This Is America #9: IWW Pickets, Berkeley Cops Help Alt-Right

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

Seattle IWW Pickets Bosses After Lockout

On this episode, we caught up with a member of the IWW in Seattle. They talk about how over the last year, members of the IWW have fought for a contract at Grassroots Campaigns, a “progressive” corporation that puts canvassers out on the street who in turn bring in donations for non-profit groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, and others.

From IWW 650 at GCI Seattle Facebook: “Today we picketed the office demanding an end to the GCI’s illegal lock out. Thank you to everyone who came out and called in to GCI demanding they respect our rights! There is power in a union!”

In response to their organizing, IWW members won their union election and soon a contract. In the last week however, job actions and a call in campaign has ramped up pressure against the company, and it responded by locking people out of the office, attempting to starve out the workers during one of the busiest parts of the ‘canvassing season.’

Wobblies picket in solidarity in Boston.

Over the course of our discussion, we talk about the organizing that went into the campaign, as well as how outside folks have expanded the struggle in New Orleans, the impact of call-in campaigns, and ongoing picket actions.

But first, resistance and repression news.

Living and Fighting

  • Currently the Berkeley 5 trial continues in Oakland, pitting one Alt-Right racist, Daniel Quillinan, against 5 working-class community members who attended a protest on March 4th, 2017 called by Alt-Right organizers. In the course of the trial, it was shown that like in Sacramento in 2016, police worked closely with Quillinan to try and ID antiracist activists in order to bring charges against them, despite the fact that Quillinan was seen to be engaging in violent acts himself and openly carrying weapons, such as knives. Sam Levin, writing in The Guardian wrote:

The authorities consistently treated Quillinan as a victim even though he was visibly armed with a knife, a wooden “shield” and a “flagpole” – and had told law enforcement that he “hit someone in the head”, according to court files.

The resulting criminal trial against five anti-fascist protesters – who are accused of assaulting Quillinan during a roughly 15-second altercation – is, according to activists, the latest example of US law enforcement aggressively targeting leftwing demonstrators and favoring members of the far-right after violent clashes. In another California case, police have worked directly with neo-Nazis to go after counter-protesters, including a black activist stabbed at a white supremacist rally.

The event, billed as a “March for Trump” and “free speech” event, attracted interest from members of the alt-right and was linked to the Proud Boys, a far-right pro-Trump group of self-proclaimed “western chauvinists” that has been classified by watchdogs as a hate organization. Quillinan arrived at the rally wearing a red Trump hat, and a shirt referencing the Chilean dictator General Pinochet and a far-right meme with the words “physical removal”, which he said in court referred to the removal of “communists and Democrats”.

The audience of anti-fascists supporting the defendants, who some have called the “Berkeley 5”, groaned loudly when the prosecutor described the rally as a “free speech” event.

Police video showed that when Quillinan arrived, an officer noted he had a knife, but said he could “keep it”, despite a local ordinance restricting the carrying of “dangerous weapons”…

  • The Berkeley 5 trial is yet another example of the police not only facilitating far-Right violence, but also working with members of the Alt-Right to bring repression against antifascist and anti-racist protesters. For more background on Daniel Quillinan, check out this text from Northern California Anti-Racist Action.
  • In Tohono O’odham Nation territory, a young man filmed himself being run over by the border patrol. He survived the intentional attack, but it is unknown the status of his injuries. The Tohono O’odham Nation exists on both sides of the US and Mexico border, and its lands are heavily occupied by border patrol officers, drones, and their infrastructure.
  • Members of Parkdale Organize and Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network held a rally against landlords they are fighting against while on their rent strike.
  • People in Orange County California held an anti-ICE demonstration.
  • Neo-Nazis associated with the National Socialist Movement (NSM) are threatening to protest PRIDE on June 23rd in Knoxville, TN. Watch Knoxville Radical Alliance for more info.

“It’s beyond me why the U.S. Attorney would want to keep wading back into this fight, unless they feel like they have to do something to save Jen Kerkhoff’s bar card.”

  • In Detroit, Michigan a march took place against ICE, including anarchists from Solidarity and Defense. Also in Detroit, the group Detriot Eviction Defense is holding mass meetings against evictions which are growing.

  • In San Antonio, Texas a new text alert system has been set up against ICE. See more info below.
  • In Portland, Oregon, IWW members at Burgerville rallied against the firing of yet another organizer.

We’re live with Burgerville Workers Union to protest against the unjust firing of Matt, a union supporter!

Posted by Portland Jobs with Justice on Friday, June 15, 2018

  • Lastly, be sure to watch antifascists in Tennessee who are rallying this weekend against a white supremacist conference featuring neo-Nazi and KKK leaders.

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