Two Construction Sites Attacked By AGA

Submission

On the morning of June 17th we used paint and glass etch to fuck with windows on luxury apartment construction at 48th and Spruce and gentry construction at 51st and Baltimore. We also smashed out the front doors and windows at 51st and Baltimore. We did this to fight gentrification and to contribute to the new wave of anarchist attack in the US. We also did this to have fun!

Happy Pride!
-AGA (Anti-Gentrification Action)
(Another Gay Anarchists)

Saboteurs of Rent

from Hypocrite Reader

Get (the fuck) out, slumlord, parasite, hoarded wealth, they graffitied in black or red permutations on the walls and fences of nine vacant homes in West Oakland, California, stolen land they said, held in the portfolio of Sullivan Management Company (SMC) East Bay. Later that morning of May 2, 2021, an anonymous group released a communiqué claiming the actions through Indybay, a local independent media site. The group called SMC’s owner, Neil Sullivan, one of the biggest evictors in the region, “predatory” and the vacancies a “violent force.” These vacancies’ violence manifested in at least two forms: upward pressure on rents by limiting the rental stock; that they are vacant while growing numbers lose housing. On one fence the group painted, “BLACK PEOPLE USED TO LIVE HERE.” “As long as these houses are not functioning as shelter or materiel resource for those who need them most, we must disable and disarm them as weapons of extraction and poker chips for the rich in their apocalyptic games,” the anonymous group wrote, going on to invite others to take similar actions.

To my knowledge, no such sabotage has yet followed in West Oakland or elsewhere in the East Bay area, though in the preceding days and years SMC had been the target of other kinds of direct action and organizing. On May 1, for example, local houseless solidarity group House the Bay demonstrated how to open up a vacant home to house unhoused people—by opening up another vacant SMC unit, setting up an installation inside and circulating propaganda illustrating how to do just that, and holding a block party there and in the street. Throughout the pandemic many of those who rent from SMC organized themselves into what they call SMC Tenant Council. Tenant councils or tenant associations are organizations of tenants living in the same building or sharing a landlord, convened to apply collective pressure on an intransigent landlord. Like other such groups in the tenants’ movement in this period, this council fought a rent strike in the name of rent cancellation, and when SMC struck back with eviction threats they successfully parried. Not only has the desire to see some of these tactics repeated been frustrated, this assembled diversity—rent strikes, home expropriations, and anti-landlord sabotage—is seen together all too rarely; I know of no other contemporary campaign which has integrated these tactics (I use campaign here broadly; the anonymous group indicated in their communiqué they aren’t associated with others).

Participants and documenters of the housed and unhoused tenants’ movement, including myself, have given much attention to the rise of publicized home expropriations and rent strikes in recent years. As for expropriations, Oakland’s Moms 4 Housing, Los Angeles’ Reclaiming Our Homes, and Philadelphia’s OccupyPHA have animated the imaginations of both those who have hoped for such reclamations and those who’ve wondered how to house those without. Of the aforementioned only the Moms’ occupation preceded the pandemic; rent strikes had already been becoming a more commonly rehearsed tactic in the tenants’ movement’s repertoire—thanks in no small part to LA Tenants Union, the largest autonomous tenants union in North America. “Tenants union” typically refers to a body that supports, coordinates, and agitates tenant associations, while the term autonomous indicates independence from institutional funding, a reliance on member funding, and, usually, volunteers rather than staff. As unemployment spread with the chaos of COVID-19, so too did rent strikes and autonomous tenant unions supporting them. In October 2020 a continent-wide federation of such unions, the Autonomous Tenant Union Network (ATUN), held its founding convention. I participated in that convention as a member of the Bay Area’s Tenant and Neighborhood Councils.

As our points of unity testify, ATUN does not believe the housing affordability crisis can be ended without the end of capitalist, colonialist landlordism. Many in this tendency of the tenants’ movement approach our efforts as gathering social forces for revolution by building an independent and agitated support base—by building what some call dual power. By assembling, as the thinking often goes, independent institutions of proletarian tenant power, such as tenant associations and tenant unions, we assemble a force capable of challenging and supplanting that of landlords, capital, and the state in a forthcoming moment of general social crisis. Generally, the dual power account explains this pro-revolutionary potential through the development of the capacities of organizations—it does not provide an etiology of direct actions, such as the home expropriations which spread in the earlier pandemic phases or the anti-landlord sabotage which did not. Direct actions and their consequences can and do spread, intensify, and accumulate more or less independently from organizations, particularly if one understands the term organization to refer only to groups that are formally constituted, as many advocates of dual power tend to understand the term. The role such actions, the informal organizations that sometimes enact them, and their consequences can play in promoting a revolutionary process must also be interpreted.

The late abolitionist communist Noel Ignatiev composed an explanation of the relation between direct action and dual power, a strategy he called creative provocation. Looking to the acts of abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and John Brown in provoking a cycle of reactions and actions leading up to the Civil War—which he, after WEB Du Bois, reads as the United States’ true revolution—Ignatiev argues that our acts need not necessarily result in observable victories in the present for them to fan embers into the wind that carries them to future conflagration. “[T]he abolitionists…sought to divide all who could be divided, draw a clear line between themselves and the moderates, and establish themselves as a distinct pole against the consensus on the [moderates’] side” and in doing so push the opposition to greater recklessness, leading to the secession that made the Civil War possible. Creative provocation is roughly the inverse of the more widely-held theory of the radical flank effect most commonly exemplified by the oversimplification that Malcolm X’s radicalism made Martin Luther King Jr.’s reformism appear more reasonable. Where this iteration of radical flank theory would explain how to lay ground for compromise, creative provocation does so for revolution; rather than pull the opposition to a newly safe middle, creative provocation cuts the cord between agonists and makes confrontation necessary.

Proponents of dual power in the tenants’ movement may not always have a theory for how home expropriations contribute to their pro-revolutionary strategy—nonetheless they see in them, more or less clearly, a glimpse of the hoped-and-striven-for time to come. More opaque perhaps, if even looked to, is anti-landlord sabotage such as the anonymous West Oakland vandalism of May 2, an ensemble of tactics which may have equal if not greater potential to provoke. Some may, some have, even claim(ed) sabotage jeopardizes the viability of the movement by alienating the public or soliciting state repression, demanding tenants engage only in so-called non-violent direct action, taking the conservative side in an old social movement controversy as to whether property destruction constitutes “violence.” But if we want a world without rent, we must consider all options.

What light might a burning building shed, a broken window refract, a graffitied wall condense, upon the revolutionary prospects of the contemporary tenants’ movement? Since 2013, Philadelphia has been home to the most sustained campaign of such sabotage that I’ve found documented, presenting a crucial case study, though that sabotage aligned itself more against gentrification than with tenants. Only in recent years has the tenants’ movement equaled if not out-scaled the anti-gentrification movement that it overlaps with, in no small part due to the multiplication of autonomous tenant unions. According to one anonymously published zine, Anti-Gentrification Direct Actions: Philadelphia 2013-2018 (AGDAP), anti-gentrification saboteurs committed more than 60 distinct acts with targets including constructions sites, cafes, and private homes, and acts including graffiti, window-breaking, construction equipment destruction, and arson. As the AGDAP timeline shows, these acts of sabotage first spiked numerically in 2015, carrying on the energy from the initial Black Lives Matter upsurge, while the peak of intensity was an arson and riot in a gentrifying neighborhood on May Day 2017. From 2017 to 2018, the number of actions more than doubled, from 10 to 25. According to one Philadelphia anarchist close to the scene from which these actions emerged, who spoke to me on the condition I refer to them only as E, this later moment drew its escalation in part from anti-Trumpism and anti-fascism. (Note that my count refers only to lines on AGDAP’s timeline since in some cases where several, or more, objects of gentrification were destroyed as part of what appear to have been or were claimed as singular coordinated efforts.)

