This Is America #35: Hurricane Michael & Proud Boys Attack

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Welcome, to This Is America, October 15th, 2018.

We have an action packed show for you today. First, we’re going to bring you an interview straight out of Tallahassee, Florida, where Pearson, one of the hosts of Coffee With Comrades will discuss autonomous disaster relief efforts in their area in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Be sure to check out a longer interview they also just completed with The Final Straw.

We then will talk with someone from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief about autonomous relief happening in the panhandle of Florida, the area hit hardest and which is almost totally devastated by the storm. They discuss how landlords are already evicting people from homes that are suffering from water damage, leaving people with no place to go, and how, despite statements to the contrary, ICE is out in force on the streets.

As they wrote in a recent statement:

The American Empire is in fierce decline. The global economic system is on the brink of full-scale collapse. We have yet to recover from the ’08 recession and experts predict the next economic crisis is just around the corner. Anthropogenic climate change is currently overturning the apparatuses of neoliberalism, fomenting the rise of full-scale fascism. As capitalist countries and corporations continue to exploit the global south for its resources, arable land shrinks and regions of the planet become inhospitable to human life. The far-right has their response ready: blame the immigrants and refugees, scapegoat people of color, and build an ethnostate devoted to patriarchy and white supremacy.

Hurricane Michael is not a warning, it is a promise. This Category 4 storm reveals the limits of neoliberalism and the perils of our contemporary moment. We sit on a precipice, teetering on the very brink. As anthropogenic climate change accelerates the collapse of state infrastructure, working class and marginalized people are stranded in the mires of dehydration, starvation, addiction, and homelessness.

If we truly believe in the project of creating a better world, then we must possess the humility to shed our ideological purity in efforts to meet the material needs of human beings. We need to get offline and be organizing in the streets, practicing communication that centers those impacted by ecological crisis while simultaneously responding in an egalitarian manner than prizes consensus and snuffs out hierarchy and bureaucracy. Urgency is just as essential as strategy in the midst of these crises. These are just a handful of the lessons we’ve learned mobilizing for disaster relief here on the ground.

As the state cedes zones and territory to collapse—as it has in Flint, Michigan and in Puerto Rico—we find opportunities to build new forms of community and fellowship in the ashes. We can flee, retreat, abdicate our responsibility to ourselves and to one another. Or we can recognize that it is the obligation of those who have everything to help those who have nothing. The maxim “From each according to their ability; to each according to their need” is not a trite axiom. We must develop robust ways to protect and defend one another if we are to survive.

We are then are joined by the journalist Shay Horse from New York, as they discuss what happened in the streets this weekend as members of the Proud Boys brutally beat people on the streets after a GOP event where Gavin McInness spoke.

Lastly, we catch up with some people behind the new publication, Commune, and talk about why they are launching a brand new print publication and website.

But first, let’s get to the news.

Living and Fighting:

  • Actions and phone-zaps continue in Chicago against the “Heartland” non-profit which is making money off of interning children separated from their families.
  • Connor Stevens of the Cleveland 4 is going to be released soon. Donate to his welcome home fund here!
  • On October 9th in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a Trump supporter attacked an elderly anti-Trump protester, grabbing her walker and attempting to hit her with it. Fortunately, the woman’s daughter tackled him to the ground and was able to fend him off before he could hurt anyone.
  • A speak-out demonstration was organized during a court appearance of Silent Sam protesters in North Carolina.
  • On October 10th, the Native encampment in the path of the Line 3 pipeline continues and a community meal has held inside the traditional structure that was erected several days prior, (Waganogan).
  • In Tacoma, Washington, according to an article published in Crosscut, a man in the Northwest Detention facility that has been on hunger strike for 50 days now faces court issued force feeding. Crosscut wrote:

Sitting behind glass in a gray sweatshirt underneath a dark blue prison shirt on Sunday, the detainee looked gaunt and pale. He asked to remain anonymous for fear of persecution and retaliation from the Russian government, though his act of defiance demands attention. He has been participating in a hunger strike for what was then 47 days — one of the longest hunger strikes in the recent history of the Tacoma detention center.

