Listen to the Episode — 34 min
Rebel Girl: February 28, 2018: Teachers on strike in West Virginia, a call to shut down Richard Spencer in Lansing, Michigan on March 5, a new tree-sit against the Mountain Valley Pipeline, student walk-outs across the USA, and a pitch for a re-born youth liberation movement on this episode of…
A weekly anarchist news show brought to you by The Ex-Worker.
With me, the Rebel Girl.
A full transcript of this episode with shownotes and 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, just search for The Ex-Worker. You can listen to us through the anarchist podcast network Channel Zero, or on your radio’s dial in… Eugene, Oregon every Sunday at noon on KEPW 97.3, Fairbanks, Alaska Saturday mornings at 9 on KWRK 90.9 and in Tacoma, Washington every Friday at 9 AM on KUPS 90.1. Believe it or not, every Hotwire is radio ready, and in our shownotes you can download a twenty-nine and a half minute version of this episode for standard radio timeslots. If there’s a story or upcoming event you’d like us to include in a future Hotwire, just hit us up at podcast[AT]crimethinc[DOT]com.
And now for the headlines…
Wobblies and other antifascists in DC confronted prominent alt-right figures outside of an afterparty for the Conservative Political Action Conference this past weekend. Antifascists lined the entrance to the event, chanted demands for the alt-right’s toothbrushes, and projected “alt-right is wrong” over the venue’s door.
At least four racist and alt-right websites have been taken down by Anonymous hackers in the past week. The website for the anti-Muslim group Act For America, a Klan website, whitenationalist.org, and Richard Spencer’s altright.com were all taken offline. A spokesperson for Anonymous was quoted by Newsweek about the far-right, “Oppose them on the streets. We will attack them relentlessly on the digital front.”
Ahead of Italy’s national election on March 4, antifascist mobilization has ramped up as polls indicate a three-way tie between the centrist-left, the centrist-right, and the xenophobic, populist 5-Star Movement, who rub shoulders with Italian fascists. At the beginning of February, a man who had run for office under a far-right party opened fire in Macerata and wounded six African migrants. Last Thursday, fascists broke into a far-left social center in Brescia and set fire to the bookshop. Serious clashes between antifascists and police who were protecting fascist rallies occurred in Pisa, Milan, and Turin. Militants on both sides have been jumped and stabbed. We wish luck to the fighting antifascists in Italy, and we’ll be back next week with more news after the elections.
On February 21, students, faculty, and townspeople gathered for an antifascist rally at the University of North Carolina after a series of escalating threats. For months, leftist professors at UNC have received threatening e-mails from ultranationalist and neo-Nazi haters. One teaching assistant in particular, Dwayne Dixon, has been singled out for being a member of Redneck Revolt and for being present in Charlottesville. On February 7, two far-right provocateurs pushed, cornered, and recorded Dwayne at the department he teaches in. A week later, an e-mail was sent to multiple UNC staff members threatening an alt-right rally on the 21st unless the university investigated Dwayne. When the day came, no neo-fascists were anywhere in sight, but hundreds of antifascists gathered anyway for a loud and vibrant speak-out against fascist threats. The rally included rousing speeches of solidarity from other faculty, a march against the confederate monument on campus, and an adorable antifascist ice cream cart.
Arson attacks were carried out across Germany in solidarity with the fight to defend Afrin, Rojava from Turkish military aggression. In Bremen, the headquarters of a military contractor was attacked, while in Berlin a vehicle belonging to a pro-ruling party Turkish religious organization was burnt. A communiqué for the action ends with, “Death to fascism! Victory to the social revolution in Kurdistan!”
Construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia was supposed to begin weeks ago, but is delayed due to unissued permits and hundreds of defiant landowners. Regardless, they have begun cutting trees to prepare for construction. On Monday, anti-pipeline activists launched a treesit in the path of the pipeline. In the treesitters’ communiqué, they cite that, “construction in this area would destroy a unique biome filled with caves, underground streams, and springs inhabited by life found nowhere else in the world.” They conclude by declaring solidarity with Atlantic Coast Pipeline resisters and stating, “We know that resource extraction and the exploitation inherent to it is not new to Appalachia—it’s scarred into the land. We stand in solidarity with all those who have fought for their communities and against corporate greed. We recognize that the struggle we continue today began in 1492. Our struggle against these pipelines remains a struggle against settler-colonialism.”
