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Humboldt Grassroots was asked to pass this letter along where Andy Mills could see it (we know you’re watching). They have chosen to write under a moniker out of concern for their safety.

Dear Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills,

How dare you compare a band’s name that makes you uncomfortable to genocide! In what world do you live in where the two are even remotely similar? The band is called Millions of Dead COPS so don’t act like it has anything to do with Jews just to make a point. You chose to be a police officer, and while some Jews converted, most of us were born into it. How can you possibly compare our real tragedy with political satire? How do you even feel so attacked and marginalized by the name of a band that you think the Holocaust is a reasonable comparison? As long as we’re making huge jumps, what about the millions of dead Natives who lost their lives so you can call your city Eureka? Why wouldn’t you reference a genocide that you have personally benefitted from?

You think this band’s name is a hate crime? Do you know what a hate crime is? I have had FOUR ACTUAL HATE CRIMES committed against me in the City of Eureka since the election. They happened because of my brown skin and African features, which is something I did not choose and cannot change. You were not born a police officer, that was a life decision you made as an adult. It was not forced on you. There is a huge difference between people hating you because of the color of your skin and because you choose to associate with the largest and most organized violent gang in America. And don’t fool yourself, you are a gang. You travel in packs, heavily armed, wearing matching colors and other identifiers, you speak to each other in code and use fear tactics and brute force to control people. That is why I never reported either instance of somebody deliberately trying to run me over while yelling racial slurs out their window, or the person who tried to physically intimidate me in front of the Coop while screaming in my face and not letting me pass them. I didn’t report any of these actual hate crimes because I already knew from personal experience with your department that you wouldn’t do anything to help me. Why should I trust you now? In ten years I have not dealt with nearly as much racist bullshit as I have encountered since the morning of November 9, 2016. And you have the audacity to insinuate that the name of this band a hate crime? Now that is what I call “repugnant”!

Do you realize there are children in this country who wonder why they are hated? Black children internalize the hatred, bigotry, marginalization and violent treatment black Americans face today and have faced ever since the days of chattel slavery. Native children wonder what they’ve done to deserve having their land stolen and their water poisoned. Jewish children wonder how horrible they must naturally be to deserve near extermination. So if children are wondering why people blindly hate them for things they have no control over, why don’t you, as an adult, think about why people hate the police? If soul searching and reading up on your history was too much, you could have attended last night’s performance as a patron and talked to other attendees about their opinions, rather than try to stifle a message you disagree with on the surface. Anyone with a brain between their ears can come up with a few dozen reasons why people don’t like you. Your asinine, thoughtless, insensitive, inaccurate tweet and pathetic attempt to damage a local business is a perfect example.

Do not pretend to be for freedom of speech while actively trying to silence someone’s message. If you were just some angry citizen, I would hold nothing against you for your statements yesterday. But since you are the police chief, your word is law as far as many people are concerned. Should local business owners be worried you’ll call for a boycott against them for exercising their First Amendment Rights as well?

You’ve insulted the Jews in your community by comparing our genocide to a band’s name that you dislike.You’ve insulted everyone who has endured real hate crimes in your community with your foolish comparison.You’ve asked for a boycott against a safe, all-ages music venue in your community.You’ve responded to an anti-Trump event in his signature style; by using your power and authority to threaten the reputation of Siren’s Song because you dislike the name of a band they hosted. Sad.

Look at your actions and ask yourself why people hate the police. Ask yourself why a band called Millions of Dead Cops had a line going around the corner.

I write this to you anonymously not because I am ashamed of anything I have to say, but because I am afraid to stand up to a police officer while also referencing my race and religion. I fear what your supporters would do to me if I make my identity public, and I am certain that you would not help me.

Yours truly,
MADaf

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Humboldt Grassroots has been hosting the Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair for 9 years now! This year’s theme is The Reading Rainbow of Resistance, to reflect the need for solidarity amongst diverse groups, as well as solid education through reading and taking in a variety of perspectives so that we can resist the increasing oppression that is upon us.

Here is our exciting and diverse line-up for this Saturday, April 29th, with the descriptions we have so far:

10:00

Room A

Title: Why Feminism Is Necessary For Liberating Life with the Eureka Assembly Feminist Reading Groups

Description: Join folks from the Eureka Assembly Feminist Reading Groups as we share some of the ideas we’ve discovered while exploring feminist readings together. Discover why feminism is necessary for the liberation of ALL life. Come help make this a lively discussion!

11:00

Room A

Title: Global Grassroots Movements for Sex Education and Reproductive Rights with Corinna Rosella

Description: As a continuation of our discussion on feminism, hear about grassroots movements that are happening all over the world for sex education and reproductive rights.

12:00

Room A

Title: Safe Consumption Sites are Social Justice with Humboldt Area Center For Harm Reduction

Description: We will discuss why Safe Consumption Sites are necessary, their history and where we are at currently in our own community with implementing this life saving approach.  We will also have an exhibit of a safe consumption site for this event.

Room B

Title: From The Frontlines Of Forest Defense In So-called ‘Humboldt’ County with Earth First!

Description: A spotted owl hoots echo deep in the woods of the Mattole watershed, pleaing for the last bits of old-growth douglas fir, madrone, and tan oak to be preserved. The pacific fisher’s screeches carry through the redwood forest, dissipating in the clearcuts, longing for the home it once knew.

Multinational corporations have turned this land into treefarms and are
determined to lay waste to anything that’s left from the old days. In the face of conflict, we say enough is enough. Lock-downs, road blockades, tree-sits, and everything else. For the wild!

