Listen to the Episode — 35 min
Rebel Girl: St. Louis stays rebel, mutual aid relief continues on every shore of the Gulf of Mexico, and free speech loses all meaning on this episode of…
A weekly anarchist news capsule brought to you by The Ex-Worker.
With me, the Rebel Girl.
Welcome back to your weekly Hotwire. This week we have a ton of headlines about rebellion and cooperation, resistance and mutual aid, from all over the world. Protests in St. Louis continue into their second week after the not guilty verdict for a white cop who viciously murdered Anthony Lamar Smith, a young black father. Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem over unabated police murders exploded this weekend. 24 NFL teams showed some kind of solidarity with Kaepernick’s stand on Sunday. 3 entire teams didn’t even leave their locker rooms. It’s been a pundit bonanza, and we weigh in with what anarchists think about free speech. Meanwhile, the so-called “free speech week” hosted by far-right students in Berkeley has utterly failed. The mutual aid relief efforts we’ve covered in Texas and Florida still need support, as well as in Mexico and Puerto Rico after the earthquakes and hurricanes there.
If we missed something important, or to include something in a future episode, shoot us an e-mail at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com. A full transcript of this episode with plenty of useful links can be found at our website, CrimethInc.com/podcast. You can subscribe to The Hotwire on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also listen to us through the new anarchist podcast network Channel Zero.
We also want to mention that we’ve been careful to keep our show radio-friendly. Unlike the regular Ex-Worker podcast, that means the Hotwire doesn’t include curse words, which is a real darn tooting bummer, but hopefully that allows some motivated listeners to get our show out on the airwaves where it can reach people who wouldn’t encounter it otherwise. It could also allow prisoners to hear it, if played on stations in close enough range. If you want to re-play part or all of a Hotwire, go for it! We just ask that you drop us an email at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com so we can keep up with where it’s getting out to!
Now… for the headlines.
The biggest non-event of the week was the failure of the alt-lite’s so-called “Free Speech Week” in Berkeley, California, which was supposed to start on Monday. It had been promoted as the “Coachella of conservatism,” but turned out to be the Fyre Festival of thinly veiled fascism. The Berkeley Patriot student group cancelled the event after multiple announced speakers, Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon among them, cancelled or denied that they had ever confirmed. On top of this, the student group had failed to meet university deadlines, even as the university was in the process of spending upwards of $800,000 on security! In the end, Milo Yiannopolous went solo and had a whopping 15-minute-long rally of about 100. Berkeley’s spokesman called it, “probably the most expensive photo op in the university’s history."
The alt-lite refers to far-right activists who reject the overt white supremacist rhetoric of the alt-right, but who nevertheless still embrace misogyny and xenophobia, and are anti-left. Over the last year, alt-lite leaders and groups have oscillated between alliances and conflicts with their alt-right counterparts, although many of these conflicts seem more like strategic disagreements rather than moral ones.
Despite the cancellation of the alt-lite’s events, a few hundred anti-fascists still turned out to march against white supremacy and the absurd amount of so-called “public” university funds spent on police to protect the fascist presence on campus. Two masked figures hung a banner on one campus building in remembrance of Scout Schultz, the queer student rebel killed by police at Georgia Tech last week. It read, “Solidarity with Scout, Cops Off Campus.” Queer anarchists in Pittsburgh also hung banners against police and in remembrance of Scout.
Back in the bay area, it’s a good thing anti-fascists did not completely demobilize after the failure of “Free Speech” Week, because on Monday night some of Milo’s crowd, including a Unite the Right attendee, converged on a communist bookstore to harass people.
Fascists also attempted to disrupt the Houston Anarchist Book Fair on Sunday, but failed. Some of the book fair organizers wrote in the following report:
Around two dozen fascists gathered outside the doors with a banner reading “for blood and soil,” a verbatim Nazi slogan. This was during an anti-fascism workshop in the morning, suggesting research and coordination on the part of the neo-Nazis. They rushed the doors and attempted to force their way into the book fair while armed with smoke bombs, sticks, and tactical gloves with plastic knuckles. The book fair’s security team saw them approaching, quickly helped everyone inside, and secured the doors so they could not enter. The fascists retreated to get their livestreaming footage and social media photos while chanting slogans for another 5 minutes before leaving. 20 minutes after they had left, two police SUVs that had been at the end of the block for hours rolled up to the front gate. The cops attempted to enter the property as part of an “investigation” into “the protest,” as they described it. The security team told them they were not welcome and they never made it more than a few feet onto the property.
