Listen to the Episode — 36 min
Rebel Girl: February 7, 2018: Turkey invades Rojava; the Zad wins (?); Indonesian Uber drivers stop being losers and start getting organized; churches burn in Chile; fascists get glitter-bombed in Olympia; and calls of support for CopWatcher Ramsey Orta and anarchist antifascist Tariq Khan on this episode of…
A weekly anarchist news show brought to you by The Ex-Worker.
With me, the Rebel Girl.
Welcome to our second season of the Hotwire, and happy New Year! Or, at least, happy end of 2017. At times it felt like last year was never going to end, but with the worldwide New Years Eve noise demonstrations against prisons and detention centers, 2017 in fact ended with a…
We’re not going to try and catch up on everything we missed while we were off the air, but our sibling podcast, The Ex-Worker, just released their third year-in-review episode! It’s really good, so check it out. Instead, we’ll do like the rest of the anarchist movement and pick the pace right back up, moving forward with the latest rebel news.
A full transcript of this episode with shownotes and useful links can be found at our website, CrimethInc.com/podcast. You can subscribe to The Hotwire on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, just search for The Ex-Worker. You can listen to us through the anarchist podcast network Channel Zero, or on your radio’s dial in Eugene, Oregon every Sunday at 11 AM on KEPW 97.3 FM. Believe it or not, every Hotwire is radio ready, so feel free to put The Hotwire on your local airwaves. If there’s a story or upcoming event you’d like us to include in a future Hotwire, just hit us up at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com.
And now for the headlines…
Over the first three days of February, workers at four different Burgerville locations in Portland, Oregon went on strike! The workers are organized through the IWW, and are calling for a boycott of Burgerville until the fast food chain agrees to affordable healthcare, safe and fair conditions, and five dollar raises for hourly employees. We wish luck to the fighting Burgerville workers.
In Indonesia, Uber drivers have flooded the ranks of KUMAN, a union whose name means “bacteria” and who organize horizontally and alongside anarcho-syndicalist initiatives. KUMAN sounds pretty badass—the union has 6,000 members, no dues, and one of their three membership questions is, “Are you a freedom-fighter or a loser?” Damn. Am I a freedom-fighter or a loser? In our shownotes, we have a link to a super interesting interview about KUMAN. Also, we hear they have t-shirts. If any listener can figure out how we can purchase one, we’ll buy you one too.
In New Orleans, several Bourbon Street strip clubs were raided on January 19 in a crackdown police claimed was targeting human traffickers, however no arrests were made related to trafficking. Police used dancers’ legal names in front of customers, filmed workers in lingerie without allowing them to get dressed, and shut down multiple clubs, taking away hundreds of jobs and further stigmatizing sex work. To fight back, workers at the targeted clubs have gotten organized with BARE, The Bourbon Alliance of Responsible Entertainers. They’ve been elevating their stories and crashing the press conferences and meetings of city officials who are trying to shut them out and standing up for the dignity and respect that they deserve. In our shownotes we have a link to an anarchist-feminist essay on sex work, written by a worker from the industry.
On February 4, people danced to anti-police music and made a racket outside the Krome immigrant detention facility in Miami, Florida. In their reportback on It’s Going Down, they remind us that while Trump has called for an expansion of such detention centers, his administration follows on the heels of Obama’s, who deported record numbers of migrants and who signed contracts with private prison corporations for daily quotas of immigrant detainees.
On January 15, MLK day, inmates throughout Florida launched a prison work strike against prison slavery, disenfranchisement, the death penalty, and toxic conditions. The strike was dubbed Operation PUSH, and over a dozen facilities have reported some kind of strike activity. The best updates can be found at FightToxicPrisons.org and on the Facebook page of SPARC, S-P-A-R-C, who state that, “Detailed information is only beginning to trickle out, and it has included details of the repression, retaliation, and even torture” faced by prisoners in striking facilities. Go to FightToxicPrisons.org for updates and to learn how to support Operation PUSH.
