Listen to the Episode — 34 min
Rebel Girl: Antifascism after Charlottesville, grand jury resistance in North Carolina, eclipsing the empire, and much more on this episode of…
A weekly anarchist newscast brought to you by The Ex-Worker.
With me, the Rebel Girl.
This is our first episode and, whoo, have we got news for you. A lot lot lot has happened in the past few weeks, and we’ll try our hardest to sum it up for you in the next thirty minutes. 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.
Our feature story is dedicated to the wave of antifascist activity post-Charlottesville, but before we get to that, we have an interview with an anarchist who drove down to help folks affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Can you tell us who you are and what you’re doing in Texas right now?
Scott Crow: Hey, I’m Scott Crow. I’m a long time community organizer in Austin, TX. I’m an author. I’m one of the cofounders of what was called the Common Ground Collective, it’s now called Common Ground Relief, which was founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Right now I am on my way down to Houston, TX due to Hurricane Harvey, not to do major relief efforts but more on a personal note to pick up some long time family friends of ours who lost their house last night due to flooding. So my wife and I are on our way to pick them up and then drop off supplies, and check in with the small networks of people that are emerging right now.
Rebel Girl: As we’ve seen with disasters like Katrina and Sandy, many peoples’ survival depends on grassroots efforts and mutual aid. Are there people on the ground organizing relief outside of government and NGO structures?
Scott Crow: Actually there is a lot of grassroots relief efforts being done. Former members of Common Ground are on the ground there through different myriad groups. Some of the antifascist people who were being demonized in the media last week are actually some of the core organizers now in Houston. Members of Redneck Revolt are also doing some organizing right now, so there’s various decentralized, alternative groups that are definitely popping up. And they should be because as we know governments and large non-profits like the Red Cross are extremely bureaucratic and heavy handed and uneven in their response and the way that they give aid. Also, they leave out people in their triage equation over and over again: immigrants, poor people, marginalized communities, rural communities, these are people left out of their equation continually while they focus on inner city stuff. So it’s important for us and the many other antifascist and other people to get together and do it ourselves, without waiting on permission to do that. Decentralized, liberatory, grassroots relief.
Rebel Girl: What can people do to help grassroots relief efforts on the Texas coast?
Scott Crow: I think just pay attention to what’s showing up on different groups, their chats, corporate social media. They can look at my feed if they want to. I’ve got some stuff people are posting to my feed. And then there’s a lot of other things to do, like Food Not Bombs, street medics, all of these things will be needed. Not just in Houston, which is getting the majority of the attention, but all of these towns that nobody outside of Texas ever heard of, which are along the coast, and deeper from the coast also. Figure out if you need to send money, supplies, or bring yourself down because forms of resources will be needed. I’m not saying that everybody needs to gather up and start rushing down, but just pay attention to it.
Rebel Girl: Great, thank you so much for speaking with us. Drive safe.
Scott Crow: Ok, thank you for having me on.
Rebel Girl: Houston Redneck Revolt and BASH, Bayou Action Street Health are good places to start if you want to support mutual-aid-based relief efforts around Hurricane Harvey. We have links in this episode’s show notes at crimethinc.com.
While the news zooms in on the aberrational natural disaster of Hurricane Harvey, business as usual’s disastrous effects on the natural world receive little attention, but more than a little resistance. In Wisconsin, three people locked down on the Enbridge pipeline, shutting down construction for 24 hours and evading arrest! Two weeks ago, in the Mi’gmaq territory of so-called “Québec”, police raided an anti-fracking blockade that had been up for over a week. There’s a support link in our show notes for Freddy Stoneypoint, one of the arrestees in need of legal support. We have a support link in our show notes. In the Peruvian Amazon, indigenous people seized oil facilities and warned of a wider uprising if the government continues to ignore impacted communities before allowing extraction on their traditional territories.
In other indigenous resistance news, on August 20th more than 50 native folks occupied land at Brown University in Rhode Island, declaring the Pokanoket Tribe as its rightful custodian. In Argentina, Santiago Maldonado remains disappeared after police repressed a demonstration by the indigenous Mapuche community in El Bolsón in early August. Anarchists have carried out incendiary solidarity attacks for Maldonado in Buenos Aires, Argentina and La Paz, Bolivia.
Over the weekend, the Animal Liberation Front released thousands of mink in Smaland, Sweden. In their communiqué, the action was declared to be in solidarity with anarchist prisoners.
French rebels have been on fire this week, with the arson of a prison construction company’s van, the destruction of equipment for high-voltage electricity lines, and the torching of cars in response to a police murder.
