Noise Demo in Solidarity with the Nationwide Prisoner Strike

Join us to send solidarity and support to striking workers behind bars.  Bring noisemakers, drums, banners, and your friends!

Tuesday, August 21st 7:00 PM
Juvenille Justice Services Center
91 N 48th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19139

#August21 #Prisonstrike

Flyer

Submit Writings!

from Writings from Occupy ICE Philadelphia

Hello everyone,

This site is meant to be a clearing space for writing, analysis, propaganda, pamphlets, photo essays and whatever else movement ephemera emerges from the chaos of Occupy ICE Philadelphia. Please submit any and all such materials here. We will be working over the next few days to organize, collect, and bring together materials already produced, as well as spruce up this site. But for now, it’s a living document and a work in progress.

Thanks!

The Archivist

A Message from Camp to the Coalition- August 9, 2018

from Writings from Occupy ICE Philadelphia

What follows is a group statement from the OccupyICE encampment, currently occupying space in front of Arch St Methodist Church. This statement does not reflect the view of everyone at the encampment, however it is based on the general line of unity within the camp, arrived at through days of conversation and created through a cooperative writing and editing process.

We are writing to the coalition of organizations that inaugurated the OccupyICEPHL encampment at 8th and Cherry on July 2nd.  We recognize the work and resources deployed to initiate that encampment and hold it for three days in the face of direct confrontation with the Philadelphia Police Department.  There was also a great deal of political and press work done by the coalition in that time and over the following weeks and we are sure there were a lot of interventions behind the scenes to sustain the City Hall encampment to #EndPARS that we are ignorant of. We are grateful for this work and it is undeniable that we would not have gotten this far without it.

A lot has happened and many waves of organizers have passed through OccupyICE since those first few days.  OccupyICE members who remain on the ground today have had very limited contact and few direct relationships with the coalition in that time, and there are real questions about who the coalition is and what its relationship to OccupyICE as an umbrella organizing body is given that distance.  These questions have unsurprisingly also dominated discussions within the coalition meetings. Similarly, many difficult and problematic class dynamics have come up between coalition members who have largely decamped, organizers who have remained engaged with and close to OccupyICE but have access to housing and electronic communication with other organizers and access to other resources, and the many homeless and impoverished comrades living at the camp.

It may be confusing to some in the coalition what happened between the 2nd and 3rd encampment and why many in OccupyICE chose to support the continuation of the camp in a new location.  We could spend a lot of time explaining the diverse political motives behind the move, but to put it most simply, at the time of the PARS victory, almost the entire camp of 30+ people were unhoused and had been self-managing camp for almost two weeks with bare bones logistical support, while participating and initiating a campaign of escalating actions during the final week of the campaign.  In that time the comrades that joined and became the core of OccupyICE, and who ultimately pushed the PARS campaign over the finish line, rapidly developed a community, political consciousness, intitiative, strategy and leadership.  In the final days of the city hall encampment, very few of the comrades on the ground were willing to stop the occupation and give up their organizational base.  Additionally, members of OccupyICE who are unhoused had no option to “go home,” or even to vanish from the public sphere and enjoy the relative safety and anonymity that most residents of large cities can enjoy.  These comrades are on the streets and are now known by the police to have participated in forceful and militant demonstrations for immigrant rights, in a very real sense, these comrades have committed to the struggle and there is no turning back for them as long as the continue living on the streets of Philadelphia.

The 3rd encampment has survived less than a week, and comrades are currently literally sleeping on the sidewalk, in the rain with no shelter and a very limited supply and support base. Without committed support from other organisations, Occupy ICE will not be able to set up a safe, clean and stable encampment — it should be considered that the more the coalition is stalled on a way forward, and the further it drifts from its street presence, the more real damage is done to the bodies and mental health of real comrades who have maintained that street presence despite feeling forgotten about, and even at times disrespected.

In fact, what some of you should find most startling is that these comrades are still committed to the fight.  We are already mobilized around the Shut Down Berks and Abolish ICE campaigns and desire to continue waging that fight.  Homeless organizers have also articulated and begun developing a campaign against Stop-and-Frisk and have many ideas around pushing politically on housing and other issues effecting the homeless.  The camp is politically conscious, decidedly working-class and proletarian, multi-racial, multi-gendered and intergenerational.

Politically, we feel the camp has a great deal to offer any political alliance.  We have demonstrated the willingness and skills necessary to occupy indefinitely with minimal material support.  We have demonstrated the ability to sucessfully initiate militant demonstrations and disruptions with very little advanced planning or resources.  We have demonstrated a great deal of tenacity, fearlessness, creativity and independence of action. We think the camp, in making strikes against the power of ICE and the PPD, and in its ability to accomodate a large diversity of tactics, is an invaluable base of operations for an ongoing street movement. We have persevered through the resourcefulness and initiative, at a small-group level, of small autonomous groups of highly-skilled and creative individuals taking whatever action seems politically or logistically best-suited to a given situation. What we have left over from losing our numbers, two homes, most of our shit and a lot of outside support has in large part been held together by these individuals, whose work in Occupy ICE has been a radicalising and motivating experience for everybody on the ground here, themselves included. In fact, far from needing political education or organisation by the coalition, we believe that any given coalition member could become a more capable, self-sustaining, initiative-oriented and radical organising force by learning from and working with these comrades at the street level. We have.

Organizers and cadre coming into prolonged contact with the encampment will have their class politics and analysis challenged and sharpened, should they be willing to listen and learn from comrades who have been actually living on the bottom, in the front lines of late capitalism. All of us have learned and grown tremendously, have been inspired, challenged, frequently uncomfortable, and (we hope) permanently changed by the experience.  We have also demonstrated a strong capacity for doing street level organizing and outreach.  During the last week of the OccupyICE city hall encampment, we demonstrated the ability to serve as a militant ally/umbrella for other left organizations, as we linked our demonstrations with ADAPT, MOVE, REAL Justice and the struggle for Puerto Rican independence.  In that time we also distributed untold thousands of zines and fliers in direct street level outreach.

