The following is a short summary of the anti-immigrant violence happening in several cities and townships in South Africa. The Report is made by a member of First of May Anarchist Alliance currently living there.
Report by D.
KNIFE EDGE: An immigrant waits for gangs of locals that attacked foreign shop owners in the Durban city centre yesterday. At least three people were stabbed and one burnt. Image by: TEBOGO LETSIE
It’s an unfortunate situation that’s having an impact on everybody here in Durban. Downtown has been a no go zone during the night, it has been the primary battleground between native South Africans and immigrants in the city. In response the ANC controlled government has organized nationwide counter demonstrations on Thursday that brought out tens of thousands of people, however on the following day more looting of immigrant shops was reported in Johannesburg.
Tension between indigenous South Africans (Zulu’s Xhosa’s etc.) and “foreigners” (Nigerians Ethiopians Somali’s etc.) has been bubbling for a quite a while. SA in particular has a long history Xenophobia that dates back to the days of apartheid and has even increased since its demise. The last big wave in 2008, left dozens dead and injured in Cape Town Durban and Johannesburg. Just last month there was a riot in Soweto where again foreign owned businesses were looted, though some dispute whether it was targeted or just a coincidence that they happened to be foreign. Continue Reading…
SATURDAY APRIL 18TH – 12 NOON
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE BASEMENT CLASSROOM
111 E KIRBY ST, DETROIT, MI 48202
Public Presentation and Discussion on the Struggle in Rojava
Against the State and Capitalism.
Against Patriarchy and Domination.
For a multi-cultural, anti-racist and free society.
In the war-torn Middle East region formerly known as Syria, a popular revolution is underway. The most dramatic actions by the people in what is now known as Rojava (western Kurdistan) has been the heroic resistance to the military siege by the authoritarian and murderous Islamic State. The people of Rojava have adopted a new program of social self-defense and reconstruction.
Join us in a discussion of this struggle, its relevance to our fight against U.S. and international Imperialism, and its meaning for the whole of the Middle East.
HOSTED BY THE FIRST OF MAY ANARCHIST ALLIANCE – DETROIT LOCAL
Ikemba, a new member of First of May Anarchist Alliance is now training in Germany with a professional soccer club. Here is his report from anti-fascist protests in Frankfurt earlier this past March against a new racist, right-wing formation – PEGIDA – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamazation of the West.
When the incident of Michael Brown being slain at the hands of the individuals who are supposedly protecting and serving the masses occurred in August I was in Germany, pursuing a professional soccer career. I felt miserable that I was in Germany and I couldn’t find a way in which I could support individuals who were just as enraged as me through direct action. I was happy, enjoying Germany and new experiences, while things in the United States were occurring, that I felt, I needed to be a part of. Eventually, I made my way back to the United States and I quickly began attending protests against police violence. I felt I needed to be involved, although I am often annoyed with the sheer symbolism of protesting rather than there actually being demands made. With that being said, I was content with the militancy that was taking place in Ferguson. I ended up driving down to Ferguson the day after the announcement of the “no indictment” of officer Darren Wilson. I was eager to be involved in protesting, that I felt, would be militant in a way that not many protest in the United States are. Continue Reading…
The resistance following the murder of Michael Brown was immediate, local, based in the community and angry. This resistance grew quickly, folks came to Ferguson to support and, in the fall, with the failure to indict on Brown and the Eric Garner murder in New York, the movement took off in New York, in Ferguson and across the country.
The breadth and depth of the movement surprised many, but there is a resistance in this country. We were surprised by the Occupy Movement from a few years ago, and we were surprised by the nationwide resistance on Trayvon Martin. Now we see this resistance continues to grow and to deepen and to get broader, but it remains, in many ways, not organized.
Encouraging developments were/are many: this started from the community in Ferguson and grew from there. Various forces were in motion. Younger, working class youth from the Black community, more middle class youth from the Black community, many young women and parents. There also was support from the broader movement, which includes many younger, white folks. This also appeared to include some younger middle class students as well as some working class young folks. There also was support and actions from Latino, Asian, Native and other communities. The breadth and scope was encouraging and a new development, I think. This is something we’ve been working towards, and we’ve seen some examples of it.