For the last two weekends, the ultra-nationalist Patriot Prayer group has showed up to harass patients and abortion defenders at Planned Parenthood in Olympia, Washington. And, for the last two weekends, Patriot Prayer members retreated after antifascists covered them in glitter. We have full reports linked in our shownotes, along with a beautiful banner from one of the confrontations that reads, “Patriotism is patriarchy, patriarchy is violence, body autonomy forever.”
Hundreds confronted about 50 nationalists on Saturday during a “Patriot Picnic” in San Diego’s Chicano Park. Some were there to defend the park’s cultural heritage, while others came out primarily to oppose the fascist presence at the picnic. As the nationalists left the park under heavy police escort, skirmishes broke out and one cop was punched in the face.
In Toronto on January 27, antifascists from the IWW’s General Defense Committee and Toronto Against Fascism outnumbered PEGIDA Canada, the Proud Boys, and other Islamophobes 3-to–1. The anti-Muslim racists attempted a march down the sidewalk, but antifascists outflanked them, passing out information about the racist march behind them to every passerby. The racists, mocked and confronted by antifascists in front of them, were quickly demoralized and gave up on marching.
Two days later, in Fort Collins, Colorado, antifascists physically fought neo-Nazis from the Traditionalist Workers Party outside an event hosted by Turning Point USA, an alt-lite, far-right group that targets campuses. What started as a simple rally with DSA and Food Not Bombs tables turned into a series of clashes after campus police pushed antifascist protesters into a group of twelve neo-Nazis. Unsurprisingly, the cops did nothing when Nazis assaulted people with flashlights, shields, and yelled racial slurs, but they cooperated with the Nazis once antifascists fought back. After multiple fights, antifascists eventually drove the Nazis off campus. For fans of Nazi-punching videos, the Unicorn Riot video from Fort Collins has a pretty funny scene of a Nazi getting whacked with a cane.
On January 19, the Turkish government announced the start of their offensive into Afrin, one of the autonomous cantons of the revolutionary democratic cofederalist region of Rojava, or western Kurdistan. Demonstrations in solidarity with Rojava and against Turkish aggression have been held in Boston, New York, DC, and San Francisco. To find out more, we spoke with Flint Arthur from the group Stand With Afrin.
Flint: Hello. This is Flint Arthur with USA Stand With Afrin. I’m giving an update about what activists are doing in the United States in regards to helping support Afrin while it comes under attack by the second largest army in NATO, the army of president Erdogan of Turkey. Just to give people an update of what’s been going on, it’s been about 15 days since Erdogan started his attack. So far, over 148 civilians have been killed and more than 365 have been wounded. Turkey has attacked at several points around the Afrin canton, mostly from the north while the YPG and YPJ have been providing large amounts of resistance to those attacks. Turkey has made very little progress into Afrin so far, but has continued to do airstrikes throughout the area, including on civilians and even on the Kurdish Red Crescent there that provides medical aid to people. Of course, Turkey’s role in all this is not just to suppress Kurdish autonomy and democratic principles in northern Syria. Turkey’s real role in all this is suppressing their own Kurdish population in Turkey. They’ve been doing that for years. So with this ongoing, people have been demonstrating and protesting to raise awareness of what’s going on in Afrin. There are demonstrations going on around the country, and we actually encourage anarchists, activists who are concerned about this to organize their own demonstrations. You don’t have to wait for Kurdish people to give you the go-ahead, or necessarily partner with an organization because those organizations simply might not exist where you are. You can find us with Stand With Afrin on all the usual places—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. You can also connect to us through groups like Friends of Rojava in North America.
Rebel Girl: For more on the Turkish military’s assault on Afrin, check out the recent episode of The Final Straw, which features an interview with a TEV-DEM youth movement participant. For more background on the revolutionary cantons of Rojava, check out episodes 36 and 39 of The Ex-Worker.
