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News :: Media
BAAM #30 Released!
Email: trenchesfullofpoets (nospam) riseup.net
02 Feb 2010
Download the PDF of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement's 30th monthly newsletter. (plain text will hopefully be posted tonight, check back in the comments section)
In this issue:
-Protestors Call for Closing of
Guantanamo Bay Page 3
-Teabaggers Page 4
-Haiti: The Debt Toll Page 6
-Update on Tarek
Mehanna’s Case Page 7
Spaces Page 8
-Update on Greece Page 9
-Cops and Videos Page 10
-Calendar Page 11
-Howard Zinn, Presente Page 12
This work is in the public domain.
trenchesfullofpoets (nospam) riseup.net (verified)
01 Feb 2010
Boston Ant-Authoritatian Movement Newsletter #30, February 2010
-Protestors Call for Closing of Guantanamo Bay Page 3
-Teabaggers Page 4
-Haiti: The Debt Toll Page 6
-Update on Tarek
Mehanna’s Case Page 7
-Whitechapel’s Community Spaces Page 8
-Update on Greece Page 9
-Cops and Videos Page 10
Foxboro ICE Detentions - Obama’s Forces Target Immigrant Workers
On January 6, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents and police officers from Foxboro, Massachusetts, detained 58 immigrant workers at a roadblock near Gillette Stadium. They targeted a caravan of four passenger vans traveling from Providence, Rhode Island. The workers had been hired to shovel snow off the seats at Gillette Stadium where the New England Patriots football team would be playing the coming weekend.
An ICE spokesperson said five of the workers detained had been previously deported but had re-entered the United States illegally. Those five workers face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the felony of re-entering the country without permission after deportation. The other workers were taken to a nearby police station where they were fingerprinted, photographed, and released with orders to report back to ICE to determine their legal status in the country. Most of the detainees are Guatemalan immigrants living in Rhode Island. When they were released federal officials offered rides to Gillette Stadium for those who wanted to go to work. The Boston May Day Committee condemns this ICE action. ICE officials said they were only targeting “fugitive aliens” and/or “criminals” but that is not fact. They’ve arrested dozens of workers who were not “targeted” and they sent a direct threat in their message to the millions of workers who are in this country seeking jobs and to work that they could be next.
The Obama Administration has continued in its policies to raid factories, to raid immigrant communities, places of business, and private homes depicting many detained workers as criminals. By doing this, the US government hopes to undercut support for the legalization of undocumented immigrants. The Administrations has also stepped up the persecution of workers through “quiet” means, such as the massive crackdown in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) in October, where 1,200 janitors were fired from their jobs as the Obama Administration follows its policy to “punish” employers who hire undocumented workers. Last year ICE deported 387,000 immigrants - the highest in US history.
During the recent Foxboro detentions, in perhaps one of their most cynical moves yet, ICE officials drove those they had previously detained to work, underlying the fact that the bosses want to keep the supply of immigrant workers coming in but with more control over the labor supply in this time of economic crisis.
They want to reserve and maintain a supply of super-exploited workers; a reserve army of labor that they can tap at will. By keeping millions of immigrant workers “illegal,” they hope to intimidate them, undermine their self-confidence, keep them from joining and revitalizing our unions, and lower the value of the labor power of all workers.
The BMDC believes and states the exact opposite and welcome all immigrant workers with or without “papers”. They are not “illegals” they are our fellow workers. This is why the message of the May Day 2010 rally is, ALL WORKERS UNITE, NATIVE AND IMMIGRANT ALIKE!
Boston, January 17, 2010.
Protestors Call for Closing of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center
by Jake Carman
On January 18th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, around 30 people gathered in the freezing cold on the Boston Common to demand that President Obama follow through on his promise to close down Guantanamo Bay Prison. The President had vowed to close Guantanamo Bay—located on a US Naval Base in Cuba where hundreds of accused “terrorists” are detained, many without charges or access to lawyers—within his first year, which ended on January 20th. The president, along with human rights organizations, have condemned Guantanamo for the use of torture and countless other violations of international human rights agreements.
Boston protesters carried signs and banners, and using a bullhorn, spoke directly to onlookers, calling for an end to the wars, the end of the use of torture, the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and freedom for many of the political prisoners held within United States prisons. Others spoke in the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who, toward the end of his life, championed not only peace and racial equality, but rights for all working people and an end to the war in Vietnam. The Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition called for the action and supporters, many of whom provided speakers, included the Boston May Day Committee, the Boston Anarchist Black Cross, the Socialist Party, Committee to Free the Cuban 5, and Students for a Democratic Society. Anarchists from BAAM, the ABC, and the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists were present. •
Speech from the Rally by Clara Hendricks
While we are here today to recognize Barack Obama’s failure to follow through on his promise to close the torturous prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, it is also essential to recognize the implications of his condemnation of torture, and what this should mean for prisoners nationwide. We live in a country with the highest per capita prison population in the world. We live in a country where millions of prisoners are subject every day to the same torture that continues to occur at Guantanamo. In condemning torture, Obama was, in a way, condemning the entire US prison system. So today we must not only demand that he closes Guantanamo, but that he ends ALL torture- and this means the abolition of the US Prison system.
This connection of Obama’s statements to domestic prisons was not something that was lost on our comrades on the inside. So, rather than write up something new, I thought I would share with you the words of some prisoners I know.
