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McDonald's workers to go on strike in Britain for first time

The Guardian | Protest -

Staff in Cambridge and Crayford branches to protest over low wages and zero-hours contracts in action backed by Corbyn

McDonald’s faces its first strike since it opened in the UK in 1974, as well as protests by unions and the public at several restaurants over pay and working conditions.

About 40 staff will go on strike on Monday at two restaurants in Cambridge and Crayford, south-east London, after a ballot in favour of industrial action amid concerns over low wages and the use of zero-hours contracts.

Related: Poverty, illness, homelessness – no wonder McDonald’s UK workers are going on strike | Aditya Chakrabortty

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What good are elections in East Africa?

Waging Nonviolence -

by Phil Wilmot

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Kenyans concerned with social and political issues in their country gather in circles in public parks, standing in whatever space they can find, under the banner of Bunge la Mwananchi, or the People’s Parliament. Their evening public meetings open up dialogue and organizing opportunities as part of the group’s bottom-up structure for collaborative governance and cooperation.

Usually the police don’t disturb them. In the lead up to the August 8 presidential elections, however, the security apparatus cracked down on public debates and discussions, arresting a number of participants.

Raids on formal civil society organizations focusing on human rights and good governance themes continued even after the elections. Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent president, continues to harm any institutions critical of his brutality and fraudulent hold on power.

Forming in 1991, as global neoliberalism accelerated, the unemployed and underemployed allied themselves with other marginalized Kenyans to resist the privatization schemes of then-dictator Daniel arap Moi. They founded Bunge la Mwananchi, or BLM. Their movement grew through public education sessions and debates, where they discussed African liberation movements and the various social and political ills that they had been successful in confronting.

“BLM provides people with a platform to meet and discuss issues of governance, human rights and social justice,” Olal said. “We provide the space for activism for all Kenyans.”

At these meetings, the movement would utilize public parks. According to Gacheke Gachihi, a BLM coordinator, “The debates and lectures in the park were conducted on two benches that were facing each other, under the shade of a tree, giving it an organic feel.” Elders from the Mau Mau resistance to British colonial rule would also attend to enrich the dialogue.

The late Wangui Mbatia Nyauma, one of the founding members of Bunge la Mwananchi, addresses a meeting. (Twitter/@Bulamwa)

A number of allied movements were strengthened by this popular education approach, and they began using a variety of tactics, such as occupations and marches, to prevent land grabs, secure the release of political prisoners, and make other advances against the Moi dictatorship, which was eventually pushed out of power in 2002.

In the years between then and now, however, neoliberalism — protected by the iron fist of the state — has again taken root. With the friendship of Barack Obama and other Western and Eastern powers, the global north has sent a message to Kenyatta’s government that human rights abuses can continue as long as the commercial environment is favorable for investment. This political back-scratching allowed Kenyatta, with brutality, to steal last month’s presidential election.

Kenyans are nonetheless speaking out against Kenyatta’s bloody coup, which was annulled by Kenya’s Supreme Court on Sept. 1.

The predictability of elections

Kenya was not the only East African country to suffer a stolen election last month. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame reinstated himself just four days before Kenyatta’s own self-appointment.

Electoral processes across the region have become predictable. Those clinging to the thread of hope between themselves and permanent cynicism queue at the polls. The votes are “tallied” independently of any actual ballot count. Opposition parties and international vote monitors condemn irregularities and the violence meted out by an incumbent. The judiciary is bribed and intimidated, backing down from any fight, while foreign governments refuse to leverage any influence they have.

The international media is unfortunately no more an ally to East African movements like BLM. Their chief aim was to dig for stories of “post-election violence,” painting a bloody picture of Africa and entrenching the belief that no democratic structures exist. BLM and similar activist groups were conveniently omitted from the global narrative despite their fierce determination in resisting Kenyatta’s coup.

Even in the quintessential democracies of the world, we are witnessing a rise in distrust toward voting as a means of substantial change. Countries founded centuries ago on core democratic ideals are faltering.

How can we then expect young countries — founded in disregard of their indigenous governance systems a mere half century ago — to adequately replicate expensive foreign systems that are broken by design? Somehow we expect them to produce results that benefit the majority of their populations.

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The brand of democracy that characterizes East Africa is not working. In the August 4 election, Kagame, Rwanda’s de facto leader since the genocide of 1994, claimed to have won nearly 99 percent of the vote. Those who refused to vote for him routinely face harsh consequences: prison, exile or worse. Journalists who live to tell about it are blacklisted by the state.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s incumbent, claimed a more modest figure of 54 percent of the August 8 vote, but his tactics have been comparably draconian, with dozens of opposition supporters killed since election day as state security continues targeting dissidents.

“Nearly 50 Luo Kenyans have been shot for demonstrating against the election results,” said Wilfred Olal, who coordinates a campaign against extrajudicial killings by police. “The government has also threatened to shut down two human rights organizations.”

Given the wasted money and dashed hopes of these performance elections, there’s an argument that it might be better for these leaders to simply declare themselves dictator for life. This would offer a lighter financial burden for their taxpayers. Dictators refrain from doing this, however, because their regimes are economically padded by the more democratic societies in the global north who prefer to see at least the instruments of democracy — however dysfunctional they may be — before offering financial aid.

Insufficient alternatives

East Africans also find little hope in their opposition figures due to their similarities to the incumbent or the extremely squelched political space in their countries.

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For example, Rwandese opposition candidate Frank Habineza’s Democratic Green Party made six unsuccessful attempts to register and run against Kagame. Habineza’s running mate in the 2010 election campaign was found beheaded. It appears that no candidate can stand against Kagame without a rising death toll.

Other East African opposition figures are simply cut from the same cloth as their opponents. Kizza Besigye fought alongside Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in the National Resistance Army before Museveni took power. The two would later have a falling out. Besigye has stood against Museveni for four consecutive elections, without ever using any particularly creative or powerful strategy to ensure his vote is protected through popular struggle.

