Filed under: Canada, Mexico, Roundup, US
Originally posted to It’s Going Down
Grabbing headlines this week was the spectacular actions by Greenpeace in Portland, Oregon which succeeded temporarily, in the face of riot police, in turning ships owned by Shell around. As Oregon Live reported however:
[T]he controversial icebreaker MSV Fennica threaded through a hole cut by law enforcement in the wall of protesters suspended from the St. Johns Bridge. For Royal Dutch Shell, the company that will use the ship in oil-drilling operations in the Arctic, the exit marked the end of a week of protests on the Portland bridge and outside the Swan Island dry dock where a gash in the ship’s hull was repaired. For the 13 Greenpeace USA activists on the bridge and dozens of others in kayaks and canoes on the Willamette River, it marked a disappointing end to a high-risk, high-reward protest.
— Inside Climate News (@insideclimate) July 31, 2015
— lastrealindians.com (@lastrealindians) July 29, 2015
Generating far-less attention were continued actions at the Unist’ot’en camp in unseeded indigenous territory of the central interior of so-called British Columbia, along with solidarity protests, and continued resistance to pipeline and fracking projects in both the US and Canada. In Seattle:
Activists briefly occupied the Canadian consulate in downtown Seattle and then marched, occupied and picketed Fidality Investments, a major investor in Chevron. Demonstrators were removed from Fidality’s offices by Seattle police, but continued to demonstrate blockading the entrance to Fidaility.
— Canada's National Observer (@NatObserver) July 31, 2015
On Thursday Rising Tide held a rally in support for Unist’ot’en camp’s continued efforts to turn away RCMP, security contractors and pipeline employees attempting to enter unceded territory in order to connect fossil fuels to tankers on the West Coast near Prince Rupert.
“This event hopes to confront the police violence brought to people all over the world. This is not an isolated issue,” a press release from the Unist’ot’en camp states. “Join us to hear from those who have been to the camp and learn about how powerful life on the land has been.”
— Tim Ream (@ourcarbon) July 24, 2015
In Los Angeles, CA, children and families protested a fracking drilling site:
More than 100 children, parents and community organizers in fluorescent yellowish-green shirts and orange shoe covers marched through a South Los Angeles neighborhood earlier this week chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, this drilling site has got to go!”
Protests over conventional oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing – known as fracking – near schools and homes in poor minority neighborhoods are now reaching new heights across California as more studies show that drilling for oil disproportionately takes place in poor communities of color.
— The Tyee (@TheTyee) July 29, 2015
Across the US, other pipelines protests took place in Massachusetts, Georgia, and Nebraska. In Pennsylvania, parents mounted a protest against a fracking project proposed near a school, and in California, several groups carried out similar demonstrations. The courageous, confrontational, and successful campaign by indigenous people involved with the Unist’ot’en camp and blockade can provide a powerful example of resistance to fracking. At the same time, this resistance can hopefully create dialog on colonization and foster links of possible solidarity between Natives engaged in resistance and settler communities also fighting resource extraction.
[O]n Friday, July 31, two semi truck loads of material were escorted through the crowd of remaining demonstrators near the Central Maui Baseyard off of the Mokulele Highway. Arrests continued into the night with at least 20 people removed and handcuffed during the incident. The exact number or arrests was not immediately available.
Man died in San Francisco this morning while being arrested – in handcuffs after being beaten with batons by SFPD. http://t.co/z3ggwAsXxP
— tree (@treekisser) July 31, 2015
In the US, as of this writing, the number of people killed by police reached 679 in 2015. With the brutal in-custody murder of anti-police brutality activist Sandra Bland, more attention has also been placed on in-custody deaths across the United States. In San Francisco, California this week, police killed an African American man in-custody, and in Mount Vernon, Washington, people demanded answers in the death of 42 year-old, Raynette Turner. In Memphis Tennessee, the police murder of Darrius Stewart also led to protests. Outrage has also been boiling over the death of a Native woman, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, in South Dakota. Bear was arrested on a DUI charge. According to one report:
Jail staff responded by dismissing her cries for help, telling her to “knock it off,” and “quit faking.” Inmates cried out for the jail staff to help Circle Bear, to which they eventually responded by picking her up off of the floor, dragging her out of the cell, and transferring her to a holding cell. Circle Bear was later found unresponsive in the holding cell.
