An Anarchist Response to the Anti-Gentrification Attacks in Philly on May Day

from It’s Going Down

What do vandals get out of destroying a neighborhood? Why do people resort to violence to send a message? Are those who allegedly participated in such an action our comrades? Won’t this kind of action alienate people at a time when we finally have the opportunity to build a broad movement against fascism? Since all these questions surfaced in public forums following the May Day demonstration in Philly, in which expensive condos and cars in a gentrifying area of Northern Liberties/Kensington were smashed, maybe the answers are still not so obvious.

The black bloc is not symbolic. Unlike symbolic actions, which intend to convey a message, its reason for being is practical – wearing similar styles of all-black outfits allows people to stay anonymous while taking action. One of the more compelling aspects of anarchist tradition is its belief in direct action – we try not to accept other peoples’ control over our lives, and we don’t expect authorities to act in our best interests, so we try to accomplish what we want ourselves instead of asking permission from politicians or anyone else who seeks to protect the social order. Unfortunately, for many anarchists today, direct action remains more of an abstract belief than a way of life. In Philadelphia, we’re more used to seeing anarchists doing support work or lobbying for reforms than attacking institutions or businesses they believe shouldn’t exist. But some anarchists still respond to the violence of everyday life in the U.S. by directly fighting it.

Though invisible to most people, the U.S. has been waging a war since its inception on indigenous peoples, black folks, the poor, and all the other populations that it’s dispossessed and marginalized. As a settler colonial nation-state, it cannot exist without exploitation, slavery and genocide, and it continues to try to crush and control those populations that it’s oppressed and those who resist, while proceeding with its ongoing project of capitalist and colonial development.

This war between the social order and those it seeks to contain is called the social war, and one of its major fronts in Philly for years now has been gentrification. While the city was originally developed by displacing and devastating Lenape peoples and land and accumulating capital through the slave trade, for the past two decades Philadelphia’s economy has grown through displacing black and brown people and rebuilding their neighborhoods for wealthier people to move into. This process of gentrification, which is happening at the most rapidly accelerating rate in the country, has been so obvious that it’s produced widespread public outcry and relative sympathy for those using “violent” means to attack agents of gentrification. While attending community meetings with developers and politicians has accomplished nothing, and forming nonviolent community organizations against gentrification has done very little to stop it, vandalism has successfully demoralized and deterred development in many areas of the city.

History, and personal experience, have shown that nonviolent social movements and activist campaigns for reform can’t fix or win against a fundamentally violent state – this is why some engage in “violent” tactics that more directly move towards accomplishing their objectives. Concerns within radical circles about how such actions will alienate the public seem unfounded so far, since the mainstream media has been unusually understanding of the May 1st demo. Because the demo exclusively targeted expensive cars and new condo developments, it’s hard to mistake its intentions. Such actions will attract some and alienate others, and this is not a bad thing – it’s good to know what side people are on. Unlike symbolic marches and peaceful protests, actions like the May Day demo offer people the opportunity to deepen their capacity for anti-capitalist, anti-social offensives and open up space for new people to get involved who aren’t interested in more symbolic forms of action.

At a time when global capitalism and the society it’s created are more and more obviously disastrous, it seems important to push these initiatives and build our capacity to fight, rather than watering down our goals.

As to the question of whether those who participated in the May Day demo are our “comrades,” or deserve our support – those are some of the people in Philly going the hardest against the forces of domination and exploitation, and risking state violence and social marginalization in order to do so. Such actions are not above critique, but to condemn them and those involved wholesale in the name of hypothetical concerns about public opinion puts you on the side of defending and replicating a violent social order, rather than amongst those trying to get free from it.

Philly anarchists fuck up gentrification on may day

Submission

Lots of people said they went harder than they ever had, and learned and experimented at this demo. At least four large condos both finished  and unfinished were smashed up so bad that it felt like a competition to get a swing in. People described feeling terrified and thrilled participating. Compared to the J20 march on South St, this demo is an escalation and a step up. The successes of this demo feel like they’re a result of the lessons learned on J20. Shout out to everyone who came prepared, brought things to share, and showed up on time. Cars, condos and cameras were hit with everything: bricks, porcelain, hammers, slingshot marbles, spray paint, and paint bombs!

All the above is a testament to the demo’s ferocity, since the neighborhood was challenging to say the least. There weren’t many little dip spots to duck into, there were many cameras around (fewer now). Neighbors were quick to snitch and formed ad-hoc vigilante groups that pursued participants. At one point someone was tackled by a good citizen; a comrade with a hammer intimidated them, allowing the demo-goer to escape. Let’s remember to look out for each other, even when the cops aren’t around, especially in white, yuppie, or  right-leaning areas.

The meet-up chosen by the organizers felt ideal; it was dark, wooded, and off the street. Organizers regret not having distributed a legal support number that had been set up in advance of the demo. Due to technological and communication failures, as well as unforeseen circumstances, two intended targets were not hit. Towards the end of the route, an unintended split between a smaller group with a banner and a larger group further back took place, causing the march to end early.

