Meet the rightwing players who have vowed to remain at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest over the treatment of two local cattle ranchersContinue reading...
The United States Geological Service reported a 5.1 magnitude quake that South Korea said was 49 kms (30 miles) from the Punggye-ri site where North Korea has conducted nuclear tests in the past. South Korea’s weather service reports that the 4.2 magnitude quake has an “artificial nature”. The “artificial nature” of the quake was also Read More
The members, who call themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, have threatened to stay at the refuge until their unspecified demands are met
If there ever was a strategic location for a citizens militia to take a stand against the supposed tyranny of the US government, seizing up one of its remote outposts in anticipation of a standoff that could last months, this would be it.
The sprawling Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of 190,000 isolated acres of wildlife habitat, anchored by a clutch of stone cabins and support buildings.Continue reading...
An important perspective on last November's 'People's March for Climate, Justice and Jobs'
21 #refugees dies #AegeanSea coasts of #Turkey #Ayvalik #Dikili #photo by #DHA #SyriaCrisis #refugeecrisis pic.twitter.com/nLYeZVmLjH — Michelle Demishevich (@demishevich) January 5, 2016 At least 21 refugees, many of them children have drowned in the Aegean Sea and washed ashore on the coast of Turkey in two separate incidents in which their boats overturned in rough Read More
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by Cam Fenton
Throughout 2015, I had a hard time explaining my feeling about the Paris climate talks. Friends and allies would excitedly ask me if I was going and I’d force a smile and explain that no, I had been to enough United Nations climate meetings. The truth was that after more than five years of attending and watching U.N. climate talks, the whole thing had started to feel like the climate movement had gotten itself stuck in a time-warp and we were living the same two weeks over and over again every year.
As I watched the Paris talks unfold, the whole thing started to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day.” If you haven’t seen it or don’t remember, the basic premise is that Bill Murray plays a weatherman who gets caught in a time loop, reliving the same day in rural Pennsylvania over and over. Just looking at the major actions, each one seemed to be a repeat of something from the past. Red lines in Doha and red lines in Paris. Sit-ins and walk-outs year after year from Copenhagen to Durban to Rio to Warsaw. I was reminded of something a friend told me about the Doha talks — the outcome was so predictable that he wrote press releases months in advance and the only change he had to make to the one about the final reaction was the date.
Nevertheless, there is good news. About halfway through “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray realizes that his only way out of the time warp is to become a better person. In Paris, it feels like the climate movement — the collective Bill Murray in this analogy — have reached a similar point. On the one hand, it’s great news because coming out of Paris it feels like we’ve crested a hill. On the other hand, it’s awful because from the top of this hill, we can now see the mountain peak we have to ascend. In “Groundhog Day” terms, it’s great because we know how to get out, but since time isn’t standing still, we can’t afford to keep repeating history over and over. So, with that in mind, here are three suggestions for ways the climate movement can break free.
1. We need to redefine what climate leadership means
For years, the climate movement has viewed it’s principle opponents as people and institutions who deny the existence of climate change. In this context, a culture of desperation was born in much of the climate movement, where the need to win something, anything, on climate became so strong that we clamored to amplify and validate almost any politician willing to even admit the reality of climate change. Modest steps and half measures were answered with so much applause from much of the climate movement that even the most valid criticisms and questions were drowned out. The simple fact was that a lot of us felt like we desperately needed something to applaud.
Now the needle has moved on climate change, and while we can debate the merits of the Paris climate agreement, one thing that we can’t ignore is that these talks marked the end of the politics of outright climate denial. This year saw a U.S. president reject the Keystone XL pipeline on climate grounds, as well as over $3 trillion divested from fossil fuels. It also had tar sands company CEOs touting their “climate leadership.” Clearly, things are changing for the better.
Going into 2016, politicians and CEOs want the title of “climate leader,” and right now they’re getting it without really having to work for it. Whether it’s Jerry Brown in California allowing fracking across the state or Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledging to support a 1.5 degree Celsius ceiling on temperature rise while allowing tar sands pipelines to be approved without climate considerations, climate leadership has become such a hollow measure that you can be a climate hero one day and an oil baron the next.
That’s why this movement needs to redefine what climate leadership is by raising the bar for what we, as a movement, will applaud. Governments and politicians are not fragile children in need of constant reassurance from the climate movement. They are decision makers who by and large are not moving fast enough to do what it takes to leave fossil fuels in the ground and facilitate a justice-based transition to 100 percent clean energy. It’s 2016, politicians don’t need the climate movement to apologize for them not doing enough, they need us to organize to force them to do more.
