A Response to the Lies of March 4th (from NYC)


Over the past century, the US has seen a series of direct-action movements, which spread like wildfire across the country. In the 1930s, for example, movements of industrial workers and the unemployed took over streets, factories, government offices and other spaces. In the 1960s and 70s, movements for civil rights, movements against the war–and of course, movements to defeat capital–did the same. In each case, direct-action contingents faced off, not only against the rich, not only against the police, but also against the established “leaders” of unions, parties and other organizations. Here and now–in CA and across the country–we are beginning to scare established “activists”, who are worried about losing their “following”, worried about the effects that a period of “uprising” and “turmoil” will have on them and their supposed “constituencies”–and especially on poor (as if we ever won anything by playing nice and following the rules). If history is any indication, we should take these denunciations as an sign that we are having some effect, that we are becoming “dangerous” to those who benefit from the present order–including those on the left.

On March 4th, at Hunter College in NY, a showdown occurred between those who wanted to have a disruptive indoor-demo and those who wanted to have a non-disruptive outdoor-rally. While the details are unclear, we are hearing some familiar insults, used to denounce those who favored disruption (the “privileged outside agitators”) over various forms of inactivity (desired, of course, by all the “local, peaceful activists”). We have heard all this before: the attempt to mask real fractures within communities by referring to all those who decide to act as dangerous outsiders. We have heard all this before: the attempt to silence the poor and less privileged by erasing them from actions. As always, neither side sounds like it is entirely blameless. But you know that our heart goes out, now and forever, to those who try to push struggles to their limits. Solidarity from occupyCA!

On March 4th 2010, a walkout was called for at Hunter College. This event was organized to coincide with the National Day of Action to “defend public education”. Inspired by walkouts, strikes, occupations and other acts of disobedience in public universities in California and here in NYC, Hunter students and allies decided on calling for a Walkout at CUNY Hunter. For a rundown of the day you can look here. This day has quickly become very controversial, with a multitude of accusations being thrown around the Internet. Pictures of participants of the action have even been emailed around activist circles at CUNY Hunter, and even published in articles in the Hunter Word by an ‘activist lawyer’ none the less. Based on this backlash from ‘activists’ who had little to no role in the organizing of the walkout and indoor demo that occurred, some of us involved in putting together and publicizing the walkout wish to clarify some points. We would also point out that, unlike those involved with the anti-walkout witch-hunt, we will not use photos of those involved with the rally or walkout or people’s names out of respect for their anonymity in the face of possible state repression …

[For the rest of the response, follow the link below]


5 Responses to “A Response to the Lies of March 4th (from NYC)”

  1. Rachel Cohen Says:

    Hey there,

    I realize there are some debates developing in the movement nationally that find some expression where I organize, in Santa Cruz. But I also think the peculiarities of what seems to have happened at Hunter make the situation qualitatively different from any of the disagreements activists here have engaged in.

    As I read about and hear about the events of March 4 at Hunter College, I am increasingly convinced that open letters and other internet communications are becoming unproductive, where face-to-face discussions may now be in order to clarify what political differences actually exist and clear the air of any misinformation or misrepresented arguments.

    I’m not looking to dwell on events unrelated to UCSC organizing, but I would like to volunteer my time if any who are concerned about events at Hunter are interested in sitting down and talking.

    While I do have some concerns about the way these events are being discussed in each of the public responses I’ve read, I’m far more concerned that we not borrow or replicate the level of antagonism among activists elsewhere in what seems to me a very healthy atmosphere for organizing at UCSC. I think this atmosphere was cultivated in part by a very positive collaboration on March 4th among activists who have different ideas of the way forward, and my intention is to strengthen that collaboration while respecting one another’s differences.

    Rachel C,
    ISO Santa Cruz

  2. Mark Says:

    I’ve been perusing some of the various internet discussions about this schism and I have to say, this is really damn unfortunate… Since the real crux of the conflict comes from the deeper philosophical leanings of the two different radical tendencies (libertarian-leftism and traditional marxist-leninism) attempting to direct the movement, (or at least inspire it) we can trace the discord back to the Internationals and it shouldn’t be surprising that its rearing its ugly face again.

    What really matters though is that this is an academic squabble between a tiny fraction of the overall students who have been inspired to take action. Whether activists are overtly anticapitalist, progressive, or just mildly liberal-reformist we can all agree that we are in direct conflict with the current trends in higher education as they stand now. If we really want this movement to become more militant and confrontational, the two radical tendencies need to push aside their differences and remember that the common enemy is Capitalism and until there is a real chance of breaking it down these squabbles are pointless, divisive and ultimately alienating to the less radically inclined student.

    Lets get over our differences and smash capitalism.

  3. Not quite Says:

    Actually Mark – you’re way off the point.

    Folks who are claiming this as a Leninist-vs.-anarchists deal are actually one particular splinter of the anarchists, primarily those with few ties to the campus and those who simply wanted to FSU and run.

    They conveniently forget to mention that anarchists from Hunter have been fairly critical of how things have gone on.

    The actual breakdown of things has been primarily those who think that smashing two windows did anything, and those who are living in reality. The former are unfortunately the anonymous editors of Take the City who were republished here, the rest are scattered across Hunter’s mostly anarchist CAN chapter, the ISO, and a couple of other organizations.

    Since this letter, some inexcusable stuff has happened. Assertions of snitchcraft were made about one individual, all anonymously, never with any proof. A false confession was posted by someone who hacked his Facebook account. People have been harassed, all anonymously.

    In the case of the assault on one of the Save Hunter Childcare Center leaders, the assault was witnessed and despite wild assertions on Take the City and Reoccupy New School’s blogs, was unprovoked. The assailant herself has said as such before at least two persons.

    Some bad shit is coming down the pike from administration at Hunter. I wish those who were largely [ir]responsible would help undo some of the damage.

  4. Mark Says:

    Yeah I understand. Its hard to analyze these things from afar and I’m sure both sides are getting skewed by both misunderstanding and personal vendettas…

    Although I do think there is going to be an enduring tension between those who wish to centralize the movement and those who want to see just general rebellion.

    The insurrectionists can get a little tiring but as a climate-activist on the side, I do appreciate their sense of urgency…

  5. takethecity Says:

    Not to continue the divisive discussion, but we wanted to clarify some points.

    1. We do claim that a certain member of the ISO helped (possibly inadvertently) point out a CUNY professor and New School student to police, that is based on multiple first hand accounts. This same person recently admitted to others (not in his hacked facebook post, an action for the record we deplore) that he was the person who sent around text messages the night before, fear mongering about supposed plans of outside agitators to cause trouble.

    2. We stand by our assertion that this member of Hunter Childcare, continuously held up as a victim of rich kid outside agitators, was NOT assaulted she in fact assaulted a Hunter student. There are multiple witnesses to this, I in fact saw the student’s swollen lip and scratched face after she was hit by this woman. The way this incident has played out is probably the most disgusting part of all of this.

    3. That said this IS largely a political conflict between those who feel Hunter is their political turf, those who are cynically manipulating the events of the 4th to try and keep their footing at Hunter, and those who hoped to usher in a new era of action oriented self organized activity in the apathetic CUNY system.

    -some ‘anonymous editors’ from Take the City

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