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What the resistance to Trump can learn from Latin America

Waging Nonviolence -

by Jeff Abbott

It is hard to deny the authoritarian tendencies that Donald Trump has shown in his first 100 days as president of the United States. These tendencies have drawn comparisons to the classic image of a Latin American dictator, and more specifically the caudillo — or strongman leader — by commentators from across Latin American. From his taste in decor and his adversarial relationship with the media, to his fundamental assault on human rights, the similarities are hard to contest.

Our neighbors to the south have a long history of resisting authoritarian and fascist regimes, which often were supported by the U.S. governments. They were able to survive under difficult situations and — thanks to social movements — move the region in a more progressive direction. After decades of struggle, here are four lessons that movements in Latin America can teach those in the United States organizing against their own authoritarian leader.

1. Defend public services

Today, as Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos move to further dismantle the public education system and impose a neoliberal model of education, the Chilean mobilization against the U.S.-imposed dictatorship can provide a guide for the defense of public services in the United States.

In 1973, the CIA sponsored a coup d’état led by General Augusto Pinochet against the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende. Following the coup, Pinochet began to implement the first neoliberal economic reforms to the economy. Public institutions, such as education, health care and pensions were privatized. These reforms were led by the former economic students of Milton Friedman from the University of Chicago.

María Loreto Muñoz Villa was only one-year-old when Pinochet seized power. At age 13 she became the president of her class, and eventually participated in the student movements of the 1990s. Today she continues to work to challenge neoliberalism in Chile.

“Neoliberalism creates an illusion of well-being, that is really not there. In Chile, the debt, the long work hours, requires that people mobilize,” Muñoz Villa said. However, it is difficult, “for people to mobilize because of debt, because if they stopped working, they couldn’t pay their debts. Since 2000, the movement has worked with people to see this as the product of neoliberal politics.”

These impacts led people to organize around certain slogans, such as free education. In 2011, tens of thousands of students took to the streets to demand a free public education. The movement looked to challenge the privatized educational system that was established by the Pinochet dictatorship. The privatization denied an affordable quality educational system to the majority of Chileans.

Chile’s student movement has led to changes in Chile’s educational system — including free higher education to 50 percent of the country’s poor — following victory of socialist presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet in 2013. She did this through the implementation of a 25 percent corporate tax to raise money for public education.

Faced with increasing poverty, pensioners and other community activists also began organizing during the administration of Bachelet to demand the end of the Pinochet-era privatized pension system. They argued that the current pension system provides very little to pensioners, all while the companies that manage the pensions earn massive profits. There were massive protests that drew hundreds of thousands to the streets. These efforts led to the recent announcement by Bachelet that her administration will begin to overhaul the country’s pension system.

These campaigns and movements all arose from a shared understanding that neoliberalism is at the root of social inequalities in Chile. According to Muñoz Villa, the rise of Trump means that movements must organize against both his more overt repressive policies and the social impacts of neoliberalism.

This defense of public services, such as education, is already well established in the United States. Teachers of the Chicago Teachers Union have led the charge to protect the public education system. Their movement has been strengthened through their connections with teachers in Mexico and in South America. These relationships need to be strengthened across the country as the struggle to defend public services heats up in the coming months.

2. Build territorial autonomy

The historic dispossession of indigenous lands and territory in the United States has continued into the 21st century. Within the first weeks of his administration, Trump systematically dismantled legislation to protect the environment from extractive industries. He has also repeatedly expressed his interest in expanding mining activities, pipelines and hydro energy, which will continue to threaten indigenous land. These assaults on indigenous territory in the United States reflect the trend in Latin America, where over the last 30 years, indigenous communities have built movements across the hemisphere in defense of their land from the expansion of mega-projects.

These communities are empowered through international agreements on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, such as the International Labor Organization’s Convention 169, as well as the United Nation’s 2007 declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. These accords have galvanized the resistance of indigenous communities to the expansion of extractive industries.

The defense of territory has generated new means of communal power and social changes across the hemisphere. Groups in South America, such as the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil, have worked to create autonomous, horizontal forms of education within the classrooms in their communities. Other movements, such as the Zapatistas in Mexico, have utilized their territorial autonomy to construct an autonomous educational system, as well as healthcare systems that incorporates ancestral medicinal practices with modern medicine.