The first couple documented acts occurred eight months apart in January and August 2013 in the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philadelphia. An article in the local anarchist periodical Anathema from July 2015, “On the Recent Attacks Against Gentrification,” described Point Breeze as “rapidly gentrifying” over the preceding four years, with median incomes increasing from $77,300 to $115,000 and the white population growing by 30 percent. As in West Oakland, the Philadelphians started with graffiti—defacing a few new residential buildings with abstract lines. An action that August targeted a coffee house owned and bearing the name of the developer and landlord OCF Realty, helmed by later city council hopeful Ori Feibush; saboteurs threw concrete through the coffee shop’s windows the same morning the local community organization Point Breeze Organizing Committee (PBOC) marched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Feibush, who had been in conflict with PBOC over his development efforts, accused PBOC of the attack. PBOC denied responsibility and condemned the vandals, advocating for a criminal investigation and non-violent protest only, accusing them of being provocateurs and part of a supposed tradition of violent tactics that had jeopardized movements going back to the Civil Rights Era. E told me that OCF Realty had likely been targeted due to the attention PBOC had brought to their gentrifying activity—which, E explained, involved a strategy “where they put like fancier cafes in the neighborhoods they were going to gentrify as like a little foothold and then they’ll also like start flipping houses and like renting stuff out and building developments.”

For whatever reason, whether because of backlash from PBOC or something else, AGDAP records no further actions until 2015, when, again, they picked up, perhaps emboldened by a national movement upsurge whose tactics often incorporated property destruction. The first several actions of 2015 again targeted OCF and Feibush. By then, Feibush was running for city council against Kenyatta Johnson, who was endorsed by PBOC and other progressive community organizations. Twice that March, anti-Feibush graffiti popped up in Point Breeze, the first time accompanied by posters and the second time vandalizing his campaign office. Toward the end of the month, an OCF company car’s tires were punctured in West Philadelphia. In April, someone graffitied “Don’t vote 4 Ori” in Point Breeze, leading Feibush to finally snap and blame, again without evidence, his opponent Johnson for the series of sabotages. PBOC again published a statement, this time withholding respectability politics and focusing criticism on Feibush’s history of dishonesty regarding such attacks. One might speculate that the changed social movement environment had altered the tone of PBOC’s response. A fifth attack on OCF upped the ante—destroying several locks and windows at two vacant homes of theirs in South Philadelphia. Johnson defeated Feibush, with Feibush doing especially poorly in Point Breeze. (It so happens that Johnson and his political consultant wife Dawn Chavous were indicted in 2020 on 22 counts from racketeering to fraud, all related to abusing his influence over development-related zoning.)

That June, Anathema republished communiqués claiming the sabotages of cars and vacant buildings in late March and April. In the first of the communiqués, the saboteurs invited others to “let the yuppies and developers know they are not welcome” by “creat[ing] environments hostile to gentrification,” giving instructions about how to pop a car tire and explaining that it’s “a fast and easy way to cause damage to our enemies,” with two tires taking less than two minutes. A group calling itself the Radical Action Network wrote the second communiqué, saying they were “following the lead of the rebels of Ferguson and Baltimore,” justifying their acts “because we are tired of living in a system that constructs houses for the rich, while the poor and working class people get nothing but more police, more jails, more budget cuts, more misery.” Anathema included a third communiqué in the issue, which described the removal of surveillance cameras from a construction site in West Philadelphia’s University City district. The anonymous authors justified their attack in similar terms to the other two communiqués, emphasizing both the simplicity of the action as well as the connection between gentrification and policing. They added, “[t]he removal of surveillance cameras makes room for other more damaging anti-gentrification attacks to be taken with less risk” and expressed excitement for the emerging series of such attacks.

A couple more sabotages occurred in June and July 2015, including graffiti reading “FUCK CONDOS” thrown up on a development in University City and white paint splattered on another OCF Realty car. The introduction to ADGAP explains some of the focus on University City, where Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania were massively gentrifying West Philadelphia ostensibly on behalf of their students and professors. According to one report, between 2000-2016, the Black population of West Philadelphia declined 35 percent while the white grew 74 percent, with median rents rising 27 percent and median home prices 169 percent.

That summer, Philadelphia anarchists in the area began to specifically defend and promote sabotage as a worthwhile anti-gentrification tactic, writing pieces independent from claiming responsibility for particular actions. I’ve already discussed how the Anathema article from July, “On the Recent Attacks Against Gentrification,” explained some of the focus on Point Breeze. The authors also criticized the tactical narrowness of PBOC and their respectability politics as betraying an opportunity for solidarity. Contrary to the claim that sabotage undermines the movement, the authors argue that sabotage’s positive legacy spans not only the Civil Rights Era but also the more recent earth liberation struggles and the much earlier fight for colonial independence. Instead of competition and betrayal among the factions of the anti-gentrification movement, they advocate at least “avoid[ing] public denunciations and endorsements of police intervention” and at most “stand[ing] behind [sabotage] publicly and be[ing] explicit that different methods exist within the same struggle,” the latter point coming from a position usually called diversity of tactics. Drawing on the anarchist principle of favoring direct action over actions intended to influence politicians, the authors argue that sabotage and expropriation, in concert and among other tactics, “can put a real damper on development” through dissuading the economic agents thereof. They also argue that it’s worthwhile to enact one’s “frustrations with class society” by taking pleasure in destroying that society’s artifacts. Finally, they claim “that every attack is an invitation to act, a call to others to revolt.”

The next month, the anarchist blog Philly Anti-Capitalist published the anonymous “A Concerted Effort Against Gentrification.” “The momentum of recent actions leads us to believe that now is an especially good moment to call for a focused opposition to gentrification,” wrote the authors. They argued that the recent attacks unveil the often concealed violence of gentrification, which, through the displacement of Black residents, is part of the broader violence against which Black Lives Matter moves. These actions “have created a momentum outside of the institutional left” and in this autonomy built the capacity of individuals and groups to take further autonomous action. And as increasing gentrification makes possible the spread and escalation of sabotage across neighborhoods, “resistance will become harder to control.” Such resistance, taking the form of attacks against “the material processes of development,” is difficult to pacify—more difficult, the authors imply, than strategies reliant on so-called non-violent tactics. Beyond the spread of sabotage tactics, the call for concert encourages the convening of in-person reflective dialogues about anti-gentrification strategy—so as to, among other benefits, reduce the “risk of alienating with our attacks people who might otherwise understand our motives and see themselves as part of the same struggle.” Anathema reported a first such gathering happening in mid-July at an undisclosed location, while ADGAP lists another in mid-December.