In Berkeley, California IWW workers at Buyback recycling walked off the job over unpaid wages. Buyback workers have already struck twice this year – first an unannounced walkout during the February 16 ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ and then a two-hour stoppage for a celebratory May Day barbecue.
In Christiansburg, Virginia a wildcat strike by Target workers has been going on for nearly a week in response to sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. Workers are calling for the firing of their boss for his racist remarks and inappropriate groping. We wish victory to both strikes, or a swift end to capitalism itself, whichever comes first.
And now, the Hotwire horoscope.
Doing away with the old world is a tremendous effort and it looks like we’ll be taking it on the chin for some time. But take heart, dear listeners, a wave of darkness washed over us last week, giving us an opportunity to align ourselves with the forces of destruction. During the eclipse, a banner was seen parading around Carbondale, IL that read “This empire too shall be eclipsed”.
We’re no astrology buffs, but we hear that the eclipse signaled the end of the Leo cycle, and that Leo is all about power. Will authority itself soon be eclipsed? Exciting prospects, but don’t expect that to happen from cosmic forces alone. However, all the inspiring actions of the last weeks are like seeds we’ve planted for a new world, nurtured by the returning sun. In the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley,
‘Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you Ye are many They are few’
Ahem, sand, that’s it for the Hotwire horoscope…probably forever.
Like the eclipse, Charlottesville marked a dramatic before-and-after. Anarchists and militant anti-fascists were thrust into the limelight following the successful shutdown of the white-supremacist Unite the Right rally on August 12. Things turned deadly when one alt-rightist drove his car into an antifascist march, injuring 19 and killing Heather Heyer. If you need to get caught up on the day’s events, we highly recommend The Ex-Worker’s episode #56, which has analysis and eyewitness interviews from Charlottesville.
The very evening of Heather Heyer’s murder, an antifascist march in Switzerland kicked off a wave of remembrance and solidarity actions across the globe. To date, solidarity actions have taken place in Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, the Basque Country, The Netherlands, Sweden, England, Ireland, and in over 50 American cities.
Marchers in Oakland, California stormed interstate 580, blocking traffic in both directions and setting off fireworks into the night. The next day, anti-fascists in Seattle marched in Heather Heyer’s memory and clashed with police who protected far-right demonstrators. In Minneapolis, a crowd replaced the Hennepin County flag with the Antifascist Action flag over the County Government Center. Wobblies in DC marched to Richard Spencer’s home in Alexandria, chanting angry slogans while he hid on his roof. Anarchists and anti-fascists in New Orleans held a march for fallen comrades last Friday, in memory of both Heather Heyer and Nathan Hose. Nathan tragically took his life on August 16th. He was one of the defendants charged with rioting in New Orleans on Inauguration Day. Rest in power Nathan Hose, rest in power Heather Heyer, you are not forgotten.
The wonderful folks at Unicorn Riot have released detailed intelligence reports on how the alt-right and neo-nazis organized the Unite the Right rally. Keep yourself and your community safe and check out their website to see if any dangerous alt-right types are organizing in your area. This also serves as a good reminder that we should be careful with our own security etiquette. We’ve included some links for protecting yourself from doxxing in our show notes at crimethinc.com.
Charlottesville broadcast lessons that anarchists have been trying to pass on for almost a century: namely, ignoring fascists doesn’t work and you cannot rely on the police to protect you. Clergy who were engaged in non-violent action, including Cornel West, have since praised the militant antifascist presence.
Here’s a quote from a Charlottesville resident who was there:
“No police officers in sight, and we were prepared to be beaten to a bloody pulp to show that while the state permitted white nationalists to rally in hate, in the many names of God, we did not. But we didn’t have to because the anarchists and anti-fascists got to them before they could get to us. I’ve never felt more grateful and more ashamed at the same time. The antifa were like angels to me in that moment.”
The legitimacy afforded to antifascist resistance post-Charlottesville has swelled the numbers at subsequent showdowns with the alt-right.
In Boston on August 19, exactly a week after Charlottesville, 40,000 turned out to protest a “free speech rally” with about 30 alt-right types. Literally, the fascists were outnumbered 1000 to 1.
On August 20th, 2,500 turned out to protest the anti-immigration figure Juan Cadavid in Laguna Beach, California. Also on August 20th in Quebec City, hundreds of anarchists and antifa held the xenophobic, islamophobic groups La Meute at bay in a subterranean parking garage for 5 hours.
Thousands showed up to protest Trump’s speech in Phoenix—Handing out ice in the soaring heat and scuffling with pro-Trump rallygoers who outnumbered the protesters. Anarchists openly carried firearms, and an antifascist, anti-colonial bloc of anarchists and indigenous rebels tore down police barricades.