We understand that personal conflicts exist regarding drugs and alcohol use on site, and that for many open conflict can be disturbing, even triggering. We obviously support anyone in recovery from substance or mental health troubles that were stirred up by the camp. Perhaps this kind of support work is something the coalition, with its experienced organizers and its ties to non-profits, is perfectly positioned to provide and offer. But we do not believe that this is the only issue keeping people from the camp, nor do we believe it is a major political divide. We want to meet the coalition where it’s at, and interface with it as comrades.

However — this is not an offer to perform work narrowly in line with the strategy of organisations that are fully disengaged from the camp. The camp’s leadership has a level of political-strategic finesse that deserves to be taken seriously. The coalition, meanwhile, has not proven to be the most efficient deployment of the deep levels of creativity, power, organizational experience and revolutionary fire represented by its members. Meetings have seemingly become conflictual and demobilizing: after the last meeting, one of the central organizers in the coalition resigned in disgust and frustration, while the critiques that caused them to do so were treated as bad-faith “wrecking” behavior. This level of tension and burnout is not a desirable result from anyone’s perspective: we also think it’s unnecessary.

From the perspective of those of us still on the ground, there needs to be a renewed strategy about acheiving the remaining goals of the coalition (Shut Down Berks / Abolish ICE / making sure PARS expires / Ending Stop and Frisk).  To date we have heard no proposals that includes a role for the militant core of the occupation.  There seem to be limited opportunities to re-establish an occupation or blockade targeting Berks in Philadelphia and though we have had serious internal conversations about reestablishing the blockade or otherwise interfering with ICE, we have not heard it proposed from any other organized body.  We are worried that the coalition is claiming OccupyICE in name only at this point and would rather continue the campaigns in a diminished and less intensive manner. We think that is an error, but by refusing to admit that such a diminishing is what the coalition wants, the coalition doubles down on this error by creating grounds for conflict, fragility and frustration in the gap between stated desires and actual actions. We believe that honesty and clarity of purpose, no matter what decision they lead to, from the total abolition of the coalition and refocusing on organizations’ autonomus projects to a commitment to totally reengaging with and rebuildling the camp, or anything in between, will greatly reduce tension, sectarian conflict and burn out among coalition organizers.

We are proposing moving forward with a strategy that centers occupation among other tactics around our political objectives, to both advance the campaigns as well as providing political cover and support for the autonomous working-class organizing coming out of the homeless community. If we do not re-establish an encampment that has the political backing of established organizations in Philadelphia we will lose all the political organization and momentum that we have built and the comrades who have put their lives on the line, believing in our cause, will be left to fend for themeselves and face the violence of the state, alone.  Obviously we don’t feel that is a principled political or ethical option, but we also don’t feel it is a strategic one.

We ask that the OccupyICE coalition will seriously consider our proposal and do us the courtesy of giving us a straightforward response, in a reasonable timeframe, about its level of commitment to these campaigns, so that we may make our own decisions moving forward.  Please remember that as these conversations wind their way through various organizations and commmittees, we are actually living on the street and our logistical support, our strength, our ability to organize and to mobilize is deteriorating with each passing day without sustained support from the activist community.  We also want to raise the question to the broader coalition of whether or not it is justified to continue claiming the mantle of OccupyICE if occupation is not being discussed as a tactic for acheiving our campaign goals.

We will have to make our own moves soon, and we hope that we can move together.

Occupation, Revolt, Power: The 1st Month of #OccupyICEPHL

from It’s Going Down

In the heat of struggle—and with the demands of security and safety—it’s very common that we don’t stop and record the actions, marches and political events occurring around us. Social movement historians often interview activists years after the fact, after nostalgia, popular sentiment and sectarian interpretations of the movement have hardened. As a result, we rarely get day by day accounts of movements until they can be reconstructed through official records, and thus have difficulty assessing the ebb and flow of tactics, escalations and direct actions that shape campaigns as they are ongoing.

It is with that in mind that we present this timeline of actions in and around OccupyICE Philadelphia that led to a major victory: the end of official data-sharing between ICE and the Philadelphia Police Department.

Timeline

July 2nd: After weeks of planning, a coalition of radical groups in Philadelphia hold a rally outside City Hall. Hundreds show up, and march to ICE offices at 8th and Cherry, where an occupation is spontaneously set up. At first the streets around the building are barricaded, but organizers negotiate with police to take down barricades and remain on the sidewalk, blocking the doors and driveways. This moment, in which activists in high-visibility vests are seen taking down the barricades at police demand—and an altercation between organizers afterwards—will be the source of ongoing tensions in the activist scenes of Philadelphia. Nevertheless, the space is bravely held and an occupation with tents and umbrellas is set up blocking ICE.

July 3rd: Police attack the encampment, arresting 29 protestors who link arms and stay in formation as they are arrested. PPD clears the main driveway and takes down all the structures. In defiance, protestors immediately rebuild, setting up umbrellas, tents and chairs in the intersection of 8th and Cherry Street. Jail support mobilizes. All arrested are released with citations.

July 4th: A vacation atmosphere pervades in camp as numbers swell with people off for the fourth. A small contingent marches down to Market Street to interrupt a July 4th parade. A banner reading “No one is illegal. Abolish ICE” is dropped from between two trees over 8th street. A GA is held.

July 5th: At around 12:00 PM, a hundred PPD attack and clear the rest of the camp, beating everyone, destroying materials, and arresting seven. A press conference arranged by the coalition for later that afternoon means there is a tremendous amount of local coverage of the attack. A GA held at 7PM draws more than 150 people, but core coalition organizers, burnt out from the last few days, announce their intention to decamp, and the GA ends in inaction. Meanwhile, however, a small contingent of protestors have set up a new encampment at City Hall to put pressure on the city to meet the movement’s first demand: end PARS, the data sharing agreement between PPD and ICE. A pamphlet critiquing camp organizers, “An Anarchist Report Back and Some Embedded Critiques of #OccupyICE Philadelphia”, is published.

July 6th: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney¬who campaigned on anti-Trump rhetoric and making Philadelphia a sanctuary city, takes a terrible beating in the press—thanks in large part to the publicity work of the coalition—for the attack on ICE protestors. This political pressure forces him to play nice, and he says publicly that the new encampment can stay. Where the first camp was surrounded at all times by police, PPD takes a hands off approach to the City Hall encampment.