The strategic reasoning in these two articles differs from, but is complementary with, that of Ignatiev’s theory of creative provocation. While creative provocation describes a process of direct action that develops dual power through action and reaction across a whole cycle of struggles, these authors, iterating on the beliefs of insurrectionary anarchism, focus on the proliferation of tactics and the accumulation of their material effects on both the actors and targets from moment to moment in an upsurging anti-gentrification movement, itself channeling energy from another overlapping movement—Black Lives Matter. E told me explicitly that insurrectionary anarchism influenced them and their peers; these writings, and the Philadelphia communiqués as well, are brimming with that tendency’s concepts. While insurrectionary anarchists indicate insurrectionism as a position organic to all radical social struggle, seeing elements initially stated by early anarchists like the Russian collectivist Mikhail Bakunin and the Italian communist Errico Malatesta, it emerged historically as a self-conscious tendency in Italy during the 1970s, as a reflection on and critique of contemporary Italian movements. It then was transmitted to the US from the 1980s to the 2000s through the anti-nuclear, earth liberation, and anti-globalization movements, where it arguably has become the predominant tendency in anarchism. Sabotage was widely promoted by insurrectionary anarchists; for example, the scene-ubiquitous insurrectionary anarchist quarterly from the late 2000s to early 2010s, Fire to the Prisons, republished an anonymous essay written some time before 2003 probably by someone(s) Spanish, “On Sabotage as One of the Fine Arts,” in a 2009 issue in which they also covered the arrest of the Tarnac 9, a French group of alleged railroad saboteurs also alleged to have authored The Coming Insurrection.

One short essay from 1989 by the Italian Alfredo Bonanno, “Anarchists and Action,” contains the essential concepts. Rather than focus on mass mobilization, anarchists “should identify single aspects of the struggle and carry them through to their conclusion of attack.” Driving toward attack, these struggles should be informally self-organized, rather than embedded in formal organizations, since formal organizations, Bonanno argues, are shaped to a greater degree by capital and tend to infect individuals with a “spreading feeling of impotence” because of the limitations on the kinds of tactics the organizations will support. Finally, rather than accepting compromises by making agreements with opponents, anarchists should insist on “permanent conflictuality.” Direct attack, self-organization, conflictuality—an insurrectionary anarchist trinity. The efficacy of these elements of strategy relies on one further notion, iterated by Bonanno, expressed by early anarchists including Bakunin: the propagandistic effect of deeds; Bonanno emphasizes that even small acts make an impression through their ease of repetition. (E speculated that as the Philadelphia sabotages proliferated, it was likely that the saboteurs included more people from outside the anarchist subculture that initially incited the actions, judging from alterations in tactics and messaging.) The accumulation of subversive acts in accordance with this insurrectionary anarchism, says Bonanno, here nearer to Ignatiev, encourages “conditions of revolt [to] emerge and latent conflict [to] develop and be brought to the fore.”

2015 closed out with a half dozen actions around West Philadelphia, including two separate banner drops against new residential developments, one accompanied by graffiti against racism. There was also graffiti on an upscale bar and a just-opened high-end restaurant called Clarkville.

The next year, the attacks continued in West Philadelphia. In early March, four buildings had their locks glued and their walls painted with messages against gentrification and the police. In late March and early April, vandals graffitied banners hung from construction sites, including a project by OCF. Late May saw Clarkville vandalized again with paint on its windows, signs, and surveillance cameras, one message reading “GENTRI GO HOME.” In the second half of the year, sabotage spread from the West. At some point in June, as part of an international call to action called the Month for the Earth and Against Capital, a construction site was hit with the most sophisticated sabotage of the anti-gentrification campaign thus far. Saboteurs destroyed machines and parts of the building, and removed survey markers. The rhythm of one sabotage a month continued until after the election of Donald Trump, which triggered, as the reader will recall, a substantial uptick in the recruitment and militancy of factions across the left (for the purposes of generalization, we’ll consider most anarchists part of the left). 2016 ended with two vandalism attacks over about two weeks, targeting the South Philadelphia offices of OCF Realty, first the walls with paint and then the windows with glass etch.

In keeping with the tactical repertoire of the ascending antifascist era, 2017’s sabotages would include some in the form of black bloc marches. Black bloc refers to marching masked and garbed in all black, grouping together with all those similarly dressed, so as to not only conceal the identities of individuals but to also make it difficult to identify who is responsible for which acts. Typically, the acts are of property destruction, although in direct confrontations with fascists, the acts often include physical assaults of persons. Before the first such bloc—which assembled on the day of Trump’s inauguration to attack luxury businesses and cars and aligned themselves with prior local efforts through graffiti like “Fuck Gentry Scum”—the year opened on January 12 with a memorial window-breaking in University City in honor of two anarchists who had died in Oakland’s Ghostship fire. From February through April, three actions targeted OCF Realty in Point Breeze: windows broken at a construction site; banners removed from a site in coordination with #DisruptMAGA propaganda; posters against gentrification and Feibush specifically were wheat-pasted throughout the area.

The next couple actions, on May Day, effected a qualitative leap in intensity—each equally reliant on sabotage’s signature anonymity, but anonymized differently, by clandestine darkness and by black mask. In the young hours of that International Workers Day, which is also, as E commented, “an anarchist holiday basically,” 11 OCF townhouses under construction—the same site where vandals broke windows in February—were lit, burned, two falling to the flames, two requiring safety demolition. The average sale price of each home, all of which were uninsured since Feibush was self-financing the project, was $587,500; Feibush claimed the damage exceeded $1 million. Despite concerns such an action might alienate the public from the anti-gentrification struggle, neighbors interviewed by the press all seemed to understand the context, as did the journalists themselves. One local professor recognized it as “classic resistance to new developers.” Another neighbor—“This particular developer has not exactly endeared himself to the Point Breeze community.” Not to be discouraged, at least publicly, Feibush wrote on Facebook that OCF wouldn’t be intimidated; “we’re not going anywhere,” he said. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offered a $10,000 reward for the arsonist(s), on top of which Councilman Johnson offered $2,500 and Feibush $90,000 more. No communiqué appeared claiming the massive sabotage, perhaps because the heightened risk of the action discouraged those responsible from creating a paper trail, but the context lends reason to assume, as Feibush and the public did, that the arsons were part of the ongoing anti-gentrification efforts. As of the latest report from 2020, there have been no related arrests.

Black masks, paint, and broken glass followed the flames, with Philadelphia’s second anti-gentrification black bloc of the year, this time in North Philadelphia. The bloc, made up of 30 to 50 militants according to different estimates, attacked luxury cars and homes, carrying a banner reading “Gentrification is death, Revolt is Life,” dealing over $100,000 worth of damage according to one estimate. They also encountered a consequence of the risk of such a visible action, even while anonymized, even with observers aware of the motivation: a group of residents formed, outnumbering the bloc, eventually containing two of the group, whom police later arrested and charged with causing a catastrophe, criminal mischief, and other alleged crimes. Anathema in their next issue published a defense of the attacks, underscoring the value of direct action and identifying gentrification as part of a social war as old as settler colonialism against which nonviolent resistance is powerless. In a communiqué in the same issue, anonymous self-described “bitches with hammers” considered the action a step up from the Inauguration Day bloc. The writers took responsibility for the bloc’s insufficient preparation and the neighborhood and police response, noted that a couple intended targets had been missed, and recommended several tactical improvements for future blocs.

A couple milder attacks in June and July, as well as an attempted arson at another OCF development, this time in North Philadelphia, brought the year to a close. In 2018, the instances of sabotage more than doubled, more numerous than I can recount in detail. Proportionately, the focus on OCF declined, though the windows at an office and a coffee house of theirs were shattered in separate incidents. The anti-gentrification black blocs were not repeated, and, for the most part the tactics resembled those of years past—graffiti, glass breaking and etching, locks glued, cameras destroyed, banners dropped, tires popped, etc. There were at least four innovations, two tactical and two target-related. Borrowing a trick from the earth liberation movement, in February some construction equipment had its gas tank sugared (although the classic monkeywrenching field manual, Ecodefense, recommends over a dozen alternative, more effective methods to disable bulldozers and the like). Perhaps more effective was a third attack on OCF—toilets at one of their cafes were decommissioned by flushing concrete down them; this sabotage was claimed by the “Summer of Rage preseason softball team.” The phrase Summer of Rage had previously appeared in association with the May 2017 black bloc, which police took to refer to the name of a group; another construction site sabotage, graffiti, and a glue attack at a completed development on 2018’s May Day were claimed by the Summer of Rage Anarchist Crew. As for general targets, saboteurs began gluing ATMs and bike rental kiosks, presumably to limit the monetary and bodily circulation of gentrifiers. More than 40 such actions occurred between February and April. Finally, as Amazon considered a potential HQ2 in Philadelphia, the company’s infrastructure became an anti-gentrification target. Several of their lockers had their electricity cut, a Whole Foods was propagandized with fliers and a banner, and an Amazon truck was torched.