1:00 —

Room A

Title: Fighting the Alt-Right and White Nationalism with 21st Century Anti-Fascism with James Anderson

Description: In the last two years, we have seen a growth of far-Right forces hit the streets in reaction to Black Lives Matter, in support of the
Confederate flag, backing up ‘Blue Lives Matter,’ and acting as an
auxiliary force to the Trump campaign. This new generation of white
supremacists are keen to take the streets and use violence to further
their fascist cause. This workshop will discuss who the Alt-Right is
and how people have been organizing against them across the US and
beyond. Moreover, we discuss the current Alt-Right and white
nationalist groups and individuals in the bay area and push people to
mobilize against Milo Yiannopoulos, one of the biggest mainstreamers
of the Alt-Right, who is scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley

Room B

Title: No LNG Pipeline! with Erik Rydberg

Description: Come hear about the details of the Jordan Cove LNG Project, including how you can go to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Website and summit comments opposing the
pipeline and fracked gas export station. This was the excuse Energy
Transfer Partners used in approving the Dakota Access Pipeline. We are not going to give them that opportunity with LNG. Also we will share the Klamath River Keepers petition to block the pipeline from being drilled under the Klamath River. There will be a Q&A after the presentation.

2:00 —

Room A

Title: Trump vs. the Environment: What is to be Done? with Jeffrey St. Clair

Description: For the first time in decades, the federal government is under the complete control of the political right. At the top of their agenda is the complete dismantling of 50 years of environmental protection laws and regulations. The traditional avenues of environmental action–lobbying and litigation–will likely prove fruitless with hostile politicians and indifferent courts. So how do we respond? How do we build a mass movement to confront the coming assault on environmental laws, agencies and our wildlife, public lands and rivers? What are the lessons that can be learned from the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970s and 1980s, the Redwood Summer protests, the mass civil disobedience that seized the streets of Seattle during the WTO ministerial, the campaigns that hounded McDonalds, Chevron and Monsanto? How, in other words, can Trump be Trumped?

Jeffrey St. Clair is co-editor of CounterPunch. His books include: A Guide to Environmental Bad Guys, Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature, Born Under a Bad Sky and Heatstroke: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank). He lives in Oregon.

Room B

Portland Assembly

3:00 —

Room A

Title: Taking Away the Power of Criminal Charges: Combating State Repression to Strengthen Our Movement with Tilted Scales
Synopsis: The Tilted Scales Collective will present ideas from their book, A Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant, which can help people facing criminal charges not only figure out how to handle their legal cases, but also how to think about their cases. This book offers a way of thinking about criminal charges that is based on defendants’ goals: personal, political, and legal. And these goals are framed with this question in mind: “How is my case part of revolutionary struggle?”

Description: The government has historically used criminal charges to disrupt and destroy radical political movements and to repress targeted communities (e.g., people of color, poor people, houseless people, queer/trans/gender nonconforming, etc.). Criminal charges are designed to keep communities under control and they are successful in a variety of ways, from putting millions of people behind bars or on probation to targeting prominent radicals to punish them while scaring others away from organizing. In political struggles, criminal charges often disrupt organizing by diverting people’s time, energy, and resources into legal battles and prisoner support. While criminal convictions and jail/prison sentences are an inevitable part of fighting for liberation, we do not have to allow this tool of state repression to be so destructive.

In this presentation, the Tilted Scales Collective will present ideas from their book, A Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant, that are aimed at taking away the power of criminal charges while strengthening our struggles for liberation. This book is meant to help people facing criminal charges not only figure out how to handle their legal cases, but also how to think about their cases. Rather than being a how-to guide, this book offers a way of thinking about criminal charges that is based on defendants’ goals: personal, political, and legal. And these goals are framed with this question in mind: “How is my case part of revolutionary struggle?”

A Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant was written by dedicated, long-term legal support activists and draws on the wisdom of dozens of people who have weathered the challenges of trials and incarceration, including many former and current political prisoners/prisoners of war.

Room B

Society For Poetic Action

4:00 —

Room A

Title: Burning Down the American Plantation: Call for a Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement with The Base

Description: The ascendency of Donald Trump to the presidency has polarized society and exposed the fragility of the political institutions in the US. With very little effort Trump and his administration have managed to erode the thin veneer of legitimacy that liberal democracy still retained. The foundation of the political conflict today does not begin with Trump, but is situated in the context of the US Civil War – a war that was never actually resolved. Slavery has never ended in the United States. Instead it was reinstituted after the war, expanded through mass incarceration, and normalized through the deputization of civil society against black people. The expansion and acceptance of terror in American society has now turned against many other segments of the population culminating in the conflict we have today.

Anarchists from The Base, a political center in Brooklyn, will look at how we can orient our struggle towards the abolitionist movement, and the black freedom struggle. Following the lineage of the black struggle, from Nat Turner to the Black Liberation Army, we can learn from the most revolutionary traditions of our society. We will talk about our projects and how we are trying to build 21st century underground railroad coupled with a militant strategy. Could the formation of these new political projects catapult us out of the cycle of protests and help us create revolutionary organization? For insights we’ll analyze the Rojava Revolution, the most advanced anti-state struggle in the world, as we chart out an insurgent direction for anarchist organizing today.

