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]

Cars, Riots, & Black Liberation: Philadelphia’s Walter Wallace Rebellion

from Mute

Image: ‘Looting rampant’ in Philly

The US saw some of the largest riots and protests in its history this year in response to police murder of black people. Yet there has been scant attention paid to the innovations in struggle specific to these rebellions. Shemon & Arturo take another look at the phenomenon of car-looting and argue that this tactic is inseparable from black liberation 

 

Glass shatters. Thick plumes of dark black smoke pour out of a burning police car stalled in the middle of 52nd street. Another black man shot dead by the police. Another rebellion in defense of basic human dignity.  ‘Sir, it’s chaos!,’ one of the officers yells into his radio as they retreat under a barrage of rocks, bottles, bricks. ‘Stop throwing shit!,’ an older black man on a bullhorn yells, but the young black militants keep throwing projectiles anyway. The police, outnumbered by the hundreds, can only watch from a distance as people begin to loot stores all along the ave. The cops concentrate on blocking off major intersections.

 

While sitting in a traffic jam, waiting for the red light to turn green, a car breaks whatever is left of the law and speeds away. Time and speed do not obey red, yellow, or green here. This is no ordinary traffic jam. It is the traffic jam of black liberation, where looting by car is the art form developed in response to the murder of Walter Wallace Jr. by the Philadelphia Police.

 

All of a sudden a group of black teenagers pop out of a car and walk down the street, to an unknown destination. Cop cars zoom past them in a panic of sirens, red and blue lights flashing through the darkness, probably rushing to another 9-11 call about looters at a pharmacy, Footlocker, grocery store, or liquor store somewhere else. Across the street, a gas station is filled with cars of young black people hopping in and out, discussions taking place, and music blaring. It is part music festival, part pitstop, and part modern day proletarian council where young people discuss what to do next.

 

What happened in Ferguson as an impromptu practice has developed into an art in Philadelphia: the art of looting by car. In the United States, black proletarians are constantly refining and sharpening forms, tactics, and strategies of struggle.

 

In the official record, these activities will be recorded as crime. Joe Biden has already left his statement for all of posterity to see. Biden, like all politicians, spews the great lie of our society: black rioters are criminals. Riots have nothing to do with politics. But there could be nothing further from the truth. Black rioters are the creators of new forms of struggle, new visions of liberation, and new types of revolutionary organization. The accomplishments of the revolt in Philadelphia were powerful, liberating and simply beautiful. While pundits want to dismiss the riots as apolitical or criminal, it is the revolutionary activities of the black proletariat which constitute the actual form of politics that put radical change on the horizon.

 

Ignoring the Uprising

 

The main people who take the uprising seriously are the rIght and a small layer of the ultra-left. For liberals and moderates the insurrectionary dimension of the uprising barely exists, since 93 percent of the protests have been baptized as peaceful. Using this statistical sleight of hand, liberalism transforms itself into an ally of black people, equating Black Lives Matter with respectable, non-violent, legal protest, while ignoring the remaining 7 percent of violent protests, i.e. the actual riots. Even socialists have stuck their heads in the sand when it comes to the tactical and strategic implications of the uprising. Everyone condemns racism and police brutality, but for all their claims of solidarity with black liberation, most leftists have fallen miserably short when it comes to actually participating in the riots that have swept this country. At best, most abstain from the insurrectionary aspects of the uprising altogether; at worst, they opportunistically leech off of it in order to build up their particular organizations, brands, and careers. Meanwhile, black proletarians are getting arrested and putting their bodies on the line in a battle of life and death.

 

At this point in the development of the struggle, any group that claims solidarity with black liberation, but has not been fighting the cops and rioting in the streets, or directly providing aid and support to such activities, is irrelevant. There are no excuses.  We have met women, children, parents, elders, undocumented people, people in wheelchairs, on crutches, coming from all genders, abilities, and races imaginable, all throwing down in one way or another during street riots. For those who engage the police in battle, the time for words and social media posts are over. This kind of symbolic anti-racism and solidarity – which has been the bread and butter of liberals and leftists for decades now – has been exposed for the joke that it really is. Solidarity with the movement requires risking your skin. This is not an abstraction; this is exactly what black proletarians are doing.

 

And it is not only the white, Asian, indigenous, and latinx left that ignores the most dynamic and militant aspects of this uprising, it is also the major black intellectuals and radicals of our time. This should be no surprise, as a similar split occurred among radical intellectuals during World War I in the Second International and again in national liberation struggles during World War II and after.

 

For all the radical rhetoric of marxism, in terms of its actual deeds and practice, most of the radical left has accommodated itself to the status quo. The law has expanded in response to class conflicts and anti-racist struggles to the point that plenty of harmless forms of activism can be engaged in, but they are simply a new prison for activists and movements. Previous generations have won victories and expanded the law so that we can safely denounce wars, march almost anywhere we wish, and say whatever we want. This range of legality seems like a victory, but has also become a trap that leftist organizations treat as a principle. The fact of the matter is that leftist organizations are simply not prepared to deal with the illegal nature of the revolutionary struggles and politics that are taking place in the present moment. The black proletariat continues to show a practical commitment to fighting the police, setting fire to carceral infrastructure, and looting the commodities of this dying capitalist system. When these are the tactics of the proletariat in motion, what kind of organizational forms make sense?

 

Organizational, tactical, and strategic clarity is emerging for the first time since the 1960s, but it is not coming from the left – it is coming from the practical initiatives and strategies of the black proletariat. Leftists run their mouths about organizational questions in abstract and antiquated terms, regurgitating a played out formula modeled on Russia or China that has been repeated ad nauseam for many decades now, but which has produced little more than sects and cults. They ignore the concrete forms of revolutionary organization that are already taking place in the uprising.