— إنتفاضة الباي آريا (@BayAreaIntifada) July 31, 2015
University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing was indicted on murder charges by a grand jury as the city buckled for possible rioting, but other officers who were at the murder scene that helped to fabricate reports failed to face any reprimand. After the indictment, protests did happen, with people taking to the streets and ‘taunting’ officers, but remained largely un-disruptive. According to a report by Evan Blake:
On Friday, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced that a grand jury had heard testimony regarding…falsifications and declined to indict [the other officers] for corroborating Tensing’s false story. Grand juries routinely operate under the direct advice of the prosecutor, meaning that Deters likely sought a nonindictment for Tensing’s two accomplices.
The Guardian revealed Friday that two of the officers who corroborated Tensing’s story—Eric Weibel, who wrote the initial police report, and Kidd—were also involved in the 2010 police killing of Kelly Brinson, an unarmed, mentally ill black man who had been hospitalized at Cincinnati’s University hospital.
Vandalism against Confederate statues and monuments across the South continued, as did the racist reaction to growing black insurgency. In Rockville, Maryland a statue was vandalized with “Black Lives Matter.” In Waco, Texas, a Confederate memorial was vandalized, as was one in Pensacola, Florida with “Confed Lives Don’t Matter.”
In Alabama, video footage caught racists placing Confederate flags on the grounds of a black church, while in Georgia, a group of ‘Rebel Flag’ sportin’ pick-up trucks crashed an African-American child’s birthday party. According to a report on Salon:
Reports differ as to how the group “Protect the Flag” ended up camped out next to the child’s birthday party, according to police. Levi Bush, one of the men in the trucks, told police that his group was just innocently driving by when some of attendees at the birthday party began to yell at them and bombard them with rocks. Bush said he ran over a median trying to dodge a projectile and earned a flat tire for his effort.
The other trucks pulled over to “support” their fallen comrade, at which point, Bush said, people from the birthday party approached them. “Basically, about eight of us had to hold 15 to 20 of them back,” a process which he confessed required the repeated use of a particularly charged racial slur. Or, as one of the party attendees told police, members of “Protect the Flag” were yelling that they will “kill y’all n*ggers!”
Seems some people in Colorado Springs, Colorado were not to be outdone, and made the connection between the racism, genocide, and slavery carried out under the banner of one flag with another: the American one, and burned one on the City Hall lawn. In response, right-wing supporters came out to defend it.
— Sam Renegade BLM (@MinneapoliSam) July 31, 2015
In Minneapolis, Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets and blocked traffic, in response to the police murder of Sandra Bland and other deaths in-custody.
— Ed Ruby (@ed__ruby) July 30, 2015
In Ferguson, Missouri, a fight broke out between those in favor of recalling the Mayor, James Knowles, and his supporters, as the altercation spilled outside of City Hall chambers.
In prison news, in Saskatoon, Canada, a prison riot took place on Sunday, July 26th. Media reports that this is the third prisoner uprising at the facility in recent times and several participating prisoners have caught charges. In Jefferson County, Arkansas, prisoners also rioted, causing thousands of dollars in damage in response to tighter security and restrictions on privileges. As one report noted:
Jail video surveillance footage captured at least one masked detainee covering the one of the two cameras in the open jail pod with wet toilet paper prior to destroying an estimated several thousand dollars in property and equipment inside the pod.
These latest uprisings are part of an ongoing chorus of rebellions that have swept prisons in the US, Canada, and Australia – among others. Heat has also been put recently on immigrant detention facilities, with lawyers claiming that they were locked out of prisons after raising concerns, and continuous leaked stories of abuse and mistreatment. In Minneapolis, on July 24th, people protested ‘family detention facilities,’ and demanded their closure.
