Archive for the ‘GLOBAL’ Category

Today in Seattle

10 October 2012

Watch.

Read more about the Grand Jury Resistors here.

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West Coast Ports Shutdown

12 December 2011

OAKLAND, California — On Monday, in coordination with numerous other West Coast “occupy” groups, Occupy Oakland has blockaded the port of Oakland in an attempt to halt the flow of goods which serve to further enrich the capitalist class. These synchronized actions involve blockades in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego and solidarity protests in Hawaii, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, New York, Houston and beyond; and though the event has not been endorsed by the ILWU, it was planned in solidarity with rank-and-file dock workers struggling against grain exporter EGT, which has been trying to undermine union contracts.

Early morning, before dawn, the port of Oakland was effectively blockaded by 1300-1500 demonstrators. There are around 300 protestors at each of the half-dozen Berth entry-points. The numbers continue to swell as protestors march from the West Oakland BART station. Read below for updates.

Read more:

LOS ANGELES, California — Despite uncharacteristically poor weather two brutal arrests, a rally of approximately 300-400 occupiers has shut down parts of the Port of Long Beach, which is the largest Port of entry in the United States. LBPD has announced that the demonstration is an unlawful assembly and is attempting to corral the crowd back into a near-by park (ironic, given the resources spent recently getting occupiers out of parks).

As of around 10am, demonstrators were forced to leave the intersections blocking the ports.

SAN DIEGO, California — Similar to the #OccupyLA port shut down, demonstrators blocked a terminal beginning around 6am with small crowds of approximately 150 at two intersections, a north and south gate. Police dispersed demonstrators at the south gate around 9:45am, arresting at least 4. As of 11:30am demonstrators are still rallying at the north gate, however trucks are able to get in and out of the port terminal. As of around 4pm they’ve regrouped at Chicano Park to plan for further direct actions.

Read more:

PORTLAND, Oregon — Demonstrators have been effective in shutting down two terminals of the Port of Portland, with about 400 protestors at each gate. Police are reported to be targeting specific individuals and preparing to disperse the blockade with riot gear. Later, in the evening a third terminal was also shutdown.

Read more:

BELLINGHAM, Washington — A hundred or so demonstrators have blocked commercial railroad tracks since noon; some have u-locked their necks together to prevent them from being moved. Beginning around 3pm, the demonstrators with u-locks were being arrested. Watch it live.

Around 5pm the last of the demonstrators were cleared from tracks.

Read more:

LONGVIEW, Washington — Work was cancelled today for longshoreman at the Longview port, so a small rally was held in solidarity with the west coast port shutdown.

SEATTLE, Washington — Hundreds gathered in Westlake Park around 1:30pm. As of 2:30pm, they’ve begun to march to the Port of Seattle. By around 3:15pm, a growing crowd has reached the port. Watch it live. Police are in riot gear and appear to have pepper spray and rubber bullets ready.

Read more:

Barricades erected at Port of Seattle

VANCOUVER, Canada — A few dozen attempted to block ports early in the morning on Monday, resulting in a disruption for about an hour. A rally held midday gathered more demonstrators who marched over to the port, but the police presence prevented a blockade. 5 were arrested in police confrontations.

See more:

HOUSTON, Texas — Protesters who have chained themselves together face-down on the ground, to block trucks from entering the port there have been contained and detained by police in a large inflatable tent, presumably as part of an attempt to remove and arrest them. Rumors that the tent was to be used for administering a gas of some sort appear to be mistaken; the tanks were for inflating the tent.

DENVER, Colorado — In solidarity, a handful of demonstrators from #OccupyDenver gathered in front of a Walmart distribution center in Loveland, Colorado. 13 arrests were made after demonstrators began to block a truck entering the distribution center. The demonstration ended around 5pm.

Related:

Updates:

10:06AM: Arbitrators give the official word that the Oakland port is shut down.

11:04AM: Day-shift canceled in Portland.

1pm – A few berths are open at Oakland now due to dwindling numbers blocking the port, a few scabs, and police presence. However organizers are urging people to go to the 3pm rally at Oscar Grant Plaza and march at 4pm. Alternatively, there is a march at 5pm from West Oakland BART station. Organizers are saying the 1300-1500 folks that came at 5am this morning to shut down the port were successful in shutting down the berths with ships. These ships were unable to load cargo. Around 3 were arrested at one of the berths. Live at the port. Live at Oscar Grant Plaza.

1:30pm – Port blockers in Oakland are asking for donations of food, water, usb-powered back up batteries, and beer.

3:25pm – One of the entrances to the Port of Seattle is shut down.

