CHOOSING SIDES
GETTING ORGANIZED

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July 16

Originally posted to It’s Going Down

Unbelievable as it may be, it has been four years since the last round of pointless political spectacle and theatrics known as the Republican and Democratic Conventions. There is a long tradition of radicals, anarchists and others in opposition to the party machines gathering in protest against these conventions. There is also a long tradition of state repression from the infamous trials following the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago to the more recent saga of the RNC 8 following Minneapolis/St. Paul’s Republican National Convention.

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While there was oppositional presence at the 2012 conventions, there has not been a coordinated national organizing effort on the part of anarchists since 2008. In many ways this has led to a re-positioning of anarchist efforts and focusing of energies towards local struggles. Over the last 8 years we have seen anarchists take on tremendous organizing around issues of police violence, environmental devastation and resistance to fracking, prison, labor, and neighborhood organizing, work against the criminalization of homeless populations, gentrification, evictions and much more. This focus on the local has had incredible benefits and we believe it has strengthened movements. Though, the near abandonment of nationally coordinated organizing and confrontations has left something to be desired. Earlier this year some anarchists in Cleveland appealed nationally to other anarchists, urging them not to come to Cleveland for the RNC. It seems there has been a level of acceptance that the rapidly shifting political climate to the Right, moving ever swiftly towards actual fascism, requires an address and the RNC provides a national stage for such a convergence.

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There are many critiques of the efficacy of anarchist opposition to the conventions. We’re going to just move ahead to why this particular round in Cleveland has gained traction amongst anarchists who just a few months ago wouldn’t have bothered making the trek to Ohio. One word probably sums this up. Trump. The rise of Trump has coincided with the widening racial and class based divides in this country. Over the last eight years of Obama’s presidency we have observed once disparate white militias organize themselves into a national network that is able to get their people to land occupations and standoffs with the feds using social media. 3%ers have roamed the deserts hunting migrants and stood in the streets of Phoenix to help police Black Lives Matter protesters. Traditionalist Youth Network garbage have joined forces with violent skinhead gangs, providing a material enforcer to their armchair, laptop oriented fascism. We believe that a time is rising across the so-called United States where people must clearly choose sides and become organized.

Conventions, an elaborate spectacle meant to throw the average folk off the trail of capitalism and power, can provide us with an opportunity to converge and build lasting connections that strengthen our movements. We’re reminded of what folks from Unconventional Action, the nationally coordinated anarchist efforts of 2008’s convention season, had to say in an interview about the organizing at that time:

Often, part of the problem with summit organizing is the shortsightedness of it. At the forefront of the idea for Unconventional Action is the desire to look beyond just the conventions and beyond just the next mobilization after that. The Welcoming Committee describes it as building our capacity—increasing our skill-base and our relationships locally, building up networks regionally, developing our power as a movement nationally. Frankly, I don’t know whether or not Unconventional Action will be useful after this mobilization. People always say that all of the good stuff happens after the workshop or meeting—that is, it’s the informal communication, the relationships that are important—to that extent, maybe it’s not the Unconventional Action network that is useful in the long run, but what comes out of it.

And what is that purpose beyond the one mobilization? For these actions, we generate listserves and we get to know each other and that builds the infrastructure for another mobilization. The criticism is that these summits aren’t where capitalism happens, and are rather a dog and pony show where we show up and shut it down, that it’s really just spectacle versus spectacle.

I definitely don’t think that the battles are necessarily fought at places like the republican or democratic conventions, but these are the places where people learn tactics and build skills, where people get inspired—or learn important, tragic lessons. Places where so many people come together are one of the ideal sites for future collaboration and to exchange all kinds of ideas. The important thing is maintaining continuity and connectedness between communities in resistance and to bring those struggles home. Where the sites of ‘real’ capital exchange happen—if you can call anything about capitalism real.