Raila Odinga, a three-time candidate for Kenya’s presidency, was born in 1945. Although he might be a prefered candidate for freedom-loving Kenyans, he is substantially older than Kenyatta and has not put forth a new vision for Kenyan politics that holds enough power to challenge Kenyatta, even if he can win an actual majority of votes.

“The cycle is the same here: old versus old,” Olal said. “Politics have been made very expensive by corrupt old politicians who lock out the youth.”

The point is that partisan politics no longer holds water, if it ever did in East Africa. Transformation of the political system can only come by means of a popular struggle, which must be undertaken by young people living on the African continent — a continent that looks far different than it did when those now in power were young.

Infiltrate the system with unlikely politicians

While members of the old guard who have defected to opposition parties challenge their fellow elders in the political arena, some new players are stepping onto the field. Their election is beside the point, however, as they are using the platform to rally their constituents to employ peaceful resistance for their own liberation.

Consider Robert Kyagulanyi, known by his artist name Bobi Wine, the “Ghetto President.” Born in the slums of Kampala, Kyagulanyi has spent nearly his entire musical career advocating for change in Uganda. While most artists with his level of popularity sell themselves as mouthpieces for the ruling party, he has stood firmly behind his lyrics, criticizing those who prolong their stays in power.

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In April, Kyagulanyi announced his intentions to run for a parliamentary seat as an independent. With ease, he defeated candidates from the ruling party and the leading opposition party, despite police interference during election day. Since his appointment, he has mobilized great crowds, even in more rural towns, advocating for peaceful resistance against the Museveni regime.

Few artists or activists pursue formal politics, but often those who do utilize the space for purposes of mobilization. Their point is often not to say that they will faithfully and humbly represent their constituents, but that their constituents are capable of representing themselves by building collective power.

Popular struggle without a charismatic leader

A new type of politician is not enough. After generations of living under dictatorships, patriarchy and gerontocracy, a culture of “let the big man handle it” has become deeply rooted.

This is why a change in president is also insufficient. Assuming Kyagulanyi ousts Museveni in the years to come, other social factors might still dictate a reliance on leaders, on the people at the top. No one person can solve the problems facing any nation.

Nor is mere activation of the masses sufficient. There is a drastic difference between joining Kyagulanyi’s passing caravan and forming grassroots structures that offer longer-term platforms to resist oppression and build up alternatives. Charisma will get people to the streets today but will not usually offer strong possibilities for power tomorrow.

Democracy is best practiced in conflict. The following of leaders — as most ruling party and opposition politicians in East Africa would prefer it — cultivates something entirely contrary to real democracy. It fosters a system and political culture that is highly patriarchal and hierarchical.

East Africa’s youth must decide whether they want to organize collective resistance or be co-opted by their elders. Now that some of the groundwork of a movement infrastructure is in place, young people sick and tired of the options they have been handed are better equipped than before to rise up.

Pussy Riot's Mariya Alyokhina: 'Politics is not something that exists in one or another White House. It is our lives'

The Guardian | Protest -

In 2012 the Russian activist and artist was jailed for two years and sent to a penal colony. But it hasn’t put her off campaigning, she says – for a better Russia, and for better conditions throughout the world

After ordering her fourth cappuccino in 40 minutes, Mariya Alyokhina feels she owes an explanation.

“I have a limit. No more than eight cappuccinos a day,” says the rights activist and member of balaclava-wearing protest group Pussy Riot. “I used to drink more.”

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Step aside, Antifa. You undermine the Trump resistance | Julian Brave NoiseCat

The Guardian | Protest -

In their flirtation with political violence, the Antifa ends up hurting the progressive groups they stand with and claim to protect

Berkeley, California, has long prided itself on being the most left-leaning city in the United States. Unmoored from the hierarchies and traditions of other parts of the country, the city stands strong on the left-most edge of progressive politics.

Back in the 1960s, it was a place where Black Panthers hawked Mao’s Little Red Book to students in the Free Speech Movement. It’s sometimes jokingly referred to as the “People’s Republic of Berkeley” – by residents, not Bill O’Reilly. In the 2016 Democratic primary, the city pulled hard for Bernie Sanders.

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Mass civil disobedience campaign obstructs one of Europe’s largest polluters

Waging Nonviolence -

by Sarah Freeman-Woolpert

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Red and yellow circus tents rose over the Rhineland farmland of western Germany last weekend, as over 6,000 climate justice activists converged for a series of action days to protest coal mining in the region. This included a mass civil disobedience campaign called Ende Gelände (or Here and No Further), in which 3,000 participants illegally obstructed the coal mining infrastructure on Friday and Saturday.

Carrying bags of straw to protect against police batons, and accompanied by a brass marching band along with the occasional clown, activists fanned out in teams across the fields surrounding the Tagebau Garzweiler lignite coal mine and the Neurath power plant. One group entered the mine itself, while others lay on the railroad tracks to stage a blockade, preventing coal trains from delivering coal to the power plant. The mine and four main power plants in the area are operated by the German utility giant RWE, and the lignite mine is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions in Europe.

Participants were organized into 10 action groups, called “fingers,” each of which had planned their strategy ahead of time and deliberated in democratic assemblies to decide on a course of action. Within each finger, activists divided themselves into smaller affinity groups to discuss how far they were willing to go in the case of police confrontation and to keep track of each other during the actions.

Activists block the tracks used by coal trains. (Flickr / Tim Wagner)

On Friday alone, activists blocked the train tracks for nine hours, including trains delivering coal from the nearby Hambach mine, causing the Neurath plant to reduce its operations by 37 percent. Other independent actions complemented Ende Gelände, including a group of bicyclists who disrupted traffic by riding in a “critical mass” formation and a group of rock climbers called “Robin Wood,” who swung down from bridges passing over the railroad tracks. In one act near Hambach forest, the environmental organization Friends of the Earth organized a human chain of 3,000 people to create a symbolic “red line” against coal mining.

Charlie, a self-proclaimed anarchist who asked not to be identified by his full name, said the railroad blockade was his first time participating in an act of civil disobedience. “I was so psyched, so tense,” he recalled.