2. We need to get real about climate justice
The outcomes of climate talks can often be seen as a kind of “movement barometer” measuring the amount of pressure that the climate movement is putting on politicians around the globe. Looking at the outcome of the Paris talks through this lens is useful because it helps us recognize that a commitment to a 1.5 degree climate target was only achieved because of the growing power of the global climate movement — and that’s something to celebrate.
By the same measure, though, we need to accept that in the Paris outcome indigenous rights, human rights and women’s rights have all been moved to sections of the text where they aren’t legally protected. On top of this, support for the most vulnerable people in the Paris outcome isn’t anywhere near what a just and fair deal would look like. If we are going to celebrate a 1.5 degree target as a victory for this movement, we also have to acknowledge where we fell short. Coming out of Paris, the biggest losses landed on the laps of the most vulnerable people, communities and nations, and in my eyes that means we still have a long way to go to get real about the justice part of climate justice.
Since Copenhagen, a lot of the climate movement has shifted it’s language in support of frontline communities and a justice-based and systemic approach to climate change. It’s the sort of shift that made something like the People’s Climate March possible. But, by the same token, it’s telling that if you line up reaction statements to the outcome of Paris, the most impacted peoples were more critical of the deal than mainstream organizations, which were far more celebratory.
There, of course, is no easy solution to this challenge, but it starts with recognizing that climate justice needs to be more than a buzzword. This is going to mean some serious soul searching for the climate movement in 2016, and spending more time listening to, digesting and doing the work to deepen our commitment to acting on, not just speaking to, justice.
3. The climate movement needs to move beyond the environmental movement
One of the worst things that ever happened to climate change was the moment it became viewed as an environmental problem. It narrowed the focus of one of the broadest, farthest-reaching social justice issues of our time and placed the responsibility for tackling it in the hands of a movement that frankly, isn’t up to the task alone.
In 2016, we need to leave environmentalism behind and begin to experiment with what a real climate movement can be, because honestly, it might be the only chance we actually have to turn #KeepItInTheGround from a hashtag into a strategy.
The modern environmental movement, for the most part, has very “elite” strategies. Organizing, mass mobilization and direct action have primarily been seen as tools to facilitate lobbying and negotiation strategies, which for a movement bred from a conservation ethic has meant getting to the table with corporations and government in order to achieve a compromise. This strategy has been successful at winning a lot of crucial environmental victories, but it’s also come at the cost of building a genuine movement, and it won’t be enough if we’re going to get serious about meeting the climate challenge.
One major challenge is that the environmental movement is made up mostly of big organizations. It’s like an ecosystem where every organism is an apex predator. They can exist with one another, but quickly devour smaller organisms and groups, and while that may mean the ecosystem can exist, it’s far from healthy and certainly not diverse. For the climate movement to be successful, we need a movement ecosystem that’s as dynamic and full as the rainforest. We need to make room, and a big part of that is going to mean rethinking our strategies and campaigns.
One of the biggest problems with approaching climate change the way the environmental movement has approached other issues is that there is no negotiating with physics. If we acknowledge that the vast majority of fossil fuels need to be left in the ground for a safe climate, then we can’t compromise with an industry that’s business model is built on extracting and burning as much as it can. It’s not even that we don’t want to, it’s that science says we can’t.
This means that the goal of getting to the table with politicians and industry doesn’t make sense, because we’re never going to be at that table in good faith, and neither is the industry. We also need to acknowledge and remember that when it comes to climate change, the table has been rotted to the core from over three decades of fossil fuel interests polluting our politics. With this in mind, the goal may need to shift from organizing to the table to organizing the table to the people, where we can balance the scales of fossil fuel interests with genuine, mass people power.
Building the kind of movement with the power to make this happen is going to require a lot of people that have helped to make this movement what it is to play outside our comfort zones in 2016, myself included. It’s also going to mean taking the time to learn from other movements. Whether that’s the fierce and undeniably courageous work of Black Lives Matter organizers, the rooted justice-based solutions work of the Our Power campaign or the protean, viral nature of movements like Occupy, we need these lessons to update our strategies. The climate movement also needs to spend more time learning the history of movements for civil rights to stopping nuclear proliferation.
If we approach learning from these movements not just as harvesting their best ideas, but building relationships, this could also be our best means to find the “fault lines” of our movements. Through this we can get beyond the politics of token solidarity and dig deep to build the kind of transformative power that a climate movement really demands.