What did any of this accomplish?, one might wonder. The simplest answer, not especially useful for pro-revolutionary theory, would be little to nothing beyond the acts themselves. The authors of the AGDAP zine warn against “creat[ing] a false sense of strength,” and that “past actions [do] not mean resistance to gentrification is thriving,” writing that their hope in documenting the sabotages is to offer “memory and imagination” to all those who might choose to fight in the future. A still-darker view is available. E told me that along with insurrectionism, nihilism too was an influence of theirs, common enough amongst Philadelphia anarchists in those years. In the Anathema issue covering May 2017, the closing article on a tendency referred to as “black anarchy” (in contrast to red anarchy, such as anarchist communism or syndicalism; not to be confused with the Black anarchism developed by peoples of African descent) defines the tendency largely in terms similar to insurrectionism, but with a nihilist attitude with respect to revolution or even insurrection: “all the various ideas, concepts and conceits of an anarchist victory via revolution or insurrection in the current context are nothing more than political heroin.” The option the so-called black anarchist chooses in the face of hopelessness remains “savage attack” rather than “resignation.” If the communiqués and articles are any guide, it doesn’t seem that, at least regarding the claimed actions, nihilism was the predominant view—clearly some people at least pretended to hope for the possibility of stopping gentrification.

When I asked E about the goals of the sabotage campaign, they told me that “insurrectionary anarchy didn’t really have any sort of history like in the recent past in Philly and so like even though like a lot of the stuff was anti-gentrification I also think people wanted to like encourage the development of like practices where people attack things directly”—which clearly seems to have been successful. E added a number of other goals which seem to have been met: “[simply] being in conflict . . . whether people succeeded in stopping all of gentrification or not”; “doing damage”; “frustrating people’s efforts to gentrify”; “to like build individual or group capacity”; “having fun.” All relatively modest, and frankly worthwhile goals for any social movement campaign, reliant on property destruction or not.

Beyond the near-term failure to stop gentrification, it may still be too soon to recognize the provocative effects of these efforts—and in any case, a more comprehensive analysis than this retelling would be needed to really make an assessment. Suffice it to say that the combination in Philadelphia of vacant public housing expropriations and two militant unhoused encampments, before and during the George Floyd Rebellion, were able to win a recently unprecedented 50 vacant properties for a popular community land trust. E was careful to give the credit for that win to OccupyPHA—PHA refers to the local Housing Authority—but also said “I’m sure that that kind of anti-gentrification stuff in this like kind of uncompromising way made space for things like stealing houses to be more acceptable.” Propaganda of the deed, and all that.

With the West Oakland sabotage of SMC in mind—where vandals once targeted the same landlord as did expropriators and a tenant council—one can’t help but wonder what might have been, what might still be possible, in Philadelphia if the saboteurs coordinated, indirectly or otherwise, with tenant association organizing and home expropriation campaigns—and, likewise, what might be possible in Oakland and elsewhere, were saboteurs to sustain momentum in concert with the broader tenants’ movement. This may be possible now in a way it wasn’t before—now that, since the pandemic, the tenants’ movement and its burgeoning autonomous tenant union tendency have reached a scale not seen in recent years, if ever. While gentrification is an enormous, amorphous force, the opponents of tenants are clear: landlords. Though sabotage, illegal and anonymous, is of necessity difficult to communicate and coordinate with directly, tenant union campaigns regularly reach a point at which their activity and targets are public.

With respect to confronting individual landlords, sabotage could be an additional lever with which to move a landlord from their intransigence toward demands and pressures issued from a tenant association; with respect to overturning landlordism as a whole, it may not be enough for every building to have a tenant association, for every vacancy to be expropriated, for every eviction to be blockaded—landlords may need to be driven away from even considering rent collection as a business by encountering tens, hundreds, thousands of sabotages large and small leeching back upon their already parasitic cash flow. The end of rent will require not just the dual power to which a vast network of tenant self-organization contributes but, also, a direct confrontation with landlords that a multiplication of sabotage might help creatively provoke. If saboteurs were to contribute their own humble tactics to the tenants’ movement, the least tenant unions and the like could do would be to stay silent and never call the cops, if not outright embrace tactical diversity. As rent abolition more and more comes to be the revolutionary watchword of tenants, all of its present forms should be recognized and considered—the rent strike, the expropriation, the sabotage. Any act which harms no tenant and inhibits the landlord’s ability to collect is ours with which to provoke the possibility of a revolution for a world without rent. Imagine, a tenants’ movement in red and in black.

 

Squatting, Rebellion, Movement: An Interview with Philadelphia Housing Action

from It’s Going Down

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On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we speak with two members of Philadelphia Housing Action, about the ups and downs of 2020 that has been outlined in the recent piece, Occupy, Takeover: How Philadelphia Housing Action Turned Vacant Buildings Into Homes. It details how throughout 2020, members of the group moved unsheltered individuals and families into livable, unused homes owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Moreover, in the midst of the rebellion that kicked off following the police murder of George Floyd, the group was also involved in setting up several encampments throughout the city, which often were marked by standoffs with the police and barricades in the streets.

While the eyes of the nation were centered squarely on the autonomous zone in Seattle, in Philadelphia, such encampments were able to leverage the city to turn over 75 homes to a land-trust, providing housing for multiple families and formerly unhoused individuals – including many who had been squatting in the months prior.

As extreme weather becomes the norm and building takeovers to provide shelter and resistance to sweeps of homeless camps become more widespread, the campaign by Philadelphia Housing Action remains an instructive example of what is possible.

More Info: Occupy, Takeover: How Philadelphia Housing Action Turned Vacant Buildings Into Homes, Philadelphia Housing Action on Twitter, and Philadelphia Housing Action homepage.

Occupy, Takeover: How Philadelphia Housing Action Turned Vacant Buildings Into Homes

from It’s Going Down

Following months of riots, building barricades, and stand-offs with police trying to evict encampments, in late September of 2020, Philadelphia Housing Action was able to claim victory, after the city of Philadelphia offered unsheltered families and individuals access to housing in formerly vacant buildings, a process which people had already begun in the months prior, as homes owned by Philadelphia Housing Authority were squatted. In the end, upwards of 75 homes were handed over by the city, which included many homes which had been previously squatted. Here Philadelphia Housing Action looks back at 2020 with analysis and a timeline on what all went down. 

On Sept. 26, housing activists and organizers from Philadelphia Housing Action declared victory after the city agreed to allow 50 previously unhoused families who took over a number of buildings to live in vacant, city-owned housing through a community land trust.

