NJ Boneheads Tried to Cause Trouble at Philly I.C.E. Protests

from Idavox

L-R, Dan D’Ambly of the NJEHA and Ron Sheehy

Ron Sheehy and Dan D’Ambly led a crew of four people to harass members of the Jewish community and their supporters protesting Trump’s concentration camps. Gee, whatever got their dander up?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Neo-Nazis, two who were readily identified as participants in the 2017 “Unite the Right” Rally in Charlottesville, were seen at an anti-ICE protest at Independence Hall today.

Jewish-American organizations across the country organized this week to be a national “Never Again Week of Action,” and are holding similar marches across the U.S., linking the current immigration enforcement tactics employed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Holocaust. “As Jews, we’ve been taught to never let anything like the Holocaust happen again,” the Facebook event page reads. “Now, with children detained in unacceptable conditions, ICE raids targeting our communities, and people dying at the border while seeking safety in the US, we are seeing the signs of a mass atrocity. We refuse to wait and see what happens next.”

During the march, four White men identified as neo-Nazis were heckling the passing protesters with anti-Semitic language. Of the four, two were identified because of their notoriety. Dan D’Ambly of the New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA), raised the Betsy Ross American flag while shouting at passers-by, while Ron Sheehy, once of the Advanced White Society joined him while videotaping those he was heckling on his cell phone. According to a since deleted post from his “Tremley” account on Stormfront, the other two were members of NJEHA.

Sheehy also said the four of them later attempted to lay a wreath emblazoned with NJEHA decals on the grave of Ben Franklin but was met with opposition. “We all paid $3 each to get into the Cemetery, and we asked if we can lay a Reef (sic) on Ben Franklin’s Grave Site so we can take a Picture,” he wrote. “(T)hey said ok, but once we did, 2 queer guys who worked there flipped out and tried taking the Reef (sic) away from us. A lot yelling back and forth with them calling us White Supremacist and stuff, so we left after that.” Sheehy also went to an anti-I.C.E. protest earlier this week at the offices of Rep. Tom Malinowski where he heckled the protesters while videotaping them. It is not known at this time if anyone joined him there.

D’Ambly is best known for attempting to hold a rally in Princeton, NJ but failed to show once the residents learned of his plans. The NJEHA seldom, if ever, hold public rallies, opting instead to post flyers on telephone poles in various cities around the state. Sheehy has been seen often at anti-immigration events over the past decade in the New York City area, and just like D’Ambly was photographed at the rally in Charlottesville which cost this life of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when White Supremacist James Fields plowed his car into a crowd of protester. D’Ambly was also identified as one of the participants of the “Unite the Right 2” rally the following year in Washington, DC, with his NJEHA organization.

Dozens of protesters were arrested during the Fourth of July Parade while marching through demanding those being held in what has been referred to as concentration camps be removed from such establishments, one of them being in Berks County, PA.

June 11 Rundown

Submission

For June 11th anarchist solidarity in Philly took a few different forms. In the lead up to the 11th stickers and posters were put up. Graffiti for anarchist prisoners was written on the Grays Ferry Bridge.
On June 11th a BBQ fundraiser was held. Vegan food and copies of Fireant were given away and money was collected for anarchist prisoners and local anti-repression efforts.

Anarchist prisoners to the street 🙂

Analysis of Action Following the Police Shooting of Kaleb Belay in West Philly

from It’s Going Down

A collection of texts from Anathema, an anarchist publication out of Philadelphia, about anarchist action and analysis following the police shooting of Kaleb Belay in a rapidly gentrifying area of the city.

It’s well known that West Philly is rapidly gentrifying. Developers and more moneyed renters and buyers continue to successfully take more space from poor and working-class Black people. In this process, one of the few negative consequences these newcomers might experience is getting robbed in the neighborhood. In January, the number of robberies in the heart of gentrifying West Philly shot up, in the area between 41st and 49th streets (from east to west) and between Ludlow and Cedar avenues (from north to south). At least eight robberies were reported during that month, according to a University City District (UCD) report. Four homes on Hazel and Larchwood avenues between 49th and 51st streets were also burglarized during this time.

In response, a few of the more unapologetic gentrifiers not only reported the incidents to the police, but also attended a “community meeting” hosted by the police. Following the meeting, the Philly police announced that they would have an increased police presence in the area, including foot patrols specifically in the area between 48th-52nd streets. Sure enough, residents have noticed a lot more cop cars as well as cops on foot in the area since.