Despite fascist and police harassment—two sides of the same coin, really—the book fair continued uninterrupted for the rest of the day. There had been speculation that the event would be cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey, but the autonomous relief efforts that have sprung up actually energized folks to show up and connect with others who believe in direct action and mutual aid. An incredibly diverse and intergenerational crowd of about 300 filled the space, along with collectives from throughout Texas and the rest of Turtle Island. Despite a hurricane, neo-Nazis, and cops, the event was a success.
Keep an eye on ItsGoingDown.org for a complete reportback from some of the Houston Anarchist Book Fair organizers!
A week ago in Richmond, Virginia—just an hour away from Charlottesville—an antifascist march cut a neo-confederate rally short. It only lasted 30 minutes, and when the police escorted them back to their cars the neo-confederates discovered that several of their tires had been slashed. A few arrests took place, including one lady arrested for yelling while black, but all in all folks felt like the day was a win. Hell yeah Richmond.
Anti-Fascist Action Sydney, in Australia, confronted a ‘Straight Lives Matter’ rally planned for the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial. Thanks to the anti-fascists, the homophobes could not get anywhere near the memorial.
Good thing too. In Madison, Wisconsin, swastikas were spray painted on a monument to the international brigades that fought against fascist Franco in the Spanish Civil War. The monument rests next to a historic synagogue.
The highest profile anti-racist actions of the week were on Sunday. Trump started the weekend tweeting for the firing of pro football players who take a knee during the National Anthem, calling them “sons of bitches.” Every single one of the 28 NFL teams that played on Sunday had players respond in some way, most by taking a knee or locking arms. Three teams even refused to take the field until after the anthem. It wasn’t just football players either. Other celebrities and athletes took knees in solidarity, including Stevie Wonder. You could feel it all over.
However, the media did its best to make Sunday’s #TakeAKnee protests as little about racism as possible. The response from the NFL, pundits, and eventually even Trump himself focused on the right of the players to stage protests on the field, however small and symbolic. It got all about the first amendment, the sacrifice of our troops, and some pundits and players even called the protests patriotic because they were actively exercising their constitutional rights. Bleh. The #TakeAKnee protests are—or at least originally were—about white supremacy and killer cops. Just over a year ago, Colin Kaepernick was the first to sit out the National Anthem before a game. He explained his position, stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
So, just to keep score, when the far-right want to get away with spewing racism and misogyny they hide behind free speech, and now when black athletes are making a stand against the oppression of black people, it gets reduced to free speech? It seems like the whole concept of free speech actually gets in the way of taking a position on social issues—instead it’s like a consolation prize for simply having an opinion at all, as if that changes anything without action. That’s why when liberals evaluate something like sitting out the anthem or a neo-Nazi march over whether free speech was respected, anarchists respond by stating that our goal isn’t just free speech, but rather freedom itself. Freedom is not measured by how many opposing views get to be expressed at once, it’s measured against how much power is concentrated in social hierarchies, like white supremacy.
While the country was fixated on what the president and different celebrities had to say about #TakeAKnee, as if punditry was a sport itself, resistance to racist police murders continues on the streets of St. Louis.
We have the following report from anarchists who have been out in the streets: The daily protests are now in their second week after the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a white former cop who was found not guilty of murdering a young black father, Anthony Lamar Smith. Protests have moved around town, targeting areas that are concentrations of wealth, designed for people with money, at the expense of the underclass and bored youth. In addition to being bastions of the wealthy, these parts of town have been particularly contentious when it comes to the presence of youth, with area malls and some shopping districts having curfews to keep youth from congregating.
Malls and shopping districts have been repeatedly shut down by protesters, including the St. Louis Galleria this past Saturday, where 25 folks were brutally arrested for disrupting business as usual. This includes the violent arrest of a 13 year old boy and his grandmother. A large noise demo was held outside the county jail after the arrests, demanding people be released. Police continue to maintain a heavy presence at the demonstrations but people also continue to confront, and at times, defy them by pushing through police lines.
Folks have shown solidarity with the protests in other ways too. The St. Louis police union headquarters was spray-painted with “declare war on the police.” There have been walkouts in area high-schools, and in nearby Cahokia, Illinois, just over the Mississippi river, 25 members of an eight-and-under black football team knelt during the national anthem. The video is a tear-jerker, go find it.
There has been stratification around tactics since the first weekend when the verdict came out, but remember, to tell people to remain within the law dooms them to submission. To call for law and order, whether in support of police violence or against it, draws on a far weightier past than most realize. The law has always been used to protect the ruling class. It’s not a neutral force to keep aggressors in line or calmly mediate between two disputing parties. How hard the law in America comes down on you is directly proportional to your material wealth and the color of your skin.