The movement at Standing Rock began to build bridges to these communities across the hemisphere. At the height of the encampment, indigenous leaders from countries like Guatemala and Mexico traveled to South Dakota to share their experiences and lessons from their movements. Among the primary messages that the indigenous leaders brought was that their struggles — and their enemies — were one in the same. In this sense, the camp became the point of interchange between indigenous peoples from Latin America and from around the world. Despite the camp’s destruction in February, the foundations for a long resistance to protect indigenous land have been put in place.

3. Build new means of labor organizing

Politics as usual has failed most rank-and-file workers in the United States. Despite the support that Trump received from the working class, his election means disaster for workers and organized labor. Trump’s war on unions has included nominating an outspokenly anti-union lawyer to the National Labor Relations Board, and putting forward a number of anti-union candidates for Labor Secretary. As neoliberalism continues its assault on workers, the lessons from South America can also provide organizers with another means of how to organize in the workplace at times of crisis.

The 2001 economic crisis in Argentina that forced millions out of work and led to the collapse of financial services triggered the piquetero, or picketer, movement. This mobilization brought together vast numbers of impoverished unemployed workers to demand and obtain a sustainable livelihood. They were forced to construct alternatives to the neoliberal capitalist system.

Protesters adopted the slogan “Que se vayan todos,” or “They all must go,” and sought to replace the corrupt political system that led to the 2001 crisis. In the course of two weeks, four presidents were forced to resign due to the popular protests. Furthermore, the movement contributed to the emergence of direct democracy on street corners, where neighbors would come out and work together to resolve problems within their neighborhoods.

“The piquetero movement did not only resist the neoliberal politics, they created productive ventures,” said Raul Zibechi, a Uruguayan journalist, author and social movement analyst. “They ended their dependence on the state, and began working on autonomy. Not an ideological autonomy, but a practical autonomy.”

Workspaces were recuperated by employees who returned to work to find locked doors and shuttered businesses. Following the crisis, more than 180 cooperatives were formed by their workers. By 2014, this number had expanded to 311 businesses that employed 13,462 workers.

The rise of the movement eventually contributed to the narrow victory of Néstor Carlos Kirchner in the May 2003 presidential. His administration’s first steps were to renegotiate the country’s debt, and to break ties with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

4. Move beyond political power

The story of Argentina also serves as a warning to the movement in the United States about the danger of focusing solely on winning electoral victories without also building alternative forms of power beyond the state. Zibechi argues that the rise of Kirchner led to the decline of the piquetero movement and is an example of how a movement can be co-opted by politicians in order to achieve power.

“Kirchner’s policy consisted of simultaneously enacting strategies to integrate, co-opt and discipline the piquetero organizations,” wrote sociologist Maristella Svampa.

Kirchner spoke out against the popular protests, stating that the piqueteros should use more traditional democratic means, such as voting, rather than blocking roads and picketing. Furthermore, many middle-class voters, who made up many of the neighborhood associations, were taken in by the Kirchner campaign, believing that it was an anti-neoliberal administration. But his administration never led to a move towards a social and economic alternative.

The failure of the subsequent administration of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to fully transform the political situation led to the eventual return of the neoliberal influence in Argentina, and the election of right-wing politician Mauricio Macri in 2015.

A key lesson from the piquetero movement in Argentina and the movements against neoliberalism in Chile is that finding the means of constructing new forms of social relations outside the neoliberal and traditional political structure is a necessity for those organizing against Trump. These local solutions can provide communities with the means of building sustainable movements to resist the draconian policies of any government.

I was arrested for protesting. My idealism did not prepare me for that experience | Julian Brave NoiseCat

The Guardian | Protest -

I grew up believing that getting arrested for protesting was a rite of passage. Then I learned the hard facts of what it would mean

The social contract is broken. The election of Donald Trump and the rise of rightwing populism have obliterated the façade of tolerance and equality revealing the hateful face of the far right. In response, progressive political life has taken on an existential urgency, giving rise to new coalitions and tactics collectively called “the resistance.”