Room B

Title: We the People: Stories from the Community Rights Movement in the United States with Anneke Campbell

Description: Anneke Campbell will share specific inspirational stories from her book, *We the People: Stories from the Community Rights Movement in the United States*. She will describe how folks organized in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, to protect themselves from toxic waste dumping and passed into law the first rights of nature ordinance in the USA. How in Barnstead, New Hampshire, residents wrote an ordinance which successfully protected their local water from corporate water withdrawal. And how in Broadview Heights, Ohio, people are protecting themselves from fracking by passing into law by local referendum a community Bill of Rights.

Then Anneke will explore the underlying legal issues — how the Supreme Court has eroded community control by giving corporations ever more rights which are protected by state and federal law. Thus democracy at the local level barely exists and sustainability is virtually illegal. She will show how passing community laws stripping corporate rights are a form of legal civil disobedience, akin to women going to vote before they got the legal right to do so. And she will trace the exciting development of rights for nature and a sustainable climate happening here and abroad as well as the beginnings of indigenous communities getting in on the Community Legal Environmental action.

 

 

We invite you to share your ideas for presentations and send tabling requests to: Humboldt grassroots [nospaces] at rise up dot net and  https://www.facebook.com/humboldt.grassroots , twitter @humboldtgrassr1

Also, if you’re interested in volunteering for the Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair, please be on the look-out for our volunteer meetings, which will be posted on our FB page, or private message us here or at humboldtgrassroots at riseup dot net. We are in need of musicians/bands/artists and venues to help with fundraising. We are in need of poster puter-uppers. And for the day of, we need people to join the kitchen crew, the security crew, and the clean-up crew. Thanks in advance!!

 

Download the 8 1/2 x 11,  black and white poster here:9thposter

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9/28/2016

In response to Andy Mills outrageous OpEd on LoCo this morning: if the website for Redwood Curtain Copwatch weren’t currently being blocked, we would be able to provide you with a long list here of people who have been slain and/or brutalized by the EPD and other departments in Humboldt County. We’ll provide the list as soon as we can access it. The list will include people like Richie Estrada, a 17 year old boy from the Hoopa Valley Tribe, who was gunned down by a local CHP officer for allegedly wielding a knife, and Tommy McClain, a 22 year old man from Eureka, who was taken down in a shower of gunfire by the EPD in his own front yard, supposedly because of the BB gun that was still tucked into his waistband when he died.

Granted, from the list you would see that most of the victims of police brutality in Humboldt County are Indigenous and White, primarily poor. If you would peruse the latest Humboldt County census (http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/06023), you would also see that Black and African American people make up only 1.4% of Humboldt County’s population.

It is very easy for them to avoid the appearance of systemic violence against Black and African American people when they reside in an area of the system where Black and African American people are such a tiny portion of the population. This is not to say Andy Mills, the EPD, and the rest of Humboldt County law enforcement don’t show themselves to be complicit in upholding the same racist, classist, patriarchal, brutal system of capitalism as the rest of the police departments in the country. Shame on them for using Black and African American people, including the NAACP, in their publicity stunt. And shame on LoCo for being their unabashed lapdog. The idea that they have anything to teach the world about love is preposterous.

——————————————————————–

More about  how and why the police are inherently oppressive, and ways to oppose, abolish and replace them here. http://www.redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/, http://www.infoshop.org/pdfs/Our-Enemies-in-Blue.pdf  , https://mega.nz/#F!JoICRKza!ffnX_zHciASVxuQs6nxjsA

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Poster 8.5x11 2016

The year 2015  was one of inspiring resistance and revolution. Let’s carry that same ferocity into the new year! We are glad to be starting 2016 off with the 8th Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair.

The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair plays a part in strengthening connections and solidarity for building a new world.

We are excited, as many of you are, about the Rojava revolution, along with the uprisings across the U.S. There is a lot happening; lots to talk about!

The 8th Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair is bringing it January 23rd, 2016!

This is a FREE, all-day, radical event! Join us in the main hall at 10am to nourish your body with some of the FREE FOOD cooked up by Food Not Bombs and friends (which they’ll be serving up the whole day), browse the tables of radical publishers and community groups, mingle with some good, free-thinking folk, listen to a little comedy from Robo and poetry from Gork and Jovannah. This is a family-friendly event with the Kid’s Corner featuring FREE CHILD CARE and activities, hosted this year by The YES House. The kid’s can hang out there while you move between the two meeting rooms to catch inspiring presentations from authors and activists and share your own ideas and experiences during interactive discussions, beginning at 11am.

Here is the line-up so far:

11am:
Room A:
Black Rose Anarchist Federation:
Black Rose is a nation-wide, anarchist federation in the U.S. that formed in 2013 and has been involved in struggles from Ferguson to Rojava. Hear about this ambitious and exciting project from Francisco, a member of Black Rose LA.

 
Room B:
Earth First!
Tales of frontline forest defense in so-called “Humboldt County.” With the last bits of old-growth forests remaining and the system’s failure to protect them, we must do it ourselves. From road blockades to tree-sits, defeats to victories. Hear the wolves howling and the owls hooting. For the wild!

12pm:
Room A:
Addressing Our Needs Through Direct Action and Cooperation:
Come join us for an open discussion led by Ryan Ayala, a recent graduate from HSU in Psychology. Looking at the Queer community, he will discuss the challenges of bureaucracy in making social change and ways in which such topics as harm reduction can be approached in substance abuse.

