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Jan 23, 19

This Is America #54: Strike While the Iron Is Hot

Welcome, to This Is America, January 23rd, 2018.

This weekend, people celebrated J20. It was a time of critical reflection and looking back, of celebrating the defeat of a lengthy court battle and the power of collective solidarity in the face of State repression. We also saw groups across the country take part in a call to action high lighting mutual aid and survival programs.

Yet at the same time as we speak, there are several important trials which have gone much more under the radar, playing out across the US. This includes the ongoing Vaughn 17 trial, which has entered into its second block and will decide the fates of a group of prison rebels who launched an uprising early in 2017. For updates see the Support Vaughn 17 website here.

In North Carolina, anti-racist organizers are also dealing with a series of charges steaming from the toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate statue. In Sacramento, California, three anti-fascists of color still face potential felony charges for defending themselves in the face of the neo-Nazi Golden State Skinheads gang, armed with knives and handguns in June of 2016. After the bloody clashes which left several antifascists nearly killed, the police worked openly with neo-Nazi skinheads in an attempt to identify and prosecute protesters they considered Black liberation and antifascist activists.

Finally in Arizona, the first in a series of trials around No More Deaths humanitarian volunteers has concluded, with four people being found sadly guilty of misdemeanors for simply leaving water and food out on public lands on the US side of the border, and for also using dirt roads everyday citizens are supposed to not have access to. In court, border patrol agents and others used a wide variety of “woke” language and arguments to portray No More Deaths volunteers as a threat to the natural environment.

In this episode we talk with a supporter of No More Deaths about the trial. While this interview was recorded right before the guilty verdict was read, it still gives you an inside glimpse into the State’s strategy: one not based around demonizing a political ideology like anarchism or a tactic like the black bloc, but instead appropriating “environmental” talking points in order to justify policies that result in the mass death of migrant workers.

This is also a push that came from key officials within State agencies. As MuckRock wrote:

Newly obtained documents have revealed the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in addition to U.S. Border Patrol, to push for their prosecution. NMD is a group that seeks to prevent migrant death from dehydration and starvation by leaving water, food and clothing in the desert areas where over 3,000 migrants have died en route to the U.S. since 2000.

The Intercept obtained documents through a FOIA request with USFWS, which show the role that key officials in that office have played in pushing for the prosecution of activists on the grounds that their activities undermine environmental conservation efforts.

Next we switch gears and talk with two people who have been out on the picket lines in Los Angeles during the teacher’s strike. One person is a member of SGV Mutual Aid Society and Black Rose and the other is a substitute teacher that is also a member of the teacher’s union. In this interview, we talk about conditions in LA schools, the effects of racial capital’s organization of everyday life, the push towards privatization, and how the teacher’s strike is growing into a social strike, involving tens of thousands of students not reporting to work, strikers pushing back against scabs, mass marches, and students also issuing their own demands, such as police out of public schools. As this is being published, it appears that workers and the administration have reached a tentative agreement to end the strike, however time will tell if this was the best decision. Already, other cities in California and in Colorado and Virginia are also gearing up to strike, so hopefully lessons learned from Los Angeles can also translate to these new sites of struggle.

All this and more but first, let’s get to the news!

Living and Fighting

This weekend, while groups across the US were organizing J20 mutual aid and survival events, other comrades were busy defending their cities against Proud Boys and Alt-Right trolls.

  • In DC, DC Direct Action News reports that various Alt-Right types were seen handing out flyers within a larger anti-choice march. The next day:

Several MAGA-hatted disruptors joined a few anti-abortion leftovers from the so-called “march for life” the previous day in heckling the gigantic Women’s March. One of them was a confirmed fascist who was present at the Jan 5th Jovi Val event…they quickly left when an antifa activsts started pointing at them chanting “Nazis OUT!” only to reappear at the White House embedded in a MAGA-hatted pro-GOP of maybe a dozen or so. Women’s March participants quickly surrounded and isolated that GOP and fascist appearance, making them almost completely ineffective.

  • In Boston, members of “Resist Marxism,” a front group for neo-Nazi crews like Patriot Front and American Guard, attempted to protest and attack the Women’s March, decked out in SS style helmets, but were quickly routed by antifascists and driven out of the park and forced to ride home in a police paddy wagon for protection.

  • In Portland, a mix of about 20 Patriot Prayer and Proud Boy members zig-zaged around the city, trying to start fights with different groups of people while generally harassing the public. They were by and large rebuffed by antifascists and counter-protesters, however their rhetoric around violence, weapons, and night time attacks is increasing, as well as their attempt at assaults. Check out our next episode, for a more detailed run down. Check this threat for a blow by blow.