On Wednesday, March 6, this increased cop presence and paranoia culminated in the cops shooting a young Black man who live near 49th and Hazel — exactly where gentrifiers had been complaining about burglaries and robberies taking place. Claiming that they had been called to the scene in response to a “stabbing incident” (no stabbing victim was found at the scene) and that he was holding a knife outside a house on the street, the cops shot 25 year old graduate student Kaleb Belay six times (three in the chest). As of this writing he is stable condition at Penn Presbyterian Hospital.

It’s never worth it to call the police over some lost property — and we personally won’t call them to deal with any of our problems. The high 40 and low 50 streets are undergoing intense gentrification. Know that the police’s role is to attract more gentrifiers and push people originally from the neighborhood out. That’s what happened when University of Pennsylvania cleared out an entire neighborhood (what was once called the Black Bottom) of West Philly in order to move the school there decades ago — that’s why UCD security roam the neighborhood.

The police are just looking for an excuse to roll in and further the dispossession and extermination of Black people from the neighborhood.

Resistance Following the Shooting of Kaleb Belay

The night after the police shooting, a group of 20-30 people marched down Baltimore Ave with a banner reading “Fuck the Police.” At least two new buildings on the ave between 50th and 48th streets, all with gentrifying new architecture, had windows broken, and one had “Fuck Cops” written on it. The Mariposa Co-Op, which has been a beacon of gentrification in the neighborhood for a long time (known for calling the police on panhandlers), had red paint thrown at one of its surveillance cameras. Anti-police tags and stickers were put up. After the police arrived, things calmed and the march went to the hospital where Kaleb is recovering before dispersing. Throughout the march many passersby and drivers shouted “Yeah, fuck the police!” and other words of encouragement. There were no arrests.

On March 8th, opportunists Refuse Fascism/Revolutionary Communist Party held a candle-lit vigil for Kaleb near the site of the shooting. This event was poorly attended and seen by many as an attempt to use the grief and anger around the shooting to recruit for their organization.

On March 10th, the Philadelphia Ethiopian Community held a debrief and discussion at the Ethiopian Community Center in West Philly. Kaleb’s lawyer and his boss/family friend gave updates on his situation. Next steps to assist Kaleb and his family were planned. Over the weekends of March 16-17th and 23-24th there were fundraiser events for Kaleb at the Ethiopian Community Center.

A march demanding justice for Kaleb went to the district attorney’s office on April 6th. Simon Haileab, Kaleb’s attorney, reports that Kaleb is recovering slowly; he is out of the intensive care unit but remains at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. Police are charging him with aggravated assault, simple assault, and possessing an instrument of crime. Anyone interested in donating money to Kaleb can do so by visiting his gofundme here or dropping off money at Bookers Restaurant at Baltimore Ave and 50th St.

An Analysis Of the Anti-Police March Following the Shooting of Kaleb Belay

When some discontents spray-painted and smashed windows after the police shot an immigrant graduate student in Cedar Park, many were quick to condemn the attacks. These criticisms did not target the anti-police and anti-gentrification sentiment behind the attacks, but rather their choice of targets. The thing about anger and revolt is that it strikes out at what is perceived as oppressive.

No uprising has ever surgically delivered anger to the doorstep of only the most oppressive and powerful, while excluding the lesser contributors of a stifling society. Not everyone is going to track down the head honcho of this or that realty company when they see an example of gentrification around the corner.

In relative terms, what happened to the businesses on Baltimore Ave is calm; police violence has sparked much more devastating responses in other contexts – like the burning of entire neighborhoods.

It also bears mentioning that at the time of this writing, despite many critics suggesting better targets for vandalism (the police, University of Pennsylvania, money lenders, banks, etc), none of these targets seem to have been vandalized. These critics seem content to suggest how others express their anger and direct their rebellion without doing so themselves. If these people are waiting for the ideal targeting of the proper institutions and yet they do not plan on going after them themselves, they are simply waiting. When people start to condemn all but the most pure and correct actions, they climb the stairs of an ivory tower.

Will arrogance about how others struggle move someone closer to freedom? It seems more likely to lead to further separation from those who are struggling and making concrete their rebellion, to create a roadblock for feelings of solidarity. Throwing paint at the expensive Mariposa Co-Op grocery store and breaking the glass door of a fancy-looking new apartment building along Baltimore Ave, some of the actions during the demo that were later criticized by others, targeted small businesses whose gentrifying impact is felt in this particular neighborhood where police shooting took place.