So far, the strategy of the protests have been to disrupt the economy and hasn’t seen as much of the unruly and uncontrollable elements of the first weekend, when people attacked police cars and broke many a window. However, the demonstrations have continued to be fierce, loud, rife with anti-police sentiment and don’t seem to be ending anytime soon. We have high hopes that the lawlessness that has pulsed through past currents of rebellion in St. Louis, will return.
To support the over two hundred people who have been arrested in the last two weeks and you’ll find a link to a bail and legal fund in our shownotes.
Autonomous, people’s relief organizing continues in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, in Florida after Hurricane Irma, in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and in Mexico after the string of earthquakes that have left hundreds dead there.
In the wake of the disasters in Mexico, there has been political opportunism and hoarding on the part of local politicians, but also inspiring instances of self-organization and mutual aid. One journalist observed, “People walk alongside one another carrying jugs of water, shovels, tarps, cans of tuna, lamps and medicine, while businesses open their doors for what is needed. A beauty salon with electricity offers to charge cell phones and dozens of people arrive; a hardware store offers all its wares for free, a bakery gives away its cakes and offers coffee to passers-by. People take charge of the emergency with autonomy, without waiting for someone to tell them what to do.” And “Groups of soldiers, police and personnel from the Mexico City government are practically following their orders, behind the housemakers preparing food and medical kits and the men organizing the distribution of shovels and picks.”
The Zapatista-aligned Autonomous Brigades also released a statement in the aftermath of the earthquakes. “We reject the cowardly proselytizing use that partisan politicians in towns and cities in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Puebla, Morelos, the State of Mexico, and Mexico City are making of the aid that they do not contribute to and that in the distribution of which they discriminate against those who are not loyalists or who don’t submit to them. As well, the intentional forgetting of the inconvenient victims, those who do not give up their lands to the capitalists pushing projects of death, wind farms in Oaxaca, mines in Puebla, real estate projects in the Federal District. In the city, real estate companies are the megaprojects of death that colonize national territory and act with the patronage and complicity of the authorities of the bad governments.”
The mutual aid projects we interviewed in Hotwires NUMBER #3 and #4 in Texas and Florida are still in operation and can use support. Also check out The Final Straw’s interview with Yellow Hammer Alternative, an Alabama-based far-left group doing mutual aid support along the Gulf Coast. One of the best ways to keep up with the constellation of grassroots relief efforts is through Mutual Aid Disaster Relief’s twitter account, @MutualAidRelief and at mutualaiddisasterrelief.org. We have links to plenty of groups doing important work in this episode’s shownotes, including a community-led recovery fund in Puerto Rico recommended through the Black Rose/Rosa Negra anarchist federation. All of Puerto Rico is currently without power, and it seems like congress may not act on funding for hurricane damage there until mid-October.
And when will they act on climate change? Don’t hold your breath. Direct action is our best chance at ending climate change as soon as possible.
In Montreal on September 10, hundreds marched in opposition the fracking company Junex’s drilling on indigenous Mi’kmaq land. It seemed like tame, sing-songy march until, to the surprise of the bike cops, folks darted off the route towards a railway crossing. In the end, they shut down the rails for over an hour.
At the Hambacher Forest occupation, where rebels have been fighting for 6 years to block the expansion of an open cast lignite mine, it took 100 cops over 11 hours to evict one forest defender from a tripod. One person, 100 cops, 11 hours. More tripods please! The Ex-Worker episode 37 is all about the Hambacher forest occupation and has interviews with anarchists taking action there, check it out!
In Poland’s Bialowieza Forest, activists are still blocking logging operations and machines whenever possible. Lately, Forest Guards have been assaulting activists, strangling one and chaining another to a tree. Forest defenders are calling on more people to converge in the forest and stop the logging and assaults against activists.
In the territory dominated by the Chilean state, eight leaders of the indigenous Mapuche movement were arrested this week, on the 108th day of a hunger strike undertaken by Mapuche political prisoners. All eight were charged under the Pinochet era Anti-Terrorist Law, for their alleged involvement in “incendiary attacks against trucks and churches.” The ongoing hunger strike has ending the Anti-Terrorist Law as one of its demands.
Speaking of incendiary attacks and prisoners, nocturnal rebels in Grenoble, France torched 8 police vans and part of their garage warehouse in a solidarity attack with folks on trial for allegedly torching a police car during the anti-work law protests in France. The Loi Travail, or work law in English, would make it easier for employers to fire their workers, particularly young workers.
And speaking of young people, a teenager in suburban Illinois stole a bulldozer and went on a joyride, crushing cop cars like beer cans throughout the night. Who doesn’t enjoy watching cop cars get destroyed? Video for the actions in France and the bulldozer chase through the suburbs are in our shownotes.