July 7th: The new encampment begins building out infrastructure. Banners and tarps go up. Posters are wheatpasted around downtown. A queer dance party is held at camp, pirating power from city hall.

July 8th: A newlywed immigrant couple comes down to camp in their wedding attire to demand Kenney end PARS and express solidarity and support. A number of unhoused folks who live in and around city hall join the movement and begin to call the camp home.

July 9th: Kenney meets with campers and immigrant rights activists, in particular organizers from Juntos, who have been waging the fight against PARS for almost a decade and who set the entire stage for this struggle, to discuss demands. The meeting is inconclusive, but rumors start to circulate that PARS’ days are numbered. A camp kitchen and first aid tent are established to help organize donations and activity.

July 10th: A mass meeting at the Friends center sees more than a hundred folks debating the way forward. At that meeting a mass march is called for August 4th. Twice daily General Assemblies are established at the camp.

July 11th: Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner calls for an end for ICE access to PARS, increasing the political pressure. A workshop at anarchist bookshop The Wooden Shoe, led and attended by camp organizers of different ideological stripes, calls for unity of action between socialist, communist and anarchist communities. Nevertheless, sectarian tension continues unabated within the activist scene. Meanwhile, tension increases between middle-class and unhoused organizers, as facts of life on the streets—fighting, drug use, serious mental illness—have to be dealt with at camp.

July 12th: The city requests a meeting with ICE officials on the future of PARS data sharing. A banner reading “End PARS /End Family Detention/Abolish ICE” is dropped out of a city hall window above the camp.

July 13th: City Council is called in for a closed special session to be briefed by the city’s legal team on PARS. Confidence grows inside camp and in the larger activist community that PARS will soon come to an end. Camp participates in #OneMillionFlames, a nationwide solidarity vigil for detained and deported families.

July 14th: DHS Director Kirstjen Nielsen gives a speech at the Loews Hotel and is heckled by occupiers. Protestors demonstrate and pass out literature outside the event.

July 15th: The Shut Down Berks coalition holds a vigil outside the Berks Detention Center. Around 250 people attend. Eleven protestors are arrested sitting in, blocking the road into the center.

July 16th: Over the weekend the makeup of the camp has decidedly swung towards unhoused activists. Many people who have been active in the first two weeks are burnt out and consider the camp too difficult to organize in. Simultaneously, however, the unhoused activists have gotten to know each other and have gotten organized, and the amount of drama and chaos at the camp begins to drop dramatically.

July 17th: Pressure continues to ramp on Kenney in the local press. Activists bring a screen printer to camp and make dozens of “Mayor Kenney end PARS” t-shirts. Friendly Fire Collective publishes “Beyond Occupation.” The West Philly Orchestra comes to camp and gives a concert.

July 18th: The first of a number of “Noise Demos” occurs outside ICE offices during rush hour, as 25 or so activists shut down 8th and Cherry for a few hours and loudly disrupt ICE’s morning operations. The Kenney administration once again meets with ICE. The mayor publicly states that the reason for the meetings is the suspicion that ICE has been violating the PARS contract—a fact activists and immigrants have known for years, but which provides political cover for ending the contract.

July 20th: Another noise demo during rush hour again disrupts ICE operations. A very large tarp is put up covering the entirety of the encampment, and the encampment begins to take its more permanent shape as one giant tent. This is fortunate timing, as it rains incredibly heavily the next three days.

July 22nd: Mike Africa delivers food to camp grown in the MOVE garden, and pledges the support of the MOVE organization. Another noise demo marches from camp to ICE offices and again disrupts their morning.

July 23rd: Refuse Fascism holds a demonstration outside Mike Pence’s visit at the Union League, a few hundred show up to block the street and march. Philly Anarchy Jawn publishes “This Movement is Not Ours, It’s Everybody’s”.

July 24th: In an unplanned, spontaneous demonstration, camp residents shut down the city hall traffic circle for two hours. Comrades chant for Nia Wilson, murdered in a racist attack in Oakland. The camp holds an open mic night.

July 25th: Escalation continues at the camp, as demonstrators attempt to deliver a letter to the mayor at 11:30. In an unforced error, the city shuts down the public offices, creating scenes of chaos in City Hall as security attacks protestors. Demonstrators come out and shut down the traffic circle with comrades who remained in the camp. In the afternoon, campers once again shut down the traffic circle. In the evening, Puerto Rican Independentistas come down to camp, and in solidarity the camp shuts down the traffic circle for the third time that day, marching under the slogan: “Free Puerto Rico / End PARS.”

July 26th: ADAPT activists lock down city hall demanding housing for disabled people in Philadelphia. They are supported by a chain of folks from camp, who keep attention on their protest and escort them out of city hall. The camp again shuts down the traffic circle during rush hour. Pam Africa, who has been scheduled to give a talk, gives her speech through a megaphone at the police line, as occupiers hold an impromptu teach-in in the traffic circle.

July 27th: Mayor Kenney announces that the city will let PARS expire! The camp shuts down the traffic circle yet again in a victory lap. Coalition organizers come to camp to hold a press conference celebrating the victory. Kenney announces that the camp, with its extensive infrastructure and materials, will be evicted by 2PM the next day. A previously called mass meeting at William Way spends two and a half hours debating procedure, and many activists who attended leave the meeting and go home rather than return to camp. Celebrations are muted as eviction looms. Plans to decamp are debated but not solidified.

July 28th: In an amazing feat of organization, the camp—three weeks of structures, donations, materials and personal possessions—is struck and removed by the 2PM deadline. A third camp is established next to Municipal Services Plaza, with a new demand: end Stop and Frisk. Comrades point out that stop and frisk punishes the poor and non-white communities in much the same way PARS attacks immigrants: using minor infractions and racial profiling to criminalize entire communities. Camp residents form the new organization Homeless Against Stop and Frisk.

July 29th: The new camp expands with a big tarp, and is quickly almost as solid and well-established physically as the previous one. However, exhaustion from weeks of escalation coupled with confusion around the move leads to lower numbers. The space is largely dominated by organizers from Homeless Against Stop and Frisk. A core organizer is interviewed on the It’s Going Down Podcast.