The following, written last winter, comes from the International Committee to End the Torturous Facility at SCI Greene County:
“North of West Virginia dwells a covert “Guantanamo Bay” death camp opened in the early 1990s. Its famous name is S.C.I. Greene County. Stationed in Western Pennsylvania, it houses over 2,000 prisoners, 515 of those prisoners are detained in the Control Unit, including death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal. In addition, it primarily warehouses a colossal amount of long term, lock down inmates under the fabricated blanket excuse of “A threat to their selves or others” status; demanding a sensory deprivation type of situation.
“S.C.I. Greene County Lieutenant/Iraqi Army Corporal Charles Graner participated in and/or gave orders to the unlawful despotic treatment of prisoners such as: depriving of meals, beatings, depriving disability prisoners of their chronic disease needs; (sometimes causing deaths), pepper spraying inmates, electric shocks, all of this was executed by him from late 1990s to the early 2000s. More importantly, this is the same personnel that utilized identical methods at Abu Ghraib prison in the Middle East leaving the world to watch it on film.”
Looking further south, there is an article written by Jordan Flaherty, an ally of prisoners in Louisiana, published in January 2009, shortly after Obama’s statement on torture,
“The torture of prisoners in US custody is not only found in military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. If President Obama is serious about ending US support for torture, he can start here in Louisiana.
“The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is already notorious for a range of offenses, including keeping former Black Panthers Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox in solitary for over 36 years. Now a death penalty trial has exposed widespread and systemic abuse at the prison. The behavior documented at Angola stands out both for its brutality and for the significant evidence that it was condoned and encouraged from the very top of the chain of command.
“In a remarkable hearing that explored torture practices at Angola, twenty-five inmates testified to facing overwhelming violence in the aftermath of an escape attempt at the prison nearly a decade ago. These inmates - who were not involved in the escape attempt - testified to being kicked, punched, beaten with batons and with fists, stepped on, left naked in a freezing cell, and threatened that they would be killed. They were threatened by guards that they would be sexually assaulted with batons. They were forced to urinate and defecate on themselves. They were bloodied, had teeth knocked out, were beaten until they lost control of bodily functions, and beaten until they signed statements or confessions presented to them by prison officials. One inmate had a broken jaw, and another was placed in solitary confinement for eight years.
“Torture and abuse are illegal under both US law and international treaties to which the US is signatory. Despite the laws and treaties, US prison guards have rarely been held accountable to these standards.”
While these two statements just about say it all, I want to make sure we recognize that it is not just about SCI Greene and
Angola. It is not just about the Angola 3 and Mumia Abu-Jamal. These torturous conditions exist across the country from county to state to federal institutions. While those we refer to as political prisoners often receive particularly harsh treatment due to their ideologies and beliefs, this same treatment is just as often given to countless others, whose cases are not known or publicized. This is the unknown and unspoken reality for nearly 1% of the United States population. The conditions of torture are so widespread that according to a court case in 1980, they do not even violate the 8th Amendment, as they are indeed cruel, but not unusual. They occur every day.
So today, as we acknowledge the torture occurring at Guantanamo, and call upon Obama to follow through on his promise, we must not forget those who are locked up in our backyards. Those in South Bay, in Concord, in Framingham, in Walpole, Norfolk, Chicopee, and across the nation. We must continue to strive for a day when torture is truly nonexistent- and that day cannot exist while a single prison stands intact. •
The Teabaggers’ Strategy: Obama and the Right
A year into President Barack Obama’s first term, it has become depressingly clear that he is, as Jay Leno put it, “our greatest Republican President ever.” From warrantless wiretapping to bank bailouts to endless war—on issue after issue—his policies have proven identical to George W. Bush’s. And unlike Bush, Obama’s position at the head of the Democratic Party, along with his immense talent as a salesman, allows him to advance the Republican agenda with almost no opposition from self-described liberals. But this unexpected windfall also presents the Republicans, or rather their corporate paymasters, with a dilemma. How do they get Obama reelected while pretending to oppose him?
Ordinarily, of course, this wouldn’t be a problem. An incumbent President with Obama’s skills could be expected to coast easily to reelection regardless of the competition, as Bill Clinton did in 1996. Today, however, the deepening economic depression complicates matters for the establishment. By 2012, voters will have endured five-plus years of economic misery and flagrantly broken promises. Even Obama will have a hard time getting reelected without some help from the “other side.”
Solving both halves of their problem is essential for the Republicans. They have nobody of national prominence who possesses anything resembling Obama’s ability to simultaneously promise hope, deliver the exact opposite, and get away with it. A John McCain victory in the last election would have been a disaster for the ruling class, and they face a similar difficulty in 2012. A Black President of Obama’s charisma, who is also willing to completely ignore moral principles in the service of corporate profits, is not something to be discarded just because the economy is collapsing. Likewise, the false conflict between Democrats and Republicans that has kept the US public mesmerized for decades is an indispensable tool of social control, so the GOP can’t be seen to just roll over and play dead. Their only option is to mount an “attack” that looks ferocious on the surface but has no ability to derail Obama’s reelection bid.
This is where Sarah Palin comes in. Palin, along with other unelectable far-right nut jobs like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, have dominated right-wing media coverage since the election, at the expense of all 40 Republican Senators, and all the Republican governors except Mark Sanford. Palin and company’s brand of faux-populist, crypto-racist demagoguery, which carefully avoids any economically important issues, is now what passes for the Republican platform. By contrast, any mainstream Republican politician who has a chance of toppling Obama, and quite a few who don’t, have been as close to invisible as their positions allow. Mainstream political commentators have expressed surprise at the “disarray” the Republicans find themselves in. They point to Arlen Specter, a “moderate” Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, who was forced to defect to the Democrats to avoid a loss in the upcoming Republican primary election, something virtually unheard of for an incumbent Senator. These commentators are missing the point. Disarray is exactly what the corporate establishment needs from the Republicans right now, and Specter was a potential threat to Obama in 2012. Also, he is now a useful counterweight within the Democratic Party to more liberal Senators like Al Franken.