His group, the Pink Finger, left by bus on Friday morning, then walked through the farmland towards the railroad tracks — at which point they were confronted by police. “They immediately started pepper spraying us,” he said. “People were running, falling, the [police] were hitting us.”

He said the group was eventually “kettled,” or encircled by a chain of police, until they were allowed to leave under the pretense of joining a legally-registered demonstration a few kilometers away. They set off with a police escort, but soon broke free again, running across the fields to join another group that was blockading the tracks. Charlie said the activists were then pursued by police vans and even police officers riding heavy farm equipment in collaboration with local farmers.

“The farmers came with their tractors and the plowing equipment that cuts really fast in the front, and we saw police riding in the tractors with them,” he explained. The machines barreled within a half meter of the activists, attempting to corral them towards the police. Charlie said the uneven terrain of the potato fields made the situation extremely dangerous, as those running could easily have fallen and been struck by the machines.

Roughly half the members of the Pink Finger group made it onto the tracks in the end, where they played card games and discussed their next steps. It took two-and-a-half hours before police were able to remove them, harshly hoisting and tossing them down the dirt slope lining the tracks as protesters sang defiantly.

Police remove an activist who was blocking the coal train tracks. (Flickr / Pay Numrich)

The Pink Finger’s actions were part of the Ende Gelände civil disobedience campaign, but Ende Gelände was only one part of a wider event encompassing a number of groups and actions. Much of the weekend’s activity was based at the Rhineland Climate Camp, an event officially registered as a political rally that has taken place for the past eight years. The actions were divided into three main parts: the Replace Coal (KohleErSetzen) sit-in by JunepA, a youth network for political action; a legally registered protest action near the mine; and the civil disobedience actions of Ende Gelände. Other independent initiatives complemented the direct actions, including a Swedish documentary project called Disobedience Live, which live-streamed the journey of four activists taking part in the action.

This was the third year in a row of the Ende Gelände civil disobedience actions. In August 2015, over a thousand people entered the Garzweiler mine to obstruct operations. Then, in May 2016, 4,000 people blocked a coal mine and power plant in East Germany. Activists have targeted German coal infrastructure in previous years, including blockades of coal trains from the Hambach mine in 2011-2013, as well as the first blockade in the Garzweiler mine in 2014. Now the actions are becoming increasingly interconnected, attracting thousands more participants and growing more sophisticated in planning and strategy.

Eight hundred people were detained by police during the course of the actions this year, and nearly all were set free the same day as their arrest. Several hundred were injured and five went to the hospital, with reports of people being kicked, hit in the face and dragged with their heads hitting the ground.

A Swedish activist named Karl, who also declined to share his full name, was participating in Ende Gelände for the third year in a row. Karl, who wore a cast on his arm, had been struck by a police officer with a baton while participating in the Blue Finger group, which was surrounded by police near the railroad tracks on Saturday morning.

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Several participants linked police violence to the German government’s financial and political support for the country’s coal industry. The German government provides subsidies to companies like RWE, creating the impression among environmental activists that the police were not only enforcing the law, but also actively support RWE.

Despite his injury, Karl said it was a “liberating experience” to be joined by so many others willing to break the law and risk injury to draw attention to the urgency of climate change. “Civil disobedience is one of the ways we actually manage to put the issue into the forefront where climate change often is lacking.”

He said that Ende Gelände is effective because of the egalitarian structure with which strategies are developed. “What we saw this year is a lot of self-organization,” he explained. “The police work with a hierarchy, a top-down structure. There’s one mind making decisions. Here at Ende Gelände, we have thousands of minds making decisions.”

A diverse array of tactics and careful planning of strategy allowed for many groups to participate in the actions with varying levels of risk and preparation. On Saturday, a group called the White Finger was formed spontaneously by several people who took part in more intense civil disobedience actions the day before. The group set out to create a low-risk diversion for the police, aiming to draw resources and personnel away from activists blockading the railway tracks.

The White Finger led a convoy of 13 police vans on a humorous chase through the streets, accompanied by a guitarist and a juggler. Many local residents came out to wave to the activists, giving enthusiastic thumbs-up signs as they passed. The group ended symbolically in Holzweiler, a small town that has been abandoned with the expansion of the Garzweiler mine. Police barricaded the streets and told activists to turn back, despite there being no laws preventing people from entering the town. The activists spread out in front of the local church, where they held a democratic assembly deciding whether to try and break the police line or to return to the camp.

White Finger members form a human pyramid in front of police. (Twitter / @leonistawesome)

Members of the group brought out instruments, shared food, sang songs, performed acrobatics and held an impromptu poetry slam in front of the police line. The group’s energy and enthusiasm culminated in the formation of a wide human pyramid facing the police in a silly standoff, which was met with cheers and applause from locals who turned out in their cars to watch and take pictures. Activists adapted the popular German protest chant “We are peaceful, what are you?” and changed the words to “We are cute, what are you?”

Each finger was met with raucous applause upon returning to the camp. Teams of volunteer drivers brought detained activists back from the police station, and one tent at the campsite was especially dedicated for psychological and emotional support to activists who had experienced violent confrontation with the police.

The camp itself served as a training ground, democratic community and nucleus of activity throughout the weekend’s events. Emphasizing consensus, non-hierarchy and sustainable living, the camp included vegan meals, composting toilets, open workshops, live music, yoga classes and a bounce house for children. Activists and community members volunteered to cook and wash dishes, staff the information booths and clean the toilets. Decisions were discussed in large democratic assemblies, with live translations for non-German speakers.

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Before the August action days, the camp was the site of the “Degrowth Summer School,” a free four-day program covering topics such as sustainable development, system change and strategies for organizing. Funding for the summer school — which was supposed to come from the Foundation for Environment and Development North Rhineland-Westphalia — was canceled 10 days before it began, leading to a loss of 46,000 euros. The cuts occurred ostensibly because the program took place too close to acts of civil disobedience, which funders are often unwilling to support due to the illegal nature of the activity.

