Kristian Williams @ Wooden Shoe (In-Person Event)

from AK Press

On Sunday, July 3 at 7pm, join Kristian Williams for a book launch event at Wooden Shoe Books to celebrate the release of Gang Politics: Revolution, Repression, and Crime.
Registration not required!

In Gang Politics, Kristian Williams examines our society’s understanding of social and political violence, what gets romanticized, misunderstood, or muddled. He explores the complex intersections between “gangs” of all sorts—cops and criminals, Proud Boys and Antifa, Panthers and skinheads—arguing that government and criminality are intimately related, often sharing critical features. As society becomes more polarized and conflict more common, Williams’s analysis is a crucial corrective to our usual ideas about the role violence might or should play in our social struggles.

Kristian Williams is the author of six books, including Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America. Williams has been actively writing and leading discourse on anarchism in historical and present-day contexts, social inequalities, and critiques on police and political force since the 1990s. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Stop Cop City East Coast Tour Philadelphia

from Twitter

Defend The Atlanta Forest Info Night + Screening Of Riotsville U.S.A

from Instagram

[Stop Cop City
July 1st
@grays ferry skatepark
7:30pm talk // 9pm film]

Diaries of a Terrorist: Poetry and Abolition with Christopher Soto and others

from Making World Books

A luminous poetry reading demanding the abolition of police & prisons—with Christopher Soto, Airea D Mathews, and Denice Frohman.

This debut poetry collection demands the abolition of policing and human caging. In Diaries of a Terrorist, Christopher Soto uses the “we” pronoun to emphasize that police violence happens not only to individuals, but to whole communities. His poetics open the imagination towards possibilities of existence beyond the status quo. Soto asks, “Who do we call terrorist—and why”? These political surrealist poems shift between gut-wrenching vulnerability, laugh-aloud humor, and unapologetic queer punk raunchiness. Diaries of a Terrorist is groundbreaking in its ability to speak—from a local to a global scale—about one of the most important issues of our time.

Christopher Soto will be joined for a reading by Airea D Matthews, and Denice Frohman for the launch of their debut poetry collection, which demands the abolition of policing and human caging.

Cohosted by our friends at Scalawag Magazine.

Advance registration is requested.

[May  5 6:00 PM 7:30 PM 210 South 45th Street]

Monday April 25th: Letter-writing for Xinachtli

from Philly ABC

xinachtli-letter-writing.jpg

Philly ABC is back at it this month with another monthly letter-writing event for political prisoners. This event will be online – join from anywhere! We hope to return to outdoor in-person events next month.

This month we will be checking in with Xinachtli, a Chicano-Mexicano anarchist political prisoner serving a 50-year sentence after being targeted for his Chicano rights and anti-police brutality activism.

In 1976 he was falsely accused of murder, for which he narrowly escaped the death penalty, destined instead to serve a life sentence. He was released after media highlighted his unfair trial and proof of his innocence, but then later suffered a brutal beating at the hands of several police officers.

In 1996 Xinachtli became the target of the most massive police manhunt in recent West Texas history after disarming a sheriff who tried to shoot him on a warantless arrest, and fled to a nearby mountain. For days Xinachtli eluded police helicopters, bloodhound tracking dogs, armed vigilante groups, and other state and federal police agencies before they surrounded him after returning to his mother’s house to eat and change clothes.

Without identifying themselves, police began shooting indiscriminately at the house, at cars parked in front, and at the public street lights. To back them off their murderous intent, Xinachtli returned fire in self-defense but never shot nor injured anyone. During the police barrage, Sgt. Curtis Hines was shot in the left hand by a ricocheting police bullet.

Xinachtli surrendered and was charged with two counts of aggravated assault; one count for disarming the sheriff and one count for Sgt. Hines’ wound. His elderly mother was charged with “hindering apprehension” and jailed.

Prior to his incarceration, Xinachtli also advocated for human rights of framed and political prisoners, and he continues to help other prisoners assert their legal rights. Join us as we show Xinachtli some love and get the latest updates on the struggle to free him. His birthday is also May 12th if you are writing from home and want to send him birthday greetings.

