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Archive for the ‘Building Community’ Category

By Swaneagle Harijan

(In response to Chris Hedges’ article* on the black block, Swaneagle Harijan offers this analysis.)
Since the WTO i felt DOT (diversity of tactics) was double speak for “hit and running” leaving others to bear the brunt of poorly thought out and unprincipled property destruction. I saw many seasoned activists dance around the term in an effort to be inclusive. As is the case with drug addicts in occupy, the presence of DOT was not clarified in clear terms from the beginning, just as a clear “no drug use in camp” policy was not established at Decolonize Occupy Seattle’s 2 encampments. When clarity fails once trouble rises, then real problems development that become almost impossible to address.

I agree with some of what Chris Hedges is saying, but it also displays his relative newness to activism which i have seen in other articles lacking in depth of experienced history.

Many of those in the black bloc are young and some are quite expertly manipulated. One of the most disturbing problems i have had with DOT people is the dogmatism that refuses to dialog with others. One must pass thru some kind of convoluted system of approval in order to even talk to the holier than thous who are the in crowd of self described “authentic revolutionaries “. In public they wear masks and behave like paramilitaries. In the camp they did not talk to anyone even when spreading their dogmatic literature in camp. On their website, which i subscribed to after my experience watching them take over a march for murdered Indigenous wood carver John T Williams almost a year ago, i posted what i saw happen. I was called a “significant pathological pacifist agitator” which displays the influence of War Churchill, a person i have had issue with since the first draft i read of his book “Pacifism as Pathology”. I dare say it is his smallest, most poorly researched book, yet the impact on those anarchists in involved in the WTO was significant. I saw how Zerzan and Churchill shaped a nastiness among young anarchists, some of whom i had been working with for many years, that continues to this day. The mean spiritedness displayed towards those they consider “pacifist whimps” is superficially arrived at divide and conquer denouncement. It slams the door on meaningful communication.

Then you have anarchists who participate in the black bloc who have contributed in major ways to the humanity of how the Decolonize Occupy camp was maintained. To describe the black bloc as cancer is extreme. I would say the phenomenon is more like bronchitis that with the right care can be possibly cured. It is a huge problem, but i suppose if we are taking on this system that kills more people on the planet right now than any other force, we must find humane ways of addressing the conflict that now is deep and embedded.

No matter what the self described “authentic revolutionaries” say, many people have been driven away from occupy due to the hostile mistreatment of others whose ways may differ. I have heard the stories. Writing people off who do not fit into dogma displays dangerous, cultivated cultishness. That will relegate the black bloc to the same irrelevance that has saddled the RCP and other cultist “revolutionary” groups who to this day, annoy the crap out of most activists.

Sadly all too many DOT actions serve the purpose of infiltrators. So why is there no in depth analysis or openness to critique about the true long term impacts of property destruction? Why are any and all reactions from residents of Oakland who are very upset by the black bloc not heeded, but rather silenced? I am talking about several women of color who have expressed their deep dismay at these behaviors instigated by primarily white male anarchists that leave their community in shambles and push them completely away from occupy. Many men and women of color living in Oakland have told me themselves how upset they are by these developments and that the young people of color who join the black bloc do NOT represent the community or participants of color in Occupy Oakland. One Black father told me he is sick of cleaning up the mess the black bloc leaves behind and he is part of OO as well. There is a whole level of voices that are NOT heard on Democracy Now! or anywhere else for that matter.

Another aspect of DOT that has always bothered me is hiding not only who you are, but the whole truth of what happens. In Seattle, there is an effort to silence those who see people throwing rocks, bricks, rebar or paint bombs. Veiled threats have been made if occupiers dare take photos of such actions and too many people are being called snitches behind their backs.

The worst nastiness i have seen are online discussion groups. People who claim to be nonviolent are as vicious as those who ardently defend property destruction or fighting the cops. It is very ugly.

Then there are those who are somewhat taken in by the romanticism of the black bloc who also ostracize those perceived as being nonviolent whimps. The whole structure of how so many people are behaving reminds me of popular, good looking high school bullies who deem who is expendable and all their buddies and gals go along with the program.

In my experience, most anarchists, including those into DOT, have great respect for the Zapatistas. There are many facets to all groupings of people. It is not possible to completely peg anyone, but sadly, there is a blanket image of the black bloc that fits into much of what Chris Hedges is saying. This really needs to be examined by all who care about Decolonizing Occupy.