 

Revolutionary organizations are not built in the abstract, but are expressions of the real tactical and strategic challenges raised by the proletariat in the class struggle. The fundamental organizational question that revolutionaries face is how to contribute and relate to the uprising, specifically in terms of street fighting, looting, and other riot tactics. Those who are truly committed to revolution will have to push past the stale organizational forms of the past and begin to account for the diverse, illegal, and creative organizational forms that the black proletariat is developing in the present, the use of cars being one of the most innovative and effective tools in this emerging tactical repertoire.

 

It cannot be completely spontaneous that black proletarians went to Wal-Mart, looted it, and when the cops arrived, evaded them and went on to form caravans that targeted different shopping districts throughout the city. Much of the official prognosis of this moment is that the rioters are unorganized, lack direction, and leadership. In truth, the reality is that there’s a high degree of coordination and organization within the maelstrom of the riot. This should be obvious when caravans of looters swarm specific locations at the same time. To do so, people collectively decide on specific targets, coordinate movement to the target area, and often set up look outs who will warn everyone else when the police are coming.

 

New Dynamics, New Divisions

 

Organizations prove themselves in the battle of class conflict, often for specific purposes. In the case of Philadelphia, any organization had to deal with the dynamics of feet and tires. Most people destroyed property and looted stores in one manner or another by marching in the streets, and when the cops came along, they fought and evaded them on foot. But as the state has become more and more prepared for riots, prolonged street confrontations with the police have become more costly, and it has become harder to continue on foot. We first saw this in Chicago after the murder of Latrell Allen, where a caravan of cars looted the Magnificent Mile, and from there dispersed themselves throughout the city. This trend continued in Louisville with the Breonna Taylor protests in late September, where state preparation made an uprising in the city practically impossible. In response, people took to cars and spread the riots geographically by looting businesses throughout the city. This was a brilliant tactical and ultimately strategic innovation when facing the raw power of the state.

 

Car looting has clear advantages to looting on foot. There’s less peace policing, because there is not as much of an association with a specific geography, and what is often the same thing, a specific race. The most important aspect of car-looting, however, is that it disperses and exhausts the police forces. This strategy also creates a dynamic where those left on foot may find themselves in de facto police free zones, able to revel in freedom for extended periods of time, because the police are too busy trying to counter the looting caravans elsewhere. This is what happened in Philadelphia. The synergy of those on foot and those in cars creates a different geography and dynamic of struggle where police cars are racing from store to store trying to stop the roving bands of car looters, while those on foot find themselves pulling police resources in a different direction. There are simply too many rioters in different places and not enough police.

 

Looting by car is a strategic advancement, but the car is certainly not a perfect tool. The license plate is a huge security risk. With a few keystrokes police can use your license plate to look up your address and knock on your door. While this presents many dangers, what’s important to note is that many proles are finding ways to loot by car and not get caught regardless. Besides the risks that come with having a license plate, evading the police by car is oftentimes more dangerous and getting caught after a high speed chase is going to result in longer jail time.

 

Besides the security risks, the second problem is that you need a car in the first place, or at least need to know someone who has a car. While car ownership is widespread in the US, it is determined by race and class. According to a study from the University of California, ‘African Americans have the lowest car ownership of all racial and ethnic groups in the country, the researchers say, with 19 percent living in homes in which no one owns a car. That compares to 4.6 percent of whites in homes with no car, 13.7 percent of latinos, and 9.6 percent of the remaining groups combined.’ While not having your own car is probably not a total barrier, taking note of the unequal ownership of cars is important. At the same time, the fact that car-looting has so far been almost entirely black shows us the determination of black proletarians to use cars in the uprising.

 

The third concern is that the car simultaneously atomizes the struggle, where each car is a separate unit. While in a way, the car socializes small units of rioters, it does so in a very different manner than looting on foot. Each car is a ship unto itself. It’s not always clear if human beings are directly relating to one another or if it is the car as a commodity which emerges as the subject. This mask is torn off in the rush of doors opening, looters jumping in and out of cars. From the outside, however, car looting can be fairly mysterious. Drivers and passengers can hide behind tinted windows and it becomes difficult to engage them. Joining a random car caravan can invite suspicion, especially if the caravan is made up of friends who already know each other. New faces are correctly suspected. This is all very different from looting on foot, where there is much more of a social and collective atmosphere. Still, looting by car is almost impossible to do as an individual, and thus, entails its own kind of sociality.

 

If the initial division of the uprising was between legal and illegal protests, non-violent and violent protests, good and bad protesters, it is clear that another division has emerged: shoes versus tires. However, this division is not an obstacle to the struggle. Unlike previous divisions which reflected class and racial differences in the movement, this one emerges directly out of the tactical back and forth between the police and the black proletariat. This organic division arises in response to the maneuvers of the police, and therefore, reflects innovation and creativity, instead of containment and counterinsurgency.

 

New Geographies of Struggle

 

To understand car-looting is to catch a glimpse into the changing geography of struggle. The size of cities can give us a baseline reference point. Philadelphia is 134 square miles and Louisville 325 square miles. To put that in perspective, New York City is 302 square miles and Oakland is 78 square miles. This information gives us a sense of the specific size of the container we are dealing with, but if we want to grasp the full geographic dimensions of a city, there are particular infrastructures, densities, and social dynamics that determine why car-looting takes place where it does. In New York City, for example, looting by car was not a mass phenomenon. Why has looting by car happened in Chicago, Louisville and Philadelphia, but not NYC? The low car ownership rate (at about 50 percent), the high concentration of stores and people, coupled with an extensive subway system, all come together to militate against the use of cars in riots. This is not to say that some car looting did not take place, just that it was not the decisive element of the rebellion in NYC. But in cities like Louisville and Philadelphia, cars became major components of the uprising. Furthermore, if the initial phase of the uprising this summer was concentrated on the wealthiest portions of cities, in the fall the proletariat abandoned Market Street in Philly, and abandoned Jefferson Square Park in Louisville, and instead used cars to spread the rebellion throughout the city. Instead of fixating on territory in the way that activists tend to do, those who looted by car used the vastness of urban space to create a new territory of struggle. This is part of a qualitative development in the class struggle that still needs to be made sense of and accounted for.

