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Nov 19, 19

This Is America #96: Oakland IWOC on Jail Strike & No More Deaths Trial

Welcome, to This Is America, November 18th, 2019.

In this episode, first we speak with two members of the Oakland Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) about the recent work stoppage and hunger strike at the Santa Rita jail in the bay area of California. We talk about the importance of the action, how IWOC helped offer support and solidarity, and the built in cruelty of a system that over the last ten years, has seen its inmate population drastically reduced.

We then enter into a discussion about the “Groyper war,” the revelations about Stephen Miller, and offer more analysis on the ongoing Trump meltdown.

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

Living and Fighting

In so-called Arizona, the first week of the second trial against No More Deaths volunteer, Scott Warren, has ended, with the group organizing support rallies throughout the last few days. The State is attempting to find Warren guilty of two counts of “harboring” after the last court battle fell apart in a mistrial 5 months ago. The previous trial highlighted the degree in which No More Deaths was under surveillance locally, as the State attempted to paint the organization as a shadowy conspiracy, as opposed to a public facing group that has broad local support. The State’s attempt at criminalizing humanitarian aid groups has also shone a spotlight on the practice of border patrol agents actively destroying caches of water and food in the desert, which has also exacerbated the crisis of migrants dying while attempting to cross.

photo by @madalena.birr

The new trial has been marked by:

[F]ederal prosecutors…asking a judge to bar Warren from mentioning Trump’s name or any actions of his administration as part of his defense. Such mentions, they argued, “would be irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial.”

So far in court, the State has called to the stand border patrol agent Brendan Burns who “is currently facing a lawsuit by the ACLU for violating immigrant constitutional rights to due process.” Border Patrol agents stated for the first time in court that they were aware that No More Deaths had produced a viral video of the border patrol destroying water and food left by volunteers before arresting Warren. Border Patrol officers also testified to not knowing if Warren had given shelter to two undocumented people, but simply made that assumption based on racially profiling them. Text messages produced in court also show the agents made reference to a racial slur “that refers to the sound a person’s skull makes when they are hit in the head with a flashlight,” when referring to migrants.

Other court testimony on Thursday and Friday revolved primarily around No More Deaths volunteers testifying to their organizing and humanitarian aid work, as well as various specialists describing the humanitarian crisis in the desert.

Meanwhile on the streets, No More Deaths supporters have been busy rallying in support. People have been mobilizing to raise funds, take jugs of water out to the desert, making harm reduction kids, and organizing rallies in solidarity. Stay up to day with dispatches and updates from court, here.

In Haiti, the insurrection continues full steam ahead, with people setting fire to an entire city block of government buildings and barricades continuing to be maintained in the streets. Police officers also protested poor wages and benefits for the second time in recent months while journalists noted that the military has been reactivated after being abolished in the 1990s.

In Oakland, California several working-class mothers made homeless by the housing crisis in the Bay Area were part of the seizure of a vacant home in West Oakland, proclaiming that the house has sat vacant for two years and must be turned over to residents who have been displaced by gentrification and the rising cost of living. According to NBC Bay Area:

The three-bedroom home is owned by Wedgewood Inc., which purchases and flips distressed residential and commercial properties, according to the company’s website. The group of mothers, who moved into the home without the company’s consent, say they plan on staying and have contingency plans if police come or the utilities are shut off.

The move is part of a broader week of action among East Bay housing activists. The women, part of a group called Moms for Housing, say their goals are multi-faceted: To break the stigma of homelessness, to bring attention to real estate speculators they say are driving poor and working-class residents out of the city or onto the streets, and to bust the myth that people can make ends meet if they just work hard enough.

“We plan to take and occupy vacant houses from speculators that are just sitting vacant,” said Dominique Walker, 34, who moved into the home with her two young children. “We believe that families sleeping on the street deserve to be there and that’s what we plan to do as Moms for Housing.”

The mothers say they’ll be supported by a network of housing activists who will have volunteers at the property around the clock. They also set up a text alert system to mobilize activists at a moment’s notice if police come or other problems arise.

Organizers have stated that for every homeless person in the bay area, there are at least four empty vacant homes and that soon, more homeless mothers will be moved into more bank and speculator owned properties.

In so-called Virginia, Appalachians Against Pipelines continues their blockade of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, with the blockade and tree-sit now approaching 440 days of active resistance. Appalachians Against Pipelines wrote on Facebook recently:

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is billions of dollars in debt, the completion date has been pushed back (again!) to the end of 2020, and now it seems investors are becoming skeptical. Blockades and direct actions that disrupt pipeline construction effectively cost the MVP lots of money. Remember- every delay counts!