The so-called Tea Party movement fits neatly into this framework. A motley collection of right-wing, working-class white people, the movement takes its name from the Boston Tea Party. The “teabaggers,” as they are known, have been in the media recently for organizing medium-sized protests in Washington, DC and disrupting the town hall meetings on health care of last summer. Their positions include the claim that Obama was born in Africa and is thus ineligible to be President, a demand that the government refrain from providing health care, and a stand against immigration. While the teabaggers are presented in the corporate media as a spontaneous expression of working class anger, even a cursory look at their origins and funding reveals that this is far from the case. According to Jane Hamsher’s teabagger timeline on Huffingtonpost.com, the first protest to be labeled a “Tea Party” was organized by Ron Paul supporters as a fund raiser in December 2007. Since then however, the theme has been appropriated by more mainstream Republicans for their own purposes. By late February 2008 nation-wide Tea Party protests were being spearheaded by staffers from Freedomworks, a foundation chaired by former Republican Congressman and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, not exactly the first person that leaps to mind when you think of grassroots community organizing. If Armey’s involvement isn’t enough, consider that media mogul Rupert Murdoch has given the teabaggers widespread media coverage via his Fox News Network, something else that tends not to happen to genuine grassroots movements.
Once one realizes that the teabaggers are a giant astroturf operation, their usefulness to Obama and the ruling establishment becomes clearer. For one thing, they draw support away from Ron Paul and the “libertarians,” who, however misguided and destructive their ideas are, are a genuine threat to the established order. The teabaggers are also, with help from Fox News and friends, dragging the mainstream debate further to the right. This means that liberals, confronted with Obama’s support for torture, war and global warming, who might otherwise consider growing a spine, are pressured to continue supporting the administration as the lesser of two evils.
But the teabaggers’ greatest gift to the ruling class is their potential to divide the anti-Obama vote by adding a third evil to the mix. This was pointed out by the Wall Street Journal in a mid-December poll, which found that a hypothetical Tea Party had higher favorability ratings than either the Republicans or Democrats. Since then, a Tea Party Convention has been announced for early February at which Palin will be the keynote speaker.
Other speakers include Republican Representative Michelle Bachmann and Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn. If you’re noticing a pattern here, you’re not alone. A bunch of Republican politicians are creating a third party that can only split the right-wing vote, instead of working within the Republican party to advance views that are already popular on the right. This behavior would ordinarily be considered political suicide, but for a party whose major donors (the defense, insurance, and banking industries among others) are already getting everything they want from the “opposition,” it makes perfect sense.
We don’t have to wait until 2012, though, to see the effects of the teabagger strategy on national policy. Having the Republicans tacitly on his side has let Obama employ the classic political strategy of getting the bad news out of the way early, without having to worry unduly about his approval ratings (which in any case are well north of 50%). Considering the sheer volume of bad news, he’s made good time. In less than a year Obama scuttled a global climate deal, engineered a massive giveaway to the health insurance industry, locked in a policy of bailing out Wall Street whenever necessary, increased US participation in genocidal wars and confirmed the Bush administration’s policies concerning torture, illegal arrests and government secrecy. About the only thing left is immigration “reform,” and at his current pace that should be wrapped up by fall of this year.
Here it’s interesting to note that immigration, the teabaggers’ signature issue, was saved until they had established themselves organizationally and in the media. That will make them a better excuse for the package of increased repression and employer giveaways that will inevitably emerge from the “reform” battle. Amnesty for undocumented immigrants will be torpedoed in much the same way the pubic option was during the health care debate, except with the teabaggers taking most of the blame instead of Joe Lieberman.
With immigration out of the way the White House will be able to switch over to campaign mode, taking a harder rhetorical line with the Republicans, throwing a few minor bones to the liberals to bring them back in line and otherwise shoring up a slowly dwindling base of support. By Election Day 2012, Obama should be in position to sweep all 50 states against the GOP and Tea Party candidates and claim a “mandate” based on forty-something percent of the popular vote.
Noam Chomsky recently warned of the possibility of an independent right-wing populist movement reminiscent of the Nazis in Weimar Germany. A right-wing populist movement under the control of the ruling elite could be even more dangerous. As we resist the US trend toward outright corporate fascism, the teabaggers will be worth keeping an eye on. •
Haiti’s Debt Toll
Earthquake Tragedy Brings
Centuries of Imperialism to Light
by Jeff Reinhardt
As the TV screens and newspapers across the US continue to show images of the tragedy that has befallen Haiti, more important political analysis has been largely overlooked as well as some of the work that is being done by groups other than major NGO’s and the military. What the mainstream media doesn’t want to report happens to be some of the most important information on the matter.
What is most often discussed is the monetary support from the US. Major US papers constantly praise the incredible fundraising efforts at home including the new text messaging fundraising, which as of Tuesday, January 19th had reached $22 million alone. This is all well-meaning and necessary charity; Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Though it is a land rich in resources and human spirit, it has been plundered by western powers and it needs its own sovereignty because the country is currently unable to rebuild itself. Let me be clear: Haiti has been intentionally impoverished. This imposed poverty has escalated the human death toll from the quake, and it will continue unless the imperial powers are stopped.