 

A century ago it was factories which dotted the terrain of class struggle; today it is the shopping district, the cell phone store, the CVS, and the Apple store that reveals the new geography of struggle. Rioting and looting are a reflection of what capital looks like now: wealth in the form of commodities concentrated in key neighborhoods, often spread geographically throughout cities. While these commodities are not the means of production, they certainly represent a vast collection of wealth just waiting for proletarians to expropriate. The looting of Wal-Mart is an excellent example of this. Here capital has brought together a vast assemblage of commodities which proletarians usually have to pay for. The looting of Wal-Mart on the night of 27 October was the reaction of people who are forced to live and work alongside this hyper concentration of commodities. While precise data is not available of what kind of jobs rioters hold, an educated guess is that if they hold jobs at all, they are most likely in low-wage service sector jobs with little structural power to strike. Instead of critiquing rioters, then, it makes more sense to ask why proletarians in the United States are rioting more than they’re striking.

 

Weapons and Ethics

 

We’ve seen right-wingers use cars to attack protestors. The big pick-up truck and the Trump waving sedan has become a weapon to intimidate, injure, and kill BLM protestors.  In response, many activists formed their own car brigades for surrounding protests and blocking right-wingers from ramming protestors with their cars. While this has been an important development, another and much less noticed development has been the growing use of cars for looting. This turn in tactics raises more general questions about the tools we use, how we use them, and how these tools relate to liberation.

 

Reflecting on the use of guns in his recent text ‘Weapons and Ethics‘, Adrian Wohlleben tells us that the weapons we use and how we use them powerfully impact our struggles. We should be attuned to how specific weapons might increase collective power and mass participation, while others might limit them. Wohlleben throws some cold water on any romanticism about guns, and equally important, pushes us to think about how the use of guns changes the terrain of struggle. Most crucially, Wohlleben demonstrates a commitment to keeping the movement mass based and militant at the same time. Weapons and Ethics asks: ‘How does our use of weapons work behind our backs to define the meaning and limits of our power? How does this choice affect and configure who feels able to join us, and even what we think of as ‘winning’? How can we make this choice explicit to ourselves?’ While there is much to agree with here, we can also critique Wohlleben for not navigating the precise history of how guns have been used for black liberation. While it was not Wohlleben’s purpose to do such an analysis, in the context of the George Floyd uprising, and a potential civil war, it is clearly a task we must turn our attention to. And like guns, there is an ethics around cars, but one that is radically different. How do Wohlleben’s questions square with the use of cars for black liberation?

 

We usually do not think of cars as weapons, but they have been for some time. The car bomb has been used for decades. Considering how widespread cars are in this country, it is not inconceivable that they will be used in such a manner as struggle escalates. While we’ve seen cops and right-wingers use cars against BLM protesters, there were also several incidents in Philadelphia in which cars were used as weapons against the police during the riots. Police were attacked with cars during the Walter Wallace Rebellion, during the George Floyd Uprising back in May, and also in NYC.

 

After guns, cars are probably the most American of products. The very origin story of the car is inseparable from the rise of the United States as an industrial and global power. And while many on the left correctly criticize cars as climate destroying machines, there is an alternative history of the car that we must pay attention to.  The car, commonly understood as one of the defining symbols of American capitalism, has been turned on its head, and repurposed as a weapon of black liberation.

 

From Ferguson to Philly

 

The use of cars for black liberation is not new. The Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56 is perhaps the most famous example. Civil rights activists, particularly black women who were domestic workers, organized an alternative public transportation system based on cars in order to boycott the segregation of the buses in Montgomery, Alabama. This history provides valuable lessons for our current moment, especially when it comes to the question of social reproduction. This movement was a large-scale challenge to white supremacy. However, cars were not exactly used as weapons of struggle, as they are today. The manner in which cars are currently being used in riots reflects an escalation of the class struggle. If we begin with Ferguson, we see cars being used as getaway vehicles, as barriers to create police free zones, and as shields to fire at cops. But cars in Ferguson were not used for the purposes of looting. The Ferguson uprising did not spread geographically in response to the police. Instead spaces were defended around several sites in Ferguson, most importantly the QT and Canfield and West Florissant. Compared to the 2010s, the riots happening today have escalated in intensity and expanded in geography. The caravan of looters is probably the best example of this.

 

Dozens of gas guzzling monsters roaring down the streets, tires screeching, tinted windows – this is the caravan of black liberation. This phenomenon is an important aspect of the moving wave of mass struggles. It can be understood through the framework of Rosa Luxemburg’s great text The Mass Strike. While many communists agree with Luxemburg today, it was a controversial argument that she was making at the time. Luxemburg challenged the widely held conception of how socialism would come about in the 2nd International: a peaceful evolution won by the vote. Instead, she demonstrated that the strike waves rolling through Eastern Europe were the key to socialism. While it would be foolish to claim that car-looting alone will get us to communism-anarchism, it is one response of the black proletariat to a variety of tactical, strategic, and political economic developments of our time. How this strategy will connect to communism is not fully clear, but it is communistic in the sense of its mass nature and its attack on the commodity form.

 

What we see from Ferguson to Philadelphia is the growing use of the car as a weapon of mass struggle. In Ferguson cars were used for defensive purposes, while in Chicago, Louisville, Philadelphia and elsewhere cars were used for offensive purposes: for looting, for attacking police, and for spreading the geography of the uprising. We should expect cars to continue to play an important role as riots continue to unfold and the uprising potentially mutates into other forms of mass struggle: blockades, strikes, and occupations. Undoubtedly, the state will respond with new forms of surveillance and repression, but how it will do that is unclear. In the meantime, black proletarians will probably take advantage of the state’s lack of capacity to deal with widespread car-looting.