It is gentrification that led to the increased police presence in this neighborhood, which inevitably led to a black man getting shot. In addition to wanting to push back against gentrification in this area, those who criticize colonialism, or ecological destruction, those who hold nihilist perspectives, and even the less discriminating among the anti-capitalists may see the destructive actions on Baltimore Ave as a step in the right direction. We don’t all imagine liberation in the same way, but it should be understood that a dramatic transformation of society is necessary, so when we see that taking place on a small scale as destruction we can understand it to be part of that liberatory transformation even if you would go about it that way yourself.

“There are many who await the hour of liberation impatiently, but how many work to bring it closer?”

Unicorn Riot Coverage of Candace Owen Protest

from Twitter

Far-right campus group Turning Point USA’s director Candace Owens just showed up at UPenn campus in Philadelphia. She ignored our questions about whether TPUSA plans to address ongoing neo-Nazi infiltration and recruitment among their membership.
[Video Here]

A group of Proud Boys and others have shown up and started a heckling match with antifascists opposing Candace Owens and Turning Point USA at UPenn in Philadelphia
[Video Here]
We were able to briefly interview Candace Owens when she appeared at UPenn in Philly today. Owens didn’t respond to a Q about her recent dubious Congressional testimony & called it “a weird question” when we asked about being cited in the New Zealand mosque shooter’s manifesto.
[Video Here]

Spring issue of Friendly Fire

from Friendly Fire

friendly fire (1).png

s p r i n g    2 0 1 9    i s s u e 

Militant discipleship, revolutionary eschatology, tarot, info on our upcoming retreat what’s there not to love about the newest issue of Friendly Fire? Check it out here ❤ 

Also, you can still apply to the retreat in Minnesota (June 17-20)! You can do that here. Applications are due 4/15.

And if you have any spare cash to help comrades make it out to the retreat, you can donate here on our Chuffed.

Aries Blessings!

On The Recent Events In West Philly

Submission

It’s well known that West Philly is rapidly gentrifying. Developers and more moneyed renters and buyers continue to successfully take more space from poor and working-class Black people. In this process, one of the few negative consequences these newcomers might experience is getting robbed in the neighborhood. In January, the number of robberies in the heart of gentrifying West Philly shot up, in the area between 41st and 49th streets (from east to west) and between Ludlow and Cedar avenues (from north to south). At least eight robberies were reported during that month, according to a University City District (UCD) report. Four homes on Hazel and Larchwood avenues between 49th and 51st streets were also burglarized during this time.

In response, a few of the more unapologetic gentrifiers not only reported the incidents to the police, but also attended a “community meeting” hosted by the police. Following the meeting, the Philly police announced that they would have an increased police presence in the area, including foot patrols specifically in the area between 48th-52nd streets. Sure enough, residents have noticed a lot more cop cars as well as cops on foot in the area since.

On Wednesday, March 6, this increased cop presence and paranoia culminated in the cops shooting a young Black man who live near 49th and Hazel — exactly where gentrifiers had been complaining about burglaries and robberies taking place. Claiming that they had been called to the scene in response to a “stabbing incident” (no stabbing victim was found at the scene) and that he was holding a knife outside a house on the street, the cops shot 25 year old graduate student Kaleb Belay six times (three in the chest). As of this writing he is stable condition at Penn Presbyterian Hospital.

It’s never worth it to call the police over some lost property — and we personally won’t call them to deal with any of our problems. The high 40 and low 50 streets are undergoing intense gentrification. Know that the police’s role is to attract more gentrifiers and push people originally from the neighborhood out. That’s what happened when University of Pennsylvania cleared out an entire neighborhood (what was once called the Black Bottom) of West Philly in order to move the school there decades ago — that’s why UCD security roam the neighborhood.

The police are just looking for an excuse to roll in and further the dispossession and extermination of Black people from the neighborhood. Don’t give them one!

The night after the police shooting, a group of 20-30 people marched down Baltimore Ave with a banner reading “Fuck the Police.” At least two new buildings on the ave between 50th and 48th streets, all with gentrifying new architecture, had windows broken, and one had “Fuck Cops” written on it. The Mariposa Co-Op, which has been a beacon of gentrification in the neighborhood for a long time (known for calling the police on panhandlers), had red paint thrown at one of its surveillance cameras. Anti-police tags and stickers were put up. After the police arrived, things calmed and the march went to the hospital where Kaleb is recovering before dispersing. Throughout the march many passersby and drivers shouted “Yeah, fuck the police!” and other words of encouragement. There were no arrests.