Besides patting the US government on the back for all its “aid,” the mainstream media makes offensive declarations on the tragedy’s magnitude being caused by a “lack of infrastructure” and “underdevelopment” in Haiti (never mind Pat Robertson saying that Haitians signed a pact with the devil). In one Wall Street Journal editorial, the 7.0 magnitude quake that happened January 12th in Haiti was compared to the 7.0 magnitude quake in California in 1994, where fewer than a hundred people died. The Journal stated, “The difference is a function of a wealth –generating and law-abiding society that can afford, among other things, the expense of proper building codes.” Blaming an impoverished nation for being poor is appalling, but all too accepted as most of Haiti’s history has been left out of the discussion.
Haiti’s history is one of revolution, poverty and imperialism, and that’s just the surface. Theirs is a story of people with tremendous amounts of courage to fight for justice against a brutal ruling class. It is an utter condemnation of capitalism from start to finish.
Like all of the Americas, the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic was home to indigenous peoples, including the Tainos, the Arawaks, and other nations who lived off the land for centuries. In 1492, Columbus landed on the island and claimed it for Spain. French pirates soon plundered the coasts and in 1625 it became a prized colony of France, which decimated native populations and brought slaves over from Africa.
The Haitian Revolution, the second revolution in the western European colonies, began in 1791 as slaves across the region began to revolt against the French
landowners. Toussaint L’Ouverture, a former slave, led the revolution until he was kidnapped by the French and sent to die in a French prison. Nevertheless, in 1804 Haiti declared independence from France, but was only recognized by France in 1825 upon agreeing to pay a debt of 150 million francs back to the French government (this was the annual budget of France in 1804, which now would be in the billions). This debt was the beginning of a new era of slavery in Haiti, miring the young nation in permanent debt to the powerful.
Fearing parallel slave rebellions, the United States refused to recognize Haiti until after the Civil War and set up a trade embargo. Of course, the US eventually bought out Haiti’s National Bank in 1910, effectively securing the nation’s treasury in the National City Bank of New York (now known as Citibank). In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson sent US troops to Haiti to stabilize the country after a series of Revolutions starting in 1911 (to protect their “investment”). The US would occupy Haiti until 1934, further increasing the debt the country owed. During this period both France and the US each diverted 40 percent of Haiti’s GDP to paying back debts, meaning the country was allowed to keep 20%.
Following this, the US helped install the dictator Francois Duvalier who, with his son, ruled Haiti for 29 years. Over 30,000 people were murdered during the Duvaliers’ Regime and the country was further driven into poverty from the French and US debts.
More recently, both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush enacted similarly offensive strategies in dealing with one our closest neighbors. Jean-Baptiste Aristide, a populist who spoke against neoliberal policies and military junta rule, was elected in 1990. His election represented an age-old class divide in Haiti: the poor majority supported Aristide and the rich hated him. Aristide was twice removed from power: first in 1991, by a violent military coup, and then again in 2004 by the CIA. Aristide now resides in South Africa, and wishes to return to his country to help his people. The US has not supported this.
What the US has done is create a PR campaign using two warmongering former presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as special envoys to help the humanitarian response. Both Clinton and Bush exploited Haiti and destroyed real democracy there. When Aristide was let back into power in 1994, Clinton imposed harsh neoliberal policies and forced the leader to accept them, effectively opening textile trade between the two countries and creating a whole slew of sweatshops, eliminating all protection for Haiti’s economy. Bush similarly treated Haiti with contempt. In 2004, along with France and Canada, he helped orchestrate a second coup against Aristide, effectively relocating him to South Africa. Both men have also killed thousands abroad in other foreign interventions, making them war criminals; not exactly the best faces to represent a “humanitarian” relief effort. But the media eats it up.
All this points to the possibility of further US military involvement in Haiti. The Pentagon is effectively in control of the island and is sending 10,000 US troops including 2,000 marines to occupy the country for “security” reasons. The US quickly gained control of the main air terminal in Port-au-Prince shortly after the earthquake first hit, and immediately began letting US troops land. Reports have surfaced that the delay of some of the most needed medical and food supplies were delayed or rerouted by the US to ensure all of its military forces could land.
These are early signs of future US domination in Haiti that could reap the benefits of what author Naomi Klein termed “disaster capitalism” in her book The Shock Doctrine. US companies are gearing up to finance the rebuilding of Haiti with one concern in mind: profit. It happened to New Orleans after Katrina, it happened to the countries devastated by the tsunami in 2004, and it is happening in Iraq. Disasters, human-caused or otherwise, are huge possibilities for business and redevelopment.
So amidst the widely broadcast humanitarian aid from the US, we should question the intentions of our military and the intentions of the large companies doing work there.
Then there are the relief groups—the small grassroots ones—that get absolutely no media coverage, but are doing good work. One group to note from the US is the Mutual Aid Disaster Relief in Haiti organization. MADRIH is composed of skilled volunteers from all over the US who want to provide not only charity, but solidarity with the Haitian People. Two teams are currently in Haiti providing mostly medical relief. According to the group’s website (mutualaiddisasterrelief.org) they have been meeting many bureaucratic obstacles to providing the help they intended to provide. They also report serious backlogs in getting food to people on the streets from the UN. The group is currently heading out of the capital because of a huge influx of medical personnel. Other groups doing support work include the Partners In Health, Grassroots International, and Pastors for Peace.
