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Lessons from the front lines of anti-colonial pipeline resistance

Waging Nonviolence -

by James Rowe and Mike Simpson

A bridge leads to the entrance of the Unist’ot’en territory in British Columbia, Canada. (WNV/Jeff Nicholls)

The Standing Rock standoff over the Dakota Access Pipeline was a reminder that colonization, and resistance to it, both exist in the present tense. Fossil fuel pipelines that despoil indigenous lands and waters have become key flashpoints in long-standing anti-colonial resistance.

An important precursor and inspiration for the Standing Rock camp is an indigenous occupation in northern British Columbia, Canada. For the past eight years, the Unist’ot’en clan have reoccupied their traditional territory. When the camp began in 2009, seven pipelines had been proposed to cross their territory, as well as their water source, the salmon-bearing Morice River. But thanks to Unist’ot’en resistance, oil and gas companies have been blocked from building new fossil fuel infrastructure. The lesser known but wildly successful Unist’ot’en encampment holds crucial lessons for anti-pipeline and anti-colonial organizers across North America, or Turtle Island, as many indigenous nations call it.

We visited the occupation this summer. Upon arriving, visitors must undergo a border-crossing protocol. There is only one way in and out of Unist’ot’en territory – a bridge that crosses the Morice River. Before being allowed to cross, we were asked where we came from, whether we worked for the government or the fossil fuel industry, and how our visit could benefit the Unist’ot’en.

We explained that we are both settlers, people living on and benefiting from indigenous lands. We also expressed our willingness to help in whatever ways were needed during our stay, such as kitchen duty, gardening and construction. Finally, we shared our commitment to decolonization and climate justice, and our appreciation for how Unist’ot’en land defense accomplishes both; it returns indigenous lands to indigenous peoples while blocking fossil fuel infrastructure that threatens the entire human estate. After a short consultation, clan members welcomed us to leave Canada and cross into Unist’ot’en territory.

Five pipelines already defeated

The Unist’ot’en occupation has already contributed to the cancellation of five pipelines, including Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project – a multibillion-dollar development that would have pumped bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands to Canada’s Pacific coast. The two proposed incursions onto Unist’ot’en territory that remain are both fracked gas pipelines: Chevron’s Pacific Trails and TransCanada’s Coast Gaslink.

Unist’ot’en spokesperson Freda Huson explained to us that the tireless work of supporters, including indigenous people from other nations along with settler allies, is a central reason why the camp has endured and grown, knocking pipeline proposals over one by one.

Despite these successes, Huson has been struck by the exhaustion of frontline occupiers — not just on the Unist’ot’en front line, but elsewhere, including Standing Rock. Since starting their occupation, the Unist’ot’en have hosted an annual action camp for supporters wanting to learn about the struggle. Huson dedicated this year’s action camp to the theme of healing. As she explained to us, “the health of the people is vital to keep the resistance moving forward. We believe that if we heal the people they will be healthy to make decisions to heal the land.”

The action camp as a place of healing

This year’s action camp featured workshops on burnout, healing from trauma, indigenous approaches to conflict resolution, and, on the first day, an exercise in awareness.

This first activity was facilitated by Huson and her partner Smogelgem (a hereditary chief of the neighboring Likhts’amisyu Clan). During this exercise, we were blindfolded, spun around and then guided by a partner to a tree of their choosing. “Be with the tree, make a connection” were the simple instructions. After our partners returned us to our starting points, we removed our blindfolds and went searching for our newfound evergreen friend. Every single participant found their tree. Smogelgem then explained that the land is living and breathing. We are always in relationship to it, but our relations to the land can be intentionally deepened, so that we come to experience trees, water and animals as friends, even kin.

The pithouse on Unist’ot’en territory. (WNV/Jeff Nicholls)

After completing the workshop, we walked to a traditional pithouse that was recently built on the precise GPS coordinates of Chevron’s proposed pipeline. Huson and Smogelgem plan to live in the pithouse once it is complete (and outfitted with comfortable furnishings and energy-efficient lighting and appliances). Their vision is for more Wet’suwet’en people to join them back on the land, living and renewing their culture. The Wet’suwet’en Nation is comprised of five clans, including the Unist’ot’en people.

Once the two remaining pipeline threats are defeated, Huson and Smogelgem will transition the camp into a full-time healing and cultural center for indigenous people recovering from the ongoing trauma of colonization. Indeed, the largest structure at the camp, a three-story building that includes a dining hall, industrial kitchen, and counseling spaces, is called “The Healing Centre.”

The Unist’ot’en Camp has always had a dual purpose: resisting pipelines while nurturing Wet’suwet’en culture. Like the water protectors at Standing Rock, the Unist’ot’en Clan has been careful to clarify that their settlement is not a protest. Rather, it is an occupation and assertion of their traditional territory — a site from which to resist further colonial extraction, while also practicing a culture and economy that is inseparable from the land.

According to Huson, “our people’s belief is that we are part of the land. The land is not separate from us. The land sustains us. And if we don’t take care of her, she won’t be able to sustain us.”

Huson explained to us that she lived away from her people’s territory for 20 years due to colonization. “I lived on reservation, got educated and worked as an economic development officer for 14 years,” she said. “Once I decolonized and reconnected to my territory, I felt my spirit come alive. When family visit, they don’t want to leave.” She wants to share with others the healing that she has experienced by being back out on her people’s land.

Indigenous resurgence and embodied social change

The Unist’ot’en Camp is exemplary of what indigenous scholars such as Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Jeff Corntassel (Nishnaabeg and Cherokee ancestry, respectively) call “indigenous resurgence.” According to Corntassel: “Being indigenous today means struggling to reclaim and regenerate one’s relational place-based existence by challenging the ongoing destructive forces of colonization.” He notes that ceremony is a key way to “reconnect to the natural world.”

There are deep resonances between indigenous resurgence and the focus on ceremony, mindfulness and healing practices that are emerging in radical social movements across Turtle Island. Settler activists are finding that different healing practices, such as meditation and yoga, can help reduce burnout, heal the traumas caused by oppression and increase organizational effectiveness. Daily meditations, for example, played an important role at Occupy Wall Street. These resonances between indigenous resurgence and the growing social movement interest in non-Western healing practices have the potential to facilitate new solidarities between indigenous activists and settler allies.

