About Philly Anti-Cap

Posts by Philly Anti-Cap

Monday July 26th: Letter-writing for Ronald Reed

from Philly ABC

ronald-reed.jpg

Join us in Clark Park this coming Monday for the next letter-writing event. Snacks and materials will be provided! We will be writing letters to extend our solidarity to Ron Reed, long-time civil rights activist and Black revolutionary who is fighting his conviction for which he was framed and given a life sentence. His birthday is August 31st, so if you are writing to him from home, please send him birthday greetings as well.

Ron is a former 60s civil rights activist. In 1969, Reed was among the students at St. Paul Central High School who demanded Black history courses and organized actions against racist teachers. He was also instrumental in helping to integrate college campuses in Minnesota. During this period, Reed began to look toward revolutionary theory and engage in political street theater with other young Black revolutionaries in the city of St. Paul.

Reed went on to join the Black United Front. In 1970, he was convicted of shooting an off-duty police officer during a bank expropriation and served 13 years in prison. Twenty-five years later, Reed was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after having a cold case of another police shooting pinned on him. He is now serving life in prison for the second conviction.

We will also be sending birthday cards to political prisoners with birthdays in August: Eric King (the 2nd), Bill Dunne (the 3rd), Hanif Bey (the 6th), Mutulu Shakur (the 8th), and Russell Maroon Shoatz (the 23rd).

July discussion: The Torture Garden

from Viscera

Grab your sunscreen and a towel because we’re back and ready for our next reading discussion with a twist – this one’s about fiction!

Join us July 24th from 1-3 in Clark Park for a discussion of Octave Mirbeau’s classic The Torture Garden. Find the reading here.

To Priests, Soldiers, Judges—
to men who rear, lead or govern men
I dedicate these pages of murder and blood.

We’ll be meeting near the chess tables – see you there!

Meditation on Accountability

from Dreaming Freedom Practicing Abolition

Abolition is truly a project that requires balance. It is a negative and positive project. It is presence and absence. Often, we lean one way to the detriment of the other way. Inside, we tend to focus on the dismantling, the negative aspect. We are captive in an oppressive system predicated upon anti-Blackness. We are trapped in a space maintained by racialized and gendered violence. The terror is quotidian. Everyday we are under the boots of people who see us as less than human. No wonder our focus is getting rid of this system.

But then what? What have we done while inside to prepare ourselves for a world without prisons? This is the struggle I am engaged in everyday. Each day, I am fighting against the death this system has prepared for me and my peers. Each day, I am struggling to not drink the PIC kool-aid that says we are unworthy. Each day, I am locked in battle with a system that is determined to isolate and alienate us, not only from you, but from each other. But there is another fight.

Over ninety percent of incarcerated folks have a release date. We are coming home. What are we doing to prepare ourselves for that date? The system is rigged. It is designed for us to fail, to recidivate. No DOC is really going to prepare incarcerated folks for successful reentry. No DOC is going to prepare any of us for a world without prisons. No DOC teaches accountability. Punishment, yes. But not accountability. And we desperately need to learn accountability.

In 2019, I was asked to speak at annual assembly on responsibility. I saw this as an opportunity to speak on accountability. I knew it would be the first time many incarcerated folks engaged in a discussion on this topic. I opened by citing a question from a Vera Institute report that asked crime victims what they wanted more than anything else to happen. Audience members guessed the answer would be long term sentences or corporal punishment for people who perpetrated harm. But that wasn’t the number one answer. What people wanted most: that it never happen again, to them or anyone else.

I chose this question because I wanted the audience to know that the police could not give these people want they wanted. They only become involved after the harm has occurred. Neither could the district attorney or the judge. The DOC and the parole boards definitely are powerless to give people who have been harmed what they want most. The only people who can give them what they want is us. We have the power to make sure the harm doesn’t happen again. And just as some of us had made a decision to harm another person, we could make another decision to not repeat our behavior.