For the first time since the 1960s, millions of Americans are taking to the streets, scrawling clever slogans across cloth and cardboard, donning pink knit hats and marching for causes as varied as taxes and women’s rights. Ahead lie political possibilities both promising and ominous.

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Bob Brown's lawyer argues Tasmania's anti-protest laws designed to stop free speech

The Guardian | Protest -

Ron Merkel tells high court laws not designed to protect businesses but to stop environmental protests

The “true purpose” of Tasmanian anti-protest laws is not to protect businesses but to stop political communication such as environmental campaigns, Bob Brown’s lawyers have told the high court.

On Tuesday the high court held the first day of the full hearing of Brown’s challenge to the controversial Tasmanian anti-protest laws after he was arrested in January 2016 at Lapoinya state forest near Burnie in Tasmania’s north-west.

Related: Bob Brown's lawyers to argue anti-protest laws are unconstitutional

Related: War and peace – and war again? The battle for Tasmania’s ancient forests

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Protesters throw Pepsi cans at police during May Day demonstrations

The Guardian | Protest -

Medic hit and demonstration shut down as Portland protesters mock theme of Kendall Jenner advertisement where she handed drink to police officer

A May Day protest in Portland has been shut down after demonstrators threw full cans of Pepsi at officers, with one hitting a medic, according to police in the US city.

Related: Diet Woke: how Pepsi’s ad backfired for Kendall Jenner

A @PDXFire medic was hit by a full @pepsi can thrown during #MayDayPDX protest march. Not injured.

Police took some shields from anarchists, anarchists grouped up toward cops. 1 tried to hand Pepsi to cop, unsuccessfully #Mayday #MayDayPDX pic.twitter.com/IV8nDzxLeP

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May Day protest poised for huge turnout as coalition of activists joins unions

The Guardian | Protest -

Spurred by opposition to the Trump administration, demonstrators to march on behalf of women, LGBT community, immigrants, and ethnic minorities

May Day protest organizers were expecting a surge of thousands of demonstrators on Monday as rights groups came together for annual worker’s protests, galvanized by the Trump administration.

Related: We need May Day more than ever. Unite to dream and fight for a better tomorrow | Kim Kelly

Related: 'It's life and death': border crossings continue despite the Trump effect

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Bill Thornycroft obituary

The Guardian | Protest -

After being sacked from several engineering jobs because of his membership of the Communist party, from 1953 onwards my friend Bill Thornycroft, who has died aged 90, dedicated himself to working for organisations affiliated affilitated to the party: Collet’s bookshop, Central Books and Progressive Tours. Later he ran a grocery shop and made a living as an electrician.

In the 1970s he joined the picket line at Grunwick, the film-processing factory in north-west London where mostly Asian female workers were on strike for the right to belong to a trade union. He was arrested by the Met’s Special Patrol Group and spent the night in a police cell. He opposed racist and fascist organisations, and protested against the National Front’s march in Lewisham in 1977 during which participants were pelted with bricks, concrete blocks and stones. He became a member of the Stop the War movement after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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We need May Day more than ever. Unite to dream and fight for a better tomorrow | Kim Kelly

The Guardian | Protest -

After Donald Trump’s victory in November, many people mourned … but many more organised. Today we celebrate the resurgent left that will not back down

April showers bring May flowers, and this year, following a positively dreadful April, the flowers of revolution – black flags and red banners – will bloom alongside the crocuses and daffodils. May Day – the pagan feast turned workers’ holiday – has always belonged to the people, whether they were hoisting maypoles or hurling Molotov cocktails, and the first of May’s revolutionary roots will be on full display this year.

This year marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, so it’s already a big year for the radical left and for revolutionary thinkers everywhere. But, that’s not why May Day 2017 stands to be remembered as the most important since 1886, when American labor activists intensified their campaign for the eight hour workday, and seven American and immigrant anarchists were executed in the Haymarket Square show trial.

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Wuppertal: For a District Social- and Refugee Welcome Center at Marienstrasse 41

House Occupation News -

Solidarity with City Plaza in Athens and all other squats on the planet! Friedel 54 in Berlin will stay! Take the streets for an autonomous May Day!