Room B:
Workers Power Panel:
The Industrial Workers of the World will once again be present at the Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair. Providing a glimpse into the Wobblie’s secrets of on-the-job organizing and spells to rid workers of bosses and other demons set against the working class by the atrocities of Capitalism. Whether you toil away your days taking orders from moms and pops for minuscule pay at restaurants and boutiques or you work at low paying, part-time jobs with no benefits at chain stores, you may benefit from a few devices to wrangle profits from the profiteers. Learn about and discuss successful job actions like slow-downs, sick-outs, safety meetings, and such. Discuss how to organize the aforementioned. Stay on the job earning meagre wages (which pay the rent) while you stick it to the boss. Remember you are a member of the working class, with a union card in your pocket. Whether you ride the rails, study in the library or toss pizzas, the IWW is here every day and we don’t contribute to slick politicians that promise one thing and do another. If you work, organize to improve working conditions. If you don’t work for a boss, carry your union card wherever you go. Meet Steve and Bruce, longtime Wobbly organizers and twenty-year members of the IWW. Steve is currently a ferry boat deckhand on San Francisco Bay. Bruce is a former truck and bus driver among other jobs.

1pm:
Room A:
Lessons for Rural and Small Town Anarchists:
Doug Gilbert discusses strategies and lessons learned from his involvement in the group Modesto Anarcho, based out of Modesto, California located in the Central Valley. Modesto Anarcho published a magazine of the same name, ran a social space, Firehouse 51, and was involved in a variety of struggles including organizing with families of those killed by police, gentrification, foreclosures, and housing, and much more. More than just a history, Gilbert will discuss how anarchists in small and rural towns face special challenges, especially in areas that do not have established anarchist groups and spaces.

Room B:
Crimethinc: Democracy or Freedom?
CrimethInc. ex-Workers’ Collective:
What’s the difference between democracy and anarchy?
Democracy is the most popular buzzword in politics. From the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the most radical social movements, nearly everyone claims to be democratic. In this provocative presentation, we will discuss what ties all these different understandings of democracy together and what sets anarchism apart. Reviewing how recent social movements have experimented with democratic rhetoric and practices, we will conclude by exploring other ways to understand what we are doing together when we make decisions.

2pm:

Room A:

The Governmentality of Immigration:

Human migration has created great challenges for both host societies and migrating communities, which have elicited dramatic responses from both populations. My academic and community work has examined the ways communities in Humboldt County have responded to changing social realities through the lens of governmentality (or the art and techniques of governance).  What I have attempted to do is to rigorously interrogate the various arts and techniques of governmentality. The investigation into this research topic is particularly timely because of the various legislative polices that are being advocated for on a local, state, and national level which has created an opportunity to further immigration advocacy work. Understanding that this is part of the work we must do because of the hardships the immigrant communities live under, it is not the end goal, which is to go beyond advocacy to dignity. My work uses the September 2008 raid on the Sun Valley Flower Farm as a starting point to explore the related social, political, economic, and cultural forces at play before, during, and after the raid. From there I continue the analysis to the current organizing efforts for immigrant policy reform in Humboldt County and beyond. Using militant research as a theoretical framework for the organizing work. I contend that the outcomes of this research can have local implications as it could inform local organizing efforts and unpack interlocking systems of oppression in operation in Humboldt County.

 
Room B:
Student Unions and Combative Syndicalism:
Fannie from Montreal will be Skyping in to talk about their experience in the largest and most successful student strike, which helped bring about the largest general strike in Canadian history. They will discuss the ideas, methods, and organization that made it all possible. There may also be organizers from HSU to present some of their organizing work.
http://freeeducationmontreal.org/confrontational-combative-syndicalism/

3pm:
Room A:
Anarchist Organizations In Social Movements Panel:
Members from Humboldt Grassroots, Black Rose Anarchist Federation LA, and Crimethinc will discuss how their organizations contribute to a wide variety of social movements and why it’s important to bring anarchist voices to these movements.

 
4pm:
Room A:
Slam Poetry Workshop:
Gork Burns and Jovannah Hoboo

Room B:
The Rojava Revolution:
Our keynote speaker will be Paul Z. Simmons, journalist, and author recently back from the Rojava Revolution. Writing under the pen name, El Errante, he is the author of a series of recent dispatches from the liberated territories of Rojava in Northern Syria. Simons has just returned from a region besieged by war yet is also in the midst of one of the most far-reaching social experiments of the 21st Century: the ‘Rojava Revolution.’ The liberated territories of Rojava are a thriving example in new forms of democratic practice and of a people who are overturning traditional, coercive institutions in favor of direct democracy and the empowerment and enfranchisement of women. Simons talks about his experiences including crossing international boundaries under false pretenses, attending commune meetings in Kobane, high-velocity detours around ISIS sympathetic villages, and the camaraderie of the YPG militias. Simons had full access to the various revolutionary organizations and militias and will discuss their mandates and implementation issues associated with realizing a new society. Paul Z. Simons’ report is a part adventure, part journalism, and part political analysis, of the Rojava Revolution.

We are sad to report that Michael Knapp, from TATORT Kurdistan, who was going to be visiting us from Berlin, Germany to discuss his own experience with the Rojava Revolution, has been denied entry by the U.S. government due to a recent policy which allows them to turn away without cause or explanation anyone who has even visited Northern Syria. How convenient during this refugee crisis. FUCK BORDERS!

5pm:
Room A:
Radical/ Independent Media Panel:
Greenfuse, Humboldt Free Radio Alliance, Slingshot, and 5th Estate.

You’re SO in, right?! Worried about how you’re gonna get there? We thought of that too! The Manila Community Center is one of the stops on the Redwood Transit Line that travels between Eureka and Arcata with stops in Manila. Get on the bus for us!

