Monday, September 29, 2008

Who We Are: Statement from General Membership of S&D

adopted September 13th, 2008

We are a small but growing alliance of anti-authoritarian militants active in both the workplace and the community. We champion grassroots organizing, participatory politics, and determined action from below. The histories of social struggle and revolutionary action have led us to see that the masses of everyday people – at the base, from the ranks – are the agents of real and popular social change and liberation.

In our lifetimes we have seen inequality grow exponentially. While the majority move downward, a fewer number of elites hold an ever-growing proportion of the wealth of society. At the same time popular culture is more obsessed with materialism and the open promotion of misogyny, anti-immigrant sentiment, homophobia, and racism. The youth are encouraged to get rich or die trying. We end up tearing at each other for an ever-diminishing number of crumbs thrown our way by our politicians, bureaucrats, and bosses. Meanwhile we face a continuous assault from the ruling classes in the forms of global war and the expansion of capitalism into every corner of our lives.

As these ruling classes forge ahead we suffer cut backs, sellouts, and abandonment of our urban and rural communities. The results are a deepening economic, environmental, and social crisis. We must resist these attacks and their effects through mass and popular direct action. This direct action is based on our initiatives outside of and against the rule of the State.

A voice against the dog eat dog world is essential. The movements necessary for this must be built on solidarity within the working classes and with those social struggles fighting for justice and dignity. We must build the capacity for our movements to defend the remaining gains made by the struggles of past generations, while continuing to expand our base by pushing forward the ides of self-reliance and a confidence in ourselves.

There is a culture of resistance growing and taking shape. With each fight there are lessons for our movements to learn from. As we struggle, we improve our ability to combat the rulers, and create the visions of community renewal and human potential. We are Solidarity and Defense.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

ICE raids in Chicago

from Immigration News Briefs

*3. CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD RAIDED, AGAIN

On Sept. 18, ICE agents raided several homes and apartment buildings in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood in an operation targeting people who allegedly produce and sell fake identity documents. ICE agents executed search warrants simultaneously at five locations in the area: an office where fraudulent identification documents were allegedly produced; two residences; and two photo studios which allegedly produced photos for fake documents. Activists on the scene reported that ICE agents stormed buildings, hid in garages and interrogated people on the street. Word of the raid spread quickly; tensions in the heavily Mexican neighborhood have been high since ICE made dozens of arrests at a Little Village shopping mall in April 2007 in a similar operation targeting a false document ring [see INB 4/28/07]. [Associated Press 9/18/08; ICE News Release 9/19/08]

José Landaverde, the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican church in Little Village, said he was questioned during the raids by agents who asked to see his mica, a slang term for green card. Landaverde said he was visiting the local alderman's office to pick up a block-party permit. "When I walked outside the office, three officers of Immigration approached me and put me on top of my car, and then searched me," said Landaverde. "And they said, 'I want to see your documents, mica.' And then I said, 'I don't have any mica, but I have my United States passport because I'm a United States citizen.' When he saw the passport, he gave it back to me right away and he said, 'Go away.'"

On 26th Street, the neighborhood's main drag, Landaverde said immigration agents "were stopping everyone who was walking on the sidewalk and saying, 'Lay down on the floor, searching you, give me your documentation.' If you didn't have it, they were taking you." [WBEZ (Chicago Public Radio) 9/19/08]

Landaverde held a press conference on Sept. 19 to denounce the raid. "The agents showed up in the neighborhood starting at 9pm on Tuesday [Sept. 16], with helicopters and guns, and they have been terrorizing the community and taking away innocent people," said Landaverde. At the press conference, Landaverde introduced Josefina Pérez, a mother of six children who said her husband, Héctor Medina, was arrested in the street during the raids. "He was walking with his cousin and the agents arrested him, accusing him of being a false document seller when in fact he works all day doing auto body repair," said Pérez. [El Financiero (Mexico) 9/19/08 with information from Notimex/JOT]

