Listen to the Episode — 34 min
Rebel Girl: Mutual aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, an interview with an anarchist DACA recipient, and important calls for prisoner support on this episode of…
A weekly anarchist newscast brought to you by The Ex-Worker.
With me, the Rebel Girl.
Welcome back to your weekly Hotwire. We have two interviews this episode. First, we speak with Dezeray, an anarchist involved in Mutual Aid Disaster Relief organizing in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Next, we interview Sam, an anarchist DACA recipient, about undocumented youth resistance. We have announcements from a number of prisoners who need urgent support, so please stick with us until the end of the episode. We also announce some upcoming gatherings and actions. If we missed something important, or to include something in a future episode, shoot us an e-mail at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com. A full transcript of this episode with plenty of 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. You can also listen to us through the new anarchist podcast network Channel Zero.
Now, some good news for a change!
The three-week-long wildcat strike of Target workers in Christiansburg, Virginia has achieved its most immediate goal: their abusive, sexist, racist manager Daniel Butler has been fired! Prior to the strike, attempts to report his behavior through internal channels yielded no positive results and, in some cases, retaliation against already-victimized workers. No boss has an incentive to listen to his employees unless they can show him who really makes the shop run, or stop.
Likewise, in Nashville, Tennessee, another Target was the, uh, target of workers’ indignation when a contracted cleaning agency refused to pay their workers for weeks. They owed thousands in unpaid wages. The threat alone of a protest by Workers Dignity/Dignidad Obrera and Nashville Antifa spooked the cleaning agency and they paid out the back wages in full. Direct action gets the goods.
In Asheville, North Carolina, some uplifting graffiti was seen in solidarity with political prisoner Dane Powell. The graffiti also made reference to dropping all of the charges against the 196 people with 8 felonies each still set to go to trial for protesting Trump’s inauguration. You can find out more about how to support them at dropj20.org. Dane is one of 100,000 prisoners that Florida refused to evacuate even as Irma threatened to cut off their water and electricity. Phone zaps for trapped prisoners have been organized in both Florida and Texas, and we have links for them in our shownotes.
Lots of anniversaries this week. First of all, September 9th was the one-year anniversary of the largest prison strike in American history, organized in large part by the Incarcerated Workers’ Organizing Committee. Just before the strike last year, The Ex-Worker podcast interviewed some of its organizers and talked about the history of prisoner resistance in episode 50. Check it out.
The National Prison Strike was organized on the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison rebellion in New York. You can honor the memory of the rebellion, and the 29 rebels massacred that day, by supporting today’s prisoner resistance and political prisoners. We have some specific suggestions at the end of this episode.
Just a few days before the prison strike’s anniversary, prisoners in Kansas rose up and smashed windows, destroyed staff computers, and reportedly “tried to burn the place down.” About half of the prison’s 850 inmates participated. A friend of one of the inmates was quoted saying “Conditions out there are deplorable. No adequate showers, toilets or room for that many people.”
Anarchists also observed the anniversary of September 11th. No no, not that September 11th—we’re talking about the 1973 CIA-backed coup in Chile that installed a brutal 17-year long dictatorship under General Pinochet. Commemorative activities began in Chile’s National Cemetery, honoring the struggles of those executed and disappeared during the dictatorship. Later, combative marches with masked encapuchados clashed with police and SET THEM ON FIRE.
For September 11th, CrimethInc. published a new interview, with AWESOME photos, about the spectacular student resistance against privatized education in Chile. With guidance from American economists, Pinochet’s dictatorship adopted extreme free-market policies that starved the poor and stripped the earth. Libertarians and so-called anarcho-capitalists will try to tell you that free markets lead to free people, but Chile’s neo-liberal experiment shows that only the most authoritarian of governments can terrorize the people long enough to let the free market’s exploitative reign take its course.
Now that alt-right fascists are invoking Pinochet’s murderous helicopter rides, it’s a good time to brush up on anarchist resistance down south, and feel encouraged by our world-wide movement against capitalism, state terror, and all authority. Check out our website for The Chicago Conspiracy, a documentary on contemporary social war in Chile. We also have links to Ex-Worker episodes 29 and 30 about the anarchist movement there.
September 12th marked one month since a white nationalist rammed his car into an anti-racist march in Charlottesville, killing 1 and injuring 19. To mark the one-month anniversary, the Ex-Worker podcast just put out a new episode, number 58, reflecting on the kind of antifascism that’s needed now.
