with the NSM. For movement leaders to maintain their relationships with this racist organization in the face of this kind of evidence will be difficult indeed, although we've seen the kinds of political gymnastics they're capable of, so don't rule it out!

In this first picture you can see the NSM getting ready for a fight, surrounded by cops. Note how they are turning their flags upside down and wrapping them up to make clubs. You don't see any cops stopping them, do you? How many is that? I count at least five, maybe six, flags turned into weapons in this picture. This is not to say that we anti-fascists didn't come planning on disrupting their march -- we did. It's just worth noting the police complicity with their supposed "free speech" march. Notice also JT Ready on the far left in the glasses with the goatee marching with them. I'll come back to the significance of this a little later.

In this second photo, below, you can see an officer of the PPD (note his badge on his belt) giving an order for the NSM to stop marching. Indeed, at one point a cop was seen directing the NSM formation to tighten up.

Need more proof? Check out this video that clearly shows the cooperation between the Phoenix cops and the NSM throughout the entire march. Note how the police clear the sidewalk, moved the NSM into the street and then direct them forward.

Speaking of that, now consider this next photo! Clearly visible here are Phoenix cops with riot gear and shields standing side by side on the skirmish line with NSM shield-bearers while they blast pepper spray in the face of a protester (who is just out of the picture).

Finally, review this footage from the news. Local videographer Dennis Gilman is interviewed about his experience on Saturday. He shows the reporter some footage of everybody's favorite huggy bear Nazi, JT Ready, being allowed to pass through the police line to antagonize protesters. Later he did it again but was attacked with spit, bottles and firecrackers. Again, the cops did nothing to stop him. It seems like Nazis can come and go through the police line at will.

As Dennis points out in this interview, the cops actually extended the Nazi's permit so they could still hold their rally. This after we had held the NSM and the cops at bay in the street for well over an hour, past its expiration time. Escorting Nazis, giving them orders, letting them pass through their lines, sharing the front line with them, extending their permit -- at what point can we finally say out loud what so many of the victims of the police already know: the police are the violent arm of the state, determined to defend the existing order, whether through their own routine violence (rarely remarked upon in the dominant discourse) or, if need be, through collaboration with fascists. Either way, it's a war machine on the working class, intent on attacking and disrupting our attempts at wresting from them control of our own lives.

So what is a movement to do in the face of this obvious collusion between the white fascist street and the white fascist state? Will movement leaders just ignore it like they did on January 16th and continue to work with the murderous bastards of the PPD? Or can the movement finally understand that the cops are as much the enemy as the NSM is? It's not like this is a different Phoenix Police Department. It's the same force as in January. And it's not like they're acting differently. If you need a refresher, scroll back up to the photo introducing this article.

In fact there's actually more reason to worry about the cops, really, because as of now the Nazis don't have detention camps or deportation powers. But the police do. If someone is deported or delivered into state custody, they pass first directly through the hands of the police. Arguments that cops are just doing their jobs hold little water in terms of a defense -- after all, don't these ridiculous assertions just reinforce all the arguments anarchists make for the elimination of police entirely? But seeing the willing and natural alliance between police and Nazis has got to raise doubts in even their most stalwart defenders, I would think. No, the police are part of the problem.

If the mainstream movement leaders continue their relationships with these Nazi-lovers, then one can only presume that they find some utility in keeping them around. It can't be because it advances the struggle against the State, however, because here we are many years into this failed strategy and thousands upon thousands have been deported or, out of fear from the police more than Nazis, have self-deported themselves.

So, did we see that usefulness to the movement leadership on January 16th? Are the police convenient not because they advance the movement's larger goals of stopping deportations, but instead because they push forward the movement leadership's desire to police the radical, militant wing of the movement? As Grace, arrested that day and then blackmailed into taking a plea agreement, heads to jail next week, I know I'll be pondering that question with great interest.