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Rebel Girl: Autonomous Hurricane Harvey relief, Labor Day vs. May Day, and much more on this week’s episode of…
A weekly anarchist newscast brought to you by The Ex-Worker.
With me, the Rebel Girl.
Welcome back to another episode of the Hotwire. In this episode we’ll be focusing on autonomously organized relief efforts in response to Hurricane Harvey. We have an interview with a Houston anarchist who details the different groups and efforts on the ground. Listen until the end for prisoner birthdays and upcoming anarchist events, antifascist actions, and bookfairs. 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, just search for the Ex-Worker. You can also listen to us through the new anarchist podcast network Channel Zero.
Now, for the headlines.
Wobbly fast food workers at Burgerville, a restaurant not a town, launched a Labor Day strike for better wages and conditions in Portland, Oregon. The strike takes place as fast food workers at McDonald’s in the UK are also on strike.
If any of our listeners are lucky enough to still work in a part of the American economy that observes federal holidays, we hope you got to enjoy your long Labor Day weekend. We sure did, if by enjoyed you mean bitterly brooded about the holiday’s undermining of 19th century radical labor. Grunt See, just one year after the Haymarket affair in 1886, President Grover Cleveland opted to formally recognize the September Labor Day celebration proposed by the moderate Knights of Labor. This was a deliberate move to thwart American workers’ radicalism and internationalism. May Day was already rising around the world as the official workers’ holiday. To this day, the US remains one of the only nations with a labor holiday not on May 1st, despite its roots in Chicago! For more on the history of May Day, a real workers’ holiday, check out the very first episode of the Ex-Worker podcast. And for a holiday without end, try anarchist revolution.
The Animal Liberation Front in England freed two six-month old lambs destined for slaughter.
Elsewhere in England, the animal liberation moooo-vement saw some direct action by the animals themselves. A herd of cows broke through a fence and udder-ly destroyed a golf course, just days before a major tournament last weekend. Hats off to those heffers.
African and Middle-Eastern migrants hoping to cross into England clashed with police in the French port city of Calais this weekend. Police fired teargas as migrants tried to hitch unsolicited rides on the backs of trucks. It has been a year since police evicted thousands from the migrant tent city known as the Jungle in Calais, but that hasn’t stemmed the tide of people seeking a better life.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA. Supposedly, the program was meant to prevent the deportation of nearly 800,000 undocumented youth brought to the US as minors, also referred to as DREAMers. However, activist DREAMers have purposefully been getting themselves arrested since DACA’s implementation in 2012 so that they can organize detainees set for deportation, expose the conditions of ICE detention centers, and show that legally protected folks were still being unjustly deported. Of course, all deportations are unjust, every border is a crime against humanity. As we go to press, protests are taking place around the country against this attack on immigrants. A march took over a highway in Washington DC, students walked out of school in Phoenix and Denver, dozens were arrested blocking the street outside Trump Tower in New York City, and rallies took place from North Carolina to Portland.
From Calais to the USA, border abolition NOW.
It has now been over a month since the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado during a demonstration against the eviction of indigenous Mapuche people in Argentina. Maldonado has close ties to the anarchist movement in Argentina and Chile, and insurrectionary acts of solidarity continue to be carried out in his name. The IRPGF anarchist battalion in Rojava has released a statement against the forced disappearance. On September 1st, in the town where Maldonado was disappeared, a march ended with a rain of molotovs and graffiti upon the police barracks. The next day, a large rally in Buenos Aires held up signs asking “Where is Santiago Maldonado?” and clashed with police. Maldonado’s disappearance sparks memories of the neo-liberal and American backed dictatorships of the 1970s and 80s in Latin America. In Argentina alone, nearly 30,000 people were disappeared for their supposed crimes of “subversion.”
On the Chilean side of Wallmapu, 29 trucks were torched last week for logging on the Mapuche people’s traditional land. It’s the second time in two weeks that dozens of logging trucks were set aflame. The attacks were claimed by Weichan Auka Mapu, or “Fight of the Rebel Territory.” Flaming barricades in solidarity with Mapuche political prisoners were seen in the south Chilean city of Temuco on Monday.
