via It's Going Down
Autonomous Blockade Against Logging Launched on So-Called Vancouver Island
Resistance to industrial logging is heating up on Vancouver Island in so-called British Columbia. For a quick look at the ongoing fight, check out this article. The following action report about another blockade was anonymously submitted to It’s Going Down which we re-post below.
On a coast choked in smoke from fires burning a vast swath of this dying planet, up road TR11A on the north side of Edinburgh Mountain on so-called Vancouver Island, we felled seven trees across the road, erected tripods, hung banners, and locked a gate to block access to old growth cutblocks higher up the mountain. Blockades were started in August in the neighbouring Fairy Creek watershed, yet industrial logging in the area continues. Some old growth areas are currently inaccessible to industry thanks to these ongoing blockades, but many others nearby are still being destroyed, and our action prevented the Monday morning destruction of at least some old growth forest. We are happy to obstruct old growth logging, but we’d just as soon have done the same thing to prevent 2nd or 3rd growth forests from being clearcut, as there is nothing remotely sustainable about the way forests in so-called British Columbia are being industrially destroyed.
We invite others to expand the struggle against logging in Tree Farm License 46 along insurrectionary lines. The proposal is simple: informal organization, unmitigated hostility, and refusal to negotiate with the state or industry. This can be as simple as getting together with friends and creatively finding ways to throw sand in the cogs of industrial logging. In this case, for us it was establishing a temporary blockade. We did this because it was fun and easy, and we had no interest in getting caught or waiting to be arrested. We can act alone or in groups. The goal is one of direct action: to stop logging from happening, not politely ask that it stop. The more action is decentralized, the more uncontrollable it will be become, and since the powers that be are incapable of controlling the entire area, it may be possible to bring the clearcuts to an end. Worst case scenario we simply have some fun along the way, and cause them to think twice next time. Friends from afar can contribute to this struggle by visiting Teal Jones’ offices, mills, and other operations in various locations in so-called BC and the so-called United States.
Throughout this process it will be important to make space for a diversity of tactics. Some of us may try to build a popular social movement, some will stay on the barricades at the Fairy Creek blockades, others may take our approach and act autonomously – some may do all three. Whatever decisions we do make, we should approach them with humility. None of us know exactly how to stop the industrial Hydra, but we do know that the powers that be will employ divide and conquer tactics to single out more radical groups and individuals and weaken movements. A clear understanding of solidarity and remembering that we are all working towards the same goal will help us to succeed.
This feels particularly important seeing others denounce our blockade as ‘under-authorized,’ as we believe none of us should look to anyone for authorization to act. Our actions come from our own analysis, desires and relationships – no one can take that away, nor should they invest in policing them. This can be complicated on stolen land, and to those who might raise this issue we would point out that there are Pacheedaht folks with us and Pacheedaht folks against us, as every community includes a diversity of perspectives. We wish to act alongside those who would see the forests on their land preserved, and not leave it to them alone to fight the industrial capitalism and colonialism which ceaselessly encroach upon us all.
For a diffusion of attack!
On the Breonna Taylor March
On September 23rd, Breonna Taylor is dead; there is no justice. Another court upholds white supremacy, acquitting the murderers. Days earlier, a call had been circulated in New York City’s activism community for autonomous action at Barclays, emphasizing “No Good Cops, No Bad Protesters, No Megaphones, No Peace Police.” By 8, Barclays was flooded with activists, organizers, and allies numbering close to 1000.
While the language of “No Bad Protesters” and “No Peace police” is common amongst abolitionists, anti-fascists, and anarchists, many within the broader Black Lives Matter movement were shocked to see the Black Bloc. One protester accused the Black Bloc of being outside agitators and inciting violence. Another questioned why the Black Bloc insisted on thoroughly disguising their identity. In the most dramatic incident, one organizer confronted the Bloc while they were peacefully marching with the larger group. The organizer accused the Bloc of putting other protesters in harm’s way and threatened the Bloc with violence if they did not disperse. The threats of violence to the Bloc escalated as other protesters filmed members of the Bloc, producing evidence for the NYPD and the Federal Government that could be used in their ongoing assault on activists. When asked to stop filming, one protester began yelling at the Bloc, accusing them of being white agitators bringing negative media attention to the protest.
Overall, the crowd exhibited a widespread misunderstanding of what the Black Bloc is. Black Bloc is an organizing tactic in which activists dress in black to disguise their identity, avoid surveillance, and minimize the risk of police retaliation. Disguise allows the Black Bloc to de-arrest other protesters without fear of future retribution. While Black Bloc often attack corporate and government property, a broken window or a scorched precinct is nothing compared to the murder committed by the police and white supremacists. Protesters also failed to understand that members of the Bloc also grieve for Breonna Taylor and for the miscarriage of justice. Bloc members are protesters who have shown up at countless other protests and who feel that other tactics are necessary to achieve police and prison abolition.
