Originally Posted on January 30, 2019. All photographs provided by: The Larson Lens, LLC
For much of December and January, Huntington Woods Library's "Drag Queen Storytime" was under attack by forces of bigotry within, and without, the local community. It began with City Commissioner Allison Iversen, whose emails about the event included the following "I have been trying to get this stopped since it started. Please do get more people involved. I am one voice and we need many people to call this out for what it is." That leak prompted a City Commission meeting where residents of Huntington Woods showed overwhelming support for the program.
"The results that have been achieved by Drag QUEEN Storytime is statistical truth to the desire of Huntington Woods and surrounding cities, which was echoed by community member after community member, at last month's City Commission meeting. There is a waiting list for the event, and ONE letter of opposition that was the only letter sent to the Mayor's office. The community has spoken, HATE chooses NOT to hear them,” stated Jey'nce Poindexter, Founder of Trans Sistas of Color Project - Detroit and Board Member of Women's March, MI, who was in attendance at the meeting. Allison Iversen would resign early on December 18th, with her bid to end Storytime failing.
The results have been readily apparent. Joyce Krom, the librarian organizing Storytime, has been assembling wildly successful events, with 100 attendees at her first event and a perpetual waiting list since. "We strive to support all children in our community, one of our top priorities is to be welcoming and inclusive, and always work toward creating a more equitable society," Krom told MDPAN, when describing the purpose behind Drag Queen Storytime. Miss Raven Divine Cassadine, a regular host of Storytime, was leading the reading on January 26th. "I think that it’s very important that we teach the importance of reading to the children and acceptance for everyone regardless of race, sex or gender," expounded Miss Raven, on why she stays involved.
Despite all these triumphs, Poindexter was astute to point out that hate wasn't listening. In her emails, Iversen put out a call for greater involvement in shutting down the event. Tennessee-based hate group Warriors for Christ answered that call. Their founder, Rich Penkoski, placed his ignorance on public display when describing his reasons for protesting the event "Parents that bring their kids to this, you can say what you want, but a transgender 4-year-old is like a vegan cat. We know who's making the lifestyle choices for that cat and that child. Children should be left alone." This group has attempted frivolous lawsuits in Louisiana, where they booked space in the library, then proceeded to intimidate participants (some as young as 3) and filmed the Story Hour without permission. Upon encountering consequences for this behavior, they filed suit claiming their First Amendment rights were infringed upon.
MDPAN was one of the organizations asked to come out and support the event, and proceeded to call the banners of the Motor City Sisters, GNA, TSOCP, TGDetroit, Planned Parenthood, American Atheists, and Ferndale Pride. With local organizing provided by Sara Smith, the inaugural Queensguard was formed. It's mission: protect children, their families and the Queens from hate speech and other attacks, allowing Drag Queen Storytime to continue unhindered.
January 26th, 1:30 PM, pre-event defense.
The forces of hate had an early start to the day. A group of 8 well-dressed bourgeoisie formed the "Michigan Mass Resistance", an anti-LGBTQIA group who also threatened to protest the event. They stood near the entrance, inviting passersby to pray the rosary for an imagined corruption of children. They were being interviewed by the Church Militant, a Ferndale-based group that abandoned all the class consciousness of the Game of Thrones group they copied, but kept the bigotry. South of them, along the sidewalk, were a pack of six men in hoodies, several of which read "Proud Boys" along the chest, and another in a red "Make America Great Again" sweatshirt. Warriors for Christ, numbering 6, were the last to arrive, but were very proud of their custom jumpsuits.
On the other side of the wall, Queensguard had amassed over 100 supporters with almost an hour left until the 3 PM event start time. An experienced and capable bunch, they immediately took the front line, bedecked and bedazzled in rainbows, facepaint, and a gigantic array of custom signs, plus a bunch more donated by Planned Parenthood and American Atheists. The lime-capped bigot opened proceedings declaring shame and eternal hellfire on the supporters for helping corrupt the minds of children. Queensguard responded to that verbal assault with a thundering chorus of "Love Not Hate" and "Hate Go Home".
As more supporters rolled in between 2 and 3 PM, eventually exceeding 200, Warriors for Christ decided to target specific marginalized groups during their raving. "Everyone wants to be gay, but nobody wants the AIDs," was one such example, noted by a local member of the gay community. Others reported Islamaphobic comments, and a bizarre obsession with adult diapers. As volunteers with ample cellphone batteries teamed with supporters carrying a portable speaker, the screech of bigotry was deadened by the speaker and the crowd erupting into Barney's "I Love You".
2:45 PM - Showtime
Parents and their kids arrived for Storytime. One participant in the Queensguard had a basket full of flowers with ribbon and a positive, affirming message attached for each child attending. MDPAN's Lead Marshall, wearing a rainbow cape, topped with a pink wig, brought popular children's books to pass out to each young person who could make it for Storytime. When it came time to enter the library, all 200+ of the Queensguard did their best Red Sea impression, parting to provide safe passage and booming cheers for standing up to hate.
One parent would later remark "Uh oh, I hope my kid's not expecting a present and cheering every time we go to one of these."
The Proud Boys made a considerable effort to distance themselves from Warriors for Christ, milling around on the sidewalk South of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the majority of the parents were entering from that direction. Red Orchestra (RO) provided volunteers for the demonstration to ward off attacks, verbal or otherwise, from the hate groups present. It should be noted the Proud Boys were briefly added to the FBI's terror watchlist, and have strong ties to the recently arrested Roger Stone. RO took the point on the South end of the parking lot to ensure no parents would be accosted, with significant success.
Meanwhile, at the wall, the Southernmost member of the Queensguard embarked on a special mission. Matthew Kinne is an attorney that's traveled nationwide trying to stop WfC's campaign of hate against any number of genders greater than two. He brought a large thermos full of hot water, and an entire case of hot chocolate powder with balloons tied to it. Kinne attempted to have a frank, calm dialogue and perhaps a declaration of piece. Instead, the Warriors for Christ speaker rejected the gift, and proceeded to point at trans members of Queensguard and deliberately misgender them, including comments like "God will make a man out of you!" (EDIT: 2/21/19) Kinne's mission was successful, with the Southern Poverty Law Center granting the "anti-LGBT hate group" designation to Warriors for Christ. Following the news, WfC Patriarch Rich Penkoski posted a video saltier than Lot's wife on their decision to abandon their base in West Virginia.
While everyone was dressed in their Pride parade best, it was the Motor City Sisters taking everyone's breath away. With Warriors for Christ targeting individuals among the Queensguard with hate speech, Sister Misty Meanor sprung into action. Clothed as the Virgin Mary, or at least the second part, she bravely strode to the front of the line, directly in front of the bigots. From there, she turned her back to hate and let her habit fly, supported by a pair of nearby Queensguard. Golden and blue light from the fabric completely covered the megaphone operator in Warriors for Christ from view, muffling his speech in the process.