Hurricane Irma has now fully swept through Florida, and devastated the Caribbean islands of Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts, Cuba, and the Virgin Islands. The damage is still being tallied, but as we go to press dozens have died and tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed or flooded.
In the face of such disaster, people who cannot or will not depend on the state are providing for each other however they can. Even on NPR, one St. Martin resident stood up for those demonized for refusing to uphold private property over their survival.
Melissa Gumbs: Someone spoke to me today that they heard gangs are trying to take over. And I do want to dispel that particular story. I think with every passing storm, as people are faced with the fact that maybe they did take care to prepare for the hurricane but, you know, the hurricane took everything that they purchased and went out and salvaged and stocked up on, desperation kind of sets in, especially for families with children. So that’s the general kind of looting that we’ve been seeing.
Rebel Girl: We spoke with Dezeray from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief in Florida about why we cannot rely on the state to protect us from disasters.
Who are we speaking with and what’s happening on the ground in Florida after Hurricane Irma?
Dezeray: So, my name is Dezeray. I’m an antifascist organizer, anarchist. I’m involved with a number of different autonomous grassroots movements in my community. I’m from Tampa. I’m in volve with Tampa Food Not Boms, a radical refugee solidarity movement called Love Has No borders, and a part of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief. We were able to mobilize in a couple of days with a hotline that was people’s 24 hours a day to do resuce response. We have a community center, like a wellness center, first aid and trauma clinic, we had a trauma counselor. We had everything all set up and ready to respond to what’s going on. So of course, the disaster isn’t the only disaster that we’re facing. It’s additional law enforcement on the street, and curfews, and criminalization and segreation of houseless folks by forcing htem to wear different color armbands when they were going to shelters, and treating them poorly and marking them.
Just immediately in advance of the storm hitting, the sherriff of Polk County got on his twitter feed and posted that if anybody was seeking shelter that had outstanding warrants that they should come to the shelter so police can check them in and that they would be brought to the nice, cozy shelter of the county jail. So, he was dissuading people, folks that had outstanding legal issues, from getting shelter from a life-threatening storm, under threat of arrest.
We’re mobilizing for undocumented folks, we’re mobilizing for folks that have outstanding legal issues, folks that have vulnerabilities, folks that didn’t feel comfortable around police, and houseless folks. Working with those communities. We found that there was a mosque that was welcoming hundreds and hundreds of people and had no police presence. When they filled up we were forced to deal with other shelters and what we found was that there were police checking people in to every shelter so that they could run people’s backgrounds, check IDs, and get people trapped to fill the jails. So, we’re dealing with that crisis as well. We began hearing about curfews coming down and that, of course, is applied for houseless communities. Anybody that was out on the street was arrested. Instead of protecting the community or keeping the streets or the houses safe they were keeping businesses safe. I fully support people taking what they need to survive and taking anything they need to reclaim their humanity from the capitalist system.
This is community work, community autonomous grassroots work to keep our community safe to make sure that there’s a response network in place and here every system in place with law enforcement is making it impossible, criminalizing people, and arresting them. So, we’re trying to track those folks, trying to get folks to safety, and trying to just prepare ourselves for whatever the storm was bringing. So that’s the climate we’re operating in.
Rebel Girl: How can radicals support autonomously organized relief efforts in Florida? What’s needed on the ground?
Dezeray: For me, the best way people can support it is to participate in it. Connect and plug in with people that are doing this work. They need medics, they need search and rescue, they need people to cut and clear trees out of the road. They need people to assist folks with gutting and mold remediation efforts. Everything is valuable. We can hopefully populate these efforts that are going on in these places that are hardest hit, that are struggling. Like Jacksonville, and naples, the Keys, Miami, there are places that are suffering. Just a couple of hours ago we got word that civilian medics in Jacksonville we rebeing threatened by the police that if they didn’t disband while they were actively trying to rescue folks in flood affected areas, that they would be arrested or charged with respassing. As a medic myself I can’t imagine that scenario of watching people needing to be rescued from floods and having police threatening you to disband. So, this immediate threat that folks are facing as of a couple of hours ago…I just deeply appreciate people that have taken defiant action in the face of the state to support each other. That’s one of the things that helps up through all this horrifying mess that’s going on everywhere. Yeah, we need everybody. We need people to come and support. I speak because this is my community. I love and appreciate everybody that wants to come and act in solidarity with us and organize with us. So I support it for other communities and we’re deeply plugged into what’s going on in Jacksonville and other places now. It’s frustrating that the disaster is not the other thing people are dealing with. It’s also police and politicians and city governments.