Black Bloc is a tactic, not an organization. As activist Harsha Walia puts it, “tactics can be effective, they can be ineffective, but inherently they are neither,” so instead they must be evaluated “in specific contexts.” The accusations hurled at the Black Bloc during the march are worth confronting within the larger context of months of protesting since George Floyd’s murder. If we allow disagreements over tactics to divide us, we will not only fail ourselves, but those who are imprisoned and murdered by the state.
Where Have All the Anarchists Been?
Anarchists and anti-fascists have been organizers, allies, and accomplices throughout the George Floyd Uprising. The burning of the Third Precinct in Minneapolis, the bravery in fighting the Department of Homeland Security in Portland, and the removal of confederate statues are examples of autonomous actions in which anarchists and anti-fascists participated. In New York specifically, Black Bloc strategies were applied to keep protesters safe throughout the summer, including during the reactionary curfew, blue lives matter counter protest, Portland Solidarity march, and at Abolition Park. The use of the tactic effectively defended barricades from police attacks, physically protected other protesters, and de-arrested seized protesters.
On the ground, protesters raised four concerns about Black Bloc’s participation: 1) violence 2) risk to other protests of arrest or police violence 3) whiteness 4) negative media coverage. While these activists acted in bad faith by physically and verbally attacking the Bloc and placing protesters in danger by filming, these strategic questions should be considered in good faith as we collectively oppose white supremacy, policing, and prisons.
1. Violence: Critics claim Black Bloc incites violence through vandalism and property destruction.
This criticism can be separated into a question of why property damage is valid and whether it encourages other forms of violence against people. Black Bloc justifies property damage through attacking the connective tissue between white supremacy and capitalism. The Louisville Metro Police Foundation, a private entity raising money for the police department that murdered Breonna Taylor, has board members from Kroger, White Castle, KFC, GE Appliances and public sponsors from Wendy’s, PNC Bank, and the United Parcel Service (UPS). In attacking corporate targets, the Bloc stresses abolishing the police cannot happen without severing the influence of private corporations over our lives. While other activists may question the effectiveness of these tactic, destroying corporate property should never distract from the real violence inflected by police and prisons.
Why do likeminded anti-racist protesters focus on property damage over the injustices of police and prisons? When a fellow protester yells at the Black Bloc, they shift the march’s focus from the real violence enacted by the police. They do the work of conservative media and the police by focusing on so-called “bad protesters” instead of the repeated acts of violence carried out by the police. Since police violence is always a presence at New York protests, activists would be better served working with the bloc to prepare for inevitable violence from the police.
2. Arrests and police violence: Critics claim Black Bloc incites police violence and encourages arrests
The truth of the matter is the police put protesters in danger, not Black Bloc. What differentiate Black Bloc from more liberal strands of the movement is that Black Bloc acknowledges the violence of the police is always present at protests. From peaceful vigils to sit-ins, the police have been increasing their violent attacks on protesters over the last month.
When an activist critical of the Bloc worries about the risk of arrests, they confuse the victim of state violence for the perpetrator. They betray those engaged in the same struggle by accepting the police’s violent crackdown on activism. With the Trump administration’s escalating violent rhetoric against activists and ongoing violence committed by white supremacists, Black Bloc illustrates the need for collective anonymity for protesters to protect themselves. The federal government targets and encourages right-wing violence against activists. Black Bloc acknowledges the need for safety and privacy against these forces. Given the murder and disappearance of many activists involved in the Ferguson Uprising, such protections are essential for current activists.
3. Whiteness: Critics argue Black Bloc is white people coopting the struggle against police and prisons
To anarchists of color and indigenous anarchists, this is insulting. Many come from oppressed identities, joing Black Bloc because they are frustrated with lack of commitment to liberation amongst other organizers. While many within the Black Bloc are white people, there are contradictions concerning the role of white people in the movement. On the one hand, it is common to urge white people to take the front line at protests to protect black people. On the other hand, when white people take the front line through Black Bloc, they are criticized as coopting the movement. To square the two, Black Bloc should be considered another form of taking the front line, of putting one’s body on the line in the struggle against police and prisons, of accepting the state persecution that may follow.
At the same time, white Black Bloc participants must constantly be self-critical. Racism does infiltrate organizing spaces. Disagreeing over tactics should never escalate to racist attacks on other activists. White Black Bloc participants must turn the advantages accrued from being white against the white supremacist foundations of society. This demands abolishing whiteness within organizing spaces through building transformative justice processes, creating accountability, and stamping out racism in ourselves.