Philadelphia Housing Action has actually been many years in the making; grounded in struggles around gentrification, displacement, homelessness, police violence, institutionalization, family separation, legalized discrimination and more. All of us had been in the city for years if not our entire lives. OccupyPHA had been sweating the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) for over five years around it’s rogue private police force and systematic displacement of neighborhoods through forced relocations under threat of eviction, selling of public land to developers, deliberate vacancy and eminent domain. In 2019 OccupyPHA had an encampment in front of the housing authority which lasted over 120 days focusing on these issues that laid a lot of the groundwork for what was to come. The issue of vacant public housing blighting neighborhoods and creating the pretext for eminent domain had long been a concern and the idea of occupying those houses as an act of protest and counter-gentrification had been discussed for at least a year.

Early on in 2020, the group of us who would go on to form Philadelphia Housing Action were finding each other in the same spaces as we challenged the city’s Office of Homeless Services around the ongoing policy of evicting homeless encampments. Like most places, nobody seemed to give a shit about homeless people and attempts to get media coverage or rally allies fell pretty flat. After a while, it became obvious that fighting the city on their terms wasn’t enough, we needed to take direct actions and force the issue; moving people into vacant publicly-owned houses seemed like the best way forward. Once COVID-19 rolled in and people were given stay at home orders, it just seemed like common sense for us to move ahead with take-overs, like a few other groups had already done around the country.

For several months as a small group we worked at that entirely under the radar and managed to occupy around 10 Housing Authority houses, primarily with families numbering a total of 50 people before the city erupted over the murder of George Floyd. Although Philadelphia Housing Action represented members from several groups, there were never more than 5 or 6 of us doing the work, none of us were getting paid and we got all the houses up and running with less than $1,500 from small donations or out of pocket. We had no legal or formal organizational support and relied entirely upon ourselves.

SOURCE: Philadelphia Housing Action

Within 10 days of the George Floyd uprising, we initiated a homeless protest encampment downtown and within the month we had made the announcement about the housing take-overs. Over the course of the summer hundreds of people became engaged in the encampments and the campaign while our group grew smaller, some members breaking away and one dying tragically of an overdose. We ended the year having housed 150-200 people, occupying 30 houses, continuing to fight the city for what we were promised and doing our best to weather the drama that comes after any upswing in mass movement activity inevitably tapers off and devolves into finger-pointing and competition amongst former allies.

We are proud that not a single occupied house was evicted and that there were no arrests in the largest organized and public housing takeover in the United States in more than a generation. We are gladdened that through the protest encampments and occupations the connections between homelessness, housing, and institutional/historical racism were put into much sharper focus while the racialised systems of domination, surveillance and control that permeate the homeless industrial complex, public housing, family court and more were successfully linked to the movement against police and state violence. We are hopeful that our demonstrated ability to link, cross-pollinate and grow movements for tenants rights, homelessness, public housing and foreclosures can be replicated by others across the country, for indeed they share a common enemy. Our campaign victory to win the transfer of vacant city-owned property to a community land trust for low-income housing was a big win for the national movements around housing and human rights and was built upon the shoulders of the many people and movements who came before us both here in Philly and abroad.

It is our assessment that in the year to come, we will see a great deal more in the struggles around housing as a mass eviction wave looms and the economy seems poised to fall off a cliff. We hope that in some small measure, we have done our part to set the stage for the fights to come and inspire others to take the bold and direct actions necessary to keep our communities safe and advance the struggle for universal housing.

Below is an incomplete and summarized timeline of our activities in 2020.

January 6th Philadelphia Housing Action protests encampment eviction at 18th and Vine St/5th and Wood streets along with members of North Philly Food Not Bombs (NPFNB),

February 12 Philadelphia Housing Action attends and contests meeting held by Office of Homeless Services about the coming planned eviction of the encampment at the convention center,

March 23 Philadelphia Housing Action and allies including NPFNB contest eviction of encampment at the convention center on the morning of City’s stay at home order, confronts David Holloman of Homeless Services with newly published CDC guidelines advising against evicting encampments. Later in the afternoon, Philadelphia Housing Action takes its first abandoned PHA property and opens it to the homeless community.

Throughout April and May Philadelphia Housing Action identifies and opens 10 more city owned houses for homeless families while city remains in lockdown.

April 10-17th Philadelphia Housing Action supports first protests/daily actions since lockdown led by no215jails coalition for the mass release of people from jails and prisons.

April 16th Philadelphia Housing Action supports action by No215Jails Coalition at CJC, chases Judge Coyle and her small dog who had denied every single case for release put before her down the street and blocked her exit from the parking garage.

April 17th Philadelphia Housing Action publishes Op-Ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling for the opening of empty hotels and dorms for the unhoused during the pandemic.

April 22nd Philadelphia Housing Action / ACTUP informs the City of Philadelphia about federal funding available that would pay for non-congregant housing in the form of Covid Prevention Spaces.

May 5th Philadelphia Housing Action contests encampment sweep on Ionic St w/ members of NPFNB. Delays sweep.

May 13th Philadelphia Housing Action supports ACTUP, ADAPT/DIA, Put People First, DecarceratePA, Philadelphia Community Bail Fund and March on Harrisburg pressing Managing Director Brian Abernathy to open non-congregant housing for people living in shelters, nursing homes and recently released prisoners. Demands universal testing in all congregant housing.

May 27th City of Philadelphia evicts homeless encampment from the international terminal baggage claim. Philadelphia Housing Action had visited the encampment several times throughout may and participated in advocacy work that delayed eviction for over a week due to legal action from Homeless Advocacy Project and attention from the press. First Covid-19 Prevention Hotel is opened in Philadelphia.

May 30th Philadelphia Housing Action joins the largest multi-racial uprising against police violence in the history of the United States in response to the killing of George Floyd. Uprising is city-wide and spills into the surrounding area with a week of street fighting, looting, riots and marches. The National Guard is mobilized to the city and occupies downtown, displacing the homeless population while people continue to loot and blow ATMs.

May 31st Philadelphia Housing Action / ACTUP / Put People First / Global Women’s Strike / March on Harrisburg demonstrate/hold funeral services at the home of Liz Hersh, Managing Director of the Office of Homeless Services.

June 6th OccupyPHA and Philly for REAL Justice lead a march of several hundred from PHA Police Department Headquarters to Temple Police Department Headquarters and back highlighting the impact of unaccountable private police departments on North Philadelphia and their connection to gentrification and displacement.

June 10th Philadelphia Housing Action and homeless activists initiate a protest encampment at 22nd and Benjamin Franklin Parkway under the banner of Housing Now. Encampment defies police orders, declares a no cop zone, bans homeless outreach, issues demands and expands rapidly. In the evening a small march blocks traffic and breaches the outer doors of Mayor Kenney’s apartment complex.

June 15th James Talib Dean, 34, co-founder of the parkway encampment, co-founder of Workers Revolutionary Collective and member of Philadelphia Housing Action dies at his home of an accidental drug overdose. Parkway encampment officially renamed Camp JTD.

June 22nd Marsha Cohen, executive director of Homeless Advocacy Project issues a public apology for her comments to the Philadelphia Inquirer about Philadelphia Housing Action being ‘insane’ and ‘using homeless people as pawns,’ amongst other vaguely classist/racist comments.

June 22nd Occupy PHA/Philadelphia Housing Action makes public announcement about its housing takeovers on independent media outlet Unicorn Riot.

June 23rd Philadelphia Housing Action taps water fountain, runs 1000 feet of pip to install running water, hand wash stations and a shower at CampJTD.

June 26th Philadelphia Housing Action and representatives from Camp JTD meet with city officials in an abandoned storefront. City makes no offer of permanent housing, denies having power over the housing authority or ability to convey other vacant city-owned property.