It was not clear how many people were arrested in the raid. An ICE news release said the operation was a followup to the April 2007 sweep at the Little Village mall--targeting a competing ring of false document producers who stepped in to pick up extra business after those arrests. The news release said that on Sept. 18 "ICE agents began arresting up to 21 new defendants," and that 21 people were charged on Sept. 19 in two federal court indictments with conspiring to produce false identification documents. The news release cites US Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Northern District of Illinois, and Gary J. Hartwig, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago, as saying that 15 of the defendants named in the two indictments had been arrested in Chicago since the night of Sept. 16, while six are fugitives. [Note that both Landaverde and ICE say the arrests began on the night of Sept. 16, while ICE reports that the search warrants were not served until Sept. 18.] [ICE News Release 9/19/08] ICE said it will continue searching Little Village indefinitely searching for more people implicated in the production and sale of false documents. [El Financiero 9/19/08 with information from Notimex/JOT]

*4. "FUGITIVE" RAIDS IN CHICAGO AREA

From Sept. 12 to 15, agents from four ICE Fugitive Operations Teams arrested 144 people in Chicago and nearby areas in an operation targeting people who have failed to comply with deportation orders. (ICE calls such people "fugitives" or "absconders.") Of those arrested, 110 had final orders of deportation; 34 were people without legal immigration status who were encountered by ICE officers during the raids. Those arrested during the four-day operation are from 26 countries: Albania, Belize, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia and Yugoslavia.

The arrests took place in Chicago; in the Illinois communities of Beach Park, Country Club Hills, Gurnee, Grayslake, Harwood Heights, Libertyville, North Chicago, Nottingham Park, Round Lake, Skokie, Waukegan, Willowbrook and Zion; and in the northern Indiana cities of Elkhart, Goshen, Mishawaka, Nappanee and South Bend. The US Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force assisted ICE with the operation. [ICE News Release 9/17/08]

In Chicago, immigrant advocates called the raids an emblem of a broken system that has separated thousands of families through deportation. As part of Citizenship Day, activists protested on Sept. 17 in Grant Park against increased fees for US citizenship applications; the filing fee for such applications jumped from $400 to $675 on July 30, 2007. Advocates say the increased fees have reduced the number of legal residents applying for citizenship. In Chicago, applications for US citizenship dropped 39% during the first four months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. [Chicago Tribune 9/18/08]

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Republican National Convention Report Back and Reflections

By Lacey for Solidarity & Defense


The Pre RNC Organizing


After spending 9 days in Minneapolis, it is difficult to begin to write a report back from that experience. Residing in Minneapolis and St. Paul during those nine days was both inspiring and at times brought a frightening consciousness of state repression against dissent. Although much could be written about the experience, the main points I want to focus on is the pre-RNC organizing, the raids and representation of state repression before, during and after the convention.


To begin, I was inspired by the organizers that I met from across the Midwest and broader who came with a strong commitment to disrupt the RNC and provide support for other anarchists in the community. People formed strong and quick bonds and demonstrated a concern and solidarity with one another both on the street and in between. Being in the twin cities gave me the opportunity to meet solid and dedicated organizers from across the country. For a short window, I experienced living in a city of a few hundred anarchists (from Minneapolis & out of town organizers) and what that experience felt like.


While I speak positively of many organizers, I also carry strong critiques of the local sector organizers & 'black bloc' style anarchists. Before arriving in Minneapolis, I had an illusion of an existing strong and cohesive organization and upon arrival to the Twin Cities, it became apparent that it did not exist. While the RNC welcoming committee did an excellent job providing a convergence space, workshops, information, legal and food for hundreds of activists, within the 7 sectors, the organization was a disaster. Many organizers and affinity groups had done little to no planning or recruiting work specifically for the sector my affinity was assigned. Original measures of a vouching system were temporarily disastrous when the main security person was arrested on conspiracy charges. Very quickly, what earlier seemed like a semi-secured and organized process became vulnerable to infiltration and disorganization. Affinity groups from out of town ultimately picked up the work (vouching, facilitating, scouting, developing tactical strategies, providing medical assistance, etc.) that had been understood to have been completed. As a result of the disorganization of the sectors, the necessary numbers were not achieved to make the block aids effective in every sector.