4:10pm – Oakland begins to march on port. The march from OGP to the port takes a little over an hour, watch it live.

5:00pm – Oakland arrives at port. In Seattle police begin to attack port blockers as they try to remove makeshift barricades. Tear gas, flashbangs, and pepper spray have reportedly been deployed by police. At least one demonstrator was trampled by a police officer on a horse.

5:20pm – Ports have called off work for the evening shift in Oakland.

5:50pm – Seattle port blockers still holding it down at Terminal 18, Terminal 5. While trucks and other traffic is open, no workers appear to be in Terminal 18; however Terminal 5 appears to still be working. Around 8-9 were arrested in the earlier scuffle including 2 marked medics.

6:05pm – Police appear to be staging to clear the Seattle port blockers.

6:40pm – Police appear to now be leaving the port in Seattle – seemingly corroborated by a reporter from the mainstream media.

8pm – Oakland Commune decided at their General Assembly moments ago to continue the port shutdown into tomorrow in response to police brutality at many of the other shutdown locations.

Tuesday, 13 December

2am – While demonstrators have been holding down the port of Oakland all day and all evening, they’ve begun to picket again in preparation for the next shift of workers. They need around 100 people at all of the berths of the port of Oakland.

3:45am – Port workers are being sent home. Arbitration – the process by which solidarity strike clauses and safety issues are resolved to satisfy legal requirements for workers to be sent home – is not needed, as bosses told workers the shift is cancelled. People are discussing to end the port shutdown extension now after 24hrs. Supportive ILWU rank and file members spoke to blockers and asked them to end the shutdown to continue to stand in solidarity with longshoreman’s interests. Port blockers calling it a victory and have voted to go home.

Coordinated West Coast Port Shutdown

27 November 2011

CALIFORNIA, OREGON, WASHINGTON – A Coordinated US West Coast port shutdown for Monday, December 12th has been called for by the occupation movement in solidarity with longshoreman, particularly in Longview, WA. RSVP here.

A Call from Occupy Oakland:

Greetings and Solidarity from Occupy Oakland!

We present this call to you because we believe it is time the occupation movement begins to work together to carry through coordinated, pinpointed actions. We want  to disrupt the profits of the 1% and show solidarity with those in the 99% who are under direct attack by corporate tyranny.

Occupations throughout the US have been evicted through nationally coordinated police raids. It is time for us to respond with our own coordinated actions. Our aim is to shutdown the West Coast ports:

  • On December 12, the occupy movements in different cities will stage  mass mobilizations to march on the ports, create community pickets, and effectively shutdown the hubs of commerce, in the same fashion that Occupy Oakland shut down the Port of Oakland on November 2nd, the day of our general strike. The Oakland Port Shutdown was a historic and effective action, and the memory of that night on the port lives in the hearts of people across Oakland and around the country.
  • The message to you from Occupy Oakland in the face of police raids and continued disruptions of workers lives by the 1% is the following: The Occupy movement will strike back and rise again! We will blockade all of the West Coast Ports on December 12th in solidarity with longshoremen, port workers and truckers in their struggle against the 1%! Together we are unstoppable! Strike while the iron is hot!

The following is the call for a coordinated West Coast Port Blockade to be carried out by the Occupy movement. It is this call which we wish for other Occupies to endorse and carry out. West Coast Occupations will have full political and material support for each other in whatever ways are necessary before, during, and after the port blockades. This call was passed unanimously at our Occupy Oakland General Assembly on Friday, November 18th.

Proposal for a Coordinated West Coast Port Blockade Passed Unanimously at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly 11/18/2011:

In response to coordinated attacks on the occupations and attacks on workers across the nation:

Occupy Oakland calls for the blockade and disruption of the economic apparatus of the 1% with a coordinated shutdown of ports on the entire West Coast on December 12th.   The 1% has disrupted the lives of longshoremen and port truckers and the workers who create their wealth, just as coordinated nationwide police attacks have turned our cities into battlegrounds in an effort to disrupt our Occupy movement.

We call on each West Coast occupation to organize a mass mobilization to shut down its local port.  Our eyes are on the continued union-busting and attacks on organized labor, in particular the rupture of Longshoremen jurisdiction in Longview Washington by the EGT.   Already, Occupy Los Angeles has passed a resolution to carry out a port action on the Port Of Los Angeles on December 12th, to shut down SSA terminals, which are owned by Goldman Sachs.