My biggest concern is how some activists can self elevate themselves to escape critique which is very danterous on numerous levels. It skirts around honesty, accountability and participatory solutions. No one person carries all the info. No one person can grab THE handle of what will and won’t work. We all deserve to have input and be included, but respect is essential that is all too often missing in the way those who engage in DOT behave and treat others. Disrespect has become a hallmark of DOT as well as secrecy. It is ultimately self defeating.

I am a Frontline Grandmother who has been on the streets and deeply involved in struggles for human rights, justice and authentic peace for over 30 years. My life as a silenced activist has given me a longterm outlook on what is happening now. I continue to be silenced. My long years of deep experience has no value to most cause i lack fame and the privilege to publish my extensive writings and documentation. I must say, it really bugs me how relatively new activist like Chris Hedges have such wide voice, but women like me do not and most likely never will.

The situation with the black bloc is indeed very serious. How we deal with it will decide the course of our current international struggle. We are all so deeply interconnected now. We cannot afford to throw all those involved with the misguided DOT away as cancerous. Rather, we must proceed with deep love, care and intelligence in shaping something that more precisely represents the goals and dreams we all can share in. This is not just the vision of people engaging in more domineering bully behaviors, but the joint efforts of each one of us. Please reconsider what you deem cancerous Chris Hedges, for it may rise out of this current turmoil as key to solution for us all. It is our challenge and our sacred duty to face this with all we know with all our hearts and all the voices still excluded.

http://www.truth-out.org/black-bloc-cancer-occupy/1328541484 

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Emma Rosenthal, MacArthur Park, Rampart Division-LAPD, Los Angeles

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today at this October 22 demonstration against police brutality on the theme, Resistance Matters,  focusing on a segment of EVERY community– people with dis-abilites.

People with dis-abilities are specifically targeted by police for abuse and brutality.

People who are deaf, unable to heed orders they do not hear, unable to communicate with authority, often are killed or battered by a system that doesn’t take their communication needs into consideration.

People with visible dis-abilities attract the attention of bullies, including the bullies in blue who know that there are no consequences for our ostracism or victimization.

People who appear, walk, talk differently are often singled out, accused of being drunk, and often have trouble with law enforcement because of both misunderstandings and the outright hostility toward us, by the police.

People with mental health conditions come in contact with police on the street, when our behavior doesn’t conform to society’s expectations, or when police are called to respond to medical emergencies.

Homelessness and prisons ARE our society’s mental health care system.

Police often respond to medical psychiatric emergencies with brutal and often deadly force, claiming they felt that they were in imminent danger.

Imagine if health care providers said they had to kill a patient because the patient’s condition threatened the lives of health care professionals.

It is the job of health care providers to treat people who are ill. We must demand no less of emergency personnel, including police, when answering a call for medical emergencies.

___________________

There is a nexus of gender, class and race with dis-ability, compounding our experience with authorities. We are part of every community, not a separate group, or geographic. There is no organization or outreach that can fully succeed without our full inclusion. You cannot address the issue of police brutality without also addressing the role of people with dis-abilities in the struggle for social justice.

Yet many social justice organizations don’t include people with dis-abilities fully, in addressing many social justice issues, and often perpetuate attitudes and policies that contribute to our marginalization.

You can’t defend our rights without our participation, our full participation. Nothing about us, without us. Working on our behalf without us, simply appropriates our exploitation in the service of rhetoric.

A movement that isn’t informed by the victims perpetuates the abuse. Planning that does not take our specific needs and issues into consideration often puts us in significant danger. Too often event security responds to us in much the same way that the state does.  I have been at demonstrations where the event coordinators did as much to endanger us, as the police do. This must be changed, this must be challenged.

We cannot fight a system by replicating its attitudes & practices. We cannot demand from society what we cannot also create among ourselves.

Expectations of people with dis-abilities merge with issues of race/gender and class to increase marginalization via expectations of behavior.

Thinking of people with dis-abilities as aberrant, undesirable, non-contributing and a burden have no place in the movement, these are capitalist attitudes.

Dis-ability rights isn’t charity. nothing short of full inclusion is justice. It is not your place to “help” us, but rather to work with us, to include us in ways that inform praxis.

It is NOT our job to make you comfortable with out conditions.

It is NOT our job to find our own way into your organizations.

It is NOT our job to say what you want to hear, and to leave our particular needs and experience out of the discussion.

Dis-ability inclusion is the collective responsibility of the entire community. 

________________

Additionally, agents of repression know to use dis-ability to divide the movement, like they use gender & race; by relying on our own prejudice & bigotry.

Infiltrators use ridicule of people with dis-abilities. Police have been known to “street: us into demonstrations to provoke an angry crowd that knows we are acceptable targets.