To get connected with the struggle to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline, check out Appalachians Against Pipelines on Facebook, or e-mail email@example.com. And to hear more about those hundreds of defiant landowners unwilling to sell out to the pipeline, check out the brand new episode of our favorite anti-pipeline podcast, End of the Line!
Toronto residents of the Parkdale neighborhood, who have been engaged in a rent strike, flyered their landlord’s neighborhood over the weekend. The flyers call out the landlord, Michael Lax, for sitting on the board of directors of his area’s schools, while at the same time forcing families with children in Parkdale out into the cold. To find out more about the Parkdale rent strike, and about how to organize with residents in your own neighborhood against greedy landlords, check out Sub.Media’s excellent documentary This Is Parkdale.
In the ongoing despicable saga of Missing and murdered Indigenous Women playing out across the continent, Raymond Cormier, a white man, was acquitted last Thursday of the rape, murder, and disappearance of Tina Fontaine, a 15 year old girl from the Sagkeeng First Nation. Cormier was acquitted despite police recordings of him talking about the disappearance that are tantamount to confession. This acquittal, along with the recent acquittal of the white farmer who murdered Colten Boushie, has sparked protests across Canada, with marches taking place in Winnipeg, Calgary Regina Vancouver, Montreal, Thunder Bay and a one person protest encampment also in Calgary. For those of you questioning how this grave injustice could occur, even in the face of evidence that Cormier murdered Tina Fontaine, let us remind you, dear listeners, that this is exactly what the justice system is supposed to do. The criminal justice system is no friend to those who suffer sexual assault or are the victims of racial profiling, or to any of us, for that matter. The criminal justice system is just a front for ongoing patriarchal, oppressive systems where the law is an integral tool in creating power imbalances and alarming injustices.
More than 100 women at an immigrant detention center in Bedfordshire, England began a hunger strike on February 21. The strike was declared just one day before a high-ranking UK immigration official was to visit the center in response to mass complaints about facility abuse including medical neglect and mistreatment, violation of habeas corpus, and incompetency in handling cases. The detention center has come under fire in the last year for continuing to imprison survivors of rape, which goes against a policy prohibiting the detention of immigrants who have survived torture. From within the detention center, 18 of the hunger strikers have elevated pressure by engaging in a sit-in outside the home office department inside the detention center.
Anarchist prisoner Konstantinos Yiagtzoglou, accused by the Greek government of being a member of the Conspiracy Cells of Fire, began a hunger strike last Wednesday to protest his removal from an Athenian prison to one hundreds of miles away from his home and family. The solidarity with Konstantinos has been fierce. A police station in Athens was attacked with grenades, comrades lit up the offices of an extreme right-wing TV station, police were attacked with molotovs in the anarchist neighborhood of Exarcheia, and when Konstantinos was finally removed three days after his hunger strike, prisoners in his facility shut down various wings and took keys and radios from the guards. Immediately following the prisoners’ actions, the Greek Ministry of Justice pledged to return Konstantinos to Athens, but he declared a complete lack of trust in this promise and has maintained resolute in his hunger strike.
YOUTH LIBERATION NOW!
It has now been two weeks since the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High in Florida, and a lot has happened.
Last week, it came out that there was in fact an armed adult at the school, just like those in favor of arming teachers would want. But it turns out that this school cop took cover outside instead of entering the school or trying to stop the shooter. Florida cops are throwing their colleague under the bus for not confronting the killer and his assault weapon, but let’s not forget the countless times when a cop has killed an unarmed brown kid and his fellow officers come to his defense as a “hero with a tough job.” Seriously, the authorities won’t protect you, but they will let you get killed. Or, depending on what neighborhood you’re from and the color of your skin, they’ll do it themselves.