Multiple anarchist organizers demonstrated a disinterest in straying away from the black bloc strategies. To me they demonstrated a dangerous disinterest in developing strategies that may be more effective and minimize arrests. The concerns I had played out before my eyes on September 1st when a unplanned black bloc 'swarm' developed of about 50 people who were ultimately ineffective in providing anyone (Bash Back, block aids, detainees...) support because they were being marched around by the police and national guard.


In reflection, I think that the 'swarm, seize, and stay' model demonstrated an effort to break away from the reoccurring and ineffective black block strategy. However, without an increased number of people willing to participate in the overall strategy, it left people participating in block aids naked to the police attention and brutality. Original ideas of working with other organizations/blocs such as the anti-capitalist bloc or the Rude Mechanical Orchestra did not materialize and left groups of 25-50 (at best) in each sector isolated away from the permitted march downtown.


People participating in the block aids made a commitment under the pre-arranged 'St. Paul Principles' to be separated from the permitted march by 'place or time.' This was developed out of not wanting to attract police activity and potentially harm to people who were marching in the permitted march. However, these principles left thousands of marchers unaware that three blocks away people were blockading intersections, turning away delegate buses and being maced, tear gassed, pepper sprayed and experiencing the effects of concussion grenades.


The Raids

Before the main days of action against the RNC, the police demonstrated tactics of intimidation through raids, detainments and preemptive arrests.


On Friday, August 30th around 9:30 pm, the police raided the RNC Welcoming Committee's Convergence space. Everyone inside was detained, and to be released were photographed and profiled by the police. While the raid was occurring, a group of about a hundred community members, activists, legal observers, medics and journalist gathered outside the convergence space. Instead of people being demoralized by the raid, people seemed to use it as fuel for the upcoming actions. Each detainee was welcomed from being released with cheers, water bottles and eventually snacks!

This challenged the police intentions of instilling fear and demoralization to the protesters.


On Saturday, August 31st the police raided three houses of organizers in the Minneapolis area. One of the houses included the Food Not Bombs house which had opened it doors to many out of town organizers that week. Beginning around 8:00 am the police and members of the FBI raided the houses and detained all the members (expect one four year old child who was eventually allowed to leave). Police and FBI came in the houses guns drawn and handcuffed and detained everyone in the homes, arresting one-two people for each house listed on the affidavit.


An impromptu meeting was called that afternoon in Powder Horn Park to discuss the raids and provide updated information. Over a hundred people attended and although the raids were a demonstration of the frightening level of police repression, people were in good spirits and undeterred by the raids. Committees were formed to provide safe child care, additional legal work and assist in repairing raided houses. It was personally inspiring to see people come together, and as 'main' organizers of the RNC Welcoming committee were being picked off & imprisoned by the police, the Friends of the Welcoming Committee was formed! People both from Minneapolis and out of town worked and sweated together to continue the work of the RNC Welcoming committee when it became apparent that the police and FBI were trying to bring the 'leadership' to their knees. As each 'leader' was brought down, a few more strong organizers were brought up!


The Police Repression


As of Wednesday, September 3rd, it was made public knowledge that the first step of police repression against anti-RNC organizing came through the installment of two paid informants and an undercover officer in the RNC Welcoming Committee over a year ago. These three people worked for over a year developing activist profiles of the welcoming committee's 'leadership' of the group of the original 30-35 people who attended the meetings. The information gathered by the informants led to the arrests of eight RNC Welcoming committee organizers who were being held in the Ramsey County jail but as of Thursday, September 4th were all released on bail or bond. Each organizers is facing 7 ½ years of prison time for conspiracy charges.

In addition, organizers from out of town were painted by the police as 'organized criminals' coming to carry out criminal anarchist activities. One police statement goes as far to suggest that organizers were planning to kidnap a delegate! It is obvious based on the police actions that they are attempting to instill a message of fear to people engaging in dissent against the government in any way outside of begging them for a permitted march. (Which, by the way, the Poor People's March received a permit, but that did not stop the police from tear gassing & shooting off concussion grenades at the marchers as they left from the permitted march!) The police/State/FBI in the Twin Cities sent the message that they believed the organizers posed a real threat to the convention and required high levels of infiltration, surveillance, media misrepresentation, and mass arrests.