 

Conclusion

Over the summer comrades and Crimethinc published an exciting text, ‘Tools and Tactics in the Portland Protests‘, which showed the creativity and dynamics of the Portland protests. Each move by the Federal Agents forced protestors to develop a counter move, creating a back and forth dynamic that defines the tactical pulse of any mass struggle. While the street tactics of the Portland protests are familiar to many people across the country, making sense of car-looting is much more difficult if you aren’t part of the caravans of looters. But none of the obscurity of car-looting should stop us from recognizing that cars are inseparable from a strategy of black liberation. While it can be difficult to forge bonds with car caravans, this is a developing form of mass struggle where many of the divisions of our society might be broken if non-black proletarians can figure out how to participate.

About to Explode: Notes on the #WalterWallaceJr Rebellion in Philadelphia

from It’s Going Down

The following analysis and reflection looks at the recent rebellion in Philadelphia following the police murder of Walter Wallace Jr.

by Gilets Jawns

Nearly every week over the course of this long, hot summer, a different city has occupied the center stage of this particularly American drama. Through this passing of the torch, the sequence of riots had has dragged on far longer than anyone could have expected. In the last days before the election, in perhaps the most significant swing state, in the Philadelphia’s turn to carry the torch.

Following the climatic violence of Kenosha, each subsequent riot has been less able to capture the public imaginary or mobilize wide layers of society. It is too soon to tell whether the spectacle of the election will tower over the spectacle of insurrection; if this summer of unrest has finally run its course, or if black proletarians will continue to carry forward the struggle on their own. The riots in Philadelphia none the less leave us with a set of questions about the composition and tactics of movement, and the role of pro-revolutionaries within it.

I.

On Monday, October 26th, Walter Wallace Jr., a father and aspiring rapper with a history of mental illness, was having a crisis and acting erratically. His family called 911, hoping to have him temporarily hospitalized. Soon the Philadelphia Police Department was on the scene, rather than ambulance they had expected. Officers on the scene were told by his family that Wallace was having a mental health crisis. Nonetheless, within minutes, Wallace had been shot at over a dozen times. He died soon afterwards in the hospital. Shakey footage of the incident, captured on a cellphone, ends with family members confronting and screaming at the police officers on the scene. Everybody knew it was about to explode.

As the video begins to circulate on social media, a demonstration is called for that evening at Malcolm X Park in West Philadelphia, not far from the site of the shooting. Several hundred people join a rowdy march from the park to the nearby 18th Precinct, then through the neighborhood, and eventually back to precinct. One section of the crowd breaks away to march on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus police station, breaking it’s windows.

On the blocks cleared from the police, fireworks are set off and the crowd begins looting. Most of the storefronts on that stretch of 52nd Street, occupied by small, black owned businesses, such as bookstores and beauty salons, remain untouched.

Clashes breakout at the 18th Precinct between between demonstrators and riot police and the crowd spills over onto 52nd street, the commercial strip in that part of the neighborhood, where a police car is set on fire and another one has its windows broken. Dumpsters are dragging into the street and also set on fire. On the blocks cleared from the police, fireworks are set off and the crowd begins looting. Most of the storefronts on that stretch of 52nd Street, occupied by small, black owned businesses, such as bookstores and beauty salons, remain untouched. When riot police eventually charged the crowd, people took off running down side streets, jumped into cars, and disappeared. Looting soon broke out all over the city, as groups drove around breaking into pharmacies, liquor stores, and chain stores.

In West Philadelphia meanwhile things began to take on the form of a classic community riot. A crowd fought back the police with bricks and bottles until they retreated. In the space opened up, a stretch of several blocks, much of the neighborhood was out in the streets or on their porches. Young people broke up bricks on the sidewalk, in anticipation of another battle with the police. Others drank, debated, enthusiastically greeted their neighbors, shared looted goods, and cheered on the youth as they fought with or ran from the police. Everyone shared in the revelry of the moment, even if they didn’t partake in, or even criticized, the pot-latch of destruction.

Older drunk men took on the roll of town crier, walking from block to block enthusiastically shouting the news from elsewhere in the neighborhood: what intersections were being looted; where groups were headed now.

The doors of pharmacies and bodegas were broken in. People calmly walked in and out, taking what they needed. “Is there any kid’s cereal left? If you don’t have kids, you might not know this, but that shit is expensive.” A whole range of people from the neighborhood walked the streets with trash bags with stolen goods slung over their shoulders. Older drunk men took on the roll of town crier, walking from block to block enthusiastically shouting the news from elsewhere in the neighborhood: what intersections were being looted, where groups were headed now.

When riot police inevitably tried to retake the block, most of the crowd, most either went back inside their homes, or ran down the street to their cars. A pattern emerged for the rest of the night: someone would yell out an intersection in the neighborhood, crews would drive there, regroup, and begin looting until enough police arrived that it was time to disperse and regroup at another intersection.

Tuesday, October 27th

The next morning it was announced that the National Guard would be arriving within the next 24 to 48 hours. The riot thus had a window of time to make the most of. A flier circulated for another demonstration at Malcolm X Park that evening. In an almost comically exaggerated form of what the movement has come to call swooping, the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), a Stalinist sect, circulated a separate call for a march at exact same location, only an hour earlier. This confusion led to the crowd splitting, with some following the PSL towards Center City and others marching towards the 18th Precinct. The group gathered at the precinct steadily over the course of the evening to around 400 people, a significantly larger and more diverse crowd than the previous night.

