Filed under: Canada, Mexico, Roundup, US
Originally posted to It’s Going Down
Looking at the unfolding crisis in Michigan, not only of water, but also in regards to education, shows the many cracks in the existing system. A water crisis has developed, leading to deaths and poisoning of poor and working-class people, brought on by austerity measures and with the full knowledge of state officials. This large industrial and state wide disaster draws parallels to the massive methane leak in Southern California and the unfolding drought crisis in that state as well. Meanwhile, teachers and students have been staging sick-out wildcat strikes, and teachers, who legally are not allowed to strike, have been attacked by the unions and the Democratic Party, the very institutions many workers have put their faith in for decades. This is our current reality and terrain, as whole regions and towns go bankrupt and fall into deep crisis, and metropolitan areas grow richer, gentrified, and deeply divided along lines of race and class.
Despite this gloomy reality, we want to take a moment and thank everyone that has donated to our crowd-funding campaign. If you haven’t donated yet, please do, we have a couple of more days left on our campaign. We know that times are tight and that donating to projects online is daunting and tedious, but it certainly has meant a lot for everyone that has worked on It’s Going Down. We look forward to printing the magazine in the coming weeks, shipping them out, and getting the PDF online for everyone that wants to read it and print it on their own.
We’ve got a shorter round-up than usual this week, but as always, some interesting stuff is going on. We are excited to report that we have some big plans in the coming months, both in terms of content and the site more broadly. In that spirit, let’s get to the news.
Anger against the police has been brewing in Southern California, as demonstrations have taken place over repeated policing killings. Recently, in Anaheim, people took to the streets and faced down police (who shut down streets as the protest continued), in the wake of the killing of Gustavo Najera. Police cars and the front of the police station was vandalized with slogans. Check out some of this footage from Revolution News:
Anti-Fascists helped to counter an anti-Islam and anti-refugee demonstration Pennsylvania. According to One People’s Project:
[A]nti-refugee demonstrators, calling themselves America First and Concerned Pennsylvanians for Constitutional Liberty were met by a large contingent of Antifa and local persons of color representing Antifa from around the state as well as the Reading-based Make the Road Pennsylvania. The rally was promoted via a secret Facebook event page, but information still managed to get to the opposing groups, who played music for about an hour and shouted out chants such as “Islam is not your enemy” and “Say it loud. Say it clear. Refugees are welcome here!”
Ironically, the reason why the militia groups particularly in Pennsylvania were such a concern to those opposing them was because of their well-documented association with local neo-Nazi groups over the past two decades. Rentschler and Gray were first noticed when they spoke at an anti-refugee rally at the Pennsylvania State House in Harrisburg last November, which was attended by the neo-Nazi Keystone State “Skinheads” (KSS). It was among the many things that fueled opposition to their subsequent rallyoutside a church supporting the refugees that brought out 200 counter demonstrators to oppose the 40 anti-refugee protesters. There were no persons that were identified with neo-Nazi groups at the Reading or Lancaster rallies, however, and according to antifa that spoke with One People’s Project, they were told by the anti-refugee organizers that they had asked KSS not to participate because of the public scrutiny.
— Educa Oaxaca (@laminuta) February 15, 2016
In Mexico, the struggle continues in the search for the 43 missing Normalista students who were disappered by the Mexican state while on their way to participate in demonstrations in support of education. While the government claims that some of the students remains have been found, others claim other wise:
A team of Argentinean forensic surgeons asserted today that no test indicates the conclusion that the 43 missing normalistas in Mexico were cremated in the drain of Cocula, just as the federal government says.
Any evidence physical or biological test shows that the remains of the normalistas of the rural school of Ayotzinapa, in unknown whereabouts since September 26, 2014, were incinerated in the municipality of Cocula, Guerrero.
The Argentinean Team of Forensic Anthropology pointed out that in the Cocula, multiple fires occurred in diverse moments.
The experts added that although they were able to identify bony remains of at least 19 people, they do not have evidence that the remains correspond to the students of Ayotzinapa.
Hundreds of relatives flocked to Topo Chico prison before dawn after they learned that a brutal battle and fire had broken out.
They shouted desperately through a fence to seek information from inmates while other relatives briefly pulled open the main gate and tossed rocks in anger.
But then an official placed the grim list of victims on a wall outside. Some bawled and fainted while one woman was carried out in an ambulance.
“All this for a robbery, my son was innocent,” a woman cried after seeing her son’s name on the list of the dead.
One of the inmates was shot dead by a prison guard who was protecting a group of women, Rodriguez said.
During the violence inmates set a fire in a supply room and TV images showed flames coming out of the prison in the middle of the night.
The riot erupted on the eve of Pope Francis’s five-day trip to Mexico, during which he is due to visit another notorious prison in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez.
But National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said the pope would visit a safe prison, telling Radio Formula that the facility is a “national exception” because the Chihuahua state authorities have established an “orderly and disciplined” penitentiary system.
