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Talking with Kristian Williams about Hurt in 2012, now readable in 2018!

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(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 it was 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.) And 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,
Kristian

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Open Letter in Response to Eureka Police Chief, Andrew Mills

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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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9th Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair April 29th, 2017

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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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Calling BS on EPD’s PR Tricks

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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.

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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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