In the meantime, a caravan of cars descended on a WalMart in Port Richmond, on the northern end of the city. Video footage from a news helicopter showed people running out of the store with flat-screen TVs and other home appliances into a parking lot densely packed with idling cars. PPD speculated that up to 200 people were inside the WalMart at once, and the caravan may have involved up to 1,000 people. For the next few hours, hundreds of people in dozens of cars marauded through Aramingo avenue, looting a Footlocker, furniture stores, kid’s clothing stores, and other box stores along the way. WalMart announced later that week that, due to the threat of continued social unrest, they would be taking guns and ammunition off of their shop floors.

When the crowd at the Precinct began to march, some people almost immediately began to build barricades and throw bottles at the police. Soon a group of riot police were being chased under volleys of bricks and bottles nearly back to the precinct. Most of the march though tried to steer clear of the street-fighting, but was nonetheless overwhelmed by the sheer size of the police presence. Along 52nd Street the march was cut off and then broken up, with much of the crowd either kettled, dispersed, or stuck in a stand off with riot police. Eventually two or three smaller marches criss-crossed the neighborhood. One of these groups marched away from the heavily-policed zone towards Center City, leaving a trail of burning barricades and a looted liquor store in it’s wake.

Around midnight, with the streets largely evacuated of activists, youth from the neighborhood began to gather around 52nd street. They hurled bricks at the line of riot police and set dumpsters on fire in the street until police eventually charged at them. They then led the police on a chase for the rest of the night, stopping occasionally to break up bricks and wait for their enemy to get within striking range, throwing as many as they could, and then running again.

At the head of the march, improvising the route, was a twenty-something-year-old in a wheelchair dressed in black bloc. Everyone behind him was carrying bricks. Improvised barricades were occasionally dragged into the street and burned. An ATM was set on fire, as well as several vehicles, including an Xfinity van. “That’s for cutting off my wifi, bitch!” The whole proceedings had a festive air to it. Almost everyone knew each other from the neighborhood and would crack jokes on each other as they went. A solidarity demonstration that night in downtown Brooklyn threw bricks at the police, broke the windows of a police car, a court building, and numerous businesses.

Wednesday, October 28th

The next morning, the FBI arrested four people, including a prominent community organizer, who are being charged with arson and accused of having a role in setting three police cars on fire during the uprising in May and June. The FBI made similar arrests and raids in Atlanta that week.

A curfew was declared for 9PM. No demonstration was called for that evening.

As soon as the sun set, looting started spreading all over the city.

That evening, a small crowd gathered outside of the 18th Precinct, composed of more journalists than protests. After being warned by community affairs officers that the gathering was illegal, most of the crowd went home. For the rest of the night, youth from the neighborhood sporadically clashed with the police and set off fireworks across West Philadelphia.

After being warned about the curfew by community affairs officers, most of the crowd dispersed. Throughout the night, small groups of people, mostly from the neighborhood, clashed with police and set off fireworks across West Philadelphia.

Along City Avenue in Merion Park, a caravan of looters ransacked strip malls and box stores. Groups of between three and a dozen cars swarmed the area, storming businesses, and then stopping at gas stations to regroup and discuss their next move. At times the swarm of looters was so dense that there traffic jams along the highway.

Dispersed looting continued for the next several days, as did the occasional daytime activists demonstration, but neither found a way to pick up momentum or relate to each other. Several days of bad weather didn’t help. This was perhaps the first time since rioting began this summer where a curfew was declared for a city and large crowds didn’t come out to challenge it. The national guard finally arrived on Friday, too late to prevent any of the rioting.

///

II.

Innovation

To stay dynamic and overcome the impasses they face, movements need to constantly innovate the tactics they use. In many cities, including Philadelphia as the large-scale riots and social looting of late May ran their course, the unrest was kept going through a turn to diffuse looting. Rather than struggling with police over a particular territory, groups spanned out by car throughout the entire city and surrounding suburbs. This often happened on such a large scale that it was nearly impossible for the police to contain it. Diffuse looting has reemerged sporadically in recent months, during the unrest in Louisville and Philadelphia, as a way to disrupt the city in the absence of large-scale protests.

Philadelphia’s unique tactical innovation has been the introduction of so-called “ATM bombings.” Groups will detonate small explosive devices at an ATM and, ostensibly, walk away with the cash. During the heady days of May and early June, the sound of explosions became part of the background ambiance of the city where American democracy was born. This tactic reemerged during late October’s unrest. There were likely a dozen ATM bombings each of the three major nights of unrest. This tactic has so far not spread elsewhere, likely due to the amount of technical knowledge required.

The fact that innovations, like the caravan, tend to leap from city to city indicates that proletarians are paying attention to how the struggle is unfolding elsewhere. It also shows that the choice of tactics isn’t arbitrary, but it is grounded in an intelligent read of the situation they find themselves struggling within.

The major innovation this summer has it’s origins in Chicago. After police shot Latrell Allen on Chicago’s Southside, a caravan of looters poured into the downtown Magnificent Mile, Chicago’s most famous shopping district,breaking windows and emptying out luxury stores. For the next few hours, this caravan marauded through the city, evading the police and looting luxury boutiques, pharmacies, and liquor stores. This tactical was repeated on a smaller scale in Louisville in September and on a perhaps larger scale in Philadelphia.

The looter caravans, in particular, highlight a much higher degree of coordination, organization, and boldness of action than is within reach of any activist, leftist, or revolutionary group. The fact that innovations, like the caravan, tend to leap from city to city indicates that proletarians are paying attention to how the struggle is unfolding elsewhere. It also shows that the choice of tactics isn’t arbitrary, but it is grounded in an intelligent read of the situation they find themselves struggling within.

These innovative tactics have so far allowed comparatively small groups to overwhelm police departments and disrupt the flows of the city. But there are clear limits to how much these high-risk actions might generalize. They, in fact, seem premised on the boldest layers of proletariat acting alone. This perhaps indicates that black proletarians no longer expect the large, multiracial crowds that joined them in the rebellion earlier this summer.