June 28th Philadelphia Housing Action / OccupyPHA open second encampment on an empty lot across from Housing Authority headquarters on Ridge Ave. The lot, taken through eminent domain by the Housing Authority is slated for of 81 market rate and 17 ‘affordable’ units, along with a parking garage and ‘supermarket.’

June 30th Housing Authority attempts to fence in Ridge Ave encampment and post no trespassing signs. Encampment residents resist, blocking bulldozers and tearing fenceposts out the ground, led by Teddy Munson. Managing Director Abernathy orders Housing Authority to ‘stand down,’ proving that city has power over the Housing Authority. Supporters immediately erect barricades around the entire perimeter of Camp Teddy, working into the night.

July 7th Philadelphia Housing Action taps into city power at CampJTD, installs outlets to power fridges, etc.

July 9th Philadelphia Housing Action breaks off negotiations with the city after several weeks of talks. Cites city’s refusal to offer any actual housing and refusal to bring the Housing Authority to the table.

July 9th PHA Police attempt eviction of occupied house. OccupyPHA/Philadelphia Housing Action and loosely organized Eviction Defense Network rush to the scene and successfully force the police to withdraw before they can enter the building. The house is the first of only 4 to be discovered by the Housing Authority.

July 10th City posts eviction notices for both encampments, cutoff date set for July 17th.

July 13th Philadelphia Housing Action rallies hundreds of supporters at Camp JTD, vowing to resist eviction and demanding permanent housing. Support for the encampment ratchets up all week with allies calling for supporters to sleep over to defend the encampment the night before eviction.

July 13th-17th OccupyPHA and Camp Teddy residents protest at Philadelphia Housing Authority President/CEO Kelvin Jeremiah’s personal home every day.

July 15th City of Philadelphia pressures porta-potty rental company National Rentals to cancel contract with CampJTD. Philadelphia Housing Action supporters cut locks to city bathrooms at Von Colln Field in response.

July 16th City backs down from eviction. Managing Director Brian Abernathy resigns. Mayor Kenney says he will become personally involved in negotiations.

July 20th Philadelphia Housing Action meets in negotiation with Mayor Kenney, other high level city officials as well as the CEO/President of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Kelvin Jeremiah. OccupyPHA vows to continue occupying houses. PHA carries out raid of long standing land occupation, the North Philadelphia Peace Park, in the middle of negotiations.

July 30th Final meeting with Mayor Kenney.

August 4th Both encampments weather Tropical Storm Isaias.

August 10th Philadelphia Housing Authority holds press event with employees posing as ‘community members’ speaking out against Camp Teddy. OccupyPHA and Camp Teddy residents counter-demonstrate, infiltrate event and get on the microphone.

August 11th Philadelphia Housing Authority announces the creation of a ‘Community Choice Registration Program’ in an effort to appear like it is meeting protest demands.

August 13th Deputy Managing Director Eva Gladstein breaks off negotiations with Philadelphia Housing Action in an email, saying protestors were not meeting the city halfway.

August 16th City posts 24 hour eviction notice for protest encampments.

August 17th Over 400 supporters turn out the morning of eviction to defend the encampments. City Council Members Gauthier and Brooks intervene and re-open talks between the city and the encampments Talks last for over 6 long hours. Lawyer Michael Huff files in Federal court for a restraining order and injunction against eviction, representing individuals from both encampments.

August 17th PHA Police attempt extrajudicial ejectment of occupied house late in the night. OccupyPHA arrives and forces PHA Police to leave mid-ejectment. OccupyPHA demonstrates at PHA CEO Kelvin Jeremiah’s home every day the rest of that week.

August 25th Federal judge rules in favor of the city, clearing the way for an eviction, but mandating 72 hours notice with protections and storage for residents property.

August 31st City issues ‘3rd and Final’ eviction notice set for September 9th.

September 1st Philadelphia Housing Action publishes Op-Ed in Philadelphia Inquirer detailing demand for the transfer of vacant city-owned properties to a land trust for permanent low-income housing. Philadelphia Housing Action meets again with the City despite eviction notice. City and Housing Authority finally admit to having the power to transfer properties to meet the demands, but claim they simply do not want to.

September 3rd Philadelphia Housing Action and encampment residents participate in blockading the reopening of eviction court. The courts are effectively closed down for the morning before protestors are cleared by riot police.

September 4th OccupyPHA and camp teddy occupy a many years vacant, but newly built PHA property around the corner from Camp Teddy. After holding the building for several hours, occupiers foolishly allow access to the PHA Police. PHA finally moves in tenants the same night. In an email, PHA informs OccupyPHA found Jen Bennetch they have requested a federal investigation of her and the housing takeovers under the Riot Act.

September 6th Philadelphia Housing Action, encampment residents and supporters rally and march to Mayor Kenney’s apartment building and hold intersection and rally for hours.

September 8th Whole Foods, Target and CVS board their windows in preparation of encampment eviction and possible riots. OccupyPHA and Camp Teddy visit the homes of senior managers of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

September 9th In a repeat, roughly 600 supporters turn out to fight the eviction, barricades are massively expanded at Camp JTD, including the closure of N 22nd St next to the encampment. The street remains closed for the rest of the month. City attempts to send Clergy to both encampments in an attempt to persuade people to leave but they are shouted down and leave in humiliation. Although trash trucks and buses are staged on the parkway, police never appear. Both encampments remain in a state of heightened alert over the coming weeks. Police test response time and defenses several times but do not arrive in force.

September 10th supporting organizers at camp JTD invite Mayor Kenney to a brunch on September 14th, raise a banner facing the parkway with the invitation.

September 14th Mayor Kenney declines to attend brunch.

September 18th HUD Mid-Atlantic Regional Office formally confirms that the Philadelphia Housing Authority can legally transfer properties without the need for federal approval.

September 26th Philadelphia Housing Action announces that city has tentatively agreed to transferring 50 vacant houses to a community land trust in return for ending the encampments. City/PHA comments that the announcement of a deal is ‘entirely premature.’ In talks, City had confirmed with Philadelphia Housing Action that they were willing to transfer the houses and continue negotiations in exchange for removal of the 22nd st barricades, a decision ratified by popular assembly of Camp JTD residents after much canvassing and discussion over the next several days.

SOURCE: Twitter @PeoplesParty_US

October 1st Philadelphia Housing Authority proposes settlement with OccupyPHA for resolution of the Camp Teddy encampment. PHA offers 9 fully rehabbed houses, two empty lots, the transfer of any squats that have already been approved for disposition to the land trust, amnesty for all Philadelphia Housing Action squatters, an end to extrajudicial ejectments and evictions by PHA Police, jobs for encampment residents to rehab the houses, a 1 year moratorium on sales of PHA property and an independent study on the impact of PHA property sales, participation of PHA Police Department in City of Philadelphia reform initiatives and to fully implement the CCRP with up to 300 vacant properties.

October 2nd Camp Teddy residents ratify the agreement and OccupyPHA signs agreement to vacate by the night of Monday the 5th.

October 5th Camp Teddy vacates and clears encampment by deadline. PHA informs the City after the fact. City is reportedly furious.

October 8th OccupyPHA founder Jen Bennetch wins a PA Superior Court ruling setting a state precedent affirming the right to film DHS workers (Philly’s version of Child Protective Services) performing their duties. The case originated in 2019 when the Housing Authority and homeless service provider ProjectHOME brought a complaint against Ms Bennetch for having her children with her in the daytime during her 2019 124 day occupation of the PHA headquarters. Ms Bennetch denied DHS workers entry to her home and filmed them in front of her house. In the lower court ruling, the family court Judge Joseph Fernandes had ordered Ms Bennetch to delete and remove from social media all videos of the DHS workers and to never record them again. Ms Bennetch’s appeal to the Superior court was based on First Amendment grounds.