From there, I was able to springboard into a conversation on accountability. On not just being sorry, but “doing” sorry. I focused on what we could do right now to make sure we didn’t continue to harm others. I spoke about the pillars of accountability. I spoke on what it means to really be remorseful and not just regretful. I spoke on making amends. But that was one day.

What we need is sustained study and practice. What we need is community where we can practice accountability. What we need are allies that support and encourage accountability practices. And we need it now. This is one of the things we need to build if we are to create a world we can all thrive in and that doesn’t use cages to remedy harm. It’s tricky. I have to keep everyone’s humanity in the forefront of my mind. No one is disposable. And I have to be firm and require accountability from my circle.

Aishah Simmons’s new book is entitled “Love with Accountability”. That sums up what is required. Love has to be the motivation, the impetus. Accountability has to be the practice. Some days, I can keep all the balls in the air. Other days, I drop all of them. It’s tricky. But with practice, I am getting better. With comrades and allies, I am becoming more adept at loving with accountability.

Join me in this balancing act.

Retaliation for Patriot Front

Submission

In the early hours of July 9th we paid a visit to the home of neo-nazi Jackson Bradley, spray painting “nazi scum” on the front door and damaging one of the windows. We did this in direct retaliation for Patriot Front’s recent defacing of the George Floyd mural in North Philly and their march through Center City.
Fuck Patriot Front and fuck you, Jackson.
[Philly Anti-Cap note: We received the following message on July 9th. We have not verified the validity of the message but we share it in the interest of any interested anti-fascists. The message is included below:
We were targeted last night at 127 Elfreths Alley and I believe this is in connection with Jackson Bradley who has not lived here since 2009. He should be with patriot front, which we are NOT associated with. This house is occupied by renters and we have no association with any nazi/hate groups. Please do not advertise this address as we would really like to not have to keep painting our door and repairing the window panes.

This house is currently occupied by Jewish people and minority tenants, me being one of them (jewish). Please please please take us off any sort of target list that you may have. Again, the Bradley’s moved in 2009 and no longer live here. I have no idea where Jackson is.]

Hunger Strike Ends with Concessions from Pennsylvania Prison System

from Perilous Chronicle

Hunger Strike Ends with Concessions from Pennsylvania Prison System

By Lena Mercer, Perilous Chronicle

A hunger strike by prisoners in Pennsylvania came to an official end on Sunday, July 4 after 10 days on strike. 12 people housed in SCI Phoenix, a state correctional institution in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania initiated the hunger strike.

The strikers were all held in a long term isolation unit, commonly known as an intensive management unit (IMU), despite the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) having no official policy regulating the use of IMUs at the time. The strikers’ demands centered around the lack of accountability from the administration about segregation and programming policies in the IMU and the conditions associated with long term isolation.

“PA taxpayers are paying for a program that is really nothing more than a title,” said striker Abednego Baynes in a public statement. “There is literally nothing tangible in regard to an IMU program.”

The strikers also decried the lack of programming and lack of access to basic amenities like showers and phones. “We currently only shower 3 times a week,” wrote striker John Bramble in a public statement. “We have no mental health treatment whatsoever, and only 5 hours of recreation a week.”

In an interview with the Pennsylvania Capital Star this week, the PADOC acknowledged the existence of an IMU at SCI-Phoenix. Bret Grote, legal director for the Abolitionist Law Center, told the Capital Star that he believes this was the first time the department had publicly acknowledged the existence of the long term segregation program.

The PADOC said in a July 6 email to Perilous Chronicle that the “hunger strike was resolved Friday”, which counters the statements from both outside prisoner advocates and the prisoners themselves that the strike continued until Sunday.

“We look at the 10 day strike as a success,” said striker Alejandro “Capo” Rodriguez-Ortiz in a statement announcing the end of the hunger strike. “Now the world sees what the PADOC was doing.” According to the statement, several of the demands around conditions inside the IMU were addressed by the administration, including greater access to showers and phones, and that some prisoners were being moved off segregation status.