Despite WfC's leader, Rich Penkoski, saying children should be left alone in his attacks on Drag Queen Storytime, the families participating were the next major targets of the group. A barrage of vitriol eschewed from their megaphone, attempting to tell children as young as 3 that their parents were going to make them go to hell.
Fortunately, the Queensguard was more than prepared to counter. A few clicks and swipes on a cell phone had "Baby Shark" blaring through a portable speaker, with other activists holding the mic from their megaphones up to the speaker, creating a surround sound effect focused directly on the religious zealot screaming at 4-year-olds. Swaying like the waves of the ocean, all 200+ of the Queensguard lifted their voices to the heavens, belting out every "doo doo dodo do do" along the way. Paralyzed with involuntary laughter, WfC's mouthpiece did the one thing no one expected: he stopped talking.
At this time, the Proud Boys skulked off, and members of RO took point at the neighborhood intersections to ensure their preferred tactic of jumping lone activists post-event would fail.
3:30 PM - Exit, stage left.
RO provided escort detail for families or members of Queensguard walking to their cars alone or in a small group. Thanks to the (baby) shark attack, the primary threat of WfC was effectively diminished. All families were able to return to their cars safely.
It was at this point it became apparent how overwhelming the support for Drag Queen Storytime was in the Huntington Woods community. Mayor Paul stood in the supporters camp, joined by recently elected City Commissioner Michelle Elder, who replaced Allison Iversen. The literature didn't stop with just the kids, either, as many of the organizations present educational pamphlets to distribute. Joyce Krom joined the exit procession for a bit, making sure to meet one of the illustrious Motor City Sisters:
After an impromptu dance party to finish the successful defense, the principal organizers started returning to their vehicles. However, there was a bit of a standoff as everyone departed. "We stayed with the last protester on site because they were parked in front of the WfC people and didn't want to be seen getting in their car by them," reports Gloom, a member of RO and JBGC. Both sides stared each other down for a few minutes, then back-up arrived from other organizers who just finished packing up. The WfC pick-up sped off at the sight of greater numbers and all returned safely.
MDPAN is please to report zero arrest and zero instances of violence, and would like to thank Red Orchestra and all experienced protesters who helped keep it that way.
More information about the Proud Boys can be found here.
#LGBTQIAIssues #queensguard #MDPAN #motorcitysister #LGBTQIA #dragqueen #literacy #library #ferndale #pride #PlannedParenthood #proudboys #warriorsforchrist
CW: Literal Nazis and what comes with it.
Originally Posted on June 10, 2019
Update 6/12/19: Features account and video footage of an NSM member assaulting a woman in front of multiple DPD officers.
An oral history of Antifascist action in Detroit, collected and synthesized from accounts with on-site participants.
Preparations, Confrontations, and Mutual Aid
On April 16th Burt Colucci, alleged "Commander" of the National Socialist Movement [NSM], levied a threat against Motor City Pride, stating they would be holding an armed demonstration to intimidate and harm Detroit’s LGBTQIA community. Word of the threat spread among leftist circles, and LGBTQIA rights organizers were rapidly alerted. When Motor City Pride was informed, they asked concerned residents to leave it to the Detroit Police Department.
Food Not Class (FNC), which routinely serves a free buffet and clothing/toiletries share for vulnerable community members twice a week, called in as many volunteers as they could for a special serving on the first day of Motor City Pride. They set up along an apropos wall of stone on Jefferson and Bates, having just produced a “History of Pride” zine, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. Their spread was complete with 11 cases of bottled water, lasagna, vegan chili, stuffed peppers, pizza and a veritable mountain of cornbread, delighting the houseless community and passersby alike, wetting whistles and sating appetites. Mitten Medics were on hand to make sure anyone who got hurt could get patched up, and keep folks hydrated on an 80 degree day.
Red Orchestra (RO) and the youth cadre of Communist Workers League (CWL) of Detroit provided the direct action and community defense portions of the proceedings, with Antifascists garbed in tie-dye and rainbow bandanas, alternately dubbed the “Rainbow Warriors” or “Rainbow Bloc” by onlookers and social media accounts.
While Burt Colucci’s threat was copied onto Stormfront and NSM’s homepage, they were no-shows for the proposed 1 PM start time for their acts of hatred, effectively removing the most common defense of fascism: getting the trains to run on time.
Instead of the literal Nazis, 1 PM’s entertainment came in the form of a Christian bigot trundling down Jefferson, condemning LGBTQIA individuals to hell through his microphone at each step. Once he arrived within earshot of the FNC table, Antifascists sprang into action, forcing him away from MC Pride with an ersatz blockade on the sidewalk, while others harangued him through megaphones along the stone wall. His cries of homosexuality being a mortal sin were drowned out by commands to take his bigotry elsewhere, and multiple suggestions for therapy interspersed with everyone's favorite expletives.
Finding himself in front of the Renaissance Center, the hateful zealot attempted to give antifascists the slip, heading back down the sidewalk and got as far as the parking garage elevator before running into another ersatz blockade. This time, his choices were a packed sidewalk and the oncoming traffic of Jefferson, he chose the latter and rabbited to the median where Woodward and Jefferson intersect. From there, his declaration that transgender people were a crime against god was met with protesters blasting Pride anthems, such as "Born this Way" by Lady Gaga and "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross, through a portable speaker. He found himself at a loss for words as the protesters started grinding and twerking in front of him. Emboldened future MC Pride attendees took care of the rest, verbally dissolving his life's philosophy on their way to the entrance line, and he sheepishly skittered away.
Meanwhile, Food Not Class' serving was going so well, they were in danger of running out of everything but cornbread by 3 PM. Two houseless folks who enjoyed the spread elected to stick around and serenade foot traffic with punk rock and classic pop standards on their ukelele, while hanging out with FNC volunteers. Thanks to the generosity of those who enjoyed the serving earlier, they had enough for seven large pizzas and six cases of water.
Not ten minutes after the pizza order was placed, a Swastika flag was spotted in front of Cobo Hall, headed directly for Hart Plaza.