4. Media: Critics argue Black Bloc attracts bad media
At the march, this claim was made by someone filming the Black Bloc. Filming places Bloc members in legal and physical danger from the state. To those who film, know that your camera is a cop.
To those who are concerned with the media, it is worth being realistic. The mainstream media has largely ignored protests in NYC after June. They do not care about the violence the police commit beyond ratings. Right-wing media will demonize the protests regardless of the involvement of Black Bloc. Media coverage is not a means to liberation. In many ways, the media is an impediment, as they allow self-interested leaders to coopt the movement for their own advantage, such as with the #8CantWait campaign that distracted from more radical calls for police and prison abolition. The media is not concerned with presenting a vision of abolition. At the end of the day, the struggle is to build power within communities, to allow people to have control over their own lives, not to get favorable bylines.
As the president and armed white supremacists threaten protesters with violence, activists should not play into right-wing narratives by demonizing the Black Bloc. Instead, the question always concerns whether the usage of the tactic is appropriate to the context. Given the absence of meaningful justice for Breonna Taylor and the increasing police violence in New York City, Black Bloc is a tactical response to police repression, surveillance, and the need to strike against the supporters of white supremacy. Instead of rejecting the tactic outright, other activists should consider how to work with emerging Black Blocs to communicate security and intelligence needs and to truly shut shit down. Black Bloc is an embodiment of “No Justice, No Peace.”
Pressingly, activists should learn from the security culture cultivated by the Black Bloc, the way in which anonymity is prioritized in order to protect other activists from future state repression. While activists uncomfortable with Bloc assume its presence brings violence at protests, the reality is violence is ever present due to the continued existence of the police. The violence against Ferguson activists should force contemporary activists to consider security and privacy.
In the end, we are all involved in the same struggle against police, prisons, and white supremacy. The Black Bloc is another way in which we keep us safe.
Received by email.
via It's Going Down
New Outreach Materials and the Importance of Spreading Ideas
We anarchists are a minority. We punch above our size, and our numbers seem to be growing lately, but to many of us the experience of being isolated because of our beliefs is too familiar. Engaging others with our ideas has always been of essential to anarchist practice. Each of us can reflect back on what made us embrace a philosophy that may have seemed dogmatic at first. With exposure to the right ideas and experiences, people can come to embrace radical ideas very quickly. A lot of people are having experiences that challenge their political assumptions lately, and we need to make sure we are there sharing our ideas to people looking for ethical ways out of the multiple crises ripping through our social fabric.
Screens are all around us, and producing good anarchist video content is hugely important, but we shouldn’t let new technology blind us to practices from our past that are still effective. The anarchist movement still thrives on literature and the sharing of the written word. Our words are powerful, and many people who went on to become incredible revolutionaries, such as Ricardo Flores Magon, discovered anarchism through reading (combined with experience of course). We are not using the full potential of powerful anarchist writing. Reading and sharing more of it is essential for us to grow as a movement (in terms of both quality and quantity).
No, I’m not writing this to beg you to read the latest 500 page text posted on anarchist library. I’m sensitive to the need for brevity, although sometimes great length is called for. Handing out brief anarchist and other radical text for free on the street is something I have done many times in my city. Although I have no proof, I believe it is an incredibly effective thing for anarchists to do. In military terminology, it could be called a “force multiplier.”
Most people tend to go for things that are both short and practical in some way. However, some number of people get incredibly interested when they see what I’m doing and take sometimes over 100 pages worth of material. I am always happy to run into people like this! Sometimes I do this at large demonstrations, sometimes just on crowded streets. Both work well. People will ask what your literature is about. Be prepared with a vague summary with some specificity. Something like, “it’s about how to transform society to meet everyone’s needs,” or “it’s about how social movements of the past won the freedoms we enjoy today.” Focus on the positive element.
By the way, in case you’re reading this thinking, “wow, this person must be so confident and comfortable interacting socially with strangers,” let me just let you know that’s not the case. I’m naturally a shy introvert but I get outside my comfort zone for the cause, and to grow as a person as well. Don’t get discouraged by a few bad interactions. They are bound to happen, especially if you’re just starting out. Experience will improve your confidence and outcomes. Just walk up to people and say, “hey, want some free pamphlets on changing the world?” Or something like that. Everyone can find their own style doing this kind of thing.
In weeks to come, it is likely that there will be some massive left-liberal street mobilizations due to election mayhem. I’m sharing two trifold pamphlets I made specifically to open the minds of people at these types of events, but they work well anywhere. It’s best if people can go to distributing them in pairs or trios, but alone can be ok too. Be sure to fold the pamphlets inward on a hard surface. It’s easy to get the hang of. Nice crisp folds inside the margins between text helps make a good impression.
