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.

How a neo-Nazi Musician Became a Philly Cop: The Brian P. Haughton Story

from Idavox

The many faces of Brian P. Haughton: left, as a Philly police officer, center as a law enforcement coordinator, right as a member of Arresting Officers (red circle).

Imagine if you will, you being a person of color that learns you were arrested or assaulted by a cop who for a good chunk of his life before he became one was a neo-Nazi musician who playing in a band called Arresting Officers! You just might feel a way about that. So should your attorney who should question how fair your arrest was.

While his name was not mentioned, an article in the current edition of Rolling Stone about White supremacy in American policing makes reference to a former Philadelphia police officer and trainer who used to be in a well-known band associated with the neo-Nazi scene in the city.

“A Philadelphia cop played drums in a racist skinhead band through the mid- to late-Nineties before joining the police force, serving until his retirement a few years ago,” the article read, noting further that he  did not respond to interview requests. While this was a vague reference in the article it is well known that  Brian P. Haughton was the drummer for the ironically named band Arresting Officers before becoming a police officer for 21 years, later retiring and becoming a police trainer, a role that he is prominently in today.

The first Arresting Officers album.

Formed in 1987, Arresting Officers was a Philadelphia-based Oi!/RAC (Rock Against Communism) band that put out two albums for the German label Rock-O-Rama Records, as well as a 7-inch for Street Rock N Roll, a sub-label for Rock-O-Rama. Both labels were known for releasing albums by neo-Nazi bands such as Skrewdriver before Rock-O-Rama was reportedly shut down in a 1994 police raid. Haughton also contributed to the band Break the Sword, which released an album on Resistance Records. This project included not only Joe Rowan, the lead singer of Nordic Thunder who was killed on his birthday in 1994, but also Scott Stedeford, a member of the Aryan Republican Army who was alleged to have conspired with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh before he bombed the federal building there, and who committed a series of bank robberies in the Midwest from 1992 to 1994. Stedeford is reportedly due to be released from federal prison this summer after serving over twenty years for his role in those robberies.

Haughton graduated from the police academy in 1995 and embarked on a 21-year career as a Philadelphia police officer which included working on SWAT teams. When he retired from the force he became an instructor and now works with the Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network (MAGLOCLEN), which is part of a communication and information sharing network in law enforcement. Ironically, while a police officer he was tasked to work the Democratic National Convention in 2016, which saw some controversy when Officer Ian Hans Lichterman was observed during a Black Resistance March sporting a tattoo of a German eagle beneath the word “Fatherland” on his left arm. Lichterman, who was cleared of any wrongdoing by Internal Affairs but is no longer a Philadelphia police officer, saw earlier controversy when his name showed up in data from several neo-Nazi and Klan websites that were hacked and leaked.

The investigation Rolling Stone conducted revealed that police chiefs and unions frequently fail to address racism and White supremacy within in the ranks, thereby creating a climate where White supremacists have been free to infiltrate police forces and grow their numbers and influence.

Documented Nazi & Former Allentown Police Captain Michael P. Combs Now Police Chief in Minersville, Pennsylvania

from Community Research Opposing Hate

Three images of Michael Combs, Nazi Police Chief of the Minersville Police
Three images of former Allentown Police Captain & current Minersville Police Chief Michael Combs. He is a Nazi.

It recently came to CROH’s attention that the infamous Nazi Allentown Police Officer Michael P. Combs remains employed in the field of law enforcement.

Multiple reliable accounts of Combs’ dedication to white supremacist ideology throughout the 80’s and 90’s were published in a 1996 article in The Morning Call. And while a 1997 internal investigation verified several of these claims, the APD declined to terminate Combs, instead prompting him to attend “sensitivity training.” Combs remained employed by Allentown Police Department (APD) until his retirement in 2002. Despite Combs’ verified history of white supremacy, he was again hired in 2010 by the Borough of Minersville to serve as Police Chief.

In the following article, CROH will lay out the various credible allegations against Combs regarding his open support for Hitler, Nazism, and other white supremacist ideologies. We will also discuss APD’s 1997 Internal Affairs Investigation into Combs (aka, APD’s investigation of themselves). Lastly, we will cover Combs’ 2010 transition to Police Chief in the Borough of Minersville, a small community in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

New zine: 215 Rioters

Submission

We’re happy to announce the publication of a new zine 215 Rioters: Heroes Forever. This zine is a compilation of analyses and reports from the 2020 Walter Wallace uprising. The authors have revised their pieces and written an introduction to give context to their thoughts. Two anonymous action reports are also included to bring to light some less publicized aspects of the rebellion. As the police make it clear that they will continue to kill Black people it is our intention that these kinds of reflections and histories help us sharpen our struggle to free ourselves from the forces of anti-Blackness and social control.