Keep an eye out for these groups and this author would strongly recommend donating to at least one of them. As Haiti attempts to rebuild itself, citizens of the US and other countries should try and think of the best long-term solution for the people of Haiti, not its rulers, not its elite, nor the rich from the rest of the world. •
Update on Tarek Mehanna Case: He Still Needs Our Support
Tarek Mehanna is a 27 year old Muslim. Highly educated, he holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. Tarek is described by those who know him well as humble, reserved, warm, peaceful, intelligent, charismatic, knowledgeable, dedicated, and straightforward. He is a person with strong ethical values who refuses to compromise on them regardless of the circumstances. It is unfortunate that these customarily admirable traits play a role in his current situation.
Several years ago, the FBI began to approach Tarek in an effort to recruit him as an informant. They recognized that he was a religious Muslim who was active in the local Islamic community. They knew had earned the trust and respect of many, and was a beloved mentor to the youth. Their objective was to secure Tarek as a tool to corroborate any FBI claims or accusations against members of the community that might arise, at the discretion of the FBI. Of course, Tarek flat out refused to backstab his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, a decision that did not sit well at all with the FBI.
The FBI threatened and eventually arrested Tarek. He is currently being held in solitary confinement, facing accusations of aiding and abetting terrorism. All of these FALSE charges have been fabricated by paid FBI informants. We ask you to join us to support our brother until he is released and home with his loving family.
For more information on Tarek’s case and what you can do to help, please visit our website. FREETAREK.COM
Tarek has expressed that your letters are what have the greatest impact on keeping him in good spirits while in isolation. Please send letters of support, love, inspiration, admiration, solidarity, and strength to him at:
ID#50660 Unit GSE-108
Plymouth County Correctional Facility
26 Long pond Road
Plymouth, MA 02360* •
Words and Photos by Kassie Carlson
Whitechapel is an incredibly progressive area of London home to countless radicals and open-minded individuals. Once the home of the infamous Jack the Ripper and anarcho-syndicalist writer Rudolf Rocker, Whitechapel is commonly known for its local bars and restaurants, but also as a central area for community-based activism. Some of these centers included the London Action Resource Center, an anarchist-publishing house called Freedom Press and a local Food Not Bombs. Whitechapel Anarchist Group circulates a free newsletter called W.A.G. that can be seen in the hands of locals and radicals alike.
One autonomous space named rampART specifically caught my attention because of its longevity. The collective self-describes itself as being “one of a number of autonomous spaces around London providing a non commercial venue for a wide-range of groups and activities.” Currently there are about 100,000 homes empty in London, one of the richest cities in the world. Unlike most areas of the world, squatting isn’t illegal in England or Wales. Once someone other than their owner occupies a building, the occupiers will not be evicted as long as there has been no damage done to the building, they do not leave the building unattended and you agree to pay any relevant bills. The Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) is a useful resource for rampART and many other autonomous spaces.
The rampART collective is an important aspect of Whitechapel’s community. Events at the building are attended by the whole neighborhood instead of just a single age group or social group. Even the firefighters are friendly with the occupiers, especially after a fire destroyed their first building next door. RampART is usually a show space and community space, but is used by other groups as well if the collective consensually agrees. One of their biggest events was called Behind Bars, held to benefit Greek anarchist prisoners and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the July 1969 anti-police riots at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in NYC, where queers showed the world that they would fight back against police targeting of queer spaces. This was the first time in American history where the homosexual community fought back against the police for their frequent unprompted and unwarranted raids of any areas they congregated. The Behind Bars party was an all-day, all-night event including an entire weekend of shows, a bar and a Punx Picnic in the park. With most people paying donations of five dollars at the door, a three-floor building was stuffed to the ceiling with people spilling out the door. There’s no wonder that rampART collective made quite a bit of money to support their cause. That night bridges between countries were built but also within varying social circles and communities.
Another autonomous space that opened in London during the same time is The Non Commercial House. The two-floor building is an alcohol and drug-free community space on Commercial Street. Beautiful, mural-like graffiti covered the walls. Large comfortable couches lined the walls. The Non Commercial House offered a free store and bike shop as well as Spanish lessons, film screenings, discussions, and workshops. At the time, the collective had even considered having free music lessons on the large organ upstairs. It opened its doors Friday to Sunday from 12-8pm. The House “promotes community without consumerism” and describes itself as “a non-profit, non-hierarchal space open to all.” The grand opening occurred in July 2009 with free music and food. Individuals and families all over the city attended the event.
The London Free School Collective aims to “confront hierarchy and inequality in education and reclaim knowledge to develop self reliance.” The group frequently holds weekends of skill sharing and workshops. Some of these classes include clothes making, radical reading group, computers, self-defense, nomadic kiln construction, class politics and climate change, and DIY/zine publishing. The workshops take place at different social centers around London. The London Free School Collective found its temporary home at the Non Commercial House on Commercial Street for a couple months. However, the fact that the London Free School Collective does not have a permanent home can sometimes be beneficial. Events are held at locations all over the city. Changing places encourages many different communities to engage in the activities.