We will also be sending birthday greetings to the other U.S.-held political prisoner with a birthday in May: Kojo Bomani Sababu (the 27th).

[6:30-8PM]

Banks Attacked in Solidarity with Atlanta Forest Defenders

from Scenes from the Atlanta Forest

This month we sabotaged card slots of Wells Fargo and Bank Of America in Center City, Philadelphia. This attack was done in solidarity and complicity with those disrupting the construction of a police training grounds in Atlanta. Cops in Atlanta want to cut down a forest to build a mock city to practice squashing uprisings. In response, individuals are occupying, protesting, and sabotaging. People have started staying in the forest and fucking with the construction. The Atlanta Police Foundation is being funded by Wells Fargo and Bank Of America. We are excited to hear about construction workers being chased out and construction vehicles being messed up.

As proponents of self-directed revolt we decided to target the banks contributing to building the cop city. We hope that by communicating our action others feel encouraged or inspired to attack and disrupt the social order in their own context. While it would be preferable if the police project in Atlanta collapsed, for us destruction is an end in itself. We take pleasure in disrupting capital.

Our sabotage involved collecting plastic cards, which we cut into thirds. The purpose of this was to prevent the cards from easily being removed. Before going out we wiped down the pieces with gloves on and dressed anonymously. We inserted the pieces into atm and door card readers after putting a strip of super glue onto them. One benefit of this action is that it fucks up the machine without making a lot of noise or seeming out of place. We feel this is relevant to point out because the cop city is an example of the police preparing for mass unrest and we feel it is strategic to be able to act discreetly in light of increasing policing and surveillance.

Fuck cops
Fuck banks and money
Solidarity and complicity with the feral anarchists in Atlanta
Death to civilization
Long live anarchy
Chaos forever

A Philly protester charged with setting cop cars ablaze during 2020 demonstrations has pleaded guilty

from Mainstream Media

A Philadelphia woman charged with torching police cars during the 2020 racial injustice protests in Philadelphia has struck an agreement with federal prosecutors that will spare her the seven-year minimum sentence she would have faced had she been convicted on arson charges.

Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, 35, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of a lesser offense — obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder — each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Her attorney Paul J. Hetznecker called the deal “appropriate” after condemning the previous arson charges — and the harsh sentence they carried — as a ”political decision” and an overreaction to crimes he argued should have been pursued in state court.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to say whether the deal signaled a wider reevaluation of its stance on protest-related cases. In all, five other defendants are still facing federal arson counts in Philadelphia for setting squad cars ablaze during the heated protests that erupted May 30, 2020, outside City Hall after the police killing of George Floyd.

At the time of the arrests, Attorney General William Barr had urged federal prosecutors across the country to pursue stiff federal penalties against defendants who committed violence and property destruction during the unrest that roiled the country that spring.

Blumenthal’s case became a cause célèbre on both sides of the debate surrounding protests and policing.

Prosecutors described her as a danger to the community who put hundreds of lives at risk by setting fire to cars that could have exploded and endangered packed crowds of peaceful protesters nearby. Left-wing groups labeled her a “political prisoner” jailed for an act of dissent in response to police brutality. They vandalized the Federal Detention Center in Center City, where Blumenthal has been incarcerated since her arrest, calling for her release.

But Blumenthal — a massage therapist with a peace sign tattooed on her wrist — appeared to fit neither the profile of the violent firebrand nor the political martyr that she’s been made out to be as she stood meekly in court Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Barclay Surrick.

Hands clasped behind her back, she spoke slowly and deliberately as the judge ran her through a series of questions to make sure she understood the consequences of her guilty plea. She paused to shout “I love you” to her brother and mother seated in the courtroom gallery, as U.S. Marshals led her back to prison.

Federal agents have said they identified Blumenthal from surveillance photos and video of the chaotic scene that unfolded outside City Hall that day.