The Smallest Blitzkrieg
Walking on the North side of Jefferson, in front of the Scientology building, a lone antifascist tried to halt their march. She was shoved down by an NSM shield in full view of DPD, who neither arrested, nor charged the Nazi with assault. (video)
A second antifascist later bolted to the scene once they crossed the street, heading towards the end of the Pride entry line. They ran into a wall of no less than thirty DPD officers, some in riot gear, acting as a phalanx for ten members of NSM. The Nazis were sporting the clearance aisle of their local Army-Navy surplus, only one had a replica SS uniform. Amid the black tacticool, one woman with a Macklemore haircut stuck out in a Mormonesque khakis and white polo ensemble. The antifascist attempted to darted around and tail the group before it could reach the entry line. DPD made grabs for the protester, amid the Nazis shouting "White Power" and "Fuck You F******" to the Metro-Detroit LGBTQIA community. The police were unsuccessful, as the first Rainbow Warrior darted across the street, flipping the guardians of National Socialism the bird.
Reinforcements arrived as the Rainbow Warriors confronted the NSM and DPD head-on (video). They rallied some of the entry line of Motor City Pride in a chant of "Nazis Fuck Off" to counter the hate speech, and were aided by three members of the houseless community, who joined the front line in trying to stop the march. It was to no avail, shoved aside by DPD riot shields, the bloc took to tailing the demonstration and were joined by a furious crowd confronting a symbol of their genocide.
A crowd growing behind them, the Nazis quickened their pace as they crossed in front of Hart Plaza, a raucous uproar of "No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA" behind them, and Pride attendees banging on the fences. Near the MC Pride Bicycle Valet, an Arab Rainbow Warrior was called "Sand N*****" and told "go back to your country" by a white officer. A couple brave and agile antifascists were able to briefly slip by the police bubble to get clear photos. NSM was losing ground on the Jefferson sidewalk as it crossed Bates.
DPD elected to close down Eastbound Jefferson and escort Nazis to the median and up Randolph St. The sidewalk was taken up by a fuming unified bloc of Antifascists and Pride goers shouting "Class traitor!" and a thunderous chorus of "Who do you serve, who do you protect?"
The antifascist who was assaulted at the beginning of the march was accosted by DPD. The officer grabbed her hard enough to leave bruises, and attempted to detain her because she was carrying two water bottles. The officer was quickly surrounded by protesters and let her go.
The Rainbow Bloc grew in number and overwhelmed the Southeast corner of Jefferson and Randolph and began shouting "Queer Power!" in response to NSM taunting with "White Power!" while scurrying away under heavy police guard. Then "Trans Power!" was added, later "Black Power!" and "People Power!" echoed off the walls of the Millinder Center as the Nazis retreated to Larned and Randolph.
There they lingered as the chants died. A small detachment of the bloc circled around to Woodward and Larned, rallying Pride goers at street crossings along the way to confront them from the West. Marching in, the bloc used a megaphone to undress the NSM from their odious viewpoints, to the likely origins of their lack of self-esteem. DPD reinforced the Nazis by pushing the Antifascists back and drawing a crowd of onlookers from a nearby parking garage.
At one point, possibly Bert Colucci, it was difficult to tell the men apart with twelve inches of hair between them, tore up and peed on an Israeli flag. Perhaps he was mock peeing, but no arrest attempt was made. The bloc laughed, responding "We're leftists, we don't like Israel 'cause they act like you!"
Each attempt for the National Socialist Mormon to speak through her megaphone was shouted down, sometimes with clever jabs, a Queer Power reprisal or simply "Shut up, just shut the fuck up". Eventually, this drew more attention from Pride goers and Detroit visitors alike, and the "Nazis Are Scared" chant caught on. Curiously, they stopped attempting to spew hate at Randolph and Larned, and walked West. Masked members of the bloc eschewed them out with a spirited but off key "Na Na Hey Hey" by Steam and Ray Charles' "Hit the Road, Jack". Sadly, a voluminous DPD presence allowed "White Power" to echo through the Millinder Center tunnel as they skulked away.
The Rainbow Warriors regrouped and cut around to Larned and Beaubien via Jefferson, and were greeted with cheers from early bar goers, chasing the NSM into a parking lot on Larned and St. Antoine. Another section of the bloc marched up to the other entrance of the parking lot and was halted by a suffocating array of DPD officers and cruisers. The Warriors remained undaunted, bringing a reprise of "Nazis Are Scared" as the police escorted the National Socialist Movement away in a rented catering van.
From the start of the MC Pride line to the parking lot retreat, the National Socialist Movement only managed to disrupt Pride proper for 10 minutes and Detroit proper for 20, 5 spent cowering in a van.
Meanwhile, the Mitten Medics held it down at the Food Not Class table, but their consumable supplies dwindled to cornbread and coffee. Fortunately, they had plenty of literature from FNC and Communist Workers League, plus radical stickers.
Post-Action Mutual Aid
After taking a half hour to regroup, FNC realized they completely forgot about the pizza. The resupply run lasted 45 minutes and everyone had to make due apologizing for only having coffee, clothes, cornbread and literature. Once the 8 large pizzas arrived, it was passed out to hungry Pride attendees in roughly 5 minutes. Many people lingered, dancing to 105.9 on the portable speaker, and/or talking radical theory.
The Mitten Medics patched up a young Pride-goer who suffered a leg injury, keeping her comfortable and well hydrated with bandage wraps and assistance on an impromptu medical evacuation. Red Orchestra and Communist Workers League squads walked the streets around Pride, checking to ensure no white supremacists lingered. Along the way, they encountered a man catcalling women waiting in line from his car. Blocking his view, he stopped yelling and got out of his car, frustrated. Unpleasant words were exchanged at low volume, but it was made clear his behavior was out of line and it was also the least logical place to try anyway. He stormed off, but bothered Pride no further.
FNC was confronted by an undercover officer, upset about the organization's rule of refusing service to law enforcement and fascists. He took a piece of anti-police literature and interrogated the organization over its permit status for the stone wall on Jefferson and Bates. Eventually, he left, thoroughly unsatisfied with his lack of service.
The sun went down, and Pride came to a close Nazi-free. All in a day's work for Antifa.
#LGBTQIAIssues #motorcitypride #communistworkersleague #foodnotclass #mittenmedics #Detroit #nazi #antifa #mutualaid #communitydefense #directaction
Originally Posted on August 24, 2018
Update: 2/13/2020, a certain story involving tangerines and masochism surfaced from this day and had to be included.
A compiled oral history of Antifascist action the weekend of August 10-12, 2018 in Charlottesville, VA and Washington DC.
August 11th, 11 PM
Though their means of acquisition is unknown, this Antifa collective possessed a large pile of confederate flags by the evening of the 11th. Their safehouse also had a fire pit, which left only one logical conclusion for what to do with them. Joining the pile of cloth from failed attempts at white supremacist states was a Blue Lives Matter flag, its movement begging to join the Stars and Bars in the past tense.