While in the Twin Cities during those nine days, I spent a lot of time contemplating the idea of 'security culture.' Many of the police tactics I witnessed pre and during the RNC, were things I was conscious existed but had not directly experienced (phone taping, arresting/brutalizing journalists, taking film/videos/photos that were evidence of police brutality, FBI raids, text message disruptions, police informants, arresting 'leaders' with conspiracy charges to name a few). It became incredibly apparent that there is a desperate need for organizations to work within a semi-closed system of organizing to develop the necessary trust and responsibility to one another to be effective organizers. I still maintain the importance of public actions and groups to function to politicize people, but the experience at the RNC was a fierce reminder of the potential devastation to organizations that police infiltration poses. Reading the affidavits for each arrested organizers, some of the 'evidence' included casual conversations, previous workshops attended, materials found in their home, rallies and demonstrations people had attended. All things that many committed organizers locally and across the country could be vulnerable to.

I left the Twin Cities extremely motivated to work harder and more thoughtfully about organizing, and look forward to engaging in discussions with others about issues raised above as we develop the visions to develop our organization.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The RNC protests and the lessons from them


reposted from Anarkismo.net

A Tale of Twin Cities in the Age of Desperation

As more and more information surfaces here in the Twin Cities—beyond the news or more raids, mass arrests, brutality, etc—I cannot help but feel like I am taking a step back to see a more complete, more startling picture than what I had previously seen, and I know I am not alone in this.
The first revelation, ironically, was that the seemingly gargantuan forces at work to bring the streets of St. Paul to a standstill were little more than a determined core of militants, who were admirably committed but desperate enough to create a facade that victory was all but certain, in the hopes that such blind optimism would bring forth a cascade of young anarchists to flood the streets—not so dissimilar from the posture of the Weathermen when they were promoting their national action, known later as the Days of Rage. There were, however, hundreds of militants who were both tactical and disciplined in their efforts, but this could not substitute for the shortcomings of the organizational model being utilized. This is the most obvious thing that one is struck by when assessing the situation on the ground, but this simple truth is perhaps inconsequential compared to what is becoming more and more evident.

The second thing that has become clear is the level of infiltration of the RNC Welcoming Committee (RNCWC) anarchist group by the authorities. The affidavit given to the judge who signed-off on the warrant to raid a number of spaces all over the Twin Cities reveals that there were, at least, one undercover cop and two paid informants (rats) within the ranks of the relatively small RNCWC. This must necessarily call into question the level to which their work was compromised, manipulated and/or sabotaged. There was, for example, an early split within the group over the question of doing community outreach around the actions, with the faction opposing this course of action remaining, and the few in favor leaving to do separate work. This point is crucial, of course, because it has become all too obvious that the militant actions this week had virtually no base outside the radical activist milieu, and have quite effectively been isolated in the public eye via the mainstream media (MSM).

This course of events suggests that the state recognized the potential of a second Battle of Seattle, which at face-value was in many respects similar to the 2008 RNC. In the current situation, however, there is seemingly no solidarity from organized labor like in Seattle which greatly contributed to the presence of bodies in the streets in defiance of the police state, as well as putting pressure on the state to release those who had been jailed when the ILWU threatened to strike the Port of Seattle. There are of course other factors, such as the inoculation against independent media reporting; the MSM now generally ignores any reporting that isn’t “on-message,” and the state aggressively attacks anyone with “illegitimate” press credentials.

