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Jul 29, 19

TIA #83: Border Resistance Camp; Call to Support Anti-MVP Fight

Welcome, to This Is America, July 29th, 2019.

In this episode we feature a special interview with someone involved in the upcoming Border Resistance camp kicking off on September 1st in so-called El Paso, Texas, and be sure to catch their upcoming tour to promote it, hitting cities on the west coast and beyond starting now. For more info, go here.

We also were lucky enough to speak with two tree-sitters who are taking part in the Yellow Finch tree-sit in Virginia against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We talk about how the campaign has seen escalating attacks by law enforcement and the pipeline company against those fighting against the pipeline and why people are drastically needed on the ground to support the tree-sit, as the pipeline company intends to clear people out on August 1st. For more info, go here.

We then switch to a discussion on a possible economic crash and what could be behind it, centered on a recent article from Anathema as well as a push by Republicans to label antifa a “domestic terrorist organization.”

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

Living and Fighting:

  • Mass ungovernnability, a general strike, and continued rioting have forced the Puerto Rican governor, Ricardo Rossello, to resign, and already there are calls for his successor to also step down, Wanda Vázquez, who is also being investigated for corruption in relation to the handling of disaster relief.

  • In Modesto, California, where anger is brewing at an upcoming white nationalist and anti-LGBTQ “Straight Pride” march planned for August 24th, and being organized by those with close ties to the Republican party who have asked Proud Boys to attend, a local Sikh temple was also been vandalized and a priest attacked. Temple goers say that the attack is only the latest in a string of racist incidents and that the attacker quoted Donald Trump during the assault, screaming, “Go back to your country!”

  • This week, in Seattle, Tampa, Florida, and in New York, actions targeting banks funding ICE continued. According to Truthout:

Major private prison firms CoreCivic and GEO Group stand to lose 72 percent — about $1.9 billion — of their private financing as major banks commit to divesting from the private prison industry under pressure from activists, according to a new analysis by the Center for Popular Democracy and other groups.

  • In Tennessee, people formed a human blockade around someone being targeted by ICE, and stopped agents who did not have a warrant from being able to deport the family.
  • In the wake of mass protests, officials have backed down from allowing the army base of Fort Still to be turned into a migrant detention camp for children. The base was formally used as a concentration camp during World War II which housed Japanese Americans.
  • In Philadelphia, one gentrifying property developer behind OCF reality, which is pushing a wave of gentrification in the South part of the city, is blaming anarchists for a continued wave of attacks against the reality giant. As one report wrote:

The developer said he was awoken Thursday morning around 2:30 a.m. to the sound of shattering glass. Along with bricks and a note, the perpetrators threw bottles of white paint that splattered on the facade, the interior of the home and a car parked nearby. Police arrived on the scene shortly afterward. In an image sent to WHYY by the developer, a note reads “enjoy your luncheon, ori” with a “circle-A” symbol historically associated with anarchist movements written in permanent marker.

Feibush appeared at an Inquirer panel Philadelphia real estate “influencers” today — an event which itself attracted criticism for its high ticket prices and failure to include voices critical of city’s development industry. Several other properties associated with OCF have been vandalized in past attacks. In one instance, four homes were destroyed by a fire that investigators said had been intentionally set.

Feibush said there have been “42 major incidents” of vandalism at his properties over the past year, some of which had not made headlines.

  • The arctic is seeing a wave of wildfires like never before. According to The Guardian:

The Arctic is suffering its worst wildfire season on record, with huge blazes in Greenland, Siberia and Alaska producing plumes of smoke that can be seen from space.

The Arctic region has recorded its hottest June ever. Since the start of that month, more than 100 wildfires have burned in the Arctic circle. In Russia, 11 of 49 regions are experiencing wildfires.

[NGOs have] called the Arctic fires “unprecedented.”

  • Lastly, following the lead of Ted Cruz and other Republicans and Fox News, Trump tweeted on Saturday that he is looking into classifying ‘ANTIFA” as a domestic terrorist organization along with MS-13. Trump claimed that antifascists only beat up people who can’t fight back with “baseball bats,” in an apparent nod to far-Right grifter Andy Ngo, who was of course was not hit with baseball bats, but instead milkshakes and a few fists. Trump’s tweet comes after massive pressure from the far-Right to go after antifascists as well as a campaign by the wider right to whitewash, downplay, and deny far-Right and Alt-Right violence while making a boogeyman out of autonomous social movements. It is telling that the petition to label antifascists a “domestic terrorist” threat was based off a similar petition attempting to do the same thing with Black Lives Matter; in fact some of the sentences and thrust of the petition are exactly the same. Ultimately the goal is to criminalize popular tactics that movements are using that work, divide militants from their base of wider community support, and create a chilling effect on the streets which seeks to stifle action.