Thankfully, high schoolers across the country aren’t waiting on action from lawmakers to take action themselves. Over the last week, students in Florida, Maine, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, and California walked out of school to protest entirely unsatisfactory solutions to mass shootings from those in power. Democratic politicians attempted to co-opt some of these demonstrations, but in many cities it was plain to see that the very prospect of youth power was threatening to adult authority. A superintendent near Houston threatened to suspend students who walked out.
In Stockton, California, a cop tried to stop students who were hopping a fence to leave school grounds, but students fought back and stole his baton. Later in the march, they smashed cop cars too. Stockton! The big demand expressed at most of these walkouts is gun control, and even though last episode we explained why we don’t believe in state solutions to mass shootings, we’re happy that the kids are standing up. And if any rebel teenagers are listening now, we just want to say…
Many of us adults have been so inspired watching your actions over the past days that we’re feeling young again ourselves. We admire your courage, your creativity, your willingness to put yourselves on the line for what you believe regardless of what governors and guidance counselors have to say about it. In a moment of defiant challenges to authority, from striking teachers to pipeline blockaders, your example shines especially bright.
As anarchists, we’re not here to tell you what to do. Seems like that’s what everyone else from the Democratic Party to college admissions boards wants to do—to direct your energy into safer, more predictable channels. Nor are we going to try to claim that you’re a bunch of dupes acting according to someone else’s instructions, like the right-wing ideologues and conspiracy theorists who can’t imagine you taking charge of your own lives.
What is it that connects all of these adults who want to deny, criticize, or manage your collective action?
They tremble at the prospect of you stepping fully into your power together, and deciding to reshape your world into your own image rather than theirs.
Don’t let any adults set the limits of your imaginations. Don’t let political parties or school boards tell you how far is too far, or what constitutes appropriate expression or protest. What you’re starting to realize is that they can’t run these schools without you. What they don’t want you to realize is just how deep the power that you have together runs.
And it’s not just the school system. If you can shut down your campus, why not the downtown? Why not the highways? Why not the economy itself? The same people who are letting oil companies carve up the continent with pipelines and poison our water, who are allowing racist police to get away with murder, who are keeping us from getting the health care we need, who are trying to force us back into the boxes of gender—these are the same ones who want students to stay in their place, either obeying orders and conforming and regurgitating what teachers tell you or on a pipeline to prison. Sure, you can shut down your school—but think big! The horizons of what you can do go so far beyond tweaking laws about guns or putting pressure on politicians.
So here’s our message to you: don’t hold back. You don’t have to wait until you’re 18, or for Election Day if you’re over 18. This is your chance to get organized and get moving. Right now. Don’t be discouraged if they deny your requests and dismiss your concerns. What they don’t want you to realize is that they need you, but you don’t need them.
Students like you have organized assemblies in Quebec, pushed back police lines in Chile, shut down airports in Mexico, and stood up to tanks in Tiananmen Square. You’ve got the capacity to network with young folks around the world who are rebelling against a lot of the same conditions. Talk to each other, see where you can learn from each other’s efforts, and take that inspiration back to the place you live.
Adults can help you with all of these things—provided they’re not too busy trying to control everything—but they can’t do them for you.
The powers that be will take this opportunity to install more cops, more surveillance cameras, more rules and restrictions, and more controls on every detail of your lives at school. Chances are your parents will be doing similar things outside of school. But the fact is, whether any racist bully with the money can get an assault rifle, or just the thugs in uniforms who bark orders at you in the hallways, in a world based on force and authority, no amount of control can truly make us safe.