For example, Hajime Harold is a teacher, activist and longtime supporter of Unist’ot’en land defense. During this year’s action camp, he led daily exercises in qigong, a traditional Chinese healing system that integrates breathing, meditation and physical postures. As a Japanese Canadian, Harold experienced racism growing up in Kelowna, British Columbia. These painful experiences sensitized him to injustices, including those related to colonialism. His heart has been opened, too, he said, by learning qigong, which has increased his capacity to act in solidarity with those whose challenges are different from his. For Harold, qigong helps practitioners better connect with themselves, other people and the earth. He experiences qigong as resonant with the indigenous traditional teachings that he is familiar with.

Similarly, scholar Michael Yellow Bird (from the Sahnish and Hidatsa Nations) sees indigenous ceremonial practices as aligned with mindfulness meditation, and crucial to what he terms “neurodecolonization,” or transforming the embodied traumas that colonialism leaves in its wake.

Building settler solidarity on stolen native land

Despite the similarities between indigenous resurgence and mind-body practices of settler social movements, there is still a vital element of decolonization that is regularly missed by settler activists: land. To whom does the land rightfully belong? Who has decision-making power over it?

Over lunch at the Unist’ot’en Camp, indigenous scholar Edward Valandra (from the Oceti Sakowin Oyate) asked us a simple question: “What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed each morning?” We immediately thought of our various morning rituals (meditation, yoga, a cup of coffee). Valandra patiently watched as we pondered his question; then he leaned in. “I can tell you exactly what you do each morning. You step out of bed onto stolen native land.”

The regular failure of settler activists to grapple with the land question means that even radical social movements are constantly at risk of reinforcing colonial structures and social relations. Consider Occupy Wall Street. The different occupations that sprang up across the continent in 2011 to protest profound disparities in wealth rarely acknowledged that they were happening on already occupied land. Moreover, as scholars Eve Tuck (member of the Aleut indigenous community) and K. Wayne Yang have argued, “the ideal of ‘redistribution of wealth’ camouflages how much of that wealth is land, Native land.” Without a focus on the repatriation of land to indigenous peoples, a seemingly radical call for redistribution can quickly become a continuation of colonial dispossession.

Decolonization may feel unsettling to some, as it means the return of land and governing authority and the renunciation of settler privileges. Nevertheless, indigenous-led front lines from Standing Rock to Unist’ot’en are drawing a growing number of settlers who grieve colonial injustices, feel anxious about climate destabilization and crave a deeper connection to the land upon which they live.

Julia Michaelis is the camp’s chef. If food critics visited front lines, the kitchen at Unist’ot’en would be brimming with five-star reviews. Julia explained to us that she loved being at camp because every step she takes while there — from chopping onions to facilitating nonviolent direct action trainings — is in the service of decolonization. For settlers, relating to the magnitude of colonial injustice can be overwhelming. But at a front line like the Unist’ot’en camp, a simple chore like washing dishes is transformed into an everyday act of decolonization.

A bunkhouse at the Unist’ot’en camp. (WNV/Jeff Nicholls)

In a blog post about his experiences of healing at the camp, settler activist Will Falk recently reflected on how “every chore, every conversation, every action at the camp comes with a fullness of meaning I have never found anywhere else.” For Falk, this meaning is rooted in the traditional teachings that inform the camp.

According to Unist’ot’en Clan member Karla Tait, many supporters (both indigenous and settler) have “come out to Unist’ot’en land and found it to be a healing experience, to live on the land and have a connection with the natural world and our teachings.”

Supporters at the camp are making a connection with Unist’ot’en people, whose ancestors have been in deep relationship with the land since time immemorial. Being in good relations with people whose living traditions emerge from thousands of years of reciprocal relationship with the land allows for a depth of environmental connection, a groundedness on the Earth, that many supporters have never before experienced.

As environmental educators, we have learned a variety of contemplative exercises designed to deepen human connection to the land and facilitate a desire for stewardship. But we learned at the Unist’ot’en Camp that there is no substitute for the groundedness that comes from being in good relationship with the specific peoples upon whose lands you are living. Developing that relationship means fighting for the restitution of indigenous lands and authority.


The Unist’ot’en Camp offers a glimpse into what post-colonial relations between indigenous peoples and settlers could look like on Turtle Island. The land is Wet’suwet’en territory and governed by Wet’suwet’en law and systems of governance, but the camp welcomes visitors of all backgrounds who are keen to respect, abide by and learn from the laws of the land.

Members and supporters of the Unist’ot’en camp showing solidarity with Black Lives Matter. (Unist’ot’en Camp)

As stated on the Unist’ot’en website: “People of all races, religions, nationalities, classes, genders, orientations and gender identifications are welcome to support the grassroots Wet’suwet’en people in defending their land.” This connection across difference is practiced actively, a key part of the healing ethos of the camp. Indeed, one of our favorite activities at camp was “Femme Friday,” when everyone was encouraged to wear makeup and nail polish to make the environment more welcoming and celebratory for two-spirit people and genderqueer allies. Indigenous resurgence can look like a hereditary chief in red nail polish.

After eight years of anti-colonial resistance and the defeat of multiple pipeline projects, the Unist’ot’en Camp is still building momentum. Their winning formula is this: indigenous land governed by indigenous people, with consistent support from settler allies. This approach, deployed at Standing Rock and other indigenous-led front lines, is helping to ensure a livable future by stopping the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure, while also sowing seeds for a different world — one in which the deep wounds to land and people inflicted by colonialism can finally heal.

Manchester: Council gears up for eviction of the Addy

House Occupation News -

Andy Burnham’s Labour administration found itself in yet another mess over homelessness today as it made its first abortive attempt to scare a self-organised homeless group off an occupied site in Hulme — just days after pledging to “end homelessness” in Manchester.

The spectacle has been particularly humiliating for City bosses because the squatted empty property was once better known as North Hulme Adventure Playground — a community space which was shut down by council funding cuts cuts in 2014.

The council-owned land was occupied in August by around 40 people who had been evicted from Hotspur Press — itself an embarrassing episode for Mayor Burnham which prompted protests outside his office only weeks after his election on a ticket of helping rough sleepers.

Occupiers linked to Loose Space, who have nicknamed the spot the Addy, said in a statement today:

The county court bailiffs turned up to evict the residents, they spent over an hour watching and waiting, then called on Greater Manchester Police.