As was the case for Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” the only way to break free from the time loop was to learn from his mistakes and refuse to repeat them. Whether it’s the United Nations climate talks, election cycles or meetings upon meetings, a lot of this movement feels like a time warp, and the true test isn’t whether or not we get everything right, but if we learn, evolve and innovate to take on new challenges.
Jon Ritzheimer, a prolific creator of online propaganda against Islam, has joined crew of militiamen who claim to be guardians of US constitution
The Bundy militia claim to be simple patriots guarding the US constitution. But 48 hours into their occupation of a wildlife refuge in rural Oregon, it has emerged that the band of armed protesters includes at least one prominent anti-Islam activist.
Jon Ritzheimer, a former US marine, was one of the guards posted this morning at the gate of the Malheur wildlife reserve on Monday, and he was happy to espouse his virulent opposition to the Islamic faith.Continue reading...
When activist Tim DeChristopher sabotaged a December 2008 Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, oil and gas auction by bidding on thousands of acres of land he had no intention of paying for, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison, a three-year probation and a $10,000 fine. Since Saturday, an armed militia has occupied BLM facilities on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, and the BLM’s reaction, so far, has been comparatively subdued.
On Sunday, DeChristopher weighed in on Twitter suggesting the Oregon uprising is a result of the federal government’s capitulation two years ago, when Cliven Bundy threatened to go to war with the government in order to continue using public lands for cattle grazing. “The Bundy Klan pointed loaded weapons at government officials … and faced no consequences,” DeChristpher said. Today, Bundy’s sons are leading participants in the militia’s occupation.
As depicted in the documentary “Bidder 70,” the BLM didn’t “play along” once it was obvious DeChristopher’s paddle was buying up every parcel offered at the oil and gas auction. The auction was stopped and federal agents swiftly took DeChristopher into custody, and he was charged with two felonies three days later. In Oregon, the federal government has closed the Malheur Refuge, effectively providing the militia privacy, on federal public land. Now, in Oregon, unlike in DeChristopher’s auction, the BLM is not intervening to stop a protest, but merely monitoring the situation.
While both conflicts revolve around the BLM’s handling of federal land, DeChristopher’s intentions were quite distinct from the militias. In the last days of the Bush administration, the BLM had quietly attempted to privatize 22,500 acres of federal land, through a discrete auction held the Friday before Christmas. Much of that federal land surrounded Utah’s Arches National Park. DeChristopher showed up at that auction, took a paddle, and pretty much thwarted that scheme. A judge would later rule the auction was illegal, and some of the parcels that DeChristopher “won” would remain federal land. DeChristopher’s intention was to preserve federal public property for public use.
The militia’s intention seems less about preserving federal property for public use, and more about preserving it for the private use of ranchers, or the militia group itself. In fact, the militia appears to be seizing the Malheur Refuge and its buildings and facilities. The Bundys told the Oregonian, “We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely.”
The militia’s occupation followed a Saturday protest of a federal judge’s sentencing of Dwight Hammond and his son Steven Hammond, ranchers convicted three years ago of arson for fires lit in 2001 and 2006. The Hammonds claim they lit the fires to protect their property from wildfires and invasive plant species, but the BLM argued that the Hammonds were destroying evidence of poaching. Although both arsons occurred years before DeChristopher’s auction incident, the father has served only three months in prison, and the son has served only one year. DeChristopher served 21 months.
DeChristopher was armed with a paddle, a weapon of principle. The militia that has seized the Malheur Refuge is armed with pistols and long rifles — weapons of war.
Some are debating why the media isn’t labeling the militia members as terrorists. That criticism is rooted in a collective gut feeling among progressives that hypocrisy is at play, and it certainly is. However, the government’s reaction also shows how much more dangerous it views creative nonviolent direct action.
While some may want to see the government storm the refuge, and solve its hypocrisy problem, there’s another takeaway. In the future, the federal government should exercise as much patience, if not more, with protesters armed with paddles as it exercises with armed militias seizing federal property for their private use.
by Kate AronoffEmbed from Getty Images
A group of roughly 30 militiamen in rural eastern Oregon occupied a vacant Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, visitor center on Saturday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. While initial reports suggested there were as many 150 armed militia members inside the government building, more recent estimates place that figure somewhere between 20 and 30. Leading up efforts are two sons of famed anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy.
A group that included militia members had gathered in nearby Burns, Oregon on Sunday afternoon to protest the sentencing of Dwight Hammond and his son Steve Hammond for arson on BLM property. As Rolling Stone explained, the pair are expected to report on Monday for their five-year sentence, which protesters and militia members argue represents a form of government “tyranny.” Notably, a lawyer for the family has said they reject the militia’s support.