As is usual, the police and media are trying to confuse and bury the story. Initially police reported responding to a call of a man with a weapon, then they said it was a stabbing, although no stabbing victim was found. News media have not been prioritizing the story, instead continuing to publish other stories that justify the further policing of West Philly.

The Eritrean and Ethiopian networks in Philadelphia have come together to support Kaleb. Fundraising efforts have begun to help with costs associated with surviving being shot by the police. A vigil has been organized, and other support meetings have already taken place.

The police and gentrification work together to displace, imprison, and eliminate black and brown people. Each reinforces the other. Gentrifiers encourage the police to do their job, and the police create a welcoming environment for gentrifiers. It’s not surprising that gentrifiers are inviting the police into the neighborhood through the rhetoric of crime and safety (being racist is passe). Despite what either group says, their goals align. It should come as no surprise that Kaleb was shot by the police after neighbors reached out to the police to be more present in the area.

It makes sense to us that people are attacking construction and new buildings in the wake of a gentrification-enabled shooting. Fuck the police! Fuck gentrification!

Notes and Critiques from the Philly Anarchist uhh…Network? Meeting? Caucus? Jawn?

Submission

Hello everybody,
First of all, we want to reiterate our total surprise and pleasure at both the attendance of the last meeting and the way conversation went: the fact that so many different folks and tendencies could all hang out in that room together and talk strategy and desire was completely rad. For those who didn’t attend, hopefully the notes attached here will help!
We are currently setting up a listserv through Riseup, but, as anyone knows who has gone through Riseup before, it takes a little while, so thanks for bearing with. You should receive an email from that group by the end of this week.
For now, we wanted to send out the notes and, with a week’s hindsight, solicit critiques, questions, or suggestions that could be brought to the next…meeting? convergence?…to sharpen our knives and focus the…network? gaggle? rhizome?…on what folks really need.
Some prompt questions:
What did you take away from the meeting?  What did you think could have worked better?  What would you want to be different from meetings going forward? How could a network like this actually help you to achieve your desires?
Please let us know what you’re thinking! We crave your critique. And also, remember that this is meant to be a…forum? caucus? council?…that anyone can call for upcoming actions they think are important, so please get in touch if you think it’s time we had another, and we will discuss with you and help plan out the logistics for the next meeting.
More soon!
Philly Anarchy Jawn
[Notes Document]

Vaughn 17 Trial 2, Week 4: The Defense’s Case

from Support the Vaughn 17

The fourth week of this incredibly long and punitive trial saw defendants Abednego Baynes, Kevin Berry, John Bramble, and Obadiah Miller finally able to speak to the lies the state’s used to construct a case against them. Two defendants from the first trial — Jarreau Ayers and Dwayne Staats — also testified this week, revealing new information about the parts they played regarding the takeover. Other inmate defense witnesses completely discredited the testimony of several of the state’s witnesses, leaving the state with even less of a case against any of the remaining defendants.

Monday, February 4th, saw the tail end of the prosecution’s case. After two weeks of unreliable testimony from unlikeable inmate witnesses, on Friday the state had finally managed to produce a somewhat competent witness, Michael “Latino” Rodriguez. Rodriguez testified that he saw Bramble assault Officer Wilkinson and that he saw Miller stab Sergeant Floyd. Monday’s cross-examination showed that Rodriguez’s testimony contradicted that of other inmates, that he’d gotten information about what’d happened from other people, and that his motivation for cooperating was to get out of jail rather than having been moved by his “conscience.” But he seemed to have made a better impression on the jury than previous witnesses. After lead investigator David Weaver testified about the investigation again, the prosecution rested on Monday.

“I shouldn’t be here.” – Kevin Berry

Kevin Berry’s defense began by calling a few fellow prisoners who were with him during the takeover and attested to his lack of involvement. One prisoner, Joseph Galloway, discredited state witness Henry Anderson’s testimony, saying he was asleep during the assaults he’d said he saw: “Unless he’s superman, he didn’t see nothing cuz he never left the room.” When questioned, he also said that no one had been down near the hot pot watching the assaults, which wipes out another state witness’ testimony. Berry then testified, noting the “bullshit stories” of the prosecution’s witnesses and explaining to the jury that he should never have been charged.