You may see anarchists like us around at your marches and demonstrations or on social media. Don’t hesitate to say hi and ask us what we’re about. We’re not trying to recruit you to our party or get you to register others to vote; we’re not proposing this bill or that law that will supposedly make schools safe and fair and interesting. We’re just people who have a hunch that the world works better when power over others isn’t valorized or the only way to get anything done, when we control our own lives directly without representatives, when people of all ages can be free to be who they are and be treated with respect. We want a world where we can learn the things we need to know without being shot at by racist jerks, sure—but we also want a world where we can study and explore and play without having every step we take recorded, policed, graded, regulated, and filed in our permanent record. We don’t want to be bossed around by anyone, from Donald Trump to our gym teacher—I mean, who does? But unlike everybody else who grumbles about it but thinks there’s no way to avoid it, we’re actually trying to build a world without politicians or principals.
If any of that sounds intriguing to you, who knows? You might already be an anarchist.
A crucial part of anarchism back when this Rebel Girl was in high school was youth liberation, the idea that young people experience a unique kind of oppression and should organize around their own self-determination. There were a lot of different approaches toward this idea. In the nineties, there was a whole Anarchist Youth Federation who regularly contributed a full page to the monthly Love & Rage anarchist newspaper. In none other than Florida, there used to be a penpal network of anarchist youth, who found each other through creating and mailing out youth liberation zines and holding youth liberation conferences across the state. And in the early 2000s, groups like the Misled Youth Network and even CrimethInc. proposed ways for participants in youth subcultures like hip-hop and punk to take control of their lives.
So we want to humbly mention two possible starting places for a reborn youth liberation movement in this moment of youth organizing.
First of all, March 24 is the “March for our Lives,” a massive, reformist gun-control march in DC that will surely be accompanied by local rallies across the country. It could be a worthwhile opportunity for radicals to intervene and put the focus back on the toxic masculinity and whiteness behind mass shootings, and to propose solutions outside of the state. It could also be a good occasion for rebel youth to connect with others who are dissatisfied by the current liberal rhetoric and attempts to co-opt youth organizing around mass shootings. We are including links to different youth liberation texts in our shownotes at Crimethinc.com/podcast, but you could just as easily write, print, and hand-out your own opinions on how teenagers can be taking back power over their lives. If you want help with design work or anything else, just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secondly, we wanted to plug Sub.media’s webseries Trouble, which just released two excellent new episodes about student-led rebellions around the world, from 1968 to today. Many of the histories they tell focus on university struggles for affordable education, but there’s no reason why high schoolers couldn’t use the same organizational models and tactics of student unions, occupations, and walkouts to organize for their own interests. The episodes are up for free, with discussion questions and tips for hosting screenings, at Sub.Media/Trouble.
And while students continue to walk out over school shootings, every public school in West Virginia has shut down as teachers have walked out on strike this past week. A meager wage increase for the third lowest paid teachers in the country triggered the strike, but rising health care costs and collective bargaining rights for all public employees are also driving factors.
More than 20,000 workers, including bus drivers and other school employees have joined in and staged mass demonstrations at the state capitol and various picket lines, despite the state having declared the strike as illegal and the state House approving a bill that would allow police to not only break up demonstrations, but to be shielded from liability for deaths of, “persons in riots and unlawful assemblages.” For those unfamiliar with the tricky language of statecraft, that means cops could get away with killing strikers.
In a tender gesture of solidarity with their students, some of the poorest in the country, teachers organized free food distribution for students who depend on free and reduced lunch programs at school.
As we go to press, the strike is ongoing, and teachers aren’t going back to work. It’s Going Down has an audioreport from a teacher on West Virginia’s picketlines for those who want to know more about the last week of action.
Rebel Girl: In this week’s repression roundup…
There’s a call to support Michelle, a member of the Burgerville Workers Union who lost their job under bogus pretenses. The firing was thinly veiled retaliation for a three-day strike the union launched a few weeks ago, which grew to include workers from four different stores. Folks are asking supporters to call 360–314–7177 and 360–936–5233 and demand that Burgerville, “stop firing union workers under the pretext of theft and other false accusations that target workers of color at the Convention Center Burgerville,” and to reinstate Michelle with back pay immediately.
There’s a call and fundraising effort to support Kris Thompson, the widow of Kiwi Herring, a trans woman who was killed last year by St. Louis Police while defending herself against a homophobic neighbor. As the only witness to the murder, Kris Thompson has been punitively charged in order to silence her from speaking out against the police, and she needs help to fight the charges.