July 30th: Camp builds out a kitchen. The Department of Homeless Services issues a pro-forma eviction notice to the new camp-it even has the wrong date on it-as they claim is not a protest but a non-political homeless camp. Camp makes banners and signs, and discusses what to do.

July 31st: Declaring a “Service Day”, police destroy, “clean,” and evict the new encampment, arresting four. Campers shut down traffic and march on Broad street. Occupiers move across the street and reestablish camp in front of the Arch St United Methodist Church, but no structures are allowed. A direct action takes place at Comcast headquarters against their collaboration with ICE, as part of a national day of action called by Cosecha. Seven are arrested. A vigil is held at the DAs office for Michael White, a Black caviar worker who stabbed and killed a white developer in self-defense.

August 1st: A contentious mass meeting sees frustrations aired between campers and coalition members. A clear divide is forming in the movement between those who support continued occupation and activists who would rather focus on other efforts.

August 2nd: Philly REAL Justice rally to take down the Rizzo statue turns into an impromptu march to end stop and frisk, which takes the streets around city hall. Despite these actions, without shelter, and with collapsing support from the activist community, numbers at camp begin to dwindle.

August 3rd: Another rowdy march of about twenty activists takes the streets, shutting down traffic and intersections for almost two hours to end stop and frisk. Philadelphia Weekly publishes “Redemption, Camaraderie, Drugs and Fights Inside Occupy City Hall.” A “No More PARS” victory party is held in West Philadelphia, however, invitations only go out via Facebook and no transportation is provided from camp.

August 4th: The Mass March for a Sanctuary City—called three weeks previously—sees more than 150 people take the streets through downtown Philadelphia, including blocking the ICE building, and ends with a victory rally at City Hall. Organizers talk about the movement and what the future holds. A banner drop over the highway reads “End Stop & Frisk”

August 6th: An attempted re-occupation of the ICE building fails as masked protestors build barricades but lack the numbers to hold off police. A noise demo shuts down traffic at ICE headquarters for about an hour. Reports that fascists Charlie Kirk and Candance Owens are eating breakfast in center city see the demo turn and march down, disrupting their breakfast and giving Kirk an ice water bath that makes national news. The Philadelphia Partisan publishes “We Need People Here To Be Fighting

August 7th: Weekly REAL Justice rally against the Rizzo statue again turns into an end stop and frisk march, as protestors take the streets for an hour.

August 9th: A mass meeting establishes a weekly Sunday GA at the camp to continue strategizing for next steps. The camp releases “Statement from the Camp to the Coalition.”

August 11th: The city’s “Philly Free Streets” program sees Broad Street, site of the current encampment, turned into a pedestrian zone for the morning. Mayor Kenney, inaugurating the event with a power walk, is heckled by activists from Homeless Against Stop and Frisk, who chase him with a megaphone.

August 12th: Shut Down Berks Coalition holds another vigil outside the facility. Homeless Against Stop and Frisk sends campers in support and solidarity.

Conclusion

That brings us to today. In many ways the camp feels isolated and weak, but the fact that we’re still out here at all is a major achievement. It’s not yet clear how (or whether) the energy captured and organized in the last month in this city will turn into a broader campaign against ICE, or whether the turn toward police abolition and homeless advocacy work initiated by Homeless Against Stop and Frisk will prove decisive.

Whatever the future holds, we have won something significant here in Philadelphia with the end of PARS, and perhaps more importantly we have found each other in the streets. Strong and serious bonds have formed between a wide array of activists, organizers and troublemakers. We hope this account of the process proves useful to proliferating such struggles around the world.

With love, rage and solidarity
-Philly Anarchy Jawn

Friendly Fire August newsletter is out

From Friendly Fire

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The newest edition of the Friendly Fire newsletter is out with some updates on #OccupyICEPHL, what the Philly chapter is up to, and a devotional about doing crimes with Jesus.

Read here

And subscribe!

IWW Pickets in Solidarity with Union in Seattle

from Instagram

Fellow workers holding it down outside of the Philly GCI office this morning in Solidarity with workers in Seattle facing a branch closure in response to Union activity.
Call GCI today at (617) 338-7800 and let them know what you think of their union busting!

Rebellion and Possibility: Voices in the Anti-ICE Struggle

from It’s Going Down

The following is the introduction to Vol. 1 of the new zine Rebellion and Possibility: Voices in the Anti-ICE Struggle. Vol. 1 of the zine can be found here. Vol. 2 will be released shortly.

Download Booklet HERE

“COMBINE, INTENSIFY, FEDERATE: Radical struggle and the anti-ICE movement”

By Redrick of the Radical Education Department

0. Overview

The nationwide rebellion against ICE is a pivotal moment in American radical struggle.  It burst forth as part of a historic, massive wave of revolt that has been shaking the US for the past year and a half.

But the anti-ICE rebellion is helping to radicalize that struggle.  In the face of the fascism that ICE embodies, the struggle combines some of the most radical currents of struggle in the US: antifascism, pro-immigrant and anti-xenophobia struggles, movements for police and prison abolition, and revolutionary socialism, communism, and anarchism.

Through that combination, radical struggle is intensifying.  It is developing a combative and militant stance against cops, prisons, the state, and the capitalist class war they all exist serveIn their attacks on ICE facilities and beyond, they are spreading a recognition that ICE is a symptom of a systemic capitalist domination, and that the solution itself must be a new social order.  We must not forget, though, that the explosion of anti-ICE actions in May, June, and July is only the latest in inspiring struggles against xenophobia, deportation, and white supremacy, struggles that have been led by detainees, immigrant-rights groups, and the anti-police and anti-prison movements for many years.  Those uprisings have laid the foundations for this work and they continue to lead it in some of the most inspiring and powerful examples of solidarity.

But the anti-ICE movement is at a crossroads.  It has won important victories, like disrupting the operation of ICE in many cities.  Here in Philly a coalition has forced the mayor to end the city’s sharing of information with ICE as it hunts for undocumented workers.  At the same time, occupations are under constant, brutal attack.  They are being swept away, and the limits of occupation as a tactic are becoming painfully clear.