Once the logs ignited, the ritual began. Curses shouted to the heavens for centuries of brutality and persecution at the hands of the state and its lapdogs, while the racist banners were lowered into the conflagration. The collective cheered as flames licked at the fabric, igniting and melting it. Then, someone said "anyone who doesn't jump over the fire at least once is a cop", and all seriousness dissipated as the collective lined up to leap over the blazing pit.
With the daunting task of obliterating Jason Kessler's "Unite the Right 2" rally ahead, the collective cut loose. Tables were danced on, pasta feasts consumed and sing-alongs conducted, ranging from Eric Clapton's "Before You Accuse Me" to Britney Spears' "Oops, I Did It Again". Good times in community are precious when living in the grip of a fascist regime, as it makes the looming threat of Nazis and their state protectors seem smaller, at least for a short while.
August 12th, 11 AM
Word of Kessler moving his Nazi rally start time up several hours engulfed the collective's communication networks as they swiftly mobilized to ensure black bloc's presence was felt outside the White House. The fascist's gambit failed, as scores of black bloc flooded the streets of DC just in time to convene with the locally organized demonstrations already in full swing. It is one of the largest Antifascist specific gatherings in the country's history.
The vote was made at Franklin square to join the action organized and led by Black Lives Matter DC (BLM), which took on the toughest assignment: directly confronting Kessler's band of white supremacist goons. The black parade took over I St. and later Vermont Ave, and when rounding the corner of Vermont and H, a symbiosis occurred. Cheers erupted from the front of the line of antifascists as they made jubilant contact with Black Lives Matter. Members of both groups ran to embrace, high five and root each other on as this newly unified bloc took back the streets of DC from the Nazis set to arrive in minutes.
Despite the DC Metro Union refusing to provide private transit cars for Kessler's rally, WMATA went behind their worker's backs to roll out the red carpet with a private train under heavy police guard. This did little to deter Black Lives Matter, who led the bloc directly along their path as soon as the Kessler Klan-reserved Metro car pulled into the station. Instead of the several hundred white supremacists that attended the first Unite the Right, Kessler emerged with less than 30 minions. Sadly, this numerical advantage was countered by over 100 law enforcement officers acting as an escort to the thoroughly kowtowed racists.
Every step the Nazis took was met with fury and resistance. Unified shouts of "Whose Streets? Our Streets!" and "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA" boomed through the roads and alleyways overlooking Lafayette Square. Hundreds lined the edge of the square as BLM/Black bloc asserted their control over H street.
This was not the only territory antifascists would reclaim, as the march turned South on 17th street before settling on the intersection of 17th and Pennsylvania. Word spread from the lead organizers that this position is crucial and must be held, for it was Kessler's designated escape route. The unified bloc, now numbering well over one thousand, sent vicious verbal barrages at the 25 fascists huddled just a few hundred feet away in Lafayette Square.
The sky grew dark as the 17th/Penn occupation continued. Rain poured down, lightning rent the horizon and the rumble of thunder was indistinguishable from chants of "in the sun and in the rain, antifascists bring the pain!" A couple comrades set off smoke bombs ("don't worry, its not tear gas" they reassured) and roman candles for ambience. Medic teams established a back line for treating injuries, and friends, separated by the burgeoning crowd, reunited amidst the mass demonstration.
It was abundantly clear that Kessler and cronies would be unable to accomplish any of their rally's program. Their highest profile speakers, David Duke (Ku Klux Klan) and Simon Roche (Suidlander, a South African pro-Apartheid cult), were no-shows, and the entire potential audience couldn't even fill a school bus. As they were readying to leave, Black Lives Matter and Antifa prepared for a barrage of state violence, distributing aid for tear gas, pepper spray and dehydration.
As word of a resounding defeat of Unite the Right 2 spead, the police parked two white 15-seat vans at the South end of the bloc, behind a barricade. However, those only served as a decoy, as the police surrounded the Nazis in a protective formation and ushered them into two different vans, then escorted the white supremacists around the reclaimed streets and out of the city. There is no historical evidence that leftist activists such as Rosa Parks, Angela Davis or Dolores Huerta ever received such care and protection by law enforcement.
In concert with the Nazi escort, a line of bike cops fanned out to wall off 17th and H street, barricading the unified bloc on all sides. Half of the bloc made moves to confront the police line along H, but cooler heads prevailed as organizers from BLM relayed an optimal escape route from the first kettling attempt of the afternoon.
Pennsylvania Avenue was blocked off by two dump trucks East of 17th, but a wide sidewalk allowed the unified bloc to squeeze through and march Northeast on Penn. Tension grew in the corridor of 17th/Penn/H St. street as four police cars blocked the road. The raucous chatter of the bloc ceased as their lines split to weave through the squad cars. An exhale of relief rippled through the march as it passed the police line unscathed.
The bloc took I St, marching west and later South along 14th until a decision was made by BLM to finish the demonstration with an impromptu rally at the Department of Justice. From 14th, the bloc headed East down G street, only to meet a fleet of police on motorcycles blocking their way. The order to disperse was given by Kessler's de-facto bodyguards. A counter order from the bloc was given to push through. The front of the line inched forward, and the cops shot them with pepper spray.
The unified bloc held firm, and in one notable example, an anti-fascist took a shot of pepper spray square in the face without flinching. In response to the puzzled expressions by the police, the anti-fascist stated "I like pain" and flung a tangerine directly at the shooting officer's face.
A flashbang grenade exploded overhead while the worst hit by the spray fell to the ground and vomited. The bloc surged and busted through the riot line together, gathering fallen comrades along the way. BLM led the bloc through a construction site adjacent to the Wells Fargo building, shoving down a fence to gain access. Weaving through a forest of steel beams and scrap, they were left with limited options for an exit.
At this point, the bloc split into three groups to frustrate police pursuit. One group dashed into a nearby parking garage and wound their way into a corner, with no clear way out. Still, there was no active pursuit, which gave the medic team time to provide aid to those hit hardest by the pepper spray. Along the back wall were two 8 ft. sections of chain link on the ground floor. One antifascist threw her body against it to see if it would give, but to no avail. Suddenly, a pair of bolt cutters entered her field of vision, produced by a well-prepared comrade.
The thick gauged chain link proved a difficult task, but between two people they were able to cut enough away for everyone to slip through, de-bloc (remove masks, black outerwear). Once in civilian gear, they strolled back to their cars and exited DC safely.
When asked later why the comrade had bolt cutters, he responded "I was packing my bag, saw they were there. I was going to leave them at the house, but something made me keep them."