Occupy Oakland expands this call to the entire West Coast, and calls for continuing solidarity with the Longshoremen in Longview Washington in their ongoing struggle against the EGT.  The EGT is an international grain exporter led by Bunge LTD, a company constituted of 1% bankers whose practices have ruined the lives of the working class all over the world, from Argentina to the West Coast of the US.  During the November 2nd General Strike, tens of thousands shutdown the Port Of Oakland as a warning shot to EGT to stop its attacks on Longview.  Since the EGT has disregarded this message, and continues to attack the Longshoremen at Longview, we will now shut down ports along the entire West Coast.

  • Participating occupations are asked to ensure that during the port shutdowns the local arbitrator rules in favor of longshoremen not crossing community picket lines in order to avoid recriminations against them.
  • Should there be any retaliation against any workers as a result of their honoring pickets or supporting our port actions, additional solidarity actions should be prepared.
  • In the event of police repression of any of the mobilizations, shutdown actions may be extended to multiple days.

We ask that you bring our proposal to your next General Assembly, as it is urgent that each Occupy begins to organize and mobilize for this major offensive ASAP. Please let us know if you have questions or need help. Most importantly, please copy us on your support resolutions passed at your GA’s.

In Solidarity and Struggle,
Occupy Oakland

Letter of Solidarity from Mexico to Oakland

17 November 2011

Compañerxs,

Hace unos días, hicimos circular esta carta invitando a compas en México a sumarse a una campaña de solidaridad con el movimiento de Occupy Oakland, en California, EEUU.
El 10 de noviembre la Comuna de Oakland cumplió un mes, y en las últimas semanas ha surgido como un espacio muy importante de resistencia y organización autónoma en una ciudad emblemática por su fuerte legado de militancia y activismo anticapitalista. Después del primer intento de desalojo del acampe el 25 de octubre, miles de personas marcharon y la policia respondió con brutal represión, usando “armas químicas” contra los manifestantes. El 26 de octubre después de otra marcha, en la Asamblea General de Occupy Oakland 3000 personas aprobaron una huelga general para el 2 de noviembre. El 2 de noviembre, la Huelga General de Oakland (la primera desde 1946), fue un enorme éxito, logrando bloquear el Puerto de Oakland y contando con la participación de más de 50.000 personas. Desde entonces, el movimiento de Occupy Oakland sigue resistiendo, junto con movimientos relacionados en todo el mundo, y estamos muy preocupados por la posibilidad de otro intento de desalojo y más represión en los próximos días. Por eso, sentimos que es muy importante mandar este saludo solidario a nuestros compañeros del Otro Lado, para mostrar nuestro apoyo.

Saludos rebeldes,
jóvenes en resistencia alternativa

English

Comrades,
A few days ago, we sent out this letter inviting comrades in Mexico to join our campaign in solidarity with the Occupy Oakland movement, in California, USA. On November 20, the Oakland Commune celebrated its one-month birthday, and in the past few weeks this movement has emerged as an important site of autonomous resistance and organization, in a city emblematic with a strong legacy of militancy and anticapitalist activism. After the first attempt by the police to evict the camp on October 25, thousands took to the streets marching in protest and the police responded with brutal repression, using “chemical weapons” against the protesters. On October 26, following a second march, at the General Assembly of Occupy Oakland 3000 people approved a call for a General Strike on November 2. The Oakland General Strike on November 2 (the first in the city since 1946) was an overwhelming success, blockading the Port of Oakland, with more than 50,000 people participating. Since then, the Occupy Oakland movement continues to resist, alongside related movements throughout the world, and we are very concerned by the possibility of anothet eviction attempt and more repression in the coming days. For these reasons, we feel it is extremely important to send this message of solidarity to our comrades on the Other Side of the border, to show our support.

Saludos rebeldes,
jóvenes en resistencia alternativa

[The letter continues here.]

Chapel Hill Occupation Raided by Police with Guns

13 November 2011

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina – Earlier, a contingent of #OccupyChapelHill took over an empty building. However, a few hours ago a few dozen police came to evict the occupation with what appears to be guns and automatic rifles.

This Building is Ours! Chapel Hill Anarchists Occupy Downtown Building

13 November 2011

from trianarchy:

In the midst of the first general strike to hit the US since 1946, a group of comrades occupied a vacant building in downtown Oakland, CA. Before being brutally evicted and attacked by cops, they taped up in the window a large banner declaring, “Occupy Everything…”

______

 Last night, at about 8pm, a group of about 50 – 75 people occupied the 10,000 square foot Chrysler Building on the main street of downtown Chapel Hill. Notorious for having an owner who hates the city and has bad relations with the City Council, the giant building has sat empty for ten years. It is empty no longer.

Following the Carrboro Anarchist Bookfair, a group “in solidarity with occupations everywhere” marched to the building, amassing outside while banners reading “Occupy Everything” and “Capitalism left this building for DEAD, we brought it back to LIFE” were raised in the windows and lowered down the steep roof. Much of the crowd soon filed in through one of the garage door entrances to find a short film playing on the wall and dance music blasting.