Randy Bundy told a reporter with The Oregonian that the militia was ready to “kill and be killed,” and prepared to remain inside of BLM premises indefinitely. Ammon Bundy, Randy’s brother, stated that the group, “Would not rule out violence if law enforcement tries to remove them.”
The occupiers have invited “patriots” from around the country to join them — guns and all — and hope the visitor center will serve as a base of militia operations for years to come. “We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,” one Bundy brother said in a video released yesterday. “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”
A local paper, the Willamette Week, reported that militia members have been trickling into the region for weeks. Among them was 32-year-old John Ritzheimer, who bid farewell to his family in a Youtube video before joining the Malheur occupation, citing that he wants to “die a free man.”
Ritzheimer, a former Marine, has made headlines before. This fall, he planned armed protests against New York mosques, and has issued a series of violent statements and threats against Muslims, President Obama and members of the federal government. In a video from November, he declared, “Fuck you Muslims. We’re gonna stop at virtually every mosque along the way, flip them off and tell them to get the fuck out,” proceeding to cock his handgun on camera.
Land resource management has been a key issue for conservative ranchers since Cliven Bundy’s stand-off with federal forces in the spring of 2014, when he threatened to go to war with the government so that he could continue to graze his cattle on government land in Nevada. While most of today’s GOP presidential candidates supported Cliven Bundy’s efforts, they have been mum so far on this weekend’s events. Donald Trump has said of Bundy that, “I like his spirit, his spunk,” and Bundy himself is a Trump supporter. Given the similarity between their actions, one might suspect that the Bundy apples don’t fall far from the tree. At an armed demonstration outside of a Phoenix mosque in October, Ritzheimer said, “Let Donald Trump build something beautiful.”
Noting the mainstream press coverage of the occupation, progressives have pointed out the fact that neither authorities nor the media have described the occupation as an act of terrorism. The National Guard and federal authorities have been conspicuously absent, in stark contrast to the largely nonviolent uprisings against systemic racism in Baltimore and Ferguson. Like “thug” or “illegal immigrant,” though, terrorist is an ugly word that — at least since 9/11 — comes as a package deal with racist overtones. Each term is also connected to a well-funded, well-armed program of state violence that criminalizes communities of color. In light of all this, should the goal of progressives be to create a more inclusive definition of terrorism?
Of course, it doesn’t take much creative imagination to predict what the authorities’ response would have been had the occupiers been anything other than white — not to mention the words that would be used to describe those efforts. Still, whether the Oregon occupiers are actually terrorists is beside the point — mostly because there is no objective definition of terrorism. It might best be defined as any form of organized violence considered illegitimate in the eyes of the state, the media and the public. (States, it’s worth noting, are defined in many policy circles and academic disciplines by their monopoly on the legitimate use of force.)
The Black Panther Party and American Indian Movement, or AIM, each planned and executed armed occupations of federal property in the California State Capitol in Sacramento and Alcatraz Prison, respectively. Both were targeted aggressively by federal authorities. Neither, however, was primarily a militia. And while members of AIM and the Panthers expressed a range of opinions on the use of guns and nonviolence more generally, the majority of their work was dedicated to building a movement for the liberation of oppressed people. However, due to contemporary press coverage and some shoddily written history, many Americans’ enduring memory of both groups are those that involve guns — which is undoubtedly a consequence of taking up armed resistance against the government.
Although the Bundys, Ritzheimer and company might well see their white, middle-class brethren as an oppressed group, their claims are rooted in the same nostalgic nationalism that defines Trump’s call to “Make America great again.” Troublingly, Trump’s campaign has served as a meeting and mobilizing point for all stripes of right-wing extremists, Minutemen and ordinary (white) Americans lacking alternative narratives to understand their worsening economic circumstances. Forces that in years past could be written off as fringe elements (think Branch Davidians or abortion clinic bombers) can now find voice in an increasingly mainstream political movement. Trump supporters have already assaulted a Latino man in Boston and beaten up a Black Lives Matter protester. His policy proposals include banning Muslim immigration, and rounding up and deporting all of this country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants and their U.S. born, citizen children. Both state and vigilante violence lurk at the heart of Trump’s appeal among his supporters. If the Bundys’ militia haven’t been welcomed with open arms yet, they might well become Trump’s next cause célèbre.