Militant animal liberationists have been on a worldwide spree in the last few weeks. In Chile, an incendiary attack was carried out against a rodeo. In England, anti-badger hunting activists smashed cages, broke two release pens, and destroyed electric fences. In Germany, posters and banners for the Charles Knie circus were defaced by the ALF. For the latest in animal liberation direct action, check out directaction.info.
We’re in the middle of two bellwether votes in Europe. Over the weekend, the far-right Alternativ fur Deutschland won the third most votes in this weekend’s German elections. It’s the most that any far-right party has won since World War II. The far-right in Germany, much like the alt-right in the US, has been gaining credibility by eschewing bomber jackets and boots for suits and ties, capitalizing on anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment. We’ll keep you up to date with resistance to the fascist creep in Germany now that AFD are in government.
In Catalonia, 5 million potential voters are gearing up for an October 1 referendum over whether to remain a semi-autonomous region of Spain, or whether to declare themselves an independent republic. Now wait a second dear listener, we can already hear you grumbling about why an anarchist news show would cover an election. Well, in the last two weeks the Spanish national police have raided printers, shut down websites, and taken ballot box materials from delivery companies. The Spanish state has also seized control over Catalonia’s finances. In response, students are on strike, and a general strike has been called for October 3 by the independent unions in the region. The Spanish police in Barcelona are not welcome and have retreated to being quartered on a boat, fittingly painted with clueless cartoon characters. The dockworkers in Catalonia have declared their refusal to work in any way with these boats. Marches and demonstrations are happening regularly, with people equaled motivated by outrage at the police as by the notion of independence. A revolt may be brewing.
There’s no clear consensus on the part of anarchists over how to engage with this popular movement. Participating in national liberation struggles has never ended well for anarchists, but at the same time a lot of people in the independence movement are against forces that anarchists are fighting against too: corruption, authoritarianism, repression; but they just associate all of that with the Spanish state.
For an in-depth discussion on how anarchists are relating to the Catalonian independence movement, check out the most recent episode of The Final Straw, which has an interview with an Anglophone anarchist who has been living in Catalonia.
In this week’s repression round up…
Some good news! Over the past several weeks, the South Central District Court in North Dakota has dismissed nearly 100 cases against water protectors arrested in the course of last year’s No Dakota Access Pipeline struggle near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Of the 831 cases resulting from NoDAPL actions in 2016, 403 of them are now closed, which includes 12 acquittals, 100 guilty pleas, and 459 charges dismissed. Remember, whether in the streets or in the courts, solidarity is our surest way of staying safe. You can support Standing Rock arrestees by going to FreshetCollective.org, where you can also find a comprehensive update on NoDAPL cases. We have links to both in this episode’s shownotes at CrimethInc.com.
There’s also good news coming out of the Czech Republic: all five anarchists accused in the Fenix 1 case have been found not guilty on all charges. Operation Fenix was a government scheme to entrap anarchists in the Czech Republic, which police used to justify raids on anarchist spaces and arrests of active comrades. Congratulations and revolutionary greetings to the Fenix 1 folks. You can keep up with developments in the case at antifenix.cz, that’s Fenix spelled with an “F.” Episode 41 of the Ex-Worker has an in-depth interview with an anarchist from the anti-Fenix anti-repression crew.
Anarchist political prisoner Dane Powell, the first of the J20 inauguration arrestees to do time, has written an inspiring public letter that is now up on It’s Going Down. Dane is a hero who saved a pepper-sprayed child from further police violence on inauguration day. We have his address and more info in our shownotes, so write him a letter. There are still nearly 200 folks facing 8 felonies each from protesting the inauguration. The first batch of those trials starts on November 20. You can support the J20 arrestees by going to DropJ20.org.
Another way you can support J20 arrestees is by donating to the Counter-Repression Spokes Ride. They’re trying to raise at least $10,000 by holding a 350-mile long ride from DC to Pittsburgh. The money will be split evenly between J20 legal defense, the St. Louis legal fund, and the antifascist research group One People’s Project. The ride starts today, Wednesday, so hurry up and check out their website, counterrepressionspokes.org.
Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for news. If you want us to include something in a future Hotwire, just send us an email at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com.
We’ll close out our episode with political prisoner birthdays and next week’s news.
On September 27 is Brian McCarvill, a radical social prisoner who successfully brought a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Corrections, challenging their censorship of anarchist publications simply on the basis that they portrayed symbols like the circle-A, the Anarchist Black Cross symbol, black flags, and the terms “anarchism” and “anarchist.” McCarvill is particularly fond of writing essays for publications.