A second group dashed up 14th, one comrade running so hard he split his shoe in half along the sole. They found temporary sanctuary in a church along New York Avenue, but bike cops circled the building like vultures, waiting for protesters to leave so they could capture them and throw them in a holding cell. Some Antifa escaped the kettle unscathed and were in contact with those hiding in the church. A quick recon team was whipped up, darting through the alleys near the church, probing for breaks in the bike cop patrols.
After a time, the patrols backed off, and the trapped comrades touched base with their collectives and escaped individually. The split shoe antifascist was joined by a recon team, given some civilian outerwear and escorted to the getaway car in an exit worthy of a straight-to-video heist film.
A third group found themselves in a service corridor that had doors leading to a french bakery, and hastily negotiated with the owner to allow protesters to de-bloc in the backroom, which led to a sight of shields and black shirts shed in haste, hiding behind microwaves and mixers. In addition to the mugs, a large bread knife also joined the list of casualties in the quick-change fracas. Many customers cheered at the sight, while one old man stood around looking very confused.
Nevertheless, through the kindness of strangers, BLM and Antifa stepped onto the rain-soaked streets of DC as free people.
The greatest honor of the afternoon goes to Black Lives Matter DC, for their organization and leadership throughout the entire demonstration. Their knowledge and skill allowed the unified bloc to escape two kettles by the police, almost entirely unscathed. Thank you for working with us on August 12th, and here's to more unified blocs banding together to grind fascist movement into dust, both on the street and in seats of power across the land.
#Immigration #Politics #RacialJustice #antifa #workersagainstracism #dcblm #dc #blacklivesmatter #jasonkesseler #counterprotest #nazi
Banner image credit: Northern Star.
In late December, a caravan of asylum seekers, many beginning in Central America and growing to over 7,000 people, will reach the Southern US Border along Mexico. Trump is threatening to send 15,000 soldiers to the border in response, declaring the imaginary line separating the two countries "sacred" and telling thousands of refugees fleeing violence to "turn around". Should Trump follow through on his threats, it will be the first (official) armed deployment of US soldiers on home soil since the American Civil War. Should those troops (or ICE/CBP/DHS agents) fire on the caravan, it will be in direct violation of both US and International law, which dictates that seeking asylum is perfectly legal.
Further, there is only one morally correct response to the caravan: to throw open the doors and welcome them. Failure to do so is not just a rejection of moral duty, it is a complete abdication of both national and international values. It also ignores the weight of responsibility the United States placed on itself when it declared dominion over Central and South American countries, then repeatedly destabilized those countries in the name of corporate interest. While this specific caravan only formed over the past year, the path they walk is over two centuries in the making. Here is the first in a four part series examining the United States' role in the perpetual exploitation of Central and South America.
If you would like aid the caravan directly, Pueblo Sin Fronteras is organizing their relief efforts from within the caravan and can be donated to on PayPal.
1823 - 1898: Bad Intentions Gone Worse
- 1823: US President James Monroe signs the Monroe Doctrine, stating that any further attempt of European nations to colonize North, Central or South America would be viewed as a slight against the United States.
- 1846: Mallarino-Bidlack Treaty signed in New Granada (currently Colombia and Panama), granting the US a unique right of transit through the Panamanian isthmus (the quickest route between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans) and the ability to take military action in the region to suppress social conflicts or bids for independence that target Colombia.
- 1879-1883: The United States attempted to become involved in the War of the Pacific. The United Kingdom, growing frustrated with Peru's control over the guano/nitrate fertilizer industry (at the hands of French banking firm Dreyfus Brothers & Co.), worked through Chile to violently seize the best deposits in Peruvian and Bolivian territory. The US, supporting its business interests in Peru and resisting British control in the region, demanded Chile return its conquered lands during peace negotiations. Chile balked at the demand, and a brief naval conflict ensued. The US Navy was thoroughly outclassed, having not updated their ships since the American Civil War, and backed down from the conflict.
- 1889: US Secretary of State James G. Blaine, who presided over the War of the Pacific, initiated the first Pan-American Conference (then called the International Conference of American States). His measures for compulsory arbitration for international disputes, and customs unions, were defeated by Latin American delegations who felt said measures were too favorable to the United States. It did, however, establish further meetings between nations on the American Supercontinent and expanded trade.
- 1895: Venezuela entered a dispute with Britain over control of Guayana Esequiba, which got the British military involved. US President Grover Cleveland, citing the Monroe doctrine, demanded this dispute be settle through arbitration involving the US. The panel of arbitration featured: US Chief Justice Melville Fuller, Supreme Court Justice David Brewer, Lord Justice of Appeal Richard Collins, Lord Justice of England and Wales Charles Russell, and Russian diplomat Friedrich Martens. Former US President Benjamin Harrison (who appointed Blaine Secretary of State) represented Venezuela, a representation featuring a curious lack of Venezuelans.
- 1898: US forces acquire Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Phillipines after signing the Treaty of Paris, ending both the Spanish-American War and the Spanish Empire. Ironically, the war began due to a Cuban revolution for independence. Democrats and Republicans fought over the resolution, with Democrat William Jennings Bryan rejecting the terms for their imperialism. Republican McKinley embraced the imperialism, and won re-election for President.
Conclusion: The United States used rhetoric that branded itself as a protector of Central and South America from European colonialism. However, there are monetary interests at the root of every instance of US involvement in the region during this era, and repeated attempts to stack the economic deck in the US' favor. Additionally, this century established a clear trend of the US rejecting Latin voices in favor of dealing with white Europeans over the fate of the region.
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1899 - 1925: Bananas, Bullets, and Big Sticks
- 1899-1903: The United Fruit Company (currently Chiquita Brands International) and Standard Fruit (New Orleans based, Vaccaro Brothers) bought up large tracts of land in Honduras for banana plantations, after US businesses established control of shipping ports and railroads within the country. Partido Nacional de Honduras (PNH, currently the National Party of Honduras) is formed after conservative Manuel Bonilla overthrows liberal President Terencio Sierra. Bonilla would later imprison liberal party political rivals throughout the country, and grant US companies tax exemptions.
- 1901: The Platt Amendment is passed in Congress, which includes eight conditions Cuba must meet for US soldiers to withdraw from their country. Chief of which, the US is allowed to intervene militarily at any time and that Cuba must sell land to the US for the purpose of building naval bases. After President Theodore Roosevelt withdrew US soldiers in 1902, Cuba ratified the treaty in 1903 and leased the United States land for the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
- 1902/1903: Britain, Germany and Italy form a naval blockade around Venezuela, after President Cipriano Castro refuses to pay for damages suffered by European citizens during Venezuela's civil war. President Roosevelt did not initially aid Castro, thinking the Monroe Doctrine applied to land invasions. Eventually, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague became involved, and ruled in favor of the European nations blockading Venezuelan ports. The blockade ended, and Venezuela had to pay out 30% of its customs duties to settling debts.