Regardless of how the situation in Oregon is resolved, Trump’s campaign is continuing to rise, and enjoys hearty support among militiamen throughout the country. The Bundys’ actions should be understood not only as part of a long history of right-wing violence, but of a political project that’s actively vying for state power — and stands a real chance of winning the reins to a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. If the goal of any egalitarian movement is to bring about a more deeply peaceful world, it’ll be up to movements to define a greater, nonviolent America and the path to it.
Students at Oriel College are demanding the removal of a figure of the 19th-century colonialist, the architect of racial segregation in southern Africa. As one of the college’s few black students, I’m convinced it should remain
As 50% of the black population of my year at Oriel College, I can say confidently that Oxford University’s racial issues go far beyond the memory of a 150-year-old dead dude. Indeed, when my peers began protesting, I was shocked to find that, despite the visible lack of diversity, the university’s greatest racial debate revolved around a statue of the 19th-century colonialist Cecil Rhodes.
Initially, I agreed with the students who argued that #RhodesMustFall – that the statue in my college should be taken down – assuming mistakenly that the discussion of current race issues would form part of the protest. However, by focusing firmly on the colonial past, the #RhodesMustFall campaign missed an opportunity to highlight the entrenchment of inequality at Oxford. My problem with it lies in the use of an old statue as a symbol of Oxford’s racism. Why do people have to look 150 years into the past to see the issue?Continue reading...
After fifth disappearance, umbrella movement’s Agnes Chow criticises China regime in video that has gone viral
A young pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong has released a video, which has gone viral, attacking Beijing’s campaign of “political suppression” following the disappearances of five booksellers.
Agnes Chow, a 19-year-old student who was a prominent figure during the former colony’s 2014 ”umbrella movement” protests, posted the five-minute video on Facebook on Saturday, three days after a bookshop owner, Lee Po, became the latest member of Hong Kong’s publishing community to vanish.
On March 6, 2015 Naeschylus Carter (also known by the surname Vinzant), an unarmed Black man, was shot and killed by Aurora, Colorado SWAT officer Paul Jerothe, who is white. According to Jerothe, Naeschylus allegedly removed his right hand from his jacket pocket in what was apparently such a threatening manner that it necessitated lethal Read More
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Film, snacks, literature, discussion, pizza, bar, concert.
January 9th 2016 from 3pm at La Ferblanterie
(15 Rue Abélard, Lille, Metro: Porte d’Arras)
Excerpt: For a few months the government has announced its wish, to resume airport works involving the eviction of its inhabitants; destruction of the grove, its cultures and protected species. This is why, following a ZAD call-out to re-establish support committees throughout France, around forty people gathered in Lille on November 25th 2015 to sketch out a new committee.
Program of festivity:
3pm: Film screening of “The battle of black water”.
A film tracing a struggle against a dam project in Couvin, Belgium, notably posing the question of political violence, the compositions during a fight, and finding inventiveness.
5:30pm: “Building the ZAD” short film to introduce the discussion after.
It was made by people from the ZAD that in particular shows the different experiences of food and political autonomy.
6pm: Discussion with the presence of people from the ZAD of NDDL
7:30-8pm: Pizza party! / Bar
Read interviews of people struggling on the ZAD or at Notav made by the “Bad Troops” collective.
Comète Normale, Free Jazz
Liberated price except the bar beer
Translation via Contra Info
Washington, DC — Hundreds rallied in the Chinatown district on New Year’s Eve in protest of police killings of Black women and men over the past year. Protesters briefly shut down intersections as they walked along the 14th and U Street corridors. They ended at the African-American Civil War Memorial on U Street. The rally Read More
The post New Year’s Eve Black Lives Matter Protest Demands Police Reforms In 2016 appeared first on revolution-news.com.
The racist rant of a Pennsylvania man during an anti-fracking protest at Rex Energy went viral this week, with more than 633,000 views on Revolution News and 432,000 views on YouTube so far. The man, identified as John Pisone, verbally assaulted the African-American videographer recording the event, calling him a chimp, accusing him of “milking Read More
The post Rex Energy in Spotlight After Viral Video of Racist at Fracking Protest appeared first on revolution-news.com.
A large floating dam that traps plastic bags, bottles and other waste choking the world’s oceans will be tested at sea for the first time in 2016, the Ocean Cleanup foundation said. While most ocean waste projects try to collect plastic waste with boats that end up inadvertently endangering ocean life. The innovative new dam, Read More
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by Nadine Bloch
It’s that time of year to embrace highlights and bury the out-of-date. As activists, this can be a critical time to evaluate our strategies and alight on alternate paths if needed.