During Baltimore Uprising, City Officials Criminalized Hashtags & Labeled Social Media Postings as ‘Threats’ http://t.co/gpqUS6Ri4l
— Firedoglake (@firedoglake) July 31, 2015
As we reported last time, it appears that the State may now not only be studying social media in an attempt at counter-insurgency, but also moving towards literally criminalizing hashtags on Twitter. According to one report:
In the early moments of the uprising in Baltimore after police killed Freddie Gray, Baltimore city officials monitored social media. The officials labeled activists and other users, who were posting about reported rioting, protest activity, and police action, as “threats.”
Officials compiled 71 “threatening” pieces of content from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube on April 27 [PDF].
Each threat was designated as some kind of a “violation.” These “violations” included “chatter,” “cyber threat,” “riot,” “physical threat,” “threat,” “violence,” and “rebellion.”
In labor news, tens of thousands of Verizon wireless workers are poised to strike over cuts to benefits and retirement. Bus drivers in Milwaukee as well as in Tucson, Arizona are also on the cusp of striking. In Chicago, hotel workers protested poor conditions, and in Toronto, airport fuel workers staged a wildcat strike. According to a report:
They worry about job losses, pay cuts and having to kiss benefits and pensions goodbye when a refuelling contract changes hands in the fall. A union spokesman says 30 of 47 workers scheduled for the Friday morning shift called in sick, while others refused to work overtime. Just 17 of 56 people punched in for the afternoon shift.
In Illinois, in the face of a standoff between public-sector unions and Republican Governor, Bruce Rauner, the government has threatened to bring in the National Guard. As the Daily Caller wrote:
Though deploying the National Guard could be seen as an extreme measure, it is not unheard of. Historically, however, the National Guard tends to be used to disrupt state workers from striking, not do their jobs. In 1877 the National Guard attempted to use force to stop a railroad strike in West Virgina. The plan backfired, however, as it only made workers more angry. The first use of the Illinois National Guard was in Chicago in 1878 in response to what happened in West Virgina. In 1970, then President Richard Nixon deployed the United States armed forces and the National Guard to disrupt a national postal worker strike.
A raucous crowd attacked Uber drivers and their vehicles with clubs and stones…as licensed taxi drivers demonstrated to demand a “total halt” to app-based rideshare services in the capital.
Video of the incident showed people throwing eggs and flour inside the windows of vehicles, kicking doors and trying to rip off side mirrors. One man destroyed a sedan’s rear window with a large rock.
Last month marked six years since the official end of the 2007-2009 recession, and, if official commentators are to be believed, six years since the beginning of the economic “recovery.”
Yet by many indicators, American households are actually far worse off than they were during the depths of the 2008 crisis. According to data released on Tuesday by the US Census Bureau, the share of Americans who own their homes has fallen to the lowest level since 1967.
Also, among current homeowners the number of those drowning in debt has only gotten worse. As CNBC reported:
7.4 million borrowers were still “seriously” underwater on their mortgages at the end of June, according to RealtyTrac. The real estate information company defines that as the loan amount being at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value. Over 13 percent of all properties with a mortgage are in this predicament, and that is actually a slight increase from the first quarter of this year.
Matthew Heimbach, rising star of the American neo-Fascist and white nationalist Right, who was recently profiled in a glowing piece in Al-Jazeera, is launching the Traditional Workers’ Party, which grows out of his ‘Traditionalist Youth Network.’
While we will be dropping a new in-depth piece on Heimbach soon, regarding why he should be on the radar of all anti-racists and anti-fascists, the TWP is set to run their first candidate in the small town of New Carlislie, Ohio. The aspiring politician is Tony Hovater, Heimbach’s pal and also former drummer of the Ohio metalcore band, The Paramedic. The band (who has a Puerto-Rican singer – go figure) gained some internet fame for selling t-shirts that read: “BITCH SAY ONE MORE WORD I’LL RIP YOUR FUCKING THROAT OUT.” Apparently, “Folk, Family, and Faith,” only goes so far.