- 1904: After negotiations failed with the Colombian government for the development of the Panama Canal, President Theodore Roosevelt hinted that if Panamanians revolted, they would receive US naval support. They did, and the USS Nashville effectively blocked any Colombian naval response. In return, the newly sovereign Panamanians granted the US control of the Panama Canal Zone for $10 million, with the signing of the Hay Bunau-Varilla Treaty.
- 1904: President Theodore Roosevelt authors the "Roosevelt Corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine. It states that the United States will directly intervene in conflicts between European and Latin American nations, to prevent Europeans from intervening further. This was Roosevelt's "Big Stick".
- 1907: Nicaraguan President Jose Santos Zelaya lead liberal Honduran exiles and parts of the Nicaraguan military to invade Honduras. Manuel Bonilla, President of Honduras, sees his and El Salvador's forces pushed back repeatedly. The US, fearing Zelaya's control of the region, protected Bonilla's last stand in Ampala. During peace talks in Tegucigalpa, the US installed General Miquel Davila as a "compromise regime" for Honduras, Zelaya did not approve.
- 1907: Central American Peace Conference established in Washington DC, Presidents from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua attended. The conference produced the following resolutions: establishment of a Central American Court of Justice, extradition agreement for exiles of neighboring nations, US-sponsored demand for permanent neutrality of Honduras in Central American disputes, and the refusal to recognize governments achieved through revolutionary means. The US and Mexico, also governments achieved through revolutionary means, agreed to the final provision as well.
- 1909: Honduras accrued more than $120 million in debt under Davila, highlighted with a failed coup lead by Zelaya and El Salvadorian forces. As most of the debt was British, the US intervened with banking firm JP Morgan handling negotiations. While the debt was reduced, the compromise granted JP Morgan control of Honduran railroads, and the US government control of Honduran customs revenue.
- 1911: Manuel Bonilla leads another uprising in Honduras, this time against Davila. Since this interrupted debt repayment, the USMC intervened and held peace talks. US mediator Thomas Dawson selected Francisco Bertrand as the provisional president.
- 1912: Hondurans elect Manuel Bonilla president, but he dies after a year in office. His VP, Francisco Bertrand, takes his place.
- 1912: After two years of extensive money lending, Nicaraguan President Adolfo Diaz (Conservative Party) appeals to the US for military intervention after his Secretary of War, Luis Mena (Liberal Party), revolts. Only after warning of damage to railways and US properties does the military answer the call. Following the suppression of the Liberal Party, US Secretary of State Philander C. Knox (founder of industrial monopoly US Steel) ratifies the Knox-Castrillo Treaty, granting the US principal control over Nicaraguan finances. Military occupation of Nicaragua begins.
- 1913: United Fruit Company, Standard Fruit and now Cuyamel Fruit Company (founded by American Samuel Zemurray) vie for control over Honduran banana plantations and railroads. Through negotiations with JP Morgan, United Fruit Company established the Tela and Trujillo Railroad Companies, solidifying their hold on the nation's banana industry by controlling the majority of the fertile coastline.
- 1914: US President William Howard Taft and Secretary of State Knox convinced Venezuelan President Juan Vicente Gomez to grant concessions to foreign oil companies, in order to drive down Venezuelan debt (incurred during 1895-1898 and 1902/1903).
- 1917: Cuyamel Fruit Company (Honduras) attempted to extend its railroads onto the Guatemalan border. United Fruit Company sent Guatemalan troops to stop it and US mediation quashed any major conflict. Cuyamel workers would strike in Honduras this same year, but it would be suppressed by the Honduran military.
- 1918: Standard Fruit Company workers strike in La Ceiba, Honduras (an area surrounded by UFC's railroad holdings).
- 1919: Honduran President Francisco Bertrand does not hold an election for his replacement. Governor of Tegucigalpa, General Rafael Lopez Gutierrez, rallied opposition by appealing to both liberal Guatemala and conservative Nicaragua. Bertrand, in turn, sought aid from El Salvador. The US stated that if Bertrand did not hold elections, they would intervene directly, Bertrand resigned.
- 1920: General strike along the Caribbean coast. The US dispatched a warship to the area, and the Honduran government began arresting strike leaders. Standard Fruit offered a new wage to workers, which collapsed the strike, the equivalent of US$1.75 per day (not adjusted for contemporary inflation).
- 1920: General Rafael Lopez Gutierrez ascends to the Honduran presidency in a fraudulent election. He replaced US-appointed leader Francisco Bogran.
- 1920-1923: Seventeen uprisings occur during Lopez Gutierrez's reign. The General Treaty of Peace and Amity is signed between Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, with the following provisions (supplemental to the 1907 resolutions): no revolutionary leader or relative was to be recognized until a free election was held after six months of rule, neighboring nations are not allowed to participate in revolutions, there was a hard limit to armed forces allowed each nation (2,500 in Honduras, for example), and a US-backed provision that nations must have foreign assistance to expand armed forces.
- 1924: Battle in La Ceiba between Honduran government and rebels. USS Denver and USMC deployed, but fail to stop the uprising. More US naval ships concentrate along the coast, and Lopez Gutierrez dies during the fighting. Eventually, General Vicente Tosta was appointed interim President and promised to hold elections soon, along with hosting a multipartisan cabinet. Showing signs of not honoring the agreement, the US places an embargo on arms sales to Honduras.
- 1925: PNH nominates Miguel Paz Barahona and he wins the Honduran election almost unanimously. PLH, Honduras' liberal party, chose not to nominate a candidate.
Conclusion: For a revolutionary government, the United States seemed to have an incredible disdain toward revolutions. Very consistent bias in favoring conservative/anti-labor movements throughout its extensive meddling and invasions of Central/South American countries. Even more disturbing, how much direct government control businesses like JP Morgan and United Fruit Company had over Honduras.
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1926-1945: We're Poor Now, So We'll Be Nice
- 1926: Civil war erupts between liberal and conservative parties in Nicaragua, the latter featuring Adolfo Diaz as the appointed President for the conservatives, who in turn asked the US for assistance.
- 1927: Over 2,000 US soldiers invade Nicaragua and begin recapturing liberal strongholds. Liberal party commander Augusto Cesar Sandino refuses to surrender, then takes over a gold mine, while recuiting more revolutionaries.
- 1932: The Sandinista revolutionaries have been active for over 5 years, resisting conservative party authority in Nicaragua. With the election of Juan Sacasa in November, the Sandinistas resisted an entire presidential term.