People explored the gigantic building, and danced in the front room to images of comrades shattering the glass of bank windows 3,000 miles away in Oakland. Others continued to stay outside, shouting chants, giving speeches, and passing out hundreds of “Welcome” packets (complete with one among many possible future blueprints for the building – see below for text) to passersby. The text declared the initial occupation to be the work of “ autonomous anti-capitalist occupiers,” rather than Occupy Chapel Hill, but last evening’s events have already drawn the involvement of many Occupy Chapel Hill participants, who are camped just several blocks down the street.

Soon several police showed up, perhaps confused and waiting for orders. Three briefly entered the building, and were met with chants of “ACAB!” Strangely, the cops seem to have been called off, because they left as quick as they came. For the rest of the night they were conspicuously absent, leaving us free to conduct a short assembly as to what to do with the space and how to hold it for the near future. The group also decided to move a nearby noise and experimental art show into the building. As some folks began to arrange the show, others began filtering across town seeking things we needed for the night.

Within 30 minutes of the assembly ending, trucks began returning with everything from wooden pallets, doors, water jugs, and a desk, to a massive display case for an already growing distro and pots and trays of food donated by a nearby Indian restaurant. Others began spreading the word to the nearby Occupy Chapel Hill campsite, and bringing their camping gear into the building.

Over the next few hours more and more community members heard about the occupation and stopped by, some to bring food or other items, others just to soak it all in. All the while dozens of conversations were happening outside with people on the street. The show began eventually, and abrasive noise shook the walls of the building, interspersed with dance music and conversations, and ending with a beautiful a capella performance, and of course more dancing.

More events are to follow tomorrow in our new space, with two assemblies from the anarchist bookfair being moved to the new location, and a yoga teacher offering to teach a free class later in the afternoon.

As of the early hours this Sunday morning, the building remains in our hands, with a small black flag hanging over the front door. The first 48 hours will be extremely touch and go, but with a little luck, and a lot of public support, we aim to hold it in perpetuity. Regardless, we hope that this occupation can inspire others around the country. Strikes like the one in Oakland present one way forward; long term building occupations may present another.

-some anti-capitalist occupiers

(more…)

Against Outrage

26 October 2011

from ThirdCoastConspiracy:

The news didn’t come in the middle of the night as we expected, but in the morning, at a reasonable hour EST. Hundreds of riot cops had raided the encampment at Oscar Grant Plaza, wildly swinging their batons and firing tear gas and beanbag rounds into a crowd made up of our friends, comrades, and allies who had for the last two weeks taken over and transformed dead space into the Oakland commune.

Our initial reaction was outrage, an intense hatred of the police and all those who look away, who justify their actions, who volunteer platitudes like, “They’re just doing their job.” Anger rose up inside of us. How could they—we growled indignantly, clenching our teeth—shoot teargas at innocent protesters?  What could possibly justify this show of militarized force? Is this really what democracy looks like?

And then we took a step back and started to think about outrage.

To feel outrage, we must hold that there are appropriate channels through which social conflict can be mediated and resolved. We must see the state as accountable to our needs and desires, effective and efficient in its provision of necessary services. We must forget that we are privileged, that in our privilege we are just like everyone else. That those who experience state terror at the hands of the police somehow deserve it. To feel outrage, we must believe that violence is the exception.

But it isn’t. Accountability is nothing more than a gilded myth: as the “Occupy” movement has recognized, the 1 percent has so taken hold of the political system that politics as such can no longer be said to exist. We are living under the rule of austerity capital. There will be no more necessary services, just as there is no more accountability. In Detroit, we know there’s no going back to that golden age of the welfare state, of union jobs, of a “comfortable” middle class life. Those jobs, and their conditions of possibility, are long gone. And even if we could, would we really want to return to a system that depended on the institutionalization of war, sexism, and racism to reproduce itself? These days, in any case, Michigan is cutting off welfare payments to those who’ve been unable to find work for four years and canceling programs that help poor families pay their heating bills in the winter. And winter, forecasted to be one of the coldest on record, is fast approaching.

To feel outrage is to give ourselves away. For those who face the brutality of the police every day of their lives, those who are stopped and frisked on the street, those who are arrested for inhabiting the wrong neighborhoods and the wrong skin color, those whose family members have been stolen by the prison-industrial complex, understand that the police are the foot soldiers of capital. To serve and protect—the 1 percent.