Here & Now Zines

[Read PDF] [Print PDF]

FOIA reveals that the DEA was ‘infiltrating’ BLM protests last June

from Twitter

Pa. National Guard activated as Philly preps for potential unrest ahead of Derek Chauvin murder trial verdict

from mainstream media

Members of the National Guard stand in guard in front of the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building in Philadelphia, Pa. Friday, October 31, 2020.

Philadelphia officials and community leaders Friday outlined plans for increased emergency operations and law enforcement staffing, while Gov. Tom Wolf activated more than 1,000 Pennsylvania National Guard members to the city in preparation for any potential unrest following the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd.

At the request of the city, Wolf signed a proclamation of disaster Friday evening, activating the 1,000-plus state Guard members, to support “the current efforts in Philadelphia to protect our beloved neighbors and city.” The proclamation is effective for 90 days unless Wolf rescinds or extends it.

The activation of the Guard came after city leaders held a news conference Friday, saying they learned from the large-scale racial justice demonstrations and unrest in Philadelphia last spring following Floyd’s death, and have developed a “holistic plan” to address any aftermath of the landmark Chauvin verdict.

“Regardless of what may develop, I am confident that our department is prepared for whatever may come our way,” said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, standing in front of the Municipal Services Building — a flash point for conflict in 2020, where the statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo once stood, and where a mural highlighting Black Lives Matter protesters was later installed.

Last year, she said, ”while we made missteps along the way, we are committed to moving forward in a meaningful and productive manner.”

Closing arguments in the trial are set to begin Monday, with no timetable on when the verdict may be reached.

A review commissioned by Mayor JIm Kenney found that police were “simply not prepared” for the demonstrations that ensued in Philadelphia following Floyd’s death last May, where short staffing, lack of equipment, and insufficient planning had “cascading effects,” with “inordinate use” of tear gas and other less-lethal munitions by police and “at times, excessive force against protesters.”

This year, the Police Department is increasing staffing and canceling days off to ensure a presence across the city, “to enhance the protection of critical infrastructure, businesses, and neighborhoods,” Outlaw said. Beginning Saturday, the Office of Emergency Management will also be fully staffed every day for the next several weeks, said Director Adam Thiel.

The National Guard — which occupied Philadelphia for weeks last year following unrest after Floyd’s death and again in October after officers shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr. — is not in the city yet, Thiel said, but it is ready to deploy ”if needed.”

According to Wolf’s office, the Guard’s duties may include — but are not limited to — area security, manning traffic control points, and providing security at critical infrastructure sites. Citing security concerns, the office said that specific locations, numbers of troops, and locations could not be discussed.

Outlaw said that police have not ruled out using tear gas, rubber bullets, and other “less-lethal munitions,” but that they would not be fired “against peaceful demonstrators.” Following the tear-gassing of demonstrators on I-676 and residents in a West Philadelphia neighborhood, police implemented a moratorium on the munitions in June, and in November, Kenney signed a bill barring use of such devices “on any individual engaging in First Amendment Activities.”

Police intend to honor the moratorium and legislation, a spokesperson said.

Outlaw said the department would do “everything possible” to avoid disruptions, but that some streets may be closed to traffic.

“Things might look different in your neighborhoods over the coming days,” she said. “You will see officers on bikes, and some officers on foot. Some officers may be on horseback. You will even see some officers throughout the city, along with police clergy, offering prayer, opportunities for healing, and distributing City of Philadelphia resources. There’s even a chance that you will see a Pennsylvania National Guard soldier in your neighborhood. Please remember that they are all here to serve you.”

Officials encouraged residents to sign up for emergency updates by texting “ReadyPhila” to 888-777.

Ahead of the Chauvin verdict, the city will also assist in virtual “community healing circles” for residents to share their feelings and find support from neighbors, said Managing Director Tumar Alexander. He said the city is asking community leaders to hold their own events, and providing resources to encourage healing conversations offer support, and information on knowing your rights while protesting. Additionally, he said, business owners, volunteers, Town Watch Integrated Services, and the Office of Violence Prevention will “passively patrol the communities and commercial corridors … not as law enforcement, but just as citizens looking to engage other citizens and business owners.”

Some community and faith leaders also urged residents to refrain from destroying property in protest.