As Rights and Dissent wrote:

Both petitions are so riddled with misunderstandings of the First Amendment, US anti-terrorism law, or the movements which they are seeking to criminalize it’s hard to know where to even start. The Obama Administration in its response to the anti-Black Lives Matter petition brought up probably the most salient point, being that the “White House plays no role in designating domestic terror organization.” In fact, the federal government doesn’t even “generate a list of domestic terror organizations.”

The authors of both petitions claim that the Pentagon has, using a definition of terrorism that defines it as “the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims,” declared ISIS a terrorist organization and demands the same be done to Antifa/Black Lives Matter. Under US law, the State Department does have the power to designate a foreign group a “foreign terrorist organization” (FTO) if their actions meet certain criteria (which are not the “legal” “definition” cited by both petitions). Thus, the petition is asking for something that simply does not exist.

Of course, the lack of a formal method for a blanket criminalization of association does not mean federal or state agencies will not apply the moniker of terrorism to either movement. And such applications have real chilling effects.

While no formal legal designation exists, we’ve seen local or federal agencies refer to activists groups as “terrorists.” And we know the FBI has four decades now used its counter terrorism authorities to spy on, collect information about, and infiltrate activist organizations. The New Jersey State Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness’s deeply disturbing website includes a post on “Anarchist Extremists: Antifa” tagged as being about domestic terrorism. The info sheet defines Antifa as, “a subset of the anarchist movement and focus on issues involving racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism, as well as other perceived injustice.”  Based on this logic anyone who is a) an anarchist b) concerned about racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism is of interest to the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness. What the intended purpose of this dossier or similar ones on other political ideologies, such as Black separatism, is unclear as in spite of repeatedly calling the office Defending Rights & Dissent was never able to get anyone to answer the phone.

The narrative of “bad protesters” or “violent anarchists” have been trafficked by the media and law enforcement for decades to demonize dissent and justify repressing political expression. That Donald Trump, as well as, many in the media of picked up on a variation of this narrative has troubling implications. The movement to label Antifa (or Black Lives Matter) a terrorist organization is meant to legitimize increased state repression against protests and political speech. The petition on WhiteHouse.Gov, which has gotten media attention, serves this purpose. Nonetheless, it is important to realize that Donald Trump (or anyone else) cannot grant its central demand.

Upcoming Events:

  • July 29th – August 7th: Border Resistance Tour Kicks Off. More info here.
  • July 30th: Anti-ICE Block Party. San Francisco, CA. More info here.
  • August 3rd-11th: Institute for Advanced Trouble Making in Worcester, MA. More info here.
  • August 4th: March Against the Cages in Boston. More info here.
  • August 16th-18th: Indigenous Anarchist Convergence in so-called Flagstaff, Arizona. More info here.
  • August 17th: Counter-mobilization in Portland against far-Right. More info here.
  • August 23rd-24th: Bend the Bars Conference in Lansing, Michigan. More info here.
  • August 23rd-25th: Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair happening in Asheville, North Carolina. More info here.
  • August 24th: Protest against white nationalist “Straight Pride” parade in Modesto, CA. More info here.
  • August 24th-September 12th: Rainbow Ridge Direct Action Mobilization to Save the Mattole. More info here.
  • August 31st: Benefit for Political Prisoners organized by Bakersfield Anarchist Black Cross (ABC). Show with speakers happening in Bakersfield, CA. More info here.
  • September 1st – 10th: Border Resistance Convergence. El Paso, TX. More info here.
  • September 7th: Halifax Anarchist Bookfair. More info here.
  • September 7th: Running Down the Falls in Philadelphia. More info here.
  • September 18th-22nd: Symbiosis Conference in Detroit. More info here.
  • September 21-22nd: Victoria Anarchist Bookfair. More info here.
  • September 28th: Toronto Anarchist Bookfair. More info here
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