“I will never go back,” the detainee told Meng. “What is waiting for me is jail. They already accused me of treason. It’s punishable by firing squad. … I would prefer to die on this soil than go back to Russia.” Through a Russian interpreter, he explained to a Crosscut reporter that back home, Russian skinheads had beaten and threatened him.

  • Across New York, law students at various universities walked out of class, rallied, and marched against Kavanaugh.
  • Protests and an office occupation takes place in Philly in a Senator’s office, in an attempt to forestall an attempted deportation. Unicorn Riot reported:

Today Carmela Hernandez left the Philadelphia church where she had been taking sanctuary from ICE deportation. She is sitting in at PA Senator Bob Casey’s office demanding the Casey use his power to allow her family to remain in the USA. Several dozen supporters are in the lobby.

  • Local antifascists report that Jason Kessler has moved to Washington DC and is attempting to construct a new activist network.
  • In Minnesota, charges are dismissed against a group of pipeline valve turners, who shut off oil flow of tar sands crude flowing into Enbridge pipelines.
  • On October 11th, neo-Nazis in the Daily Stormer begin a flyer campaign at local universities, putting up flyers that claimed “the Jews” are behind efforts to protest Kanvanaugh. Antifascists and community members quickly took down the flyers. Antifascists in Atlanta also take down Identity Evropa stickers, replacing them with antifascist ones.
  • On October 12th in DC, while the J20 trials may be over, lawyers are still in court, attempting to see if the State and the far-Right group, Project Veritas, had in fact a secret agreement worked out. According to Buzzfeed News:

A judge on Friday ordered federal prosecutors to disclose whether they had an arrangement with James O’Keefe’s right-wing activist group Project Veritas to conceal the group’s identity in using secret recordings of protest-planning meetings before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

  • In the Hellbender Autonomous Zone, one of the tree-sitters fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline after 38 days made the decision to come down from the trees. They posted the following communique:

It has been 38 days. 38 amazing, inspiring, life altering, resistance fueled days. I’ve learned and experienced so much.

I have learned not to underestimate the impact that one action can have.

I have learned that we’re strongest when we support and lean on one another. We are not in this alone.

I have learned that no matter how impossible or absurd something seems, we are capable of so much more than we realize.

After 38 days I have decided to come down. When I first climbed up here I wasn’t sure how long I could last, but I was driven to endure for as long as possible. But then the day came and went when we reached that one month mark… and then even surpassed that! And MVP has left us alone… for now.

Throughout this blockade, we have persisted through a hurricane, high winds, rain, and MVP cutting trees too close to our traverse lines. I have learned and experienced so much in the form of books and visitors and simply being a part of the forest. There were some days that I just sat and watched birds from my platform as they flew from tree to tree and interacted with each other, oblivious to the danger that lurked just over the ridge line.

If there is only one thing that I take away from this whole experience, it is that we can find strength through the relationships we forge along the way. Visitors hiked up here in the wind and rain to bring us supplies. During a hurricane and on their only days off, people were here.

During my hardest days, I found strength in the moments when I least expected it. It was in the children playing in the stream at the bottom of the hill, it was in the musicians who played us music on dreary days, and it was in the countless visitors who shouted up at us that our blockade gave them hope.

It is important to recognize that this is a collective struggle and therefore it will take a collective effort in order to overcome the hurdles we’re up against. This is not something that we as individuals can accomplish alone. We are stronger when we work together.

It is equally as important to recognize when it’s time to make decisions with our health and wellbeing in mind. We cannot take on all of these burdens ourselves and sometimes we must admit to ourselves that what is best for us, and for everyone else, may not be what most aligns with our egos. I felt for the longest time that I had to stay up here as long as humanly possible, to push myself even if that meant going past the point of what would be good for me and my personal health.

But that benefits no one.