From the reportback on It’s Going Down:
“As Indigenous, as LGBTQI2S, as brown, as black, as working-class and poor, we fiercely reject the liberal imposition of victim hood. We are rabid, we have claws, and we fight back and forward. We have no pretense; last night was no victory, yet it should be known that O’odham and accomplices have history combating fascists/police in the streets of so-called Phoenix. The powerful actions of O’odham hands dismantling steel barriers that were defending white supremacists evoked the possibilities of the attack against all types of colonial violence.”
This weekend in the Bay Area, thousands turned out to confront a rally organized by the white nationalist Kyle Chapman, also known as “Based Stickman.” Despite having a permit, the organizers canceled their rallies at the last minute…kind of. They still attempted a public press conference in San Francisco, but were quickly repelled by thousands of marchers. Bay Area Longshoremen were on the scene, after declaring a wildcat strike for Saturday. Later, about 40 alt-rightists gathered in a park, but soon fled as opposition quickly mobilized. The day ended with Chapman and others whining online about how their efforts were a total failure.
On Sunday, a “No to Marxism in America” rally took place in Civic Center Park in Berkeley. Again, one of the organizers announced the rally was cancelled and deleted the event from Facebook, but alt-right on Twitter were still encouraging each other to show up. In the end, a black bloc of about a hundred with a banner that read “Avenge Charlottesville, Defend Your Community” pushed out both the alt-right and the police and took the park.
We interviewed one Bay Area antifascist about what happened on Sunday.
Can you tell us who you are and why you mobilized for Sunday’s demonstration in Berkeley?
Mel: This is Mel, I’m based in the Bay and day-in, day-out I’m an anti-fascist. I also do identify as an anarchist.
Rebel Girl: So, what happened on Sunday?
Mel: Basically, the fascist groups were driven out of Berkeley on Sunday. That was in large part due to the coordination on the ground between many groups that day—not just the defensive line antifascist black bloc. Not only were they driven out, they were kept out, they stayed away, and seemed to gather the message that they’re not welcome in the bay. Never were, and do not come back. The large amount of numbers also seemed to make the police force irrelevant that day. I think a lot of community members were able to walk away seeing that he police were not there to protect anybody, and antifa was there as a visible community defense.
Rebel Girl: Militant responses like the shutdown of Milo Yiannopolous’ talk at Berkeley have drawn heated criticism from liberals. Considering this weekend’s protests had a larger turnout with more liberal types, what was the dynamic between counter-protesters like?
Mel: The dynamic was surprising. I think that there was a difference on Sunday in that folks who were not explicitly antifascist, as in black bloc, were actually really supportive of the black bloc and its tactic and the message to the fascists that “you are not welcome here, by any means necessary.” So there was a lot of support, which was really overwhelming and almost hard to believe. It felt really genuine. However, there was still a pretty significant presence of true liberals who hold up their “white silence is violence” cardboard signs but still hurl profanities at anyone dressed in black.
Violence can be strategic, it can be a tactic, but I think the violence that is most concerning to me as a person of color is the violence that exists daily from groups like that, from people like that: the liberals in Berkeley who will do anything in the name of free speech but also continue to gentrify, and continue to call the cops on communities of color. So their presence there was significant, but a little more easy to ignore when you have a variety of leftists who are not only in support of black bloc tactics, but also seem to be getting the message, and in their own ways refusing to let the fascist groups come and stay in Berkeley.
Rebel Girl: Thanks so much for speaking with us. Anything else before we let you go?
Mel: That’s it. Thanks. Also, Milo and Steve Bannon are scheduled to return to Berkeley for a so-called “free speech week” starting September 24, that goes to I think the 26th or 27th. So, definitely people should up the preparation for that. But just as importantly, anti-authoritarians and anarchists definitely need to step up the work in-between events like this and show out for these daily aggressions of white supremacy, both in and outside of anarchist spaces. I think that’s really important for folks. I say that in the most loving way, and I think we all need to be better.
Rebel Girl: Since Charlottesville, southern antifascism has taken on a specifically anti-confederate orientation. Since August 12, over 20 cities have removed their confederate monuments. In Asheville, North Carolina four activists were arrested while trying to remove a confederate plaque. Just two days after Charlottesville, residents of Durham, inventive and considerate enough to save the government the hassle, gathered at the county courthouse, slipped a rope around a bronze soldier on a pedestal, and cheered and danced as the statue came crumbling down. Simple as that.