So. We have to smother our outrage, train ourselves to recognize the police for what they are, both rationally and affectively. It is only when we no longer feel outrage that we will be able to move beyond a reactive politics which traps us in endless cycles of legal battles, jail support, and internal investigations that never lead anywhere worthwhile. We must expect them. What Boston, New York, Atlanta, and especially Oakland have taught us is what we should have already known—that the cops are coming for us. All we can do is learn to defend ourselves, to move quickly. And to attack first.

* * *

At the march on Bank of America last week, which started from the occupation at Grand Circus Park and moved through downtown Detroit on a bright crisp fall day, we found ourselves astonished. Not at the 500 plus persons filling the normally deserted streets, not at the palpable joy in the air (the joy of realizing that we were no longer alone in trials and fears in this age of austerity, and the joy of finding a long-longed for family, filled with true care and love). Rather it was one moment, brief, and in the context of the brilliant and massive amount of organizational work that has occurred in the last two weeks perhaps easily overlooked: at one point in the march the police decided to intervene, to test us, and tried to force the march onto the sidewalk. They shouted threateningly, their cars darted at marchers, they revved their engines menacingly, but at the front of the march a man, holding his young infant daughter faced the police and refused to leave the street. He refused. He would not be moved. And in the face of his resolve the police relented, and the march followed him, shouting, singing, laughing in the streets.

His eloquent gesture said two things: this space is occupied and it is ours. If our movement is to become worthy of the name, we will have to learn two lessons. First, to be against outrage and the exceptionalism that it entails. From the state and the cops, we expect nothing but what they have already shown us: tear gas, rubber bullets, armored vehicles, all the technologies of foreign wars come home. And second, that occupy means to take and to hold space; that first we take a park, then the street, then the schools, then the banks, until what was built by all of us truly belongs to all, no gods, no masters.

Solidarity with Occupy Oakland!

Yrs in struggle,

Some communizers occupying Detroit

Letter from Cairo

25 October 2011

A bit delayed due to the #OccupyOakland raid, here is a letter we received from some folks in Cairo, Egypt:

To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next econo mic development or urban renewal scheme.

An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.

The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.

So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.

In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces for gathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .

What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.

But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.

We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.

It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose.

If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.

By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never give them up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.

Comrades from Cairo.
24th of October, 2011.

Harsh Repression Against Student Protesters in Chile

7 October 2011

SANTIAGO, Chile – October 6. Heavy clashes took place this Thursday in several parts of Santiago between Chilean police and marching students, during a day in which the police fired tear gas and water cannons against the protesters. There were 130 arrests, 25 police officers injured, and dozens of civilians wounded. (read more on reclaimUC)

Read more:

  • Chilean Students Clash with Police – signalfire

Occupied Wall Street: Some Tactical Thoughts

27 September 2011

from Jacobin:

I’ve been to the encampment at Zuccotti Park a few times since the 17th, but I have never stayed that lonrg. It’s not just cause I’d rather sleep in my room in Brooklyn on which I spend the vast majority of my income, but because I’m just not that into it. Yet I’ve met some great folks and I really do believe in the intentions of the vast majority of non-undercover non-Party attendees, so these notes are to them in hopes that we might advance the struggle together. When I was leaving the Park a few days ago, I heard someone in an assembly tell the audience: “We’ve won just by being here!” and she was met with uncontested applause. Sleeping on the sidewalk is not a victory unless you’re first in line for concert tickets. Sleeping on the ground of a small decorative park owned by a commercial real estate firm is not a victory unless you are attempting to protect an endangered squirrel or a really old tree, and probably not even then.

Meanwhile, the ring of police officers surrounding the park earn time-and-a-half, stroking their batons, waiting. I’ve seen far fewer cops disperse much larger groups of better trained and prepared demonstrators in a matter of minutes, as has almost anyone who protested against the Iraq War; the notion that we have won control of the park through the strength numbers is absurd. Meanwhile the police go on with the farce of instructions from “the space’s owner” as if there were a guy standing in an officer tower watching the park and changing his mind back and forth. It’s a tactic, and one we ought generally ignore. Look around. See the group with guns and sticks? They’re calling the shots. A friend remarked that if aliens showed up on the scene, they would think they had stumbled onto a police holding pen.

It seems to me that the tactic of an occupation has two main goals, neither of which the Zuccotti Park encampment is achieving. The first would be some sort of sabotage or interference that halts business as usual. When you hear “occupy Wall Street,” you don’t think Soviet tanks rolling into Prague, but there’s a suggestion of interruption. We want to occupy Wall Street because we want to make them stop what they’re doing. Camping in a park outside their office isn’t how you make them stop, it’s how you ask them to prom if you’re creepy about it*. It’s not like we’re even costing any CEO his beauty sleep “HeyHeyLBJ”-style. They all go home at night. When you walk to the encampment, it’s hard to realize anything’s happening until you get up and inside. It is painfully clear that the people who work there could not give a fuck. Wall Street’s crisis-business goes on as usual, under “occupation” or not.