There are many conclusions people could take from this snapshot described above. We could resign ourselves from taking part in direct action in the streets, retreating into this Party or that like so many radicals did in the wake of the utter organizational destruction left by COINTELPRO in the early 70s; we could join the North American underground in the hopes that maybe, this time, the people will be moved to action by the propaganda of the deed; or we could write-off social action entirely in favor of personal redemption via lifestyle choices or identity politics. Each generation of movement activists has to make this choice, and the answer we give determines what mark we will leave on history. My hope is that we have come far enough on the US far left to be strong and determined enough to stand tall in the face of repression, tighten our ranks, and to continue putting down our roots wherever we may find ourselves. I don’t consider this a difficult decision to make, so much as it will be difficult to carry out and convince others of. For those of you who are like in mind, my advice is to lead by example, and don’t be too startled when others begin to walk along beside you.

Workers Solidarity Alliance Statement on RNC

In the opening days of September 2008 people from all over the country came together in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to protest the agenda of the Republican National Convention. And in response, police cracked down, hard. And even before the events had begun police responded to mere calls for protest through strong-arm tactics reminiscent of a police state, including infiltration and spying by state agents against protest organizations and preemptive raids with guns drawn against private protest centers. During the event police responded with the indiscriminate arrest of hundreds of protesters, and even journalists recording the event where arrested. Decked out in full military garb masses of police indiscriminately assaulted numerous protesters with batons, pepper spray and other weapons, that though listed under the term "less then lethal" nevertheless inflict great pain and suffering, and have been implicated in serious medical complications and even death. Fortunately no one was killed in the Twin Cities, but the use of tactics befitting a police state should be a cause of grave concern for all people of good conscience.


In response we at the Worker Solidarity Alliance (WSA) call upon all poor and working people everywhere to reach out in support of the 284 protesters that have been jailed by the cops.


Please make a donation to help cover the legal fees of our jailed comrades, and to cover any medical fees that may arise among protesters due to the brutal tactics utilized by police on behalf of the Republican Party. One place you can donate is the web site of the Coldsnap Legal Collective: http://coldsnaplegal.wordpress.com/


Although the Workers Solidarity Alliance extends unconditional solidarity and support to the victims of state repression during the RNC, we also call for a critical evaluation of the approach taken by anti-authoritarians and anarchists. The repression of RNC activism demonstrates that new organizing models will be needed if anticapitalists are to mount a genuine challenge to the power of capital and the state. Specifically, we must avoid playing into the hands of the state by using rhetoric, rituals, and tactics that isolate us from the majority of the world's population that suffers under capitalism. We call for a resistance based not exclusively on the advanced tactics of a jail-ready minority, but the solidarity and militancy of a revolutionary social bloc, organized in workplaces and neighborhoods, fighting for self-determination. As the raids on activists spaces have already shown, anything less is political suicide.


The reasons people protested were varied, as was the political background of the protesters. Some of the protesters came seeking to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, some economic justice, others out of criticism of the current Republican administration in Washington. Some protesters came to voice their dissent and in support of Obama. Some came to protest the havoc that the endless pursuit for capitalist profits has wrecked upon the environment. And yet others still came to protest the political rule of the U.S. government, whether under the leadership of Republicans or Democrats, or other would be contenders for the throne.


The "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent came to protest the war, for economic justice, for a healthy environment, and against white supremacy, nationalism, sexism and homophobia --- and to promote the idea that simply changing office holders does not do away with capitalism and the political state. This contingent called for a new world, a world without bosses, states and bureaucrats.


The Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA) seeks the self-empowerment of ordinary poor and working class people through democratic self-management of their workplaces and their communities without mediation by elite's from above. Those of the "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent, and their supporters in the WSA and elsewhere, are sick and tired of living in a society that is dominated by the special interests of wealthy men and the political system that these elites have set in motion to protect their interests at the expense of the genuine interests, the aspirations and collective well being of the vast majority of the population, the working class. As supporters of the "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent we of the WSA denounce both the Republican and Democratic parties, as we understand that the true motivating cause of all political parties, in every part of the globe, is that of keeping a small elite entrenched firmly in political and economic power over, and to the detriment, of the working class across the earth.