“We must be ready to embrace the opportunity to dig deeper to end racism, brutality, and injustice, we should embrace the right to protest to demand change,” said Sharmain Matlock Turner of the Urban Affairs Coalition. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” Turner added, but Dr. King “also gave us wisdom in our fight for justice saying, ‘Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a sword that heals, which cuts without wounding and nobles those who wield it.’”

“Speak up, protest, but do not tear up,” said state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.), recalling discussions with city business owners whose stores were damaged during unrest last year, some who never recovered.

In Minneapolis on Thursday, after nearly three weeks of testimony, Chauvin’s defense rested after he declined to take the stand.

Last week, miles from where the Chauvin trial was underway, police in a Minneapolis suburb shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, leading to several nights of unrest. In Philadelphia, protesters marched through the city for justice for Wright, and more demonstrations are expected this weekend.

Emails show DEA’s “covert surveillance” of racial justice protesters in Philadelphia, Chicago, Albuquerque

from Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington

Donald Trump walks with Bill Barr and members of the military out of a gated area

[This post only contains information relevant to Philadelphia and the surrounding area, to read the entire article follow the above link.]

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted “covert surveillance” on people protesting the killing of George Floyd last summer in Philadelphia, Chicago and Albuquerque, according to emails obtained by CREW. The operations involved the use of undercover DEA agents to “infiltrate” protests, social media monitoring and aerial surveillance by the DEA Air Wing.

Justice Department leadership authorized the surveillance efforts in May 2020, per a DEA memorandum revealed last year by BuzzFeed News. The decision—which significantly expanded the DEA’s law enforcement authority nationwide for 14 days—was decried by members of Congress and civil liberties advocates as an invasion of First Amendment rights.

Representatives Jerry Nadler and Karen Bass urged the Justice Department to “immediately rescind” the decision in a June 5 letter, calling it “unwarranted and antithetical to the American people’s right to peacefully assemble and to exercise their Constitutional rights without undue intrusion.”

The new emails, obtained by CREW as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, provide a glimpse into how the DEA utilized its expanded surveillance authority in three cities.

 

Philadelphia

In a June 2 email, the Philadelphia Police Department requested that DEA’s local Special Agent in Charge, Jonathan Wilson, assign agents to “infiltrate crowds” at protests “for intel purposes.”

Within 30 minutes, Wilson obtained approval from Principal Deputy DEA Administrator Preston Grubbs, the agency’s second highest ranking official, to conduct “covert surveillance from within protests in the city of Philadelphia” in order to “identify protest leaders,” among others.

A June 3 email from a Philadelphia police sergeant provided “operational information” for DEA agents assigned to surveil a protest later that day. The email instructed agents to download a “communications app” to carry out their “surveillance operation,” even though DEA “doesn’t normally use” the app. The name of the app is redacted in the emails released to CREW.

An attachment to the June 3 email titled “Philly Riot Suspects.pdf” is redacted in its entirety.

Another operational email instructed DEA agents to dress so they could “b[l]end in with the crowds. Masks and bag packs [sic] are a good idea.”

A June 4 email shows extensive social media monitoring of protests expected through the weekend, with event names such as “Peaceful March: South Street to City Hall,” “Mt. Airy Solidarity March,” “4th Annual Stop Killing Us (SKU) March to DC!,” “George Floyd – Peaceful protest,” and “Candle Light Vigil for Breonna Taylor.”

Another June 4 email shows that DEA’s surveillance operation continued at least through June 7. An Assistant Special Agent in Charge thanked agents for their “tireless[] dedication to this mission, along with the sweat and blisters.”

Philly police ID officers who fired shots during fatal encounter with man in Logan

from mainstream media

Philadelphia crime scene unit laying down evidence markers after gunfire left 24-year-old man dead and officer wounded at 15th Street and West Somerville Avenue in North Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

The Philadelphia Police Department on Monday evening released the names of the five officers who fired shots during an alleged gun battle while stopping a vehicle in Logan last week that left a 24-year-old man dead.

The department also said that the officers incorrectly believed that James Alexander had an outstanding warrant for “bail jumping” in Wisconsin, which led them to attempt to arrest Alexander.

“Police later learned that the ‘bail jumping’ warrant for James Alexander returned on a different individual, similarly named, with a similar date of birth, but differing FBI number,” the department said in its updated statement.

In response to written questions from an Inquirer reporter, the department said the officers had intended to investigate everyone in the car and were in the process of having all the occupants exit the vehicle when the gunfire erupted.

Alexander “would not have necessarily been placed under arrest at the scene if the officers were able to determine that he was not the individual coming back with a warrant (and this would also be assuming that he was not illegally carrying the firearm that he later fired at our officers),” the department said in its written response.