The second function of an occupation would be a kind of collective enjoyment or gain at your enemy’s expense. His stuff becomes your stuff, which you get to play with and put to use. A park could be useful in this way as a staging ground for other actions and a liberated space participants can enjoy. As the snake-march to Union Square (with an arrest rate between 10 and 30 percent) demonstrated, a spot that’s surrounded by cops is probably not the best place to plan the specifics of your next action. I’m not being paranoid or even controversial in pointing out that police officers are working inside and outside the bounds of the occupation. Sorry, but that buff 30-something guy with sunglasses, three Blackberries, and no friends isn’t there because he saw the Olbermann feature on Current. There’s no security and no attempt to keep anyone out of the park, which I understand, but people should be aware that plans made in this supposedly occupied place go straight to the police, if they weren’t suggested in general assemblies by cops in the first place. So it’s not a very good staging ground for a next wave of actions, it does not perform that function as a strategic resource.

As for the enjoyment, I guess that’s a subjective question, but it was hardly a raucous party. Mostly people didn’t want to “give the cops a reason” by enjoying themselves too publicly. If you thought passing around a bottle of whiskey was tough in your parents’ basement in high school, try doing it under the watchful eye of dozens of New York’s finest. I mean, we did, and it was kind of fun, but not like temporary autonomous zone fun. As I’m writing this, I’m seeing reports on Twitter of a cop-enforced quiet time after 10. It makes me wonder if they haven’t let the whole thing go on this long as a way to get some austerity-hit officers overtime pay.

The fuzzy ultra-left ideal about forging new kinds of relationships through struggle and finding each other and such can’t just be about meeting in space and time, otherwise we could start a bowling league and be done with it. If we’re trying to learn how to have each other’s backs, how to trust and depend on each other moving forward, then we need to put ourselves in situations that demand that kind of strength and solidarity**. And I don’t mean taking people’s sides in arguments over assembly process. That shit is dumb.

I don’t want to quibble about whether or not the encampment counts as a “real occupation” — you can occupy a bathroom, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing shit. It seems clear to me that the encampment at Zuccotti Park isn’t providing the benefits a successful tactical occupation could and should. That said, there are definitely some bright spots. First of all, the occupation has accumulated (last time I heard) $24,000 in a war chest, along with literally tons of donated food. It looks like the national climate is such that an action of this ideological orientation can attract financial support, which is going to be huge, especially considering the costs associated with the criminalization of protest. When a brutal cop maced a couple women just for kicks, some anonymous*** internet folks posted a good bit of his personal information online. If there are direct personal consequences for particular aggressive cops, that can only be a good thing. For the first time it looks like people on the interwebs can help protect people on the ground. It seems to me they could do more. For example: I, for one, if the webs are listening, am interested in learning more about the owners of Zuccotti Park. These are elements of an emergent potential, the question remains what we can do with it.

Here are some ideas:

– The GA/consensus model doesn’t exactly encourage creativity and is particularly susceptible to police co-optation. In one of the most heavily policed places in the world, where the NYPD is bragging about its ability to shoot down planes, we should assume they have a Che t-shirt and a Chrome messenger bag in a prop room somewhere. If anyone can lead the group, that means anyone can lead the group. A switch to a model based on smaller bands of people (5-10) who know and trust each other and have found common ground and operate in (naturally) overlapping ways would have the dual benefits of enabling creative rather than agreeable actions and reducing the risk of police infiltration, without forfeiting the benefits of a large group. The technical term for these crews is “affinity groups,” but I prefer “friends.”

– If the population of the park can grow past its boundaries and start threatening the normal functioning of Wall Street, then it could open up space for smaller groups to operate without too much police attention and change the balance of power in the park. I heard unconfirmed reports that Radiohead is planning a concert at the occupation this week, which if true could make it uncontrollable and attract more folks to a relatively uninhabited part of the city. I’m disinclined to believe the rumors, but you never know, and it’s not like they can’t afford to bail themselves out of jail. Maybe they could be cajoled over Twitter to show up and play a few acoustic songs. Either way, it doesn’t make sense to me to try and protect the occupation from this kind of influx of people, even if that would make it untenable in its current form.