They showed a woman, dressed in a blue shirt and wearing flame-retardant gloves, grabbing a burning piece of police barricade that had already been used to set one squad car on fire and tossing it into a police SUV parked nearby.

More photos taken by amateur photographers at the scene helped them zoom in on the woman’s distinctive peace-sign tattoo and T-shirt she was wearing with the slogan “Keep the immigrants, deport the racists.”

Making Worlds Seminar: Abolitionist Alternatives to Police and Prisons By Any Other Name

from Instagram

Please join us on Friday, March 18th at Making Worlds for a community seminar on abolitionist alternatives to police and prison, and how we can shift narratives beyond reforms, with author and activist Victoria Law. We will explore histories and examples of police and prison narratives that use reforms to extend their powers to punish, and to subject more and more people to their control.

Victoria is author and co-author of two recent books that we will be using as the basis of our seminar, Prisons Make Us Safer: And 20 Other Myths about Mass Incarceration and Prison By Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms.

Advance registration required at: https://bit.ly/3MBKmY1

[March 18 4-6pm at 410 South 45th Street]

Former Black Panther Russell “Maroon” Shoatz Freed From Prison After 49 Years

from Truthout

Russell "Maroon" Shoatz is pictured after his release from solitary confinement.

Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, the Black liberationist long respected as a political prisoner and freedom fighter by friends and supporters, was granted a medical transfer on Monday to leave a Pennsylvania prison for treatment and hospice after five decades of imprisonment.

A former member of the Black Panther Party and a soldier in the Black Liberation Army, Shoatz organized inside prisons for decades to abolish life sentences without parole, inspiring activists and attorneys to take up the cause.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is now considering whether a legal challenge to the state’s practice of denying parole hearings to people serving life sentences for certain second-degree murder convictions can proceed. All life sentences in Pennsylvania excluded the possibility of parole, and the state has the highest per-capita rate of people serving life sentences in the nation and the world, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The 78-year-old Shoatz, who remains highly influential within the Black liberation and prison abolition movements, is reportedly terminally ill after being diagnosed with cancer. In social media posts, activists and family members who spent years fighting for his release celebrated on Monday after a judge in Philadelphia agreed to transfer Shoatz from a prison to a hospital.

In 2014, Shoatz was released from solitary confinement after spending 22 consecutive years in “the hole” and later won a $99,000 legal settlement. Supporters say the solitary confinement amounted to retaliation against Shoatz’s efforts to organize other “lifers” and abolish what activists now call “death by incarceration,” or life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Shoatz, who is considered both a political prisoner and prisoner of war by supporters, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison after a 1970 attack on a Philadelphia police station.

As they are today, tensions over racist police violence were running high in Philadelphia during the summer of 1970, when Police Chief Frank Rizzo ordered a crackdown on Black liberation groups ahead a national convention of the Black Panther Party. Anger boiled over after police once again killed an unarmed Black youth, and police were attacked in retaliation, leaving one officer injured and another dead. The attack prompted a raid on the Black Panther headquarters and the arrest of multiple activists.

Shoatz went underground but was arrested and convicted of murder two years later; supporters have said he was falsely accused. Shoatz escaped prison with other Black liberationists twice before being hunted by authorities and captured again. The liberationists were called the New African Political Prisoners of War.

Shoatz spent much of his life resisting solitary confinement, inspiring activists in the free world and working for the liberation of people sentenced to die in prison. Shoatz’s supporters say he is now free to rejoin his family during the final stage of his life.

FBI Raids Home of Philly Proud Boy’s Vice President Aaron Whallon Wolkind

from Philly Antifa

From The Inquirer:

Aaron Whallon Wolkind, Vice President of Philly Proud Boys, despite living in Delaware.

“The FBI raided the home of the vice president of the Proud Boys’ Philadelphia chapter on Friday, seizing his computer, phone, and other electronics to gather information on the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, his lawyer said Monday.