On November 30th, the rampART collective, The Non Commercial House and thus, The London Free School Collective were evicted from their spaces. All three spaces had been fighting court cases with their owners for quite some time. The greatest loss of course was the rampART collective, however all the spaces were beneficial to London’s growth as a population. RampART held strong against the bailiffs and landlords for five and a half years. The building was evicted by forty-five police officers with chainsaws, however the collective still shouted strong: “Our energy has not dissipated. We will not be beaten!” Thus, activists have not lost any steam or strength. RampART has moved to another location and new autonomous spaces are opening up everyday. With the London Olympics just three years away in a desperate economy, its not wonder that the city is trying to “clean up” the best it can. The exceptional dedication of activists in London’s Whitechapel community proves that significant changes in ideals, community structure and even laws can be made if we put in enough effort and enthusiasm. •
Greece’s Trial of the Century
By Jake Carman
On January 22nd, in the remote mountain town of Amfissa, Greece, the trial began of Athens police officers Epaminondas Korkoneas and Vassilis Saraliotis. Korkoneas murdered 15 year old anti-authoritarian Alexandros Grigoropoulos on December 6th, 2008, and Saraliotis is being tried as an accomplice for encouraging the killing. The shooting sparked more than a month of full-blown insurrection, and though it occurred in central Athens, authorities postponed the trial from December 2009 to January 20th, 2010, and moved it 125 miles northwest from the Greek capital in hopes of avoiding more civil unrest. As the drama unfolds in quiet Amfissa, the whole of Greece waits and watches. The outcome could determine if the ruling Socialist Party (PASOK) can regain control on the rebellious nation, or if the public continues at breakneck pace down the road of uprising and rebellion. As Christos Fotopoulo, president of the Police Union told the BBC, “If the public believes there is a fair and proper trial...then this will improve relations between the police and society.”
On January 20th, when it was announced that the trial would again be postponed because, according to AFP, “the main lawyer of...Korkoneas was occupied with another trial,” 350 anarchists marched through Amfissa with much public support. 15 anarchists had traveled from Athens and nearby Lamia to Amfissa on January 16th to reach out to the townsfolk and shatter the government-generated image of anarchists as vile terrorists. “So will the hordes of barbarians come to Amfissa to flatten the city? … Are the babies in danger, the olive tries, animals, the kiosks, the drinkable water? The answer is no,” said the fliers the anarchists handed out to residents during of Amfissa at the beginning of the week. While 400 police officers swarmed the town days before the trail, and while shops responded to government scare tactics by boarding up windows, “upon hearing that ‘anarchists were in town,’ crowds of people came to meet them” and invite them for free drinks in local cafes, said the anarchists’ statement.
Locals also came out to downtown Amfissa to watch and participate in the January 20th demonstration, where anarchists and supporters chanted anti-police and anti-government slogans, and demanded that the courts accept the pleas of the victim’s mother to move the trial back to Athens. The march included minor confrontations with police.
Alexandros’ mother, Gina Tsalikian, filed multiple complaints against the transfer of the trial to Amfissa, including one to the European Court of Human Rights. In an open letter to the judges, she claims the accused officers are “subjects of privileged treatment.” Moving the trial, Tsalikian argues, hinders the participation of key witnesses—such as the school-aged youth. Her statements also raise questions about the second bullet (perhaps intended for a second victim) and the oversight of the police-conduct files of the accused. Without waiting for the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, the Greek Courts rejected all of Tsalikian’s appeals. The police union also protested the move to Amfissa, telling the BBC it’s, “an insult that implies they could not guarantee security in the Greek capital.”
When the trial finally began on January 22nd, police flooded Amfissa under the pretext of protecting officer Korkoneas from urban guerrilla groups that have threatened to kill him. Bullets have even been mailed to his defense lawyer, Kougias, who began the trial by claiming Alexis was involved in water-polo hooliganism on December 6th. Officer Korkoneas said, “The ones who really attacked were the boy and the witness. Those 16 year old boys are not normal kids like mine and yours.” Tsalikia, who had to be restrained by police during Korkoneas’ slanderous statements, testified that Korkoneas shot her son deliberately, and that the two officers were “monsters in the guise of men.” Tsalikian claims that even after the murder, the police “...Just left. They went back to their headquarters and did not say they had shot a child. It was like they had killed a little mouse. These people valued the life of my son as much as a cockroach’s.”
At the stand, Korkoneas stated: “I don’t accept liability for anybody’s death...I would have stepped forward to shield anyone, including these kids. It was the outcome of a difficult moment.” Saraliotis also pled innocent, saying, “I have nothing to do with my colleague’s actions.” Korkoneas’ defense is based on the claim that, according to the Associated Press “the boy was killed by a warning shot fired into the air that ricocheted.” However, that section of Exarchia, the large anarchist “free” neighborhood where the shooting took place, has no balconies or other metal structures in the air capable of deflecting a bullet, and the claim is highly improbable. (See Greek cartoon depicting the murder, left) Ballistic evidence, which could indicate if the bullet that struck Alexis’ heart had been deflected, is key to the verdict. The trial could last several months.
Besides the January 20th march through Amfissa Center and to the nearby prison, and along with the ongoing high school and university occupations, anarchists and anti-authoritarians have intensified their “urban guerrilla” campaign. This month, they blew up the ground floor of the Ministry of Press, the front yard of the Greek Parliament building, burnt the Kallithea, Athens offices of the governing Socialist Party (PASOK) as well as the usual cars of diplomats, and raided and smashed up the office of Deputy Justice Minister Apostolos Katsifaras. A new guerrilla group, calling itself the Revolutionary Organization 6th of December, after the date Alexis was murdered, claimed the Ministry of Press bombing.
Labor is on the offensive. Striking workers of the country’s second largest shoe company, Elite, responded to threats of closure by occupying Elite’s main factory in Athens. Civil Aviation workers also occupied their headquarters on January 21st, while a sex workers union protested for better healthcare.