Ende Gelände plans to continue civil disobedience at the U.N. climate talks in Bonn later this year. According to activists like Karl, the movement for climate justice cannot simply advocate compliance with the Paris climate accords. The goal must instead be the dismantling of the fossil fuel infrastructure, as a 2 degrees Celsius rise in the global temperature already surpasses the threshold of catastrophic climate change.

“We need to work towards a just transition, and we need to do it now,” Karl said. “That’s what these people are putting their bodies on the line for.”

Strategic civil disobedience campaigns like Ende Gelände offer one example of how broad-based participation and creativity can be used to confront a daunting opponent, even one as powerful as the fossil fuel industry.

Amsterdam: Spinhuis to be evicted. We are militant and determined to resist

House Occupation News -

On the 28th of August, almost two years after the abandoned dungeon under the bridge was squatted, the Spinhuis will be evicted. The autonomous social centre will be swept away. What will come in its place will be a closed, ostensibly ‘neigbourhood initiative’ for canal homeowners, but which is widely known to be a vessel for the ambitions of Peter Hagendoorn (son of the well-known real estate speculant).
Whoever thought that we would just let this happen is wrong. Long have we fought for a social and independent Spinhuis to remain, using all the tools we had: from crowbars on doors, to negotiations with the municipality, and all the rhetorical skills and political wrangling that come with dealing with bureaucrats. However the fate of the squat had already been decided upon. Nevertheless, we remain ready to fight. From under the bridge we will take to the streets to resist the evictions of the Spinhuis and ADM, and the overwhelming commercialisation and gentrification of our city. Here follows a reflection on the past two years and the battle that is yet to come.
During our time in the Spinhuis, so much was learned and accomplished, but we also made our mistakes. Too long have we negotiated politely: with a municipality that is selling off our city; with rich neighbours, who bluntly declare that homeless people should be excluded from our space and city centre; with slimy real estate speculants, who called the police when we opened the Spinhuis to shelter refugees from the We Are Here group. Too often we made concessions in the fight to keep the space, while our focus should have been on creating a space worth fighting for – even if that might have meant being swept away by repression far sooner. We regret this, and we want to do better in the future. So let this not just be an end of the Spinhuis under the bridge, but also the renewal of our fight against capitalism, against gentrification, against exclusion and repression. For freedom, security of existence, equality and space for all. For Anarchy.
Spinhuis strived to stand for an egalitarian, empathetic vision of society, by happily accepting folks who are in precarious positions and treating them as equals. We wanted to acknowledge everyone’s autonomy, opposing a ‘respectable’ society that looks down upon its own self-constructed margins. We tried to actualise our politics (self-emancipation and mutual aid) by working on an inclusive space. And through these efforts, the absence of these values in society became even more apparent. This society deliberately stifles people’s ability to live, express their potential, and develop their talents on their own terms. This society is based on distrust, exploitation and selfishness in the name of capitalism. It has been the great test of our politics to attempt to stop these structural dynamics from re-emerging within our collective and the space. To all who have felt unsafe or unwelcome under the bridge because of this happening despite our efforts, we offer our sincerest apologies.
The Spinhuis has always treaded a precarious balance between our radical politics and the everyday concerns involved in the running of a social centre. Over time the space became primarily a host for underground culture and parties. Many who visited us perhaps do not remember our politics so much as the times drinking cheap beer at the bar and the wide range of events that attracted them. Our events were always free of charge and often doubled as a benefit for grassroots social initiatives. Those who could not afford this were welcome nonetheless. Budding artists, people who carry the stigma of homelessness, students, activists and neighbours all came together to organise film screenings, poetry slams, workshops, parties, people’s kitchens, art exhibitions.
With mixed feelings and different perspectives we now reflect on the past two years, on the lessons and the successes. As the eviction of the space approaches, we all agree on one thing: the importance of the struggle for autonomous spaces. The state has been systematically eliminating free spaces like the Spinhuis for years. The Dutch state and Amsterdam municipality are trying to erase the rich history of squatting and community organising in this city, to relegate it to sensationalised history books and the speech of tour guides on the Spuistraat. For the crime of breaking free from the logic of markets and the politics of exclusion, the state tries to pull apart our communities.
Such a state is a state which obstructs the interaction between its own members and enforces social isolation – in this case through destroying spaces that break loose from its capitalist logic. We see it as our fight to take resistance against such a state. We foresee that our resistance in the coming weeks will produce questions from many different sides. The media, politicians and facebook commentators will ask the usual questions: “Why are these dirty squatters destroying everything? What is the use of this ‘violence’?” “They wanted a neigbourhood centre, right?” People from the movement will perhaps wonder: “Why now, and not before?” But if the end of the Spinhuis has taught us anything, it is that we cannot win the war with ‘reason’, moderate talks and policy proposals. The tactic of negotiation has failed and will result in the Torensluis keys being handed over to a business venture disguised as a neighbourhood initiative. But the struggle continues, and so will we. With renewed knowledge and determination, we will defend the Spinhuis till the very end, and when the Spinhuis is gone, keep on fighting. We will fight for ADM, and for all free spaces that are yet to be taken back.
And yes, with fighting we mean fighting, with any means we deem necessary. With teeth. With barricades. With words and fireworks, spray paint and charm. Nothing of worth has ever been gained by asking politely: freedom can only be taken, either by you, or from you. We ask everybody, everyone who has ever felt welcome with us, everybody who drank to the revolution in our reclaimed dungeon, to stand with us in our battle for a free, social city for all.