During a visit to Chile in mid-January, the pope patronizingly told indigenous Mapuche land defenders to give up on their armed struggle against the police and capitalist industry that occupy their lands, because “violence begets violence.” Um. Yeah popey—you mean like the so-called War of Pacification in which the Chilean state slaughtered Indians and conquered Mapuche territory? Or the violence of Pinochet’s military dictatorship, which created the so-called anti-terrorism law that United Nations experts have condemned for being used against Mapuche people to this day. Or how about the hydroelectric and logging companies, who wage war on the landbases that Mapuche communities have lived from since time immemorial? You need to be completely brainwashed in Catholic morality to somehow see the impunity and violence of the state against poor Indians as somehow equal to acts of resistance taken to defend their lives and their ancestral land.
In response to the pope’s hypocrisy, two different sets of anarchists claimed a total of six attacks on Catholic churches in Santiago. Both groups left behind communiqués explaining the anarchist and anti-colonial bases for their attacks, and one crew took care to also burn the national flag of Chile. However, neither crew disrupted the Pope’s visit as substantially as one uncontrollable police horse in the northern city of Iquique. As the pope-mobile inched slowly closer toward the horse, she saw the evil of two millennia of patriarchal oppression, indigenous genocide, and moralistic indoctrination burning in the eyes of the Holy See’s highest. She decided now was the time to put her horseshoe down and say, “damn it all to hell—life, afterlife, what good is either while authorities, earthly or otherwise, break my back and poison my mind. No more inhibitions! Will I continue to suffer through hell on earth in exchange for a post-glue factory paradise? I say ‘NAY!’”… Ahem, or, at least we imagine that’s what the horse was thinking, because as the pope passed she bucked at him and dumped the officer on her back to the ground. We have a .gif of it in our shownotes.
The same week as the pope’s visit, anarchist prisoner Tamara Sol Vergara was involved in an attempted escape from her prison on Chile’s coast. Tamara is now badly wounded and her family could use some support. We have a link in our shownotes. Tamara is the niece of Rafael and Eduardo Vergara, the revolutionary leftist brothers whose execution is remembered and avenged every year on Day of the Young Combatant.
Oof… Turkey invading Rojava, fascists still amassing and harassing, and we haven’t even got to the Repression Roundup. You know what they say, “no news is good news,” so we wanted to end our headlines segment with some recent victories, well, partial victories at least.
First and foremost, we want to congratulate the six defendants from the first J20 trial. On December 21, the winter solstice, at 11:30 AM, precisely when the earth turns back towards the sun, the jury in the first J20 trial announced that they had reached a verdict: a full acquittal of all six defendants on all charges.
We want to thank those six defendants for their courage in going to trial first. By doing so, they brought exposure to the case, forced the government’s hand, and a month later the prosecutor had to drop the cases against 129 more defendants. Well done! For a more fleshed out analysis of the first J20 trial, check out the most recent Episode 63 of The Ex-Worker.
Of course, this is just a partial victory. 59 defendants have trials coming up throughout the rest of 2018, with the next group set to begin on March 26. Supporters are calling for those who can to pack the courthouse throughout the trial.
If you know or are one of the defendants whose case was dropped, there is an excellent open letter to former J20 defendants found on ItsGoingDown.org. It includes great ways to remain involved in supporting the 59 comrades still facing charges, as well as a very useful list of do’s and don’t’s, like “still don’t talk or speculate about anyone’s intent or activity on J20,” “do e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you are considering speaking to the media about the case,” and “don’t allow the possibility of charges being re-filed to give the government the power to continue to repress social movements and bolster a culture of paranoia.” In our shownotes we have a link to the open letter to former defendants, as well as other up-to-date information on how to support the 59 remaining J20 defendants.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, thousands of people in Philadelphia assaulted police officers, overturned cars, and ascended the gates of city hall because….their sports team won? Seriously, people will riot because of football but not because we won’t have a planet in 50 years? And don’t expect any rioting or conspiracy charges to fall upon Sunday’s sports fans—at least not on the scale of J20. Rioting charges aren’t about destruction or violence, they’re about maintaining the status quo. Props to the couple who stole that police horse though.