The number of people who came to support the attempt of eviction on the Addy meant that when they made contact this morning, with people up in the tree houses, the tunnels that were built and the solid line of Activists, the bailiffs were made to change their plans as they were facing resistance.

The group made it clear that they would not be moved today, and that we were prepared to go to high court to seek a further ruling. This was another victory against the council, their eviction policy and drive to gentrify Hulme. This would have not been made possible without the support from the Hulme community and the Manchester squat scene.

Thanks to Lousy Badger Media for being there to livestream, Manchester Activist Network for their solidarity and our Liverpudlian family.

Addy residents have spent the last two months at the site building small liveable spaces and planting seeds in an effort to make the space a community environment again, and have plans to transform the hitherto closed playground into a permaculture sanctuary. They’ve also stressed that they’re well provided to resist an eviction, but would welcome people coming down to support.

Freedom News

'Neo-Nazi cowards': white nationalists stage brief Charlottesville rally

The Guardian | Protest -

  • Richard Spencer leads ‘flash mob’ by covered statue of Robert E Lee
  • Mayor slams event in town where counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed

Marchers led by the white supremacist Richard Spencer staged a “flash mob” by torchlight on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a rally in August led to the death of Heather Heyer, a peaceful counter-protester who was run down by a car.

Related: 'A white girl had to die for people to pay attention': Heather Heyer's mother on hate in the US

Related: Charlottesville's white awakening: 'We were living in a bubble,' say residents

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Value your health: head for the inner city, and swerve the ‘burbs | Deborah Orr

The Guardian | Protest -

We love to walk, especially on demonstrations. All that protesting keeps us city dwellers fit and well when we venture out of our high-density housing

There’s something wonderful about research that puts a whoopee cushion on the seat of conventional wisdom. This week a study by the universities of Oxford and Hong Kong suggested that people in built-up urban areas are happier and healthier than people living the good life in the suburbs. Can this be true?

It seems absurd. Everyone knows, because we have been told so often that the inner cities teem with desperate, exhausted people who have nowhere else to go, surviving in crowds, stress, dirt and the endless, cacophonous demands of consumerism, eyes for ever downcast in fear that some witless bumpkin might misadvisedly hazard a breezy “good morning”.

We have been told so often that the inner cities teem with desperate, exhausted people

Are the woods dotted with reprobates because they’re empty? Or are they empty because they’re dotted with reprobates?

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As Germany and Spain prove, history – with all its wounds – is not over | Natalie Nougayrède

The Guardian | Protest -

In Catalonia and the former East Germany, the shadow of 20th-century traumas still falls on EU citizens, and blights the future of Europe

History is back in Europe. The Catalan referendum and the German election illustrate this spectacularly. The scale of the far-right vote in what was once East Germany and Catalonia’s apparent march towards independence may look like they happened on separate planets – to be sure, they are fuelled by different political beliefs – but they both have to do with pent-up frustrations. Citizens who feel that they have been insulted have gone to the ballot box, and in some cases taken to the streets, to protest. In both situations there is a vivid historical backdrop, with memories of Europe’s 20th-century nightmares playing an important role: in Catalonia, the fight against fascism and Franco; in the east of Germany, the experiences of Nazism and Soviet communism.

Related: The violent side of Spain has resurfaced. We Catalans must cut loose | Jordi Borrell Celades

Related: 'Revenge of the East'? How anger in the former GDR helped the AfD

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How the Vietnam War prepared Puerto Ricans to confront crisis

Waging Nonviolence -

by Michael Stewart Foley

Members of Movimiento Pro-Independencia de Puerto Rico picket the White House in March of 1965. (Claridad / Biblioteca Digital UPR Río Piedras)

This week, as Puerto Ricans feel once again like a White House afterthought, it is hard not to conclude that Puerto Rico matters to Washington only when mainland political and business leaders need to conscript the island itself for some larger financial or military purpose.

Consider the impact of Vietnam War policy on Puerto Rico. Thanks to a new Ken Burns documentary and Hurricane Maria, the headlines have us talking simultaneously about Vietnam and Puerto Rico for the first time in 50 years. Today, few Americans remember the impact of the Vietnam War on Puerto Rico. Yet the war struck the island with the force of a political hurricane, tearing at Puerto Rico’s social fabric, raising the same questions of colonialism that are again in the news in the wake of Maria, and fueling its independence movement.

Not unlike Puerto Rico’s recent fiscal crisis, the Vietnam War brought into sharp relief the island’s unequal status as a territory of the United States, particularly after President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war in 1965. Draft-age men in Puerto Rico were subject to the Selective Service Act and called for induction into the U.S. military — even though they had no representative in the Congress that passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and even though many did not speak English.

A political cartoon published by Claridad in August of 1968.

As a result, Puerto Rico’s independence movement quickly condemned the war and called for widespread draft resistance. In July 1965, Claridad, the newspaper of the Movimiento Pro-Independencia de Puerto Rico, or MPI, published its first antiwar and anti-draft column, stating: “Because Puerto Rico is an American colony, Puerto Ricans are obligated to serve in that country’s army, are used like cannon fodder in imperialist wars carried out against defenseless peoples, wars in which Puerto Rico has no interest.”

One week later the MPI called on Puerto Ricans to resist the draft and condemned American aggression in Vietnam as a guerra sucia — a “dirty war” — against “the heroic people of Vietnam.” In response, students for the first time protested outside the Selective Service’s offices in San Juan.

Soon, the MPI likened its own quest for independence with that of the United States’ enemy in Vietnam. As reported in Claridad, the MPI “expressed its full solidarity with the National Liberation Front in its just fight for independence from North American imperialist dominance” and called on the United States to honor the 1954 Geneva Accords, to withdraw from Vietnam, and “guarantee the independence and neutrality of all of Indochina.”

For the MPI, the draft represented a “blood tax,” a “taxation without representation” that Americans aware of their own revolutionary heritage should have understood. Independentistas pointed to the composition of local draft boards (which were called “juntas” in Spanish) as proof. According to Selective Service Director Lewis Hershey, draft boards were “little groups of neighbors,” best suited to look out for America’s sons. But the MPI complained that the local boards were made up of “members of the richest families, statehood proponents … members of the Lions Club, Rotary, Exchange, Citizens for State 51 and other fiends” who “funneled” the poor into the military. These draft board members were Puerto Rican mandarins, agents of the colonizers.