More importantly: the forces of revolt are running up against the limits of their too-narrow social relations.  In other words: the rebellion being unleashed by the combining of revolutionary currents is more radical and more powerful than the movement knows what to do with.  Its inner dynamics are pushing it further left: from legal marches and protests to illegal ones; from there to occupations, blockades, and clashes with pigs; from there to demands to transform structural elements of the police state.  Local uprisings have found themselves, time and again, facing the possibility of overtaking ICE offices, overwhelming police forces, and spreading the disruption of capital across cities and across the country.  But they usually stop short.  The piece “Portland, OR: Report Back from #FamiliesBelongTogether March” below puts it:

We had the numbers to overrun, in that moment, and re-barricade the building. The crowd seemed confused about suddenly finding themselves in a situation where they have more power then police. As the police moved their cars into the street and got in formation the crowd just kind of gently moved back. the moment was gone, the spear tip of praxis had dissipated.

What possibilities are opening up for deepening radical struggle?  How can the explosions of radicalism and militancy be developed and channeled into bigger, more powerful organizations?  What can we learn from each other’s struggles so far?  The first two volumes of this zine try to help ask and answer these questions.

First, Vol. 1 offers an introduction to the two volumes.  That piece—“Combine, intensify, federate: Radical struggle and the anti-ICE movement”—places the anti-ICE uprising in the context of capital’s regressive, fascistic, and uneven development over the last four decades.  It ultimately asks: what’s next?  How do we shift into the next phase of revolutionary struggle?

The introduction points to two major possibilities: (a) multiplying local “direct action committees” to coordinate the struggle beyond occupations, (b) and—above all—building a nationwide federation of anti-ICE struggles to deepen, broaden, and intensify the attack on ICE and further our revolutionary goals.

Then, Vols. 1 and 2 collect some of the writings generated by those involved in the anti-ICE movement over the last year.  The selection is explicitly from those expressing radical, and especially anti-authoritarian, perspectives.  Our aim is to help share some of the inspiring and essential ideas and lessons that radicals are generating.  The hope is that, more and more, we can move past this powerful but still fragmented phase into one in which our struggles are federated across the country.

This zine is radically incomplete. The anti-ICE struggle is producing an avalanche of powerful and important reflectionsstrategy, tactics, analysisand this is barely a scraping. But I hope it contributes to developing the struggle.

With this in mind, the first two volumes of the zine are only a start.  I hope to continue this work of sharing the voices of this crucially important struggle. But the project was never “mine” to begin with. I rely on my comrades across the country and beyond, known and unknown to me, to produce more volumes that can help collect and connect the ideas cascading out of this movement.

The combination of radical struggles in the anti-ICE revolt is intensifying and broadening revolutionary power in this country.  Sharing the ideas, experiences, and strategies of the many disconnected parts of the movement will be essential if we are to transition from rebellion to a revolutionary movement.  These zines hope to contribute to that transition.

I. Context: Capitalism in Crisis

ICE is a symptom.  It is one of the most brutal arms of the emerging fascism in the United States that is driving towards a white ethnostate, escalating attacks on the working class, and increasing militarization and aggression of police forces so they can expand their attack, imprisonment, and murder of those deemed “threats”—all for the enrichment and preservation of the white supremacist, patriarchal ruling class.

But fascism is on the rise today only because capitalism is failing.  In the 1970s and 1980s the ruling class tried desperately to halt falling profits and slowing growthand the radical struggles that were shaking capital’s foundations: the global, overlapping, radical struggles of people of color, women, LGBTQ communities, indigenous people, and workers.  The bourgeoisie used every economic and state weapon it could to restore profitability.  It murdered and imprisoned members of radical struggles and invented mass incarceration to pacify Black community struggle.  Over the next few decades, women, immigrants, and people of color were targeted for increasingly brutal control, rolling back the historic legal, political, and economic gains those groups had won through struggle.  The state, managers, and capitalists attacked strikes, moved manufacturing away from unionized workers (inside and outside the country), and shattered unions.  Bosses froze wages for the next forty years.  They automate to cut jobs, shorten breaks, increase hours, eliminate pensions and full-time positions, and push workers ever faster and harder to maximize profit.  And through a wave of deregulation, corporate and financial firms could unleash their blind, catastrophic drive to expand. It is no surprise that in the 1980s and 1990s profits jumped and the income and wealth of the ruling class skyrocketed while the working class languished.

This model—freeze wages, decimate unions and radical struggles, strengthen white supremacist and patriarchal social structures, deregulate capital—is called “neoliberalism.”  It means class war.  It is a program of regression.  The ruling class tries to destroy what radical struggles have won over the past hundred years and concentrate more and more power and wealth in the hands of the white supremacist patriarchal bourgeoisie.  This development was uneven.  Feminist, LGBTQ, worker, student, and anti-police and anti-prison movements have mounted important and powerful resistance—though often fitfully and often in a disconnected way.  All the while, the ruling class’ neoliberal project has continued to crush working people and the environment.  The radical left has been left shattered and weakened by the violent onslaught of recent decades.

But capitalism failed to solve its most basic problems.  The working class is the source of all profits.  Firms compete with each other by pushing workers harder, faster, and longer.  The goal is to increase productivity—automating production, cutting jobs, lowering labor costs.  But the more this happens, the more profit rates fall.  Capitalists turn to finance for salvation.  Extremely risky gambling by finance firms, predatory lending: all this was meant to overcome the falling profit rate and slowing of growth.  And this led to 2007: the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

And the more that the working class, with all the dominated communities that comprise it, are being squeezed, the more they are connecting and fighting back.  Shattered by the 1980s, the working class has been slowly and unevenly developing its power to fight once again.  We see that power growing fitfully in the Global Justice Movement in the 1990s, in Occupy after the financial meltdown, in militant feminist and radical LGBTQ revolt, in the explosion of anti-white supremacy struggles in Ferguson, Baltimore and beyond, in the drive towards police and prison abolition, and in growing waves of wildcat worker revolt by teachers.  By trying to tame its exploited population, the ruling class is driving the working class to fight back.  In the GJM, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and well beyond, we see currents of struggle connecting and combining, developing the capacity for mass revolt.

