This is America #2: Puerto Rican Squats, Prison Drones, & More

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Update: Host says “FUCK ICE!,” in this episode. We’re still learning. Just FYI if you were going to play this on the radio. Feel free to bleep. 

As we reported Monday, hurricane season officially begins next week, however anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and working-class Puerto Ricans are still picking up the pieces from the last barrage of storms in 2017.

Towards this end, a collection of groups including the Centers of Mutual Aid and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, which IGD has interviewed on our podcast, are currently setting up what is described as “the largest solar generator in Puerto Rico,” inside the town of Mariana, built inside a squatted school.

As an event posted stated before the installation:

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief has partnered with BoxPower, PAM, and…Centros de Apoyo Mutuo to bring solar to PR and build independent communities that are resilient and self sustaining and self “governing.” We are installing a BoxPower system at an abandoned school that is being taken over and repurposed by allies to provide community needs and training, as well as house volunteers. The system is going in over the next 2 days with community members doing the bulk of the installation as they train on the system operation and maintenance. We will have a kick off party and microgrid development workshop Friday!

Setting up massive solar array in Mariana at squatted school.

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief wrote:

Let’s face it. We cannot rely on Nestle to donate water or private electric utilities to provide life-saving electricity after a disaster. Here is where permaculture meets disaster response. We spread the knowledge of and access to ecologically-sound and economically viable systems designs which provide for community’s survival needs and do not exploit or pollute. We empower individuals and communities to create or regenerate diverse, resilient communities that meet immediate ecological, economic, and social needs while increasing the health of human bodies, relationships, and the ecosystems in which they are embedded. In practice, this takes the form of sustainable and autonomous infrastructure development, creating water purification systems, building photovoltaic solar arrays, and other ecologically sound response and rebuilding efforts.

True to the colonial forces which still occupy Puerto Rico, the island is in fact ruled by an oversight body, The Financial Oversight and Management Board (referred to as ‘La Junta’ by Puerto Ricans) and put in place by elites to ensure that the island would install austerity measures in order to pay back massive debt incurred over the last several years.

This process has only been accelerated after the hurricanes of 2017, and disaster capitalists have set up shop on the island, feeding displacement and gentrification, and coupled with more budget cuts, school closures, and layoffs. Already, thousands of parents and students have left the island, as teachers are laid off, over 300 schools have been closed, and charter schools have now begun to appear.

But in the chaos, Puerto Rico is also starting to market itself as the playground for libertarian techno-elite, who can come and take advantage of the islands low income tax rate. As Naomi Klein wrote in The Intercept, in March a local hotel hosted:

Puerto Crypto, a three-day “immersive” pitch for blockchain and cryptocurrencies with a special focus on why Puerto Rico will “be the epicenter of this multitrillion-dollar market.”

[On presenter] claims he went from paying 55 percent of his income in taxes to less than 4 percent.

500 to 1,000 high-net-worth individuals…[have] relocated since the tax holidays were introduced five years ago — many of them opting for gated communities with their own private schools.

But some crypto-libertarians want to go even farther. They are:

Looking to buy a piece of land large enough to start their very own city — complete with airport, yacht port, and passports, all run on virtual currencies.

Meanwhile, elites within the Puerto Rican state are also hard at work pushing privatization for much of the island’s infrastructure. On top of closing 300 schools, the State is:

…shutting down more than two-thirds of the island government’s executive-branch entities, going from a total of 115 to just 35.

And the process is far from complete. There is a great deal of talk about more privatizations to come: highways, bridges, ports, ferries, water systems, national parks, and other conservation areas.

Thus we have a situation in which wealthy crypto-investors are flooding into Puerto Rico and buying up whatever they can. Meanwhile, the State is privatizing massive amounts of infrastructure in an attack on the “administrative State,” to quote Bannon. Meanwhile, thousands have fled the island, while a new study has found that upwards of 5,000 have died since the hurricanes hit. Those that are left on the ground; those that physically cannot afford to leave, or are to sick, elderly, or disabled, will be forced to toil in yet another colonial system, where the minimum wage is $7.25, and less for those under 25.

It’s in this context that the actions of the Centers for Mutual Aid and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief are so important, not only because they are meeting the needs of the people, but also because they are presenting an anarchist and autonomist alternative in the face of both free-market libertarianism and the collapse of the neoliberal State.

Libertarians dream of a gated community for those rich enough to buy into, a never ending paradise protected by guards and watched by 24-7 cameras. They claim to hate the State simply because it taxes them, yet would in turn create a police state around themselves in order to protect their property and their wealth.