The range of tactics also was encouraging, from the focus on the police and local government/authority to the no business as usual/shut it down approach to blocking freeways and bridges, actions at shopping malls and other. There were some good examples of direct action tactics using social media to organize, having more than one action at a time in the same community, coordination and taking these actions to the population as a whole all were new directions which grew out of the struggle. There was some creativity and coordination that we haven’t seen before. Continue Reading…
A new pamphlet published by the Minneapolis Local of First of May Anarchist Alliance
Utopian #13 is now posted on our website, www.utopianmag.com.
We’ll start production of the print issue in a few days.
Mount Saint Rosalie (Three Poems)…Bob McGlynn
Movement (The Pentagon, 1967)…Paul Bernstein
Theory and Debate:
There are a couple of related pieces which we’ll post shortly in the “Updates and New Discussion” section of the website.
- Nick O. – First of May Anarchist Alliance
Prisons play a greater role in society than just warehousing people for social control and profit. While all incarceration is violence, physical confinement is also an opportunity to carry out psychological violence. This manufactured stress is not merely a result of sadism carried out by individuals in authoritarian positions like in the Stanford Prison Experiment. I see the purpose as being an attempt to legitimize state violence imposed on incarcerated people by backing it with moral and intellectual authority. In order to maintain control, the prison industrial complex and its administration must maintain legitimacy in the eyes of inmates. If a radical analysis of the prison system were to become popular among prison populations, a vastly greater amount of resources would be needed to maintain control, if control could be kept at all. The same is true for the public. Law enforcement would be rendered almost entirely ineffective without the faith and cooperation of communities. In the Minnesota Department of corrections, all newly committed offenders are assessed for substance abuse problems. In 2008, 80% of those assessed were directed to complete treatment programming. (MN-DOC, 2009 Report to the Legislature) Because of the vast number of treatment mandates, chemical dependency treatment has become the cornerstone for imposing an ideology that attempts to legitimize mass incarceration and mask the interests of capital and state that motivate the growing prison industrial complex. Treatment programs serve several key functions for the department of corrections:
1) Mandating Religious Ideology: The twelve steps have connections to the Oxford Group, a Christian organization that was most popular during the 1930’s. Although there are positive aspects to the AA/NA communities, this is of concern. Especially when treatment is implemented involuntarily. Inmates who refuse or fail to carry out their treatment mandates will have their parole delayed by 30 days and will miss out on opportunities to transfer to lower security levels. Changing the twelve steps by substituting “higher power” where they used to say god does not change the fact that these programs are highly suggestive. While nothing is wrong with an individual practicing the religion of their choice, courts or prison administrations mandating programs that have ideology rooted in organized religion is a violation of rights. This is not much different than if church or any other religious service were made mandatory. Imposing ideology of a religious nature instills a value system in which people are urged to display obedience to an external authority. These principles are mirrored within society. Instead of taking control of their lives, people place their fate in the hands of a ruler. The concept of the first of the twelve steps is powerlessness, and this sets the tone for the entire program.