Manifestation rave for legalization of squatting, against destruction of vrijplaatsen and against gentrification.
Manifissa: millennials voor Mokum

2 september 2017, 13:00

Dear Amsterdammers, dear friends of Spinhuis, dear lazy and entitled and disillusioned members of our millennial generation. We’ve known it for a while, but it is only getting clearer: Amsterdam is fucked. Tourism is consuming the city, commercialism is killing the creative force and gentrification is kicking out everyone you care about. Monumental vrijplaatsen like ADM are forced to disappear. And now also, our beloved smelly dungeon: het Spinhuis.
Now, we can cry, we can fight, and we must and we will! But just to add a little more spice to this boiling cocktail of emotions and actions we wanna do something else. What is it? A manifestation? A rave? An old fashioned ‘ludieke actie’ to make our provo ancestors proud? It is a Manifissa.
Millennials of Amsterdam, unite! Let us rave through the streets of Amsterdam in glorious unison, and reclaim our city! Let us show these capitalist parasites the beautiful sparkling spirit that has been growing in the dungeons below their pedicured feet. Let us urge the municipality to legalize squatting. Make them realize that only squatting will revive the city, only squatting will allow us to find housing, only squatting will make Amsterdam the free, exhilarating city that she used to be.
Get our your avocados, because it is them who prevent you from finding a house, not fucking gentrification. Print some memes. Take a selfie dude idk.

We will meet at het Spinhuis (Torensluisbrug) at 1, then continue to the Bungehuis, march through de Spuistraat which will always remain our street, and finish at het Spui.

Singel 165a, 1012 VK Amsterdam

Rome (Italy): “Never again without a home”

House Occupation News -

An impressive demonstration marched through the streets of Rome in answer to last weeks’ evictions. Refugees and Italians marching side by side for the right to a house, dignity and for an open and supportive city. The institutions are postponing a negotiating table and the refugees remain in a permanent sit-in near to Piazza Venezia.

When the long snake-shaped parade narrowed its way down Via Cavour, the perception of the impressiveness of the protest becomes clear to everyone: at least 15 thousand people, maybe even more. On the lead, the Eritreans and Ethiopians evicted from the building in Via Curtatone and protagonists of fraught days of struggle and resistance. Many women, both on the first row and on the microphone. A little further back, the wide segment of the housing movement led by the banner “Housing struggle has no borders”. Following, the squatted social centres, the associations, the RomeDecides network, the organized migrant workers of the USB union and a wide number of supportive people who, from all over the city, decided to participate to the march and show solidarity to the homeless. By the end of the rally, even a Franciscan monk in his tunic has been spotted and cheered from the microphone.

This is the answer of the best part of Rome to those who threw hundreds of people in the middle of the street in this torrid august, first by evicting 80 families from the building in Via Quintavalle in Cinecittà and then by attacking the refugees in Piazza Indipendenza. No political solution whatsoever, only batons and water cannons. “We are human beings, running from wars, dictatorships and hunger. We deserve respect. We transformed an empty building in a home without begging anything to anyone. They violently threw us out. What should we do now? House has to be a right for everyone” speaks a young man from the microphone. “If the Italian State does not want to treat us like human beings and grant us our fundamental rights, then he must let us go. A lot of us tried to work in other European countries but have been bounced back here because of the Dublin Regulation. The Government uses the iron fist against us, the poor, but it is that same Government who signed the laws that keeps us trapped here” says another one.

Various were the issues coming from the interventions articulating the protest: house and social rights for everyone, freedom of movement, denial of subsidiary policies, demand for the release of the three men and two women detained (the latter were liberated later today). A former occupier of the building vigorously replied to the accusation of the Attorney, according to which rent fees were demanded inside the building: “Those who had money participated to the maintenance and cleaning costs of the building, but no one ever asked for a rent. A lot of the occupiers are jobless, therefore they do not even have the money”.

The parade ended in Piazza Venezia, right in front of the line of police’s armoured vans blocking Via dei Fori Imperiali, while Mounted Police “occupied” the open space of Madonna di Loreto. The protesters demanded for an inter-institutional negotiating table with the Municipality, the Region and the Prefecture’s office aimed to find an effective solution for the hundreds of people forced to sleep in the streets for the past days. Once again, the institutions decided to bury their heads in the sand. Speaking through the officials on the ground, they postponed to next Monday the decision about the negotiating table, maybe only to try to deny the legitimacy to negotiate expressed by the mobilisation. In answer to this, the evicted of Piazza Indipendenza decided to camp in a permanent presidium in Piazza Madonna di Loreto, close to Piazza Venezia. They will wait there for the table to be accepted. In order not to disappear, to stay united, to bring the results of the nefarious policies of evictions and repression right in front of the city centre’s buildings. They will stay only few metres away from the families kicked out of the occupied building of Via Quintavalle: they have been sleeping in the streets for days as well, in Piazza Santi Apostoli, waiting for answers by the institutions.

[ via Enough is Enough! | August 29th, 2017.]

If Donald Trump won't tackle climate change, then Chicago will | Rahm Emanuel

The Guardian | Protest -

Across the US, towns and metropolises like mine are united to meet the Paris climate agreement’s targets and protect our residents and businesses

While the Trump administration is dropping the mantle of leadership on climate change, American cities from coast to coast are picking it up. From small towns to metropolises and from the coasts to the heartland, Republican and Democratic mayors are united in common cause to curb emissions, shrink our carbon footprints and fight for a greener future.

Rather than accepting the White House’s wrongheaded withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, cities are redoubling our efforts to meeting the landmark accords’ benchmarks. We not only have the power to take action, but unlike Washington we have the will to get the job done.

Related: Trump won't stop Americans hitting the Paris climate targets. Here's how we do it | Michael Bloomberg

Related: It's a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly | Michael E Mann

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Why are our protests failing and how can we achieve social change today? | Micah White

The Guardian | Protest -

The people’s sovereignty is dead and every protest is a hopeless struggle to revive the corpse. It is time to try a different method

The difficulties faced by recent social movements in achieving positive change, despite their tremendous speed and overwhelming size, is a sign that activism as a discipline must embark on a period of paradigmatic reevaluation. Breaking with the enforced consensus that our movements are winning even when it looks like we’re losing — that Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Charlottesville and the countless protests happening worldwide every day are victories despite never achieving their avowed objectives — is not easy. Challenging the activist orthodoxy as an activist is far more difficult than marching in the streets or sharing rebellious tweets. But the risk of staying silent is too great. Activists must act up to save protest from irrelevance.

