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Join us for May Day, the original Labor Day! May 1st is the Day all over the world that we celebrate our collective struggle for freedom and honor all those who live and die in solidarity for a free and just society.

It is even bigger this year! Ten groups are co-organizing, and seven performances confirmed there are more being confirmed, find them here as we update. This year is going to be huge! There is going to be a Rally, March, and Festival starting at noon going till 9 pm. The event will begin with a rally on the steps of the Humboldt County Courthouse at noon. An interpretive march will start at 1:00, where you can learn about historic local struggles.

The march will bring us to the Old Town Gazebo in Eureka, where you can enjoy some music, hear from speakers, and visit with tablers who are doing great work for our community.

From 2:00 to 4:00, we will hear from speakers on a wide variety of topics covering the history of May Day, local unionizing and labor struggles, economic democracy, racial justice, and immigrant rights, ecological resilience, and anti-colonization/ anti-imperialism.

Beginning at 4:00, we’ll celebrate with music and dancing, compliments of Moonsong Band, Irie Rockers, Dead Bird Son, DJ Pressure, Unholy Orifice, Blackplate, and more!

 

The eight Anarchists martyrs persecuted and killed for organizing for the eight hour day and for being anarchists advocating for a free and just society. It was their anarchism was put on trial not any alleged crime on the books advocates for better conditions for working people, the eight hour day and the emancipation of humanity put them in conflict with all tyrants. For that, the court sentenced them to death. We will hear more about that when our local historian gets on his soap-box to tell us about it!

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There has only ever been one march for women in Humboldt County and it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of.

 

Eureka Women’s March Protest surrounds truck that attempted to run over protesters as they crossed. EPD and journalists block 101 south.

The first “Women’s March On Eureka” event, held in January of 2017, was rife with oppressive policies that mirror the very system of patriarchy and white supremacy that fittingly places Donald Trump as the figurehead of the whole mess. The event was to not only include the grossly patriarchal and racist institution of the city police, it was to be led by it! And the organizers assigned official “monitors” to mix into the crowd and snitch to the police on any marchers who dared to “step out of line,” a line that was determined for us by the police.

The organizers did not reveal this information to prospective attendees until just two days before the event was supposed to happen. A “march” that was very clearly shaping up to be a parade for the patriarchy, one that was expressly permitted and regulated by the institution that most of us thought we were going out there to protest. The very institution that oppresses women, the group we’re supposed to be “marching” for.

I expressed my alarm at their choices to the organizers via their public event page. In response, they chastised me as “divisive” and quickly moved to silence me by removing my post. But they did not manage to get it down before it was noticed by a handful of folks who were also alarmed to learn of the organizers intentions. Folks who also recognize the systems and institutions that oppress us.

I was contacted by women of color who had been approached by the organizers to speak “for their people,” in an attempt to display racial inclusivity in the most tokenizing of ways. These women were contacted completely at random, based solely on their race, while never having put themselves forward as delegates for the people of their race. Furthermore, they were informed that if they were to speak at this “Women’s March,” they would be disallowed from expressing ideas ‘against’ anything, including Trump. They were told by the organizers to “keep it positive,” in an act of policing not only the messages that were supposed to represent the people of their races but also the emotions of participants. Just a whole lot of policing going on.

I also heard from folks concerned that women were being represented in a narrow way that sought to erase the voices and legitimacy of our trans sisters, which further reflects the system of patriarchy. Another important factor that event organizers had failed to mention was the colonization of the very ground we were to march upon, where indigenous peoples, the Wiyot, had enjoyed a home before white settlers brought their systems of terror and devastation.

With only one day until this charade of a parade was scheduled to take place, a handful of us decided to attempt to organize a protest. We posted a call-out for at least 50 people to commit to publicly protesting the policies of the event organizers and of the institution they were reinforcing, that of the partriarchal, colonial, white supremacist, capitalist, police-state. Within an hour we had our dedicated 50, and then some.

On the day of the event, nearly a hundred protesters gathered together on the waterfront of Eureka, under a banner that denounced the oppressive institutions that ultimately brought thousands out to the streets that day, even if not all in attendance fully understood what brought us there. As the parade passed, we raised our voices, chanting and singing our messages to the mostly silent crowd, which brought many smiles, nods of approval, handshakes, and hugs from them. Some joined our ranks and eventually we began to march, until it was time for the leaders of the parade, the Eureka City Police, to make a U-turn bringing them face-to-face with hundreds of us who let them know in no uncertain terms that we see who they are, we know what horrific systems they enforce, and we do not approve.

At that, we broke from the parade and marched ourselves out into the 101, luring the police away from the platform and pedestal they’d been provided by parade organizers. By my count, there were more than 300 of us chanting, singing, drumming, and dancing in the streets. Do not be fooled by lapdog media accounts that attempted to minimize our gathering by focusing on the few who chose to have themselves arrested that day. We made a large, jubilant, powerful display of resistance. We marched in solidarity with women and all other oppressed people that day. To my knowledge, it is the only women’s march to ever happen in Humboldt County because it was the only march in express resistance of patriarchy. For me, that march brought a lot more than a sense of empowerment and joy. It broadened and strengthened my connection with other solid resisters who I have had the pleasure and honor of organizing with over the past couple of years.