Today, the 30th of April we did a small action in front of the building at Marien street 41 to create awareness of the many empty buildings at the Ölberg district and the repression against self-organised housing projects. It was an action in front of the building. Still.

In August and September 2014 the Marien Street 41 was squatted twice and immediately evicted again. The protected monument was barricaded with aluminium plates by the former owner to make it more difficult to occupy the building. Until today the city of Wuppertal did nothing against this clear violation of the regulations for protected monuments.

After years of vaccantness the former squatters wanted to create, apart from affordable living-space, a district social- and refugees welcome center in the building. But the police evicted the building only hours after it was squatted. Several people were detained and some people were injured because of police violence at the Ölberg district.

But why was the building evicted in the first place? In 2015 the Marien Street 41 was sold by court order. New owner became the Triacon Ltd from Braunschweig. Triacon paid about 136.000€ for the building. Representatives of the company asserted that they wanted to reconstruct the building and indeed some demolition waste was transported out of the building. But the promised reconstruction never took place. In February 2017 the news came out that Triacon wants to sell the building for 225.000€.

A ludicrous price and we are afraid that the Marien Street will remain empty in the near future. Unless… Unless… Its squatted again and will not be evicted to remain empty this time. There is still a need for affordable housing at the Ölberg district in Wuppertal and a district social- and refugees-welcome-center is still desirable. This became very clear at the assembly with neighbours at September the 21st in 2014, where many neighbours supported the proposals of the former squatters. After this years media reports about the plans of the Triacon Ltd to sell the building, there was outrage in the Ölberg district because of the broken promises by the owner to reconstruct and use the building.

It becomes more and more clear that we have to start using the building ourselves. Neither owner Triacon, nor the city of Wuppertal used the building during the past years. The solidary neighbourhood of Elberfeld north is more capable to give the building a meaningful purpose. A self-organised project for people who are living for a long time in this neighbourhood and for people who just arrived here.

Solidarity with City Plaza in athens and all other squats on the planet!

But not only in Wuppertal houses are evicted to remain empty. A few days ago a squat in Münster was evicted and in other cities this happens again and again. In Greece, where tens of thousands of people who fled war and persecution are still trapped because of EU border closures and the so-called EU-Turkey Deal, several squats where evicted in the past months. In some of these squats refugees found a place to live, so they didn’t have stay in tents in Greek military refugee camps. The City Plaza squat in Athens is also under eviction threat. About 1500 people are involved in the project. Refugees and people from Greece and other countries. In the self-organised City Plaza squat people who’s dignity was robbed by EU refugee policies, can organise their life themselves again.

But self-organised people and projects seem to be anathema for the wannabe leftwing Greek government and EU authorities. They dont have a problem to distort facts. Like with the life-saver on the mediterranean sea, who were accused by EU representatives for causing the drownings. Instead of stopping the cause of mass mortality by creating legal ways to travel to the EU or by abolishing borders, the people who try to save as many peoples lifes with rescue missions are defamed and criminalized by EU politicians. In contrast to the refugee camps in Europe, self-organised projects like City Plaza are small paradises.

The self-organised project Friedel 54 in Berlin is also under immediate threat of eviction. In the faster and faster turning gentrification spiral many residents and social projects like Friedel 54 are being displaced out of the city. There are still a few small paradises like Friedel 54 in Berlin and the resistance against displacements is growing. The Marien street 41 could also become such a small paradise. Its time we start to do something.

For a District Social- and Refugee Welcome Center at Marien Street 41!
Hands Off City Plaza!
Friedel 54 in Berlin stays!
Take the streets for an autonomous May Day! 1st of May, 02:00pm, Platz der Republik, Wuppertal, Germany

Enough is Enough! https://enoughisenough14.org/2017/04/30/if-necessary-marien41-will-be-occupied-41-times-hands-off-cityplaza-friedel54/

Amsterdam: Two houses re-squatted

House Occupation News -

Two houses were today re-squatted in Jeruzalem (Amsterdam) after being left empty by Rochdale since the eviction of the previous squatters in January.

Today two houses were re-squatted in the neighbourhood of Jeruzalem (Amsterdam). These houses on Minckelersstraat have been left empty by the housing corporation Rochdale since the eviction of the previous squatters at the end of January 2017.