In Huehuetenango, Guatemala, locals also burnt trucks and other machinery for a hydroelectric plant. Resistance to hydroelectric infrastructure has been going on in the region for nearly a decade.
In the Rhineland Coalfields in Germany, several climate camps were held the last week of August. The camps were pitched at strategic sites between half a dozen power stations and their open-cast mines. 6000 people, including a 3000-person human-chain, blocked coal trains that supply Germany’s dirtiest coal-fired power plant.
On August 29th, people identifying themselves as water protectors shut down construction on Enbridge’s Line 3 in Wisconsin for the third time in nine days.
About 16 members of two British Columbia First Nations have occupied a salmon farm on a small island on the province’s coast. The protest began as members of the ‘Namgis First Nation and Sea Shepherd continued their occupation of a salmon farm on nearby Swanson Island. Chief Willie Moon was quoted saying “How can the governments of Canada and B.C. say they want to do reconciliation with First Nations when yet there’s still destruction in our waters, on our lands, in our territory?”
Farmers and fishers in Indonesia confronted heavy machines and hundreds of police on the island of Java. The machines arrived to begin construction on the controversial New Yogyakarkta International Airport. The protesters have called on comrades in India to take action against GVK, the Indian corporation behind the airport’s construction.
It has been less than a month since a white nationalist rammed his car into an anti-racist march in Charlottesville, killing 1 and injuring 19. Yet the pendulum of pundit approval has already swung back against antifascism in a big way. After the successful shutdown of the alt-right rally in Berkeley last weekend, mainstream news outlets ran headlines equally sensational as they were manipulative, like the Washington Post’s “Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators” and “Why the ‘Alt-Left’ Is a Problem” in Time. And in a clear example of how we cannot count on our enemy’s enemy as our ally, the house minority leader Nancy Pelosi called for the prosecution of antifa members, deriding them as, “not even Democrats. A lot of them are socialist or anarchist or whatever." Even the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah got delusional about antifa violence, calling them “vegan ISIS.” The Mayor of Berkeley threatened classifying antifa as a gang, and Wisconsin is considering a resolution to condemn “antifa violence.” Perhaps the most aggressive yet mainstream attack came is an editorial run by The Washington Post. Written by a speechwriter for George Bush and also former advisor to the famously racist congressman Jesse Helms, it’s titled, “Yes, antifa is the moral equivalent of neo-Nazis.” In it, the author elevates antifascism to the murderous ideology and actions of neo-Nazis by equating antifascism with state communism, estimating the lives lost to communism to be upwards of 100 million. Allow us at The Hotwire to state LOUD AND CLEAR that we are against fascism, against communism, against capitalism and against all forms of hierarchical social organization as they inevitably sacrifice lives in the pursuit of power. Antifascism has to mean anti-statism for its struggle to not be in vain. Despite this overwhelming anarchist current in antifascism, the author also cites participants’ willingness to break the law as evidence for their totalitarian ambitions. As Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” We don’t have time this episode to respond to every variety of concern-trolling lobbed at antifascists, but for those confused by liberal voices suddenly denouncing antifascism, we highly recommend the new CrimethInc. text “Anti-Fascism Has Arrived. Here’s Where It Needs to Go.” Also, check out the Ex-Worker podcast #12 for an anarchist FAQ on the question of free speech for Nazis. We have links to both in our show notes.
Despite the blowback, antifascist action carries on.
On August 15th community groups held a rally of over 100 outside of Tom Christensen’s preliminary hearing for stabbing two people at a punk show in July. The local chapter of the Black Rose Anarchist Federation stated, “We are here to send a clear message to Tom and his Nazi pals that Chicago stands against fascism and white supremacy.”
This past week, the full staff of Club Jager, a popular bar in Minneapolis, quit when they found out the owner had donated money to ex-Klan leader David Duke. The bar remains closed.