It feels like in recent months we’ve all been learning a lot, and it shows — things are happening harder and more often! There are a few things we can do better next time. To lessen confusion and worry, let’s choose crew names that keep us anonymous, let us find each other in hectic situations, and also don’t sound like or rhyme with words for police. Let’s be careful with each other while we get dangerous, let’s throw from the front of crowds, making sure we don’t accidentally splash paint or rain glass on comrades in front of us using hammers.

See you in the streets

<3 bitches with hammers <3

Legal support for Philly May Day arrestees

from Fundrazr

Yesterday, a dedicated organizer, activist, and anti-fascist in Philadelphia was arrested, accused of connection with May Day anti-gentrification protests. They are currently in jail and media reports indicate they will be receiving completely inappropriate charges, including multiple felonies. We should take accounts by the mainstream media and police forces very cautiously. We are greatly in need of funds for bail and legal support, to reunite this person with their family and friends as soon as possible, and keep them that way. Any and all support you are able to give so that we can ensure a timely release and a strong defense are greatly appreciated. This person has put so much work into their community, and it is time for us to rally together and support them.

You can follow our Twitter for live updates on the case -Philly Anti-Repression Fund

[Donate Here]

Post-May Day Social Media Round-Up

from Twitter

Philly Jail Support 24th/25th District 3901 Whitaker Ave Shifts are from 3-6pm, 6-9pm, 9-12am.

from Instagram

If you want to help and keep track of last night’s May Day arrestees check out Philly Anti-Repression Fund’s twitter (@phlbailfund) and fundraiser (fnd.us/b1Eata?ref=sh_d6cb9d). Let’s support our comrades facing repression.

from Instagram

Lots of different anarchic feelings this May Day in Philly. Some comrades are still in custody let’s be ready to support them.

from Instagram


$100k in damage estimated, 2 in custody facing charges #mayday2017

Down With The Pipeline and Its World

from It’s Going Down

[Video]

On this International Worker’s Day, we are inspired by the resistance around the world from the streets of Paris to nearby Philadelphia. Solidarity with workers everywhere on this May Day and here’s to a long (hot) summer of fighting capitalism, colonization and ecocide!

Please check out this video about our front in that struggle, and please consider donating to our fundraiser here: www.fundrazr.com/campwhitepine!

May Day Graffiti

Submission

Spotted near the 49th Street train station.

BLOC OUT the SUN

from Facebook

The demo starts at 6th and Market outside the liberty bell and ends at city hall. Stand together against Fascism, Imperialism. State Violence and the “Alt-Right”. SOLIDARITY FOREVER!

MASK UP!

[May 1 at 10am]

Melt ICE: Solidarity With Detainees

from Facebook

Join the Industrial Workers of the World In Philadelphia on International Workers Day, as we will be demonstrating at the Philadelphia Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE office in solidarity with immigrant detainees. Immigrant detainees live and work in poor conditions in some cases making only $1 a day. In April 2017 Tacoma Washington Immigrant detainees went on a labor and hunger strike over bad food and low pay. Read more here: http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/04/24/25103735/women-detainees-at-tacoma-immigrant-prison-end-hunger-strike-but-vow-to-keep-fighting

After this we will join the March for a day without immigrants at City Hall at noon

[May 1 from 10am to 12pm at 1600 Callowhill St]

Autonomous March in Solidarity with Prisoners in Philly

from It’s Going Down

Across the country, prisoners have been pushing back against the indignities of prison. In Texas, prisoners have been on strike against slave labor for almost one month. Bubbling tensions in Holman, Alabama have erupted into prison riots at least twice and are now taking the form of a work stoppage. Three facilities around Michigan have seen mass protests, with inmates refusing meals and skipping meetings with the prison staff in protest against food quality. Louisiana has also seen hunger strikes recently. All of these actions lead toward a nation-wide prison strike on September 9th, the anniversary of the Attica uprising.

On May Day, between 15 and 20 people gathered for a short autonomous march through West Philly in solidarity with prisoners’ struggles and against prison society. The demonstration moved east behind two banners, “Prisoners to the Streets” and “REVENGE”. Music from a sound system kept the atmosphere playful.

Pamphlets expressing solidarity with struggles in prison were given to people in cars and in the street who were curious about what was happening. Stickers and tags against police and prison were put up along the way. A police substation received a few splashes of paint as the march passed it. People generally seemed enthusiastic about the demonstration and expressed their support from the sidewalks and cars.

The march ended and dispersed without incident at a nearby park. It had been promoted in a way to decrease the possibility of police presence at the meetup and no police were around for the entirety of the brief march.

Some takeaways:
-Avoiding reliance on Facebook and building networks of friends and comrades in less mediated ways makes repression harder.
-More dialogue between participants — especially during the demonstration — can make events like these less confusing in the future.
-As long as an escalation is not too drastic, sharing tools (like paint, stickers, flyers, etc) can welcome and encourage people to take action in a friendly setting.
-Bad weather is not the end of the world.

Some Photos of the aftermath of the May Day March in Solidarity with Prisoners

Submission
Here’s a few pictures taken after the May Day March in Solidarity with Prisoners took place.