Related: 'Real Americans' have always been rebels: a guide for progressive patriotism

To understand why our protests are failing we need to look instead at the story motivating our performance as activists. What script are protesters following when we flood into the streets?

Street protests alone won’t achieve the change we need.

What does this all mean, in concrete terms, for today’s activists who dream of instigating significant social change?

Related: Want to be part of the next wave of activism? Move to rural America

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Berkeley pro-Trump rally cancelled but tensions still flare between protesters

The Guardian | Protest -

Most counter-protesters pursue peaceful means against rightwingers after police crackdown causes organiser to call off ‘No Marxism in America’ event

A handful of pro-Trump protesters were chased from a Berkeley park by counter-protesters clad in black garb and masks on Sunday, after a planned “No Marxism in America” rally fizzled out amidst opposition and police pressure.

Related: Party poopers: rightwing rally cancelled in San Francisco amid dog poo protest

Related: Arrests at violent Berkeley Trump protests while tax marches stay calm

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'The president speaks for himself': Rex Tillerson distances himself from Trump

The Guardian | Protest -

Asked if Charlottesville remarks made it harder to represent the US, secretary of state appears to suggest president does not represent American values

Appearing to suggest that President Trump did not represent “the American people’s values” after the recent violence in Charlottesville, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday “the president speaks for himself”.

Related: Jim Mattis tells US troops America has 'problems', urges them to 'hold the line'

Related: 'Out of bounds': Republicans criticize Trump over Joe Arpaio pardon

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Local press under pressure: the view from Charlottesville | Open door | Paul Chadwick

The Guardian | Protest -

A week-long sampling of the output of the Daily Progress newspaper in the Virginia city hit by racist protests reveals the enduring value of local journalism

When an internationally newsworthy incident happens, as it did recently in Charlottesville, the Big Media descend, write and move on swiftly.

But the local journalists, who were serving that community before the incident, remain and carry on reporting.

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George Lincoln Rockwell, father of American Nazis, still in vogue for some

The Guardian | Protest -

A flamboyant, homophobic and antisemitic showman, Rockwell’s theatrics and oratory find an echo in movements on the modern far right

On 28 August 1963, the day Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on the national mall, an American Nazi arrived early.

George Lincoln Rockwell, the media-savvy, pipe-smoking founder of the American Nazi Party, was blatantly racist, homophobic and antisemitic. Just 17 years after the US and its allies had defeated Nazi Germany, he had tried to hold a rally celebrating Hitler’s birthday in New York.

Related: Is there a neo-Nazi storm brewing in Trump country?

What happened in Charlottesville on 12 August?

Related: How Charlottesville became the symbolic prize of the far right | Edward Helmore and Lois Beckett

Who coined the term 'alt-right'?

He ​mastered the art of turning ​virulent racism into a spectacle the media could not resist

Related: Ruby Ridge, 1992: the day the American militia movement was born

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Rightwing group protests cancellation as San Francisco blocks rally venues

The Guardian | Protest -

Event planned for shadow of Golden Gate Bridge and then Alamo Square park dwindles into suburban press conference under leftwing and city opposition

A planned rightwing rally in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge that was downgraded to a news conference at a small park fizzled out further on Saturday, after San Francisco police swarmed the park and city workers erected a fence around it.

Related: Party poopers: rightwing rally cancelled in San Francisco amid dog poo protest

Related: Turd Reich: San Francisco dog owners lay minefield of poo for rightwing rally

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German Government Shuts Down Indymedia

House Occupation News -

The German government has shut down the German Indymedia site, the most widely used German-language platform for radical politics and organizing. They have also conducted raids in Freiburg to seize computers and harass those they accuse of maintaining the site, absurdly justifying this on the grounds that the alleged administrators constitute an illegal organization for the sake of destroying the German Constitution. This represents a massive escalation in state repression against what the authorities call “left-wing extremism,” disingenuously suggesting an equivalence between those who seek to build communities beyond the reach of state violence and Neo-Nazis organizing to carry out attacks and murders like the ones in Charlottesville last week.

Indymedia was founded in Germany in 2001 as; a second version appeared in 2008 as The latter was founded to focus on radical politics in southern Germany, but it soon became the most widely used webpage for German-speaking activists. As the original German Indymedia page became technically outdated and swamped by trolling, more and more people switched to In 2013, was almost shut down because there weren’t enough people involved.

In the last couple of years, more and more attention has accumulated around linksunten, which offers a space for people to post anonymously. For example, in 2011, a communiqué appeared on the platform claiming responsibility for politically motivated sabotage on the subway infrastructure in Berlin. The site was also used to release information about fascists and Neo-Nazis. In 2016, an article on linksunten presented the complete data of every participant at the convention of the far-right nationalist party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD), a total of 3000 names. This further attracted hostile attention from far-right advocates of state repression.

Before the 2017 G20 summit took place in Hamburg, the corporate media was already focusing on linksunten, declaring it to be the coordination page of militant anti-G20 protestors. The AfD started a campaign against the platform, pushing inquiries about Indymedia in Federal parliament and trying to force local governments to ban the platform and other forms of radical infrastructure.

All this built up to the current situation in which the Minister of Internal Affairs Thomas de Maizière banned the site on August 25, immediately before the election. The state raided three places, including a social center, in Freiburg, making the whole city into a police state for this day. During the raids, they allegedly found some slingshots and sticks, which they are now using as further justification for their propaganda about terrorism.

In fact, Thomas de Maizière is carrying out the agenda of the German far right and fascists, as well as the repressive goals of AfD.

Of course, those who maintain the website have not themselves written anything that could offer legal grounds for this attack. Even corporate media platforms offer space for people to speak anonymously—for example, when members of the State Department speak to the press on the condition of anonymity. The excuse that the state is using to justify this attack is to declare that those who maintain linksunten comprise an official organization aimed at destroying the German Constitution. This is a legal trick. If it succeeds, it could easily be used against other platforms, magazines, and projects, so that everyone spreading radical literature and ideas and documenting activism and social movements will become targets for this kind of repression and state violence. That is the message they want to send, in order to bully the entire population into accepting that the current political order in Germany will persist until the end of time.

