This Is America #27: #PrisonStrike in NC, Fighting ICE in CT

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Cover photo from

Welcome, to This Is America, August 31th, 2018.

There’s a lot to cover this week, with a lot happening across the country both in terms of the police, the State, and the economy, as well as actions coming from autonomous social movements. We’re not going to spend too much time here re-hasing what is already on the site, however it should be noted that today marks the end of #AllOutAugust, which was envisioned as the coming together of capacities and energy around #OccupyICE, antifascist battles, and the prison strike.

While a look back on August is in the works, we want to point out that the #AllOutAugust tab on IGD (both desktop and mobile) is now #AllOut Against White Supremacy, and will feature a list of antifascist and anti-racist events across North America. Our #PrisonStrike tab is still being updated everyday, with news of prison resistance, outside solidarity actions, and upcoming events. Be sure to check the page out, as there is a lot happening this Saturday.

In this episode, we’re going to hit the headlines as well as movement news, but we were also lucky enough to talk with a member of Elm City chapter of the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement (RAM), to discuss a recent successful struggle to stop a deportation attempt by ICE in New Haven, CT. Lastly, we are presenting a audio and interview collection of voices from the prison strike in North Carolina. This includes a statement from a prisoner on the inside, as well as sounds and voices from outside Hyde Correctional at a solidarity rally we covered on the last episode. This mini audio documentary is meant to be played on radio stations that get into prisons, so if you can rebroadcast it, please do!

But first, let’s get to the news!

Trump That Regime

In Iowa, people rallied at the State capitol in the wake of white nationalist and neo-Nazis seeking to score political points following the tragic murder of 20 year old Mollie Tibbetts, whose accused killer is a 24 year old Mexican farmworker. Far-Right trolls have in the past week organized racist robo-calls in the area and wrote graffiti slogans. As in other similar incidents, the case of Tibbetts death is never viewed in the light of the very real problem of patriarchal violence, murder, and rape of women – which the Alt-Right celebrates, but instead, as an example of a conspiratorial “War on Whites,” when in reality, immigrants and refugees statistically carry out less crimes than the general population.

In Columbus, Ohio, an undercover police officer shot Donna Dolton, a 23 year old sex-worker and mother, after Dolton supposedly stabbed the undercover officer in the hand in the back of his car. Dolton later died at the hospital while the officer was treated for his wound and let go. Clearly it appears that the officer was doing something that put Dolton in harm’s way, causing her to react in self-defense; an act she surely knew would potentially put her in danger. The officer, angry that he had been stabbed, in a blind fit of rage, murdered the young woman, described as being very small in stature, by shooting her a total of 8 times.

As Splinter News wrote:

Earlier this year, Congress passed a law, known as SESTA/FOSTA, that has been decried by sex workers advocates across the country. The law allows states attorneys to hold liable the owners of websites that “unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims.” This led to the shutdown of the popular classifieds website Backpage, which many sex workers used to advertise and promote themselves.

Would Castleberry have entered the unmarked car if she was still able to meet her clients online? It’s impossible to know. But some evidence suggests that since the enactment of SESTA/FOSTA, deaths like hers have become more likely.

According to tracking websites such as Killed By Police, American law enforcement officers kill on average about 3.5 people per day.

Currently, there is a call for funds to help Donna’s children, and protest actions and marches are happening in the Columbus, Ohio area.

People living next to the border in Texas and when crossing the Mexican border are finding out in the worse possible way that the State believes that their birth certificate documents proving their American citizenship are in fact fabricated – and thus, they are no longer citizens.

According to the Texas Tribune:

The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown on their citizenship.

[C]ases identified by The Washington Post and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.

In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States. As the Trump administration attempts to reduce both legal and illegal immigration, the government’s treatment of passport applicants in South Texas shows how U.S. citizens are increasingly being swept up by immigration enforcement agencies.

In the article, it is discussed that the Trump administration is expanding and growing some policies that were already being used under Obama, that target people of Latinx backgrounds under the pretext of them being born in an area supposedly known for birth certificate forgery. Many of those that find that they have lost their citizenship, do so as they re-enter the country, only to be thrown into Detention facilities. As the report states:

The denials are happening at a time when Trump has been lobbying for stricter federal voter identification rules, which would presumably affect the same people who are now being denied passports — almost all of them Hispanic, living in a heavily Democratic sliver of Texas.

In short, this move amounts to nothing more than ethnic cleansing, and an attempt by Nativists and anti-immigrant nationalists in the Trump administration to roll back the clock to before 1965, when immigration laws were changed, allowed more non-whites into the country – a year often pointed to by white nationalists in what began a process of “white genocide.” This is also fundamental to the heart of the project by the so-called “nationalist populist” Right; a fundamental redefining of who is included and who is excluded from being a citizen, and clearly those in power want to do so along lines of race.

To make matters more draconian, some people’s credit card accounts are being frozen by bank companies who are also suspected of not being citizens. Thus, with a few key strokes, a person can lose not only everything, but also be declared someone without any sort of rights or freedoms, other than that to rot inside an internment camp, to then be deported into a country you haven’t even lived in.

Like many authoritarian regimes, these practices are being kept under raps and are being carried out quietly, however at the same time, they are also legal, and serve as a test for future attempts by the administration to try even more draconian measures. Such policies also show that Trump has learned his lessons in the face of things like the Muslim Ban; instead of announcing such big news ahead of time, Trump is now attempting to carry them out quietly and away from the eyes of the public.