Those held inside the IMU were protesting not only the conditions but what they say is the lack of ability to be able to advocate for themselves. Without a clear policy on how the IMU operates, there is little to no ability to work inside the structure to transition out of the unit. In an email to Perilous, Maria Bivens, the PADOC Press Secretary said that “the ultimate goal of the IMU is to provide a path toward integration into general population for these individuals.” Prisoners, however, say that the lack of a clear policy regarding the use of the IMU makes that goal both misleading and impossible.

“We were told by PRC (Program Review Committee) that upon our arrival at Phoenix, we were here to be flown off of the Restricted Release list and that the IMU was meant for that, which was a lie” Bramble said in a June 25 public statement.  In a June 29 social media post, the Abolitionist Law Center, a non profit law firm and community based organizing project, stated “Incarcerated community members…were transferred to SCI Phoenix and promised a new program by the PADOC that would provide education and mental health resources – and way back to general population. That was a lie…”

Hunger striking prison John Bramble (Photo Source: Abolitionist Law Center, Twitter).

According to statements by both people held inside the IMU and the Abolitionist Law Center provided to Perilous Chronicle, showers were only available 3 times a week and there were no mental health resources or educational programming, and only 5 hours of available recreation per week. “Everything is up in the air. They make up rules on the fly because there is no policy,” Bramble said in regards to the policies inside the unit.

Press Secretary Bivens told Perilous Chronicle that everyone who is currently being housed in the IMU at SCI Phoenix was once held in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), which she described as representing “the highest levels of security and/or behavior risks.” Some people held inside the unit contend that they have no disciplinary history in the Pennsylvania prison system that would warrant this type of designation.

In a June 26 email, striker Rodriguez-Ortiz said that he has not been “written up,” another term for receiving an infraction from the DOC administration, while incarcerated in Pennsylvania. “My last significant issue in Delaware was in February 2014” he said.

Ortiz, along with several other strikers participated in the uprising at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware in 2017 and were later transferred to Pennsylvania through interstate compact. These prisoners, known collectively as the Vaughn 17, were charged with crimes following the uprising and have since organized jointly in their own defense. Many of them now being held in the IMU at SCI Phoenix, including Ortiz, feel they ended up there because of their past activism and commitment to collective defense.

In the statement from the Vaughn 17 concerning the end of the strike they are clear to acknowledge that this strike was a continuation of their collective efforts inside various facilities. “Our sole purpose is to tear down every last brick until every last prisoner is free” they said.

Patriot Front Run Out of Town by Multi-Racial Crowd in Philadelphia

from It’s Going Down

[This post only contains information relevant to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, to read the entire article follow the above link.]

Neo-Nazi group Patriot Front, best known for recently vandalizing George Floyd statues and Black Lives Matter murals across the US, attempted to march through Philadelphia on July 4th, but were shouted down and confronted by locals in the area who drove the marchers off the streets and into their rental vans.

Attempting to save face on their Telegram under a barrage of bad press, Patriot Front referred to those who confronted them as “anti-white hordes,” however in reality, youth of all colors took part in confronting the neo-Nazis and beating them back, including many working-class whites. Despite this latest setback, Patriot Front remains one of the most active white nationalist groups still operating in the United States. We must continue to combat, expose, and educate the public about the threat that these groups pose. Obviously we’re doing something right if they are forced to slink in the shadows, afraid of even the general public confronting them.

Happening

from Dreaming Freedom Practicing Abolition

We were in the small block yard. I was talking to another prisoner and suddenly remembered I needed to ask another prison a question. As I walked over to the circle of prisoners he was in, I noticed how animated two of them were. As I reached the circle, one of the two guys turned to me and asked if I had watched Dateline the night before. I hadn’t. He went on to tell me how the topic was the police murder of a young man in West Philly who was experiencing a mental health crisis. I remembered the Wallace case.

The animated discussion was about solutions. One prisoner had suggested the solution offered by the state, equipping all of Philly police with tasers so their encounters could be less deadly, was the right thing. The other prisoner asked: why call the police at all? It was obvious he was winning the crowd over. Another younger prisoner summed up the problem as people not having other options when they experience emergencies. He suggested another number for mental health crisis. Don’t call 911.