Sounds great! Question is, can we do it again as here we are, eight years later? Whatever happens, It’s Going Down plans to be on the ground in Cleveland, covering the happenings as they occur in the streets. We plan to provide updates here on the main site as well as updates on our Twitter whenever possible. For now here is a quick roundup of what we know, what we can expect, some tips for those who plan to be in the streets of Cleveland as well as ways folks can support from afar. See you in Cleveland!

The Site for the Convergence Centers are now in place for the RNC protests and actions. The welcoming center and site to get info about events is at St. John’s Episcopal Church and is located at 2600 Church Street in Cleveland, Ohio. The other site for events, concerts, Nonviolence and direct action training, Independent Media Center, Tabling of organizations etc. is the Ohio City Masonic Arts Center 2831 Franklin Boulevard Cleveland, Ohio 44113. 

This Facebook page, Resist the RNC 2016, seems to have recent updates about larger, publicly organized mobilizations as well as updates on the security situation as it develops.

Food Not Bombs will be serving food. We suggest checking out the East Side Food Not Bombs Facebook page for more information on serving location and ways in which you can support the work they do.

The National Lawyers Guild will be providing legal observation, running a 24-hour jail support hotline and other legal supports. The jail hotline number is 216.5050.NLG (654). If you’re planning to be in the general vicinity of Cleveland and look remotely like a “protester,” or “scary anarchist,” we strongly suggest you have this number written on your body and not simply saved onto your cell phone. Cops have been known to disappear people, shocking we know, and you’re going to want to know this number. The NLG has a bail fund that you can donate to right over here.

The NLG also launched its first podcast, Motion to Resist! this week. Its first episode, “Don’t Wait for Another ’68,” explores the RNC and DNC in depth, featuring the voices of NLG members leading organizing efforts on the ground.

Aside from knowing the NLG jail support number, make sure that someone has your pertinent information in the case of your arrest. Some people create an “arrest will,” that details your legal name, contact information for anyone you wish to alert in case of your arrest, medical conditions to be aware of, medications necessary to be aware of, specific needs for you personally while in custody or how folks can support those who depend on you such as children, partners or pets. Leaving a document like this with friends you trust can prove to be extremely helpful in chaotic situations.

There is a Pastebin set up with consistently updated information. You can find more local resources, events planned and other helpful tips there.

Here are some helpful tips on security culture and keeping yourself and your crews a little safer:

Crimethinc: What is Security Culture?

2009’s Earth First! Roadshow epic puppet show on security culture.

Fashion Tips for the Brave.

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We cannot talk about this convention without speaking about the opposition and the security measures of the state. What we do know is that the state imposed security measures are far more restrictive in Cleveland than the following week’s DNC in Philadelphia. There are several factors we can assume contribute to this. Remember that one word that summed it all up before? Trump? Trump has rallied his milk toast foot soldiers over the last 9 months to a year, inciting violence at his campaign stops and even offering to pay the legal fees of those who physically assault counter protesters, specifically people of color. Even the Republican party machine and the state know what a wild card this candidate is and what power he holds to incite Duck Dynasty fans to violence.

There is a lengthy list of banned items from the event zone. If you were planning on bringing tennis balls or cans of baked beans with you in your go-bag, think again! This list of banned items includes many items that are typical staples at mass demonstrations. There will be no coolers full of water bottles to prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration, so please prepare accordingly. There has been some hubbub around the banning of backpacks. Apparently backpacks that are smaller than 18x13x7 are indeed allowed in the area. We sized most common backpacks and found that the same bag you might bust out for the first day of 3rd grade is the same bag you can bring to the riot.

You can’t bring a picket sign, no sticks y’all, but people can bring a gun. Ohio is an open carry state and Cleveland police maintain that they feel it is outside of their realm to limit otherwise legal activity such as bringing a firearm into a national security event zone. Okay, we’re fucking anarchists and even we are scratching our heads on this one because we’re fairly certain ice coolers and tents are legal in Ohio too. What this leaves us all to deal with is Trump supporters packing heat and even elected officials roaming the streets with either openly carried weapons or concealed weapons. Delegates have gone on the record saying they will also be arming themselves. Y’all this shit is a mess. We wouldn’t rely on cops being responsible with their guns, seeing as they have managed to murder 3 people per day this year across the country. But, we sure as hell can’t rely on some Trumpist keeping their cool when encircled by counter-protesters.