In Michigan, water quality at Detriot city schools is so bad due to crumbling infrastructure and a refusal to upgrade aging pipes, that now over 100 schools will have their drinking water turned off. According to the New York Times:

When public school students in Detroit return to their classrooms next week for the first day of the school year, the water fountains will be dry. Since 2016, water testing in the district has found elevated levels of lead or copper in dozens of schools. And while it is unclear how many of the district’s 106 schools currently have water quality issues, the drinking water will be turned off in all of them. Students and teachers have complained of abysmal conditions in Detroit’s public schools, including moldy walls, crumbling roofs and a lack of adequate heat or air-conditioning.

Also, these new findings mean that teachers and students for years have been drinking unsafe, and contaminated water, yet as one report mentioned:

[T]he district has said that it will not be carrying out any tests on the students to check for high lead levels.

While the protests of workers in Flint exposed the actions of local and federal officials that led to the poisoning of the city’s water, similar conditions exist throughout the United States. A 2017 study carried out by Reuters identified 3,810 neighborhood areas with childhood lead poisoning rates at least double those found in Flint.

The pollution of the water supply is particularly devastating for children, whose brains and bodies, rapidly developing, are especially at risk from toxins like lead.

Thus, due to a refusal to upgrade basic infrastructure in poor and working-class neighborhoods, largely of color, the government has helped create a literal crisis, where children can’t even drink the water in their own schools. Estimates put the price tag at fixing the schools water system at half a billion dollars, but this in itself is chump change considering the government just spent another $717 billion on war toys and nuclear weapons.

In an anarchist system – these problems simply wouldn’t exist. Schools would be run by both the communities that they existed in and the students and teachers that use them everyday. When problems would arise, like the need to fix buildings, add new roofs, or replace infrastructure, both those that used and worked at the school, along with the broader community it was a part of, would work together to make sure repairs were completed. With the means of existance owned in common, instead of a system based on money, corporate and State control, and private property, human communities could decide what materials to use and when based on human needs, instead of being tied up through bureaucracy.

A few other stories of note, Trump, based off a Tucker Carlson segment, parroted a long held white nationalist trope that Black South Africans are killing a large amount of white farmers in the former apartheid country. This Unicorn Riot article does a good job debunking this conspiracy theory, but the purpose of the trope is to push the idea that if and when whites give freedom to blacks, they ultimately destroy whatever civilizations they are allowed to be free in. This is a fundamental talking points of white nationalist Jared Taylor’s work, and why we have argued that anti-Blackness lies at the center of the Alt-Right. Speaking of white nationalism in the White House, a DHS agent, Ian Smith, who already had ties to Nativist and anti-immigrant groups, has been fired after it came out that he was corresponding with various neo-Nazis and white nationalists over email. This firing comes only a week after Trump speech writer Darren Beattie was fired for giving a talk at a white nationalist conference alongside Richard Spencer in 2016.

A 20-year old Guatamalan woman, Yazmin Juarez, is suing ICE for $40 million after her 18 month old daughter became sick inside an immigrant detention facility run by CivicCore, received no care over about a month period, and then later died upon being released of a respiratory infection. According to one report:

CoreCivic, formerly Correction Corporation of America, is a notorious for-profit company responsible for the deaths of many immigrants in custody. The Dilley facility is the largest immigrant jail in the US, with 2,4000 beds. In June, ICE asked for space to cover an additional 15,000 beds to detain more immigrant families. The deaths of immigrants at ICE detention facilities is not uncommon, with 15 immigrants having died at a private prison in Eloy since 2003 due to illness or suicide.

The Oath Keepers far-Right militia, has announced that they will soon be starting a new program of training people in paramilitary fashion in order to combat the ‘far-Left’ and be on call for Donald Trump. As the SPLC wrote:

Appearing on Infowars with host Owen Shroyer on Monday, Rhodes explained that Oath Keepers is organizing “Spartan Training Groups” in every state with the aim of bolstering efforts to combat “antifa and the far left.” He spun the effort as part of a larger vision of becoming a national militia that could be called into action by President Trump.

And now, for resistance and repression news.

Living and Fighting

  • Today, #AbolishICE in San Antonio Texas held a public event to celebrate their encampment and anarchists and abolitionists in Omaha, Nebraska held a BBQ to celebrate and discussion the ongoing prison strike.
  • On Thursday, August 30th, several hundred community members, anarchists, antiracist activists, and students converged for a third time at the spot where the Silent Sam statue had been torn down only 10 days before to hold a dance party and a rally. This time, around 60 neo-Confederate supporters came out to rally in support of putting the statue back in its place. After a certain amount of time, the police escorted out the neo-fascists, and then proceeded to attack the crowd with pepper spray in order to smooth their exist, in a move very similar to Portland, Berkeley and other large scale antifascist mobilizations. Many students report getting attacked by the police for the first time, and it appears that the entire incident has helped solidify the role of the police on the side of the far-Right in the minds of many. People on the ground report to IGD that now the university is stating that the statue will definitely not be put back in place at the UNC campus.
  • Teacher’s unions in Washington are attempting to shut down strike action by workers and as always, isolate the struggle from growing. As one report wrote:

The unions are working feverishly with the state’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee, the Democratic state legislature and local school authorities to prevent the eruption of a statewide strike, which could reignite the wave of teachers strikes that began earlier this year.

Teachers in Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the country, are now voting for strike action.

[Union] efforts to isolate and shut down the strike comes despite an immense outpouring of support from parents and members of the community for striking teachers over the past two days. Local businesses have provided free food while parents have brought teachers water and other supplies.

That is gonna do it for us this time, we will see you soon!


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