“Peaceful protests don’t work. I’m past that.” – Dwayne Staats

Obadiah Miller’s defense counsel brought up Jarreau Ayers, who admitted he’d lied during the previous trial and that he had in fact collaborated with his co-defendant Dwayne Staats to plan the takeover. Ayers explained he’d made the decision to risk perjury and attest to this now because he’d come to realize that the uprising was a “righteous cause” and that he needed to accept responsibility for it. He said he couldn’t bear to see men who had nothing to do with the takeover being convicted for things he’d decided to do, even though it meant that he now stands no chance of ever leaving prison. Ayers told the courtroom, “I’m sacrificing everything to be here today.”

Staats also expanded on his role in the takeover. During his and Ayers’ trial in the fall, Staats had explained (not under oath, according to him) that he had sought to plan the takeover along with other “lifers” — people who had nothing to lose — and had recruited six other prisoners to take part. On Wednesday of this past week, Staats told the court that he’d also been the first to punch Sergeant Floyd, a signal that attacks on all the officers were to begin. This new admission made the prosecution furious. Staats shrugged this off, explaining that his defense had been based on what the investigators said about him, and that they hadn’t been able to find a witness who said they’d seen him hit anyone.

Ayers and Staats both convincingly explained why they had not recruited the particular defendants on trial to take part in the prison takeover. Of Bramble, Ayers said “Can I be honest? He and his friends just get high all the time.” When asked if any white guys had been asked to participate in the uprising, Ayers laughed and said, “No.”

Staats explained that he’d seen firsthand that Kevin Berry didn’t have the potential to be part of the takeover when an officer had put hands on Berry previously and he did nothing in response. Neither of them knew Baynes, who kept to himself. Miller was known as a tier man, who, as Staats explained, were handpicked and trusted by the police, meaning they were not trusted by other inmates. Miller also testified to this in his own defense, explaining to the jury that many of the inmates who’d lied about his involvement in the uprising had problems with him because he’d been picked for the job despite others having seniority over him.

Baynes testified on Wednesday that he’d spent the morning of the takeover watching Rachel Ray, which he watched every day, and that he’d left before it was over. When questioned about masked inmates he’d seen at a distance during the uprising, he replied, “If you want me to guess, I can play a guessing game like your witnesses did.”

After much censorship and condescension from Judge Carpenter, Baynes’ defense attorney Cleon Cauley was finally allowed to bring up prison expert and correctional operations consultant James Aiken. Aiken testified that inmates should be housed separately after a “critical incident” in order to minimize “contamination” of the investigation. In this case, they were housed together; some people who are now state witnesses were even in the same cells. The judge did not allow him to testify about several significant matters.

John Bramble’s defense presented one prisoner who’d been cellmates with Melvin Williams, who had testified previously that Bramble had come to his cell saying he’d attacked Floyd. Williams’ cellmate testified that no one had ever come to his cell that day saying that. Another inmate’s testimony discredited testimony from another state witness, Larry Sartin. The most significant testimony that day, though, came from prisoner Terek Downing, who had taken care of Counselor May in his cell during the uprising and had witnessed the attack on Sergeant Floyd. Downing exonerated Bramble, whom he’d seen also watching the attack. Downing also completely undermined the previous testimony of state witness Carello, who he said stayed in his cell during the attacks he said he’d seen, and described state witness Rodriguez’s claim that he had also been with Ms. May as “completely false.” Like several defense witnesses before him, Downing described the case against the current defendants as “frustrating” and told the court, “Y’all got the wrong people on trial.”

Bramble’s testimony closed out the defense. Bramble spoke out against state witness Michael Carello’s (now-discredited) claim that Bramble had bragged that he’d “gutted Floyd like a whale, and felt like a KKK member while doing it.” Bramble responded: “That doesn’t even make sense. My mom is black and my little sister and brother are half-black. I was ashamed when he said that. That’s offensive.”

Bramble also spoke to the brutality endured by C-building’s inmates right after the takeover, which he described as a “full-on assault.” Lieutenant Vanes, who’d commanded the force that eventually blitzed the building, had testified that they had used force because prisoners were resisting. Bramble testified that no one had resisted.

Four to five days after the takeover, the 18 prisoners who were ultimately indicted were chosen to be moved to a different building. For a week, Bramble testified, they had only the clothes they’d had on, which were still wet, and no shoes. They weren’t allowed to take showers or make phone calls for five days. When transferred to a different prison, they were put on a tier with nothing, their property was confiscated again, they weren’t given property or books for three months, and they had to go on a hunger strike in order to get their allotted recreation time.