Fascism comes from the failures of neoliberalism.  The goal of fascism is to divert the anger and discontent that capitalism creates in order to save capitalism from itself.  Trump’s push for a white ethnostate through ICE and anti-immigration policies are meant to rally white workers and small business owners, squeezed more and more by neoliberal capitalism, to support the ruling class that attacks them.  Immigrants, people of color, women, activists, other countries become scapegoats.  This sets Trump free to deregulate even more, and to offer historic tax cuts to the ruling class.  We shouldn’t be fooled by Trump’s spats with companies.  Fascism is good for business.

All this means that American fascism did not begin with Trump.  It is a fundamental reflex of capitalism itself.  The more its internal contradictions start tearing it apart, the more it tends to turn to fascism to save itself.  State fascism’s roots lie deep in the desperate neoliberal project of the 70s and 80s.  And it mobilizes a white supremacy and patriarchy that are certainly not new, and that have been a part of police and military attacks on people of color in this country and abroad for a very long time.  ICE’s attacks on immigrants are a result of this fundamental capitalist dynamic.  It is the most direct weapon—alongside the police and prison systems—of fascist capitalism.

But the revolt against ICE is a key development in US radical struggle.  It is an important step in the intensification of working class rebellion that has been developing unevenly for decades.

II. Anti-ICE as Intensification of Radical Struggle in the US

In the anti-ICE movement, radical struggle is intensifying in a few basic ways.

1. Connecting and combining the forces of revolt

If the radical left was shattered by the ruling class by the 1980s, the anti-ICE movement is helping to connect and combine currents of revolt against fascist capitalism. In the attacks on ICE, antifascism, pro-immigrant and anti-xenophobia groups, and movements for police and prison abolition are coordinating with socialist, communist, and anarchist struggles.  In the face of fascism’s attacks, the radical left is converging and combining its power. 

2. Revealing radical opportunities

In the revolt against ICE, widespread outrage is connecting to revolutionary challenges to state power.  Because the movement is so visible, it is helping to spread an awareness of the vulnerabilities of the state to mass struggle.  It is obvious that the state is struggling to respond to barricades, blockades, occupations, various forms of civil disobedience, and beyond.  The fractures in its power are becoming more and more obvious.  With that awareness comes the potential to push further—to experimentally develop our power to destabilize capitalist and state power.

3. Increasing militancy

This revolt is moreover a step in an unevenly growing militancy.  In Occupy and the Global Justice Movement, clashes with the police were generally marginal.  In Occupy Philly, for example, many thought cops were part of the working class that should be respected.  That is much less the case in the attacks on ICE.  The collaboration between pigs and ICE is clear; cops are attacking protesters to ensure the deportation machine continues to function.  And so cops are generally seen as the class weapon against workers, women, and people of color that they are.  As a result, the wave of revolt is overall a more aggressive one than in the past; overall the movement is much less willing to passively obey, and even willing to clash with pigs to keep ICE offices closed.

In fact, the growth of militancy is outstripping the movement itself.  In the piece “Portland, OR: Report Back from #FamiliesBelongTogether March,” the author points out that anti-ICE actions escalated more quickly and more powerfully than the movement itself was ready for.  Protestors suddenly faced the prospect that they could overrun the cops and take over an ICE facility—and balked at that power.  We see something similar in “Abolitionist Contingent Breaks Away from #FamiliesBelongTogether” and again and again in the movement: the struggle’s inner dynamics push it further and further left, making it more and more militant, but without a clear path for developing the new powers and orientation.

This contradiction—between exploding militancy and power and the retreat before it—is a sign of more radical things to come.  But it is also a signal: there is much work to be done to organize and express that power more fully and more radically.

Another important part of the growth of militancy is a potentially widespread disillusionment with “progressive” politics.  While radicals struggle on the ground for the safety of immigrants, the Democratic Party is wringing its hands in terror over whether the slogan “abolish ICE” will hurt its chances in the midterm elections.  All the while, cops in “progressive” cities with democratic mayors are beating activists.  The Democratic Party is more and more obviously bankrupt; it is increasingly clear that “progressive” politics is no solution to the problems of capitalism.  Does it make a difference whether the cops beating you over the head to protect white supremacists are sent by a democrat or a republican?  A popular outcry is giving rise to a growing sense of the need for a revolutionary challenge to the state and capital.

4. Revealing the systemic problem

Radicals are driving a popular realization about the systemic problem underlying ICE.  The movement is pushing popular outrage significantly to the left.  Calls to abolish ICE are being followed by popular discussions about the state’s long-standing white supremacy and about the corporations profiting off of ICE.  The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee points out below that ICE is merely one branch of a “prison-industrial-slave complex” inseparable from capitalism.

In other words, we’re experiencing a crucially important moment in the growth of revolutionary power.  But where do we go from here? 

III. The Writings Collected Here

The anti-ICE movement itself is at a crossroads.  Occupations are under attack or have already been swept clear of the offices they were occupying.  Important victories have been won, but the movement is reeling, trying to discover a path forward in disrupting and ending ICE.  What have we learned and how do we make the struggle more radical, more powerful, and more effective?

This collection of writings aims to help spur the planning of the next stage of the movement.  The struggle against ICE, while powerful, has also been largely disconnected.  Occupations and other actions have developed locally and too often without formalized links of communication and resource-sharing across sites.  This fracturing limits us in important ways.  We tend to work in “silos” in which the vast and rich set of ideas from one site develops in separation from other sites.  We’re often left reinventing the wheel or missing insights that could help groups or actions survive and grow.

The goal of this zine, then, is to help forge the links between people and groups—to help connect ideas and experiences, formalize lines of communication, and build a more federated and coordinated struggle.  We provide links to each article, and where possible, to the names of authoring groups too.  Like in a nuclear reactor, huge amounts of power can be released when we build machines to combine fissile but disconnected materials.

This zine also tries to help connect the anti-ICE struggle with a broader history.  The collection below quickly makes obvious that the movement against ICE did not start in the summer of 2018.  It includes statements by and about radical immigration struggles in 2017—though the history of such struggle stretches back much further.  If we want to build the most powerful struggle against ICE possible, we need to learn from the vast storehouse of experiences, tactics, and strategies of groups that have been engaged in the fight against borders and xenophobia for decades.