These divisive tactics don’t work when we check ourselves, our own entitlements that mask as privileges that defeat us all. We cannot build a sincere movement w/o including the most marginalized sectors, and we cannot address police brutality by ignoring its specific nexus with dis-abilty .

_______________

It must also be  recognized that police not only target people with dis-abilities for abuse, but also, in their brutality, create dis-ability, leaving those who survive, injured and traumatized. Let us honor those comrades wounded in the struggle, injured by capitalism, with ramps, sign language & voice, as well as make room for all activists into the future, as any one of us can become a person with a dis-ability, at any time.

No more excuses. These are matters of resistance because resistance matters.

So, let us build the strongest resistance to police brutality and state hegemony by ever increasing the circle, by standing, sitting, signing, rolling arm in arm in solidarity, a strong movement that cannot afford to leave anyone behind, a movement that needs everyone’s voice, everyone’s story.

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In response to the Dervaes decision to trademark the following terms: (scroll down   for more information and links)

urbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomestead

urbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomestead

urbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomestead

urbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomestead

urbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomesteadurbanhomestead

pathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedom

pathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedom

pathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedom

pathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedompathtofreedom

urbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteaders

urbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteaders

urbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteaders

urbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteaders

urbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteadersurbanhomesteaders

Homegrown RevolutionHomegrown RevolutionHomegrown RevolutionHomegrown Revolution

Homegrown RevolutionHomegrown RevolutionHomegrown RevolutionHomegrown Revolution

Homegrown RevolutionHomegrown RevolutionHomegrown RevolutionHomegrown Revolution

A series of links on the controversial decision of the Dervaes family, to trademark several terms,  in common use, and its implications to a movement and social justice in general.

“How can you trademark the idea of going back to our roots? Our interest in eating food from our own yard? In learning to do things for ourselves and make things from scratch? Jess came up with the perfect analogy. What if someone trademarked “DIY” and “do-it-yourself” and then went around shutting down every personal blog that used the acronym? What if they had Facebook accounts deleted, and stopped people from publicly talking about their books that had DIY in the title, even if the books were published before the trademark paperwork was filed?

Trademarking “DIY” would be completely counter to everything the modern DIY movement is about, just as trademarking “urban homesteading” is counter to the spirit of the community of urban homesteaders. The key word here seems to be “community.” The Dervaes family isn’t part of a larger community. Their community ends with the four of them.”

-from http://kristaandjess.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/urban-homesteaders-urban-homesteading-on-the-urban-homestead/

In the News

http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit/2011/02/pasadena_family_trademarks_the.php

http://growninthecity.com/2011/02/5questions-with-gustavo-arrelano-the-journalist-who-broke-the-dervaes-urban-homesteading-story-talks-about-intellectual-property-and-the-urban-homesteading-movement/

http://oaklandlocal.com/article/oaklands-institute-urban-homesteading-gets-cease-and-desist-trademark-letter

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_17417055?IADID=Search-www.pasadenastarnews.com-www.pasadenastarnews.com

On Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/DragonflyhillUrbanFarm

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Urban-Homesteading-Is-A-Way-Of-Life-Not-A-Copyright/189756707725969

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Take-Back-Urban-Home-steadings/167527713295518

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-New-Institute-of-Urban-Home-steadings/111203298957032

http://www.facebook.com/HeirloomSkills4SustainableLiving

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Colorado-Springs-Urban-Homesteading/139332762796599

In the Blogosphere:

http://dragonflyhill.wordpress.com/

https://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/

http://kristaandjess.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/urban-homesteaders-urban-homesteading-on-the-urban-homestead/

http://ittybittyfarminthecity.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-am-urban-homesteader.html

http://undermoderated.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/urban-homesteading-2/

http://freshdirt.rtclandscape.com/

http://sustainableslow.blogspot.com/2011/02/slow-living-urban-homesteading.html

http://growandresist.com/2011/02/21/urban-homestead-a-different-kind-of-critique/

http://gaeasboxofrocks.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-am-urban-homesteader-urban.html

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With 70 people reported injured in the attack on the flotilla, surely some of them will acquire permanent dis-abilities. will they be part of an inclusive movement, or will they be sidelined for the consequences of their bravery and sacrifice?Too often, activists with dis-abilities, are discarded or dismissed within the movement, EVEN when their dis-abilities were the result of their courage and resistance to repression.

Dis-ability rights, isn’t a separate issue. No community is fully organized, if members of that community are excluded. We are everyone. We are everywhere. We aren’t cute stories to provide inspiration, or freak show entertainment. We are YOU!