2) Undermining Prisoner Solidarity: While participating in prison treatment programs, inmates live in areas with others going through the same program. These units are referred to as therapeutic communities. There are many arbitrary rules and prisoners are encouraged to confront and report behaviors in others that has been deemed to be negative by the administration. Inmates are also pressured to inform on others in guided group interaction. Collective punishment and favoritism for informants are common and highly effective control tactics implemented. Constant threat of program failure resulting in loss of parole time, work release or a reduction in security level is used to apply additional pressure and promote inmates giving up information on each other. This causes an environment of distrust among prisoners and essentially creates an inmate population that polices itself. As a result it is very difficult for prisoners in a unit to organize any resistance or express criticisms of the prison staff or program. Those who do not give up information under pressure are said to be “upholding the criminal code” or “conspiring with negative behavior.” It is effective in creating a population of scared, competing individuals rather than a group of inmates with a sense of unity. Prisons, especially treatment units deliberately create environments that won’t allow prisoner solidarity to develop. This leaves inmates with options of being informants and collaborators with prison administrators or taking part of prison politics, which divides incarcerated people by race and gang affiliation. Neither snitch culture nor prison culture is a solution. Inmates need to realize that their power is in their numbers and prisoner solidarity is the only means by which a resistance can be carried out against the prison industrial complex. Continue Reading…
A MESSAGE FROM UPS WORKERS
Sisters and Brothers:
We are a group of workers at the UPS distribution center in Northeast Minneapolis. Like many such jobs, the pay is low and the conditions terrible. The workers at our facility are a diverse group of young people, many of whom are attempting to pay our ways through community or tech colleges. Each day, we sort through and load through thousands of packages into trucks so they can get to their destinations across the country and UPS can make its billions. On last Friday, some of us made an exception… Early last week, we looked into one of the companies which ships through our facility, a company called Law Enforcement Targets, Inc. This company ships shooting range targets to police departments and federal agencies nationwide, and we discovered it was shipping to cops all around Ferguson. They sell product lines like “Urban Street Violence” and “No More Hesitation”. They have photos of sterotypical “thugs,” as well as pictures of gun-wielding children, pregnant women, mothers, and elderly people, all as if to say that you should consider everyone you see as a threat to be gunned down. So, last Friday, a small group of about a dozen workers, both workers of color and white workers, started to stand up to our work contributing to the ongoing violence against the people of Ferguson and the police murder of young black people like Michael Brown. When Law Enforcement Targets packages came into trailers, loaders would remove them and place them outside. When they came across our conveyor belts, sorters would refuse to correctly sort them. When managers asked workers to put the packages into the right truck, they would conveniently find more important tasks to take care of first. We posed outside our building with signs reading “Hands Up Don’t Ship.”
This was simply a start, and most of the packages were placed by supervisors int
o the trucks later. But it is growing. Right now, as this statement is being read, we are at work, continuing with this, and each day more people at work are learning of the action and deciding to join us. We want to put forward a simple idea: we shouldn’t be forced to contribute to racism, brutality, or murder in order to pay our rent.
What if every time the cops brutalized black and brown communities, no one would send them ammo? What if no one would fix their patrol cars? What if their laundry service refused to wash the stench off their uniforms? What if every time they tried to close down a school in a poor neighborhood, janitors at city hall refused to show up to work? What if we stopped having to check our conscience at the door when we clock in?
We’re a far way away from that, and we know it. But we want you to know that you have more power than you think. It’s not just us, people working all sorts of jobs can take on these awful systems if we get organized. For us, we’ve done this through the Industrial Workers of the World, and we know that some of our comrades from the IWW are here today and would be happy to put anyone in touch with us. For you, it may be something different. Whatever it is, we urge you to find ways that we can all stand up to oppression as working people and stop the systems that keep people down. We’ll be there to support you so we can all stand taller together against the violence and brutality.
by an M1 Chicago Member
On Tuesday, August 19, my wife and I decided (more or less spontaneously) to drive down to Ferguson from Chicago. As politically engaged people in general, and as white people parenting a black son in particular, we were both enraged by the murder of Michael Brown and inspired by the continuing struggles of the people of Ferguson.
We wanted to see with our own eyes what was really going on and to act as witnesses to a historical moment of repression and resistance. The goal, to the extent that we had one, was educational, for us, for our children, and for our friends and comrades unable to be there in person. Apart from what we had read on the internet, we had two other sources of on-the-ground information: I had been in touch that day with an older revolutionary already in Ferguson, while my wife had touched base with a younger friend/comrade who had been in Ferguson earlier doing legal observing and trainings. Both of them told us to be careful, but encouraged us to go.
We didn’t get on the road until about 1pm so we arrived at what people have been calling “ground zero” (the intersection of W. Florissant and Ferguson Road) around 6pm. Not knowing exactly what to expect in terms of either crowd or police behavior, we parked a couple blocks away and walked in, carrying supplies for ourselves and a 32 pack of water bottles to share with people in the crowd, which we successfully distributed within minutes of arrival. Whatever else people “on the ground” want or need, water is always appreciated.