With these zines, I don’t pretend to be “representing” the groups and individuals involved in the movement.  The zines overemphasize writings from Philadelphia, since that is where they were created; and they overrepresent struggles in the Pacific Northwest, given the leading role played by detainees and activists there in the recent struggle.  I also don’t pretend that these are even the most “important” that have been written.  Much more has to be done to collect and share the work radicals are doing and to correct the inevitable limits of this zine.  The pieces gathered here are only one possible selection, and many others can and should be made.

IV. Some Tentative Lessons and Possibilities

What have we learned?  Where do we go from here?

Here are a few tentative reflections.  They try to draw some lessons from the writings below, from my own experiences in the movement and in past movements, and from the movement generally.  But they are experimental and incomplete.  They await the additions and corrections of other comrades.

1. Increasing International Solidarity: Between Bars, Across Borders

In the fight against ICE, detainees, activists, and immigrant rights groups have led the way in creating possibilities for revolutionary international solidarity.  This solidarity has taken inventive tactical form.  Detainees are producing statements and exposés and engaging in hunger strikes on the inside, coordinating their efforts with political agitation on the outside.  The terror of the detention centers is clear from the threats against detainees for their hunger strikes.  (See the statement from detainees below in the piece “Tacoma, WA: At Least 170 Detainees Launch Hunger Strike Against Family Separations.”)

The solidarity between activists, detainees, and immigrant communities generally is one of the most crucial dimensions of the anti-ICE movement.  International solidarity is essential in the fight against fascism.  Fascist leaders like Trump need to appeal to white supremacy, nationalism, and the danger of foreign “hordes” so they can drum up support for the ruling class and weaken the working class’ ability to resist.  And the ruling class needs racial and national divisions so that it can hyper-exploit some sectors of the workforce—like immigrants and women—thereby driving down wages and working-conditions for all workers.

The anti-ICE movement contains the germ of an emerging and growing revolutionary internationalism. It opens up new paths beyond the occupations, opening the possibility for strengthening and multiplying links across borders and through detention center walls. How can we develop these links more?  How can we help create even more radical working class solidarity between immigrants and citizens?

2. Increasing the Combination of Struggles

Radicals are not just developing solidarity internationally.  As noted above, the anti-ICE struggle combines some of the most revolutionary currents of struggle in the United States.  The Anti-ICE movement opens the door to developing this kind of radical combination. And by creating physical spaces of radical combination, Occupy ICE is creating opportunities to experimentally build intersectional coalitions and organizations, moving us past the shattered state of the radical US left.

Can further experimental coalitions or coalition actions be formed in the coming months to deepen these connections and build the bonds between groups? For example: What can we do to coordinate anti-ICE struggles with the August 21st prison strike?

(One possibility is to create a coalitional and federated system of “direct action councils.”  See below—“Beyond Occupation: The Direct Action Committee”—for more.)

3. Seeing the Power and Limits of Occupation

The revolt against ICE in 2018 is using occupation as its central tactic.  In fact, occupation has been perhaps the most basic tactic of mass struggle in the radical US left for two decades (in the Global Justice Movement, in Occupy, in squatters’ struggles against gentrification, in the wave of student revolt in 2008, etc.).

Occupation can be a powerful tool.  When done right, it can focus mass attention on an issue and temporarily disrupt the flow of business as usual in an office, school, business, or town or city.  It can also result in real class gains. Students occupying of a cafeteria played a major role in saving a number of jobs at the New School; in Philly, the anti-ICE occupation of City Hall helped end the sharing of information between the city and ICE. And as a comrade pointed out to me recently, occupations can be important places for otherwise separate radicals and groups to mix, sparking new ideas and possibilities.  For these reasons and others the occupations should be supported.

But as the articles below plainly show, this is also an extremely limited tactic.

First, it is basically reactive rather than active.  After a group or coalition first overtakes a space, it then must defend it against an enemy that knows precisely where it is at all times.  For this reason alone it is very difficult to consistently convert occupation into a project that builds radical power.

Second, occupation increasingly drains a movement.  The first general law of occupation in the US is this: the longer it exists, the more resources and energy it will need to continue to function.  The publicity that may have drawn larger numbers to a camp fades rapidly, along with the energy of comrades.  All but the most committed tend to drift away.  Police repression will tend to gradually ramp up—through undercover agents, direct assaults, and so on.   And the collected writings below show the major problems that occupations bring with them.  Combining long-term in public spaces with strangers often brings sexual, gender, and racial violence that must be shut down.  The “prefigurative space” of the camp, for all its good intentions, is riven by these social forces.

Thus, a camp needs constantly increasing inputs of energy and resources to keep people there and to ensure their safety and well-being.  The general law of occupation leads to the following conclusion.  The longer an occupation exists, the more the purpose of that occupation will tend to become simply surviving in the space, rather than mounting revolutionary programs and actions.

An important lesson learned from the fight against ICE as well as from Occupy is occupation as a partial tactic to be seen developmentally: as a phase that should be paired with a plan with and beyond it for aggressive, active attacks on capital and the state.

4. Beyond Occupation: Direct Action Committees

One possibility of moving beyond the occupation phase is this: coalitional direct action committees (DACs) for the struggle against ICE.  Such committees would help combine the radical groups working together in a locale, but remain largely independent from maintaining or creating an occupation.  They might work to simply coordinate direct actions against a host of sites well beyond the occupation site—businesses and banks profiting from ICE, for instance.

Such committees likely already informally exist in many anti-ICE struggles.  This is certainly true in Philly.  Here, a shifting core of radicals bridge a number of groups, coordinating and connecting those groups and their resources.  This happens in a largely ad hoc and accidental way.  But there is a possibility to formalize one or more direct action council across a city or town.  Councils need not be large or ambitious; just enough to connect a couple of members from sympathetic groups willing to share information and coordinate disruptive actions.  Such committees could be highly unpredictable to and deeply destabilizing to the functions of ICE and the systems that support it.

Direct action councils also provide a base for the radical federation of struggles in ways not bogged down in the details of occupation.  (See below, “Federation, federation, federation.”)