- 1933: US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt adopts the "Good Neighbor" policy for relations with Latin America. "No country has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another," comments Secretary of State Cordell Hull about the policy. Roosevelt, in a slightly more self-aware stance, states "The definite policy of the United States from now on is one opposed to armed intervention."
- 1934: US Troops have fully withdrawn from Nicaragua and Haiti, as they could not afford the deployment during the Great Depression. The Platt Amendment is replaced by the Treaty of Relationship in Cuba, which preserves favorable opinions of past US military action and the lease for Guantanamo Bay (plus its use for disease quarantine), but removes all other provisions.
- 1939: New York World's Fair features every Latin American country at the convention. Their primary aim was to increase North American tourism in their countries, and combat the stereotypes imposed on them by North Americans previously.
- 1940-44: Roosevelt appoints Nelson Rockefeller head of Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA). This two-pronged propaganda campaign used Hollywood studios (including Disney) to promote positive aspects of Latin American society, in stark contrast to previous stereotypes featured in film. It also established "La Cadena de las Americas", a Pan-American radio program broadcast across the Supercontinent, through CBS Radio. Rockefeller also made sure to deliver plenty of anti-fascist messaging, as the United States was currently fighting Nazis.
Conclusions: This is the part of the story where the abuser faces consequences for the first time, swears they've changed and puts on a show of turning over a new leaf. In the next installment, that abuser will begin with the face of Harry S Truman, and end in the shape of Ronald Reagan.
Want to help aid those crossing the border in Texas? Check out Casa Condor to provide direct relief. No Mas Muetres has the Arizona border covered, and also advocates for humanitarian immigration reform.
#EconomicJustice #Immigration #RacialJustice #pueblosinfronteras #honduras #elsalvador #nicaragua #guatemala #venezuela #cuba #centralamericanexodus #costarica #borderpatrol #usmilitary #jpmorgan #chiquitabrands #internationalimmigration #racism #abolishice
An oral history chronicling the Antifascist actions in Charlottesville/DC the weekend of August 10-12, 2018.
August 10th, 2018
As Antifa chapters convened across the country, so too did the Abolish ICE Network gather in the humid and ordinarily friendly confines of Charlottesville, VA. A city besieged by white supremacist violence just a year ago, culminating in the savage beating of DeAndre Harris and murder of Heather Heyer, found itself in the grip of an oppressive police state. State Trooper vehicles lined the entrances to the historic campus, formations focused around the college's numerous monuments, and frequent patrols skulked through the downtown streets.
Nevertheless, it was Friday, and the Abolish ICE team was committed to continuing their tradition of a One Million Flames solidarity vigil, for victims of the pogrom against immigrants (including the child who died from a respiratory infection contracted while imprisoned by ICE), mass incarceration, and especially Heather Heyer. Candles lined the sidewalk of the Charlottesville Federal Courthouse, the abolitionists forced off the premises proper by local police.
They fanned out, enveloping the street corner in candlelight as cars passed by, honking supportively. A few glared at the gathering, furtively taking cell phone pictures of the demonstrators. As the abolitionists were singing "Solidarity Forever", passersby walked up to the courthouse to join them. With the local support, this One Million Flames vigil was officially a success.
The Antifa/Abolitionist collective concluded their ceremony thanking the bystanders who joined the movement, however briefly, and quietly returned home to prepare for Charlottesville's defense.
August 11th, 2018 - Downtown Charlottesville - 1 PM
Fueled by pancakes, scrambled eggs and a demand for social justice, the Antifa collective set to work planning their memorial service for Heather Heyer at the site of her murder. Despite the peaceful objective, Virginia Police had walled off the downtown plaza but for one entrance, heavily guarded with a security checkpoint and a banned items list that grew longer with each query.
Upon arrival to the parking lot, Virginia State police immediately made a show of running license plates of cars whose occupants dressed in all black with hats and sunglasses. An armored vehicle crept closer in the lot towards the Antifa gathering, but peeled off after some comrades began taking selfies in front of it.
Undeterred by the show of intimidation by state authorities, Antifa strolled to the security checkpoint. While most cleared it without incident, one of the medics was forced to discard a CPR mask as part of the "no masks" policy. Given that the heat index was in the upper 90s, the group was dressed in all black and packed into narrow alleyways, such a decision was patently unsafe on the part of Virginia State Police.
Once inside the downtown plaza, the collective marched solemnly and silently to the Heather Heyer memorial. While the police presence was oppressive, the people of Charlottesville were overwhelmingly supportive. Affirmations like "thank you for being here" punctuated the silent march, along with an accordion player plying his trade. As Antifa approached the fateful alley, time slowed and sound dissipated.
Flower bundles dotted the sidewalk along the site. The building's owner taped memorial flyers to the windows and a sprawling chalk mural covered the red brick, "Gone But Not Forgotten" its centerpiece. Some members of the collective knelt to write their own chalk messages in the pavement, others stood respectfully in silence.
A solemn, respectful service was the goal, but a horde of photographers had other plans. Several comrades asked the press politely for ten minutes to mourn without interference. That request was denied, as shutters continued to click and the Antifa collective was left with their grief and a side of gawkers. In addition to wanting a respectful ceremony, the request for no pictures is also for personal safety reasons, as both the fascist street movement and the state want to doxx the identities of Antifa for nefarious purposes.
With both pressure and grief mounting, one comrade broke down at the scene and was covered by their closest friends. A fourth spread wings of revolution to allow them at least some semblance of privacy, with help from a fifth.
Their service concluded, the collective gathered themselves and returned to the plaza. The accordion player struck up "This Little Light of Mine" and the 40+ strong black parade joined in. As the shine of those verses faded, it was replaced by a reprise of "Solidarity Forever" from the previous evening as they exited through the security checkpoint.
August 11th, 2018 - UVA Brooks Hall - 7 PM
With the previous two actions, this collective mourned the dead. Now the time came to fight like hell for the living. Black Lives Matter Charlottesville (BLM) and UVA Students United (UVASU) organized and led rally to protest the white supremacy terrorizing their community and the oppressive police state that descended on the town this weekend, in the name of overcompensation for last year. Antifa's role was to follow their lead and protect vulnerable students in attendance.
While initially planned as a rally at the Rotunda, local police demanded only students with ID be permitted to enter, and everyone was subject to a search and metal detectors. The organizing team promptly rejected that notion and announced that they were holding the rally at Brooks Hall, where all could attend. Several hundred gathered at the scene.
A crescendo of cheers quickly rose from the crowd as the banner emerged, a poignant message of "Last year they came with torches, this year they come with badges," emblazoned on the canvas.