— 🌟Albania (@AlbaniaOC) July 31, 2015
Protests over the missing students of Ayotzinapa continue to spread and go global. As one report reads:
Over the weekend a thousand activists there protested police brutality and corruption, using hashtags like #ayotzinapa10meses and #AccionGlobalPorAyotzinapa to connect with solidarity protests worldwide. They’ve rallied around a ten-month old case: 43 university students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher’s College, a hotbed for grassroots social movements, went missing after they were taken by police. Prosecutors say they were later killed by a drug gang.
Weird things are happening off the Pacific Coast. And at the center of the action is a warm-water mass that scientists call “the blob.” It’s turning the coastal ecosystem on its head. Species are dying along Washington, Oregon and northern California: sea stars, marine birds and sardines, among them.
Tropical plankton are showing up for the first time. Native plankton are breeding much later. Brown pelicans are refusing to mate at all. And toxic algal blooms are spreading rapidly, at times shutting down commercial and recreational fishing.
From California to Canada – but mostly in Oregon – beachgoers have reported hundreds of the small seabirds had washed ashore. By January, that number reached tens of thousands. That’s 100 times more than their average mortality rate.
Salmon are a whole topic unto themselves. Populations have been suffering die-offs almost all summer in Oregon, mostly because of warm water in the Columbia River and its tributaries. The biggest mystery has been the disappearance of at least 250,000 sockeye traveling up the river out of an expected return of 500,000.
[T]he climate has warmed to the point where it’s now halfway towards what scientists claim is dangerous global warming.
“It’s the outcome the world wants to avoid, but we are already halfway there,” according to the New Scientist. “All but one of the main trackers of global surface temperature are now passing more than 1 °C of warming relative to the second half of the 19th century” which is halfway to the 2 degrees Celsius of warming the United Nations constitutes as dangerous warming.
The New Scientist also argues the so-called “hiatus” in global warming could be over, meaning “this is just the start of a period of rapid warming.”
Shut down the Debates.
Shut down the Conventions.
Democrats & Republicans if you want our votes you have to earn it.#BlackLivesMatter.
— #RIPBassemMasri 🙏 (@Delo_Taylor) July 26, 2015
In the US, the Democratic Party continues to attempt to court the Black Lives Matter movement. At the same time, many in the movement simply want to press their issues to the candidates, instead of recognizing that the American system of racialized capitalism cannot be reformed. Across the US, both the Obama administration and local governments have begun to pay lip-service to such tensions, while the rate of police killings has continued unabated.
As with Occupy, the Democrats are attempting to push social movements back into politics on one hand, and smash them in the streets with the other. At the same time, some young people are rushing to support Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders. Recently, Sanders hosted several online “rallies” that drew hundreds of thousands of listeners. In his address, Sanders promoted semi-populist rhetoric while at the same time attacked immigrant workers. As Patrick Martin wrote:
[H]e moved from the broader audience to address more conservative and business-oriented groups Thursday and Friday, Sanders toned down his populist rhetoric considerably and reiterated a chauvinist and reactionary position on immigration.
Speaking Thursday before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Sanders went out of his way to reject calls by immigration activists for open borders. He repeated comments first made in an interview Tuesday with the Vox web site, in which he denounced unrestricted immigration as the perspective of the Koch brothers, the ultra-right billionaires who have pledged to spend nearly a billion dollars to elect Republican candidates in 2016.
Pitting immigrants against native-born workers, particularly the lowest-paid and most exploited, is one of the oldest and most noxious traditions of American capitalist politics. That Sanders embraces this Know-Nothing legacy tells more about the real nature of his campaign than all his talk of defeating the political influence of the billionaires.
