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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

(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, Kristian


In 2015 the 7th Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair Committee’s best-laid plans for Michael Knapp with Tatort Kurdistan from Berlin, Germany to the keynote speaker. He is a co-author of the books Democratic Autonomy in Northern Kurdistan and Revolution in Rojava. He was to discuss democratic autonomy as it developed in the Kurdish movement, including models for gender equality and autonomous democracy. A living breathing model to address inequality and the growing ecological l crisis that threatens the world.

Michael was doing his Ph.D. in 2015 he has it now. So we will have to catch him between classes to talk more about it. You may have guessed Michael couldn’t make it to the 7th Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair because  Obama’s low key travel ban on anyone who has visited Syria (ever practically) that isn’t a US citizen.

The US government canceled Michael’s trip after we had bought his ticket. Luckily the refund was relatively quick. A video presentation couldn’t work it out at that time. We may do it in the future. In the meantime go read the books! Don’t let borders get in the way of the revolution. We have both of his books available in the infoshop for you to borrow!

Rhizome Infoshop

http://new-compass.net/publications/democratic-autonomy-north-kurdistan

Update 4/6/2019: Our automatic online ordering system is sending to the wrong email so please remember your books and add the relevant personal info in your email to us, that will be a good workaround until we have this bug fixed.

The curated radical and anarchist multi-media platform of our dreams that will be the Rhizome Infp-shop is taking shape. It will be a place to browse our physical library and email us to borrow books, find out books to get yourself and get access to all the best anarchist media that we can find. Podcasts, news outlets, videos, online reading, books, zines pamphlets, art music…We hope to have it launched and ready to go by Spring 2018.

We now have a way to catalog that has been dogging us for a while. We lost a number of books in the most recent move but we are restocking our collection day by day, with friends and publishers contributing to the Rhizome Info-shop.

This collection is very accessible, not in an upstairs loft or any particular location, we will meet you where you are at and work with your needs. That is the hope to get the right book to the right person as often as we can.

The most destructive force on earth is ignorance, we hope this new iteration of the info-shop will kick ignorance in its teeth.

to contact the folks working on the rhizome info-shop

email: Humboldt (no spaces) Grassroots at rise up dot net.

If you are not a robot you’ll know how to read that.

More to come!

Thanks to The Ink People and J-Birds Treasure Nook in Eureka for their support!