The prosecution succeeded in getting some moderate convictions in the first Vaughn 17 trial because two of the defendants, Ayers and Staats, offered up testimony regarding their involvement in the takeover. The third defendant, Deric Forney, whom only a few witnesses claimed to have seen assaulting an officer, maintained his innocence and was acquitted on all charges.

This trial is different. This time, all four defendants are in Deric Forney’s position. A few more state witnesses have “evolved” their stories to include Bramble and Miller’s names, and there is a questionable DNA sample related to Miller, who as a tier man had regular access to where it was found. But Bramble, Miller, Berry and Baynes have all held out under pressure and abuse for the past two years to stay in solidarity with their co-defendants. They have now convincingly attested to their lack of involvement in the takeover and some of the ways in which they were targeted as part of the state’s desperate attempt at retaliation for one of the most important uprisings so far this century.

The prosecution and the defense’s closing arguments will take place on Monday, February 11, starting at 9:00am in Room 8B at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware. Jury deliberations are expected to begin on Tuesday morning.

State Introduces New Witness, Who Felt Led To “Tell The Truth” After First Round Of Trials Ended

from Support The Vaughn 17

The second week of the second round of trials in the state’s pursuit of retribution for the uprising in James T. Vaughn Correctional Center this time two years ago came to an end Friday, January 25 in Wilmington, Delaware. It was a short week, with the federal holiday observed on Monday and Judge Carpenter, who presided over the last round of trials, leaving early on Friday to travel to Las Vegas (but not to gamble, as we were assured). Per Judge Carpenter, there will be no court on Monday of next week, either.

The bulk of this week was the state’s presentation and the defense’s cross-examinations of some of their roster of collaborating inmate witnesses, all of whom testified that they were in C Building at the time of the takeover on February 1, 2017. They acknowledged varying degrees of engagement with people they identified as having various roles in the process, though not all agreed as to who did what, when or where. This is consistent with testimony from last trial, in which all of this week’s snitch witnesses had already testified. As promised by defense counsel in opening arguments, there is indeed a dizzying array of contradictions being shown by the state to the jury.

For the first time, we heard from Aaron Lowman, a 33 year old person serving a life sentence in prison under Delaware’s habitual offender statute. This statute was recently revisited, allowing for the possibility of reduction of sentences as well as for parole in certain cases; while defense attorneys have certainly made them work to prove it, the state has had each of their witnesses thus far speak frankly from the stand in confirmation of their not having any sort of “deal” or “agreement” with them from which they may stand to improve their current situations.

The agreement to align with power means embracing its repression and debasement of human beings- including one’s own self. The inevitable outcomes- personal devastation along with little, or even no improvement to circumstances- are evident all over this situation. This was quite clear in the testimony of Aaron Lowman, who tells us he was previously known as Snoop but has since renounced what he called his “street name.” “Snoop” was apparently mentioned by cooperating witness Antonio Guzman, who testified in last trial and in this trial, stoking the interest of state investigators. He had previously declined to disclose information in statements to these investigators, which he demonstrated from the witness stand both for the prosecutors and for defense attorneys. This, he tells us, is because he was fearful of being charged; as far as speculation thus far about Lowman’s active involvement in the uprising, it was said by Antonio Guzman that “Snoop” tied his hands up prior to releasing him through the yard door in the presence of Jarreau Ayers, convicted of all but the murder charges in last trial. Lowman was consistent with other snitch witnesses in saying that Jarreau Ayers was one of the people negotiating from inside C Building via radio and cellphone with Delaware Department of Corrections personnel, and that he was involved with people leaving the building through the course of the uprising.

Why would a person with life in prison fear providing information to investigators? There is so much here to explore about assisting one’s oppressors and/or collaborating in ill fate befalling people who are in similar situations to one’s own. We didn’t hear about that, though. We reminisced over the testimony of DeShawn Drumgo, also incarcerated at Smyrna, in defense of Jarreau Ayers. The state, we’ll remember, had asked him why he didn’t assist investigators. “They were beating me. That’s a slave mentality,” he said. Aaron Lowman feared retribution, he said repeatedly. “I didn’t want what happened to Smitty [correctional officer and state witness Winslow Smith] to happen to me,” he said.

He said a lot of things- things that were profoundly inconsistent with prior collaborating witness testimony. He said that correctional officer Lieutenant Sennett, called as a witness for the state last week and who also testified in the previous trial, entered the building when it was under siege and heard Sergeant Floyd- who was found deceased 20 hours later, when the state retook the control of the building by bashing a wall with a backhoe and clearing a path inward with flash bangs and fists of fury- say “help me, get me out of here” from inside a mop closet. Aaron Lowman tells us that Sennett ran out, and that he did not see him again.