In Detroit, students are expanding the “sick-out” actions of their teachers who are fighting against attacks on public education and horrific conditions in schools. According to one report:
Protests against the attack on education in Detroit continued Wednesday, February 10, as students across the school district walked out or called in sick to show support for the struggle begun by teachers.
The young people and parents chose their latest protest to coincide with “Count Day,” the semi-annual school day used to determine state funding for the district. DPS officials try to generate the highest attendance on the count days in October and February—offering special meals for parents and students, games and other incentives. Ten percent of the state’s foundation grant is allocated based on the district enrollment on February Count Day, although missing students will be counted if they report normally within 10 days.
— WFMY News 2 (@WFMY) February 10, 2016
In response, the Michigan government has made moves towards criminalizing these wildcat strikes. As one article wrote:
Unions could be decertified, their leaders fined and teachers suspended under advancing state legislation designed to crack down on mass sickouts in the Detroit Public Schools.
[Senate Chair] Pavlov said his bill addresses “a glaring hole” in state law that makes it illegal for teachers to strike. It would speed up an existing process for the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to determine whether a sickout amounted to a strike, and it would penalize participants.
New provisions added in committee would temporarily freeze union dues collection and bar the incumbent bargaining unit from representing teachers for five years in a district where a strike occurred.
“We’re trying to make sure the kids are getting a good education, and that requires teachers being in the classroom,” Pavlov said.
“We need new textbooks, smaller class sizes and more quality teachers. It’s not just King, it’s all of DPS.
“We’ve been trying to get the officials to deal with it, but we’re seeing how much value we have in their eyes. It’s terrible. The schools could run out of money by April.
“There are rodents and there is no pest control. On the outside there are some new buildings like [the schools] King and Cass, but on the inside it’s bad. It’s either too hot or too cold.
“Our teachers are missing their money. They have given up not hundreds of dollars, but thousands of dollars.
“In most of my classes we don’t use books because there aren’t enough. There aren’t even enough to share each book between two people. So there are less than half the books we need. Even the books we do have are missing pages and have graffiti all over them. You cannot even read them. Stories are ripped out. We’re talking about really old books that go back to when our school was Eastern—that old! [Eastern HS was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. HS in 1969].
Longtime black liberation prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal recently wrote on the issue of the broader crisis facing Michigan, namely the water crisis:
In April, 2014, the state-appointed emergency manager, in order to save money, ordered that the city’s water source be changed from Lake Huron to the notoriously polluted Flint River.
The switch unleashed a citywide disaster of disease, destruction, and death. Flint was a toxic river, rich in lead, a major pollutant that has devastating effects on brain development, speech and I.Q. levels in children. As soon as it was pumped into municipal water systems, the corrosive waters leached lead from the old pipes, and sped it to some 90,000 homes into the city.
Flint is now a poisoned city, because of its toxic water.
It also illustrates how officials from afar can cause a catastrophe at home. Now, tens of thousands of children who drank the water, and were bathed in the water, may suffer life-long problems – skin diseases, cognitive impairments, speech deficits and more.
The state, being penny-wise and pound foolish, has created a problem that may last for generations. The state’s emergency manager created an emergency.
The Michigan examples of the politics of austerity will cause problems that will cost billions of dollars to resolve.
The politics of ignoring the problems of the poor erupt like lava – demanding national attention.
Michigan, by the way, is named after the Chippewa words, mici gama, meaning “Great Water.”
Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, will be remembered, not for “Great Water” – but for toxic water.
Detroit and other Michigan cities, fueled by anger over the water crisis as well as the education crisis, may be heading to a point where further action could be taken to expand these struggles into even more sectors and hold space to give life to them. This could mean the taking and occupying of buildings and key infrascture, the formation of neighborhood assemblies to coordinate actions and occupations, and the organization of supplies, water, and food.
— Chicago Rising (@ChicagoRising) February 12, 2016
But in the face of growing anger and the linking up of different sectors in struggle, the Democrats and union bureaucrats have attempted to come down hard on those in the streets:
There is a concerted effort by the political establishment to smother the growing movement of teachers, parents and students in defense of public education in Detroit, with the most sinister role being played by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and its local affiliate.
The courageous sickouts called by teachers last month, in opposition to and independent of their union, and the subsequent protests by students and parents, have tripped alarm bells—from the mayor’s office in the Manoogian Mansion, to the paneled hearing rooms in the state capitol of Lansing, to the White House.
The incipient movement has also rattled the Washington, DC headquarters of the AFT, rousing its highly paid president, Randi Weingarten ($540,000 a year) to jet into the Motor City to try to squelch the protests. Having spent the last seven years suppressing every sign of opposition to President Obama’s corporate-driven “school reform” agenda, the AFT is losing control in Detroit and Chicago where rank-and-file teachers are rebelling against austerity measures imposed by the AFT’s Democratic Party allies.
This begs the question: what wpuld interventions of solidarity look like?
A photo posted by kevin coval (@kevincoval) on
That’s gonna do it for us this week. Keep us with us here and see you soon!