On August 29th, the Informal Anarchist Collective for the Abolition of America executed a coordinated banner drop in 6 small cities across the Midwest. Places you probably haven’t heard of before, like Menomonie, Wisconsin and Carpentersville, Illinois, saw banners that read “time to destroy this white supremacist American colony” and “America is upheld by white supremacy & wage slavery. Tear it down. Freedom for all.” The stated goal of the IACAA was to “encourage the expansion of the current wave-making anti-racist and anti-fascist analysis to include America itself.” This echoes one of the chants heard at the antifascist demonstration in Berkeley last weekend…
“No Trump, no wall, no USA at all!”
On August 28th, Nashville Antifa and Black Lives Matter Nashville set out to disrupt the annual convention of the Fraternal Order of Police. They blocked a busy downtown street the same evening the FOP were supposed to have their “night on the town” in Nashville. The march covered a confederate statue with a sheet, and hoisted up a bust of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man murdered by one of the FOP convention’s speakers.
A Detroit vigil for a black teenager killed by police turned into a spontaneous protest as folks jumped on police cars, popped wheelies on their ATVs through the streets, and raised their arms in black power salutes. Last Wednesday, a Detroit cop tasered Damon Grimes as he rode his ATV, resulting in a deadly crash.
Well, at least cops don’t have grenade launchers, right? Oh wait, wrong. At the same FOP convention we mentioned, Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined a plan to send surplus military weapons and equipment to local police departments. Allow us to say FTP FTP FTP one thousand three hundred and twelve times.
Our feature this episode will be covering anarchist responses to Hurricane Harvey.
As we go to press, 63 deaths have been confirmed from Hurricane Harvey. While the Gulf Coast got pummeled last week; monsoons and flooding hit India, Bangladesh and Nepal and have left at least 1200 dead. If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that we can’t afford to be silent on climate change or the deep unsustainability of capitalism. Capitalism is predicated on greed, ecological destruction, and endless growth, an unstable formula for the environment. The media consistently stresses these storms are ‘unprecedented’ and ‘record-breaking’ while remaining silent on how climate change is driving this extreme, unpredictable weather.
Not only is Hurricane Harvey a ‘natural disaster’ of epic proportions, the disaster is magnified by capitalism’s pursuit of profit at the expense of all else.
As a center of the petrochemical industry, the Houston metro area has 41 Superfund sites, some designated by the EPA as among the most contaminated in the country. At least thirteen of these sites remain flooded, including waste pits from chemical, oil, and gas processing and toxic dumps from paper mills.
Not only did Superfund sites flood, but waste pits and drilling pads from the shale industry, agrochemical plants, and oil refineries were all underwater, and there are reports of at least 30 gas and petroleum spills. Like many other parts of the country, these facilities are disproportionately located near low-income communities and communities of color.
In response to the ongoing disaster in Texas, a whole crop of autonomously organized radical relief has sprung up.
The ad-hoc West Street Response Team, with participation from Food Not Bombs and anti-pipeline activists, has been providing direct relief in the form of decentralized rescues, food and water drops, and fundraising. Andrew Cobb, one of the activists with the West Street Response Team, had this to say about the journalists and city officials who have continued to value private property over human life, “Calling it ‘looting’ is just such an absurdity when you have no food in the neighborhood. So, people were getting what they need. We were hearing that supplies were limited, and the closest real grocery store was Fiesta, and there was a four-hour line to get in. It’s a food desert in normal times, and right now it’s even more so.”
Also on the side of private property over human life are the alt-right Proud Boys. These Nazi-sympathizers shared some photos of themselves armed and standing in flooded waters as an anti-looting patrol. Don’t forget, in the midst of Katrina similar white vigilante squads shot black people with impunity under the guise of patrolling for looters.
Luckily, there seem to be even more autonomous groups willing to actually help people. Austin Common Ground took boats with supplies into Houston during the storm and continue to coordinate volunteers on the ground.
Fundraising for basic supplies such as fuel, food, and first aid is being done by Greater Houston Grassroots Relief, a coalition of groups including Black Lives Matter Houston, Houston Anarchist Black Cross, and the Black Women’s Defense League. Houston Anarchist Black Cross have also organized call-ins to make sure that those incarcerated in affected areas aren’t being neglected.