At the same time, both the breakdown of the ability of the existing State to do anything, as well as the shift from managing the disaster pre-hurricane to selling it off at firesale, shows that the illusion of a social contract between so-called citizens and the government is just that – a fairy tail we tell our selves in order to masquerade colonial and class society as anything other than an occupation of force.

The anarchist alternative then is the reclamation of the means of existence not to make everyone “the same,” but instead to liberate both our individual and communal abilities to not only create worlds but also better ourselves and live in dignity. We can occupy and take over everything, and collectively and individually remake our relationship with the earth to fit our needs, instead of exploiting it for profit, or working it for wages. In this, we see glimpses of a paradise where we are not only fulfilled, but also have the freedom to become the kinds of beings that we want to be.

They would shutter schools. We would occupy them, and use the buildings for whatever we say fit. They would turn the power off. We set up our own facilities. They would bleed us dry with one currency, and then make a new one. We can take over the means of existence and live without it.

But the experiences in Puerto Rico also bring about a new question: why aren’t we doing more of this on the mainland United States? Everywhere we turn we see the same crisis, the same breakdown of infrastructure. From the deep south where crippling poverty and disease rivals that of the developing world, to places like Flint, Michigan and many Native communities, where drinking water has become polluted. Why aren’t we starting projects to address these concerns, outside of making noise to try and get the State to listen and care?

It’s time that we begin to push in this direction, for in intervening in these crises, we would make one of our own: a crisis for the State of everyday people meeting their own needs in blatant defiance of this crumbling old order.

Is Another Economic Collapse Right Around the Corner?

Boom and bust, and cycles of collapse have always been a part of capitalism. But the last time around, in 2007 and 2008, had devastating effects of poor and working-class people across the US and the world, and led to a restructuring of the global economy that only accelerated the wealth gap, while paving the way for increased political repression and a growing fascism.

Thus, after the crash, we saw Black families lose more wealth than at anytime since the Great Depression. The wealth gap between white families and families of color only grew wider. Millions lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings. Millennials, who entered the job market at this time are by and large expected never to recover, as they are often saddled with massive amounts of debt and few job opportunities.

But there are signs that a new crisis is just around the corner. Already, Venezuela, Italy, and Argentina are in the midst of their own financial crashes, and new findings from a Zillow study point to 2020 economic collapse. According to PR Newswire: 

The quarterly survey, sponsored by Zillow asked more than 100 real estate experts and economists about their predictions for the housing market, including when the next recession would begin and what could trigger it. Overall, nearly half of all the experts surveyed expect the next recession to begin sometime in 2020.

But while experts seem unanimous that another economic recession is coming, although they disagree on when and what the cause will be, no one seems to be asking what the effects of such a crash will be on the rest of us.

One thing is clear, we can be sure to expect more of what we have already seen: the slashing of taxes on the wealthy, the cutting of welfare, foodstamps, and healthcare programs for the poor, and also the continued displacement of workers via automation, the gig economy, and globalization.

If anything, we should expect to see the mainstreaming of economic tactics used ala “shock doctrine” such as in Puerto Rico on the rest of the United States. This means increasing privatization, and slashing of basic services, and the growth of mass poverty.

As anarchists we should also be prepared for generations of Americans born out of the ashes of the last economic crisis to be ready to respond to this one. But moreover, we should also be prepared for sections on the far-Right to move to institute their own visions for radical change in the wake of another economic crisis. Let us remember, that during their first round in the German elections, the Nazis did horribly, yet were swept into power in the face of a economic recession on which they blamed on Jews and communists.

We already see echos of this in popular far-Right blowhards like Jordan Peterson, who’s solution to the current crisis within society is to enforce mandatory marriage, ensuring that broken young (white) men have a mate. In short, in the face of both economic breakdown, as well as a potential working-class insurgency, the Right will attempt to offer a ‘New Deal,’ in completely different terms, in order to re-cement ‘traditional’ systems of hierarchy and domination.

Pig’s Eye in the Sky

People in Illinois are pushing back against attempts to use drones at protests or “gatherings of 100 or more” that would be equipped with facial recognition technology and would have the ability to record video and audio.

According to the Chicago Reader:

The changes would provide no limitations on the use drones to monitor political protests, religious gatherings, and other constitutionally protected activities.  

Meanwhile in South Carolina prisons, such programs are already been used on prisoners. As one local report wrote:

Corrections officers in South Carolina are now using drones to monitor inmates. It’s believed to be the first program of its kind in the country.

The drones are used as 24-hour surveillance, allowing operators to monitor a variety of actions.

South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling hired drone operators with military drone experience to fly missions day and night inside of the prison grounds.

The drones are part of a much larger surveillance program. A new ‘nerve center’ allows officials to conduct 24/7 surveillance operations with cameras around the prison.