Apart from one person who yelled at us to go home, every other person we met in the course of three hours walking along Florissant welcomed us, although several repeated the injunction to be careful, and a few checked just to make sure we had contingency plans in place in case things got crazy (we did). It was clear from the moment we arrived to the moment we left that the only hostile and dangerous element of being there was the police presence.
If I could summarize the experience of being on that street on Tuesday evening in a single phrase, it would be “diversity of tactics.” For anyone unfamiliar with the term, it gained currency in the run-up to protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit in Quebec City in 2001, when local anarchists and their supporters tried to bridge the growing tactical disagreement within the then-vibrant anti-globalization/globalization-from-below movement around questions of “peaceful” and “militant” protest. While many of us on the “militant” side of the debate back then found the concept of agreeing to disagree about protest tactics to be appealing, it was not generally welcomed by a lot of the more mainstream protesters and especially organizational participants like unions, etc. So, at least at its inception, diversity of tactics remained more a theory than a practical reality.
By contrast, our brief visit to Ferguson seemed to me to reflect a lived reality of diversity of tactics. This is not to say that everyone simply agreed to disagree; the reports of sharp disputes among the crowd about things like fighting the cops, prayer as the solution to everything, legality and illegality, etc. – all were quite clearly in evidence when we were there. But they played out in meaningful debates among participants in a common struggle, rather than angry or condescending refusals to engage with the other side. For instance, I watched a fascinating encounter between two older (60-ish) black men. One, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, approached the other, dressed in a clergy’s collar, and asked if he thought prayer was the solution. The clergy responded that he did, and the guy in the t-shirt then tried to convince him that he was wrong, and that if people didn’t fight back they would end up beaten down even more. “If this [the looting/street fighting] hadn’t have happened,” he asked, “would the world have took notice of what was happening here?”
Neither of these guys seemed like they were interested in fighting the cops themselves, but both were openly discussing the pros and cons of the tactic, in the middle of a fairly crowded sidewalk where dozens of similar discussions were happening all around them. Watching them, I suddenly thought of the Ken Loach movie Land and Freedom, which has an amazing scene of Spanish peasants arguing about the proper approach to collectivization during the Civil War. (There is also a similar scene in his movie The Wind That Shakes the Barley, about the tactical and strategic orientation of the Irish independence struggle.) The idea that people’s collective consciousness shifts rapidly in the course of intense struggle can sometimes seem abstract, but here it was on full display for anyone to see.
Members of the Detroit branch of First of May Anarchist Alliance recently co-hosted a reading group for the book, Captive Genders: Transembodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex.
We wanted to post the notes and review one of our members, Miriam, made and presented during that discussion.
Our book for discussion today, Captive Genders, [Stanley, Eric A. & Smith, Nat, Editors. Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. AK Press, 2011] begins with a recounting of the Stonewall fight back. This highlights the fact that our theory must be rooted in action. It is responsible for helping us understand our actions and for pushing our action forward, as far as we can go. What I want out of this discussion is a deeper understanding of how we are confined by capitalist narrative, in terms of who we are, how we identify ourselves and our potential. We are limited by how the system magnifies its own power, so that we become afraid to challenge it. I want us to deepen our understanding of self defense as more than individual fight back; our movement is a form of self defense; the revolution itself is self defense. I want us to deepen our support and practice of self defense. I want us to promote self defense and defend those who practice it. I want us to develop networks so that we can move quickly and effectively. No one should have to fight alone, although many of us do, out of necessity. In this, as in many other situations, we cannot rely on other forces; we have to defend ourselves.
The people highlighted in our book, as well as the people coming into our movement, already practice self defense. It is in the nature of the attacks they face, that they have to fight for their own survival. One job of our movement is to help unify and coordinate this fight back, so that we grow stronger. We look to increase awareness, and to build a framework within which people can see themselves as part of the movement, as Vanguard (a San Francisco – based gay organization in the 1960s) did by placing ads in their newspaper requesting people to come forward with their stories of police harassment. (52) Mutual solidarity and defense, along with coalition building, are important facets of our movement.