I was loving this. None of these men have ever called themselves abolitionists. But they have abolitionist ideas. And only one of the five men in the circle has studied with us.

I wanted to share this because this incident reminds me that:

Sometimes all we have to do is listen. Abolitionist thought is here. People don’t always call it that. But it is abolitionist. Instead of focusing on teaching, we need to listen and learn sometimes.//

More and more people are realizing that things cannot continue the way they are. Something has to change. And people are discussing and looking for answers.//

Practicing abolition means being among the people and listening to them. And being willing to provide support for their growth and transformation.//

Political education is happening behind these walls at all times. It comes in many forms. Will we support it?//

BREAKING: Neo-Fascist Group Patriot Front Chased out of Philly, Detained by Police After Attempting Fourth of July Weekend March/Rally

from Idavox

Video still of Patriot Front running away as Philly asks them to leave Philly style!

See, THIS is how we like to celebrate our 21st birthday! Thanks for the gift you City of Brotherly Love you! We will definitely have more on this soon!

PHILADELPHIA – The neo-fascist group Patriot Front decided to celebrate the Fourth of July with one of their flash mobs, but were not expecting the City of Gritty to provide them with fireworks!

As the group of 50 reportedly jumped out of three Penske rental trucks marched down the street and tried to hold an impromptu rally on Dilworth Plaza just outside City Hall, they were met with passers-by who immediately began to berate and lay siege on the them chasing them off the plaza into the waiting arms of law enforcement who detained them for approximately two hours.

Patriot Front, a group that was splintered from another in the wake of the tragic “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va in 2017, is known for posting stickers and tags across the country and has held flash mob rallies like this before, most notably in Washington, DC. They also appeared in Nashville early last month in similar uniforms and carrying identical American flags modified with a fascia in the canton. The public began to take notice of them only in the past month or so because their tags were found in the vandalized statues of police murder victim George Floyd in Brooklyn, NY and Newark, NJ, as well as on a vandalized mural in North Philadelphia.

Driver of one of the trucks Patriot Front reportedly rented.

The Patriot Front associates were lined up and stretched almost one city block at Race St. and Delaware Ave. The police eventually released them, but as state law as well as Penske rental rules do not allow for them to ride in the back of box trucks, they were not allowed to ride back as they came. Thomas Rousseau was reportedly seen at the Philadelphia rally helping trucks leave the scene as the rest of the group were escorted by police down Columbus Ave. It is not known at this time if they have left the city yet.

 

Patriot Front Nazis Hold Flash March in Center City

from Philly Antifa

Patriot Front Nazis in Philly July 3rd 2021

Late last night, a group of around 50 Neo-Nazis held a flash march through Center City. They were members of Patriot Front, the same Neo-Nazi group responsible for defacing the George Floyd memorials in Olney, Newark and Brooklyn. Patriot Front has also engaged in marches like these in other cities.

 

We are still gathering information, but around 10pm the nazis arrived in rented moving trucks and gathered on Delaware Avenue. They then marched to City Hall with banners and smoke bombs. Some of them were armed with clubs and other weapons.

Despite the march being unannounced, Patriot Front marched during a busy time in Center City, and Philly gave them the welcome they deserved.

These escalating provocations from Patriot Front and their allies must be confronted directly. Time and again it is proven that ignoring or avoiding conflict with reactionaries only delays the inevitable and makes the conflict worse.

David Elmakayes, BLM defendant, Needs $ For Lawyer

from Go Fund Me

David Elmakayes, who is being charged for his participation in last summer’s George Floyd uprisings in Philadelphia, needs money to hire a new attorney. Currently, his public defender is trying to get him to snitch on other defendants to benefit his own case and David wants no part of it.