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imageTo Change Everything, Start Everywhere — including in Humboldt! Read More »

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It feels like revolution is in the air, it strikes like lighting across the country against the police state and the poverty and misery it enforces and  protects. Here on the west coast, big actions have taken place in LA,Oakland, Portland, Seattle. and smaller cities, and will likely be popping up again soon.

Justice for Mike Brown! Justice for Everyone who has been beaten or killed by the police. Honor the loved ones who are lost.

It is time to stand together and call out Darren Wilson as a murderer. Across the country, many other murderous cops are sitting in their positions of power, afflicting injustices upon the communities they are supposed to protect. The police have gotten away with murder for too long.

Even small towns are not safe from ruthless murder at the hands of the police. A wind is winding through the country, weaving through big cities to rural communities: we must save our friends, loved ones, and ourselves. We must stop police brutality and murder. Some of us cheer from the sidelines, while others  plan for the near future. It may be getting cold outside, but the street is getting hot.
( EPD murdered, Tommy McClain, on 9/17/2014 Steven Linfoot the shooter did not face charges.)

The police murder and intimidate us, spy on us, harass us, and do not help us. Poverty and debt grow as our rights slip away. We have nothing but each other, but together we need nothing else.

No more murders with impunity. The movement which demands justice will only grow, and cannot be sated by the very police state which violently upholds and defends injustice. The onslaught of the police will not be tolerated today or tomorrow. Our hope is that communities will cease to tolerate the injustice; the excesses have gone much too far and taken too many lives. Through SOLIDARITY, we have the power together. Thank you to all those who are planning and fighting, and to all supporting behind the lines. We love you.

Protesters act in self-defense. They embody a force of freedom and justice.  The oppressor’s fear is of the oppressed becoming aware of ourselves and our power to change and confront things directly. When we speak and act for ourselves, it is beautiful.

An awareness of what we can do together sparks political imagination. We can imagine the inter-workings of a world without cops murdering and brutalizing people. A world without prisons which operate expressly to exploit the labor of condemned communities. An end to the courts and prisons which create conditions where crimes are the only option. An end to inequality and oppression.The end to all of that would mean an end to capitalism, and the end of the state. People’s power, community self-organization, and direct action could be the new order of the day.

The media and the government fear their time may come to an abrupt end from widespread so-called “violent” protest. Protests are legitimate grievances that no one can deny.

It looks like a foreshadowing of revolutionary upheaval has been keeping the Bankers and the NSA up at night. The protesters’ actions speak so loud the president has to respond, and his words fail, and fall on deaf ears almost no one listening believes the lies.
The writing is on the wall… even the staunchest defenders of the system admit conditions and grievances in the USA look strikingly similar to those who fueled the French Revolution. Poverty and debt, murder with impunity by the state, prison and disgrace for the vast majority, More wealth and power and wealth for the ruling class than ever before.
They gave the bankers trillions. They cut social services and raised tuition. While urban schools decay. While medical bills and rent is hard to pay. When many working families cannot afford good food to last a month. The Government chose to militarize the police rather than meeting community needs.
The Government chose to allow the police to kill with impunity.

All that is a powder keg for social war. The system knows it, and it is just the beginning.

These are nationwide days of action, you decide where and when, hope to see you out there. Stay safe, Dress warm.

Solidarity,  Humboldt Grassroots

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Humboldt Grassroots member Owl, Interviewed Kristian Williams author and long time member of Rose City Cop Watch. (http://www.kristianwilliams.com/ )10-7-2014

Owl: In your books Hurt and American Methods, you describe how law enforcement tactics are primarily used for intimidation and suppression of dissent, rather than actually preventing crime. How do these methods of control play out in our everyday lives?

In American Methods, and then in the collection Hurt, I focus specifically on torture. Largely I was driven to write on the subject because of the irresponsible way the Abu Ghraib scandal was being reported in the media. When those photos were released and Americans were confronted with this visceral evidence of torture, the dominant narrative treated it as some sort of anomaly –as though this handful of soldiers were somehow just uniquely sadistic. Every effort was made to divorce the abuse captured in those photos from the Bush administration’s policy decisions, and the nature of the invasion and occupation, and the institutional culture of the military. I wanted to push back on that. But I also wanted to push further. I wanted to show how those abuses connected to similar things done domestically, in prisons and at the hands of the police, and to consider what that might tell us about the nature of the state itself. What I found is, not only is torture much more common than we would like to think, but we can also find traces of it — or its threat — in many of the day-to-day operations of coercive institutions. Police make implicit (or sometimes explicit) threats in interrogation, they use “pain compliance” techniques to make people follow orders, they tighten handcuffs too tightly — which can cause a loss of circulation, and even nerve damage — to punish people for mouthing off. And then there’s the use of tasers and pepper spray against people who pose no credible threat, and sometimes people who have already been restrained. None of that is even out of the ordinary. In prisons, the list could be extended almost endlessly — strip searches, sleep deprivation, multi-point restraints, solitary confinement, rape. What I mean is, pain and humiliation are largely how those institutions work. How that affects your everyday life will depend, maybe more than anything else, on how privileged you are. If you’re a well-off white person, you may never even think about it. You surely know that police and prisons exist, and maybe you have some vague idea that they sometimes do bad things; or maybe you think they keep you safe — and yeah, depending on your race and class position, that may even be true. On the other hand, if you’re poor or a person of color — and especially if you’re poor and a person of color — it’s going to be a totally different story. There’s a good chance that you’d experience the criminal legal system as a permanent threat, with a realistic expectation that it doesn’t just promise arrest and imprisonment, but direct physical pain as well. Of course, that’s at the individual level. Socially, these institutions and their tactics help to maintain a system of stratification based on race and class, and that system determines practically everything about our daily lives — where we live, where we travel, who our friends are, what we do for work, our education, the quality of our health care, even our aspirations.