Between this and the threats of various white supremacist organizations to show up to defend “land, liberty and the right to be racist garbage piles,” we suggest that folks who plan to get rowdy brush up on emergency first aid. Nazis like to stab people. Trump people are planning to bring guns. This recent article about basic precautions to take around knives is a solid start. We scoured the internet for a solid youtube tutorial on addressing gunshot or stab wounds and found that some of the most clear ones out there are coming from 3%ers and Minutemen. Gross. Can someone who isn’t a racist garbage pile make some good videos on these topics? Luckily we’ve got a decent start from the People’s Community Medics in Oakland state:

Disclaimer These are just beginning steps for immediate treatment!

The Goal: Find and close the Entrance and Exit Wounds.

Time Constraints: The Golden Hour of Gunshot Wounds – treatment within 60 minutes is crucial for survival.

The Strategy: Wear gloves or use a barrier, apply firm, direct pressure to the entrance and exit wounds, wrap gauze around wounds to create a pressure dressing.

Continue adding to pressure dressing until bleeding stops.

Go to an ER with trauma abilities ASAP.

Learn more about People’s Community Medics: peoplescommunitymedics.org

We aren’t highlighting the guns and knives to scare people, but we think being prepared is always wise. The political climate and violence that has erupted from it have put us all in a position of needing to think about things that might have once felt unthinkable.

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Guess who’s back? Stupid fucking Brandon Darby plans to come to the RNC and act as the Batman of the right wing, foiling evil plans and handing people over to the feds. Can you just die from incurable cancer already, Brandon? This time Brandon has a new minion in tow, Cassandra Fairbanks, who once utilized her Twitter platform and social media pull to rally support for Jeremy Hammond. Cassandra Fairbanks appears to have flipped from anonymous supporter and damn near professional FTP-er, having been at every major uprising of the last 5 years at least, to full fledged Trump supporter and Brandon Darby fan club president. Keep your eyes out for these two:

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The Intercept just published an article that includes the FBI threat assessment leading up to the conventions. You can read the full FBI document, ringing in at a mere 13 pages, over here. Pat yourselves on the backs folks, because anarchists are at the top of the threats list second only to “lone wolf,” style terrorists. Still scary after all these years!

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Jokes aside, the FBI apparently is looking closely at the 2015 May Day events of Seattle when it comes to what the threat looks like in the streets of Cleveland. From The Intercept:

The list of potential violent anarchist behaviors in the document seems to be drawn from reports of a May Day protest in Seattle last year, where 16 people were arrested after clashing with cops, along with the account of a single “officer of another law enforcement agency.”

Of course, there have been protesters of various stripes at every convention in recent memory; indeed, during the 2012 conventions, a similar intelligence briefing about anarchists was made public. But given the current heightened tension after a week of demonstrations around the country over police killings and the attack on officers in Dallas — combined with Trump’s incendiary rhetoric — both authorities and protesters are especially on edge.

Looking at what the opposition or enemy has to say is an important strategy. We suggest reading through FBI documents such as these and become familiar with how our side is examined. The Right Wing internet is also abuzz with hysteria around anarchists, which we’ll address more in the coming posts.

If you cannot attend the RNC and wish to provide support from afar here are some ways in which you can do that:

Use that Amazon Prime membership for something: Rust Belt Medics RNC Wishlist

Send cash direct to the Rust Belt Medics via their GoFund Me Page.

Food Not Bombs plans to feed people all week during the convention. You can help them meet the last part of their financial goal at their online fundraiser page.

We mentioned the NLG bail fund already, but there is also this bail fund. Unlike the NLG fund, we cannot attest to how these funds will be distributed. As arrests happen, because we know they will, we will be updating as quickly as possible with other vetted bail funds.

Until Monday, when Trump has graciously promised matching orange spray tans for all the little people:

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It's Going Down

It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide a resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.

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