An image published in the Fall of 1970 by the U.S. Committee for Justice to Latin American Political Prisoners.

In 1965 and 1966, long before a coordinated draft resistance movement took shape stateside, 33 members of MPI and two others refused to be inducted. Prosecutors indicted them promptly. When they went to trial in federal court, the proceedings were conducted in English — which often meant that some of the best Puerto Rican lawyers were unavailable — and if one wanted to appeal a conviction, the appeal was heard 2,700 miles away, in Boston, also in English.

In August 1966, the first Puerto Rican draft resistance case, that of Sixto Alvelo Rodriguez, came to trial. Alvelo won support not only from the MPI — which enlisted the radical New York law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, and Standard for his defense — but also from mainstream supporters who formed Comite de Defense Sixto Alvelo. More than 200 students signed a statement in support of Alvelo, pledging that they, too, would refuse induction. In September, the court asked Alvelo’s draft board to re-induct him (it never did) and dismissed his case and all other MPI draft resistance cases.

The independence movement interpreted the court’s ruling as a major political victory. The MPI speculated that Alvelo’s case revealed “one of the most tyrannical manifestations of our colonial subjugation” and that Washington had backed down in the face of the threat of thousands of induction refusals in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans attending the Fifth Annual Youth Conference of the Pro Independence Movement in Santurce on January 21, 1967. (Claridad / El Mundo, Biblioteca Digital UPR Río Piedras)

At the same time, however, the Selective Service continued to call Puerto Rican men for induction, and support for the draft resistance movement continued to go mainstream. On Mother’s Day in 1967, Puerto Rican mothers organized a protest against the draft in San Juan. The Puerto Rican Bar Association passed a resolution in 1968 calling for the exemption of Puerto Ricans from compulsory U.S. military service, and one year later, the Puerto Rican Episcopal Church passed a resolution at its Diocesan Convention condemning both the war and the conscription of Puerto Ricans.

Federal prosecutors ultimately indicted more than 100 Puerto Rican men, most of whom were convicted. On the day that Edwin Feliciano Grafals — a 26-year-old MPI member who described himself as a “nonreligious conscientious objector” — became the first Puerto Rican draft resister convicted since World War II, students at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras burned down the campus ROTC building. Six weeks later, 10,000 Puerto Ricans marched through San Juan protesting against the draft. “This is the time to decide; you’re either a Yanqui or you’re a Puerto Rican,” MPI leader Juan Mari Bras told the crowd. “Not one more Puerto Rican should convert himself into a criminal by fighting against the Vietnamese people.”

In the end, Puerto Rico’s draft resistance did not end the Vietnam War nor did it win independence. But it did help to prevent further escalation of the war in 1968, and it brought many Puerto Ricans both to the antiwar movement and to the cause of independence. Moreover, draft resistance in Puerto Rico combined with draft resistance throughout the United States to compel the Nixon administration to introduce a draft lottery and, ultimately, end conscription altogether.

Protest against the draft in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States worked because it targeted an institution that few could defend as fair. Today, with the federal government seemingly unable to deliver post-hurricane relief to Puerto Rico in a manner equal to its assistance in Texas and Florida, we have yet one more example of discrimination against a people who right now need only compassion, sympathy and generous aid.

The devastation of Puerto Rico’s recent fiscal crisis (a crisis rooted in mainland lending policies) has now been compounded by natural disaster. It is in moments like these when, as during the Vietnam War, the second-class treatment of Puerto Rico by Washington is most obvious. The island itself has been treated as a conscript by successive U.S. governments for more than a century, for far too long.

The question is how islanders will respond to Washington this time. Will they protest? If so, what form will the protest take? Now may be a good time, in fact, for Puerto Ricans (and for the rest of us) to look to the island’s resistance to the Vietnam War as a model worth following. Fifty years later, it is worth remembering the place of Puerto Rican draft resisters in the American tradition of dissent. And it is worth remembering its place in a tradition of resistance to American colonialism. By escalating protest against the war and by risking their own freedom, Puerto Rican draft resisters kept alive the notion that resistance is a valid mode of citizenship.

Fay-de-Bretagne (France): L’Ancre Noire

House Occupation News -

L’Ancre Noire (the Black Anchor) is the new name of an old farm and reintegration center, CHRS Le Val – squated in the summer of 2016 halfway between the village of Fay-de-Bretagne and the ZAD of Notre-damme-des-Landes.
Here we live in a day-to-day struggle for the autonomy of the self against the institutional integration – either of our bodies, of our heads as for our common and living places.
We do not recognize any document legitimating – or not – someone of living where he is, neither in a logic of nationality, housing or any property or social organization form.
Here we take possession of our lives and capacities, in an urge for our individual and collective aspirations, taking for goal, our Joy – without papers, without property, without politic nor authority to divide us in this emancipatory quest.

We put forward the auto-organisation of our lives, the informality of our coexistence, responsibility, mutual aid, friendship and love relations. The consequence of those relations takes along a deep antagonism facing any mediation with those who have by objective ruling, controling, filing, enclosuring or expulsing us, and in the active search for the ways of anarchy.

« May the enormous social injustices give us the courage to fight the infamous actual organisation.
May the tears of the miserable encourage us on the struggle facing everything meaning opression and tyranny. »
Joaquin Miguel Artal

Castaways of the World, welcome on board, and good wind !

L’Ancre Noire
Lieu-dit la Noë
44130 Fay-de-Bretagne
fay [at] riseup [dot] net

'There are better things than turnips': Navalny plans Putin birthday protests

The Guardian | Protest -

Russian opposition leader urges supporters to demand Kremlin allow genuine political competition with protests in 80 cities on Saturday

The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is plotting to spoil Vladimir Putin’s 65th birthday celebrations with nationwide protest rallies on Saturday, including in the Russian president’s home town.

“Let Putin listen and go into deserved retirement,” Navalny said in an angry message dictated from prison in which he likened the president to a turnip. “He’s been in power for 18 years, which is long enough.”