October 10th Managing Director Tumar Alexander approaches OccupyPHA with a ‘best and final’ offer for resolution of Camp JTD in exchange for 50 additional houses.

October 12th After multiple assemblies and extensive canvassing at Camp JTD, Philadelphia Housing Action signs agreement to vacate on a tight timeline in exchange for 50 additional houses. Over the coming weeks Philadelphia Housing Action, supporters, the Housing Authority and the City work to find people housing and clear the encampment.

October 21st A Camp JTD resident legally obtains a unit at the formerly occupied newly constructed vacant PHA property around the corner from Camp Teddy.

October 23rd Marsha Cohen officially resigns as executive director of Homeless Advocacy Project.

October 26th Camp JTD formally closes and is fenced in by the city. Upon closure Philadelphia Housing Action counted 30 occupied city-owned properties. In the final weeks, 35 residents were given rapid re-housing vouchers despite income requirements and 10 elders gained immediate access to PHA senior housing. Philadelphia Housing Action estimates that more than 200 people gained access to housing over the course of the encampment through housing occupations or various city/housing authority programs.

October 26th Philadelphia Police shoot and kill Walter Wallace Jr, sparking widespread riots.

October 29 November 1st OccupyPHA/Philadelphia Housing Action demonstrate nightly at Council President Darrell Clarke’s home forcing a meeting with OccupyPHA and allies on November 4th. The following week the Philadelphia Housing Authority confirms Clarke has dropped his opposition to Philadelphia Housing Action getting houses in North Philadelphia. By November 23rd Darrell Clarke procedurally kills his own initiative to give $14.5m to the Philadelphia Police Department and refuses to comment to the press.

November 11th Philadelphia Housing Action occupies lobby of 22nd district for several hours after receiving the MOU between Philadelphia Police Department and Temple Police Departments. MOU is read out loud clarifying the limits of Temple University Police jurisdiction and generally harassing the police working that night, a turkey was thrown across the lobby.

December 1st Philadelphia Housing Action visits Covid Prevention Site Hotels and occupies lobby, confronts security.

December 2nd Philadelphia Housing Action has call with Office of Homeless Services and hotel residents about impending closure of Covid Prevention Hotels on Dec 15th. Demands delay of closure and extension of program. Over the coming weeks it is revealed the city will be moving residents from the hotel into former halfway houses that do not have private rooms or bathrooms. Philadelphia Housing Action continues to organize with residents and other advocates for the permanent housing the city promised at the beginning of the program. Activity is ongoing.

December 23rd Philadelphia Housing Action successfully pressures PHA to get gas turned on to several properties that were being denied service by PGW. City moves first residents from prevention hotels to former halfway houses and Philadelphia Housing Action learns that the new facilities have no heat or hot water. Philadelphia Housing Action and supporters visit the home of Office of Homeless Services Director Liz Hersh at night, talking to neighbors and playing loud music to protest the closure of the Prevention Hotel and the placement of people with preexisting health conditions into congregant housing with no heat or hot water over the holiday.

December 28th Philadelphia Housing Action visits Walker Hall, the former halfway house owned by private prison contractor CoreCivic that is now housing residents from the Covid Prevention Hotels. Security denies access to the premises and calls the police. The location is in a remote industrial area and lacking services, transportation or access to food. Heat and Hot water are still not available to all residents, nor are they allowed to possess space heaters. Residents have windows in their doors and are not permitted to block them. Female residents complain about male guards looking into their rooms. No transportation was made available. Residents are searched upon entry and at least one resident, a disabled elder, has been expelled for possession of a marijuana cigarette.

January 1st Philadelphia Housing Action, pushing for corrections around the availability of federal funding in a Philadelphia Inquirer article on the closure of the Covid Prevention Hotels is able to confirm that the City of Philadelphia never applied to FEMA for funding that would pay 75% of the program costs of the program. The statement from a city official on record undermines the entire premise of closing the hotel due to a lack of funding and exposes a high level of willful incompetence at the Office of Homeless Services. Furthermore, Philadelphia Housing Action and ACTUP are able to confirm that the current facilities will not be eligible for FEMA funding due to their congregant nature.

The Irvine Vandalized

Submission

Last night while the cops were busy protecting their precincts, we took advantage of the moment to go after a different target. We ended up taking out several windows of The Irvine (on 52nd St near Baltimore Ave) around the back of the building, while some of its yuppie residents panicked on the patio. This was a small first step for us towards moving beyond just attending mass protests when they kick off – we’re also trying to think about how we can aim our actions in ways that help spread or sustain mass resistance and our side in this war against police and property.

We have seen firsthand how gentrification projects like The Irvine have increased the cops’ presence and racist violence in this neighborhood. We don’t want developers to feel safe here. We hope this action is just one of many future attacks against The Irvine!

Gentrification is death. Revolt is life! <3

Philadelphia: Camp Maroon encampment press conference

from Twitter

Philadelphia: Camp Maroon encampment press conference pscp.tv/w/cbj7JTFheVFWdmRWUm…
Speakers at Camp Maroon calling for more access to housing – authorities to permit the camp – disarming, disempowering, disbanding Philly PD. #Live now (alternate YouTube link) invidio.us/watch?v=EOjRonsv…
a closer look at the demands posted at the press conference for #CampMaroon in Philadelphia – our live feed is ongoing now

The camp is being renamed away from “Camp Maroon” and information will be released later about this

We are hearing a rundown on the Philadelphia camp demands now – live at press conference. Call to repeal ‘camping’ ordinances aimed at unhoused people, and must support tiny houses, without eating into existing public housing stock & resources pscp.tv/UR_Ninja/1BdGYnaoeeE…
pscp.tv/UR_Ninja/1BdGYnaoeeE… Hearing about how people without housing are pushed into a system that does not care about them – that homelessness could be ended tomorrow by institutions in Philadelphia

Anarchy in the Streets of Philadelphia

from Mainstream Media

Ori Feibush remembers everything about the night an arsonist destroyed 11 townhouses he’d been developing in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood. He was awakened by a neighbor banging on his door. He sprinted about two blocks from his home to the site, but firefighters wouldn’t let him near the blaze. “I was unfortunately standing as a bystander,” he said, “with all of my neighbors watching a project that I had worked on for half a decade burn to the ground.”
Mr. Feibush, 36, says he personally lost more than $1 million in the May 2017 fire, and his investors also took a substantial loss. Later that year, he says, someone unsuccessfully tried to set fire to another of his construction projects, in Fishtown. No one has been arrested or charged for either crime, but Mr. Feibush is convinced that local anarchists who consider themselves antifascist, or “antifa,” are to blame.
Point Breeze is predominantly black, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that between 2005 and 2009 roughly 1 in 3 residents lived in poverty. Mr. Feibush said the district had “seen 60 years of disinvestment, 60 years of drugs and crime,” but 12 years ago he decided to “take a chance on a neighborhood that a lot of developers didn’t want to take a chance on.” Mr. Feibush’s critics say he took advantage of the area’s cheap property and bad reputation, and that his market-rate developments drive up prices and displace longtime residents.

In the month before the first arson attack, posters went up in the neighborhood, including one urging locals to “smash back” against developers who are “displacing the black and brown people.” The posters singled out OCF Realty, Mr. Feibush’s company, and called for “direct action.” Anathema, which calls itself a “Philadelphia anarchist periodical,” noted the fire in its May 2017 issue under the heading “What Went Down.”

