Filed under: Action, Analysis, Central
Submitted to It’s Going Down
The city of Denver, CO has seen a huge uptick in activity since the election of the populist right winger and proto-fascist Donald Trump. The following is a humble attempt by a few folks to sum up the last several weeks, post-election. We can’t possibly cover everything, because we can’t possibly know everything about what folks are trying to do here. Left out are plenty of things we aren’t connected to, or things we feel already get plenty of attention from the activist Left. We know that plenty of people are meeting and discussing what comes next. We hope this can help us connect better, and help us find more friends and collaborators in which to share our thoughts and actions.
“Writing is a vanity, unless it’s for the friend. Including the friend one doesn’t know yet.”
– The Invisible Committee
11/10 – 2 Days in: The Big March
The Democrats tried to rig the election for Hillary, and accidentally installed a fascist oompa-loompa internet troll with an ass for a mouth as president. Whoops!
We acknowledge that the victories of Hillary Clinton or even Bernie Sanders would have been the continuation of the United States’ racist, colonial agenda, but we think the reaction to Donald Trump winning requires little explanation. So fuck it, we got together with a bunch of college kids, liberals, and hippies to try and give some Trump supporters what-for. To be fair, there were others in the crowd, but they were hard to hear over the calls for “peace” and the need to get “reasonable Republicans on our side.”
Anyway, we still got to get a few swings in on some fools, despite the intervention of smelly white boys with dreadlocks. The night began to get more interesting after the main march ended and people began to march towards I-25 with a crowd of around 1,000 people. We were surprised to see some fight in the crowd after the police began to form lines just shy of the on ramp, and the students began locking arms. Some rowdy friends began pumping people up and others brought sturdy flags and a reinforced banner to form a harder line. The crowd marched straight up to the line of riot cops,and a tense stand off ensued that looked like it was about to get wild. In a sudden strategic retreat the cops then broke lines to allow the crowd to move forward, only to be trapped against a grassy lot and a parking deck. With a line of cops cars blocking our way forward, the crowd seemed a bit stagnant, but feeling a little collective power.
Some ass-hat who was going on about Trump’s sexual assaults not being a “big deal” got punched at least a few times. We argued with some liberals who apparently think we are “the hate they are trying to fight.” We think they are confused. We got bored with that and took the interstate, using traffic cones and other people using their bodies to barricade the road. Some clever kids had found the side door, so we waltzed right in. There were a couple wonderful moments on the highway as the first car being blocked on the on ramp turned out to be a car full of very young black and brown youth who started blaring “fuck trump” and used their car to help block traffic. A couple other frontline cars decided to join in, making a truly effective blockade. When the pigs finally showed up traffic was backed up for miles and the crowd gleefully skipped away. A small part of the crowd ended up trapped up against a 20 foot drop wall by a line of cops who used pepper balls sadistically against a small number of people. Luckily the crowd’s confidence had been boosted enough by our sneakiness that no one was ready to leave folks behind, so many of us ran back down to the street below and caught our comrades as they lowered themselves down from the wall. This was a serious boost to the energy of the crowd, but we had already been in the streets for over 5 hours with very little plan, so this ended up being the high point of the night.
The march continued on for a while, snaking through downtown and back to the Capitol, not before getting into a couple little tiffs with drivers that attempted to run through the crowd. Once again, those that tried to resist or retaliate were scolded with shouts of “nonviolence.” This seemed to really indicate the tone for the night, even as more and more young folks began to roll up in crews, hoods up.
Right-Wing Violence, Fascist Graffiti
Almost immediately the stories started rolling in. A transwoman’s car is vandalized, a school is marked with antisemitic graffiti. A woman of Indian descent is jumped with a baseball bat and an Indian restaurant is vandalized with the words “Hail Trump!”. Three men are beaten for confronting another group of men who begin shouting homophobic slurs because one man has his arm around the other. At least one of the victims walks away with multiple broken ribs. A man with a confederate flag and a “blue lives matter” flag flying from the back of his pickup truck nearly runs over anti-Trump demonstrators and then finds where the march ends to stand by and hassle and scream obscenities and taunt protesters.
Friends begin talking, texts and group chats are sent out as people start to prepare, and some clever folks find the names and an address of a nazi house in the center of the area in which a majority of the attacks took place. Some people make quick use of the information, creating flyers that are distributed throughout the area, rubbing them the wrong way enough to create an Anti-Antifa and contact the local news. These boneheads really don’t like their safe spaces to be disrupted.
11/19 – 11 Days in – A Smaller March
A call-out for a more militant, night time march was put out with about a week’s notice in attempts to keep momentum in the streets. With Denver winter rolling in, things fell a bit flat. A crowd of around 50-60 people took the streets with a banner reading “America Was Never Great,” and plenty of black flags. We marched down Colfax, a main drag through the city, and then to the 16th Street Mall. Most of the crowd was dressed in black, but less were masked up, giving the feeling that things were probably not going to get very heated, even if there were far more chants of “Fuck Donald Trump!” and “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA!” Things were mostly uneventful, as a sizable force of police slowly followed behind the march, occasionally blocking traffic but not making too many aggressive maneuvers. That is, until the crowd rounded a corner down a side street, where the police had the cover of buildings and little foot traffic to swarm the crowd, pulling three people out of the crowd after we had been pushed onto the sidewalk. These folks were seemingly pulled at random, and the quick escalation was most likely a show of force to intimidate a fairly calm crowd. One arrestee picked up an assaulting an officer charge, in a clear attempt to intimidate future marchers. The folks were twisted and slammed against pavement during their arrests. The only assaults committed that night were by the pigs, not any marchers.