In the countryside, during the lead up to the trial, farmers used their tractors as blockades, shutting down seven highways in the country the size of Alabama, hindering cross-country travel and even blocking national borders. These blockades were organized regionally by farmers unions from the left, as well as many on the right. Around the start of the trial, however, according to a report from Greek anarchists, “farmers from the blockades of north Greece have declared they no longer consider their official unions relevant and have formed an ad hoc autonomous council comprising of two elected members from each blockade.” The farmers demand that the PASOK government fulfill their campaign promises, and the herders union reinforced the blockades on January 25th. On January 25th, though the government held a Dialogue on Farming at the Presidential Mansion in Athens, farmers, calling it a “circus of a dialogue,” boycotted, remained at their snow-covered tractors, and staged a “general rehearsal of total blockade.” Only a handful PASOK-controlled farm union reps attended the Ministry of Agriculture’s dialogue. Tractors crippled the highways and even side streets, shut down all traffic north of Athens, an international railway, and the Bulgarian border. Some gave free produce to the trapped drivers while explaining agricultural politics. By the 26th, 5,000 tractors blocked roads, and city buses besieged the Salonica police headquarters and the city of Larissa, threatening their own blockades. All in all, these actions have cost the Greek state around 200 million Euros so far, and may escalate early next month, during the 100 years anniversary of the Kileler Uprising and the abolition of serfdom in Thessaly, east-central Greece.
Lastly, a hunger strike, organized by the Initiative for Prisoners Rights on January 11th, at the time of writing continues in Grevena prison, including more that 400 prisoners. •
To Wiretap the Wiretappers
It is an unfortunate reality that ours is a culture that worships cops. Given my own manifold and multifarious experiences with law enforcement officials, not to mention being a person whose attention is routinely directed towards the constant onslaught of internet videos of cops brutalizing, humiliating, sexually violating, and killing people with little to no provocation, all more or less with impunity, I honestly don’t understand the appeal. But it seems all these videos are vexing law enforcement, making them frowny and very cross indeed; videos of police conduct expose the lies that comprise at least 80% of police reports and testimony and wrest from the armed apparatus of the state a smidgeon of the control that they spend their vile lives pursuing.
It might be an optimistic overstatement to say that such documented episodes undermine the legitimacy of the state, but videos have certainly been used in court and in journalistic media to dismiss lie-based cases again police victims. Despite the many advantageous ends served by street videography, the Boston Anarchist Black Cross tends to advise against using video cameras, particularly those with audio capabilities, around Massachusetts law enforcement for the very reason that Massachusetts law can be and has been used against videographers for recording public officials.
Indeed, the Boston Globe recently featured five such cases brought against individuals in recent years under the 1968 law that was crafted to protect the privacy of private individuals, rather than to institute another barrier against police accountability. It is wryly that the politically aware person regards the reality of electronic wiretapping charges brought against citizens concerned with the exercise of state power by a state that perpetuates much more pernicious, unwarranted wiretapping against its constituents.
Twelve US states have such laws and while the Globe article notes as being aware of and concerned with the issue the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union and the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and was penned by a representative of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting at Boston University, unlike in Pennsylvania, there is presently no direct challenge to the validity of the law.
The challenge in Pennsylvania is actually being brought by the ACLU on behalf of Elijah from Pittsburgh’s Landslide Community Farm. In April 2009, University of Pittsburgh police busted in on him and Von as they were retrieving the excesses of capitalism from a dumpster. At issue was a 2 minute and 55 second video Elijah took with his cell phone while the police cuffed Von and attempted to ascertain her identity. While she was released, he was charged with wiretapping. The charge was dismissed in July 2009 and the ACLU filed suit the following month challenging the law, just in time for September’s G20 in Pittsburgh, where citizen media was not as thoroughly pummeled as it had been during September 2008’s Republican National Convention in St. Paul. The same team of folks who assembled the documentary Terrorizing Dissent about the RNC assembled another documentary, Democracy 101, within five days of the conclusion of the G20, salvaging footage from broken cameras, stolen videos, and arrested reporters. Because anarchists believe in the free distribution of information, both documentaries are freely available for viewing on the internet.
As for us here in Massachusetts, there does not appear to be a challenge to our law in sight. Take care and exercise caution when documenting police conduct. •
Howard Zinn, Presente 1922-2010
With great sorrow, we mark the death of one of anarchism’s most thoughtful and productive minds, but it is with great joy that we celebrate his contributions to the movement for true justice and freedom. We share our joy for what he has given us with his actions and words, here in Boston and across the world. Far from being a lofty academic,
before his professorship and writing career he was a dock worker from Brooklyn who went on to fight in WWII, earning his degree afterwards on the GI Bill. The following is a statement from members of the Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society.
“The last time we interacted directly with Howard Zinn was June 11, 2009 when a small crew of young and old volunteers invaded his personal home to record his views on the case of Sacco and Vanzetti. (See photos) Among the crew was Bob D’Attilio, “Mr. Sacco & Vanzetti,” as Howard used to call him and Fred Clow, our very active retired photographer and member of the Society. Not long before that, Howard Zinn had lectured on the Meaning of Sacco & Vanzetti for the SVCS at the Dante Alighieri Center, where he said that he was surprised to see so many people interested in the subject matter. Howard Zinn’s contribution to the theory of social analysis of U.S. capitalism and working class struggle will definitely outlive him and remain as a tool to understand and change society for a long time. At the Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society, we say raising our fists:
‘Howard Zinn, presente! Now and forever in the struggle!’” Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010) will be missed.•
First and Third Monday:
Papercut Zine Library meeting, 7:30pm, Contact papercut (at) riseup.net for location
First Tuesday of Every Month:
BAAM public meeting, 7pm, Lucy Parsons Center, 549 Columbus Ave. Open meetings feature an introduction to BAAM, reportbacks, and workshops.