No one responded to my inquiry sent to the contact email for Anathema. The newsletter has no byline or masthead, so it’s unclear for whom it speaks. The Philadelphia Police Department declined a request for an interview, but a Federal Bureau of Investigation official answered affirmatively when asked if, over the past five years, Philadelphia had seen an increase in property crimes the agency interprets as protests against gentrification and capitalism.
“I don’t have an official tally,” Mr. Feibush said, but since 2015 “we experienced what I call ‘nuisance vandalism’ more frequently than monthly but less frequently than weekly.” That includes the fires as well as “slashed tires, paint on cars, graffiti on buildings.” Masked activists have fired paintballs at his employees, and someone shattered a window of Mr. Feibush’s home in July 2019.

“Philadelphia has long had a strong anarchist and antifascist scene,” says George Ciccariello-Maher, a local academic and the author of the forthcoming book “A World Without Police.” He notes that “a lot of the movements here recently” have targeted developers that activists deem “main drivers” of gentrification, including Mr. Feibush.
Not all of Philadelphia’s antifascists and anarchists engage in violence or vandalism, though many support a “diversity of tactics” and won’t denounce attacks on property. Some run food banks and organizations offering legal support and mutual aid. Others research and expose alt-right activists or agitate for the disinvitation of public speakers they consider fascist. Many shun electoral politics, but their ideas—including that capitalism is destructive and that police, prisons and immigration enforcement should be done away with—have become increasingly mainstream on the left.
Witness the 2017 election of Larry Krasner as Philadelphia’s district attorney. As a candidate, he claimed that “policing and prosecution are both systematically racist.” Since taking office, he has embarked on “an effort to end mass incarceration” by reducing sentences. His website trumpets dramatic declines in the number of charges brought by his office and a steep drop in the overall number of years the city’s convicted criminals will spend behind bars.

In Philadelphia, radical politics seem to have allowed radical leftists to destroy property with impunity. Mr. Feibush says Philadelphia police have dutifully investigated the property crimes against him and his business, but to his knowledge no one has been charged or prosecuted: “The feedback I receive is they can send over [the evidence] they have, but they don’t believe the DA’s office will prosecute.” Mr. Krasner’s office, he says, harbors an “unwillingness to do anything to these groups.” As a result, “they’ve clearly become more and more emboldened over the years.”
I asked Mr. Krasner’s office to respond. In an email, spokeswoman Jane Roh described Mr. Feibush as a “highly controversial/politically motivated developer.” (Mr. Feibush unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2015.) She also noted that the August 2017 arson attempt predated Mr. Krasner’s tenure.
When I pointed out that a property crime against him occurred this month, Ms. Roh responded: “Did Mr. Feibush say that he deserves special treatment compared to the numerous other property owners who have been victimized over the past week or so? . . . It is unlikely that a crime involving any one individual, no matter how important or prominent they believe themselves to be, would require review by the District Attorney himself.”

Ms. Roh added that “the District Attorney has opened approximately 1,000 criminal cases since the period of unrest began, the majority of which are related to commercial burglaries and property destruction.” She said that “for there to be prosecution the police have to make arrests.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Feibush’s woes continue. On June 5, a security camera captured footage of three people bashing away at his office windows, he says, and this past weekend, someone slashed three tires of an OCF Realty truck.
Ms. Melchior is an editorial page writer for the Journal.

Flatten The Curves

Submission

Did you know that school is mandatory in the United States of America? wtf right? School here has a really nasty history if you think colonialism totally sucks. That’s why two school police cars got their tires slashed and their windows scratched. Also an under construction condo had its windows scratched up and a doorbell camera was scratched up too. If you don’t have super sharp claws you can use a drill bit, compass, piece of flint, tungsten pen, or sandpaper to scratch glass and plastic. It’s more quiet than rocks and hammers.

Bingo Bandits

Late-night fun

Submission

Recently I gifted one OCF Realty van: four punctured tires…PLUS a bonus of two tires on a Comcast van.

Those spearheading gentrification make our lives increasingly unliveable, and will always be an enemy. Comcast has a contract with ICE; and they contribute to technological infrastructure and its web of surveillance, policing, ecological destruction and alienation. All things that continue to shape our daily lives into a suffocating prison of a world.

NOT being masked is suspicious these days, and I maintained 6ft of distance from another human the whole time! As what is ‘normal’ is changing rapidly, it’s important to think about how power will use our fear to keep us subdued. Shelter-in-place or not, are our lives really that free?

Guerilla Garden Poppin Back Up

Submission

Looks like the autonomo gardeners are back this spring

Text of flyer reads:
“There is an autonomous garden here. There’ve been various gardens in this lot over the years but they were all destroyed by developers who want to build luxury condos here.
Below this plot is the old Mill Creek. The 2019 sinkhole occurred just a few days after developers began resuming their construction project.
This land should not be developed! It is not the time for new condos. It is time for us to begin healing our relationship with the land.”

Text of sign reads:
“Red Belly Autonomous Garden- Garden @ Ur Own Risk”

Anti gentrification

Submission

When I couldn’t find my intended target late one evening, I found a new one (and many more all around). I splattered red paint across 4 new (inhabited) condos in south philly. The owners will have cleaned it away in no time, but I hope they felt a least 1/10th of the rage I feel encountering such ‘progress’ all around. I used a squirt bottle to keep things quiet, and a little extra time to scan the area, as I was on my own. Happy february! Live it up!!

Simple Sabotage

Submission

I glued the locks to the gates of a construction site in my neighborhood.
Simple sabotage is fun and easy. Even small attacks, especially if consistent and continual, are great ways to cause hiccups in the flow of progress.
Resist gentrification at whatever the stage!

Anti-Gentrification Action

Submission

I went to the site of a development project that intends to turn a half a block of vacant land into condos. Still in their early stages, I noticed they had recently begun the process of sectioning off the site for what I assumed to be marking the layout/foundation for building . They had installed a series of rebarb posts in the ground connected by strings, so I cut all the strings and removed all of the posts from the ground (minus 2 stubborn ones). The beams were pretty heavy so I threw them in a nearby dumpster burried under trash.
Hope they’re mad when they realize all the work they did was for nothing.

New Year’s Eve reportback

Submission

We don’t know if there was a noise demo this year, if there was we didn’t roll up. But we took our fireworks and had a great little new year’s party to pregame our own action. Nearly every window at Millcreek Tavern has been gloriously smashed out, costing that scumbag ex cop owner ballpark 7 to 10 grand in replacements, if the figure he dropped in a radio show after the last time one was broken, of $1,500 a window is accurate. There’s something beautiful to be said about crewing up with yr friends and lovers, and just goddamn going harder than you already have. Also 2 nights ago, we found where the Drexel buses sleep at night, and swiftly disabled one entirely, slashing tires with an awl, finding out it was goddamn left open, and spraypainting all the windows and windshields from the inside. Rapid gentrification by universities can be combatted; all it takes is creativity, small crews, and some easily fucking procured tools. Double paned quarter inch reinforced windows take about 2 to 3 solid smacks with a hammer to bring down entirely, in a beautiful cascade of glass. Happy new year y’all, here’s to a lawless 2020.

Signed-
A weary, happy, gay anarchist crew

Black Friday

Submission

In solidarity with striking amazon workers in Europe this Black Friday, a small crew of anarchists popped around 20 indiego bike tires, sabatoged 10 ATMs, tagged a macy’s and several other stores, the Rizzo mural, and sabatoged an Excavator being used in a development project.