And lastly, we’re excited to announce the formation of the International Anarchist Defense Fund, which is, well, an international fundraising effort for defending anarchists anywhere in the world against state repression. You can find out more by going to afund.antirep.net.
NEXT WEEK’S NEWS
We’ll close out our episode with political prisoner birthdays and next week’s news.
On March 5 the Reverend Joy Powell will celebrate her birthday while imprisoned as a result of her speaking out against police brutality in her community. Reverend Powell has continued her activism on the inside, for which prison authorities have placed her in solitary. There is an ongoing call-in campaign to release the Reverend to general population. You can help by calling Bedford Hills Correctional Facility at 914–241–3100.
We have an address for writing letters to Joy Powell in this episode’s shownotes at Crimethinc.com/podcast, as well as a link to a beginner’s guide to writing prisoners from New York City Anarchist Black Cross.
And now, next week’s news, our list of events that you can plug into in real life.
We wanted to share a call for financial support from Komşu Kafe, a radical spot in Istanbul that exists for everyone, “overwhelmed and disillusioned by exploitation, hierarchy, inequality and hate.” A number of radical and anarchist social spaces in Turkey have been closed over the last year, and it would be a shame to lose one more, so please check out the link we have for their fundraising page.
We are in the middle of a week of action to stop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which will last until March 4. The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is the final, southern leg of the Dakota Access Pipeline System. You can check out @nobayoubridge on twitter or nobbp.org for a list of already planned actions and to find out which corporations, banks, and other entities profit from the pipeline.
There’s an anarchist bookfair this weekend in Hamilton, Ontario on March 3 and 4. There are workshops planned on women’s participation throughout anarchist history, stories from the Syrian revolution presented by a comrade from Damascus, a discussion of land defense across North America, and plenty of booksellers, infoshops, and childcare and kids activities. Go to steelcitybookfair.ca for more information.
The Stop Spencer Coalition at Michigan State University is gearing up against Richard Spencer’s visit to Lansing next week on March 5. Their new call, published last week on It’s Going Down, includes printable flyers, emphasis on solidarity and not working with the police, details about medics and legal observers, and a map of the event area. They point out that strategically, there’s just two main roads in and out of the venue. The Stop Spencer Coalition is calling for people to gather at noon on March 5, and they’re working on securing lots of parking for those who come in from out of town. The whole thing looks really organized, and we mean that in the best way possible. You can keep up with updates through their Twitter, @StopSpencerMSU.
From March 3 to the 18, folks on the west coast can check out a J20 solidarity speaking tour that describes the unprecedented nature of the case and the need to support the remaining 59 defendants, whose next trials are scheduled to begin as soon as the end of March and April. This week, you can catch the tour at… Pipsqueak Gallery in Seattle at 7 PM on March 3, New Moon in Olympia at 7 PM on March 4, Cider Riot in Portland at 6:30 PM on March 5, and 2520 Harris Street in Eugene at 6:30 PM on March 6.
Starting March 7, CrimethInc. will be embark on a speaking tour for their latest book, From Democracy to Freedom. They will present in Pittsburgh on March 7, in Morgantown, West Virginia on March 8, in Cleveland on March 9, in Bowling Green, Ohio on March 10, in Chicago on March 11, in Bloomington on March 12, in Carbondale, Illinois on March 13, and in St. Louis later in the month. Addresses and times for each event can be found at CrimethInc.com. If you’d like to arrange a presentation in your town or at your university, just contact email@example.com.
And if you just can’t get your fill of speaking tours, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief are launching their own throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic that will take place in March, April, and May. Instead of a traditional one-event-per-town format, many of the stops include two-day engagements, with the first night featuring the presentation Protectors vs. Profiteers: Communities in Resistance to Disaster Capitalism, and the second night featuring a more participatory workshop entitled Giving Our Best, Ready For The Worst: Community Organizing as Disaster Preparedness.