He said he was able to move freely about the building because his door did not lock completely, though it stayed closed enough to not disturb the remote key system used by correctional officers. He testified that he took advantage of this that day, though under cross-examination it became clear that he had testified that he saw things from viewpoints that are not permissible in the light of building layout and mechanics of the space. Happily, he did not identify Abednego Baynes or Kevin Berry in photographs, which is consistent with prior witness Antonio Guzman saying nothing of import about them, himself. Last week, state’s witness Royal Downs, himself incarcerated in C Building at the time and operating under a plea agreement of guilty to riot charges only in exchange for information about the uprising that he featured prominently in, said of Abednego and Kevin, “I don’t even know why they’re being charged.” He confirmed that he knew Abednego, and confirmed that he was “not involved in anything,” in the words of defense attorney Saagar Shah, co-representing Abednego with Cleon Cauley.

In the same exchange, there was discussion about whether Aaron Lowman believed that others in C Building were telling investigators that he had been vandalizing property in the building. He doubled down on saying he “didn’t do nothing.” Defense counsel Shah asked him if someone had otherwise, would they be mistaken or lying? He said “no, I did what I was told to do, not of my free will.”

Later, with prosecuting assistant attorney general Nichole Warner, he honored what he’d previously testified to- that his mother encouraged him to tell the state what he knew. The skillful observer of this history in the making will note that his statement to investigators indicating his transition to active collaboration against the defendants of Smyrna came on December 5, 2018, after the end of the first trial. “[I wanted] to get it off my chest for the most part, and come clean.” “What were you told regarding deals?” Warner asked. “There would be absolutely no deal for my testimony,” he responded. “What does that mean?” “That I will do the rest of my time in prison,” he answered.

The final word went to Anthony Figliola, defense attorney for Obadiah Miller, who ferreted out a long and significant list of contradictions between Aaron Lowman’s testimony and that of all other witnesses who have come before him during his cross-examinations. He built on what AG Warner had him verify his having asked to turn the recording he was aware of off during his statement in September. “You asked for the tape to be turned off, then you started identifying people. Was that before or after Detective Weaver [chief investigator, who attends the trials with prosecutors] gave you the names of the inmates implicating you?” “He never did,” Lowman answered. “Are you sure of that?” “Yes.” “Nothing more.”

Court will resume at 10am Tuesday, January 29 in Wilmington.

Reportback from Yiddish Anarchism conference

from Anarchist News

01/20/2019

As one of a pair of Philadelphia anarchists who traveled up to this event together last weekend, I admit that I did not know much about Yiddish anarchism as such before registering us both for this academic conference (subtitled “New Scholarship on a Forgotten Tradition”). I’m also not an academic (at least not officially). What I found there- especially as the day went on- didn’t seem too very anarchist overall.

I kept telling myself that it was the time period’s historically significant preoccupation with work, work relations and wars that was being focused on (the late 1800s through the 1950s, mostly) and asking myself if it’s possible that there just isn’t that much information available that could be considered fairly to be illuminating on Yiddish anarchism in and of itself (though a robust list of materials at the host facility/archive/museum was offered, which I’ve attached). At one point I found myself fidgeting in my chair when questions about left unity were brought up from the audience.

There was a strong start, though. Spencer Sunshine, the conference organizer, made a few salient points. One was that most situations ask how to keep anarchists and radicals out of them. This, instead, was staging a conference in which he thought 70 people would show and there were 1300 responses of interest on Facebook (which is of course an excellent barometer for actual attendance, but sure). On the actual topic, he promised exploration of Yiddish anarchism appropriate for the historically-minded- both for Jewish interest and for New York interest- for the Yiddishist crowd who can read primary sources, for what he called radical rejecting-of-Zionism Jews and for anarchists, who would ask what specifically Jewish anarchy would look like. He endeavored to look for more positives, in his words, citing exhaustion with the default anti-Zionist Jewish identity.

Assertion after assertion after assertion after assertion followed for hours, punctuated with a handful of interesting historical nuggets and a few funny/poignant slides. It was indeed an academic conference. The indeed well-over-capacity crowd seemed to cover a lot of ground, though- there were lots of younger college-age folks, and someone posted on Twitter about saving seats with an Antifascist Action flag draped over them (though I did not see that). We were told in the welcome address that there was an enormous collection of Yiddish pornography in the museum’s archives, which made everyone laugh. Several elders were present, many of whom were attending along with younger people. This is promising, especially if it was more a manifestation of shared interest in anarchism, which clearly has a legacy problem. The median age of attendees seemed to be about 40 or so.