A message I received from a friend recently provided me with some much needed wisdom when I was struggling with the decision to come down, “Take care of yourself. It is a radical thing to create spaces where that’s possible, unlike in school and most jobs where you are expected to keep going even when it’s damaging.”

That friend was Nettle, who has been a much needed friend and ally in the trees.

Nettle will continue on in the white pine, along with another tree sitter to take my place. Knowing that this blockade will go on despite my coming down fills me with immeasurable joy and gratitude.

We need more people to step up and fill roles like this one. I had never been a part of a direct action before this past spring. I was simply someone who found light and inspiration from prior tree sits and thought to myself, “Why not me?”

It’s something we all must ask ourselves. Too often we find excuses not to do the hard thing, the challenging thing, but the truth is that there will always be a million reasons not to do something.

We will never accomplish anything if we don’t push ourselves and make sacrifices to try and make the world a place we can all live in. It will require personal sacrifice. Sometimes it will require a lot of long nights, hiking up and down steep mountains, and sleeping on a hard platform high up in the air.

It won’t come easy.

If you don’t believe that you are capable of doing a direct action like this one, then look at me as proof that you can. I had no prior expertise or experience. I was just somebody who cared.

Don’t keep waiting for the right time. We don’t have anymore time. The time is now, it was yesterday, it was years ago, decades ago. We need you. Get involved with direct action in whatever way you can. You are not in this alone. There are many, many people who will support you.

I support you.

To every single person who has ever expressed support or solidarity, to every person who has hiked up this steep hill or donated supplies to our tree sits, thank you. I will never be able to fully express in words how grateful I am for all of you. So I will simply say, thank you.

& keep on fighting.

Much love and solidarity, Lauren

  • Protests and clashes in Manhattan break out against Gavin McInness speaking at a Republican Club. Check out our interview on the subject in this episode.
  • Striking hotel workers in the bay area launched mass marches, pickets, and street blockades that ended in arrests.
  • In the face of attempted betrayal by Teamster bureaucrats, UPS drivers in Chicago are attempting to take the strike into their own hands. Labor Notes reports that:

If UPS keeps stonewalling in upcoming bargaining, members of Chicago-area Teamsters Local 705 will take a strike vote in early November, for a possible walkout the week after Thanksgiving. That’s peak season at UPS.

  • In Santa Barbra, California a Mission that once enslaved Native peoples was vandalized with words like “RAPE” and “NEVER FORGET THE LIVES AND LAND STOLEN.”
  • On October 13th, various anti-colonial groups came together for a concert celebrating Water Protectors and resistance to Line 3. Check Anti-Colonial Land Defense for more info.

  • In Phoenix, Arizona, people protested and disrupted a police union fundraiser.  Banner dropped read, “Blue Lives Murder.”
  • On October 14th, antifascists in Atlanta, Georgia launched a new campaign against an Identity Evropa law student, Casey Jordan Cooper, who has made lynching threats against others and carried out a campaign of neo-Nazi flyering on the campus. Flyers were put up on the campus where Cooper attends classes.
  • On October 14th, Native people in so-called Victoria, Canada have started an encampment near City Hall in protest of lack of access to housing for the homeless. Harassment by police continues.
  • On October 15th, Phillip in the Hellbender Autonomous Zone issues a statement at day 41 of his tree shit. Read it here.

Upcoming Events:

  • October 15th – 18th: Anti-Colonial Land Defense Action Camp in NW Lake Superior Bio-region. Apply or ask questions at: allcoloniesareburning@riseup.net.
  • October 19th – 22nd: Gathering in West Virginia to discuss ongoing resistance to pipelines in Appalachia.
  • Saturday, October 20th: Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the LA chapter of the Anarchist Black Cross federation. Going down in La Puente, CA.
  • Tuesday, October 23rd: Call to action against Turning Point USA. CSU-Long Beach, 7 PM. More info here.
  • October 31st to November 4th: National Lawyers Guild (NLG) conference in Portland, Oregon. More info here.
  • Tuesday, November 2nd, 6 PM, Portland City Hall: March to Abolish ICE. More info here.

 


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