Owl: How do police enforce social hierarchy?

In Our Enemies in Blue, I argued that the main function of the police is to preserve existing inequalities, especially those based on race and class. That’s clear from the history, from use of force statistics, and it’s pretty obvious if you just look at who’s in prison. And that function informs everything they do, at every level — at the level of the officer on the street, at the level of department policy, at the level of the institution’s evolution. So for example, and most obviously, they maintain the hierarchy by enforcing laws that are themselves biased. I mean, it’s hardly a secret that, taken as a whole, the laws have a way of serving the interests of the rich. And then some laws specifically target poor people — laws against panhandling or sleeping on sidewalks, for example. I argue in the book that the whole concept of “public order,” as it’s generally understood, involves a large element of class and race bias, as the standards of order are typically the standards of the white (and historically, Protestant) middle and upper classes, and the job of the police is to impose them on communities that are poorer, Black, immigrant (and historically, Catholic). Then there’s the demonstrable fact that, even if the laws were somehow neutral, the enforcement is anything but. Police pay disproportionate attention to people who are relatively powerless — people of color and the poor especially. They stop them, search them, arrest them, hurt them, and kill them more than you’d expect just looking at the population statistics. That behavior doesn’t necessarily depend on the individual prejudices of the officers. It’s just that if you make trouble for powerful people, they’re likely to give you trouble back; if you make trouble for powerless people, you’re more likely to be rewarded. So the cops try to do their job in a way that maximizes the rewards and minimizes the hassle, which means they focus on powerless people, which in turn helps to keep those people powerless.

Owl: It’s clear that police enforce class and racial hierarchy. How do police enforce gender hierarchy?

They do, but not in the same way. Disproportionately — by a pretty wide margin — the police target men. Men are far more likely than women to be arrested, incarcerated, beaten, or killed by the cops. That’s not to say that women don’t suffer those same abuses; they do, but at lower rates. There are historical reasons for that: women have typically been disciplined more by other institutions, like mental hospitals or the family. Of course the police had a role there, too, facilitating the power of fathers and husbands by ignoring domestic violence. There’s also a patriarchal aspect to the public order question I was talking about a minute ago. The standards of order the police enforce, and the morality underlying those standards, historically entailed very strict gender roles, and to a lesser degree still do. Laws against cross-dressing have mostly fallen out of fashion, but the cops still treat transgender and other queer people as being suspicious as such. Women out alone at night — especially women of color — are pretty likely to be viewed by the cops as prostitutes. And, as far as that goes, the whole definition of prostitution as a police matter comes down to a question of enforcing sexual morality, the burden of which mostly falls on women. In general the history of public order policing was that it greatly limited the space available for women in public life, and left virtually no space for queers at all. That’s on top of the well-understood race and class biases. And then there are the police abuses that primarily affect women — like sexual harassment, inappropriate searches (including strip searches), sexual assault, and even rape. And again, our society being stratified as it is, the cops are far more likely to try that shit against women who are already marginalized in other ways — because of their race, poverty, immigration status, disability, and so on. Finally, there’s the awkward fact that when people offer the criminal justice system as a solution to sexual assault, domestic violence, forced prostitution, and rape, they’re essentially saying that the answer to male violence is more male violence. Violence here becomes a contest between men over the rights of women. Women are cast as passive victims, waiting to be saved — or not.

Owl: Restorative justice and transformative justice are the frameworks proposed to replace the current “injustice system” of police and prisons. What are they and how do they work?

If we’re serious about our anti-police, anti-prison politics, it’s important to come up with something that provides for safety but doesn’t reproduce the state’s punitive logic. So rather than approaching justice as a matter of catching bad guys and making them pay, transformative justice looks to repair harm done (so far as possible), and change the personal and social dynamics producing it. That means working with perpetrators to change their behavior, and working with communities to change the culture. Of course there’s no one correct way to do that. What works, or doesn’t, will depend very much on the context.

Owl: Does the radical movement already have alternatives to calling the police? Of course. Everybody does. In society as a whole, doing nothing is the most common response to crime. Most crime goes unreported. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I think the main one is that people don’t think the cops are going to help. And mostly they’re right. Another very common response to crime is simply more crime — individual acts of retaliation, group vendettas, that kind of thing. I think both the advantages and disadvantages of that approach are pretty clear. More useful, I think, are things like self-defense, or interrupting violence directly (for example, by breaking up a fight) — or better still, mediating conflicts before they escalate to that point. And then there are simple things like checking in with your drunk friends at a party and making sure they get home all right, or letting someone stay at your house if they don’t feel safe with their partner. I think there are two points to be made here. The first is that those are the sorts of things that people do all the time. The second is that the most successful alternatives to policing generally don’t get thought of in those terms because they intervene early enough that things never reach the point that cops would have seemed like a option. It’s much better to prevent a crisis than to respond to one.

 

Owl: Can a community currently help people with mental illness without using the police or prisons?