I hope you all like these two pamphlets. They’re some of the best intro material I could conjure. Note that neither of them mention anarchism by name. That’s on purpose. When you do this kind of thing explicitly promoting anarchy/anarchism, it tends to be much more difficult. I guess people just think of the Joker or whatever. Component parts of anarchism, such as anti-racism, freedom, equality, labor rights, feminism and so on are much more popular. Use this.
As the frequency and participation in left-liberal mass demonstrations grows, we should view each of them as an opportunity to reach out and share our ideas. Not doing so strikes me as a waste. Building a new social consensus is slow, difficult and often frustrating, but also rewarding at key moments. I don’t know, but I suspect that the literature I’ve shared has made a big difference for some people, and making a life-changing positive difference for just one person makes this all completely worth the effort.
Some quick do’s and don’ts:
Do take covid19 precautions
Do get your own printer if you want to do this regularly
Do make folding and stapling a group activity (if safe)
Do buy that printer at a discount on Craigslist
Do print out stacks days or months ahead of time, the day of is usually
Do make good use of rubber bands
Do keep moving when that is what others are doing around you
Do approach others with a friendly tone
Do make room for other people to respond to you
Do kindly answer people’s reasonable questions about what you are doing
Do politely cut people off and move on if they start to argue with you
Do recognize that your behavior reflects either well or poorly on the
ideas you are sharing
Do practice community/self-care after you’re done if you find this all
Do keep learning, design some pamphlets of your own, and write to
sharpen your ideas
Do NOT get into arguments
Do NOT try to approach people from behind
Do NOT be overly guarded or “shady” with people
Do NOT assume that you are the wrong identity to do this kind of thing
Do NOT attempt to distribute literature in a tone-deaf way at
Do NOT assume people will approach you if you have a table, but feel
free to experiment
Do NOT sit around waiting for validation after someone accepts a
pamphlet, keep moving
Do NOT try to engage people who are in a clear rush or on the phone, or
have earphones in
Do NOT get upset when you face rejection by some people; be polite and
Do NOT get discouraged if your first time doing this doesn’t go so well,
just learn from the experience
cover photo: Clay Banks on Unsplash
Italy – “Scripta Manent” trial, call for initiatives
Numerous hearings of the operation “Scripta Manent” trial will be held in Turin in September, where 23 anarchists are accused in various ways of episodes and practices of attack that belong to the legacy of the struggle against Authority.
Operation after operation, trial after trial, the State is sharpening the judicial instruments for criminalizing anarchist and revolutionary actions, to strike struggles, suffocate solidarity, worsen prisoners’ isolation.
On the one side, the State and Capital, with the discrimination, repression, exploitation, wars and massacres they are responsible for every day
On the other, different practices and instruments to put in question, disrupt, attack the roles and structures responsible for all this.
We are proud to have chosen where we stand. Proud to struggle.
Thursday 24th September from 9am
PRESENCE IN THE BUNKER COURTROOM OF LE VALLETTE PRISON (inside and outside)
Saturday 26th September at 11am
SOLIDARITY PRESENCE IN PIAZZA BORGO DORA (TURIN)
Sunday 27th September from 3pm
GATHERING OUTSIDE THE PRISON IN ALESSANDRIA
In solidarity with those on trial for “Scripta Manent”.
Against the alienation of videoconference trials and the measures taken to prevent solidarity presence in the court from taking place.
Against all forms of reclusion.
To not forget the protests and revolts in the jails last March, repressed by the State with 13 dead, beatings and mass transfers.
To claim that to struggle is right and necessary.
– On the web and Radio Black Out, 105.250FM, we’ll give confirmation of the day for being present in the bunker courtroom (on the basis of possible changes in the trial schedule).
Cassa Anti Repressione delle Alpi Occidentali
Translated by act for freedom now!
Атрад Супраціву (The Resistance group) fired on Zavodskoy District Court in Minsk
Minsk anarchists continue to fight a battle against Lukashenko’s junta. Received this message via mail:
We, Атрад Супраціву (The Resistance group), continue our uncompromising war against fascism of Lukashenko’s police junta.
We take responsibility for the attack on Zavodskoy District Court in Minsk, which we see as an occupying part of the government.
We declare that, if mass repressions and forceful breaking up of demonstrations continues, our group will do everything we can so that not all of those helmed bastards with batons will live to see the trial.
That's not a threat, that's a fact! We – among you, we know your addresses and positions, we have your photos.
Stop now or the end of you will be dreadful and inglorious!