5. The Tactical “Toolbox”

The writings below showcase a wide array of tactics: occupying and/or blockading ICE offices; bailing out the detained; publicly embarrassing public officials; projecting anti-prison and anti-ICE messages on a wall at night; and beyond.  Oftentimes, movements or sites will develop their own toolboxes in separation.

It is crucially important to share tactics with each other.  Some of these tactics work better than others within certain situations.  It can be extremely time-consuming to develop that toolbox for a group or location, and very costly to discover the limits of some tactics over others.  The anti-ICE struggles point out the need to share information with each other, so we can minimize the amount each of us is reinventing the wheel—again, something that direct action councils are ideally designed for.

6. Federation, federation, federation

The major lesson I draw from the anti-ICE movement is this: the need for radical national federation.  A national focus is essential since ICE itself is national, and because the broader enemy—capital and its state—coordinates itself not on a local but a national and international level. For example: a number of banks (like Wells Fargo) and corporations (like Comcast) profit from ICE.  Attacking the profits of these firms requires something more than actions at one locale.

Loose informal networks of connections already exist between a number of sites through email, phone calls, websites, statements, and so on.  These loose networks, though, are partial and fragile.  The anti-ICE movement has a major opportunity to move beyond a merely local focus.  Popular outrage is still high, though it is waning; the fight against ICE struggle is nationwide, though it is being swept out of a number of camps.  The moment is ripe to more fully connect and coordinate the struggle on a national level—for example, via weekly national phone calls; national calls for action; websites or zines to share ideas, tactics, and strategies nationally; etc.

National federation (via direct action councils, e.g.) would mean moving the struggle beyond the focus on occupations, and developing a strategy for nationwide disruption.

V. Conclusion

The fight against ICE represents a major moment in the development of revolutionary power in the US.  But it faces a turning point: attacked by the state and undergoing its own inner radicalization, the anti-ICE movement confronts the need to evolve.  I hope these reflections, and the collection of writings that follow, can help connect some of those in struggle and help build towards the second, deeper, and broader phase.

No ICE!  No cops!  No borders!  No prisons!  No capitalism!

Solidarity forever!

Running Down the Walls 2018 Reportback

from Philly ABC

On August 5, 2018, around 90 people ran, jogged or walked 5K to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the incarceration of the Move 9. The route chosen for this event started in Fairmount Park and went past the zoo that members of the Move organization protested in 1973 and 1974 in support of animal rights. The route continued down 33rd street to the intersection of 33rd and Pearl, where the former Move headquarters was before it was bulldozed by the city within 24 hours of the arrest of the Move 9.

Photographs of the Move 9, flowers, and candles as well as a board to write messages was available for supporters to stop and pay their respects at the halfway point. People passing by who knew members of the Move 9 also stopped to pay their respects.

While the national Running Down the Walls event was held in June this year, the Philadelphia event was set in August in order to coincide with the Move 40th anniversary. For this reason, all of the incarcerated people who ran on August 5th are in Pennsylvania or surrounding regions. Many runners on the outside ran with signs displaying the names of either recipients of the Warchest or other US held political prisoners. Including both runners on the inside and outside, the event totaled around 90 participants.

Yoga began promptly at 9:30 am “to warm up our breath, mind and bodies” as yoga instructor Sheena Sood put it. The group then took off in three sections: walkers followed by joggers and finally by runners. This enabled a lot of interaction along the route as people encountered each other frequently. The route was shady to set of the warmth of the day, and refreshments were provided by Solidarity Food Not Bombs.

Together we raised almost $2000 that will be split between Move 9 legal defense and the ABCF Warchest. To close, we squeezed together for a group photo chanting “Free the Move 9, Free All Political Prisoners!”

 

Philadelphia, PA: #OccupyICE Gives Trust-Fund Troll Charlie Kirk First Bath Without Maid Present

from It’s Going Down

This morning, August 6th 2018 at 7:20 am, members of met at the corner of 8th and Cherry in front of the regional ICE office and Governor Wolf’s Philadelphia office in order to shut shit down and distribute information about the Berk’s Detention Center to people on their way to work. Berk’s County Residential Center is one of 3 family detention centers in America. They are a prison that has a history of assault from their “caretakers” towards the imprisoned children, medical neglect of infants and verbal abuse, not to mention they are operating without a license! Governor Wolf has the ability to order an emergency closure, and has proven to us and many other organizers, his bark is worse than his bite, considering he hasn’t done a damn thing. You’d think in an election year he’d at least try, right?

Once we shut down the road in front of the offices and distributed literature to everyone there, we moved further up the road to a busy intersection at 8th and Vine and blocked traffic for roughly 45 minutes. We reminded people in their cars that if they felt inconvenienced being stopping in traffic, imagine what life is like as a detained child in the Berks detention center for years? One guy left his car and joined in the protest, chiding people cursing us out that Black Lives Matter and we need to ! We are planning on seeing him again at an action tomorrow.

We received word from a comrade in center city that Charlie Kirk was having a pleasant meal with Candace Owens at a local brunch spot in the gayborhood and decided we were going to give them our best Philly welcome we could muster so early! We took the streets and marched there chanting “ABOLISH ICE” “SHUT DOWN BERKS” “WHOSE STREETS, OUR STREETS” and more. Once we got to where Charlie and Candace of Turning Point USA fame, also known as Coded Rascists USA, were eating we gave em a lil wave and immediately started chanting “1,2,3, Fuck the Bourgeois 4,5,6 Fuck the Bourgeois” until they came outside. We let them know just how much we appreciated their visit to Philly with a nice cold drink of water down Charlie’s head and an over easy egg to boot. Hope y’all had a great brunch! Police escorted Charlie and Candace away while we chanted, “NO GOOD COPS IN A RACIST SYSTEM” until they were gone.

We then took to the streets again and marched up Broad Street back to our #OccupyICE camp, reminding everyone we passed Berks must be shut down and we must put an end to stop and frisk!

Charlie Kirk Drenched and Egged While Eating Breakfast

from Instagram

A story of Turning Point USA in Philly; maybe they should turn away now (ya’ get it?) #NoFascistsinPhilly