Aaron Whallon Wolkind, 37, woke up around 4 a.m. Friday to more than a dozen federal agents, dressed in riot gear and accompanied by an armored vehicle and battering ram, swarming his Newark, Del., home, and ordering through a loudspeaker that he exit with his hands in the air, his lawyer Jonathon Moseley wrote in a court filing…

Wolkind was not in D.C. during the Jan. 6 riot, Moseley said. He believes the search and seizure was to gather information in the case against Zach Rehl, the self-described president of the Philadelphia Proud Boys, whom Moseley also represents. Rehl was arrested in March on charges he conspired with other leading members of the organization to attack the Capitol and has been in custody in Philadelphia pending trial since.”

( click link for full story)


Wolkind is a longtime Proud Boy who participated with Rehl, Richard Schwetz and other PB’s/assorted racists who attacked Anti-Racists at the Columbus Statue in Marconi Plaza in the summer of 2020. Wolkind has been at nearly every Proud Boys demo in Pennsylvania since the group’s founding.

Zach Rehl continues to be held at FDC Philadelphia awaiting trial.

 

Looking Critically at the Brooklyn Center Riot: An Interview from Anathema

from It’s Going Down

Originally published in Anathema, an anarchist publication from Philadelphia, the following interview talks about the realities of the Brooklyn Center riot that kicked off in the wake of the police murder of Daunte Wright in the spring of 2021. 

This interview was conducted two months ago, which was already two months after the events this spring in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. The riot in Brooklyn Center took place in the context of the Derek Chauvin trial, almost a year after he murdered George Floyd. This interview was an attempt to reflect on one participant’s experience of the events in Brooklyn Center and consider what they tell us about how things might unfold in the future. For many of us, the George Floyd uprising has weighed heavily on our minds as we try to imagine next steps to take. What became clear to me in this interview was that between the George Floyd uprising and the Brooklyn Center riot — despite the direct influence and geographic proximity — was an expanse.

Although the Brooklyn Center riot was an outgrowth of the George Floyd uprising, it was also a reminder that the previous summer’s events would not be repeated. Now, after a relatively quiet summer, it seems all the more important to be looking toward the future rather than fixating our gaze on last summer’s uprising. In this interview, we explore some of the developments and unique characteristics of uprisings in the aftermath of the George Floyd uprising.

You were in Brooklyn Center in April. Can you describe what happened?

Yes, there was a police murder: Daunte Wright, 20 years old. He was basically trying to flee the scene where he got stopped. There was two nights of rioting — I am going to say rioting. Some people want to say “it’s not a riot, it’s a rebellion.” I am just going to say it was a riot.

People were throwing stuff at the cops. There was looting by car in the Brooklyn Center area, also in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. The first night the neighboring police station got shot up; someone shot the front doors of it. Someone else shot at a cop — maybe 3 days after it started.

All throughout people were calling for the burning down of the police precinct (that was the focal point of the riot). They never succeeded. People tried. The police set up a gate. It was similar to what happened in Portland at the courthouse. But they didn’t actually breach the gate.

After the first two days of looting, arson, street fighting, and property destruction, there was basically a week of confrontational protests in front of the police precinct.

From what you witnessed, what have been the most significant changes since last year?

What’s been happening since the fall of last year, the police have been really ready for riots. So, when people engage in riot tactics, they need to outmaneuver the police. It can’t be this kind of frontal assault the way it happened in Minneapolis at the 3rd precinct.

That started with the Breonna Taylor revolt of late September. There isn’t 1000s of people in the street fighting the cops. That’s not happening.

Also, in Brooklyn Center, you would see people in black bloc or this “frontliner” aesthetic trying to stop young, mostly Black kids from setting things on fire and building barricades.

Wait — what would motivate people to dress up in black bloc attire in order to stop riots?

I don’t know. I just think it’s become a popular aesthetic and people have adopted it that have never experienced revolts before. It’s weird, this group called Minnesota Freedom Fighters — it’s basically like a nonprofit. Their goal is to deescalate riots, but they all dress in black bloc and wear gas masks and have umbrellas. It’s a strange thing that’s been imported from Portland, and originally from Hong Kong and Chile. It made sense in Portland and Seattle, but then once it makes it to places like Philly and Brooklyn it gets isolated from the insurgent activities happening. It’s very bizarre.