The WSA also denounces the Patriot Act, under which the state has charged eight (RNC-8) prominent protest organizers with "Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism," this despite the fact that the RNC 8 were arrested days prior to the beginning of both the convention and the actual protests and had not carried out any actual protest actions whatsoever. The provisions of the Patriot Act grants the state power to charge people with "conspiracy" for simply planning a nonviolent protest, and in turn to saddle them with a felony for making calls for dissent to state policy. Thus the true purpose of the Patriot Act is to criminalize exercises of the right to free speech, peaceful assembly and protest. In light of the true intentions of the Patriot Act the WSA calls for the working class to get together in solidarity to put pressure upon the state to rescind and abolish the Patriot Act.


Yet despite all of the terror and mayhem unleashed by the police the fact that ordinary people maintained their presence, their solidarity and their dissent against the unjust policies of the political elite for the duration of the convention is in the last analysis a demonstration of the courage of the working class. The protesters that made up the "Red & Black Anti-Capitalist" contingent, and others as well, have a positive vision of a better society. A society in which ordinary folks come together in brotherly solidarity to create a new system based upon the moral value of "Mutual aid" and free from the rule of a lying, scheming and predatory elite. For a society in which "freedom and liberty for all" are not mere sentiments regulated to paper, or simply buzz words to throw about by self-interested politicians looking for your votes, but are instead the overwhelming living reality of society, and not just in the United States but throughout the entire earth.


Workers Solidarity Alliance
339 Lafayette Street - Room 202
New York, NY 10012 USA

http://www.workersolidarity.org.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Politics Driving Mississippi's ICE Raids


by David Bacon
from, The Black Commentator

Laurel, Miss. - On August 25, immigration agents swooped down on Howard Industries, a Mississippi electrical equipment factory, taking 481 workers to a privately-run detention center in Jena, Louisiana. Some 106 were also arrested at the plant, and released wearing electronic monitoring devices on their ankles, if they had children, or without them, if they were pregnant. Eight workers were taken to Federal court in Hattiesburg, where they were charged with aggravated identity theft.

Afterward, Barbara Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stated the raid took place because of a tip by a “union member” two years before. Other media accounts focused on an incident in which plant workers allegedly cheered as their coworkers were led away by ICE agents. The articles claim the plant was torn by tension between immigrant and non-immigrant workers, and that unions in Mississippi are hostile to immigrants.

Many Mississippi activists and workers, however, charge the raid had a political agenda - undermining a growing political coalition that threatens the state's conservative Republican establishment. They also say the raid, which took place during union contract negotiations, will help the company resist demands for better wages and conditions.

Jim Evans, a national AFL-CIO staff member in Mississippi and a leading member of the state legislature's Black Caucus, said he believed “this raid is an effort to drive immigrants out of Mississippi. It is also an attempt to drive a wedge between immigrants, African Americans, white people and unions - all those who want political change here.” Patricia Ice, attorney for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA), agreed that “this is political. They want a mass exodus of immigrants out of the state, the kind we've seen in Arizona and Oklahoma. The political establishment here is threatened by Mississippi's changing demographics, and what the electorate might look like in 20 years.”

read more

RNC 8 Charged with "Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism"

from, Twin Cities Independent Media
Source:
Bruce Nestor, President
Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild

In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act, Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up to 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum penalty.


Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in support of the search warrants used in raids over the weekend, and used to support probable cause for the arrest warrants, are based on paid, confidential informants who infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates to the RNC, assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul. Evidence released to date does not corroborate these allegations with physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past abuses of such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and exaggerate threats of violence and to also act as provacateurs in raising and urging support for acts of violence.


"These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views of the Defendants on trial," said Bruce Nestor, President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. "The charges represent an abuse of the criminal justice system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil disobedience, he said."


The criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege that any of the defendants personally have engaged in any act of violence or damage to property. The complaints list all of alleged violations of law during the last few days of the RNC -- other than violations of human rights carried out by law enforcement -- and seeks to hold the 8 defendants responsible for acts committed by other individuals. None of the defendants have any prior criminal history involving acts of violence. Searches conducted in connection with the raids failed to turn up any physical evidence to support the allegations of organized attacks on law enforcement. Although claiming probable cause to believe that gunpowder, acids, and assembled incendiary devices would be found, no such items were seized by police. As a result, police sought to claim that the seizure of common household items such as glass bottles, charcoal lighter, nails, a rusty machete, and two hatchets, supported the allegations of the confidential informants. "Police found what they claim was a single plastic shield, a rusty machete, and two hatchets used in Minnesota to split wood. This doesn't amount to evidence of an organized insurrection, particularly when over 3,500 police are present in the Twin Cities, armed with assault rifles, concussion grenades, chemical weapons and full riot gear," said Nestor. In addition, the National Lawyers Guild has previously pointed out how law enforcement has fabricated evidence such as the claims that urine was seized which demonstrators intended to throw at police.


The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918, when Matt Moilen and others organizing labor unions for the Industrial Workers of the World [ed. correction-TCIMC] on the Iron Range were charged with "criminal syndicalism." The convictions, based on allegations that workers had advocated or taught acts of violence, including acts only damaging to property, were upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the light of history, these convictions are widely seen as unjust and a product of political trials. The National Lawyers Guild condemns the charges filed in this case against the above 8 defendants and urges the Ramsey County Attorney to drop all charges of conspiracy in this matter.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Poor Peoples March

After Hundreds of arrests the day before during the main march agianst the RNC, and a visible increase in a police tactic to intimidate, it was a question if the Poor Peoples March would continue as planned.

As crowds gathered in Mears Park riot police marched in and surrounded the park. Protesters with red and black flags were identified and harassed, but not immediately arrested. Police attempted to have the marches organizers expel "anarchists" but the Poor People's March organizers resisted this pressure and welcolmed all who would stand with the goals of the march.

Undercover cops mingled in the crowd. An Indy media journalist was arrested which sparked a brief surge towards the police lines with chants of "Let 'em go!". as the march took off it had roughly 500 participants. The march was constantly followed by police.

As the march came towards the capital on its way to the Xcel center, an impromptu show by Rage Against the Machine (RATM) which was canceled by the police helped to increase the Poor Peoples March by several thousand. With no RATM show, audience goers joined in and marched towards the Xcel center and the Republicans. Police began to build up their ranks again and after the end of the march attacked the crowd.

Indy Media Pictures:
March For Our Lives: Gallery 1 from Poor People's March on the RNC
March For Our Lives: Gallery 2 from Poor People's March on the RNC





Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Flower Power?

Holding a flower up to the police - trying to recreate one of those classic protest images of peace - one protester is mercilessly doused in pepper spray. The woman should have known this would happen. Flower power is a myth that liberals seek to maintian, partly to undermine the argument for revolutionary action and the building of movements that fight back. Still, the fact that these cops just covered her in the spray and she just kept standing there, well, you cant stop from feeling for her.

The actions of the police were at times exactly what they are supposed to be: cruel and callous as they try to maintain the Systems authority and rule.

View of the 1st Day.


The bulk of the protests in St. paul were organized under the following:

We recognize that protests at the RNC will take many forms. With that in mind, we have worked for common ground with other forces to ensure that our various projects work in concert, with a commitment to ensure no one's plans are disrupted or undermined by fellow protesters. Our coalition agrees to the following principles for the September 1, 2008, March on the RNC.

(1) our solidarity will be based on respect for diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.

(2) the actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.

(3) any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.

(4) we oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.



These principles were set forth by the Coalition to March on the RNC
and Stop the War


As Hurricane Gustov draws closer to the US gulf region, Bush and Cheney the night before have called off RNC appearances. Although Laura Bush and Cindy McCain step in, the hurricane is used as an excuse that allows McCain to have more distance between himself and the unpopular ruling administration. The RNC will continue but on a smaller scale for its opening day.

Still, the planned marches against it will go on.

The overall numbers of the march were much smaller than the projected 50-60 thousand. In the end, estimates are closer to 10 thousand.

Every Left group is there, but their contingents are small. It is a question of if this is the case because the RNC is in St. Paul, MN rather than if it had been an any other anti-war march in DC, where historically the numbers have been much higher. Perhaps the East Coast can draw out larger numbers because of the concentration of the populace in the region.