Later that week, the Klan threatened a rally at the same location, but backed off as a thousand counter-demonstrators held the ground for hours in a festive display of resistance.
A week later, people rallied in Chapel Hill for the removal of Silent Sam, UNC’s confederate monument. The rally was billed as “The first day of Silent Sam’s last semester.” The university’s chancellor sent out an e-mail encouraging students not to attend. It sounds like there were classes this chancellor didn’t attend, because it’s a literal law of physics that if you tell teenagers not to do something the first week they are living on their own and free of their parents’ supervision… they’re gonna do it. 1,000 protestors showed up to a statue surrounded by police and two sets of fences. Three people were arrested. One reportback described the energy as “lit,” with unarrests, a march to the university president’s house, and eventually an over-night sit-in. The sit-in evolved into a full-on occupation and celebrated its one-week anniversary yesterday. Here’s a short interview with a participant:
Can you tell us who you are and what’s going on here?
Sitter-in: I’m a community member. I live in Chapel Hill. I’m not affiliated with the university but I feel that I’m a part of this community and it’s important to be here. What’s going on here is that some students and allies are conducting a sit-in that’s going on a week now to support the removal of the Silent Sam statue from UNC’s campus.
Rebel Girl: What kind of reception have you had here?
Sitter-in: I think for the most part there’s been a huge outpouring of support from students, from faculty, from community members, people bringing supplies. Lots of water and food and camping supplies of various kinds, material support in that way. Lots of people coming through physically, just coming sand spending time here, showing support in all kinds of ways. There have been some people, I think in much smaller numbers relatively, who have been present in support of the statue who have come to antagonize and to intimidate, but who have come generally in small numbers and who have come oftentimes late into the night. It gives one the impression that they’re not very confident nor very organized, which is not to say there’s not cause for concern. But I feel confident that we’re gong to continue being here and we’re going to continue successfully withstanding the intimidation and harassment.
Rebel Girl: The atmosphere here feels a lot like Occupy six years ago. Is that what you’re drawing inspiration from? And what’s next for y’all?
Sitter-in: I was thirteen when Occupy was happening. I don’t really know how this compares to that. What I do think is happening here is a community is being built around this in the past few weeks, right here in this area, around this cause. I believe that this community of people who are coming together is going to continue after this statue falls within, hopefully, a swift amount of time. I think nobody here thinks that that statue coming down is the end of what we’re doing, I don’t think anyone here believes that’s true, and I think that this momentum will continue and this community will keep strengthening.
Rebel Girl: You can keep up with developments through the Twitter account @SilentSamSitIn.
Of course, white supremacy isn’t just Klan robes and fashy haircuts at weekend rallies. It’s the absolute foundation of our colonialist society, and it preserves its rule through the police. On August 22, St. Louis police shot, murdered, and continually misgendered Kiwi Herring, a black trans woman. That night and the next, people responded by holding vigils that turned into demos. The second night, a motorist drove through the crowd, striking protesters and miraculously only leaving minor injuries. The driver was apprehended, but let us remind our listeners that six states have pushed for legal protections for motorists who hit protesters blocking traffic. Rest in power Kiwi Herring.
Two weeks ago in Troy, NY, police shot Dahmeek McDonald during a traffic stop. A large group of community members and activists responded with a march behind a “we can’t breathe, ftp” banner.
On August 19th, the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March to end prison slavery took place in DC, with solidarity demonstrations in 13 other states. For some history on the evolution from slavery to the prison industrial complex, check out The Ex-Worker episode #49 about last year’s historic National Prison Strike. Cops and Klan have always gone hand in hand.
Which brings us to our Repression Roundup…
A grand jury in North Carolina is looking into what the government describes as a bombing at a GOP headquarters after the election. One anarchist, Katie Yow, is the only person we know of to have been served a subpoena.
Katie’s one appearance so far saw a spirited support rally for her refusal to testify, despite the blistering July heat outside the courthouse. The Assistant US Attorney has informed her that the government will be requesting contempt, in other words, imprisonment for her refusal to testify. So far, she has not received notice about her next appearance. Thank you Katie for making your principled stand.
From NCResistsTheGrandJury.com: “We will continue to provide updates as they happen. In the meantime, our whole community and Katie will continue to resist this grand jury. Whatever the next steps are and whenever they come, Katie will always refuse to testify. Keep loving each other and helping each other build strong networks of support and powerful walls of silence.”