– This is a marathon, not a sprint or a hamster wheel. The next year is going to be explosive: the two Parties will spend a billion each reminding Americans how terrible everything is, and hoping they can get away with blaming each other for a permanent unemployment crisis. The social ills that brought people out aren’t getting better any time soon. Occupy Wall Street is part of a sequence, not the sequence itself, and we should be thinking about its role in a revolutionary campaign of a longer but bound duration.

– If corporations are people, what would it mean to wrap our hands around one’s neck and choke it to death?

These are admittedly preliminary thoughts, and I want to discuss what to do with other folks, but I don’t want to address an assembly, and not just for security reasons. When I’ve found people and groups of people at the occupation who are ready to move beyond its current bounds, it’s on the edges of the large circles. Maybe it’s time the whole thing got edgier. That is, sharper.

See you in the streets.

*I swear this is a plot point in a movie or tv show, but I can’t remember which one. Remind me in comments and get your name here!

**This also means doing it the smart way. When I expressed surprise to a longtime New Yorker that the Union Square march resulted in so many arrests, he told me everyone knows the NYPD doesn’t play above 14th Street while the UN is in session. I did not know that, and I would wager some of those arrested didn’t either.

***It’s an adjective, not a Party.

More than 150,000 Gather in Athens Against Austerity

5 June 2011

from FromTheGreekStreets:

A crowd whose size is difficult to even estimate gathered in central Athens to protest against the crisis and the Memorandum tonight. The call to a pan-european call of action saw more than 100,000 (some estimates give much higher numbers) flooding Syntagma square and many central nearby avenues. In contrast to previous gatherings, police presence was much higher, with fencing erected around the parliament building and double, or triple rows of riot police around it.
333 300x200 #611 | Athens sees its biggest gathering in years, more than 150,000 at Syntagma square as the build up for the General Strike of June 15th begins
6666 300x201 #611 | Athens sees its biggest gathering in years, more than 150,000 at Syntagma square as the build up for the General Strike of June 15th begins

The city is now building up for the General Strike of June 15th, which is also the next date of action announced at Syntagma square. Both mobilisations are aimed against the new agreement between the government and the troika (IMF/EU/ECB) which is planned to be voted at parliament on the morning of the 15th. The general assembly of Syntagma square has already called for a blocking of the parliament from the night of the 14th. In addition to the fencing installed around the parliament (see below), a police water canon has also appeared nearby.

444 300x210 #611 | Athens sees its biggest gathering in years, more than 150,000 at Syntagma square as the build up for the General Strike of June 15th begins

Similar demonstrations took place in Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Larisa, Volos and many other Greek cities. In the Cretan city of Chania, fascists bearing arms appeared in the gathering, in a failed attempt to provoke the gathered crowd.

Wave of Sit-ins in US continue at UT

29 April 2011

AUSTIN, Texas – Students at the University of Texas, Austin have taken over the office of President Bill Powers, demanding that he take a stronger stance against sweatshop conditions of workers producing university apparel. Similar sit-ins have taken place recently at Emory University; College of William and Mary; Rutgers; University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Tulane against poor working conditions. All of the demonstrations have been affiliated with United Students Against Sweatshops. Several of these actions have resulted in the arrests of the demonstrators.

More Than 800 Reasons

10 April 2011

This is a clip from an upcoming documentary about the student struggle so far at the University of Puerto Rico. It covers the recent establishment of the $800 fee increases, the police brutality against demonstrators, Governor Fortuño’s plan for privatizing the public sector, and the subsequent ban on large gatherings at the university.

Mexican Consulate in NYC Occupied

4 April 2011

from ReclaimUC:

The Mexican Consulate in New York has been occupied by the Movimiento por Justicia en el Barrio in solidarity with five political prisoners from the community of Bachajón, Chiapas. On February 3, Chiapas state police raided the community and arrested 117 people. After worldwide protests erupted in response, the government released 112 of the prisoners. But five remain in jail, facing charges of murder or attempted murder.

The Bachajón Zapatista supporters are adherents to the Other Campaign, which was initiated by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) in order to form national and global alliances amongst leftist organizations and movements.

The arrests stem from a confrontation between rival indigenous groups that occurred the previous day in San Sebastian Bachajón, which is an ejido, or communally held lands. Marcos García Moreno, an ejido member who belonged to the faction that allied itself with the government, was shot and killed during the confrontation with ejido members who are Other Campaign adherents. The government accuses the Other Campaign adherents of murdering García Moreno and attempting to murder a second man who was shot during the confrontation. The Other Campaign adherents deny the charges. They say they were unarmed, and that the government-allied ejido members were shooting guns into the air during the confrontation.