We were able to touch base with one local anarchist doing relief work.
So, tell us who you are and what kind of anarchist and autonomous relief efforts are happening on the ground.
Clay: My name is Clay. I’m broadly an anarchist. I’m from Houston generally, and something kind of incredible is happening in Houston, and that is that Houston has displaced the normal capitalist day-to-day life, where cops and jobs rule the day, and we’ve supplanted it, without even anti-capitalist intent necessarily, everyone is just kind of expected to help their friends and neighbors out. Social media is just blowing up with “please donate here,” “this place needs donations,” “these people need help here,” “please volunteer here,” “this place needs help tearing out.” So really, there’s a kind of odd happening where everyone is sort of an anarchist right now, or everyone’s sort of communards without realizing it, and most people are not anti-capitalist or particularly political. They just have this sense of general good feeling, and everyone is out volunteering. Like on a lot of the streets where you volunteer you see hundreds of people, or tens at least, tearing out houses, moving furniture, serving food, things like that.
In terms of the explicitly radical anti-capitalist or anarchist presence, there’s a number of them. BASH, Bayou Action Street Health, is kind of an on the ground medical service. I think they’re broadly anti-capitalist, but really they’re just direct action health and medicine for the poor on the street. A lot of homeless people in underserved communities are served by them. They’re asking for donations and they’re coordinating with redneck revolt. I’ve been out with redneck revolt a few times. They’re a broadly, working class, antiracist, anti-capitalist kind of group. Houston’s very complicated, and there’s no one good answer about who’s suffering the most, other than the fact that the poor suffer as the poor always do under capitalism. And people of color suffer as they always do in the United States. I think things like BASH and Redneck Revolt are actively attempting to do something about that in a very broad, direct action basis. They’re choosing areas they know aren’t being talked about on the media, and so things like BASH and redneck revolt, they’re explicitly going into these areas, with no pretense. Like, no one’s giving out lit. They’re just trying to go and help these people, and the people there are so happy to have them. No one asks questions about politics. But for the most part there is this kind of odd utopian feeling across the city right now. I think everyone’s a little worried it’s going to dissipate slowly and things will get back to normal.
Rebel Girl: Some of the mainstream coverage has described the direct action and disregard for the state you’ve mentioned as a Texan phenomenon. Is this a way that things like rescuers disobeying evacuation orders are being recuperated back into some kind of rah-rah nationalism?
Clay: Right, I feel like… We’ve been talking about it like, this is just what humans do. There’s just kind of an outbreak of humanness. Something like a terrible, awful storm forces human beings to actually act human. I think capitalism is incredibly good at suppressing our humanity, and suddenly capitalism has to take a backseat because there’s not any quick answers to “your neighbors are drowning” or “the waters are rising” or “everything is rotting” so suddenly the police aren’t there, the state’s not there, or your insurance company’s not going to save you. So it’s your neighbors. I feel like the “Texan” thing or the “Houstonian” thing or whatever it is, it’s kind of an excuse or veneer over this inherent human solidarity. I myself noticed, and I think a lot of others have noticed, that it can be very anxiety provoking to just kind of show up in someone’s neighborhood and be like “hey I want to help.” You kind of lose some sleep getting prepared for it, but the next day you wake up and there’ll be a kind of lack of sadness that I think most of us wake up with living under capitalism.
Rebel Girl: What can people outside of Texas do to help?
Clay: You can donate to things like Redneck Revolt in Houston, or Food Not Bombs in Houston. BASH, Bayou Action Street Health, need supplies. They need a lot of admin help, stuff you can even do remotely, like answering emails and categorizing what skills people were volunteering for. I met multiple people who drove here from California and they bought a boat and they tried to get into Port Arthur and were turned away so they just showed up and started helping people clearing out their houses. Direct action saves the day, gets the goods.
Rebel Girl: Thanks so much for speaking with us, and for everything you’re doing down there.
Clay: Yeah of course. Thanks for speaking with us.