The Denver Autonomous Assembly
This week was the first public meeting for the Denver Autonomous Assembly. groups and organizations were representedBlack Rose, IWW, Denver Action Medic Network, , Denver Solidarity Network, International Socialist Organization, Denver Homeless Out Loud, Denver Anarchist Black Cross, Casa Mayan for Auraria Student Action, Denver Justice Project, Auraria Climate Justice Coalition, Roc, , the Denver Action Network, and many more. There were about 75 people in attendance, new faces and tons of radicallyminded people that in a room together to get work done. It was very inspiring to see so much fresh energy.
It was quite evident how anarchist outreach from organizations like Submedia, Crimethinc, and It’s Going Down, post-Bernie and post-Trump, have reached people outside of the anarchist bubble. For instance, the hashtag #DisruptJ20 was well-known among non-anarchists. There was no liberal bullshit and no shouting matches. Everyone came expecting a radical gathering that would respect autonomy and not force decisions on each other.
The call-out read:
In the wake of Trump’s election we have seen a rise in white-supremacist attacks on marginalized communities, a growing white nationalist movement, and attempts from “the left” to stifle and contain resistance to it. The Denver Autonomous Assembly is a space where people can come together and collaborate on radical projects, campaigns, and actions. We are done giving power to politicians. This is not a space for electoral politics, campaigning, or NGOs. You cannot vote away bigotry or the latent fascism in Trump that awakens white supremacists. We must create radical institutions in our own neighborhoods and communities if we want real change. Our goal is to remove any possibility of Trump taking power from us by taking power into our own hands.
This call-out set the tone for the meeting. It ensured that the conversation would be based around creating projects rooted in mutual aid, agitation, and resistance. Luckily we had effective facilitators who kept things running smoothly, and after a quick round of introductions, the organizers of the assembly talked about how they hoped the space would be used and the intentions of the project: to create a radical space for folks to come together, to plug into ongoing work, and create new projects, actions, and infrastructure that the resistance movement in this city is lacking.
First meetings always have painful moments. When you have an “assembly” based around “autonomy” the tension between decision–making, organization, structure, and autonomy is a healthy one. If we are serious about “autonomy,” how do we prevent those with more social capital and experience from dominating? How do we create minimal infrastructure for communications that are accountable to the group, such as Facebook, Signal text loops, and listservs, and avoid the kind of power struggles over social media accounts we have seen in prior struggles? Anytime you get a group together, decisions will be made to govern the space, so figuring out how to navigate this gray area will be something we will have to be mindful of. We should seek to keep our spaces open, useful, and productive, while avoiding bureaucracy.
After the first 45 minutes or so, we split up into break-out groups, covering: community defense/antifa work, propaganda & counter–narratives, #NoDAPL solidarity, marches and actions (#J20), infosecurity, street medics, and responding to local sweeps of the homeless. At the end of the night, folks reported back what their groups talked about and what the next steps would be.
The biggest group was the antifa/community defense group. In that group, a local worker talked about fascists harassing his customers, people got a quick history on antifa in Denver, and got plugged into local antifa work. People shared ideas around what they are going to do for #J20. Folks talked about launching a few new media and propaganda projects. People involved with #NoDAPL solidarity work invited folks to some upcoming meetings. Attendees were urged to join the fight against the homeless sweeps in Denver. After report backs from the breakout groups, the space was opened up for announcements on upcoming events and actions, including a march on a boss being planned. One of the most valuable things we see to come out assemblies is the opportunity to meet face to face with like-minded people, and immediately get support for work you are doing. When the assembly officially ended, folks set up times to meet next, exchanged emails, and there was a rare magical energy in the room that was truly inspiring. Folks continued to socialize and hang out for a while, which is a good indication that something special could be moving forward.
The next Denver Autonomous Assembly is on Tuesday, January 3rd, from 7 – 9pm, at the Deerpile, upstairs from City, O’ City, at 206 E 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80203.
Ghost Ship, Local DIY Sweeps
The day this piece was finished, at least five DIY music and art venues were visited by law enforcement and fire inspectors, kicking some out and leaving all in questionable standing for how much longer they could be around. While this doesn’t have much to do directly with Trump, it is worth mentioning that things seem to be intensifying in many aspects of our lives very quickly. If we are to mount a formidable resistance to Trump and the fascists he emboldens, it is vital we have spaces we can control. In a city like Denver, one of the most rapidly gentrifying in the country, these spaces are already few and far between, and now at least 3 are gone within a day. Many of us knew people in the Ghost Ship in Oakland, some who died, many who narrowly escaped and lost friends. We hope that the only silver lining to this tragedy is a wake up call to our friends in subcultural spaces that we can build beautiful things on the fringes, maybe some things that even protect us from some of the shit of this world, but eventually the outside world will always find us. We can longer be content with long nights at shows with our friends as a way to escape this world. It is vital that assemblies, and longer term cultural and organizing spaces be built not just for escape, but for confrontation and resistance.