“The officers were in the process of removing ALL of the individuals from the vehicle as they conducted their investigation. At the time, 3 of the 4 individuals in the vehicle were coming back with warrants. 2 of those warrants are active. It wasn’t determined that the warrant on Mr. Alexander was for a different individual until he was fingerprinted,” the department said in its response.

There were four occupants in the blue Kia Optima sedan that Officer Christopher Burton, 28, and Officer Charles McCairns, 29, stopped about 6:45 p.m. April 7 on Somerville Avenue at 15th Street because the car allegedly had run through a stop sign.

The Police Department said in a statement on April 8 that the officers ran checks on the occupants and found that Alexander had the warrant from Wisconsin, and that the driver had a warrant for some type of probation or parole violation.

“Due to the wanted status of the two (2) individuals, Officers Burton and McCairns requested additional back-up officers via Police Radio,” the department said in its statement Monday evening.

The department said in its written response to the Inquirer that even if only the driver had an active warrant, the two officers would have called for backup because of the potentially volatile nature of traffic stops.

Four other uniformed officers arrived. The three who fired shot are Officer Michael Braun, 30, and his partner, Officer David Tamamoto, 40, along with Officer Matthew Ponente, 29. Ponente’s partner did not fire his sidearm and was not named.

“Officers Burton and Braun approached the driver’s door and requested him to exit the Kia, and he complied,” according to the police statement.

“Officers McCairns and Tamamoto approached Alexander on the passenger side,” the department said.

“Officer McCairns opened the rear passenger door and requested Alexander to exit the vehicle. Officer McCairns instructed Alexander to leave his cell phone in the vehicle and asked Alexander if he had a gun on him,” the department said.

The department alleges that Alexander then pulled a gun from the front of his waistband and McCairns then yelled, “He’s got a gun,” and backed away, as did Tamamoto and Ponente.

“Alexander, still positioned in the vehicle, discharged his weapon in the direction of police, who had positioned themselves on the passenger side of the Kia,” the department alleges.

Alexander then got out of the Kia and fired two more shots in the direction of the police, according to the statement.

The five named officers then fired at Alexander, striking him.

Police transported Alexander to Einstein Medical Center, where he was quickly pronounced dead.

Ponente suffered a gunshot wound to his left foot. His partner took him to Einstein and he was treated and released.

None of the Kia occupants nor any bystanders was hurt.

A .40-caliber, semiautomatic Ruger handgun that Alexander allegedly fired was taken into evidence.

Three spent shell casings matching that caliber were recovered at the scene.

Twenty-eight spent shell casing from rounds fired by the officers also were recovered.

According to the department, two occupants of the Kia told investigators afterward that “Alexander announced that he had a gun on his person, and stated that he could not go back to jail.”

The department said body-cam video from the officers shows a cloud of smoke inside the Kia at the time Alexander allegedly fired a shot, and then another cloud of smoke when he was outside and allegedly fired two more shots.

The department said it would show the body-cam video to Alexander’s family but had no plans for a public release.

The department’s Internal Affairs unit is investigation the shooting.

What You Should Know About PPD Recruiting Community Orgs

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Report from march in solidarity against anti-AAPI racism

Submission

On the night of 3/27, about a dozen people responded to a call to march against anti-Asian racism and white supremacy. After a brief discussion about intentions, the bloc marched about 10 blocks, without a police tail, through pedestrian streets that have been overtaken by outdoor dining, chanting slogans against racism, the police, and white supremacy. This disrupted what would otherwise have been a lovely evening for Philly’s yuppies, before dispersing without incident. Some of these chants included “A-C-A-B, FUCK/END WHITE SUPREMACY!”, “COPS & KLAN GO HAND IN HAND!”,” WHEN ASIAN/IMMIGRANT/BLACK LIVES ARE UNDER ATTACK, WHAT DO WE DO, STAND UP FIGHT BACK!”, “A-ANTI-ANTICAPITALISTA!”, some feral screaming into the night, etc.

The march was a really fun night out! Spirits were high, the chanting was strong and heartfelt. The bloc was playful and even had an impromptu dance to some street musicians playing Vanessa Carlton’s “1000 Miles”. The route choice of pedestrian streets meant that the march could be loud and visible with a low risk of encountering the police. Communication between marchers felt easy and people were able to make decisions together.

Here are some things to think about for future actions. Considering nearby cameras and visibility from the street and sidewalk when choosing a meet up location can help increase anonymity and the chance of a smooth start. The messaging on the banner was confusing — it said that no one has to die for people to fight racism, which is true, but racism does kills everyday.