David is being charged for:

-Maliciously damaging property used in interstate commerce by means of explosive (1 count)

-Carrying explosives during the commision of a felony (1 count)

-Possession of a firearm by a felon (1 count)

You can also write David at:

David Elmakayes 77782-066

FDC Philadelphia

PO Box 562

Philadelphia, PA 19105

Thank you for your time and consideration! With love and rage, Matt B

[Donate Here]

In Contempt: June 11th Roundup; Analysis of Biden’s New Domestic Terrorism Document

from It’s Going Down

It’s been a busy month and there’s a lot to catch up on.

In this month’s column, we roundup what all went down on June 11th, offer an analysis of the Biden administration’s recent report on countering domestic terrorism, a roundup by state across the so-called US of repression news, info on current George Floyd rebellion prisoners, prison rebel birthdays, and more news.

Let’s dive in!

Repression Roundup by State

Pennsylvania

We Love Lore have provided a few updates on Lore Elisabeth Blumenthal, who’s now been incarcerated for a year awaiting trial on charges connected to last summer’s uprising. You can see some of her recent art here, and her family were able to visit her for the first time in eight months.

David Elmakayes, another Philadelphia defendant, is trying to raise money for a new lawyer, as the public defender allocated to him is trying to get him to inform. You should be able to donate to his funds via his mother’s CashApp, $NaughtNelly. Contact addresses for both Lore and David are listed below.

Vaughn 17

The Vaughn 17, the collective of prisoners who came together in the wake of the 2017 Vaughn uprising in Delaware, have issued a statement on abuse, neglect and solitary confinement at Pennsylvania’s SCI-Phoenix prison, and have also put out a new zine of their writings and analysis. A hunger strike aiming to address the issues highlighted has now begun at SCI-Phoenix, with some of the Vaughn 17 being among the participants.

Upcoming Events

Occupy ICE PDX have called for July 17th to be a nationwide day of actions against ICE and for the freedom of all immigrant prisoners. July 25th is observed internationally as a day of solidarity with antifascist prisoners.

Further ahead, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak are calling for abolitionist demonstrations under the slogan “Shut ‘Em Down 2021” on August 21st and September 9th. As mentioned above, reach out to Oakland Abolition and Solidarity if you’d like to get stickers to promote the events. Also, various international ABC groups observe August 23rd-30th as a week of solidarity with anarchist prisoners.

Uprising Defendants

Everyone should support the defendants facing charges related to their alleged participation in the George Floyd uprising – this list of our imprisoned comrades needs to be getting shorter, not longer. The status of pre-trial defendants changes frequently, but to the best of our knowledge they currently include:

David Elmakayes 77782-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO BOX 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal 70002-066
FDC Philadelphia
PO BOX 562
Philadelphia, PA 19105

Birthdays

Corey Smith

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While the state has now dropped its attempts to criminalize Corey Smith in relation to the uprising, the Vaughn 17 have faced continued retaliation. Years after the uprising, these prisoners are still being abused for staying in solidarity with one another against the state.

Birthday: July 14

Address:

The most recent Vaughn 17 zine just gives Corey Smith’s address as “Wilmington, DE”, suggesting that his current location is unknown – please feel free to reach out if you can confirm his address.

Kevin Berry

A former Vaughn 17 defendant. While the court found Kevin Berry not guilty on all charges in relation to the uprising, the Vaughn 17 have faced continued retaliation. Years after the uprising, these prisoners are still being abused for staying in solidarity with one another against the state.

Kevin Berry is a contributor to the Vaughn 17 “Live From the Trenches” zine, as well as the newer “United We Stood” zine, and also wrote a June 11th statement for the 2019 day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners.

Pennsylvania uses Connect Network/GTL, so you can contact him online by going to connectnetwork.com, selecting “Add a facility”, choosing “State: Pennsylvania, Facility: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections”, going into the “messaging” service, and then adding him as a contact by searching his name or “NT0583.”

Birthday: July 17th

Address:

Smart Communications/PADOC
Kevin Berry, NT0583
SCI Phoenix
PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, FL 33733

 

Running Down The Walls

from Philly ABC

rdtw-2020

Download posters and flyers.