Composition

These recent nights in Philadelphia pose a challenge to the hypothesis that this is a multiracial uprising. Or rather, they seem to indicate that the “rigid lines of separation” that appeared to break down in May are quickly re-emerging. Throughout the country, the crowds that flooded the streets in May and June closely corresponded to the demographics of the city they were in. White people, in fact, were often over represented compared to their share of the total population of the given city. It was only during some of the most intense moments of looting that the participants were mostly black, but never exclusively so. The riots and demonstrations were also rarely confined to particular black or working class neighborhoods, but rather tended to envelope the entire city.

Instead, during the recent riots in Philadelphia, black proletarians stood largely alone. When multiracial crowds arrived in West Philadelphia in October, they were largely unable to overcome the separations that had been so easily dissolved earlier in the summer. If these activists had hoped to express their support for the rioting, they had the perhaps unintended inverse effect of stifling it, as black proletarians in the crowd hesitated to see how these newcomers might act. For moments on Monday and Tuesday night, a multiracial crowd worked together to build barricades and attack the police. But more often than not, even when different elements of the crowd took part in the rioting, they did so separately. Each night by midnight, almost no one was left on the streets that wasn’t black.

A certain amount of hesitation around whether or how to act in the streets likely result from anxiety around these “rigid lines of separation.” Debates abounded in the streets, on Telegram channels, and within activists circles about the proper way to relate to the black struggle. It is worth remembering though that this anxiety is often only one-sided. People from outside of the neighborhood who showed up for the riots were at times treated with suspicion until they made clear that they were there for the same reasons as everyone else. Then they were widely embraced. Those taking initiate in the streets were glad that others had joined them, especially if they had something to contribute.

It is not simply that separations reasserted themselves within and between the crowds. The riot did not spread from neighborhood to neighborhood, and only a minority of the immediate neighborhood ever participated in a significant way. No wider layers of the class ever came into the streets, and the activist crowd that mobilized never exceeded a few hundred people. Solidarity demonstrations, with the exception of the one in Brooklyn, were small and attended only by committed activists.

What Are We to Do?

If there is to be a collective leap from riot to insurrection, for this long, hot season stretch into an endless summer, people will need to find ways to contribute to this unfolding. Rather than being paralyzed by anxiety, pro-revolutionaries should consider what practical knowledge and capacities they have to offer.

This is often quite simple. One way in which pro-revolutionaries make themselves useful is by holding onto the memory of lessons learned in previous struggles and experiments. This can be as basic as reminding people to wear masks or showing them how to use Telegram to out smart the police. There are certain gestures, such as circulating a call for a demonstration, that can be necessary to keep things moving forward.

The balance sheet on this is fairly clear in hindsight. Despite their awkwardness, the two evening demonstrations spilled over into riots, while the other nights only saw more diffuse actions. This is because they provide a space for those who want to take initiative to find each other and for those who may not want to take initiative, but who nonetheless support the riots, to express that publicly in a way that provides cover for others. The evening demonstrations also provided cover for the looting happening elsewhere, by occupying much of the city’s police force along 52nd Street.

With the declaration of a curfew and the threat of the national guard, providing some basic container to act within, such as calling for another evening demonstration, could have created the conditions for the unrest to keep going for a few days longer. In this sense, a small intervention by pro-revolutionaries could have been significant.

Otherwise, pro-revolutionaries try to read what the dynamic of a given struggle is, and how to contribute to its unfolding. This can look like trying to take initiative in a way that may resonate and be taken up by other members of the crowd. Even if we may stand out from the crowd, when the gestures we take prove themselves to be sensible, people tend to recognize them as material contributions. Other times, simply having the foresight to bring tools, whether masks, fireworks, umbrellas, or a sound-system, can go a long way towards contributing to the dynamic of an event.

This point may seem banal, but it’s worth remembering. After the first days of the uprising in New York City, much bigger crowds began to come into the streets. In these moments, the rigid separations between different components of the crowd could be felt. Many of the new participants were inspired by the bolder acts of the uprising, but in person were as afraid of the specter of the riot as they were of the police. They desperately looked for people to appoint into leadership roles, who then tried their best to micromanage the demonstrations. Young black proletarians in the crowd began to sense their isolation, and, by the the end of the first week, stopped coming out. If others in the crowd had also tried to take initiative, it’s possible they could have contributed to a circumstance where the black avant-garde didn’t feel constrained, perhaps extending the uprising a bit longer.

In this sense, solidarity literally means attack. The more pro-revolutionaries have felt the confidence to act, they more they been able to meaningfully contribute to unfolding of this struggle set in motion by black proletarians.

These leaps forward in proletarian self-organization and tactics over this long summer present pro-revolutionaries with a particular dilemma. The role of pro-revolutionaries has been to contribute to the intensification and generalization of struggle, to push them towards their insurrectionary horizon. But when proletarian self-activity becomes much more daring and risky than many pro-revolutionaries are ready for, what then becomes our role? When these tactics already entail such a degree of coordination and intensity, then even if pro-revolutionaries are to participate, it is not clear what we have to contribute.

Some black proletarians seems committed to carrying the struggle forward and intensifying it, but unlike in May, they are almost totally isolated. To be able to struggle at all, they have thus had to be immensely creative in their choice of tactics. But these innovations seems to presuppose their isolation. This riddle may solve itself as struggles once again generalize and new tactics proliferate. The black avant-garde may continue to blaze ahead on its own, struggling with an intensity that many cannot participate in, and it will be important for revolutionaries to decide how to contribute.