Rebel Girl: We basically did this same interview the last two weeks for Hurricane Harvey. It’s barely been a month since Heather Heyer’s murder in Charlottesville. There’s so much trauma up in our faces all the time. What would you say to people who are feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed right now?
Dezeray: I’m one of them. It’s been hoorendously overhwleming, eveyrhting that’s going on. These disasters are happening, this storm is historic. We’re facing white nationalists invading our communities and talking about, like in Gainesville, talking online about making it a “bloodbath.” They planned on having their action in Gainesville one month to the day after Charlottesville when Heather Heyer was murdered and numersou folks were injured. We’re dealing with a lot and that’s why I say that the best way for people to support autonomous organizing is to participate in it because with numbers and people acting, supporting each other, populating these movements, that’s the best chance we have to help eachother when we’re feeling overhwlemed and to inspirie teachother when we’re feeling like this is too much. Just one thing after the next. So, I think just supporting and standing with people and listening and hearing and populating and multiplying, that’s the best hope that we have. That’s the thing that has made me feel more comforted in times where I’m just like… what else? What’s coming next? Yeah.
Rebel Girl: Thank you so much for speaking with us and for all the important work y’all are doing down there.
Dezeray: Well thank you. I appreciate you amplifying the struggle down here.
Rebel Girl: On September 5th, the Trump administration announced plans to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Walkouts, protests, and even a highway blockade took place in cities across the US in response. We got in touch with one DACA recipient to hear about how the announced end of the program is impacting undocumented folks, and what kind of organizing and support is needed in response.
So, who are you and what’s your relationship to DACA?
Sam: My name is Sam. I identify as an anarchist, a woman of color, and I am originally from Mexico but I moved here when I was 15 years old. Because I moved here when I was 15 I was able to obtain DACA, the aid for young, undocumented people, and I still kind of have DACA
Rebel Girl: And how did you get involved in DREAMer activism?
Sam: Since I was younger I was aware that things were going on and governments weren’t doing good things for people in general. Once I moved here to the US I started going to high school and I connected with teachers that were trying to help kids organize and stuff. That grabbed my attention because I wanted to connect like that in Mexico but I wasn’t able to. Pretty much since I arrived to the US, the community where I live is pretty politicized in different forms. Since I was in high school, from teachers and other friends, that’s how I started to get involved in undocumented immigrant rights. Also, I was able to see police brutality in the US, a bunch of things, all the things that people in the US have to deal with. Also, there was a lot of marches. Immigrants marching, and a lot of push from young people and undocumented people to obtain the DREAM act.
At first, I was very ashamed to share my story to say that I was undocumented. I felt like my story was not important because there was folks that had it really rough. I had the privilege to cross the border on an airplane, and I just felt like I shouldn’t really speak up because I had it ok on the way here. But just connecting with other folks made me realize that everyone’s got something to add, something to say.
Rebel Girl: How has the president’s decision to end DACA impacted you and other undocumented folks?
Sam: Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but personally and hearing family members and friends of mine, a lot of them are very upset. I know that maybe Trump is leaving it up to Congress to take a decision by maybe introducing some kind of legislation that can give us a path to citizenship or residency or something else, or they can just introduce something that looks just like DACA, which is crumbs. So in a way, I feel disposable. I feel like they already think that we’re disposable. So yeah, I was upset. I was not afraid, but I was upset. I have all of these feelings because no one should have to go through this. Everyone should be able to live freely, especially because this is not their land. These politicians, and this government, are mandating who can be here, who cannot be here, and this is definitely stolen land. So right now, I can’t tell you about a strategy but I know people are ready, ready to fight.
Rebel Girl: What can people do to support undocumented folks right now?
Sam: I think that a big thing people can contribute, if possible, is money. Reach out to your friends whose DACA already expired. If they don’t have a driver’s license anymore or they lost their jobs, maybe raise money and look out for jobs for them. Also, if there’s people that have small businesses to hire undocumented people, if they can. Or if people can spare a room, let people live with them. They can also share all this info with co-workers, or your neighbors. I feel like anarchists, in their communities, can… like I would like to see on the streets and walls banners and stuff like that declaring that people are here for us. Stuff that undocumented people can see on the streets.