To circle back to Spencer Sunshine, he did also briefly mention the phenomenon of anti-semitism on the left, which in my avowedly not-a-leftist-at-all view is enormous and also poorly addressed. I thought on it more than he talked about it in his introduction, and so I’ll take a swing at it here. A gaping hole in the wonderful world of identity politics and the stifling, stilted, caricature-generating, frankly authoritarian practice of living and organizing by them is the persistent assumption that Jewish people are white and/or white-passing. I would say that I deal with that every day but I avoid, avoid, avoid people who think and act like this and I have for a very long time, preferring to think about whiteness as actively choosing to be on the side of power rather than being committed to interrogating, confronting and unwinding it wherever it may manifest itself, even in polite- and/or polite activist- society. It would have been amazing to see more about of how the milieu, especially on the Lower East Side, in which Yiddish anarchism is said to have been situated for the most part, made this commitment to being free happen in its heyday and since. Forgotten tradition, perhaps; I personally suspect it is alive and well in more places than a less careful and attentive eye may tend to look around. We need much more than war stories, anecdotes and tales of friends of friends to make- and keep- this real.

The programming- which consisted of unrelated 15 to 20 minute presentations by individual, active, paid academic writers and educators glommed into awkward panels that each in turn fielded questions, including an early one about why bother asserting anarchist identity at all if the world we dream of will never come to be. There was also the aforementioned inquiry into the importance of left unity both here and there (meaning in 1920s Russia, the domain of another presenter who made a valiant effort to delineate the revolution she spoke of as being anarchist, not socialist and made a single-line mention of individualist anarchism as a tendency in Russia). The program had a few objectively interesting topics but there didn’t seem to be much of a method to it overall. It seemed like the roster of presenters was drawn from who responded to express interest, and of those, who was available to be there. We were reassured that someone came from Croatia to attend, though. In a frankly concerning exchange, a presenter who teaches in Budapest told us that “people who get caught intentionally got caught,” because “you can just say you’re not an anarchist.” He can take that right back over there, for my part. A biographer and historian of Johann Most, New York-based publisher, atheist firebrand (he wrote “Die Gottespest”- translated as “The God Pestilence”) and frenemy of Emma Goldman- sounds like Most was fun at parties- presented and promoted his book about organizing in beer halls. I didn’t stay to find out what postvernacular meant, because I read it in the conference guide under the subtitle “the politics of flagging with Yiddish.”

It wasn’t clear through the whole day that what was promised- an exploration of what makes things distinctly Yiddish anarchism, as the conference organizer said was division by language, not identity and not Jewish but Yiddish speaking- would be shown to us aside from the work of one presenter who is a historian of Rudolf Rocker and the London East End. Local favorite Voltairine de Cleyre was mentioned as a contributor to working-class organizing that skewed heavily Jewish and/or Yiddish speaking (a theme, this and/or!), and a lot of similar content followed. We were taught that Rose Pesotta, who was a garment workers’ union organizer in New York, traveled to Lodz in the wake of the devastation of war across Europe to find people who asked only for moral support, literature, a printing press and a linotype machine in Polish. Their desire, according to the presenter, was to keep learning by virtue of their not having asked Rose Pesotta for visas or help for themselves. Okay.

Meeting a Yiddishist for the first time was good, though. Anna Elena Torres, whose field of expertise is working-class poetry in Yiddish and history/biography of its writers, including Peretz Markish (1895-1952). She told the story of his life’s work, The Man Of Forty, which was smuggled out of his native land in a potato sack by his wife once he was caught up by the state under suspicion of being its enemy. She gracefully fielded a question about backlash against use of the Yiddish language in publishing, confronting the notion that it was used to get around censorship rather than a manifestation of pride in who one is and how one wishes to express oneself. She also told us she talked to Audrey Goodfriend once, which made me (and I am sure some others there) smile, thinking of the people who knew and loved her. Professor Torres said she asked her why she still engaged with Yiddish in the context of anarchism after long-running newspaper Freie Arbeiter Stimme ended in 1977 and a half (in her words). “What are you, an academic?” she said Audrey Goodfriend responded. “Fortunately,” she told the audience, remembering, “at that time, I was not.”