The election is now in the rear view mirror. While the dust has not yet settled, it may turn out to the case that the left’s fascination with the possibility of a coup or civil-war only obscured from us the more difficult questions raised by this moment. The black avant-garde may continue to blaze ahead on its own, struggling with an intensity that many cannot participate in. We may be faced with the option of either joining them on this path, with neither a clear horizon or sense of how we can contribute, or of vacating the streets ourselves. This riddle may solve itself as struggles once again generalize and new tactics proliferate, but we cannot take that for granted.

Unrest in Philly After Cops Shoot and Kill 27-Year-Old

from Unicorn Riot

Philadelphia, PA – West Philly saw a quickly escalating situation develop on 4 p.m. Monday afternoon and dragging into the evening and overnight. In a graphic and disturbing video circulating on social media, two white Philadelphia Police (PPD) officers are seen repeatedly shooting a Black man in front of his mother from several feet away as he walked while holding a knife. Neither of the two officers in the video seemed to attempt to use their taser, and they appeared to have fired around ten bullets while they were several arms lengths away from the man they shot.

The man struck down dead by the two PPD officers was identified as 27-year-old Walter Wallace, Jr.

His father, Walter Wallace Sr., told the Philadelphia Inquirer that his son was dealing with mental illness, was on medication, and “his mother was trying to diffuse the situation” when police came and shot him.

Many witnesses were present for Wallace’s death and his family, friends and neighbors quickly reacted with grief and rage to the sight of him being gunned down dead in the street.

Video of the scene taken by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Ellie Rushing shows that police had placed evidence markers indicating as many as 13 shell casings.

The scene of the deadly shooting of Walter Wallace, Jr. by two Philadelphia Police officers. Screenshot taken from Twitter video by Ellie Rushing

Both of the white officers involved in the shooting death of Walter Wallace, Jr. have reportedly been suspended pending an investigation. If common police practices for “officer-involved shootings” are being followed, they are both presumably now on paid leave.

In an official city statement, Philly Mayor Jim Kenney said, “I have watched the video of this tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered.” Kenney promised “a speedy and transparent resolution” but the only specific detail he offered was that the “Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Unit of PPD will conduct a full investigation.

Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner’s statement about the shooting avoided any specifics but also promised an investigation.

Police called in reinforcements to clear the mourning neighbors from the street and reportedly dispersed the crowd at the shooting scene by 6:30 p.m., according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Around 7 p.m. on Monday night, a crowd of several hundred protesters began to gather at Malcolm X Park.

Protesters marched throughout the area, taking the streets and followed by supporting honking vehicles. They also congregated for a time outside a nearby police precinct.

At some point outside the precinct, objects such as rocks and bricks reportedly began to be thrown at officers.

Police with riot gear and shields then pushed the crowd away from the police building, charging people through the street as trash cans and various other projectiles were pelted at them by an increasingly militant local crowd.

Police appeared unable to contain the community’s furious response to their having shot a Black man to death in the middle of the street in the middle of the day. Crowds went on to smash into several area businesses and take commercial goods, smash and burn police vehicles, launch fireworks, and reportedly commandeered at least one construction vehicle.

In one photo captured by Inquirer journalist Samantha Melamed (who was arrested by PPD while reporting on a protest in June) a police cruiser can be seen burning in front of a billboard reading “the power of justice”:

Image
Image

As of early Tuesday morning, protesters remained out in the streets of West Philly. Police made several arrests, with the Major Crimes Unit reportedly having been deployed.

Around 12:45 a.m., police were using batons and charging tactics to encourage the remaining crowd to disperse.

According to Philly journalist Jason Peters, some arrested protesters are being held at PPD’s 18th precinct.

Philadelphia’s lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, which supported officers involved in brutalizing protesters earlier this year, has indicated it will defend the cops who ended Walter Wallace, Jr.’s life while his family watched.

Fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. prompts heated overnight protests in West Philly

from Mainstream Media

Fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. prompts heated overnight protests in West Philly

Police officers fatally shot a 27-year-old Black man armed with a knife during a confrontation Monday afternoon in West Philadelphia, an incident that quickly raised tensions in the neighborhood and sparked a standoff that lasted deep into the night.

Late Monday into early Tuesday, police struggled to respond to vandalism and looting along the commercial corridor of 52nd Street, an area that was the scene of clashes between police and protestors earlier this summer. At least one police vehicle was set on fire Monday night and destroyed, and several police officers were injured by bricks or other objects hurled from the crowd. One officer was hospitalized after getting run over by a speeding truck.

The episode began shortly before 4 p.m., police said, when two officers responded to the 6100 block of Locust Street after a report of a man with a knife. Family members identified him as Walter Wallace Jr.

A video posted on social media showed Wallace walking toward the officers and police backing away. The video swings briefly out of view at the moment the gunfire erupts but he appeared to be multiple feet from them when they fired numerous shots.

Police spokesperson Sgt. Eric Gripp said the officers had ordered Wallace to drop the weapon, and he “advanced towards the officers.” Gripp said investigators are reviewing footage of what happened. Both officers were wearing body cameras.

He said both officers fired “several times.” After the man was shot, he fell to the ground, and Gripp said one of the officers drove him to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died.

Walter Wallace Sr., the man’s father, said his son appeared to have been shot 10 times.

“Why didn’t they use a Taser?” the senior Wallace asked outside a family residence on the block. “His mother was trying to defuse the situation.”

He said his son struggled with mental health issues and was on medication. “He has mental issues,” Wallace said. “Why you have to gun him down?”

Walter Wallace Sr, the father of Walter Wallace Jr., talks about the shooting of his son, on the 6100 block of Locust St. Oct. 26. 2020.

One witness, Maurice Holloway, said he was on the street talking to his aunt when he saw police arrive. Wallace had a knife and was standing on the porch of his home, Holloway said, and officers immediately drew their guns.

Wallace’s mother chased after him as he walked down the steps of his porch, still holding the knife, according to Holloway. His mother tried to shield Wallace and tell police he was her son.