Rebel Girl: DREAMers have occupied politicians’ offices, and have even gotten themselves arrested and almost deported in order to share stories and exposés from within ICE detention centers. What kind of action is needed now that DACA’s end is in sight?
Sam: I thought that it was really cool, but I think it was also brave and very smart to infiltrate the detention centers. When folks were doing that they really exposed what was going on. I think that’s something that people who can or feel like doing it should keep doing. As well as some other things that people in the community used to do. Like if they saw checkpoints or if they saw the police stopping people, they would have this phone number and they would be like “hey, there’s this checkpoint on this or that road.” Spreading it whenever there were checkpoints. Also people blocking streets, blocking colleges to raise awareness of what’s going on. I remember being in one of those events; you know not putting my body in it, just taking photos and just experiencing all the kinds of things that happen through those direct actions. That’s one of the ways. We’re going to make you uncomfortable, but people need to hear what’s going on. Otherwise, they just scroll on facebook or they see it and they’re just like, “oh, whatever.”
Rebel Girl: Thank you so much for speaking with us.
Sam: Yeah, thank you guys for reaching out.
Rebel Girl: In our show notes we linked a CrimethInc. essay from back in February, although it seems even more relevant now. It’s called “What Would it Take to Stop the Raids?” In addition, there are a couple of new anti-border posters available from CrimethInc., as well as a new book titled “No Wall They Can Build,” which charts 10 years of migrant-solidarity work along the US-Mexico border. We also have links to active DREAMer groups around the country.
In this week’s repression round up…
We have a lot of news from our comrades behind bars.
On September 5th, 6 guards ganged up on Black Panther political prisoner Herman Bell, age 69, and punched him in the face and head, kneed his body, and sprayed mace in his eyes. As a result, Herman has two broken ribs, his left eye is damaged, and he has a possible concussion. As if that wasn’t terrible enough, Herman has now been charged with “assault on staff”. Defying common sense, they allege that Herman, for no apparent reason, slapped the guard escorting him. They claim he did this in a location out of view of all inmates but in the presence of other guards. He is now in solitary after being transferred to a new facility. He was scheduled to begin a three day family visit with his wife a few days after the incident, their first such visit in over two and a half years.
Herman has been in prison for 43 years, and guards have targeted him in the past due to his political background. At this time, Herman’s supporters are encouraging everyone to write Herman or send him a get-well card, so that the authorities know we are paying attention and are concerned for him. We have Herman Bell’s new address posted along with this episode at Crimethinc DOT com.
Anachist prisoner Coyote Acabo was just put into solitary this week and could use some extra letters and zines. Supporters of Coyote have renewed a call to support him and his family. Coyote is a disabled latinx anarchist accused of defending a Black Lives Matter action from a drunken reactionary assailant.
Coyote doesn’t have much commissary money and has to subsist on the jail’s low quality food alone. Coyote and his family were already facing the misery that comes with the life of poor people under capitalism, but since Coyote was locked up it has become even more difficult for them. Not only because Coyote is far less able to support his family, but also due to bigoted discrimination.
Coyote’s fundraising page includes this reminder about why supporting our movements’ prisoners is so important:
“Support them out of guilt or some militant duty if you must, but also support them in the spirit of mutual aid because our liberation is bound together and we are only as strong and vibrant as our community, because an injury to one is an injury to all. Our comrades are not to be pitied. This is solidarity not charity. Incarceration does not just hurt those who are locked up: it hurts their communities and families as well.”
We have links to Coyote’s fundraising page in this episode’s show notes at Crimethinc DOT com.
While the cops who killed Eric Garner in 2014 walk free, Ramsey Orta, the copwatcher who captured Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” needs support. After Ramsey’s video went viral, he became a target for harassment and retribution from the NYPD, leading to his eventual conviction on trumped-up charges. To mark the first year of Ramsey’s incarceration, his supporters at WeCopwatch are asking for donations, food packages, and books for Ramsey. They also want help posting content on his social media pages. If you have online reach and want to be part of Ramsey’s online support team, you can email them at WeCopwatch@protonmail.com. We have Ramsey’s address and fundraising information linked in this episode’s shownotes.
Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for news. If you want us to include something in the future, just send us an email at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com.