Sure, I think that’s mostly a matter of seeing what support people need and helping them get their needs met. That doesn’t just mean finding them counseling or whatever — that may not be what they need or want. It may mean something like offering to babysit their kids, so they can have some time to themselves. It may mean helping them break down a large task that feels overwhelming and seems impossible — like moving, or finding a job — into smaller tasks that feel more manageable. In our society, that sort of support is usually provided by friends and family, which poses all sort of difficulties if those people are also overburdened and there aren’t additional resources. It should also be pointed out, in this context, that most mentally ill people aren’t dangerous, even to themselves. At present, mental illness is seen as a police problem partly because other services have been defunded, and partly because harmless but abnormal behavior is criminalized. In Portland, where I live, there was a case a few years ago where the cops beat and killed a mentally ill man named James Chasse. Chasse wasn’t a criminal; he wasn’t even a suspect, in any real sense. The cops said later that they saw him on the street and thought he was acting “just odd.” So they approached him. He ran, they chased him. And when they caught him they beat him to death. Looking at this situation objectively: James Chasse was no threat to public safety, but the police really were.

Owl: Anarchists believe that community is based on strong relationships rather than a collection of people. What are some good ways of addressing social problems that build a stronger community?

In the long run, it’s the practice of working shit out together, even when it’s hard, even when people disagree — or especially then. I think we have to start by recognizing everyone’s humanity — victims, perpetrators, witnesses, the people who intervene. Literally, everyone. We also have to remember that the community isn’t just the people you happen to like. It’s your cranky neighbor, and the person who delivers the mail, and the people who go to the church down the street, and the kid who stole your bike. Community isn’t just the people you choose to relate to; even more it’s those people you can’t choose not to relate to, at least in some fashion. This is more than just a semantic question. If by “building community” we mean only our narrow friend group, then the anarchist movement will become increasingly isolated from our neighbors, families, co-workers and, in short, the rest of society. We’ll become more and more insular, irrelevant, and vulnerable to attack. Obviously, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t take care of their friends, form stronger ties with people they agree with ideologically, and all that sort of thing. But our political networks need to be rooted in the larger community. We need to look out as well as in. You’re right, of course, that a community is something more than a random assortment of people. It has to be built and sustained. Our society, especially in cities, and maybe even more so in suburbs, tends to be very isolating, very fragmented. The community ties are weak; people feel alone and powerless. Where we build stronger ties, where people know each other and know how to work together, that can change. When we build community, we also build a form of power. The state is very aware of that, and a lot of the practice of counterinsurgency is a matter of deciding which types of community — and therefore also, which types of power — to let develop. “Community policing”, in its fullest sense, is a strategy for fostering the types of community that the cops can control, those that provide them with support, intelligence, and legitimacy; and simultaneously, they try to disrupt those types of community that might form a basis for resistance. Our job, I think, is to do the reverse. As we do so, it will certainly help if we keep anarchist principles in mind: solidarity, mutual aid, reciprocity. Those don’t just characterize the kind of society we’d like to create; they are also the means by which we will build it.

Owl:People protested you at the Law and Disorder Conference because of an article calling out call-out culture and politics of denunciation. Can you tell us why they did that?

Well, the article was called the “Politics of Denunciation,” and you can find it at the Toward Freedom website. The point I was trying to make in it was that the tendency to denounce and exclude people — what’s sometimes broadly termed “call-out” culture — has some troubling political implications and may actually make it harder to address domestic violence, sexual assault, and other very real problems. Clearly there are some people who take issue with my view, or even with my right to have a view. But no one approached me about it before the event, so all I could really offer is my summary of what people said about it on the internet. Probably it’s better not to do that. If you want to know why people are angry with me, you should probably ask them.

Owl: Can you describe call-out culture? What I mean by call-out culture is the attempt to address harm — or sometimes, personal disagreements or ideological disputes — through individual vilification, public shaming, and social ostracism.

Owl: How does it differ from community accountability?

Call-out culture is implicitly punitive and often relies on rituals of humiliation. It generally offers no opportunities for any sort of resolution, or even reparations. I should say that I do think it’s sometimes important to involve the community in addressing a person’s misbehavior, and I think it sometimes makes sense to exclude people from particular places, events, or organizations. But exclusion on its own only solves the immediate problem, or may just re-locate it. It may remove a present danger, but people don’t just stop existing because we throw them out of the infoshop. So a transformative justice approach needs to give them both reasons and tools to change their behavior, while call-outs and ostracism basically just say, “Go be someone else’s problem.” And then there’s the issue of scale. If the only approach we have is denouncing and ostracizing people, what does that suggest about the society we’re trying to build?

Owl: How does a fixed dualism of victim and victimizer weaken a community’s potential to actually transform behavior?

Permanently branding someone as bad may make it hard to encourage personal change. And if the perpetrator starts thinking of himself as “a bad person,” rather than just a person who did some bad things, he may not even think it possible to change — especially if the people around him are telling him that it is impossible. Further, if the community’s response is to exclude people who are so stigmatized, the community effectively forfeits any opportunity to intervene in ways that would help push or support such change. All of that shifts the attention away from bad actions, the consequences, and the causes behind them (both personal and social) — and therefore also away from changes that might prevent future harm or help remedy past harm. Instead the focus becomes the identification and punishment of bad people. Given that we resist the punitive culture in the larger society, I think we shouldn’t reproduce it in the movement.

Owl: How does call-out culture weaken radical movements’ abilities to address violence, abuse and other impacts of patriarchy?