“I’m yelling, ‘Put down the gun, put down the gun,’ and everyone is saying, ‘Don’t shoot him, he’s gonna put it down, we know him,’” said Holloway, 35.

Wallace brushed off his mother and walked behind a car before emerging again, Holloway said.

“He turns and then you hear the shots,” Holloway said. “They were too far from him; it was so many shots.”

Gripp said it was unclear how many times the man was shot or where he was struck. The officers fired possibly a dozen or more times, according to an account by witnesses and family members. Police marked the crime scene with at least 13 evidence markers.

Both officers, who were not publicly identified, were taken off street duty pending an investigation.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw arrived at the scene shortly after the incident as a crowd of neighbors yelled at police and questioned the use of force. By 6:30 p.m. police reopened the street and the crowd had largely dispersed.

Protest in response to the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. on Monday after police officers fatally shot the 27-year-old Black man in West Philadelphia.

But dozens of protesters then gathered at Malcolm X Park at 51st and Pine Streets, chanting “Black Lives Matter.” They marched to the police station at 55th and Pine Streets as they chanted, “Say his name: Walter Wallace.”

For hours, protesters confronted officers who stood in a line with riot shields behind metal barricades at the station. People in the crowd could be seen throwing objects at the officers. A group also marched into University City, at least one TV news vehicle was vandalized, and police reported that windows had been broken on Chestnut Street.

Between 100 and 200 people then moved to the 52nd Street commercial district and caused considerable property damage from Market to Spruce Streets. Shortly before 1 a.m., a speeding black truck ran over an officer at 52nd and Walnut Street. The incident was captured on an Instagram livestream. The condition of the officer was not immediately known.

The 52nd Street corridor was the scene of unrest on May 31 and early June as nationwide protests erupted over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protesters clashed with Philadelphia officers and set police vehicles on fire; police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas on residential streets. Since then, the police department has forbidden the use of tear gas.

At times Monday, the scene threatened to repeat. Just before midnight, someone set fire to a police vehicle on the street. Ultimately, more officers in riot gear arrived and flooded the neighborhood, dispersing the crowd.

FTP Noise Demo at FDC

from Twitter

Philly! Friday! Juneteenth noise demo to free all looters
[Meet 7:15 Washington Square Park Fri June 19th]

George Floyd Riots in Center City

from Twitter

No shortage of artwork to depict the way people in #Philadelphia feel about police. #RestInPower #GeorgeFlyod



from Instagram

It was a beautiful sunny day of resistance in #philadelphia. Rest In Power #georgefloyd. #letitburn #ftp #acab

 




from Twitter

Philly police pin young black man to the ground with their knees, swat our field reporter with a baton for filming the scene.

“Beat it.”

“I’m a journalist, sir!”

“I don’t care what you are. Beat it.”

In a scene echoing George Floyd’s death, tonight @PhillyPolice kneeled on a young black man’s neck as another officer already had him pinned. Officer w knee on neck called him a “pussy” shortly before other cops batoned our camera away fom the scene

[Video Here]

We’ve ended our ground reporting from Philadelphia for the night due to repeated assaults by officers on our reporter making it unsafe and impractical to continue. Our Philly staff is safe at home now but Philly Police made it clear our 1st Amendment press freedoms are suspended

In Philly tonight we repeatedly saw some officers charging ahead to beat people with batons while their commanders yelled at them to stop and hold their line. Police personnel generally seemed quite on edge and quick to verbally insult, taunt, and push/strike protesters

Whether police command structures can actually control their rank and file during these escalating protests is a question we find ourselves asking a lot

from Twitter

Modell’s window advertisement: “Everything must go!”

Rebels: “Okay, if you say so!”

#FTP #ACAB #GeorgeFloydProtests #Philadelphia

 

from Twitter

Anger at #GeorgeFloyd’s murder has spilled over into Philadelphia, PA today – fires and looting across center city, City Hall is at least partially on fire
 

These fires were cop cars on fire on the North side of Philadelphia city hall
 

Philadelphia: Windows of Wells Fargo at 15 and Chestnut have been smashed. Graffiti seen saying “Fuck 12” and #NoDAPL.
 




Philly Police are holding line but outnumbered and many projectiles thrown.
 
Small fire started near Wells Fargo as protesters stand off with police in #Philadelphia while seeking #Justice4GeorgeFloyd. Many stores are being broken into and goods are being expropriated.
[Video Here]
 
An update from Center City as #GeorgeFloyd protests erupt in Philadelphia.
 
From Instagram

YO PPD YR RIDE IS HERE. Philly set it the fuck OFF today. #FTP #georgefloyd

 

from Instagram

Solidarity with all fighters against police terrorism .






MayDayFun

Submission

In a time where COVID-19 is sweeping it’s way through workplaces, shelters, and prisons.. wholefoods, amazon, and other large corporations are silencing their workers and trying to think of ways they can capitalize off of this pandemic. Houseless folks are being evicted from encampments regardless of the logical recommendations of the CDC. Prisons are death camps and our friends in cages are making masks in crowded conditions without the privilege to even wear one.
As a gesture of solidarity and an expression of our rage, we drop this banner for those on the inside fighting to get out, for the workers under the boot of the corporate masters at amazon and elsewhere, and the importance of practicing mutual aid. Not just now, but always.

Open squats!
Loot the Wholefoods!
Free the prisoners!
#Mutualaid

bingo

Submission

Figured we should mention some contributions we made toward our bingo card:

Money and letters were sent to some friends that are locked up, ran off with a couple of american flags, a couple more ring cameras were disposed of, helped a friend begin living inside a newly established squat, and a cart full of groceries was expropriated from the amazon overlords. I know that last one isn’t necessarily looting, but I’ve heard that another crew counted something to that effect. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