I’m pleased and relieved to see that the parade that deemed itself The Women’s March in Humboldt County finally had organizers with enough understanding of the oppressive systems we find ourselves in that they decided to cancel the event to draw attention to some of its flaws. As for the organizers who’ve decided to continue the tradition of ignorance this year, there will always be those. But it’s my deepest hope that soon enough, more and more people will wake up to the truth about our situation, and the resisters of these oppressive structures we’re all subject to will be enough to overcome those who uphold them. With that goal in mind, we must continue to work and fight our way toward freedom.

I recommend reading and organizing discussions of the following text for a quick study on the roots of patriarchy and how it is tied to all systems of oppression:
http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/liberating-Lifefinal.pdf

Bright Starling

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facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail(The first version of this interview appeared in print in the 4th Humboldt Grassroots paper that came out in early 2012. It wasn’t well edited at the time, most of the editorial collective was missing for good reason, repression of HGR members who participated in Occupy Eureka was in full swing, in early 2012.) Hurt, Kristian Williams most recent book, is a collection of articles on the what, where, why and how of torture, and how it must be stopped. Hurt argues convincingly why stricter laws and more human rights observers can’t end torture. Human rights observers are deceived and not given access is not provided full access to necessary information by governments. Thus, tons of torture goes unreported. So to end the practice of torture, we must dismantle the institutions and systems that benefit from inflicting maximum pain and suffering. That means creating a real democracy the prison abolition movement and the feminist movement collaboration described in Critical Resistance 10 conference. How do we dismantle the prison and the police state while keeping people accountable and safe? That conversation needs to be had to find and share solutions to replace systems of oppressions rely on torture with community power that relies on real democracy. Torture and democracy don’t mix the whole concept of torture is the subjugation and dehumanization of another runs as the complete opposite to the practice of justice, equality, solidarity and the universal freedom of all humanity. I asked some questions of Kristian Williams. Also, I have a few questions about a few topics discussed in Hurt: How has the use of torture terror and physical subjugation you describe in Hurt, played out in your view in the repression against the Occupy Wall Street Protests across the country? I haven’t really done a thorough study of Occupy and the state’s response. There are a couple of notorious instances of the cops using pepper spray to force compliance (UC Davis) or as a kind of gratuitous punishment (NY). By my reckoning that instrumentalization of pain counts as torture. And I think it’s telling that those were probably the incidents that proved most discrediting to the cops. I mean, it really backfired for them and generated lots of sympathy for the protesters. Of course, the fact that there was video was crucial to have that political effect. I wanted to know more about your work with Critical resistance and  Incite, what your assessment of the current prison abolition movement is, where you think it is going, and the political change for real democracy(anarchism) needs to go? I haven’t myself done any work with Critical Resistance or Incite directly, aside from attending the CR10 conference and contributing an article to the CR newsletter. But the organization I’m part of, Rose City Copwatch has taken a lot of inspiration from the joint statement by CR/Incite about the need to address community violence without relying on police and prisons. Part of our work over the past many years has been advancing the notion that there are and can be alternatives to the official criminal justice system. We put out a pamphlet a few years ago profiling quite a number of those existing alternatives. It’s on our website, rosecitycopwatch.org. That, of course, has a natural overlap with my intellectual work, especially the afterword to Our Enemies in Blue. I think the prison abolition movement has made impressive strides in the past 15 or so years. It’s really managed to establish itself as a legitimate position on the political spectrum — to such a degree that the state is beginning to co-opt some of the ideas about restorative justice and the like. And the advances of the prison abolition movement have also had the effect of completely changing the left’s agenda around policing as well. It used to be that anti-cop organizing was almost entirely under the sign of police accountability, but in the past dozen or so years there’s been a shift more and more in the direction of abolition. As for next steps: I think we’ve done a pretty good job in pushing the notion that there could be ways to resolve disputes and respond to violence that the community controls directly and that doesn’t rely on locking people in cages. But so far we have not done nearly enough regarding actually creating and sustaining those alternatives. I hope we’ll see more experiments in that area in the years to come. What are your suggestions? Do we need to create better anarchist media? Should radicals put more of an emphasis on organizing in their neighborhoods than into protest camps? Do you suggest we protest specific police practices and policies? Yes. We need all of that. I’m always reluctant to try to tell people what to do, though, because political strategy needs to be tailored to a specific context. What makes sense in Portland right now may make no sense in Humboldt — and may not make sense in Portland in six months, either. I know you described how torture is hidden in plain sight in your book, but what impact does that tacit knowledge tend to have on people? How is a regular person who hasn’t been arrested affected by torture in our society? Torture has effects far beyond its immediate victims. It also traumatizes their families and loved ones, it’s disruptive to their communities, it intimidates those who even just her about it, and it indeed casts a shadow over the entire society. It’s a kind of terrorism, and I don’t use the word hyperbolically. People are afraid of prison, for example, in large part, I think because they’re so scared of what happens to people in prison. That fear is itself a system of control, every bit as real and the walls and the razor wire. And of course, living in a society stratified by race and class, certain types of people are vastly more likely to be sent to prison than others. In particular, Black men are more likely to be incarcerated than any other group. The effect of that imprisonment, and of some of the things that happen to them while they’re there, has been pretty devastating to the Black community. take care, Kristianfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmail
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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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