Calls are growing to halt the execution of Rodney Reed, an African-American man who is charged with the murder of white woman who was dating a police officer, Jimmy Fennell, who did 10 years in prison for kidnapping and sexual assault. Currently, there is mounting evidence that Fennell was behind the killing, including a statement from his former Aryan Brotherhood cell mate who claims that he confessed to the murder. Currently, Reed’s execution has been blocked and people are pushing the courts to review new evidence and conduct DNA testing.

Unicorn Riot reports that the anarchist bookfair in Boston went off without a hitch, despite a venue change at the last minute. Attendance was up from last year however it was reported that neo-Nazis from “the Base,” a paramilitary formation, flyered the old venue.

In Atlanta, people rallied against Daughters of the Confederacy. The Flower Coalition wrote:

Today, a multiracial and multigenerational coalition held the biggest protest of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in history, and showed the UDC that they are NOT welcome in Atlanta! The police not only barricaded the entrance to the Marriott hotel, they blocked the entrance to the entire Century office park. The cost of lost business as a result of this paranoid move is the fault of the UDC and also the Marriott, who had previously been warned that they would face financial and social consequences if they allowed a hate group convention on their property. It is long past time for the Marriott International to institute a policy barring hate groups.

In other antifascist news, in the Pacific Northwest, a member of the Proud Boys attacked someone on the street last week who objected to the group waving Trump flags at a highway overpass. Meanwhile in New York, Proud Boys had a pathetic turn out of less than 30 people, as over 300 antifascists rallied and marched against them. The far-Right pro-Trump gang also dropped several banners in the New York area before the rally, however they were all found and quickly destroyed.

Students at the University of North Florida dropped banners against white nationalist flyers been placed up on their campus and are planning a rally on November 21st.

In Dallas, Texas, an attempted “Straight Pride Parade” only was able to bring out two supporters, who were surrounded by counter-demonstrators.

In Pittsboro, North Carolina, the situation remains tense, as neo-Confederate, white nationalist, and militia groups continue to rally in support of a Confederate statue that is slated to come down. This weekend saw clashes break out, with police arresting severalpeople. On Twitter, Take Action Chapel Hill reported that 5 of those arrested were anti-racists and donations are needed to help cover court cases.

Hundreds of students came out to protest Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA and Lara Trump at North Carolina State University

Meanwhile in Harrisonburg, Virginia, hundreds of Confederate flags were stolen from the Woodbine Cemetery.

In Texas, two members of Atomwaffen Divison from Washington state, one of whom, Kaleb Cole has recently been targeted by law enforcement and had his weapons seized, were pulled over in Texas with a large stash of assault weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. According to the local news, the FBI claims that Cole is involved in organizing paramilitary training camps in Washington State, presumably under the banner of “the Base.”

Meanwhile a man in New Jersey was also arrested for planning to attack people of color at a mall and helping to orchestrate attacks against synagogues.

Last week, the Kurdish Armenian, and antifascist communities mobilized for a loud demo outside of the White House during Turkish leader Erdogan’s visit. Banners in solidarity with Rojava were also dropped in Portland and in Seattle, a vigil was held in memory of those killed while fighting for Rojava.

Due to continued divestment campaigns, the private prison industry has now launched an advocacy group:

[C]alled the Day 1 Alliance to defend it in the halls of power and court of public opinion. Besides GEO Group and CoreCivic, which operate prisons and other correctional programs throughout the South, the advocacy group also includes the Management and Training Corporation of Utah, which runs two dozen correctional facilities in eight states including Florida, Mississippi, and Texas.

The Day 1 Alliance is headed by Alex Wilkes, the former executive director of the America Rising PAC, which produces propaganda and opposition research against those who oppose GOP, corporate, and Trumpian policies.

Lastly, members of #NeverAgain in Philadelphia mobilized this weekend against a child detention facility, demanding its closure. Never Again is calling for actions across December, more info here.


  • Comrades in Roanoke, Virginia had their autonomous space attacked and need help fixing their windows. Please donate here.
  • Donate to help anti-racists arrested in Pittsboro, NC here.

Upcoming Events

  • November 20th: Shut Down Heartland’s Gala. Chicago, IL. More info.
  • November 20th: Rally against Ann Coulter speaking at UC Berkeley campus. More info.
  • November 21st: Rally against white nationalist posters on campus. University of North Florida. More info.
  • November 22nd: FTP March in NY. More info.
  • November 23rd: Rally against Amazon and Gentrification. Seattle, WA. More info.
  • November 29th: Day of Action #NoBodyPays. More info.
  • November 30th – December 1st: Seattle Anarchist Bookfair. More info.
  • December 7th: New Orleans Anarchist Bookfair. More info.
  • December 14th: Humboldt Anarchist Bookfair. More info.
  • December 14th – 15th: Hackers Next Door Conference. Radical security and privacy. NYC. More info.
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