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New Yorkers picket Trump Tower in support of Puerto Rico

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

Protesters chanted and played bomba drums outside of Trump Tower on Tuesday. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

A crowd of about a hundred protesters picketed outside of Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday in support of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, while also protesting colonialism and the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria. The protest occurred on the same day as President Trump’s first trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island two weeks ago.

“We’re here denouncing not only Trump’s visit to the island. We’re denouncing what’s going on right now and how politicians from both parties are using Puerto Rico as a ping pong ball. They are not helping my country,” said Norma Perez of Call to Action On Puerto Rico. “Also we want to denounce the payment of [Puerto Rico’s] debt. This is not the time to pay any debt. Just take the debt with you, allow us to be free, and we can move on and be an independent country without the colonialism, without everything they are imposing on us in Puerto Rico.”

The protesters, many of whom were Puerto Ricans from the island or the diaspora, demanded an end to the Jones Act, a law imposed by the United States in 1920 that only allows U.S. ships to deliver goods to the island. Protesters were also calling for an end to PROMESA, a 2016 U.S.-imposed law that put a 7-member fiscal control board (colloquially known as “la Junta”) in charge of resolving the island’s more than $70 billion government debt crisis. They started picketing at around 5 p.m. and — with the sound of bomba drums ringing in the New York air — chanted anti-fascist, anti-colonial and pro-Puerto Rican independence slogans.

“We need to denounce colonialism and the imperialism of the United States,” Perez said. “We have PROMESA. We have all this devastation from this huge hurricane. It’s been more than 100 years of being a colony of the United States, and they are not treating us as citizens. So it’s not only about Maria.”

A protester displays a sign depicting the economic exploitation of Puerto Rico. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

Since invading Puerto Rico in 1898, the U.S. government has facilitated the exploitation of the island for both its own interests and the interests of U.S. corporations, essentially pushing Puerto Rico into its current dire economic situation. Yet, U.S. politicians and businesses are blaming Puerto Rico for the crisis and have installed a colonial control board to oversee its finances.

President Trump’s comments and actions during his visit to the island on Tuesday only further illustrated this colonial relationship. With 95 percent of Puerto Rico lacking electricity and Oxfam harshly criticizing the administration’s response to the hurricane, Trump still managed to praise himself and blame Puerto Rico. “I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico [as the government did in response to Katrina], and it’s actually a much tougher situation,” he told reporters outside the White House before his trip. “But now the roads are clear, communications starting to come back.”

But even though the roads were clear, Trump claimed that Puerto Rico’s truck drivers were not doing their part. “We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks,” he told the New York Times. “On a local level, they have to give us more help.” He also contrasted Hurricane Maria’s devastation with “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” claiming that, because only 16 people had died, “everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.” These comments echoed Trump’s tweets on Sept. 30 claiming that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them” while federal workers were “now on Island doing a fantastic job.” In a series of tweets on Sept. 25, Trump also made sure to remind Puerto Rico of the “billions of dollars … owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

For the protesters outside Trump Tower on Tuesday, Trump’s comments continued a long tradition of colonizers disrespecting the colonized.

“What we did here today is send a very clear message to the Trump administration and to the politicians in New York City that the people in New York — who want to see an end to colonization and support independence — will not be disrespected and will not sit by while our people are being disrespected by this president,” said Frank Velgara of the Pro-Libertad Freedom Campaign. “His statements and his behavior are reminiscent, historically, of the prime ministers in India — when Britain colonized India — or the French in Algiers.”

A protester holds a sign in support of Puerto Rican independence. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

After speakers denounced both major political parties, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a well-known Puerto Rican Democrat, showed up at the protest but was not well received. Her support for the rezoning and gentrification of Spanish Harlem and the Bronx, as well as her support in 2015 for adding 1,297 new cops to the NYPD, made her persona non grata at the demo. At one point, protesters surrounded her chanting “No rezoning!” and “El Barrio no se vende!” Although protesters called for her to leave, she stayed at the protest with her bodyguard until it ended at around 8 p.m.

“I don’t know who advised her to come here because it’s not that kind of rally,” Velgara said. “But you see Melissa is used to coming to rallies of progressive groups and non-profits and the minute she shows up, she wants the mic. And we were not going to give her the mic. She played a key role in freeing [Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera] along with [Congressman Luis] Gutiérrez. That’s fine, but they’re kowtowing to Trump, and we can’t support that.”

Turkish court hands down 40 life sentences over plot to kill Erdoğan

The Guardian | Protest -

Turkish president fled scene minutes before soldiers in helicopters stormed resort hotel during failed coup attempt in July 2016

A Turkish court has handed down life sentences to dozens of people accused of attempting to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in one of the highest-profile trials dealing with last year’s attempted military coup.

Nearly 50 defendants stood trial in Muğla, near where soldiers in helicopters stormed a resort hotel where Erdoğan was on holiday in July 2016, just minutes after the Turkish leader had fled. The suspects, who were accused of orchestrating the ambush, include the president’s former military aide and other senior officers.

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HS2 protester spends night under digger in effort to stop demolition

The Guardian | Protest -

Occupation by Sarah Green, 62, later joined by other protesters, is intended to be part of rolling campaign along rail link’s route

A 62-year-old environmental protester has spent more than 20 hours underneath a large digger as part of a new campaign to block the construction of the controversial HS2 high speed rail link.

Sarah Green, a member of the Green party and a businesswoman in Hillingdon, started her protest under the digger, which is to be used for preparatory demolition work, in part of the Colne valley nature reserve at around lunchtime on Monday. Several other activists later joined her under the digger.

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Ljubljana: Call for October Revolution Festival in Autonomous Factory Rog

House Occupation News -

Dear dead revolutionaries,

the dream has shattered and we are still being frustrated by the currents of history.
It has been one hundred years since the scandalous revolutionary powers of the past rose against their feudal overlords, now known as the October revolution. Countries have been torn apart by war and the lords were struck with raw and violent critiques of the working people. Vengeance was sweet and yet perhaps impotent, the war was loss for all we know.

Our frustrations could be thought of as a deep need for reinterpretation, an indignation, a struggle for social justice, a thirst for change. But in the last hundred years all we had was change. Our cities and our bodies, our discourses and work processes went through innumerable changes both wonderful and terrible – most of them irreversible. Revolution has revealed itself to be an ambiguous and yet fascinating concept.