Sunday, September 12, 2021
11 am sharp (Yoga warm-up at 10am)
FDR Park

Philadelphia Anarchist Black Cross invites you to our fourth annual Running Down The Walls (RDTW)! Join us for another revolutionary 5K run/walk/roll and day of solidarity amplifying the voices of our comrades behind bars, lifting them up in their struggles, and maintaining material support. If you would like to participate in light yoga and warm-up stretches before, please arrive by 10am and bring a mat if you can.

Running is not required! You can also walk or roll. 5K is two loops around the park and at a walking pace will take about 45-60 minutes. Light refreshments and socializing will take place in the park afterward.

This year’s event is in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Join us as we once again raise energy and funds for the freedom struggle of another Philly comrade and long-term Black liberation prisoner.

Very few people in prison have voices that go beyond the wall. It’s my job to do the work for them because they have no one.

– Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia has now spent 39 years behind bars as a voice for the voiceless. Due to multiple health issues from medical neglect, he needs our support now more than ever. We freed the MOVE 9 after 40 years – let’s do the same for Mumia!

Learn More

If you cannot make it to the event or would like to make an additional contribution, please sponsor a participant either outside prison, inside prison or one of each. Contact us for more information on sponsoring!

We will ship official shirts nationwide to people who register to participate remotely, pay online and leave their shipping address in the comment box!


Proceeds will be split between the Warchest Program and the campaign to Bring Mumia Home. The ABCF Warchest program sends monthly stipends to Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War who have insufficient, little, or no financial support.

Register for the 5K

Thanks for your support by running/walking/rolling the 5K! Everyone must fill out the following form to register NO LATER THAN AUGUST 31ST so that you receive your official shirt the day of the event.

The registration fee of $40 confirms your place at the event and covers your t-shirt. We can accept credit/debit donations online or cash/check/money order on the day of event. Make checks and money orders out to Tim Fasnacht. Additional funds over the $40 base fee raised through sponsorships are more than welcome (see our fundraising tips below).

After submitting the following registration form, please allow 24 – 48 hours for your confirmation email. Check your Spam folder if the message does not appear in your Inbox. If you did not receive a confirmation email, please get in touch with us at phillyabc[at]riseup[dot]net.

[Register Here]

Onsite security strives to make Philadelphia RDTW a safer space event. If you experience harrassment or abuse at the event, or if someone who has engaged in such behavior is adversely affecting your participation, please come to a volunteer. Experienced advocates, medics and support people are available.


Tips to Get Sponsors for your 5K Participation:

Many runners will pay the $40 registration fee on their own but if you would like to get sponsored instead, here’s a few tips and ideas to get you started.

  • Make a list of potential donors. Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors…think creatively and include everyone you can think of (it doesn’t hurt to ask). Who might be supportive? Who cares about similar causes? Decide to ask for a specific amount that you think will be within your prospective sponsor’s budget (for instance $1-8 for each kilometer).
  • Hand-write request letters. Deliver them personally if possible. Write your letter in a genuine tone and reference your relationship. Email is faster, but many will be less likely to forget a letter (than an email in a crowded inbox) and they’ll appreciate the personal touch. Include a self-addressed envelope for people to mail checks. Use email to follow up with those who don’t respond.
  • Make it personal and face to face. Ask for support from the people you see regularly, and ask in person. People respond to eye contact, assertiveness and passion. Tell them why you’re inspired to support political prisoners and their stories. Practice the conversation beforehand if you think it might be difficult to find words in the moment.
  • Use all communication tools available- Phone calls, text, social media, websites, and email to reach broader networks. If you’re trying to appeal to an organization, make it clear that the event can be a source of positive press for them. Ask them to match the donations of other groups if possible. You could even start a crowdfunding page for your run. Add quality images and tell a story to engage people. Share it on social media and encourage your friends to do the same. Use letters and other communications to direct people to your crowdfunding page.
  • Follow up, provide updates and say ‘thank you.’ Remember to reconnect to your sponsors with photos and stories from the event and thank them for their support.

History

Since 1999, the Anarchist Black Cross Federation, incarcerated people and support organizations across the country participate in Running Down The Walls (RDTW) . This annual 5K run/walk/roll event is to show solidarity and raise funds for numerous political prisoners in North America. Funds raised are typically split between the ABCF Warchest and a community group chosen by the host group. Each year, incarcerated comrades participate by running inside prison. This event brings us closer together each year, strengthens our bond, and lets people behind bars know they are not forgotten! Read RDTW statements from current and former PP/POWs.

The Warchest program receives donations from ABC chapters and individuals and then disperses the funds to the recipients in the program. Since initiation in November 1994, the program has dispersed more than $140,000. The current Warchest recipients are:

In past years, Running Down the Walls was held in Albuquerque (NM), Arcata (CA), Ashland (OR), Bellefonte (PA), Bloomington (IN), Boston (MA), Brooklyn (NY), Buffalo (NY), Chicago (IL), Denver (CO), Hamilton (Ontario), Elmore (AL), FCI Sandstone (MN), Inez (KY), Los Angeles (CA), Marion (IL), Middletown (CT), Minneapolis (MN), USP Navosta (TX), Oakland (CA), Pelican Bay (CA), Phoenix (AZ), Riverside (CA), Seattle (WA), Tucson (AZ), and Toronto (Ontario).

Toward Insurrection: Anarchist Strategy in an Era of Popular Revolt

Submission

[Read] [Print]

What role can anarchists in the United States play in popular uprisings like the ones of 2020? While many of us made solid contributions to the riots, the events of last year also highlighted some of our significant deficiencies. Anarchists’ attempts to show up to riots in the ways in which we’re accustomed, at least here in Philly, often felt ineffective and at best out of touch with those around us. I still believe that anarchists have the potential to contribute in crucial ways to destroying this system and making another end of the world possible. At this point, though, a willingness to reflect on and question our views is needed in order to really move in that direction.

This question of anarchist participation is fundamentally intertwined with issues around race and whiteness, and the past year’s discourse on the topic has felt typically inadequate in addressing these questions. Leaving the bad-faith nature of many of the critiques aside, many white anarchists have found it easier to dismiss criticisms by automatically conflating them with liberalism or political opportunism. While this is often accurate, it shouldn’t allow us to not take questions about our relationship to whiteness seriously. Whiteness isn’t just a skin color that non-white people happen to be skeptical of. It’s also a particular kind of colonized (and colonizing) mentality that restricts our imagination and can affect everything from how we interact in the streets to what we as individuals personally envision as our insurrectionary future (or lack thereof).

Aside from the anarchists who were radicalized over this past year, most anarchists today came into radical politics through resistance to Trump’s presidency (which centered on an “antifa”that was majority white in the public imaginary, and often in reality), an Occupy movement dominated by white progressives, or what are now called the anti-globalization struggles of the early 2000’s. Throughout these movements, anarchists of color have also appeared alongside white anarchists in the streets, though not necessarily identifying with them, and have tried to carve out space for the primacy of anti-racist struggles. But this past year has been a visceral and unavoidable reminder that Black (as well as Indigenous) radical struggles against the state have always been and continue to be far more powerful than most anarchists’ occasional vandalisms, or even our more targeted (but isolated) acts of property destruction.

This article tries to take seriously the claim that white people, including white anarchists, will not be the protagonists of liberatory struggle in the United States —not in order to marginalize anarchists’ uncompromised visions of freedom from the state, capital, and white supremacy, but instead to reveal some under explored strategies for how we might actually get there. Today we face an unprecedented crisis of capital and the state, and despite our best efforts none of us can predict how any of it will shake out. Despite the Biden administration’s best efforts to restore order and recuperate rebellion, it feels like the chaos that boiled over last year is fated to return, especially as ecological and economic collapse creep closer and the everyday executions of Black people continue with no particular changes that we can observe. In this context, we look around and take our inspiration from the resistance we see actually happening, even if it counteracts some of our inherited assumptions and desires. Right now, all possibilities are on the table.

This essay begins with some brief reflections on anarchist activity in the context of uprisings in several cities in the U.S. over this past year. In cities like Portland and Seattle, anarchist activity has shown both the potential and the limits of some tried-and-true tactics of the insurrectionary anarchist approach that’s been established in the U.S. over the past couple decades. The rest of the essay explores other traditions that might expand our sense of how insurrections occur and how we might personally participate in moving things in that direction. We also include [not in the online version]a Philly-specific map that we hope will provide a useful resource for readers in Philly. Maybe it’ll also inspire others elsewhere in how they approach future moments of potential insurrection and State collapse.

Pennsylvania prisoners start hunger strike against isolation practices

from Perilous Chronicle

Pennsylvania prisoners start hunger strike against isolation practices

By Lena Mercer, Perilous Chronicle

On June 23, 20-30 prisoners at SCI Phoenix, a 3,800 bed state prison facility near Philadelphia, began a hunger strike. The strikers are protesting against the use of an Intensive Management Unit (IMU), or segregation unit, inside the facility. They hope to bring attention to the use of these segregation units that they say most people do not fully understand. Inside these restricted release units, prisoners are held in isolation without programming and with no redress to remove themselves from the enhanced detention.

Several of the strikers participated in the uprising at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware in 2017 and were later transferred to Pennsylvania through interstate compact. These prisoners, known collectively as the Vaughn 17, were charged with crimes following the uprising and have since organized jointly in their own defense.

In a June 1 statement written in coordination with Philly Anti-Repression, a Philadelphia-based organization that helps people organize against state repression, the Vaughn 17 group decried the conditions inside the facility. “Here, we are housed in our cells with only 5 hours of recreation per week, no programs, no schooling, no jobs, or anything else involving rehabilitation. We have been housed in this way (some completely misconduct-free) with no way out” they said in the statement.

Philly Anti Repression posted a call-in campaign on Twitter to be held on June 24 and 25. The intention of the call-in campaign, according to a participant, is to bring attention to the fact that while people are being sent into the Intensive Management Unit, no official protocols about the IMU exist. This leaves no possibility for people to administratively challenge their detention inside the restrictive housing.

“There is nothing productive or humane about locking up a human being in a box and letting them out for 5 hours a week,” the strikers said in the statement. “If PA DOC chooses to go into rehabilitating people and help them to become better human beings, then long term solitary confinement has to go.”

As of the evening of June 24, the strike was ongoing.


Lena Mercer is a journalist based in the Pacific Northwest and a member of the Perilous Editorial Collective.

Hunger Strike at SCI Phoenix

from twitter
CALL IN: as of yesterday 20-30 prisoners at SCI Phoenix are on hunger strike bc Phoenix is getting funding for a new program (the IMU) that doesn’t actually exist. The IMU (Intensive Management Unit) is for prisoners on the Restricted Release List, an instrument of torture…

pecific to the state of Pennsylvania that allows the state to throw politicized/rebellious prisoners, and anyone else they don’t know what to do with, in the hole indefinitely. SCI Phoenix’s IMU is supposed to be a program to get prisoners off RRL and out of solitary.

But there’s no programming (education, rec, etc) or path off RRL, despite the facility having govt funding for it. The strikers are demanding the programs they were promised + a way out of solitary confinement, which is considered torture by even the UN’s questionable standards.

Some of those on strike are revolutionaries who are on Restricted Release as retaliation for having physically fought the prison system. Supporting the strike is a way to get them better treatment & show we haven’t forgotten them and the sacrifices they made for liberation.

Please CALL IN TODAY AND TOMORROW at 717-728-4109 and ask to speak to PA DOC Sec. John Wetzel. Ask if they are aware of the strike and make sure their demands are being addressed. The strike will only work if they know people on the outside are watching. #FTTP #FTP

You can also call the Deputy Secretary of the PA DOC, Christopher Oppman, at 717-728-4122, or Executive Secretary Tabb Bickell’s office at 717-728-4025. @freevaughn17 @phillyabc @IWW_IWOC @UR_Ninja @OaklandAboSol @IGD_News