Martin goes on to state:
But the suggestion that Sanders will push Clinton, or the Democratic Party as a whole, to adopt more progressive positions is a gross distortion of the real political dynamic of his campaign. His role is not to push the Democrats to the left, but provide a left cover for this reactionary organization. The Sanders campaign is being promoted to head off the emergence of a movement by working people and young people against capitalist politics and corral them back inside the Democratic Party.
Some in the Left media are ga-ga over Sanders and the #FeeltheBern hashtag continues to trend on Twitter. What the Sanders campaign ultimately will do, is activate a huge (youthful) base of support for the Democrats who normally would be “turned off to politics.” Once Sanders is out of the race, as he likely will be, (along with his right-wing, ‘Libertarian,’ opponent, Rand Paul), those originally excited by his run for President will then be free to march lock and step behind Hillary Clinton, (or Donald Trump, for that matter).
Clinton, who has faced media scorn in recent days over off-shore Swiss bank accounts and an email controversy, has still gained support from the old-guard of American labor. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who became a billionaire thanks to bail-outs and a real-estate boom that accelerated gentrification, has managed to garner support from right-wing die-hards while at the same time back-pedaling to fire his campaign adviser for being too ‘racist,’ (that is, more racist than him).
In the US, poor and working-class Americans face an accelerated class-war brought on by cuts to social-services, rising rents, declining wages, lack of access to jobs, and a rapidly deteriorating environment. All the while, the police continue to kill almost daily, as more Americans are incarcerated than ever before as the country becomes even more racially segregated and the wealth-gap deepens. These problems aren’t brought on by immigrants or ‘inner-city crime’ as the politicians contend, but instead by a system that is built around massive contradictions and constant cycles of crisis.
In the past, anarchists during elections have carried out campaigns aimed at highlighting the need to engage in collective, social struggle around everything from fighting foreclosures to global warming. These campaigns have increased the visibility of anarchist ideas and pointed out the fallacies of electoral democracy, and have often been based around championing direct action over voting through outreach propaganda efforts.
An additional tactic would be looking strategically at the elections – and finding out how to create cracks within their bases of support and destroy the foundations of legitimacy within the major (and any) political parities.
On the Right, mainly white Americans disenfranchised with the establishment but sweet on Libertarian ideas will gravitate towards Rand Paul and others. Anarchists would do well to make the case that such politicians are simply playing on white working-class fears of immigrants and African-Americans, and that they should instead link up with other poor and working people regardless of color; outside the system and fight in their workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, and bio-regions. Similar strategies have already been attempted by anarchists tabling at gun-shows, for instance.
On the Democratic and Left side, anarchists could make the argument that four more years of Democratic rule will continue to erode workers rights, wages, benefits, and standards of living, just as they have under Obama. Furthermore, the rate of police killings, mass incarcerations, and immigrant detentions of people of color will only increase – just as they have under Obama.
And with both the Republicans and the Democrats, the massive build-up of state surveillance, spying, and militarization of the police will only continue. This of course is not to mention the continued onslaught of industrial capitalism which pushes us all towards oblivion.
The point in making cracks and driving wedges in these bases of support is not to push the parities ‘more to the extreme,’ but instead push the contradictions within them and sow dissent within the ranks. In America, people look towards elected leaders to manage problems within the system of capitalism instead of looking towards themselves and those around them. We have to work to reverse this, destroying hope of change coming from politics in the process and putting confidence back in everyday people to fight.
Black Lives Matter, the immigrant movement, organized labor; all of these ‘movements’ have self-appointed leaders which are attempting to get those within ‘their’ base to turn back into the political machine which millions are out on the streets trying to set fire to. We have to be there – pointing in the other direction.
Lastly, before signing off, we want to thank everyone that has made It’s Going Down pop off over the last month. Special thanks to all of the podcast hosts who have given us a shout out and an honorable mention. All of the projects, old and new, who have linked to us and encouraged people to check us out. And especially everyone who has followed us on Twitter and shared our stories. We have a long road ahead and look forward to the journey.
Above all, keep making news!