Earlier this month, in Paris, activists with the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination and others launched the Climate Games to counterbalance the U.N. climate talks — yet another international convention full of hot air on an ever more scorched earth. Climate Game Awards were used as a tool to inspire strategic action and encourage community building. So, in appreciation for activists who have gone beyond the ordinary, mobilized magnificent resources, turned commonplace objects into magic wielding wands, or fabricated harbingers of even more technologically advanced and nuanced stunts, I bring you the 2015 Creative Activist Awards.
Let these awards inspire new creative heights for actions within your strategic activist plans. So, without further ado, here are the winners.
The Illuminating Award
This one goes to two groups, one in Russia and one in Spain. In the former, handicap citizens with the organization Dislife, installed holograms of a disabled person in a wheelchair that would flash on when a non-handicap labeled car would try to park in their spot. This was done using a fine mist for the projection and a security camera that would verify (or not) the presence of a handicap sticker on the vehicle. “Don’t pretend I don’t exist” says the holographic wheelchair activist in a bit of misty brilliance.
In Spain, when the Spanish Parliament outlawed protests, No Somos Delito, or NSD, created the world’s first holographic protest march. “The law is surreal — so surreal that it drove us to do something equally surreal, “ said Carlos Escaño of NSD. “It’s about art, about going to a place beyond discourse. It’s about touching emotion.” Beyond that, though, it is about defying citizen security laws in a way that both protects civil society and fights the surreal with surreal.Embed from Getty Images
New Heights Award
We have entered the A.D.(After Drone) age of tagging and graffiti. A well-known graffiti artist and vandal used a six-story-tall fashion spread in New York City as a first canvas for his newly engineered graffiti spray paint drone. While not quite in the pretty category yet, the potential is huge. We eagerly await Graffiti Drone 2.0.
Murals as Metaphor Award
Maricon Collective painted a classic and gorgeous mural featuring gay, lesbian and transgender latin@s on Galería de la Raza’s wall in San Francisco, only to have it vandalized several times. The mural has been repaired at least three times. The gallery has committed to restoring it as many times as it takes because they feel that no one should be marginalized or erased from their history.
Crowdfunding a New World Award
Fed up with the dithering of our politicians while regular citizens suffered without recompense, Thom Feeny, a London shoe shop worker, calculated that a 3 euro donation from every European was all it would take to solve the Greek debt crisis and get folks back on their feet. With this back-of-the-envelope calculation, he launched an IndieGoGo “Greek Bailout Fund” Campaign to do just that. Although it did not reach its 1.6 billion euro target, it did mobilize more than 100,000 ordinary people from 182 countries to pledge 2 million euros — an impressive and heartwarming people-to-people response.
They’re All Quacks Award
In an old school Anonymous move, they declared a National Trolling Day of anti-ISIS memes and propaganda, and swapped rubber ducks in for jihadists across the Internet. Kill them with humor, it has been said.
No Pussy Footing Around Award
In Belgium, following the November 13 Paris attacks, the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown was overwhelmed with cat pictures when the police requested silence about its anti-terrorist operations. Apparently, locals took the reference to heart as the security level was raised to four, or “quatre” in French. For those in the know, “quatre” is pronounced “cat.”
Raise the Bar, Lower the Flag Award
You have to do some things yourself if you want them done in a timely fashion. While the politicians pontificated, Bree Newsome took her place in the annals of nonviolent direct action and lowered the Confederate Flag in front of the South Carolina Statehouse. As the United States continued to reel from the terrorist shootings just 10 days earlier in Charleston, Bree’s action became a beacon for fighting racism and white supremacy across the nation.
Naked Truth Award
The National Day of Action for Black Women and Girls was amplified by topless women protesters blocking traffic in San Francisco. In the tradition of their African grandmothers, the women used this tactic to boldly declare “our bodies are not for your consumption” as they stood up to white supremacy and patriarchy.
Who’s the Biggest Dick? Award
Students at the University of Texas fought back against the Campus Open Carry Gun Law by strapping on dildos! #CocksNotGlocks organizer Jessica Jin noted that although dildos are illegal to openly carry on campus, they are “just about as effective as [guns in] protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play.”
Hot Shit AwardEmbed from Getty Images
As in many parts of the world, South Africa was rocked this year by student protests. Calling out the fallacy of post-apartheid opportunity and continued inequality, student Chumani Maxwele dumped a bucket of shit on the head of a bronze statue of 19th Century British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes on the University of Cape Town campus. Not just any shit, but poo collected in a bucket from a local township without running water, a physical embodiment of the student’s issues. As such, this is known locally as the “poo protest.”