The government has attempted to paint the conflict as a dispute between rival indigenous factions over control of a tollbooth that charges a fee to enter the Agua Azul waterfalls, one of Chiapas’ most popular tourist attractions. However, the Bachajón adherents and their lawyers at the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (“Frayba”) say that they have proof that the tollbooth confrontation was designed to provoke government intervention and police occupation of the region. The Bachajón adherents argue that the government orchestrated the confrontation at the tollbooth “as a pretext to take over the Agua Azul Waterfalls Ecotourism Center for its transnational interests and projects.”

The occupation of the Mexican Consulate takes place on the fourth day a five-day campaign “5 Days of Worldwide Action for the Bachajón 5.” Here’s the message that was sent out, including the demands — we’ve translated it into English (Spanish and Tzeltal are below the fold):

Compañeros from the alternative, autonomous, and independent media,

We have occupied the Mexican Consulate here in New York to demand the liberation of the Bachajón 5. In this way we are trying to ensure that the demands made by our brothers and sisters in San Sebastian Bachajon make an echo around the world. We ask that you help us spread the word. Later we will send a write-up and photos.

Our demands, which are the demands from San Sebastian Bachajon, are the following:

We demand the unconditional release of our compañeros, political prisoners who have been taken hostage by the bad government of Chiapas and Mexico.

We demand respect for the lands and territories of our mother earth within the framework of our autonomy as Indigenous Peoples.

We demand respect for our right to administer and care for our natural resources from our culture as Originary Peoples.

We will be posting updates and photos as we receive them.

[Update Monday 1:17 pm]: An article on the occupation was just published in the Mexico City daily La Jornada [in Spanish]. Here’s a rough translation of the opening paragraphs:

Mexico City — This morning, the Movimiento por Justicia del Barrio of New York, adherent to the “other campaign,” peacefully occupied the offices of the Consulate of Mexico in New York City, in order to demand that the government of Chiapas release the “Bachajón 5.” The action took place as part of a worldwide campaign that has been developing in many countries since April 1.

Protest actions have taken place in front of the Mexican Embassy in London, and the Consulate in Montreal. On Sunday, the Unión Sindical Solidaria, meeting in Paris, demanded the liberation of the five tzeltal peasants from San Sebastián Bachajón, Chiapas, who have been captive for five months facing charges for crimes they did not commit. The Association Ya Basta! participated this past weekend in anti-war marches in various cities of Italy, and included the release of the indigenous prisoners among their demands.

Below is the original message in Spanish and Tzeltal that was sent out from the occupation this morning:

Compas de medios libres, autonomos y independientes,

Hemos tomado el Consulado de Mexico aqui en Nueva York para exigir la liberacion de los 5 compas de Bachajon. De esta forma estamos tratando de asegurar que las demandas de nuestr@s herman@s de San Sebastian Bachajon tengan eco alrededor del mundo. Les pedimos que nos ayuden a sacar esto a la luz. Mas tarde les enviaremos una cronica y fotos.

Las demandas de San Sebastian Bachajon que son las nuestras son:

Exigimos la libertad incondicional de nuestros compañeros, presos políticos que están siendo rehenes del mal gobierno de Chiapas y de México.

Ya jsutik te ak’a kolok’ ta chukel te mololabtik ta oranax ma’ xu’ ya yich’ k’anbeyel smulta, na’otik te chopol awalil ja’ nax la xchuk yu’un ta spobeyel te lumsk’inal son te sk’ulejal te banti nakal, ta slumal Chiapa ta sk’inal México.

Exigimos el respeto a nuestra madre tierras y territorios en el marco de nuestra autonomía como Pueblos Indígenas que somos.

Ya jsutik te yich’el ta muk’ te jch’ul jmetik ta spamal lum k’inal sok chapanel xkulejal te ja yu’un stalel te bats’il ants winiketik.

Exigimos el respeto a nuestro derecho a administrar y cuidar nuestros recursos naturales desde nuestra cultura como Pueblos originarios.

Ya jsutik ta yich’el ta muk’ te cocheltik sok skanantayel sok yilel te bitik sk’ulejal te jch’ul jmetik lum k’inal jich bin útil xkuxlejal te bats’il ants winiketik.

UNAH Occupied and Defended Against Police

2 April 2011

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Ongoing massive protests throughout Honduras are being systematically repressed by the current regime in power. In 2009, a coup against the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, took power and held elections placing coup supporters in government.

The Honduran popular resistance held a general strike on March 30th throughout the country in opposition to state repression. Students at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) occupied the Tegucigalpa campus and battled police to defend the campus, as it also remained a refuge for young students avoiding the violence on demonstrators in the streets. Some deaths have been rumored to have occurred during the general strike; these follows the death of a teacher hit in the head by a tear gas canister at a demonstration on March 18th.

See more: