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Four More Bravely Stare Down State’s Fixation On Retribution For 2017 Smyrna Prison Uprising

from Support the Vaughn 17

Wilmington, DE

“Prison is not somewhere people aspire to spend their lives,” Delaware assistant attorney general Nichole Warner told us as she opened the state’s case against Kevin Berry, John Bramble, Abednego Baynes and Obadiah Miller. These four individuals, like those who were tried before them, know this fact all too well given the repression they have faced before and after the events of February 2017. And so, once again we bear witness and offer support however we can- by writing letters, by showing up in court, by raising money, by making time to listen, by lifting up voices for human dignity!

Speaking about February 1, 2017- AG Warner described “a day unlike any other, that not all would live to regret,” when prisoners seized control of C building at James T. Vaughn Correctional Facility, and held it for nearly a day. She spoke of the uprising in terms of terror and criminal responsibility, underscoring the state’s method of dealing with issues by making people pay, instead of taking even modest steps to correct dire problems. It was evident from the previous trial, where no service was given to the vicious, coordinated and planned machinations of prison (and the devastating impacts this causes to people and families), but rather, a singular desire on the part of the state to identify, isolate, and punish several individuals for the collective failure of a brutal, racist system to protect even its own enforcers, such as the late Sergeant Steven Floyd.

Cautions came in opening arguments from defense attorneys for each of the comrades currently facing trial, focusing on Delaware’s accomplice liability statutes and the state’s emphasis on circumstantial evidence. Cleon Cauley for Abednego Baynes noted that “everything the state said earlier was not evidence” and advanced his notion that “it will become evident that the state made a snap judgment” about his client. It is hard to disagree with Mr. Cauley’s claim that “constant questioning is the only way we can reach the truth.” Andrew Witherell, representing Kevin Berry, emphasized the need for presumption of innocence despite, in his words, the stigma of incarceration and the understanding of an inmate’s condition as being unpopular. Speaking to the jury, he said “you can see and hear [collaborating] witnesses, make conclusions about what they say and how they say it, how they act, their demeanor.. you can listen and make judgment as to their bias, their concerns. Is there trickery? What do they expect to get out of this trial?” Tom Pedersen, representing John Bramble, asked the jury “would you be satisfied with what you hear if Mr. Bramble was the valedictorian of the charter school?” He then warned the jury that they would hear a “dizzying array of contradictions,” asking them to consider whether they would “allow these contradictions to return a verdict of guilty.” He also correctly identified a “lack of dignity” in the state’s approach, extending this to Sergeant Floyd and making clear that this is “about finding truth, not about throwing it up against the wall and hoping something sticks.” He promised a “vigorous and zealous” defense of John Bramble moving forward. Obadiah Miller, who was anticipating release in October 2019 prior to being targeted by this- as the judge explicitly stated during court- ongoing investigation, is being represented by Tony Figliola. Mr. Figliola instilled the notion that his client was “a friend of some of the organizers, and he was dragged into this because of that association.”

A sobering reminder that in its relentless quest to retaliate against those who dare to assert their humanity, the state will also seek to criminalize us based on who our friends are.

Following a once more tedious and plotless offering and review of the state’s direct evidence- photographs and envelopes out of context while interviewing the state’s crime scene experts and evidence collection and processing teams- it was apparent that the approach of wearing out the jury by showing item after item would be used again, in addition to heavy reliance on collaborating witness testimony for the state. The state appears to be counting on the jury- and thusly on each of us- to accept its deadly assertions through trading on what Jarreau Ayers called “the illusion of prestige” during his own self-mounted defense in the fall’s first round of trials. Jarreau Ayers’ diligent and courageous pro se efforts resulted in his acquittal by jury on the murder charges and conviction on kidnapping, riot and conspiracy, but it was clear that this illusion of prestige he so perfectly identified was going to be strong again in the opening week here.

Details of what was described- as it had been in the last trial- as the biggest crime scene in Delaware history were reviewed, but the state continued to fail in accounting for why well under 10 percent of the items presented as evidence were in turn analysed by forensic experts despite this investigation being characterized as a “spare no expense” situation. The death of a law enforcement officer (as correctional officers are classified in Delaware) was one of the outcomes of the uprising- this carries its own separate murder charge in Delaware, so each defendant indicted for murder has two murder charges despite there being one death discovered in the end. The state demonstrated in its witnesses’ testimony once more that no outside consultation was made by the state’s investigators with professionals who had engaged with similar situations at any time. It was, as it had been before, abundantly clear early this week that the strength of the bamboozle would again be key to the state’s pursuit of retaliation, retribution and fear-mongering in a desperate attempt to persist in their agenda of domination over each and all of us.

Court support is always welcome- though discretion, composure and situational awareness all remain paramount as there is and has been constant media, state and law enforcement presence (all with smartphones) in the courtroom, hallways and surrounding areas in Wilmington. It remains advisable to note for care of self and others that this will be a long haul, with record of a 5 week trial completed thus far and reasonable belief that this second round of four planned trials will last at least that long as well. Stay tuned for regular updates as to the evolving cases both for and against the defendants of Smyrna.

vaughn17support.org

Second ‘Vaughn Uprising’ Prison Revolt Trial Underway in Delaware

from Unicorn Riot

Wilmington, DE – On Monday January 14, opening arguments took place in the second trial of prisoners accused of involvement in a prisoner revolt at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center on February 1, 2017. During the events that were quickly labeled the ‘Vaughn Uprising’, prisoners at Building C at the prison facility in Smyrna, Delaware took over the building and held several guards and a prison counselor hostage while demanding improvements to poor living conditions. The uprising ended the next day with police forcibly retaking the building and with corrections officer Sergeant Steven Floyd found dead in his office.

Prisoners have also filed a lawsuit claiming prison guards systematically tortured and abused them in indiscriminate collective punishment since the uprising took place. In the months after the uprising, 18 prisoners from Vaughn would be indicted on felony charges of murder, assault, kidnapping, riot, and conspiracy.

The first trial of three prisoners accused of involvement in the Uprising concluded late last year. Dwayne Staats and Jarreau Ayers, both prisoners serving life sentences at Vaughn who represented themselves at trial and freely admitted their involvement in events during the uprising, were both convicted on some of the charges brought by the state. Derric Forney, a younger prisoner scheduled to be released in a few years, was found not guilty on all charges despite prosecutors’ insistence that he acted as a “soldier” working under alleged planners of the building takeover.

Letters sent by Staats described how the intention behind the building takeover was to create awareness about abuse and poor conditions at Vaughn. In this respect he wrote, “the trial is an extension of the uprising.” Similar themes appear poised to define the second Vaughn Uprising trial as well.

Opening arguments in the second trial from the State of Delaware, given by Deputy Attorney General Nichole Warner, were nearly identical to those made in the first trial last year. Little evidence was mentioned that pertained to the specific defendants, with the prosecution instead giving a general overview of events on February 1, 2017 and making an emotional appeal over the death of corrections officer Steven Floyd.

The four defendants currently on trial are Abednego Baynes, Kevin Barry, John Bramble, and Obadaiah Miller.

  • Baynes is alleged to have been seen participating in the attacks on each of the 3 corrections officers taken hostage that day.
  • Barry is accused of being seen “in the group huddled up in the yard” before the uprising took place, and prisoner witnesses for the state reportedly claim he was seen assaulting two corrections officers and had blood on his clothes.
  • Bramble is accused of being seen wearing a mask, assaulting one of the COs, and having blood on his hands and clothing.
  • Miller is accused of being seen by prisoners with Sergeant Floyd after he was taken hostage, is accused of being seen with a knife, allegedly had blood on his clothes, and prosecutors claim his DNA was found in the mop closet where Sergeant Floyd was kept after he was taken hostage (Floyd was later moved to the Sergeant’s office where his dead body would later be recovered. According to the autopsy by the medical examiner, Floyd did not die from a specific wound and likely would have survived if police had rescued him sooner.)

Defense attorneys for all four prisoners on trial aggressively contested the evidence against their clients in their opening arguments, insisting that the state would not meet its burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Andrew Witherell, representing Kevin Barry, told jurors that “simply because [Barry] is a sentenced inmate…that doesn’t lower his standards” of rights to due process: “the fact that he’s a prisoner does not imply any additional bad will.”

Witherell told jurors that “little, if any” of the evidence they would hear at trial would have anything to do with his client. He also cast doubt on the integrity of investigations by the prosecution, which he said was largely based on incomplete police work done in haste in the immediate aftermath of the prison revolt: “Police wrote a report, rubber stamped [it], and here we are.

Anthony Figliola, representing Obadaiah Miller, also took shots at Delaware prosecutor’s assertions about his client’s guilt. Figliola told jurors “this whole prosecution is selective” because out of “126 inmates in the C Building…only 18 were charged.” Miller was due to be released in October 2019, Figliola told the courtroom, which cast doubt on his motive to attack prison guards because he “was not one of the guys that had nothing to lose“.

Figliola asserted that the only “direct evidence” against Miller, who is accused of participating in the attack that led to Floyd’s eventual death, is from other prisoners, “individuals who weren’t charged” and therefore have a clear motive to curry favor from prosecutors and prison officials through testimony favorable to the state’s case. He also told jurors about how many of the inmate witnesses had been housed together in the months leading up to trial, creating a scenario where “some of them go back, and they talk to the other inmates, and a plan is formulated” to change their stories.

Maybe 8 people…had access to that mop room at all times…whose DNA did they look for? One person. That’s what I mean when I talk about selective prosecution.” – Anthony Figliola, defense counsel for Obadaiah Miller

Miller’s lawyer further attacked the assertions that he stabbed Sergeant Floyd, saying that investigators “didn’t find any shank on Mr. Miller“, “didn’t find his fingerprints or DNA on any shanks“, and didn’t find any blood on his clothes. Miller is also accused of being seen wearing a mask during the uprising, which Figliola said doesn’t mean he is guilty since many prisoners were covering their faces to avoid breathing in smoke from fires that had been set inside the building. Figliola also told jurors that Miller’s DNA being found in the mop closet where Floyd was held hostage didn’t mean he was guilty either, since Miller was a “tier man” who was entrusted with a job cleaning the prison facility, meaning that he had regular access to the mop closet, meaning that his DNA could have ended up there as the result of his normal cleaning duties.

Thomas Peterson, defense counsel for John Bramble, began his opening argument with a folk tale about a farmer who finds a snake freezing to death and puts it in his pocket, only to be bitten and poisoned by the snake. He told jurors that the fable illustrated why they shouldn’t trust the inmate witnesses central to the prosecution’s case: “really what this case is going to boil down to…[is] the testimony of snakes from James T. Vaughn…this case is predicated upon the testimony of those inmates.”

Peterson went on to tell the court that “there is not one iota of objective, scientific evidence that points to the guilt of John Bramble” and promised that “you are going to hear a dizzying array of contradictions” in the evidence provided by the state.  Bramble’s lawyer also challenged jurors to reflect on whether it was truly possible for them to give a fair trial with the presumption of innocence “to someone who’s already in jail”, asking them “Would you be satisfied with this same quality of prosecution…if Mr. Bramble were the valedictorian of the charter school?

Peterson said that Bramble deserved “to be prosecuted based on quality evidence” and denounced the prosecution’s evidence as having “no dignity” and providing “a lack of dignity to Sergeant Floyd” by not adequately investigating the circumstances surrounding his death. Characterizing the Delaware Attorney General’s work on the Vaughn Uprising case as a “throw everything up against the wall and hope something sticks approach“, Peterson told the jury that “an inmate doesn’t come to court and testify unless he wants something in return.”

After the first three defendants made opening arguments, Judge William Carpenter told the state to call their first witness, and had to be reminded that he had forgotten entirely about Abednego Baynes, the fourth defendant on trial in his court. Baynes is represented by attorneys Saagar Shah and Cleon Cauley, whose opening argument alleged that the state made a “snap judgement” after the uprising and that the case against their client is based on that snap judgement rather than proper evidence. “My client was put on a list early in this process,” Cauley told the court, asking jurors to “question everything” and to look out for missing or contradictory evidence in the state’s case. Like other defense counsel, Cauley insisted that “little, if any” of the evidence to be presented at trial would implicate Abednego Baynes.

The case brought by the Delaware Attorney General, like their case in the first trial, depends on accounts by cooperating inmate witnesses, many of whom have given contradictory statements and live at the mercy of prison officials who will be watching their testimony with interest.

Testimony by inmate witnesses is also expected to be used as evidence in a lawsuit on behalf of prisoners housed at Vaughn. The lawsuit, which is being brought by Delaware attorney Stephen Hampton, alleges a deliberate policy of “ongoing abuse” and “ubiquitous torture” of prisoners. Hampton also noted that three suspicious deaths of Vaughn prisoners since the February 2017 uprising have been dismissed by state officials as unrelated to any foul play by prison staff. In the first Vaughn trial last year, several inmate witnesses for the state testified about being violently abused by prison guards and police in the immediate aftermath of the uprising.

The second Vaughn Uprising trial, like the first, is scheduled to last over a month, with weeks of witness testimony from corrections officers and inmate witnesses. 11 other prisoners indicted for their alleged role in the uprising are scheduled to go to trial later in 2019.

 

Title photo credit: Tomasz Kuran aka Meteor2017, via Wikimedia Commons


Unicorn Riot’s Coverage of the Vaughn Uprising trials:

Philadelphia, 2018: Year in Review

from It’s Going Down

Originally published in the pages of the anarchist magazine, Anathema, what follows is a look back and reflection on anarchist activity in 2018 in the Philadelphia area.

Most of 2018 was a disaster, as the Trump administration carried on with its daily diversions and atrocities against the backdrop of the rapid destruction of the earth, ever-worsening economic downturn and class stratification, and rampant white supremacy, border violence and fascism. Our efforts to fight these worsening conditions seem to us to be both extremely inadequate and to offer a glimpse of what might still be possible. Below we share some of our thoughts on changes in the local anarchist space, some of our critiques and disappointments, and some of our moments of joy and success. This article is written with the intention of initiating reflection and dialogue, and of furthering anarchist struggle; responses and critiques are welcome.

CHANGES

In 2018, we’ve seen the feeling of urgency about Trump’s presidency die down. The rush to get active has slowed and radical struggles have changed as a result. It seems that many liberals have left the streets. At the demonstrations and public meetings, instead of a mix of restless liberals and radicals, we have seen that a diversity of radicals (communists, socialists, anarchists, and others) make up a large part of who is present. The major struggles of 2018 here — anti-fascist counter-demonstrations, Occupy ICE, the prison strike — were spaces opened up by and filled with many different radical actors.

As always, 2018 brought with it social shifts in the anarchist space. Friendships forming and ending, new groups coming together and coming apart, individuals taking on more and less active roles. Some organizational projects are finished, like RAM Philly and Love City Antifa; others have sprouted up (Liberation Project, Friendly Fire, the latest incarnation of the Philadelphia IWW, and the informal pseudo-organization Summer of Rage). Other projects have stayed put, continuing and even expanding their activity during 2018: the North, West, and Solidarity chapters of Philly Food Not Bombs; Radical Education Department; the Philly Anti-Repression Fund; Philly Antifa; as well as this publication, Anathema.

One difference between 2018 and the year before has been that things have felt less frantic — the need to respond to Trump’s election by “doing something” has slipped away like so many liberals from the street. This is not to say that anarchist activity has slowed or stopped; anarchists are still doing their thing, this time with an energy that feels more unhurried.

STRENGTHS

The anarchist space has proved itself to be consistent, communicative, and intense in 2018. Through the major struggles of the year, a range of tactics and approaches were put forth. From doxxing fascists to knocking on doors to spread information in neighborhoods, from sabotage and attack to squatting and occupation, the methods used in the last year have been much more varied than in 2017. This may be due to the diversity of radicals present in and around the anarchist space.

The diversity of tactics and actors has led to a need for communication and clarification, which, although sometimes in an abrasive manner, has been met with publications, conversations, and communiques. The most notable example is the conflict between some anarchists and others at Philly’s Occupy ICE. This feud led to the clarification of anarchists’ positions within the larger radical space, via participation in assemblies, the publication of a controversial zine, the distribution of anarchist literature, and countless face-to-face conversations. Tensions along lines of class, race, and comfort were addressed by anonymous writer(s) Philly Anarchy Jawn, and texts were written by a heterogeneous group that emphasized the role of homeless comrades in the struggle against ICE and policing in general.

This kind of clarification between radicals is important to understanding each other’s struggles. It’s clear that ideas of left unity are not appealing or relevant to all anarchists in Philadelphia, but it seems that mutual understanding and the possibility of collaboration (when our goals line up) is still very much on the table. What will it look like to continue putting forward our analysis and positions? Is it really so bad if we’re not all on the same page about everything? Can we re-imagine discord between radicals as a multiplication of fronts on which to fight the social war? How can we use the diversity of ideas and approaches to struggle as a strength, and work together when our projectualities align?

Beyond Occupy ICE, counter-information initiatives continue to provide a space to encounter and deepen anarchist and anti-authoritarian ideas. The walls in 2018 were not kept blank, and anarchist zine distros, social media accounts, this newspaper, the PHL AntiCap website, conversations more and less public, and the publication of the book Movement for No Society by local anarchists have helped spread and deepen anarchist ideas. What messages are we interested in spreading, and to whom? How can we articulate our ideas in ways that are accessible to our intended audience? How can inter-anarchist communication better sharpen and solidify our ideas?

Public social space was opened up for benefit events more often this year, including for a J20 brunch, a J20 benefit at LAVA, the annual June 11th barbecue, and Running Down the Walls. If these events continued or happened more often, it could serve a number of purposes in building a stronger radical milieu.

Relatedly, anti-repression efforts among anti-authoritarians were strong: J20 resistance defense successfully drew to a close in the spring; the Anti-Repression Fund and other individuals conducted a campaign against the Mural Arts Program’s Frank Rizzo mural that succeeded in driving down the plea deal for a friend who had been charged with most recently vandalizing it; and a coalition of Philly anti-authoritarians got together to help coordinate support for the Vaughn 17 prison rebels as their trials began in the fall in Wilmington, DE.

Philadelphia ABC has been a consistent project that aims to support political prisoners, but has made efforts to do much more. Monthly letter-writing nights not only open space to communicate with prisoners, but also for anarchists, new or not, to run into each other and share a meal. ABC organized Running Down the Walls in August to uplift the struggle of political prisoners, and has also been focused on freeing the Virgin Island 3 by organizing a call-in and write-in campaign. What other long-term anti-prison projects are we interested in creating? How can we bridge the gap between so-called political and social prisoners?

As anarchists face a society whose notion of time matches the speed and amnesia of scrolling through a smartphone feed, memory and remembrance begin to feel more and more important. Timelines and chronologies have been published online and as zines, specifically a text on the unfolding of the anti-ICE camps and a zine recording the struggle against gentrification over the last five years. This year saw the death of Pablo Avendano, which had a powerful impact on many radicals. People wrote graffiti, dropped a banner, and organized two bicycle rides to commemorate his life and keep his name in the street and in struggle. Some attacks during Black December (an international call for action and communication in remembrance of dead anarchists) were accompanied by communiques that explicitly reference anarchists internationally who have passed away. How can our sense of memory and time be used to further struggle? How can we avoid the trap of longing for the past while remaining immobilized in the present?

Like 2017, 2018 saw consistent clandestine attacks and sabotage throughout the year, reminding us that breaking the social peace is still possible. Attacks were one way that people were able to practice and deepen their skills, experiment with what does or does not work, and figure out what it will take to fight against domination as this global shitshow gets even worse.

This year, the timing of various attacks has been more lined up with the directions of local events and social struggles. During Occupy ICE, attacks took place against collaborating companies and banks; during the prison strike, prison profiteers like Starbucks and UPS were struck; and in the lead-up to fascist and far-right gatherings, symbols and people involved were attacked.

In the spring, an underground campaign against Amazon, during which most notably an Amazon Treasure Truck was set on fire overnight in the parking lot of a West Philly Amazon warehouse, was probably a major reason that the corporation ultimately decided to place its second headquarters elsewhere. Prior to the campaign, Philadelphia had been within Amazon’s top three choices for HQ2.

In the fall, anti-fascists waged a concerted campaign to stop Keystone United (a state-wide white supremacist bonehead crew) from holding its annual Leif Erikson Day celebration at the Thorfinn Karlsefni statue in Philadelphia. After 30 days of impressively doxxing seemingly everyone who has ever purposely hung out with KU members, including detailed information on the housing, employment and cars of some key regional members, KU members and associates were scared and panicking. When vandals in the night took down the Thorfinn statue itself and threw it in the Schuykill River, the conditions for KU’s event were completely destroyed. This is the first time in recent memory that anti-authoritarians have succeeded in completely preventing a fascist or far-right event from occurring here, rather than from simply disrupting it — this can point us in the direction of further success.

2018 saw some escalation in terms of attacks. Attacks aimed at individuals responsible for domination (a prison guard’s car and a far-right organizers home), attacks using fire (the burning of a cell phone tower and an Amazon truck), and attacks during Black December (against police cars and ATMs) indicated more frequent use of more intense methods than in previous years.

The last year has seen the continuation of many anarchist practices based in time and continuity. May Day, June 11th, International Week of Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners in August, the days surrounding Thanksgiving and Columbus Day, Black December, and New Year’s Eve have all been accompanied by intentional anarchic activities. What would it look like to extend this calendar to encompass the whole year? What can we do in the time in between these rituals? How can we continue to maintain them and also extend our activity beyond them?

LESS GOOD STUFF

We still haven’t figured out how to completely prevent or even disrupt major public fascist and far-right demos in Philly. A major effort was made to push back against the Proud Boys’ rally here on November 17th, which got a great turnout for the opposition, but the rally itself still happened as planned. As with the protest against the MAGA march in 2017, counter-demonstrations this year like the anti-Blue Lives Matter march in August have been confrontational, but not pointed. They gave us some valuable practice acting together in the streets, but did not complete their original goal of stopping the right-wing from marching. If we want to make sure the far right does not assert themselves in the streets, we need more people to show up to counter their street presence, and we also need to experiment with new strategies to prevent them from getting there in the first place.

Aside from some Philly anarchists’ ongoing support of local political prisoners and recent support of the Vaughn 17, anarchists still mostly don’t have connections with prisoners in the region. Developing better connections to prisoners would help us have an ear to what’s happening inside, and would enable us to intervene more directly in prison struggles, in addition to supporting actions like the prison strike through outside solidarity actions.

As with almost everything else, we are generally nowhere near in skills, resources, or capacity to effectively take on the energy industry’s ever-growing encroachments on the region’s land and water, much less to move towards destroying forever the infrastructure that makes global capitalism and American settler civilization possible. Daily news reminds us of the massive extinction events, climate catastrophes, and human migration and suffering that is already resulting from climate change. We were glad to see people take up sabotage tactics against pipeline construction this year, as well as blockades against the Mariner East 2 and other pipelines, and we encourage more imagination and exploration of concerted action this year as new infrastructure continues to be built. For more socially oriented anarchists, imagining and spreading resources that could provide new means of survival, to show what else is possible as well as provide in case others do succeed in destroying the current infrastructure, could be a crucial contribution.

The insurrectionary milieu still experiences people moving relatively quickly in and out of activity, as people figure out what they are or are not into, and struggle with fear, life under capitalism, and feelings of exclusion. We would welcome more initiatives that create the feelings of community and acceptance that many of us are looking for. The lack of it is an ongoing issue for people trying to remain active in the scene, and as usual we encourage people who perceive a problem to offer their critique through action – in this case, this could look like helping correct the problem by organizing a potluck, a game, a demo, etc.

Death, illness, and sadness have weighed heavily on the anarchist space this year, and we have found friendship and care to be ever more important, and at times life-saving.

Don’t Want to be Your “Second Pillar”: A Response to RED

from It’s Going Down

What follows is another essay on the ongoing dialog on syndicalism in the 21st Century. This essay in particular is a response to the Radical Education Department from the author of “Crafty Ghosts.”

The Radical Education Department, in their response to Nothing to Syndicate, asserts that Occupy, anti-ICE struggles, and anti-racist struggles were “almost always expressing precisely working class concerns”. This is blatantly untrue. ICE detainees generally identify first as migrants. Occupiers rallied in public parks, not workplaces. The unemployment rates in Ferguson were three times higher than the national rates. “Worker” is not an identity these people in revolt took for themselves, it is one that class-reductionist leftists foisted unto them.

RED might think that by spending the first half of their article describing a dynamic interrelationship between class and other identities and oppressive systemss they’ve thrown off the old “class reductionist” millstone, but we can see them pivoting away from those arguments before the conclusion. All their intersectional rhetoric unravels with statements like: “the resurging fascism in the US and beyond is only another step in a dynamic that lies at the very heart of capitalism,” and “we should not see recent uprisings as alternatives to worker struggle, but as channels into which working class radicalism is flowing”.

Since the situationists threw up “never work” tags in May of 68, social uprisings have been increasingly disinterested in letting “working class radicalism” flow through them. Leftitsts, please try to recognize this; people are not your ventriloquist dummies. Many understand their oppression and exploitation in terms that are NOT primarily economic, that do NOT involve identifying as workers, and while their ire may be aimed at the same wealthy elites as you, their relationship with those elites is often NOT mediated by a boss or a workplace hierarchy. Today, people find ourselves relating to our oppressors through police, ICE agents, prison guards, politicians, and, yes, internet aps.

Recognizing that digitization (and more importantly financialisation and precariatization) change people’s relationship with the mode of production is not “repeating the fever-dreams of the ruling class”, it is calling for an updated praxis.

 

GDC Benefit Show

from Instagram

GDC is hosting a benefit show at the Pharmacy in South Philly next Wednesday (1/23). Come join us for good bands and a good cause. #ForeverAntifascist
#MakingPunkAThreatAgain

[@The Pharmacy
01/23/19
7PM
$7-10]

Forum on Organizing & Anti-fascism in Philadelphia

from Philly IWW

An Injury to One is an Injury to All: A Community Forum on Organizing in Philadelphia

Join us for a panel, discussion, and community forum on organizing in Philadelphia.  The national rise of fascism takes its fuel from the same sources of many of the problems facing the Philadelphia community.  Come out to hear from organizers active in Philadelphia and to talk about the issues you see!

Saturday, January 19th
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
1700 South Broad St.
Hosted by: The IWW General Defense Committee (Philadelphia local) and other community organizations
Childcare provided!

J20 Really Really Free Market and Potluck!

from Facebook

Spend J20 in solidarity with your comrades while browsing through stuff and eating food!

Please bring maximum 2 boxes of stuff so we’re not overwhelmed at the end with leftovers to donate

Bring whatever stuff you think someone else might like, food, clothes, movies, weird books, cool cool cool

Vegan and gluten free food will be available (at least in the beginning) It’s a potluck, please bring food to share if you can. Let’s just keep it a dry space please and thank you

There will be an donation bucket at the space to contribute towards Liberation Project’s Emergency Fund for comrades facing state repression after events. If you feel inclined to throw a couple of bucks their way that would be great!

***If you’re part of a group/collective that is interested in tabling the RRFM message us! If anyone wants to play music or perform or something also message us!***

♥ Liberation Project

Build the Revolution: Anarcho-Syndicalism in the 21st Century

from It’s Going Down

The Radical Education Department (RED) weighs in on the ongoing debate around syndicalism and organizing strategies, arguing that modern variations of syndicalism still offer powerful weapons for autonomous anti-capitalist struggles and movements.

Read and Print PDF HERE

Introduction

Anarchists are debating anarcho-syndicalism once again. If anarcho-syndicalism is a “ghost”—like some critics are claiming—it has proven extremely hard to exorcise. But it is something very different entirely.

The current debate was sparked by “Nothing to Syndicate,” which largely repeats standard criticisms of AS, some of the more recent of which can be seen here and here; see also the summaries here. Then came a critique of “Nothing” (“Aiming at Ghosts”), and then two replies defending the original piece (here and here). The debate has been fairly limited so far. The important first reply to “Nothing,” as well as the defenses that followed, have been wrestling over the details of the original piece. But what’s been missing is a comprehensive response to the original question. What does anarcho-syndicalism offer radicals in the 21st century US?

Some have given this kind of response to critics before, though often in more limited ways (like here). My goal is to go further and deeper. First, I give a systematic historical-materialist analysis of 21st century capitalism in the United States today: its basic drives, structures, and developments. Then I examine the profound limits facing anarchists and their revolutionary allies facing such conditions. (This section tacitly rejects the superficial analysis of the original article.)

And then I offer a vision of what anarcho-syndicalism has to offer. It is far from a ghost. It is a set of inherited, audacious, and sometimes conflicting experiments. Those experiments are still developing. (The ongoing evolution is obvious in more recent syndicalist praxis like green syndicalism and community syndicalism.)

I locate in AS explosive resources for our present—for moving past the fundamental limits of radical organizing today and building revolutionary power to strike at 21st century capital. Defending AS, I explore how its inner resources could be developed to meet the revolutionary needs of the moment.

Anarcho-syndicalism offers badly needed tools for building mass, durable, working-class autonomy inside and outside the workplace for the sake of the revolutionary overthrow of every institution of capitalist control. It is an idea whose time has come again.

Anathema Volume 4 Issue 12

from Anathema

Volume 4 Issue 12 (PDF for reading 8.5 x 11)

Volume 4 Issue 12 (PDF for printing 11 x 17)

In this issue:

  • 2018: Year in Review
  • Challenging Infrastructure Beyond the State
  • What Went Down
  • It’s Robbin’ Season
  • Selling Out the Neighborhood
  • From Cyntoia to Bolsonaro
  • Monkey Wrenches and Black Banners
  • Wendy Trevino Poem

Philly Turns Up the Heat for Mumia Abu-Jamal

from It’s Going Down

The following press release about continued action in support of Black Liberation prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was sent to It’s Going Down, which we reprint below.

A community delegation delivered thousands of petitions to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on January 7th, asking him to not stand in the way of justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal and to not appeal a December 27, 2018 court decision by Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker.

Wayne Alexander Cook (nephew of Mumia Abu-Jamal) handed the 4,227 signed petitions to Krasner’s assistant as they entered the DA’s lobby. The thick manila envelope also contained letters from Tadashi Seto (Doro-Chiba, Japanese rail workers’ union), Edwin R Ferris (International Secretary-Treasurer of International Longshore & Warehouse Union) and other labor statements in support of Abu-Jamal’s quest for freedom after 37 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

The DA refused to talk with the group that included Michael Africa, Jr (MOVE Organization), Sandy Joy (Rowen University professor) and other members of the umbrella group Mobilization4Mumia. The DA’s Director of Communications Ben Waxman did meet soon after, but revealed no new information when asked whether or not Krasner will appeal. “That’s above my paygrade,” he said.

The online petitions were gathered in ten days from thousands of people in the US and from around the world by Roots Action and Mobilization4Mumia.

The petitions are part of an effort to persuade Philadelphia DA Krasner to refuse an appeal of Tucker’s ruling. Such an appeal would lead to years of court proceedings and further postpone Abu-Jamal’s chance to prove his innocence. After almost four decades in prison and suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and related ailments, years of court delays will be nothing less than a death sentence and a denial of justice.

On January 5th, 2019 almost 200 people marched in the rain with signs and banners in front of the DA’s office with demands of: “Justice Now! Krasner: Don’t Appeal! Free Mumia! ”

Mumia Abu-Jamal won the significant victory before Judge Leon Tucker in a decision granting Abu-Jamal new rights to re-open appeals. The ruling could impact other prisoners whose appeals were similarly denied by biased judges.

Tucker ruled that former PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille denied Abu-Jamal fair and impartial hearings by not recusing himself from the defendant’s appeals between 1998 and 2012.  The ruling referenced Castille’s public statements of being a “law and order” prosecutor, responsible for 45 men on death row, the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and new evidence supporting the claim that Castille singled out men convicted as “police killers.” Tucker cited all the above because they created the appearance of bias and impropriety in the appeal process.

Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence in the fatal shooting of police officer Daniel Faulkner. Judge Tucker’s ruling means that Abu-Jamal’s appeals of his 1982 convictions are restored. Abu-Jamal has argued through his past appeals that he was framed by police and that the prosecution manufactured evidence of guilt and suppressed the proof of his innocence, in addition to other violations of his due process rights.

After decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Abu-Jamal’s supporters are demanding that the charges should be dismissed and he should be freed.