The neighbourhood contains a mix of social and free sector housing, and the entire area is being renovated or demolished and redeveloped. The previous squatters were presented with court documents by Rochdale detailing their plans for the houses which today were re-squatted – they were to be used as modelwoning, to demonstrate to residents what to expect from their renovations. However, this purported use of the properties never materialised, instead they were boarded up and left vacant.

According to Rochdale’s concept plan for the renovations (dated March 2017), modelwoning exist elsewhere in the neighbourhood. Residents of the block concerned had the opportunity to view these in March. In other words, the previous squatters were evicted for no reason other than to leave these houses empty.

They plan to begin construction on the block in September 2017, however at present appear to still be in the process of gaining agreement from residents to move forward with their renovation plans. In the meantime, they advise that vacant properties which will not be transferred to anti-squat will instead be made uninhabitable. They state that this will be achieved by destroying utility connections and/or boarding up their doors.
We find this absolutely unacceptable in the current housing crisis, particularly as it remains unclear whether works will begin in September. In addition, current residents of the block have voiced their dissatisfaction with Rochdale’s handling of the entire process, and others whose houses have already been renovated are unhappy with the results.

In 2010, the housing block was awarded monument status due to its historical significance from the post-war rebuild era. This status was the result of a residents initiative, intended to safeguard their homes as the original plans were to demolish the block. In 2014, Rochdale were accused of exploiting this status by charging significantly higher rents to newcomers (712 euros per month), purely because the blocks were now monumental.

In a broader perspective, there is a major problem with such housing corporations reducing their social housing stock by switching homes into the free sector market. There is already not enough social housing for those who require it, and waiting lists in Amsterdam well exceed the 10 year mark. In such an environment it is unacceptable to continue to reduce social housing stock for the purpose of profiteering from the free sector market.

We like many need housing, and we find it ridiculous that Rochdale has left these houses empty following the eviction of the previous squatters, and that they appear to have no intention to remedy this vacancy. For this and the reasons outlined above – and our own need for housing – we have today re-squatted these houses on Minckelersstraat.

https://www.indymedia.nl/node/40003

Thousands march across US to demand action on climate change – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Mass protests in Washington, San Francisco, Denver and Seattle coincide with Donald Trump’s 100th day in office and take aim at his rolling back of environmental protections. Organisers said about 300 sister marches were being held around the country, including in Seattle, Boston and San Francisco. In Chicago, marchers headed from the city’s federal plaza to Trump Tower. In Denver, marchers were met with a dose of spring snow

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EPA wipes its climate change site day before march on Washington

The Guardian | Protest -

Visitors to the website on Saturday found it was ‘undergoing changes’ to reflect the agency’s ‘new direction’, as thousands protest climate inaction

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s main climate change website is “undergoing changes” to better reflect “the agency’s new direction” under Donald Trump.

Related: The American people – not Big Oil – must decide our climate future | Senator Bernie Sanders and Mark Jacobson

Related: The Republicans who care about climate change: 'They are done with the denial'

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Neo-Nazi leader: ‘Trump is controlled by the Jewish lobby’ – video

The Guardian | Protest -

Art Jones, a prominent neo-Nazi who has been identified by the Anti-Defamation League as a Holocaust denier, speaks at a National Socialist Movement rally in eastern Kentucky on Friday night and accuses Donald Trump of having ‘betrayed’ him. Jones specifically points to Trump’s failure to secure funding for a border wall and implement a ban on Muslims, saying he regrets voting for him in the presidential election

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Armed neo-Nazis prepare for potential clash in small Kentucky town

The Guardian | Protest -

Hate groups have come to tiny Pikeville in a bid for support, but locals fear a violent standoff between the neo-Nazis and anti-fascist protesters

In a tent deep in the woods of rural Kentucky, an old neo-Nazi spoke bitterly of how he feels “betrayed” by Donald Trump.

“I’m sorry I voted for the son of a bitch, I really am,” said Art Jones, who the Anti-Defamation League identifies as a Holocaust denier who has been dressing in Nazi garb and celebrating Hitler since the 1970s.