The time has come to light up the furnaces of Rog once again and to take a stand for and with our dead revolutionary companions in the old factory turned autonomous art and social activist squat. Rog’s vast size, history and the nature of its fight against the municipality make it the perfect ground for a minimundus where we can meet and debate the current questions of the street, by the street.

The self-organised festival will take place from 24.10. to 11.11.2017 with concerts, performances, assemblies, lectures, round tables, a kitchen, movement workshops, noise-box speaker corners, parties and anything else that might spring up during the process. The events will be weaved within an approximate historical net of happenings from 100 years ago (some of them 99) and help make the Autonomous Factory Rog a city node for reflections of the left and it’s history, questioning our birthplaces and our axioms.

All ideas taking the festival into further realms are very welcome – we would like to make the space of conversation as wide as possible. It is not only a celebration, but a well meant critique as well, a broadening of the left from identity constructing thought to processes that may encompass the whole of the political spectrum. Perhaps we can grow some real and subtle consequences.

You are welcome and invited to participate in opening and grinding through as many relevant questions about revolution(arie)s, their struggles, their legacies and the present. Contribute in any way you can think of, with your participation or organisational skills, so we can fill the place with political, theoretical, artistic and other content and help with the understanding of the current situation and how the past events have influenced it. There will be some sleeping and living spaces for visiting artists as well.

The money gathered through the festival will go for the judicial and organisational costs of the battle for the autonomy of Factory Rog. Entrances will be free, although donations are highly appreciated. It’s the only 100th anniversary of the October revolution we will ever have – the occasion deserves as much creative attention as anything else!

Send us your thoughts, a project or an idea for an exhibition, performance, lecture, screening, social experiments or questions for more info to: octoberrevolutionparty [at] gmail [dot] com

We are nothing, now let’s be all!

Rog factory is an industrial complex that was shut down in 1991. It laid abandoned, empty, and in deterioration for 15 years. In 2006 the area was occupied by engaged students, artists and activists as a critical response to the post-socialist transition process and erosion of public and social spaces. The occupation drew legitimacy from the need for places for non-formal artistic, cultural and political activity (autonomy, alternative culture, horizontal political organising).

Users secured and cleaned the spaces and established ateliers, workshops, galleries, a skate-park, a concert hall, recreational facilities and a social centre among others. Despite the municipal efforts to block or disable the grassroots activities, the users utilised their self-initiative, collaboration and resourcefulness and in 11 years created one of the main junctions of urban culture, critical thought and political activism on the level of the city, country and beyond.

Today, there are around 15 organized collectives and around 200 individuals active in the factory in 30 spaces that are relatively self-sufficient and autonomous. The community is bound together through the assembly of the users which is the main political body following the principle of direct democratic decision making and consulting.

Since last year Rog’s existence is being threatened with destruction (“renovation”) from the municipality and after its failed attempt to start the renovation processes on 6.6.2016, the users have barricaded themselves inside the courtyard, opening up again only after the court battles have begun.

Eight people are currently involved in the legal proceedings and the projected court expenses are in the tens of thousands of euros. The people who stood for Rog now need Rog to stand for them. The continuation of Rog’s autonomous activity is now ambiguous due to the financial pressures of the judicial battles.

We have also started a crowdfunding campaign:…/autonomous-factory-rog/

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny jailed for third time this year

The Guardian | Protest -

Court sentences Russian opposition leader to prison again – preventing him leading a rally on Putin’s birthday

A Russian court has sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to his third jail term this year, disrupting plans by the long-time Kremlin critic to campaign before Russia’s coming election.

Related: Alexei Navalny on Putin's Russia: 'All autocratic regimes come to an end'

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Opinion divided by the Catalan referendum | Letters

The Guardian | Protest -

Readers respond after Sunday’s referendum descended into violence

One cannot fail to have been moved by the scenes of violence in Catalonia, as Spanish forces attacked unarmed voters (Hundreds hurt as Catalonia poll descends into violence, 2 October). Whatever the view on Catalonia’s right to hold such a vote or not, the response by the Spanish national government was brutal and excessive. The sight of people being dragged from polling stations by baton-wielding police and disabled people being attacked in wheelchairs has no place in a modern western democracy.

What is deeply disappointing is the muted response from the international community, which – bar a few exceptions such as Angela Merkel, the Belgian prime minister Charles Michel and Nicola Sturgeon – has been largely silent. While the EU may argue that this is an internal situation, in the past it has been willing to act in such matters. In 2000, for example, it imposed diplomatic sanctions on Austria when Jörg Haider’s extreme rightwing Austrian Freedom Party entered the government.

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Combating online abuse with the principles of nonviolent resistance

Waging Nonviolence -

by Brian Martin

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Online harassment is on the rise, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. While that may not seem surprising — since even the president of the United States regularly engages in it — researchers are, nevertheless, perplexed, given the many widespread efforts to combat the phenomenon.

An examination of these efforts, which have been the subject of several books in recent years, may yield a better understanding of not only what’s working and not working, but also what’s missing — namely an approach that relies more on individual and collective empowerment, as opposed to legal and police action.

Online harassment as a crime

Danielle Keats Citron’s 2014 book “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” is a comprehensive account of online harassment directed at women. Citron uses three case studies to illustrate the seriousness and seeming intractability of the problem. In one case, a woman was targeted by various anonymous individuals, perhaps including her university classmates, who spread horrendous lies about her, sending them to family, friends, her teachers and later her employers. The harassment continued for years.

A key theme in “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” involves comparisons with sexual harassment and domestic violence. Decades ago, these were not seen as issues of importance. Sexual harassment was seen as something women at work just had to accept, and likewise domestic violence was invisible as a social issue. Then along came the feminist movement. Sexual harassment and domestic violence were given names, stigmatized as wrong and even contemptible, and criminalized by the passing of laws.

Citron says cyber harassment should be treated the same way. In all three forms of abuse, women and men can be victims, but women are much more likely to be targeted.

Citron is a lawyer with extensive experience with abuse online. She devotes considerable attention to legal remedies, but the overall message is that they are inadequate even when they can be brought to bear. Another avenue for redress is via complaint mechanisms provided by service providers. However, in many cases, harassers are anonymous and change their online identities. For example, on Twitter it’s possible to set up a new account within minutes, so shutting down the account of an abuser may provide only temporary relief.