This heavy-handed approach shows how afraid the authorities are that radical ideas are spreading and becoming contagious following the successful demonstrations against the G20 summit in July. Thomas de Maizière made it clear enough in his press conference that this assault on Indymedia is a form of revenge for the embarrassment the state suffered during the summit. This also shows how dishonest far-right and statist rhetoric is about free speech—in fact, these hypocrites only use that discourse to position themselves to suppress others’ speech. The solution to fascist organizing is not to empower the state to control speech, but to mobilize the general population both against fascists and against the state infrastructure that the far right intends to take over.

In Germany and all around the world, we need radical theory and practice; we need spaces where people can communicate anonymously, so as not to be intimidated by the twin threats of state repression and grassroots fascist violence. In order to understand social movements and struggles, so our sense of history is not swept away in a torrent of ephemera, we need databases that preserve accounts and communiqués. As an author once put it, the struggle of humanity against authoritarian power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. To fight back against this authoritarian crackdown, it is now more important than ever to spread revolutionary material and ideas everywhere and to brainstorm alternative ways to communicate with each other and the general public in times of intensifying state censorship and control. The more that each of us takes on a personal role in this task, the more decentralized and resilient our networks will be.

If they come for us tonight, you can be sure they will come for you in the morning.

The attack on Indymedia is part of a much larger offensive against radical infrastructures. In Hamburg, over 30 people have been in prison since the G20 in July—go here to support them. As for Indymedia, there will soon be support pages for it as well. We will post them here when they appear.

Another good place to check for updates is enoughisenough

Party poopers: rightwing rally cancelled in San Francisco amid dog poo protest

The Guardian | Protest -

Rightwing group Patriot Prayer cancels Saturday event, citing ‘safety concerns’ and ‘smear campaign’ that branding the group white supremacists

Patriot Prayer, the rightwing protest group that planned to rally in San Francisco on Saturday, has cancelled its event, citing safety concerns and a “smear campaign” by elected officials who called them “white supremacists”.

Related: Turd Reich: San Francisco dog owners lay minefield of poo for rightwing rally

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Why Nazis are so afraid of these clowns

Waging Nonviolence -

by Sarah Freeman-Woolpert

The Finnish group “Loldiers of Odin” formed to protest the anti-immigrant Soldiers of Odin. (

Trolls chanted in the streets the day of a planned neo-Nazi rally in the small ski town of Whitefish, Montana earlier this year. But they were not the trolls that residents had been expecting — namely, white supremacists from around the country, who had been harassing the town’s Jewish community with death threats.

These trolls wore bright blue wigs and brandished signs that read “Trolls Against Trolls” and “Fascists Fear Fun,” cheerfully lining the route where the neo-Nazi march had been slated to take place. Due to poor organizing and the failure to obtain proper permits, the demonstration had fell through, leading to what the counter-protesters gleefully deemed a “Sieg Fail.” So, locals held their own counter-event, gathering together to share matzo ball soup and celebrate the town’s unity, which — with a dose of humor and a denunciation of hatred — had successfully weathered a right-wing anti-Semitic “troll storm” and strengthened the community as a whole.

Using humor and irony to undermine white supremacy dates back to the days of the Third Reich, from jokes and cartoons employed by Norwegians against the Nazi occupation to “The Great Dictator” speech by Charlie Chaplin. In recent years, humor has continued to be used as a tactic to undermine Nazi ideology, particularly in the unlikely form of clowns — troupes of brightly-dressed activists who show up to neo-Nazi gatherings and make a public mockery of the messages these groups promote. It puts white supremacists in a dilemma in which their own use of violence will seem unwarranted, and their machismo image is tainted by the comedic performance by their opponent. Humor de-escalates their rallies, turning what could become a violent confrontation into a big joke.

Satirical imitation was used in Olympia, Washington in 2005 when a dozen members of the National Socialist Movement paraded around the state capitol to recruit members for the coming “race war.” They were met with clowns mimicking the “Seig Heil” salute and goose-stepping in a public mockery that drew attention away from the Nazi demonstration and undermined their image to would-be supporters.

Anti-Nazi demonstrators in Knoxville, Tennessee called themselves Coup Clutz Clowns. (

In 2007, the group Anti Racist Action staged a full-fledged clown performance at a neo-Nazi rally in Knoxville, Tennessee. The clowns feigned confusion at demonstrators’ cries of “White power!” and called back, “White flour?” as they threw fistfulls of flour into the air.

“White power!” the neo-Nazi group shouted, and the clowns pretended they finally understood their mistake. “Oh, white flowers!” they cried out, handing white flowers to passersby, including some of the neo-Nazis themselves.

“White power!” they yelled again. “Tight shower?” the clowns called back, holding a shower head in the air and crowding together in a ridiculous attempt to follow the directions of the white supremacist group.

They tried once more: “White power!” And the female clowns exclaimed, as though they finally understood, “Wife power!” raising letters in the air to spell out the words and hoisting the male clowns in the air, running around and carrying them in their arms.

The clowns stole the show, and continued parading through the streets with the police smiling happily at their sides while the neo-Nazi group called off their demonstration several hours early. This action inspired clowns in Charlotte, North Carolina to also yell “Wife power!” at a white supremacist rally. They also held signs that said “Dwight Power!” next to photos of the NBA player Dwight Howard.

Anti-Nazi clowning can also turn into a wider community event, bringing local people together in solidarity and fun. A recent New York Times editorial highlighted an “involuntary walk-a-thon” in Wunsiedel, Germany, organized in response to an annual neo-Nazi march. The organizers drew chalk markers on the pavement marking the starting point, halfway point and finish line. Local residents and businesses pledged to donate 10 euros for every meter the white supremacists marched to a group called EXIT Deutschland, which is dedicated to helping people leave right-wing extremist groups.