Related: Ann Coulter cancels speech (again) – but battle for Berkeley's political soul rages on

Related: 'I refuse to be like them': why the man shot while protesting Milo Yiannopoulos doesn't want revenge

Related: I was the target of a neo-Nazi ‘troll storm'

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

The Guardian | Protest -

Vladimir Putin is riding high, expecting a fourth term as president and allegedly influencing elections from the US to France – but Alexei Navalny is determined to stop him

Alexei Navalny is in good spirits for a man who can hardly step outside without being insulted, assaulted or arrested. Earlier this month he was released from a 15-day stint in a Russian jail. And on Thursday, in Moscow, unknown assailants threw green dye in his face, the second such attack in recent months. But his habitual half-smirk never seems to waver.

Perhaps it is because, as Vladimir Putin prepares to stand for yet another presidential term in elections next March, Navalny is threatening to bring some life to the arid landscape that is Russian politics. Navalny was imprisoned because of a protest he called for on 26 March. It surprised everyone with its size. In Moscow alone, police detained more than 1,000 people, and jailed dozens. Although the numbers were small in absolute terms, people protested in dozens of towns across Russia, marking a worrying new development for the Kremlin.

Related: How Nike trainers became the latest unlikely symbol of revolt

Related: Why have I been arrested? Maybe you killed Kennedy, the Russian officer said

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The Resistance Now: Star Wars, 'aliens' and Leonardo DiCaprio join the fight

The Guardian | Protest -

Record heat may hit People’s Climate March; immigration will be a key focus for May Day strikes; Star Wars protesters prepare to greet Trump in New York

It seems the Earth has a sense of irony. “Record-breaking heat” is possible at the People’s Climate March in DC on Saturday, where thousands of people are planning to protest against the president’s climate change policies on his 100th day in office. Trump’s initiatives include, but are not limited to, a 31% cut in the Environmental Protection Agency and potentially leaving the Paris climate agreement.

If any of you need to report space aliens to our government, please call their hotline: 1-855-48-VOICE. Here are some of their Most Wanted: pic.twitter.com/nWnVYdDdpG

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Families rally to end police raids in NYC public housing

Waging Nonviolence -

by Ashoka Jegroo

Activists take part in a noise demo outside Manhattan Correctional Center on April 27. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

Various activist groups were joined by the relatives of young people arrested during recent so-called “gang” raids in New York City’s public housing developments on Thursday, as they rallied and marched from City Hall to the Manhattan Correctional Center to demand an end to the raids, as well as freedom for those who have already been arrested.

“We’re here today because one year ago, very early in the morning, over 700 officers, including federal and local agents, kidnapped 120 young people from their houses in Eastchester Gardens in the Bronx. Most of those young people are still in prison at Manhattan Correctional Center,” said Jocelyn Cohn of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, one of the groups that helped organize the march. “And we’re here to support the families and we’re here to tell the local and federal government that this has to stop.”

Over the last few years, the New York City Police Department has collaborated with various federal agencies to conduct militarized raids in multiple New York City Housing Authority public housing developments around the city. During these raids, police have arrested hundreds of young black and brown men, charging them under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — a law originally used against the mafia. From the 2014 Manhattanville-Grant raids in Harlem to the 2016 Eastchester Gardens raids in the Bronx to the Kingborough raid in Brooklyn earlier this year, the police and the feds — often using local tragedies and drug war propaganda as a pretext — have violently invaded people’s homes and destroyed families and communities under the auspices of supposedly protecting them from drugs and gangs. Now, activists and the relatives of young men arrested in some of these raids, particularly the Eastchester Gardens raid, are trying to support those who are locked up and help prevent more young people from being caught up in future raids.

The Eastchester Gardens raid, loudly touted as the city’s largest raid, has — in particular – served as a catalyst for political mobilization. Numerous families had their doors broken down in the middle of the night by armored, heavily armed cops and federal agents. Police used classic drug war rhetoric, local tragic deaths, and even social media activity to justify labeling people as “gang members.” They then enacted collective punishment through violent home invasions and mass arrests.