Some targets of abuse go to the police, but this is usually disappointing, as many police do not understand the online world. For example, they fail to appreciate the importance of Twitter for some women’s work and how harassers can abuse the service. Police may suggest going offline to avoid the abuse, but this is unrealistic in an online world. It is like suggesting never going outside because of the risk of assault.

The misogyny of online abuse

Emma Jane is an academic at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, where she researches online harassment of women. Before this, for two decades she was a well-known media commentator under the name Emma Tom. Before the internet, she and other female figures in the media were used to receiving hostile written letters. But something changed in the 1990s after she started adding her email address at the bottom of her newspaper columns. The abuse she received in response to her columns became more insistent, graphic and voluminous. She started saving all this abuse, not knowing what to make of it.

In her research, inspired by her own experience and based on interviews and other evidence, she is quite clear that online harassment targeted at women is intended to tear them down and drive them off the internet. She has written several academic articles about the phenomenon and a 2017 book titled “Misogyny Online: A Short (and Brutish) History.”

Jane addresses the frequency of online abuse, its gendered features, the weakness of the rationales for doing it, the terrible consequences for targets and the failure of institutional channels to address it. She terms the inadequacy of police and service providers to address abuse as an “epic fail” — Jane has a delightful turn of phrase and manner of plain-speaking.

Unlike most other commentators, Jane gives many examples of some of the worst abuse received by women. That is why the subtitle of her book refers to a “brutish” history: to read examples of abuse can be disturbing even when you are not the target. By presenting graphic examples, Jane challenges the usual dismissals of this form of harassment as just a normal part of the internet. To get a feeling for the sort of abusive messages women receive, visit Random Rape Threat Generator (note: this is explicit and confronting).

Jane also gives special attention to academic work in the area, castigating scholars for not addressing an important topic or, when they do, not taking the abuse seriously. For example, incorporating rape and death threats in the category of “trolling” reduces their seriousness.

The problem with rationalizing abuse

Bailey Poland is a writer and editor who became interested in cybersexism and wrote the book “Haters: Harassment, Abuse and Violence Online” published in 2016. It is a comprehensive, scholarly treatment. Poland learned about the problem in part through her own experiences of coming under attack. She recounts the stories of many other women harassed online.

Some cases have become notorious, most prominently what is known as Gamergate. Zoe Quinn, a game developer, was abused online and openly complained about it. This led to a huge increase in abuse and threats, in turn triggering a countermovement. Gaming is highly male dominated, and women working in the field are regular targets.

Poland takes aim at the many justifications for cyber harassment and at the advice regularly given to women. One often-repeated mantra is “Don’t feed the trolls.” This assumes that trolling is the problem, but trolling is not an accurate description of rape and death threats. Not feeding the trolls means not replying to abusers, on the assumption that they get their kicks by seeing their target squirm: without replies, they should tire of the game and give up. The problem with this advice is that it doesn’t work. The attackers continue as long as their target is online, and may escalate by sending abuse, threats, and derogatory comments to family members and employers.

(For insights about trolling, see Whitney Phillips’ book “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” Phillips argues that trolling can’t be addressed on its own because it draws its energy from damaging behaviors in mainstream culture.)

One of the rationalizations for abuse is that “everyone gets harassed.” In other words, women shouldn’t complain because men are harassed too and, anyway, it’s just part of the way the internet works. Poland reports on studies showing that although many people are harassed, women are harassed far more, and furthermore much of the abuse aimed at them is specifically about gender.

Another regular piece of advice is to block the harassers. This is all very well, but is not protection from the harmful effects of abuse. When damaging claims are posted online, they can hinder a woman’s job prospects, because employers often do a Google search on the names of prospective employees. Blocking harassers also takes time; some of them create several new identities every day.

Harassers cloak their actions in the righteous mantle of free speech. In their eyes, it seems, sending unsolicited derogatory comments is an exercise of free speech, and to protest against such messages is an intolerable restraint. Setting aside the fact that rape and death threats are not legally protected speech, one of the consequences of online abuse is the silencing of targets. Indeed, silencing women seems to be the purpose of much of the abuse. This is a serious restraint on their own free speech. If the goal is a public forum where people can express their views, then moderation and respect for others are crucial.

To get a handle on how to respond to cyber harassment, Poland turns to a perspective developed by feminists in the early days of the internet, called cyber feminism. Some women use privacy settings for protection. Groups of women have set up closed online networks for sharing information, including about harassers. A few, for example Lindsay Bottos, use art to challenge online harassment.

But the burden of responding to online abuse should not rest only on women. Poland cites work by Leigh Alexander on what men can do. The first step is to not engage in cyber harassment themselves. Men can also provide one-on-one support for targeted women, focusing on a woman’s work (not just the harassment) and intervening online to draw attention away from the target.

Poland usefully refers to the activism of several U.S. groups, including Working to Halt Online Abuse, End to Cyber Bullying, Crash Override Network and HeartMob.

The psychology of abusers

Citron, Jane and Poland cite studies about typical perpetrators, but it seems to me that more could be done to understand what drives them. It is not sufficient to look at the effects of their harassment (namely, women driven off online spaces) and assume that is why perpetrators do it. Roy Baumeister, in his book “Evil: Understanding Human Violence and Cruelty,” looked at what is known about the psychology of Nazi camp guards, serial killers, and other perpetrators and concluded that usually they feel justified in their actions, feel they are the real victims, and do not think the consequences of their actions are very significant. If the same analysis applied to perpetrators of online harassment, it implies they do not think sending rape and death threats to women is a big deal and that their targets deserve what they get. This is not far from the usual rationales provided.

But why are women targets? One explanation is based on the psychological process of projection, in which a person unconsciously rejects a part of their self or behavior and attributes it to others. For example, a man might reject his own attraction to other men, fearing it, project it on to gay men and sometimes attack them.

All people have, as part of their personalities, both masculine and feminine aspects. Some men may not want to recognize their feminine side. Instead, they project it onto others, onto women, naturally enough, and then try to destroy it. In this picture, powerful and prominent women would be the most likely targets. This perspective seems compatible with a perpetrator pattern called DARVO — deny, attack, reverse victim and offender — in which perpetrators deny their own abuse, blame it on the target and say, when they are criticized, that they are actually the ones being abused.