In Brooklyn Center, it’s almost exclusively young, Black, poor and working class still out there willing to engage in insurgent tactics. And they are becoming isolated.

Brooklyn Center is 20 minutes outside of Minneapolis and it’s very suburban. That’s what made the terrain really hard for rioting to happen. It’s pretty much a residential neighborhood with apartment buildings. There were two gas stations and a strip mall — that all got fucked up.

You say it was difficult terrain. What was the rioting like in the suburbs?

It made it harder to have a sustained riot that would breach the gates since there weren’t 1000s of people there. There were isolated forms of struggle: shooting at cops, the national guard. Winston Smith is an example of this. It’s not something everyone can participate in — it’s dangerous. But it’s also what’s happening in the absence of mass uprising.

A dollar store got set on fire. That whole strip mall got fucked up and looted. There was a really interesting moment: the owner of a pizza shop was like: I will make you guys some pizza. He started making pizzas for the crowd of potential looters. And that’s how he avoided his store getting fucked up.

There were a couple of militia people with assault rifles trying to protect the dollar general and they quickly got surrounded by young people who were like: you are not going to stop us. And they just walked around them. That was a very intense moment.

There were other people who didn’t have guns who tried to protect property and they just got beat up. The people who were rioting on the first two nights were still in the minority but they were able to do things.

What changed on the third night? Were the militias and peace police more successful at stopping rioters?

I think it was that in combination with police repression: the National Guard was out there; the FBI was out there. We got stopped by people who said they were working with the FBI.

We were just leaving an area where all the stuff was happening and got stopped by like 5 different squad cars. They took pictures of us, our tattoos, our injuries. We had all this stuff in our car (gas masks, body armor), but we didn’t have anything illegal on us. So, they couldn’t actually do anything. They were gathering intelligence. They interrogated us.

Each of us got separated; there was 4 of us. We got put in a different car. They tried to scare the shit out of us saying “you are all getting booked, you are getting processed and fingerprinted, we are impounding the car.” They asked us questions about how we knew each other and how we were connected. Then they just let us go.

People like got away with so much shit last summer that people got comfortable. The terrain has changed and people can’t get away with the same kind of stuff. People weren’t as aware as they should have been

Last year, especially with the pandemic, the State was not ready. That changes what people can do. There will continue to be smaller localized uprisings with short duration, and there’s a limit they will reach very fast.

Beginning with the Breonna Taylor protests in September and confirmed by the Walter Wallace riots in October, the cops got a lot more violent. One result of it is the multi-racial dimension has diminished. Because of the repression. The first time I noticed that was when I was in Louisville in September and it was mainly young Black people out there.

Were there anarchists in the riot?

Out of any political tendency, the anarchists went the hardest, but they were still a small minority. And they weren’t relevant “as anarchists.” The starting point should be what the people in the street that are fucking shit up want to do. It hasn’t been anarchist politics that has pushed people to be confrontational with the State.

What needs to happen next is burning down every police precinct in the United States. So that’s what we push for. We don’t push for people to become anarchists.

Brooklyn Center riot was localized and several months ago. Is it relevant to people in Philly now?

There’s things to learn from it. Things are becoming more atomized, more dangerous and falling into a more general outlaw culture. The impasse experienced in Brooklyn Center is happening in Philly too. There is not a full-blown uprising; instead, you see these more diffuse forms of struggle. When the Chauvin trial concluded, in Philly there was groups of young people on dirt bikes throughout the whole city, with cops chasing after them. It was clearly a form of resistance.

Final thoughts?

People don’t care what you say you are about. It’s whether you are perceived to be part of the riot. It’s those who are loyal to the spirit of revolt and everyone else. That’s the divide. If you are just being a spectator, you might not be so welcome. More than anything, it’s what you communicate by your actions.