We’ll close out our episode with political prisoner birthdays and next week’s news.
This week, anarchist prisoner Sean Swain, the irreverent voice behind You Are The Resistance Radio, celebrated his birthday on September 12th. Sean describes himself as, “a hostage held by a lawless rogue-state calling itself ‘The State of Ohio.’” You can catch Sean’s radio segments on the excellent weekly anarchist radio show The Final Straw.
Also on September 12th is Leonard Peltier, an American Indian Movement warrior framed for a 1975 shoot-out between the FBI and AIM in which two federal agents and an indigenous man were killed.
Please take 5 minutes out of your week and write a letter to Sean and Leonard Peltier. Getting your letter can be the highlight of their week. Also, every month the Prison Books Collective has a new, beautifully designed poster with political prisoner birthdays and addresses for that month. You can go to PrisonBooks.info to find it, or check out the transcript for this episode. There’s also a link to a great guide to writing prisoners from New York City Anarchist Black Cross.
And now, next week’s news, our list of events that you can plug into in real life.
This weekend on September 16th is the 22nd annual Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair in Oakland. The event is free and HUGE. If you’re on the west coast and curious about anarchy, it’s well worth checking out. Find out more at bayareaanarchistbookfair.com.
Also on September 16th is the Juggalo March on Washington. The Juggalos are protesting their classification as a gang by the Department of Justice, but there’s also a pro-Trump demonstration in DC that day. For those not fully versed in Juggalo culture, they’re not clowning around when it comes to opposing pro-confederates and bigots. ICP released an infomercial for the march this week, where they seem to be low-key signaling antifascists?
Violent J: They’re trying to end Juggalos once and for all. No more gatherings. No more concerts. No more music. Fuck that. Juggalos, we love you. We need you to come together and fight this. Ninjas are being punished for waving our hatchet flag in public, for rocking a tattoo. That’s fascism, and that’s fucked up!
Rebel Girl: As if that weren’t endorsement enough, the IWW’s General Defense Committee and Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee have issued a joint statement supporting the march. It says, “Most Juggalos identify as apolitical. Some lean left, others right. We still believe that the March on Washington to protest the gang designation is an issue we should support. Repression targeting a working-class subculture, and setting a dangerous precedent of casting wide nets, has to be challenged. An injury to one is an injury to all.”
On September 17th in cities across the US, Anarchist Black Cross chapters will be running down the walls! Running Down the Walls is an annual 5K fundraiser for political prisoners. Prisoners themselves also hold runs at their prison yards. New York, Denver, Buffalo, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Bloomington, and Riverside, California are all hosting runs that you can support athletically and/or monetarily. Check out abcf.net for more info.
The Houston anarchist bookfair will still take place on September 24th. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it would be great for anarchists to show up and give some support to anarchist organizing down there. Check out the Houston Anarchist Black Cross website for details.
And we have an announcement from the Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar: “We encourage you to get your 2018 calendar pre-orders in now so you can be the first to have them later this month. Your group can buy 10 or more copies for the rate of $10 each and then sell them for $15, keeping the difference for your organization.
This year’s theme is “Awakening Resistance,” and features art and writings by Jesus Barraza, Serena Tang, Andrea Ritchie, Herman Bell, Marius Mason, David Gilbert, Sundiata Acoli, Crimethinc, and more. If you order for a prisoner, which is only $8, be sure to specify their full legal name and prisoner number. Single copies of the calendar will be available for purchase in a few weeks. Any questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more at certaindays.org or on facebook or twitter, @CertainDays”
The Earth First newswire republished an international call for a week of action against speciesism, from October 30 to November 5. It encourages folks to carry out all kinds of actions, from street propaganda to workshops and debates in your social centers, to organizing actions against animal exploiting businesses.
And finally, there’s a call to disrupt the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia from October 21st to the 24th. The call to action has a pretty handy list of different police chiefs’ unsavory deeds. It also has a great slogan we can get behind, “For a world without police.” Find out more at noiacp.blackblogs.org.
That’s it for your weekly Hotwire. Many thanks to Dezeray and Sam for speaking with us, and as always thanks to Underground Reverie for the music. Don’t forget to check out all the links, mailing addresses, and useful notes we have posted alongside this episode at crimethinc.com. And you can get in touch at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com. Thanks for listening.
Stay informed. Stay rebel. Plug into the Hotwire.