This week, you can find their tour in… Memphis, Tennessee at 5 PM on March 3 and Noon on March 4 at the First Congregational Church on Cooper Street, and in Knoxville, Tennessee at The Birdhouse, 800 North 4th Avenue, with presentations at 6 PM on March 6 and 2 PM on March 7.
The rest of the tour schedule is pretty robust and has stops in a lot of smaller towns; including… Asheville and Boone, North Carolina; Wise, Virginia; Charleston, West Virginia; Richmond and Charlottesville; New York City; Storrs, Connecticut; Elmira, New York; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Ypsilanti; Lansing; Kalamazoo; Bloomington, Indiana; Caledonia, Illinois; Chicago; Minneapolis and St. Paul; and all of the following locations in Wisconsin: Milwaukee, Janesville, Viroqua, La Crosse, Menomonie, Land O’ Lakes, Appleton, Wausau, Madison, and the Bad River Reservation.
Supporters of former Black Panther Party member and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal have announced an international offensive to free Mumia. Mumia Abu-Jamal is one of the most well-known political prisoners across the world, but for those who don’t know he has spent decades on death row over the killing of a Philadelphia policeman in 1981. Mumia has not only maintained that his arrest and trial was a racist frame-up, but he has also remained a committed prison activist and radio journalist. For March 24 to 27, supporters are calling on folks to take local actions to free Mumia, and for March 27 to pack the courthouse in Philadelphia. They are also calling on folks to call the DA at 215–586–8000 and tell him to release all police files on Mumia to the public. You can find out more at FreeMumia.com
From April 6 to April 8, the fourteenth Zagreb Anarchist Bookfair will take place in Croatia. For more info in Croatian and English, go to ask-zagreb.org.
The Southeast Trans and/or Women Action Camp will take place from April 26 to 29 in the smoky mountains of western North Carolina. The action camp is open to all trans and/or woman identified folks. The organizers’ call says, “This four-day camp will offer workshops on a wide range of topics such as earth skills, conflict resolution, botany, tree climbing, direct action, anti-racist organizing, indigenous caucus, black leadership training, prisoner support, security culture, herbalism and much, much more! We hope to incorporate and bring together a wide range of individuals from folks in rural appalachia to southern cities. The relationship between environmental movements and transformative racial and transgender justice is crucial and something that we hope to create discussion around.”
You can find out more by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anarchists in Seattle have already issued a call for a “decentralized, anti-capitalist May Day” there. In their call they state, “Whether it is a block party at the juvie, a march against gentrification in a neighborhood facing mass-displacement, or a less public form of direct action, we want to see it all. By spreading our actions across the city and region, we will circumvent the massive police mobilizations that accompany each May Day, giving each action-group a broader spectrum of tactics to choose what best suits the participants’ needs and goals. The trick to pulling this off is that we need to get organizations, affinity groups, and individuals on board as soon as possible to begin planning their own actions.”
The call ends by inviting those interested in coordinating May Day actions to contact TIOLEO@protonmail.com.
The second annual Institute for Advanced Troublemaking will take place from July 21 to the 29 in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Institute for Advanced Troublemaking is a weeklong anarchist summer school in theory and action, open to adults of all ages. The IAT has already confirmed a robust list of facilitators, including Pavlos Stavropoulos from Woodbine Ecology Center in Colorado, Cindy Milstein, the author of Anarchism and Its Aspirations, and Maia Ramnath, the author of Decolonizing Anarchism: An Antiauthoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle. More confirmed courses and facilitators will be posted on advancedtroublemaking.wordpress.com.
And that’s it for this episode of The Hotwire. As always thanks to Underground Reverie for the music. Don’t forget to check out all the links, mailing addresses, and useful shownotes we customized for this episode at CrimethInc.com. Every Hotwire is radio-ready, so if you want to replay part or all of this show, just go for it! We can edit episodes down to specific time constraints if you e-mail us at podcast[AT]CrimethInc[DOT]com. You can also send us news or announcements to include in the future.
Stay informed. Stay rebel. Plug into The Hotwire.