Meditation on Accountability

from Dreaming Freedom Practicing Abolition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join me in this balancing act.

Happening

from Dreaming Freedom Practicing Abolition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

from Idavox

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

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

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

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

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

Driver of one of the trucks Patriot Front reportedly rented.

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

 

Philly man is arrested for allegedly torching cop car during the racial injustice protests last year

from Mainstream Media

Lester Fulton, who was arrested Thursday in Massachusetts, is the sixth person facing federal arson charges in connection with the racial injustice protests in Center City last spring.

Philadelphia police make a wall to block protestors from approaching a burning Pennsylvania State Police car near the intersection of Broad and Vine Streets during May 30, 2020, protests over the death of George Floyd.

A 26-year-old Philadelphia man on Thursday became the sixth person charged with setting police cars ablaze during last summer’s racial injustice protests in Center City.

FBI agents arrested Lester Fulton Smith, 26, in Massachusetts, where he was working, and accused him of playing a role in the arson of a Pennsylvania State Police car ignited by protesters demonstrating May 30 in response to the murder of George Floyd.

Authorities had already charged a Virginia man — Ayoub Tabri, 25 — with igniting the blaze using a road flare stolen from the vehicle.

Charging documents in Smith’s case were spare on details of what role prosecutors believe he played in the incident, whether investigators believe he coordinated with Tabri, or how he was identified by agents.

Prosecutors have said they first flagged Tabri — wearing a black mask and holding a skateboard in one hand and the lit flare in the other — from video shared on social media of the chaotic scene that unfolded that day near the intersection of Broad and Vine Streets, where State Police had amassed to keep the crowd of demonstrators off of I-676.

Two parked police cars came under attack from the crowd, which beat them with a scooter, a hammer, skateboards, a bike lock, crowbars, and hands and fists.

The lit flare Tabri is accused of throwing at one of the cars not only hit it but also a nearby state trooper, whose uniform caught fire, investigators said. The trooper later suffered burns to his hand while reaching into the burning vehicle to retrieve a rifle that had been stored inside.

FBI agents identified Tabri, a restaurant worker in Washington, D.C., by cross-referencing video from the scene with social media photos of the same man — without a mask — shot later outside City Hall.

Tabri confessed to setting the blaze upon his arrest in October, according to court filings in his case. Six others have been arrested on state vandalism charges in connection with the damage to the State Police vehicles.

In a statement Thursday, acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams drew a distinction between Smith and Tabri and the hundreds of “peaceful protesters” who demonstrated in Philadelphia that day.

“Here, the defendants allegedly destroyed a police vehicle, endangering many lives including police officers and peaceful protesters nearby,” she said. “This conduct is not free speech and is not protected by our constitution; rather, it is criminal.”

For his part, Smith looked exhausted while appearing Thursday for his first court appearance via Zoom from a federal detention center in Massachusetts. He yawned repeatedly, rubbing his eyes throughout the proceeding.

But he leaped out of his chair and mouthed “No,” when U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler outlined a mandatory minimum seven-year prison sentence and maximum of 40 years he is facing should he be convicted on the two arson counts with which he has been charged.

Lawyers for others charged with igniting police vehicles in separate incidents May 30 have criticized the decision to charge them — like Smith and Tabri — under federal arson statutes because of that stiff mandatory penalty. They argue that protest-related acts of destruction belong in state court.

Smith will remain in custody pending a bail hearing in Worcester, Mass., scheduled for Wednesday, at which prosecutors have signaled they intend to seek his detention until trial.

An attorney had not been appointed to represent him on the charges in Philadelphia as of Thursday evening.

Four others face federal arson charges in connection with Philadelphia police cars ignited in separate incidents near City Hall that day.

They include prominent activist and social studies teacher Anthony “Ant” Smith, 30, and Khalif Miller, 25, both of Philadelphia, as well as Carlos Matchett, 31, of Atlantic City and Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, a 34-year-old massage therapist from Jenkintown.

All have denied the charges and are awaiting trials scheduled for later this year.