The point of gaining a deeper understanding of the psychology of abusers is to come up with more effective responses.

Insights from nonviolent action

In acting against online abuse, what can be learned from the theory and practice of nonviolent action? This is not straightforward, because nonviolent action most commonly involves collective action in public spaces against identifiable opponents. Cyberabuse typically targets individuals, often in private spaces, and many attackers are anonymous. Nevertheless, several of the key features of effective nonviolent action — non-standard, limited harm, participation, voluntary participation, fairness, prefiguration and skillful use — are relevant to countering cyberharassment.

The most commonly recommended response to online abuse is to report it to authorities, something each of the three authors find is usually unhelpful. A nonviolence-inspired response needs to be something else, something non-standard.

In effective nonviolent action, actionists try to limit the harm to their opponent. In cyberspace, this means not using abuse to counter abuse. It seems that few targets do this anyway. When they do, it is often counterproductive, as would be expected from nonviolence theory.

In nonviolent action, a high level of participation greatly increases effectiveness. Methods such as strikes, boycotts and rallies enable many people to participate regardless of age, sex and ability. In the online environment, the implication is to choose methods of resistance that enable greater participation. A first step is for targeted women (and men) to join together with allies to formulate a collective response. This might be making supportive comments, challenging ISPs that allow abuse and developing campaigns that allow safe participation.

One of the benefits of greater participation in nonviolent action, especially when people with varied backgrounds and experiences are involved, is more ideas about responding and more innovation in techniques. This suggests that campaigners against online misogyny should attempt to involve diverse sectors of the population, for example men as well as women, old and young, different social classes, social media newbies, as well as digital natives, and people from different cultural backgrounds. Especially important is building support among people who would not normally be interested in the social media platforms where abuse often occurs.

Taking the issue to broader sectors of the population has the prospect of getting to friends (online and off), neighbors, parents and children of abusers. This is the same broadening of concern that has been effective in stigmatizing sexual harassment offline.

Another important facet of effective nonviolent action is skillful use of methods. Responding to abusers needs to be done well, based on assessments of the psychology of the attacker, audiences, the likelihood of others joining in the abuse or opposing it and other factors. Developing skills requires guidance and practice. The implication is that targets of abuse need to reach out to others, gain support and, in particular, get help in improving responses. By improving skills in judging the motivations, intent, and psychological weaknesses of harassers, targets should be better able to judge whether to make a polite response, to not respond, to ask for personal assistance or to seek help in mounting a campaign. Similarly, skills can make a big difference when making a response to abusers, finding supporters and campaigning.

All too often, targets feel isolated and humiliated and attempt to deal with the situation on their own. Reaching out to others, and others being willing and able to help, are crucial for mobilizing support and for making better choices and responses.

The implications of ideas from nonviolent action for challenging online abuse seem, at one level, all too obvious: Get more people involved, including from different backgrounds; learn and practice skills; and work cooperatively to develop responses and campaigns. Yet, at another level, these implications are not obvious at all, given the continual attention to addressing the problem through laws and actions by police, ISPs and other officials. Rather than looking for authorities to provide protection, it may be more effective to aim at individual and collective empowerment.

Softer: Jenny Holzer review – Blenheim Palace becomes a house of LED horrors

The Guardian | Protest -

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
The testimonies of soldiers writhe through LEDs looped around heroic Churchill statues and censored military documents collide with aristocratic portraits as the American artist captures the brutality of war

General John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, first Prince of Mindelheim, first Count of Nellenburg, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, has become a monster. Tentacles sprout around his stone bust in the library of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Along these sturdy metal arcs illuminated electronic text slides by at speed, the recent testimonies of UK war veterans. “And there was an Afghan twat … I had all my Afghans with me … What are you embarrassing me for?”

As night draws in, the marble features of the statesman – who distinguished himself at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, and for whom this grandest of country piles was then built – pulse a gaudy fuchsia, making the curls of his copious wig seem to pulse. The effect is both weird and ghastly, a sort of trippy disco terror.

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Utrecht: Watertower squatted to protest squatban, later evicted

House Occupation News -

Yesterday (October 1) a water tower in Utrecht (in the Netherlands) was squatted to mark seven years since the criminalisation of squatting. The long empty building (which was already squatted in the past) is a perfect example of the necessity to occupy empty buildings. A big banner was put on the building saying ‘Fuck the squatban.’ Unfortunately the state responded with overwhelming force and evicted the building the same day. According to reports, seven people were arrested, six squatters and one person outside for “insulting the police”. Solidarity with the arrestees!

Here follows a (quickly translated) statement from the squatters:

Today it is exactly 7 years since the squatban was introduced. The watertower on the Amsterdamsestraatweg in Utrecht (approximately 20 years empty) was occupied to highlight the mismanagement of housing, emptiness and squatting.

The ‘Squatting and Emptiness Act’ (wet Kraken en Leegstand) has been exposed on many juridical fronts and is no longer useful. Further, the legitimacy of squatting has only grown. Stupidly long waiting lists for social housing, degradation of affordable housing and speculation are just some of the reasons why.

The squatted watertower is part of the Amsterdamsestraatweg redevelopment plans and until now has not been given a new function. Twenty years in oblivion, but today it has been put back into use. Squatters and their sympathisers have clearly identified the need for squatting with this action.

As long as emptiness and housing need exist at the same time, there will always be a legitimate reason for us to squat.

Fuck the squatban.

Squatting continues! (Kraken gaat door)
EN source / NL source

By bowing to the braying internet mob, the Guggenheim forgot its purpose | Rupert Myers

The Guardian | Protest -

The New York museum should be standing up for boldness and artistic expression, not withdrawing artworks at the first sign of online hysteria

Perhaps it is because we are so comfortable in the west, so blase about the culture we live in and intellectually fattened by the freedoms that we enjoy, that so many of us have just stopped thinking clearly. Why would New York’s Guggenheim Museum collapse under the pressure of a few animal rights protesters this week? Half a million petitioners whinging on the flimsiest of grounds forced the removal of three pieces of art featuring animals, because apparently the people tasked with managing the great legacy of Solomon Guggenheim, of running the “temple of spirit” conceived as a vital beacon of enlightenment culture, have forgotten the very purpose of art.

Related: Guggenheim Museum pulls three artworks featuring animals after threats of violence

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