While our reporting normally focuses on protests, blockades, antifascist confrontations, and the like, we’re happy to report that a score of awesome, base-building activities took place around the country on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. Minneapolis, Richmond, Austin, San Francisco, Knoxville; Chicago, Columbus, Bloomington, Pittsburgh, Albany, Worcester, Brattleboro, and Carrboro, North Carolina all held benefit events for the J20 defendants, many screening the new Global Uprisings documentary ANTIFA, which is sooo good. You can find a link for it in our shownotes.
In Washington DC, anarchists held a sarcastic memorial for the Starbucks windows broken during Trump’s Inauguration, which were later used as justification to mass arrest 200 people and charge them with eight felonies each.
Fort Collins, Carbondale, and Asheville all held a week of solidarity activity, including film screenings, Food Not Bombs servings, anti-Trump noise rallies, a best-banner-contest, workshops, karaoke, and, in Asheville, a block party!
In Denver, a festival of anti-Trump punk bands was headlined by Anti-Flag, who invited a former J20 defendant to speak from the stage about the need to support the 59 defendants left.
Anti-Flag: We have been honored and privileged this entire tour to be partnered with some amazing organizations. Tonight, we are especially blessed to have our friends from Defend J20 with us.
Lyle: Alright y’all. My name’s Lyle. One year ago today over 200 people were arrested, myself included, resisting Donald Trump’s inauguration in DC, which was awesome until the state came back and gave every single one of us eight felony charges. And this is a direct, intentional attack on anarchists, on antifascists, and anticapitalists, and the entire court and prison system is an intentional attack on anyone who stands up to white supremacy, and to fascism, and to capitalism, and the state, and most often that is black and brown, immigrant, indigenous, and poor folks who challenge that system just by existing. It’s up to all of us, but being here is not enough. Saying what you say on the internet is not enough. You need to be in the streets. You need to organize. You need to figure out what it means to be active, to be actively resisting the state. We all need to do that. We need to make punk a threat again! I’m not going to tell you to go out there and vote, because I don’t really believe in voting. I want us to fight until we burn down every prison, until the state is completely abolished and we make something new from its ashes.
Rebel Girl: Red and Anarchist Skinheads in Portland, Oregon held a “rock against fascism” event on J20 2018 that brought out hundreds! Groups like Rose City Antifa and the IWW’s General Defense Committee tabled while DJs played reggae and soul tracks in-between bands. Reading the full reportback, illustrated with awesome photos, helped this Rebel Girl keep the faith. J20 defendants and antifascists everywhere—you’ll never walk alone.
In other partial victory news, we are happy to report that the ZAD, or Zone to Defend, has forced the French government to say, “uncle” on the half-a-billion euro airport project once slated for the now-squatted, 1600 hectare site in Notre-Dames-des-Landes.
We caught up with Camille, Camille, and Camille from the ZAD about this recent announcement and why they see it as only a partially tubular victory.
Camille: We are all Camille.
Camille: Yeah, everybody is called Camille in the ZAD because it’s a name that works for..
Camille: There’s no gender in the name, so everybody’s called Camille. So we can say more about the ZAD. It’s kind of an autonomous area that exists since almost 10 years. At the beginning it was a struggle against an airport, and people that live in this area are struggling until the 70’s, and then they called for other people to come and occupy the lands and farms to help them. So, people came and since 10 years ago they are trying a different kind of society. To live in autonomy—material autonomy but especially political autonomy. So, trying to organizing horizontally, and trying to do their own justice, trying to live without the state, without the cops. And also, at the same time, doing agriculture on this occupied area that is something like 2,000 hectares.
Camille: I think there are like 200 people living in the ZAD. But the struggle is more like a movement, it’s not just anarchist people squatting the lands, it’s a movement with so many different people. That’s what makes it interesting.
Camille: Since 2012, when they tried to evict the area—and they lost because a lot of people came there, fighting, building barricades and trying to push the cops away, and it worked—so we had the feeling that for the last five years they were just trying to figure out how to not build the airport, how to do something legal and not be so ashamed about not doing the airport. Like, exiting clean. They were looking to exit clean. And now, they found it. The government said there’s no airport anymore but asked to have the roads clean and free. Especially the one that had barricades still had people living on the road to defend the ZAD and the road. What happened is people, the liberals that are also fighting against the airport said, “okay, but we don’t want the cops to come. We want to do it by ourselves.” And everybody together opened the street, they destroyed the cabins and all the barricades. It was so hard for people because that’s the symbol of what everybody was fighting for.