“As alleged, these individuals engaged in open-air drug sales near homes and schools in the Bronx, pushing poison onto our streets,” then-NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton said at the time. “Allegedly, they also committed numerous acts of violence and at least eight murders in the course of their illicit operations.”

Some of the 120 men who were arrested in that raid — known as the Bronx 120 — have been put in solitary confinement since September, which has been called a form of torture. But their families have continued to speak out and demand their freedom.

“How long must we continue to suffer under this oppressive government that has seized our kids in the early morning,” asked Paula Clarke, another mother of the Bronx 120. “Bob Marley said ‘No woman, no cry,’ but we cry! We’ve been crying since last year, and we’re still crying today because our sons were ripped away from us. They were taken and put in the prisons, like the plantations of yesterday, for slave labor and for profit. Our neighborhood is void. It’s empty. There’s no one there. Where are the children? They’re gone. They’ve all disappeared. And we’re constantly reminded of their absence.”

Cynthia Turnquest-Jones, who taught Ramarley Graham, speaks at a rally outside City Hall in New York on April 27. (WNV/Ashoka Jegroo)

Dozens of activists began gathering at City Hall at around 3 p.m. on Thursday, where families spoke out and called on local government officials put an end to the raids. They then marched to the U.S. Attorney’s office located next to the NYPD’s headquarters and spoke about how the raids are used to evict families and make way for gentrification, how the drug war is used to round up young black and brown people for cheap labor inside America’s prisons, and how mainstream media makes all this possible by demonizing young, poor people of color.

“Throughout history, Africans have been painted as criminals, lazy, shiftless, uneducated, lacking self-control. Anything to allow other Africans to turn a blind eye to each other’s incarceration,” said Shannon Jones, of the anti-police brutality group Why Accountability. “Fast forward to now, the same governmental forces that want the African to perform uncompensated labor must come up with novel ways and new iterations of getting the African to work for free. And one of those ways is through the penal system.”

The protesters then made their way to Manhattan Correctional Center, where many of the Bronx 120 are currently being held, for a noise demo. People locked up inside the jail could be seen flicking their lights on and off and could be heard banging on their windows as the activists shouted out anti-police and anti-prison chants.

“A lot of speakers talked about it today, but it’s really community control over people’s own lives, an end to prisons, an end to the police,” Cohn said, when asked what her ideal solution to the raids would be. “The police and prisons were started from slavery. Police, as most people know, were started from slave catching. Prisons were started to hold and discipline people who didn’t fit into the white, bourgeois society that was developing in this country. We feel that serves absolutely no purpose for us now. It never has. It’s time to end it, and we know how to take care of our own.”

The activists are planning another noise demo outside of Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, another jail where some of the Bronx 120 are being held, on May 13. The families say they won’t stop fighting until their arrested relatives are freed and the raids are ended.

“It’s torture in there for these young men. It’s dirty and filthy, and it breaks my heart when I go to visit my son and see him in these conditions,” said Ms. Smith, a mother of one of the Bronx 120, who used a pseudonym to avoid retaliation from the authorities. “My hands are tied, but my voice is not. I’m not giving up. They’re going to free my son out of this mess.”

Brazilians sick of corrupt politicians hit the streets to protest austerity measures

The Guardian | Protest -

Police clash with striking union workers in streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as protesters in 26 states demonstrate against Michel Temer’s proposed reforms

Brazilian unions have ratcheted up the pressure on Michel Temer with a nationwide general strike that closed schools, disrupted transport networks and led to clashes with public security in several cities.

Demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo blocked key roads with barricades of burning tires. Riot police used teargas and percussion grenades to try to disperse the crowds and open the routes.

Related: Brazil's corruption inquiry list names all the power players – except the president

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EU and Nato plead for calm in Macedonia after protest at parliament

The Guardian | Protest -

Nationalist protesters attacked politicians and journalists in an attempt to prevent election of an ethnic Albanian as speaker

The EU and Nato have pleaded for calm in Macedonia after nationalist protesters stormed the parliament in Skopje on Thursday, attacking politicians and journalists in an attempt to prevent the election of an ethnic Albanian as speaker.

The protesters, supporters of former prime minister Nikola Gruevski’s conservative, Russia-backed VMRO party, demanded new elections.

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