At the same time, the FBI has been visiting activists and anarchists elsewhere in North Carolina. In the occupied Cherokee land also known as Asheville, Jayden Savino has come out as a target of FBI harassment. From Jayden’s statement:
“No matter how severe their threats—or repressive their tactics—under no circumstances will I ever cooperate with the FBI or police. The fearless herstory of state defiance from black, indigenous, prisoner, queer, and animal/earth liberation movements fills me and my community with more than enough hope, guidance, and defiance to resist any repression the FBI has up their sleeves. I was an anarchist before this harassment, I am an anarchist now, and nothing they can do will compromise the integrity of my beliefs or move me to participate in undermining the integrity of my community.”
We have guides to grand jury resistance and what to do if the FBI knocks on your door in our show notes at crimethinc.com. Basically, no matter what they say, never talk to the cops.
It’s Going Down published a statement from Eric Clanton encouraging comrades to keep building long term strategies. Eric is facing years of prison for alleged antifa activity during an alt-right rally in April. We’ll have more details about supporting Eric as his case develops. Thanks for your brave words Eric, stay strong.
The statue-toppling we mentioned earlier has come with a wave a repression, but also a wave of support. Arrests began the following day with Takiyah Thompson after she gave a press conference where she proudly declared, “I did the right thing. The people did the right thing.” In response to issuing warrants for felony inciting to riot, upwards of 100 people showed up in solidarity to the Durham jail to turn themselves in for the very same crimes. So far, 8 people have been charged and detectives just released warrants for 3 more.
Felony rioting is the charge of the year—everyone arrested at Trump’s inauguration got it, the inauguration protesters in New Orleans were charged with inciting a riot, and the statue topplers in Durham too. Louisiana, North Carolina, and DC’s riot laws were all passed in the late 1960s, at the height of black urban revolt. Make no mistake, these laws are specifically designed to suppress resistance against white supremacy.
Speaking of J20, on Thursday a judge ordered the server for DisruptJ20.org to release data to the Department of Justice. DisruptJ20.org served as a public clearinghouse of information for the DC mobilization against Trump’s Inauguration. Facebook is currently in court over another data request by the Justice Department that is speculated to also have to do with the J20 case.
On Inauguration day, over 200 people were indiscriminately mass-arrested. They were given the same boilerplate charges of at least 8 felonies each. The defendants have been organizing and 196 of them have refused to plead out. The first trials are set to begin in November. We’ll cover the case as it develops, but you can find out more at DefendJ20Resistance.org.
In other tech-related repression news, the German government has raided several spaces and shut down the German Indymedia site, the most widely used German-language platform for radical politics and organizing since 2001. The German radical left are responding with a demonstration in Freiburg on September 9.
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.
August 31st is the birthday of Ronald Reed, a veteran of the 1960s civil rights and black power movements, doing life in prison for the shooting of a St. Paul police officer.
On September 5th is Alexander Irwin, one of the arrestees from alleged looting after the police murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson. Alexander is pre-trial, so please don’t write him about any illegal activity or anything regarding his case.
Also on September 5th is Brian Vaillancourt. Brian is doing 9 years for allegedly attempting to “burn down a slaughterhouse known as McDonalds.” In one of his statements published by the Earth First! Newswire, Brian reminds us: “It is not enough to be compassionate. We must act!”
Last but not least, the first J20 defendant to serve time, Dane Powell, is celebrating his birthday behind bars on September 7th. Dane is a hero. He saved a pepper-sprayed child from suffering further police violence on Inauguration Day in DC.
Please take 5 minutes out of your week and write a letter to Brian, Alexander, Ronald, and Dane. 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.
Fort Lauderdale, FL is trying to outlaw Food Not Bombs again with another food sharing ban. Food Not Bombs Fort Lauderdale has responded, rightfully calling the measure a homeless hate law. They anticipate a media-bonanza showdown when the law takes effect on September 22nd.
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 racists. Could be a good time for anti-fascists to spread agit-prop and see what bridges can be built.
Radical Rush Week is going on right now at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. If you’re a student at UNC, or really anywhere else nearby, check out one of their awesome events like a radical history walking tour or a presentation on spotting the alt-right. You can find out details from the Twitter handle @RadicalRush.
UNC-Asheville is also hosting a Radical Rush next week. Their schedule includes political prisoner letter writing, a screening of SubMedia’s show Trouble, a benefit show, and an “anarchist rad fair,” ARF! We have [the Facebook events linked]((https://www.facebook.com/UNCA-Radical-Rush–486949178364831) in our show notes.
The Houston anarchist bookfair will 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.
That’s it for this week’s episode of The Hotwire. Thanks a lot to Scott, Mel, and the Silent Sam Sit-in for speaking with us. 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 miscellaneous 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.