It’s a victory against the airport, but there’s a lot of work to do.
Camille: Since 2007, for ten years, we are not only farming on the ZAD. There are lot of things like mechanics or radio—radio is maybe a good example because it’s a pirate radio. It’s illegal to do it. Maybe it will not be possible to continue like that because if we negotiate with the state, it will ask for some compromises.
Camille: Also, we said a lot in France to people to try to do this struggle in the place where they are living. What is really strong for the ZAD in France is it’s an example of a struggle that works. A lot of people were coming and seeing with their eyes that it’s possible. So they come back to their place and say, “Okay, there’s a project where we’re living and I don’t like it. There’s a mall project, an airport, a highway…” And it was really an example that it was possible if we do things together.
Rebel Girl: Last in our list of recent partial victories is the two-day-long government shutdown that happened in January.
Ok, so, we can’t actually claim this as a victory. It was caused by incompetent statecraft at the federal level rather than coordinated anarchist activity from below, but it still afforded Crimethinc.com the opportunity to release the opinion piece Government Shutdown Doesn’t Go Far Enough: Make the Shutdown Comprehensive and Permanent.
We’ll quote from it at length.
“What if the government does shut down? Who will funnel our taxable income to military contractors? Who will tap our phones and read our email? Who will raid 7-Elevens and deport people? Who will indoctrinate our children? Who will stop people from driving while black? It doesn’t sound all that bad, actually. Unfortunately, the “shutdown” they’re talking about won’t interrupt any of those things. Compared to what this country needs, it’s just a bit of theatrics.
“Let’s be clear: the ones who are most worried about a government shutdown are the politicians themselves. Not for the reasons they claim—No, they’re worried because a real shutdown could just show how pointless and parasitic their entire protection racket is. They’re worried that if we get a taste of what it’s like to organize collectively to solve our problems, we’ll never want to stop.”
On January 22, anarchist science-fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin departed from the world of the living. Le Guin penned gender-defying science fiction like The Left Hand of Darkness, as well as perhaps the most imaginatively fleshed-out portrait of an actual existing anarchist society in The Dispossessed, this Rebel Girl’s all-time favorite science-fiction book. On Twitter, acclaimed writers like Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood praised her genius and wished her, in the words of Stephen King, “Godspeed into the galaxy.”
While celebrity authors remembered Ursula primarily as a writer, CrimethInc. published We Will Remember Freedom: Why It Matters that Ursula K. Le Guin Was an Anarchist. The eulogy ends with a beautiful quote of Le Guin’s from 2014:
“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom—poets, visionaries—realists of a larger reality.”
Rebel Girl: In this week’s repression roundup…
In late January, nine humanitarian aid workers from the Arizona-based group No More Deaths were charged with felonies of “abandoning property” while trespassing in a wildlife refuge. If you need a translation, that means leaving out jugs of water so that migrants don’t die of dehydration while crossing the desert. The charges came days after No More Deaths published a report detailing how border patrol agents routinely sabotage water containers left in the desert, essentially condemning migrants to one of the worst deaths imaginable. We’ll continue to report on this story and on how you can support the No More Deaths 9.
For an in-depth account of humanitarian solidarity along the US-Mexico border, check out Crimethinc’s book No Wall They Can Build, published last year. We have anti-border zines, posters, and stickers linked in our shownotes at Crimethinc.com/podcast.
Water protectors Red Fawn Fallis, Rattler and Michael “Little Feather” Giron have accepted plea agreements in their cases stemming from 2016’s No DAPL struggle at Standing Rock. We’ll keep you updated on how to write to the No DAPL political prisoners as details come. The Dakota Access Pipeline continues to operate, having leaked five times since coming online.