  • In Miami-Dade, over the MLK weekend, in what is becoming a yearly tradition, BMX and 4-wheeler enthusiasts from across the country and the region converged in Florida to ride un-permitted motor-bikes in the streets in the annual, #BikesUpGunsDown ride, which encourages an end to intercommunal violence and promotes outlaw motor-bike culture. This year, police across various agencies clamped down on the ride making several violent arrests, while riders fought back, at times kicking police cars and clashing with officers. A protest was also organized outside of a housing complex that local residents are fighting to keep open, which was also connected to the larger #BikesUpGunsDown convergence, and was attacked by a white vigilante brandishing a gun and yelling racial slurs.

  • In other news, IWOC Gainesville continues to held demonstrations against local government contracts with prison slave labor.

  • In Sacramento, local antifascists put up flyers in the neighborhood of a local neo-Nazi that was involved in the violent stabbing attack in June of 2016.

  • In New York, anarchists rallied in support of Anna Chambers and her case against the NYPD.

  • Members of the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement (RAM) held a noise demo in support of prisoners who launched a hunger strike in response to the government shutdown.

  • In LA, a banner was dropped in solidarity with antifascists facing charges in Sacramento.

  • In Tempe, Arizona, anarchists dropped a banner against the recent police murder of 14 year old Antonio Arce along a bridge walkway.

  • The American Indian Movement (AIM) held a demonstration at the Diocese in Covington in Northern Kentucky, in the wake of the recent confrontation between MAGA youth and Indigenous Rights marchers.

  • In Pueblo, Colorado, antifascists made quick work Identity Evropa trash.

  • The Tiny House Warriors encampment is holding strong in the path of pipeline construction. Check out their Facebook for more updates.

  • In Austin, Texas, Confederate monuments were vandalized with anti-Confederate posters.

  • In Portland, radical and autonomous groups took part in MLK day events by organizing student and radical groups to take part.

  • Neo-Nazis were kicked out of recent Reagan Youth concert.

  • In LA, the Anti-Capitalist Feminist Coalition brought together anarchist and autonomous groups under a radical and non-electoral banner for the Women’s March on Saturday.

  • In so-called Minnesota, Anti-Colonial Land Defense continues actions against Line 3 and also for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, holding a variety of disruptive actions and marches in the last few weeks. Check out their Facebook page here.

  • Lastly, in a large and dynamic strike you probably haven’t heard about, and in the face of so-called union leadership, over 30,000 workers in maquiladoras in the area of Matamoros, which rests just on the tip of southern Texas, and provide a key link in the global supply chain that make parts for car factories, computers, and many other industries in the US, are on strike. According to one report the area where the strikes are taking place:

…has some of the highest economic growth in the country. Its economy is mainly based on trade with the United States and is a site of major industrial development due to the presence of the factories in the region. It is home to 122 companies dedicated primarily to exporting commodities to the United States, including cables, electrical components, parts and accessories for vehicles, textiles, chemical products, machinery and computer products.

Another report wrote:

Photos circulating on social media showed deserted factories and union bureaucrats struggling to keep production lines operating after workers put down their tools en masse. Over 50 factories have now stopped production as a result of the strike, costing corporations an estimated $100 million over the course of one week.

Workers in the area then launched a general strike, calling it, “A Day Without Workers“:

After refusing to show up to work, the auto parts and electrical workers held a massive march through the city of 500,000, chanting “we will win this fight no matter what,” “the workers united will never be defeated,” and “empty plants, a day without workers!”

Workers are also attempting to make common cause with US workers:

In the course of their struggle, the workers are instinctively seeking to form links across irrational nation-state boundaries. The rally was originally scheduled to take place in the town square, but was redirected in the course of the march when workers decided to march to the border crossing between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas so they could appeal to US workers as their class allies. As they were marching near the border, many demonstrators called on their US counterparts to join their struggle, chanting “gringos [Americans], wake up!”

Workers in Mexico, in the tens of thousands, are attempting to make common cause with American workers, as they know that many of the companies that they are refusing to make products for are also attacking US workers and shutting down production. Instead of pitting ourselves against each other like the union bureaucrats and politicians propose, we should be following the example of the Matamoros workers and attempting to find common linkages and ways to fight.

That’s gonna do it for us this week, enjoy the interviews and be sure to check out these upcoming events.

Upcoming Events

  • January 23rd: Defending Unist’ot’en Camp. Chicago. Info here.
  • January 25th and 26th: Black Flags Over Brooklyn Black Metal Festival. Info here.

  • January 26th: Anarchist participation in the Rojavan Revolution. Brooklyn, NY. Info here.
  • January 27th: Rally in Union Square in Solidarity with Rojava, 12 PM. San Francisco, CA.

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