The Frontlines Are Everywhere

  • Patrick Little, a Neo-Nazi living in Albany, CA that is running for Senate, went from polling at 18% to now 0% after his neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic views were exposed to the public.
  • There are reports of Identity Evropa, Atomwaffen Division, and Patriot Front flyers popping up in a variety of places. We here at IGD encourage people to take photos of the flyers both before and after they are taken down – preferably on fire. Extra bonus points if you can put up a flyer or sticker of your own. Feel free to send us a photo so we can share on Twitter and Instagram. If you do see neo-Nazi posters and stickers, it is also probably a good idea to organize an antifascist patrol of your neighborhood, let people know that fascists are openly organizing, and encourage people to be on the look out. Let us use these incidents be opportunities to come together, defend our neighborhoods, and get organized.
  • Members of IWOC in Rhode Island are calling for a call-in campaign for “Sam Smith has been fighting for a new trial after being held at Old County Correctional Facility in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years. To increase the likelihood of winning a new trial, he has requested the support of people on the outside to put pressure on the Judge and Attorney General so that they will make a fair and speedy decision.” Info here.
  • In #J20 news, despite it coming to light that the State deliberately hid evidence from the defense about its use of doctored video from Project Veritas, the judge decided not to declare a mistrial, although did drop some charges. As Drop J20 wrote on twitter today: “Disappointing update: Judge Knowles drops the inciting charge for some #J20 defendants in the May 14 trial, but allows all other charges to go to jury. Despite finding of misconduct from prosecutor—who withheld exculpatory evidence from def—no mistrial.” Unicorn Riot Tweeted: “Judge Knowles essentially endorsed many central concepts of the prosecution, noting that she agreed w/ the government’s assertion that simply not leaving the protest march when destruction took place was enough to have decided to join the criminal conspiracy.”
  • In Roanoke, VA: “Rest in Power Heather Heyer” was spray painted on the Robert E Lee statue in Lee Plaza. The action coincided with what would have been Heyer’s 33rd birthday. Currently, comrades in Charlottesville are calling on people to attend demonstrations and actions on August 11th and 12th and also organize solidarity events in their home towns. Jason Kessler, one of the main organizers of Unite the Right in 2017, has stated that if cannot get police protection through a permit in Charlottesville, he will rally outside of the White House in DC.
  • On June 2nd, people will take to the streets as part of ‘International Whore’s Day,’ and in celebration of resistance to SESTA/FOSTA and other legal attacks on sex workers. Check social media for marches and actions near you.
  • In Los Angeles, a large sideshow clashed with the police, as participants threw fireworks at law enforcement and shot them into the air at police helicopters (this post was taken down – :-[).

Meanwhile in LA 😂😂😂😂

A post shared by The Bay's #1 Source For Comedy (@oaklandmemes) on

  • In Vancouver, people are fighting against police attempts to clear a self-organized Tent City.
  • In so-called British Columbia, in the face of mass resistance against the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the Canadan state has moved to nationalize the project. On Twitter, Native organizer Kanahus Manuel stated: “this is a declaration of war against Indigenous Peoples! We will stop this pipeline from crossing our territory.”
  • In exciting news for those in the Northwest, Northwest Detention Center Resistance announced that, “On June 4, NWDC Resistance [will] launch a multi-city #ChingaLaMigra tour here in Washington, the so-called sanctuary state and bastion of progressivism where Homeland Security Investigations continues to collaborate with local law enforcement and where 1,575 people are caged on a hazardous superfund site at Tacoma’s immigration prison. Come help us kick off the tour with a noise demo outside the Northwest Detention Center. Bring your pots and pans! Bring you musical instruments! Bring your signs that say Chinga La Migra!! Melt, Dismantle, FUCK ICE!!”
  • Running Down the Walls events are taking places across the US and Canada starting this Sunday. Expect a rundown on IGD soon with links.
  • Actions continue against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline and in the Hellbender Autonomous Zone. Stay up to date by checking their social media accounts and reading reports on IGD.
  • Several hundred animal liberation activists held a demonstration at a farm in Petaluma, CA where they managed to take out and rescue a dozen chickens.
  • Lastly, IWW members at Burgerville in the Portland area State that the corporation is continuing with online tricks against the union. On Facebook they wrote: “It seems that Burgerville is at it again. In recent radio ads, people have been encouraged to visit a site called http://servewithlove.us for more information on union organizing within the chain. This website is run by corporate entities and not at all affiliated with BVWU. We’ve found that much of the information concerning relations between Burgerville and the union is biased or untrue. Furthermore, they completely omit claims of discrimination and union busting. For more accurate information, feel free to visit our website at burgervilleworkersunion.org.”

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