Neo-nazis take part in the “involuntary walk-a-thon” in Wunsiedel, Germany in 2014. (Twitter / @exitdeutschland)

People came out to cheer the marchers the day of the event, flanking the route with signs that read “If only the Fuhrer knew!” and “Mein Mamph!” ( or “My Munch”) by a table of bananas offered to the walkers. This turned the marchers into involuntary supporters against their own cause, and brought the community together in unity to counter the messages of white supremacy.

Other European cities have employed clowns to counter anti-immigrant groups. For example, the “Loldiers of Odin” formed in Finland to counter a citizen patrol called Soldiers of Odin. The clowns danced around the streets the same nights that the patrols went out in the community, bringing acrobat hoops and a hobby horse. They also danced around the “soldiers” while playing in the snow. Their actions countered right-wing propaganda of making the streets “safer” from immigrants by bringing humor and silliness to their actions.

Clowning as a tactic of creative resistance was first developed by a group of U.K. activists who started the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, or CIRCA, in 2003. Mixing slapstick humor and improv theater with civil disobedience, the group had — at its height —over 150 trained clowns in Edinburgh, and their tactics were adopted by activists across Europe and the United States.

Humor has wide-reaching potential beyond clowning in countering neo-Nazis. It can be employed in the form of a serenade, like the sousaphonist who played his instrument to a crowd of Confederate flag-wielding marchers in Columbia, South Carolina. There’s also the parody song “Tiki Torch Nazis,” written and performed by a couple from San Francisco, that went viral after Charlottesville and hilariously undermines the serious image neo-Nazis strive to present. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, a group called the English Disco Lovers, or EDL, uses its acronym along with dance music and 1970’s style wigs to subvert public gatherings of the racist English Defense League.

English Disco Lovers protest the racist English Defense League. (Flickr / Tim Buss)

To build on past successes of anti-Nazi clowning, activists and local organizers can draw on the creativity of the community to devise actions and events that mock white supremacist ideology and those who support it. This could be done in the form of a carnivalesque “Fascist Fair,” complete with a dunk tank and jousting match. It could take the form of dressing up in costumes that satirize the labels white supremacists have given counter-protesters, like vermin or Communists. Events can draw in various local groups, from marching bands to theater troupes to intramural sports teams so that resistance to white supremacy becomes a community expression of solidarity, like in Whitefish, Montana.

Counter-demonstrations can employ a tactic called détournement, or culture jamming, to draw on existing cultural symbols that resonate with a wider audience. This could involve staging a humorous match in which one side represents neo-Nazis dressed as Death Eaters from Harry Potter, and the other side represents Gryffindor, or the Avengers, or Wonder Woman and the Amazon warriors. Their marches can be accompanied by a mass choir drowning out their chants with refrains of “You’re So Vain” or JoJo’s “Leave (Get Out).” They could also be met with “Flash Mobs Against Fascist Mobs.” The street where the march is planned could be covered in rainbow paint and glitter that will coat the bottoms of their shoes.

Beyond the marches themselves, clowning can undermine Confederate statues and symbols when their removal would lead to an escalation of violence, as activist David Swanson has suggested. Dressing up Confederate statues as clowns or jokers with signs like “You must be joking!” mocks the statue itself and undercuts the veneration of historical figures who represent the country’s legacy of slavery.

Other creative tactics can be used to counter neo-Nazi propaganda with less direct confrontation. Activists around the world have turned Nazi graffiti into art, like the #PaintBack campaign transforming Swastika’s into cartoon animals.

These actions not only deflate the macho image of neo-Nazis to their own supporters — which is strengthened by violent confrontation — but they also engage the community in planning fun collective actions to counter hate and intolerance. Humorous counter-demonstrations unleash a storm of creativity, as activists and local groups collaborate to design creative actions together. In the end, the actions bring communities together against hate speech. Since humor and clowning can incorporate so many community members — children and the elderly, musicians and athletes, politicians and school teachers — they draw everyone into a joyful, silly expression of solidarity. That’s something a band of tiki torch-wielding neo-Nazis don’t stand a change against.

Taxpayers spend £500,000 on radios for badger cull marksmen

The Guardian | Protest -

Police call for cull shooters to be given same hi-tech system they use – but activists buy counter-devices to disrupt shooting

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ pounds have been spent on equipping badger cull marksmen with radios that link them directly to police, the Guardian has learned.

Police have advised the government to invest in the same communications system they use to make it easier for officers to get to conflicts with cull saboteurs in remote areas where the mobile phone signal is poor.

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Ram Rahim Singh: fatal clashes follow Indian guru's rape conviction – video report

The Guardian | Protest -

Violent protests have broken out in northern India, leaving several people dead, after a court convicted a self-styled ‘godman’ of raping two women, angering thousands of his supporters who say he is innocent, police and officials say. Ram Rahim Singh was found guilty of assaulting two followers in a case dating to 2002 at the headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda group

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Rome (Italy): Cops Evict Refugee Squatters From Palazzo Curtatone & Square

House Occupation News -

On Saturday about 500 riot cops evicted around 800 refugees from the Palazzo Curtatone refugee squat in Rome, Italy. A part of the evicted people were relocated, others became homeless and occupied a square. This morning riot cops also evicted the square.

The Palazzo Curtatone, near the Temini train station in Rome, was squatted in 2013. During Saturday’s eviction, riot cops transported the refugees for identification to a police station in Rome. People tried to block the buses which transported people, but reinforcements dispersed the protesting people. Most of the squatters were people from Eritrea who had been granted asylum.

Journalists and rights activists documented that several women, including a couple who were pregnant, and children, were among those chased away from the building. In a statement, police authorities said the owners of the building would pay to relocate the refugees but they issued a denial in a later statement.

A part of the evicted refugees became homeless and moved to a nearby square. Since Saturday they were staying in the square, surrounded by their suitcases. The refugees  hung a banner at the square reading “No! We are not terrorists. We want a house to live in.”

The refugees protested every day against the eviction of the Palazzo Curtatone and in the early morning hours riot cops also evicted the square on Thursday. During todays eviction of the square riot cops used water canons and batons against the homeless refugees. Television images showed some of the refugees screaming and crying after the violent eviction.

[August 24th, 2017 | Enough is Enough!]