Unsuitable for Children AwardEmbed from Getty Images
Dystopic “bemusement” Theme Park anyone? We’d expect nothing less from Banksy and 58 other artists. Amid a decomposing castle, crashed police van and overturned Cinderella’s chariot, Dismaland delivered despair, gloom, politics and controversy on the site of an old factory in an English seaside town last summer. In one particularly disturbing installation, there was even the opportunity to drive miniature boats overflowing with miniature refugees across a dirty pool.
Good Walls Make Good Neighbors Award
Times are hard in many places. In Iran, “Walls of Kindness” have spontaneously popped up in several cities, featuring decorations with clothes, shoes and coats for the needy next to the words. “If you don’t need it, leave it. If you need it, take it.” Refrigerators where food can be left for the homeless have also been sighted, as part of another community response initiative called “Payan-e Kartonkhabi,” or “ending homelessness.”
By Some London Foxes.
This is a small contribution towards mapping the terrain of social conflict in London today.
First, it identifies some big themes in how London is being reshaped, looking at: London’s key role as a “global hub” for international finance capital; how this feeds into patterns of power and development in the city; and the effect on the ground in terms of two kinds of “social cleansing” – cleaning out undesirable people, and sanitising the social environment that remains.
Second, it surveys recent resistance and rebellion to this pattern of control including the short-lived “grassroots housing movement” of last winter, the confrontational Aylesbury Estate occupation, anti-raids mini-riots, and some riotous street parties.
Third, it tries to stimulate some positive thinking about what we can do now to help anarchy live in “the belly of the beast”.
It doesn’t cover everything important and doesn’t offer “the answers”. But maybe it can help kick off some discussion and some action.
Note from Squat!net: Below we include two chapters ‘Some Seeds’ and ‘Aylesbury occupation’ (2.2. and 2.3) that focus on the early residential-based protest occupation movement, providing summarises and analysis of recent squatting resistance in London. However, naturally the text in it’s entirety is further recommended to fully comprehend the capital’s unique economic structure, within a context of a broader struggle against the state and capital, in order to ignite further uprisings against the enemy.
2.2 Some seeds
Three and a half years later, in the winter of 2014-15, we began to see some small murmurings of self-organised resistance at the frontlines of spreading development.
In September 2014, a group of single mothers threatened with eviction from a hostel, who went by the name “Focus E15”, occupied a small block of flats in the Carpenters’ Estate in Stratford, East London. This was a housing estate right next to the site of the 2012 London Olympics, that had been mostly “decanted” and left open for another classic demolition and gentrification scheme. The occupation only lasted a few weeks but attracted much attention and inspired others.
Similar occupations and high-profile protests sprouted in the next months across other working class neighbourhoods: New Era Estate in Hoxton (East End); Cressingham Gardens and the Guinness Estate in Brixton; West Hendon and Sweet’s Way estates in North London. The same period also saw a rise of “radical casework” housing activism championed by groups such as Hackney Renters (aka DIGS) and Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL): fighting individual evictions with tactics from legal action to pickets, office occupations, or direct resistance.
The left and liberal media salivated over these campaigns. All the elements were there. The firgureheads were mothers, or at least “local working class women”, who could be hailed as “genuine” political subjects rather than “outside agitators”. They were ranged aginst cartoon villain politicians like the deeply unpleasant and corrupt mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales. They practised “civil disobedience” or “non-violent direct action”, which looked good for the cameras but didn’t overstep the bounds of civility. Celebrities rallied round for sleepovers and photo ops, comedy-messiah Russell Brand leading the way.
The local occupations were relatively autonomous, in that the traditional recuperating forces of the Left – the Labour Party, the unions, the trotskyist Socialist Workers Party – were mostly absent. The SWP had been smashed by a big rape scandal, while Labour appeared in terminal decline. The ground was perhaps fertile for new forms of self-organisation and unmediated rebellion.
Although, behind the scenes, there were some moves towards more centralised political organisation. A number of the E15 and other activists were involved with the small marxist “Revolutionary Communist Group”. The big trade union Unite, the main funder of the Labour Party, handed out some money and professional organisers, and sponsored a London-wide forum called the “Radical Housing Network”.
The Radical Housing Network called for a major demo – the “March for Homes” – on 1 February 2015. During this demo, a group of anarchist squatters intervened with a breakaway “Squatters Bloc”, which upped the ante with an ambitious and combative occupation on the Aylesbury Estate.