It is also a question of if war weariness and that the Left/liberal forces stayed away hoping that the Democrats will end the war if they are seated as the ruling party in November. Obama has come to the position he is in a nominee in large part because of a false illusion that he is the "anti-war" candidate. All evidence has determined that he will continue to prosecute wars abroad, expanding the front in Afghanistan and a new one into Pakistan.

The Anti-Capitalist Block has one of the largest contingents and continued to grow as the march goes forward. The ACB is not that different from previous anarchist/anti-authoritarian contingents. But what is positive is that its organizers and the bulk of its participants thought strategically about 1) raising the political profile of revolutionary libertarian politics 2)not wanting to recreate de-politicized caricatures of "anarchism" 3) attempted to make this public presence a space open to those not capable for various reasons to engage in more direct action, ie. families with children, those who are physically challenged, working people under attack.

The ACB also, never acted to counter the more direct action organizing. But the purpose of the ACB was not to engage in such actions either. Its presence was a political one and never sought to become a support mechanism for pure physical confrontation. It was only one part of the broader goal of creating a conscious social revolutionary movement against the Systems of capitalism and the State.

The legal and permitted march lasted for several hours often going at a snails pace. thousands of police on bikes, in riot gear, on horse back, and on various vehicles lined the streets or massed at intersections.

At one point a group of White male student types emerged with pro-Sadrist banners. ACB members argued that Sadr does not represent an anti-imperialism or a liberation movement. While Sadr represents an anti-US politic, the Sadr movement is reactionary in its professed political vision and if given the ability on a mass scale would seek to eliminate opposition and dissent just as it has in areas it currently controls in Iraq. In Basra, Sadrist militia have attacked mixed gender student groups, beaten opposition members, and outlawed behavior that does not conform to their (Sadrist) dictates. The American Sadrists state that the ACB participants are racists, just like the working class in this country. Like many authoritarian Left sects, this odd pro-Sadr contingent thinks that an "anti-US" position somehow opens up space for positive social organizing to emerge. But just like their authoriatarin Left sect counterparts, these pro-Sadrists represent attempts to limit free movements.

As the march winds down the protesters disperse. Street fighting soon emerges in various parts of St. Paul.

Through out the day reports come in that delegates buses have been disabled or rerouted.

Mass arrests take place. But there are also several daring un-arrests as protesters snatch back those who are grabbed by cops. One night time news report show a cop dragging a protester off the street when another protester does a flying leap into the cop, knocking him down, and freeing the guy who would have been arrested. Nice video!

FUNK THE WAR!!

FUNK THE WAR (FTW) is an SDS affiliated protest splinter bloc. About dancing on the grave of capitalism and war, the FTW dance party, had no intention of just steppin' to a regulated beat. As a result the Freedom Road Socialist Organization-Fight Back!, who were the main organizers of the mass march, told FTW they would not be allowed to pareticipate in the main marches and would have to leave the capital buildings lawn. FTW danced itself out of the vincinity and was confronted by police.

"War is a waste of our youth! Funktocracy is in the streets!"



video

Anti Capitalist Bloc Video

From the 1st day of protest in St. Paul. Bloc during main anti-War, anti-RNC marches.

The ACB started with near 70 persons from different anti-authoritarian, revolutionary syndicalist, and anarchist organizations. The ACB swelled at it's height to over 200. Because of its dynamism, energy and avowedly revolutionary politics, young and old jumped in and participated in the chants and the handing out of literature. The ACB became one of the loudest and energetic sectors of the march.

St. Paul Police Conduct Mass Preemptive Raids Ahead of Republican Convention

Tue, 02 Sep 2008 07:43:28
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! among the arrested


Armed groups of police in the Twin Cities have raided more than half-a-dozen locations since Friday night in a series of “preemptive raids” before the Republican National Convention. The raids and detentions have targeted activists planning to protest the convention, as well as journalists and videographers documenting police actions at protests.

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