Rebel Girl: You can find out how to donate or get in touch with any of the relief efforts mentioned by checking out the show notes for this episode at crimethinc.com.
In this week’s repression round up…
Energy Transfer Partners—the slime who own the Dakota Access Pipeline—brought a SLAPP suit against Greenpeace, Earth First, Red Warrior Camp, Rainforest Action Network, and pretty much any other environmental group you can think of. (They apparently didn’t get the memo that Red Warrior Camp and Earth First aren’t exactly organizations but instead are made up of clandestinely organized affinity groups…but they obviously have no imagination.) Energy Transfer Partners is seeking $1 billion in damages and labeling all who oppose them as ‘eco-terrorists’. The acronym SLAPP stands for strategic lawsuit against public participation, and they’re lawsuits intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Oh, and representing Energy Transfer Partners in the suit is Marc Kasowitz, Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney. Sometimes it feels like this whole year is just bad joke after bad joke turned reality?
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, our list of events you can plug into in real life.
On September 7th is Dane Powell, the first of the J20 inauguration protest defendants to be sentenced to time. Dane is a hero. He saved a pepper-sprayed child from suffering further police violence on Inauguration Day in DC.
On September 12th is Leonard Peltier, an American Indian Movement warrior imprisoned for a 1975 shoot-out between the FBI and AIM in which two federal agents and an indigenous man were killed. Four years after his imprisonment, a Freedom of Information Act request released documents which prove Leonard Peltier’s innocence and the FBI’s targeting of him.
Please take 5 minutes out of your week and write a letter to Dane and Leonard. Getting your letter can be the highlight of their week. We have their addresses on our website, along with a great guide to writing prisoners from New York City Anarchist Black Cross.
And now, next week’s news.
From September 4th to September 10th, right now in other words, is the week of actions against the oil lobby, in solidarity with the fight against Junex in Gaspesie. The call published on Montreal counter-info suggests a wide range of tactics that anti-extraction activists can use this week, including banners, organizing conferences, sabotage, blockades, benefit parties, graffiti, and eating dessert before your main course. We think that last one is a joke. I mean, you should do it, but if you want to disrupt the oil lobby you should probably utilize one of the other suggested tactics too. Check out our show notes for the week of action’s targeted companies and decision-makers.
Anarchists at UNC-Asheville are hosting their Radical Rush week right now! Their schedule includes political prisoner letter writing, a screening of SubMedia’s excellent web-series Trouble, a benefit show, and an “anarchist rad fair,” ARF! We have the Facebook events linked in our show notes.
On September 9th in Freiburg, Germany there will be a march against the shutting down of Linksunten Indymedia. The Indymedia site was the most widely used platform for radical organizing in Germany prior to the state raiding it last month.
Something NOT happening on September 9th are 67 rallies that the pro-Trump, anti-Muslism Act for America group decided to cancel in the wake of Charlottesville. We extend our gratitude to the brave anti-fascists in Charlottesville for there being 67 less events for fascists to legitimize themselves and recruit at.
There are still alt-right rallies on the horizon though. Portland’s Rose City Antifa have put out a call for community defense against the Patriot Prayer rally in Portland on September 10th. We have a link to their call, with more details about their antifascist counter-rally, in our show notes.
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 going to. 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. With the Mayor of Berkeley threatening to classify Antifa as a gang, it could be a good time for anti-fascists to show up for this criminalized subculture that harbors some righteous anti-confederate anger and see what bridges can be built. If that weren’t an endorsement enough, the IWW, including its General Defense Committee and Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee have issued a joint statement supporting the march. Here’s an excerpt from their statement: “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.”
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 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 roster 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 this week’s episode of The Hotwire. Thanks a lot to Clay for speaking with us, and as always thanks to Underground Reverie for the music. Tune in next Wednesday for another anarchist news digest. Remember, we’d love to hear from you, so email us at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com. And don’t forget to check out all the links, mailing addresses, and useful notes we have posted in the full transcript of this episode at crimethinc.com. Thanks for listening.
Stay informed. Stay rebel. Plug into the Hotwire.