The idea of mass squatting one of Southwark’s big “decanted” demolition estates had become a holy grail of South London squatting legend. In 2010-11, an exciting time of student mini-riots and occupations that perhaps helped feed the August 2011 uprising, London anarchos held a number of planning meetings for a proposed occupation of the Heygate. These came to nothing: taking over a big estate and holding it against the police seemed beyond our capacities, we talked for months and did nothing. The Aylesbury scheme, on the other hand, was totally last minute. It seemed like a mad experiment, and it didn’t last long. But for the two months it did, it was about the most exciting thing to happen in the city for a good while, and may hold useful lessons for the future.xv
On the day, a breakway bloc of about 150 diverted from the March for Homes down south to take the estate. Very few of those stayed that night, but over the next days numbers grew and the occupation took hold. On the first full day, squatters made contact with estate residents who had campaigned for years against the demolition, held an open air meeting, and relationships began to form. Following the example of E15, the idea was to have one house as a collective space open every day for people to gather, exchange, plot, talk. Visitors arrived from Stratford, Hackney, and all over South London. But it would also need more permanent residents to defend the space and bring it to life.
From the start, there were some obvious lines of tension: between anarcho-squatters, leftist tenant campaigners, other locals of various backgrounds and allegiances, students arriving to take pictures or write dissertations, not to mention a drug-fuelled money-hungry rave crew appearing on the scene. Some of these encounters were provocative and productive, some a headache.
For the first two weeks, the authorities had no plan, and left the occupation alone to flourish and grow. Then they came with the first eviction attempt on 17 February, bringing up to 100 riot cops. The occupation outfoxed them: we had prepared a second building, defended by barricades the council itself had built in a vain attempt to keep us out, and got enough people down to out-number the riot police. Although the immediate area around the occupation was empty awaiting demolition, the blocks nearby were hostile territory for the state, and the local police were well scared of starting a serious riot here. We won the night; they de-escalated.
Which was the sensible move for them. In the next weeks, the police avoided major confrontation, while the local council wore down the occupation by siege. They built a £150,000 razor-wire topped fence around the occupied area, locking us off from the rest of the estate, and hired a force of private security guards (easily costing hundreds of thousands more) to contain and harass. It worked. Only the most “hardcore” occupiers, without many other commitments, could stay long under these conditions, and numbers gradually decreased as other squatters found easier accommodation and supporters got locked out. The occupation went out with one last bang, pulling down several fences in a well planned and well executed final demo on 2 April (which, again, Southwark Police sensibly let happen.)
In the final analysis, London’s existing squatting networks didn’t have the strength, the numbers, to hold the occupation for long. And although the occupiers saturated the whole estate and surrounding area with posters, leaflets, messages in paint or chalk, knocked on doors, held street stalls, called meetings, demos, gatherings, etc., the vast majority of Aylesbury residents weren’t roused to action. Many opposed the development and supported the occupation, but with a few very notable exceptions this support was passive. The occupation did not manage to help activate this passive opposition.
Southwark Council’s decanting strategy, so far, has proved effective. The estate has been left to deteriorate for 20 years, so that tenants start to believe anything else might be better. Those who agree to move are offered shiny new homes. Any who refuse face losing their tenancy and any chance of an affordable home in central London. And the whole scheme is phased over years, people being moved out in dribs and drabs rather than in one dramatic mass eviction.
Perhaps the biggest threat the occupation posed, as the police (if not the council) certainly realised, was that rebellion in the emptied part of the estate would spread to the youth and other confrontational elements in the blocks and streets nearby. The siege succeeded in containing us and preventing this.
In response to the recent Ohio grand jury decision not to bring charges against two police officers in the 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice, Ikiesha Al-Shabazz Whittaker, a former Manhattan prosecutor, posted a video on her Facebook profile to express her frustration with the Grand Jury process and the United States legal system. She Read More
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Greenpeace still accused of colonialism but outgoing South African head has overseen move towards more people-focused, people-powered movement
When Kumi Naidoo was approached to be head of Greenpeace in 2009 he was 19 days into a hunger strike, in an effort to draw attention to the plight of millions of Zimbabweans facing severe food shortages. The head of a South African community group, he was in pain, on liquids, and getting weaker by the hour. It was not the best time to think about moving to Amsterdam to run the world’s most recognised environmental organisation.
But it took a threat from his 16-year-old daughter to persuade him to go for the job. “She said, ‘Dad, I won’t talk to you ever again if you do not consider it.’ Ten days later, still on liquids, I relented,” says Naidoo. “Yes, the head of Greenpeace needed a kick from his daughter. She is my fiercest critic.”Continue reading...