Ramsey Orta, the CopWatcher who used his phone to film Eric Garner’s murder by the NYPD, has been placed in solitary confinement. Orta is in prison due to a campaign of retaliation and harassment by the NYPD. We have his address in our shownotes so you can send him letters, or you can find it yourself at RamseyOrta.com.
For the one-year anniversary of the prisoner uprising at Vaughn Correctional Center in Delaware, the Bloc Party folks over at It’s Going Down released an interview with former Vaughn prisoner Thomas Gordon. Bloc Party introduces the interview by describing the uprising, “inmates in the C-building took control of their unit and held staff hostage. They called the media, released a list of immediate demands, and explained their actions as motivated by their conditions of confinement as well as the election of Donald Trump as President. One prison guard, Steven Floyd, was killed by inmates during the uprising.”
The interview is great and well worth a listen. Check it out at ItsGoingDown.org.
Since November 2016, anarchist organizer and PhD student Tariq Khan has been targeted by members of the alt-lite group Turning Point USA. TP USA members and other fascists have doxxed Tariq, made multiple threats against his family, and gotten him in a bogus disciplinary case with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. After a year of harassment, Tariq is asking for support. He’s asking 1) for sympathetic journalists to help expose Turning Point USA’s harassment; 2) for people to call or write in to the university to respectfully but firmly demand that they drop all charges against him; and lastly, he’s looking for organizations to make public statements of support for him. If you can help with any of these asks, and seriously, writing his university just takes a couple minutes, check out our shownotes for a link with more details. We’re with you Tariq!
And finally, stay tuned to @defendj20 on Twitter for details on packing the courtroom for the next trial, scheduled to begin March 26.
NEXT WEEK’S NEWS
We’ll close out this Hotwire with next week’s news, our list of events that you can plug into in real life.
The Stop Spencer Coalition at Michigan State University has announced plans to oppose Richard Spencer’s visit on March 5. On Monday they hosted a public discussion with over 100 community members, university workers and students in attendance. They’re encouraging all who oppose fascism to begin making plans to travel to East Lansing for March 5 and make Richard Spencer’s visit impossible.
Anarchist Black Cross Moscow has announced from now to February 12 a week of solidarity with anarchist and antifascist prisoners in Russia. In October, the Russian state raided a series of houses in St. Petersburg and Penza, accusing antifascists of creating a “terrorist group.” Then in January, police rounded up even more comrades and tortured testimony out of them. All forms of solidarity are welcome, but ABC Moscow emphasizes the need for monetary contributions—which they can accept in the form of PayPal, BitCoin, LiteCoin, and Etherium.
In March, folks on the west coast can expect a J20 solidarity speaking tour. If you’re out west and it’s been hard for you to make sense of the J20 case, this is the perfect opportunity to be brought up to speed before the next batch of trials. If you want to help set up a speaking date, email email@example.com.
The second annual Institute for Advanced Troublemaking will take place from July 21 to the 29 in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Institute for Advanced Troublemaking is a weeklong summer school in anarchist theory and action, open to adults of all ages. The IAT already has a pretty robust list of confirmed courses and facilitators available on their website: advancedtroublemaking.wordpress.com.
And lastly, our first ever wishlist is up at Crimethinc.com. Entitled, “What We Need From You,” it lists, well, what we need from you! It includes how you can help with speaking events, translation, editing, signal boosting, web design, printing and art, video, and last but not least, technological and written contributions for The Ex-Worker and The Hotwire. One big ask we have this season is for listeners to reach out to local community radio stations to see if they will carry our show regularly. Go to CrimethInc.com to see the full wishlist, and to help The Hotwire get played on your local airwaves, send us an e-mail at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com.
And that’s it for this episode of The Hotwire. As always thanks to Underground Reverie for the music, and thanks to Camille, Camille, Camille, and Flint for the tubular interviews. Don’t forget to check out all the links, mailing addresses, and useful notes we customized for this episode at CrimethInc.com. Every Hotwire is radio-ready, so if you want to replay part or all of this show, just go for it! We can also edit episodes down to specific time constraints if you e-mail us at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com. You can also send us news or announcements to include in the future.
Stay informed. Stay rebel. Plug into The Hotwire.