This action was successful in being highly visible, spreading a message against white supremacy, avoiding arrests and a police tail. The route was clever in that it went through streets already closed to car traffic. This kind of relatively low stress action builds confidence, as well as experience moving & deciding together in the street. It also felt like a good first outing of the spring, and a way to show that actions can be fun, playful, and confrontational all at the same time.

-DSA: Insurrectionary Nihilist Caucus

FTP Banner and Communique from Revolutionary Abolitionists in Harrisburg, PA

Submission

To our comrades in Philadelphia, Rockford and across the so-called United States,

In the wake of the election and the subsequent putsch on the Capitol, the establishment and media apparatus have set out to douse memory of the multi-racial insurgency that spread across the country last summer and dampen the social contradictions that lead to it with slogans of calm and unity. Harrisburg was not been exempt from this revisionist trend in the slightest. During the summer, grifters and Black counter insurgents tried to funnel the long growing discontent into dead end electoralism and the bureaucratic machinations that grind the ember of revolutionary change in their gears at any given opportunity. In spite of this, the community rose up in defiance of both law enforcement and their neoliberal lapdogs in ways that have not been seen here in recent memory – cop cars smashed, streets shut down and police forced into retreat by a hail of bricks and debris.

As the heat of the summer lowered (relatively) to a tempered simmer and the electoral distraction served its role as sociological vacuum, the city’s leadership set its agenda on almost completely ignoring the events of the past year in order to return to some prelapsarian concept of normal – (a state which if it existed would be an amoral hellpit by any honest summation)- the exception of course, being their ongoing plan of repression against the true revolutionaries who participated in the uprising. At writing, there remains many ongoing struggles in the courts for the freedom of participants charged for their participation in the protests, both in Harrisburg and elsewhere. This is particularly disheartening as the loss of momentum of the movement from the summer means individual cases are harder to rally around, making intercommunal support from committed radicals that much more important.

Congruently, the local prison system has been revealed as the cauldrons of deathrot we have always known them to be. As Covid cases spike, the prison refuses to provide hand sanitizer, soap, masks and other lifesaving supplies to its inmates, resulting in the languishing of dozens of incarcerated people. What’s worse, there have been recent reports of widespread sexual abuse of inmates by guards, as well as many other violations of dignity, aided by an M.O. cultivated by deposed Warden Brian Clark, a well documented sex pest in his own right.
We are not liberals. We are appalled but not shocked by the injustice system acting as it always has no matter what century, context or administration – forever a punitive apparatus to repress the colonized and exploited for the benefit of a racist carceral state. Whether a red or blue chain, the shackle remains the same. Recognition of this basic fact informs our work building a culture of resistance to the inevitable crackdown on abolitionists and revolutionaries by the neoliberal state operating in the name of “fighting extremism”.

We believe that times like this, the seeming lulls between mass protests, uprisings and other sparks of civil unrest are as ,and possibly even more important than those moments of social fissure and are probably not even be so neatly disconnected as they may be initially perceived. It is of the upmost importance that we are expanding our networks, supporting our comrades , and deepening our roots in the communities we live in order to create a movement capable of not only sustaining itself in the calm, but also protecting itself when the pigs come knocking. This means building community defense councils and war chests to support our accomplices kidnapped and harassed by the State through every stage of their struggle. It is equally important to deny space and momentum to obvious opportunists and collaborators who attempt to swallow the flame of radical change through cooptation and subterfuge with the intent to isolate radicals and those members of the community willing to take justice into their own hands. This commitment lives and dies on solidarity with those most affected, and this communique is an representation of that commitment.

We unfurled this banner calling for the end to abuse of prisoners in Dauphin County Prison and mass release of all incarcerated in the death camps of Pennsylvania and across the United Snakes. We also want to uplift the connected struggle of the #FreeAnt movement, in order to echo the many voices calling for dropped charges for all and add to the cacophony of dissent against the police state. Finally, we uplift the demands of the Black Philly Radical Collective to for the immediate release of Mumia Abu Jamal, Major Tillery, Arthur Cetawayo Johnson, Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, Omar Askia, Joseph “Jo-Jo” Bowen, and all Black Political Prisoners.

We demand that all protestors across the country be granted amnesty. All charges must be dropped. We have unconditional solidarity to all rebels, radicals and revolutionaries facing State repression.

Free Them All.

Fuck DCP, Fuck Warden Clark and Fuck 12 Forever

Say no to the new Cointelpro!

Black Liberation Now.

Fire to the Prisons, Set the Captives Free.