On September 29 is Jorge Cornell, or King J, of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, leader of a street organization that faced repression for their gang truce and anti-police organizing. Check out Ex-Worker episode 17 for an in-depth interview with an anarchist supporter of King J.
On October 3 is Josh “Skelly” Stafford of the Cleveland 4, a group of Occupy Cleveland anarchists entrapped by a paid informant in an FBI-manufactured bomb plot.
Please write a letter to Brian, King J, and Skelly sometime this week. It only takes a few minutes, but getting your letter could be the highlight of their week. Also, go to PrisonBooks.info to check out this month’s Political Prisoner Birthdays calendar. There’s also a link for it, and a link to a useful Anarchist Black Cross guide to writing prisoners, in our shownotes.
And now, next week’s news, our list of events that you can plug into in real life.
Thursday, September 28, begins the five-day-long radical book fair in Gothenburg, Sweden. At the same time and in the same town is the largest book fair in Scandinavia, the Gothenburg Book Fair. Last year, this bourgeois book fair came under fire for giving a platform to a right-wing newspaper with neo-Nazi ties. On September 30 this year, emboldened by their inclusion in the mainstream book fair, the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement will try to march through the city. A call has been made for autonomous and anti-fascist protests against the Nazi march. We have details about both the Radical Book Fair and the anti-fascist call to action in this episode’s shownotes.
The sixth annual anarchist book and propaganda gathering in Chile will take place on October 14 and 15 in the city of Santiago. This book fair includes presentations on physics and anarchism, digital security, abortion with medicinal plants, political prisoners, FOUR theatrical performances, and a lot more. You can find details at EncuentroAnarquista.org, which we also have linked at CrimethInc.com/podcast.
This Friday, September 29, Firestorm Books and Coffee in Asheville, North Carolina will be hosting a screening of the brand new sixth episode of Submedia’s show Trouble, which will focus on counter-insurgency. The screening starts at 7:30 and will be followed up by discussion. The best way to find out about other local screenings of Trouble is via @submedia on Twitter.
The folks over at Submedia recently announced a fundraiser to #BringBackStim, referring to the foul mouthed, floating eyed anarcho-comedian-news anchor, The Stimulator. Submedia is one of the best producers of anarchist media out there right now, so check out our link to their fundraiser in our shownotes and throw them some taco money, or just head over to Submedia.tv to see the fundraiser video for yourself. It’s hilarious. We lolled.
The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar for 2018 is now available for bulk pre-orders. Your group can buy 10 or more at the rate of $10 each and then sell them for $15, keeping the difference for your organization.
This year’s theme is “Awakening Resistance,” and features art and writings by Jesus Barraza, Andrea Ritchie, Herman Bell, Marius Mason, CrimethInc, and more. People can sponsor copies for prisoners for only $8, postage included! Just be sure to specify their full legal name and prisoner number. Single copies of the calendar will be available for purchase in a few weeks. Any questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons is going international with a roadshow in the UK this week. From September 28 to October 6, you can find them along with Community Action on Prison Expansion. Presentations will be chocked full of information on six new mega-prisons in England and Wales, which themselves are proposed for toxic sites, including radiological contamination and asbestos pollution. Check out our shownotes for full tour details and ways to get involved in the fight against prison expansion and pollution.
Another announcement for the Asheville, North Carolina area: the consecutive weekends of October 7 and 8 and then on the 14 and 15, there is a 4-day, advanced street medic workshop in Asheville entitled “When there is no 911.” You can find more details by searching Mountain Forge on Facebook.
And an announcement for people outside of Asheville, North Carolina—we want to include your events in the Hotwire too! Let us know about upcoming workshops, protests, anarchist book fairs, or anything else you want to announce publicly by e-mailing us at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com.
The Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement has made a call for people to deface Columbus Day on October 9 by painting murals, wheat-pasting posters, dropping banners, or by any other creative approach against celebrations of colonialism, or in support of indigenous struggles. The call was published along with a pretty dope video, which you can check out in our shownotes.
There’s a call to disrupt the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia from October 21st to the 24th. The call to action has a pretty handy list of different police chiefs’ unsavory deeds. It also has a great slogan we can get behind, “For a world without police.” Find out more at noiacp.blackblogs.org.
That’s it for your weekly Hotwire. Thanks for listening, and as always thanks to Underground Reverie for the music. Don’t forget to check out all the links, mailing addresses, and useful notes we have posted alongside this episode at CrimethInc.com. If you want to replay part or all of this show, go for it. Just let us know by dropping us a line at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com. You can also send us news or announcements to include.
Stay informed. Stay rebel. Plug into the Hotwire.