Individual vilification fails to address either the causes or the effects of patriarchy. It often substitutes denunciation of a perpetrator for actual accountability and supporting survivors. Because the focus is on punishing the perpetrator, the needs of the survivor — in terms of actual care work or even just personal safety — may be overlooked. Even if those things are central to the rhetoric, in practice the focus of the call-out is necessarily on the perpetrator. Also, when denunciations, shaming, and social exclusion are presented as the only possible responses, the effect is to treat all harm as the same. That makes it harder to address the underlying causes or the survivor’s individual needs. And it may well discourage some survivors from trying to address abuse if they don’t want to see the person who hurt them humiliated and ostracized. Likewise, public shaming makes it hard for perpetrators to admit that they’ve done something wrong, or try to atone for it. Then there’s the problem that people who work with a perpetrator to hold him accountable and change his behavior are themselves likely to get grief for not denouncing and ostracizing him. So, call-out culture produces all of these perverse incentives that make it harder to achieve justice, or personal transformation, or social change. Besides which, an environment where we believe every bad thing we ever hear about anyone else and automatically ostracize anyone who has done anything wrong creates all kinds of other problems. It practically guarantees that our movements will become more fragmented, more isolated, and more insular. The practices of denunciation and ostracism can be — and I would say, sometimes are being — used to silence questions and stifle political disagreements, making the movement less democratic and less able to improve its practices. And we have to expect that our enemies will notice and exploit these vulnerabilities. Documents from Britain’s GCHQ (their counterpart to the NSA) frankly discuss using fabricated allegations and anonymous blog posts to slander their targets, and leaked NSA documents show their strategists thinking along the same lines to discredit Muslim leaders. There’s no reason to think they wouldn’t do the same to anarchists.

Owl: Do anarchists know who they are and what they want?

Increasingly, no. At present, at least on the West Coast, anarchism exists as a kind of toxic cocktail blending elements of marxism, post-modernism, identity politics, deep ecology, and counter-culture lifestyle choices. As a result, the idea of a free and equal society is giving way to a creeping moralism spiced up with ultra-militant posturing. It’s pretty sad.

Owl:What is anarchism and how do we get there?

I believe anarchism is — or should be — both a philosophy and a movement. It represents an attempt to reorganize society based on the simple notion that decisions should be made by those most affected by them. The implications of that idea are radically egalitarian, require that power be decentralized and coercion minimized, and suggest that freedom must be exercised collectively as well as individually.

How do we get there? The only way is to build a movement capable of destroying the existing order and replacing it with something better. That will require the participation of millions of people, and they won’t all be queer punk vegan bicyclists living in West Coast cities. They won’t even all be people who consider themselves anarchists.

If we want to build a movement and change the world, we have to engage with society as it is, not try to remove ourselves from it. That’s hard, and it’s scary, and there’s no guarantee of success. But it is what we have to do.

 

Owl: Thank you Kristian, always a pleasure talking with you. Looking forward to seeing you 12/13/14 at the 7th Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair at the Manila Community Center.

We in Humboldt Grassroots agree with your vision of anarchism. Anarchists should be engage with society as a whole to change it, specifically be in those movements with other oppressed people trying to create a better situation. Anarchism will always have a broader influence within communities when Anarchists are fighting along side others in a rainbow of struggles day to day to improve the situation in concrete ways through solidarity and direct action.

Luckily, the sad toxic cocktail you describe is not the whole story. There are also many signs that revolutionary anarchism is growing in depth and strength in this country.

One encouraging development is founding of *Black Rose Anarchist federation in early November 2013, class struggle groups convened for two-days in Chicago to form an anarchist federation within the United States. Some people from the Portland chapter of the BRAF are coming to speak at this years Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair also.

We’re stoked, thanks again for talking with me and for all of your great work.

 

 

*Black Rose Anarchist Federation check out: http://agendaforliberation.tumblr.com/, http://commonstruggle.org/node/2637

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Rhizome Info-shop Exits Ink Annex

Thank you for the last two years of interest, participation, engagement, and volunteered hours. Without these forms of community support, the Rhizome Info-shop, project of Humboldt Grassroots would not have been possible. The Rhizome info-shop has moved out of the Ink Annex, and the library installment has been temporarily discontinued. The organizing that was done out of this space, the discussions that we held, the events and workshops that were coordinated, and the benefits that were celebrated have been empowering. These efforts have contributed to ongoing discussions about how we can recognize and challenge systemic forms of domination, such as Patriarchy, and confront the harm that these social forces inflict on our communities.

In the near future, comrades are seeking to open a social center with computer access, a lending library, and a collection of zines. In the meantime, an online lending library catalog will be set up. Soon, you will be able to access our inventory of books on topics that include anti-authoritarian struggle, popular social movements, anarchism, prison abolition, do-it-yourself projects, and more awesome literature over an online database.

With an emphasis on movement building, HGR will continue our work as an anarchist organization in Humboldt County. There are principles that motivate the work that we do such as exercising mutual aid, honoring self-determination, building resilient communities, resistance to class domination, and solidarity with all people who struggle against oppression. If you’re interested in learning more and getting involved , then definitely check out our platform. Stay connected for a multi-platform media outlet, and other exciting projects that are coming.

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Move Marie letter writing April 14@Ink Annex in EurekaCome hang out, share food, and send a letter to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to request that political prisoner Marie Mason is transferred to a lower security prison closer to her family.

We will also be writing letters to prisoners with April birthdays.

Marie Mason is a mother, musician, and organizer sentenced to 22 years in prison, the longest of any environmental activist. Marie is an icon of the “Green Scare,” a campaign of surveillance, infiltration, and entrapment enacted by the federal government to repress environmental activism.

Come write letters for Marie at the Ink Annex (47 W 3rd St – enter through 3rd Street alley behind Co-op) in Eureka from 7:00 to 9:00 pm on Monday April 14th.

Marie Mason

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