Who do we exclude when we fail to include?

For guidelines for full inclusion: (cut and paste link if it doesn’t work!)

http://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/guide-to-accessible%20event-planning/

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(human rights as a menu, a cause du jour, something to think of when they get around to it.  and  they’ll throw in some non-seqitur race baiting to justify it all! but it’s not all bad.  scroll down for the way it should be done!–posted to the sister blog- in bed with frida kahlo.)

I CAN’T BE PART OF A MOVEMENT IF I CAN’T GET MY WHEEL IN THE DOOR

http://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/i-cant-be-part-of-a-movement-if-i-cant-get-my-wheel-in-the-door/

A tale of two inquiries (this is how we do it!)

http://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/a-tale-of-two-inquiries/

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and one demo, against racist Aryanzona!!!

Busy day L.A.!!!!

Come join BDS LA for Justice in Palestine and others today, Monday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Israel Consulate at 6380 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90048-5071 to protest Israel’s unlawful attack on unarmed civilians and to call for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. There will also be a second rally at 4:30 p.m. at the same location (organized by Al Awda).

also,

Date:Monday, May 31, 2010Time: 4:00pm – 7:00pmLocation: Dodgers Stadium. Sunset and Elysian Park (Under the “This Is My Town” Billboards)Street: Sunset Blvd. and Elysian Park AveCity/Town: Los Angeles, CA

same struggle same fight!

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andy and i were coming home from grocery shopping this evening and our street, right by our house was blocked off by at least 5 lapd police cars who had surrounded one of my neighbors, a young man; one of their favorite “usual suspects.” no one else was out on the street. a few cars were behind us, also waiting to get through. upon our approach, one of the police cars shined his light directly into our eyes and blinked the low beams. we were given no instructions. i got out of my car, sure to make both hands visible and walked toward the gathering of more than 7 officers. one approached me and told me they were having a “friendly chat” with my neighbor (stating his name) and that they were “old friends.” he continued to tell me that they weren’t arresting anyone and that nothing had happened.
“do you always handcuff your “old friends” when you chat with them?” i asked.

i stood on the sidewalk, watching (women can get away with this much more then men can– andy, 6 ft tall, and rather hefty, stayed in the car!)

when the officer came over to me and told me the street was clear, andy drove the car home, and i walked past the gathering of officers and neighbor, asked him if he needed anything, and stood at my gate. one of the officers suggested i move on. “i’m just hanging out in front of my home on a pleasant evening” i told him. i waited until my neighbor was released, i signaled to him and he followed me into our home until the danger was gone. we made sure he got to his home safely.

our security cameras of course, caught the whole thing!!!! (we installed them because of the political stalking we’ve experienced. it had never occurred to me that the cameras would also provide for the safety of the rest of the community under police siege.)

eight cops, 5 cars, and according to my neighbor, they told him they were introducing him to the new cops on the beat, and felt they needed to hand cuff him for their safety.

los angeles is struggling with a terrible financial crisis. is this an appropriate use of city funds? do the math. eight cops, at least a half hour of man hours each, to provide for a most unnecessary introduction, to create a most outrageous provocation, and establish a police presence on a street with almost no crime.

like most days, today, the helicopters continued over head regularly, including two military helicopters. often these ghetto birds pass so low, they shake the buildings. another neighbor says his daughters cry at night because the noise scares them.

rampart division of the lapd is one of the most brutal divisions of one of the most brutal police departments. most of the men in my neighborhood have been criminalized, either by discriminatory immigration laws or by a system that is unforgiving of the excesses of youth. these young men don’t have the lawyers or the connections of their counterparts in angelino heights, west l.a., brentwood. pulled over for walking down the street, frisked regularly as children, from the time their bodies took on a manly form, ticketed, taken in, penalized for the smallest infraction and set in the system for life.

i know these men. they are my neighbors. some have helped with the urban farm, others are construction workers who worked with me, transforming this old, neglected slum of a duplex into two beautiful homes. they watch over this street– a strangely peaceful place in a brutal large amerikan city. they aren’t who the police say they are. they aren’t the accumulation of whatever youthful transgressions they may have committed. they aren’t the sum of the limitations of options for city youth.

there was no cause for this show of force. there was no need even for the introduction. there was no legitimate reason to utilize so much of a failing city’s resources. there certainly was no explanation (beyond the daily harassment and the establishment of police presence) for shining the light into our eyes or closing off the street!!!!

on this street we look after each other. it isn’t safe to call the cops.

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