Second Tuesday of Every Month: Anarchist Black Cross meeting (defense and prison abolition group), 8pm, email bostonabc (at) riseup.net for location.
Free Radical Film Nights, 7pm, Lucy Parsons Center, 549 Columbus Ave.
Second Sunday of Every Month: 2pm Industrial Workers of the World meeting. Lucy Parsons Center, 549 Columbus Ave, Boston
Food Not Bombs free community meal, 3-6pm, Boston Common, Park St T Stop, Boston
Food Not Bombs free community meal, 3-7pm Central Square Cambridge, MA
(Upcoming) Calendar: Get Involved
Wednesday, February 3rd
Candlelight Vigil in support of Jason Vassell. It has been 2 years since he was the victim of a hate crime, for which he was arrested. The trial continues. 7pm @ the First Churches, 129 Main Street, Northampton. www.justinforjason.org
Thursday, February 4th
Workers have no borders. This event seeks to build unity between immgrant workers and US-based labor movement by bringing together union workers, immigrant organizers and community activists. It is part of the campaign by the Boston May Day Committee and its affiliates to unite workers across sectors and borders. Featuring: Dorotea Manuela -- “On organizing towards May Day”
Camilo Viveiros -- “On the raids and immigrant workers (such as the Foxboro mobile raid experience)
Steve Early -- “On the organized labor movement and immigrant workers”
At Encuentro 5, 33 Harrison Ave. 5th. Fl., Boston, Ma 02111 For more information: www.bostonmayday.org
Sunday, February 7th
ABC Prisoner Support. 1pm @ The Broad Majestic Shannon (email for directions: BostonABC (at) riseup.net) Join us for an afternoon of prisoner support. We will be writing letters, sending literature, doing research, and more! All are welcome!
Monday, February 8th
Panel on Transgendered Communities and the Prison Industrial Complex 7pm @ Dockser Hall, Room 250 at Northeastern University. Featuring Gabriel Arkles, and Stefanie Rivera from the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and Elizabeth Marie Rivera-Valentine from Cambridge Cares About AIDS.
Saturday, February 13th
Greek Solidarity Planning Meeting. Participate in BAAM’s Greek Solidarity committee. Help plan upcoming events and develop strategies for supporting the world’s largest anarchist movement. 5:30pm at the Lucy Parsons Center, 549 Columbus Ave.
Sunday, February 14th
Saintless Valentines Day Dinner and ABC Fundraiser. Come eat delightful vegetarian food for a cause! Vegan and gluten-free diets amply accommodated. Tickets Start at $15 (everything over 15 will go to Justice for Jason- www.justiceforjason.org/) Dinner includes 4 course meal and a drink. Ticket Deadline is February 1st. To order, email bostonabc (at) riseup.net. 6PM at the Community Church of Boston 565 Boylston in Copley.
Tuesday, February 16th
Month of Anarchy Coordinating Committee meeting. Help get the ball rolling for activities of the May Month of Anarchy!
7pm at Encuentro 5, 33 Harrison Ave,
Chinatown, on the 5th floor.
Sunday, February 28th
Serving Solidarity: A Night of Greek Cuisine and Uprising. Homemade Greek food, culture, and inspiring information about the situation in Greece. With excerpts from ZNet’s documentary “After the Greek Uprising.” 5pm at Lucy Parsons Center.
Saturday, March 13th
Self-Styled Anarchist Fashion and Craft Show. Back by popular demand! Watch rebels strut their stuff to raise the ABC defense funds. At the Community Church of Boston. Details TBA, check our next Newsletter.
Saturday, March 27th
Sacco and Vanzetti Social. Gather for a cultural celebration, with food, drinks, info about Tarek Mehanna’s case, and of course, socializing. At Encuentro 5, 33 Harrison Ave.Chnatown. www.SaccoandVanzetti.org
MAY Month of Anarchy
Coming out of the 9th NEAN Assembly, a month of anarchist and related public events and actions across the Northeast. Specifics TBA
What Is Anarchism?
Anarchism is the theory and practice of a human society
organizing without hierarchy, authority and oppression. This means that all people have equal access to the decision-
making process and to the products of their collective
labor. Anarchy can be described as true, direct democracy. It is horizontal: i.e. workers working together without bosses, neighbors organizing housing and neighborhoods without landlords, and people making decisions without politicians. There are many different ideas on how to get there and what exactly it will look like. We can talk all we want, but only a truly free and revolutionary people will be able to decide what their revolution will look like. So comrades, let’s get to work!
Contributors to this month’s issue:
-The Boston May
The BAAM Newsletter
is the monthly publication of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian
Movement, a general union of Boston anarchists. Our publication aims to spread anti-authoritarian ideas and practices, and to report on the social struggles of workers,
tenants, students, radicals, and
others resisting the repression of the state, bosses, landlords and banks.
In striving to make our publication sustainable, we are offering yearly
subscriptions, sent to your door for the sliding scale cost of $12-15. We also provide free email subscriptions. Email Jake at Trenchesfullofpoets (at) riseup.net for more information, or send checks or well-concealed cash to:
BAAM c/o Boston ABC, PO Box 230182, Boston, MA, 02123
Adrienne, Jeff Reinhardt
Jake Carman, Jeff Reinhardt
We accept submissions for our
paper! Email articles, photos, events, letters, etc to Jake at
Trenchesfullofpoets (at) riseup.net