Other banners, such as "200 Years of White Supremacy", "Cville Fights Back" and "We Keep Us Safe" joined it in sentiment. The introductory speaker put UVA on blast, profiting off the misery of the campus following the violence against Heyer and Harris. The speaker called out Virginia police for their inappropriate and oppressive deployment, pointing out that so far all the additional police action has done is harm members of the local community, while making no effort to identify or arrest fascist agitators.
At that point, roughly twenty state troopers fanned out in a straight line along the west side of the demonstration. The show of force was noted, and under UVASU/BLM's direction, Antifa quickly mobilized to help guide the protest to a location less hemmed in. Fortunately, that location was a hop, skip, and jump away at the steps of Brooks Hall. Two more of the UVASU/BLM organizers were able to speak their truth atop the balcony of Brooks Hall, but law enforcement had other ideas.
Without warning or provocation, forty police garbed in riot gear streamed onto the South side of the lawn. Their line was held back by a greater number of clergy and student demonstrators. Meanwhile, Antifa fanned out and formed a protective wall of black around the main crowd. "Not one riot cop is to lay their hands on any student!" was the edict passed down.
"Why are you in riot gear? We don't see no riot here!" was the chant from an entirely non-violent crowd, expressing their disgust at the show of force.
For a moment, it appeared the rally would be able to continue at Brooks Hall. Before the speaking program could really gain steam, a shout came from the student front opposite the riot cops. "We have been declared an unlawful assembly!" echoed through each line of people. Charlottesville and VA Police have yet to provide evidence as to why this order was declared, unless the 1st Amendment no longer applies to protests against white supremacy.
Nevertheless, it was clear the police state would not tolerate a protest so close to the historic UVA campus properties, so the rally transformed into a march, growing to over 1000 demonstrators, and UVASU led the taking back of Charlottesville's streets.
Winding through the hilly streets of Charlottesville, the emotional support team deployed affirmations to the marchers. Marchers were reminded that they're a good looking group, the best the speaker has seen. They were also told they were loved, not just in the general community sense, but by the speaker in specific. Other support teams went to work passing out water and checking for heat exhaustion, scrapes, and other common maladies that can occur when in close proximity to the hooved, snouted, and badged sliver of the population.
Out-maneuvering the forces of oppression for a time, the march transformed back into a rally on the colosseum stands overlooking the Lambeth Field soccer pitch.
Chants of "We are powerful" echoed through the colosseum steps. Initially, only a small pack of police were present on the north side of the colosseum, and UVASU was able to continue more of its program. The power of direct action and mass movement was readily apparent as a fervor whipped through the crowd. Truth eschewed from megaphones on the pitch. One speaker even taught a new song to the audience, of which two verses were very successful in taking root.
Sadly, this non-violent expression of community organizing was not to be tolerated for long. Thirty police offers flooded onto the back of the soccer pitch, walling off one of two major exits. Then, another pack blocked off the other side of the colosseum. With only one opening left, UVASU/BLM gave the order to move. Antifa swiftly mobilized to assist with escaping the second kettling attempt of the evening. Activists hopped, lunged, and crawled up the Shaquille O'Neal-sized steps to deliver a speedy and safe exit for the demonstration.
At the behest of the local organizers, the Antifa collective peeled off from the main demonstration in an effort to draw away the heavy police presence, as the march was entering a marginalized neighborhood.
Sweaty, but energized, the Antifa collective was able to safely return to their vehicles and leave police-occupied Charlottesville. Their mission was successful, all students and demonstrators were unharmed for the duration of the security detail. Freedom of expression was preserved.
#Immigration #LGBTQIAIssues #RacialJustice #charlottesville #antifa #blacklivesmatter #fascism #policebrutality #alt-right #heatherheyer
Originally Posted on August 6, 2018
As the street sweepers cleared and the sun peaked out from the horizon line the morning of July 27, an intrepid crew of Occupants, numbering 15, rose from their tents and went to work shutting down the Detroit ICE Field office. Eschewing most physical barricades that enveloped the gates in June, this team did most of the work with just their bodies.
Prior to the blockade, two groups of two Occupants each faced a frightening encounter. At 1:30 AM, a black Ford F-250 SuperDuty pickup barreled through the Larned/Mt. Elliott intersection on a bee-line for protesters biking away. It swerved at the last moment, snaked up Mt. Elliott to restablize, then ran a red light on a right turn from the middle lane on Lafayette. This exact pattern was later repeated at 3:30 AM towards two protesters on foot.
A little after 5 AM, several vehicles tried to enter the facility through the Jefferson gate. A line of people formed in front, shouts of "Shame!" drowning out their cries of frustration, already muted by their car windows. The cars were turned away, but pulled into an adjacent parking lot to stew over a thwarted attempt to continue the work of genocide. Two of the cars bounced between the Jefferson and Mt. Elliott gates, probing for an opening. They found none.
Not long after 7 AM, a DHS agent arrived in response to employee calls about not being able to come to work. Occupy ICE Detroit began picketing in front of the gates in a roving circle formation. The DHS Agent, who shall henceforth be referred to as Agent (Donald) Glover, began repeatedly shouting "This is America!" in response to the protest, and later "you got me trippin' on some bike locks at 7 in the morning" in reference to the reason why none of the gates could open. The authorities' plea to not block vehicles from entering the facility was summarily ignored. After a half hour of huffing and puffing with channel locks and sledgehammer, the bike lock was removed from Mt. Elliott gate, but the blockade remain intact. Meanwhile, disgruntled ICE employees looked on from their perch in the Walgreen's parking lot, kitty-corner to the facility.
Agent Glover pulled around to go to work on the Jefferson gate bike lock. A chorus of "Shame" erupted as he emerged, but he clapped back with "Shame don't work no more".
To prove his point, a woman unaffiliated with Occupy ICE pulled into the parking lot adjacent Jefferson gate. She opened the door to her car, clearly distraught, with tears streaming down her face. "I just spent 20 minutes looking for a police officer, please help me, someone broke into my house!" she pleaded, but her bid for assistance was ignored by Agent Glover. Several Occupants went over to console her and direct her to an entity that actually helps people.
After the bike lock was removed, DHS was largely uninterested in testing Jefferson gate, instead focusing their efforts on bullying those blockading Mt. Elliott's. In this video you can see threats and intimidation from DHS, who now have five SUVs on the scene, such as the psychological warfare tactics of flashing emergency lights and sirens to disorient the protesters. This tactic is also not allowed in numerous law enforcement agencies, since its using emergency equipment for non-emergency reasons. Repeated threats of arrest were issued, as the morning crept on through 9 AM. One DHS agent took to the time to lay flex cuff zipties one by one on the pavement for each protester.
An ICE employee tried to enter the facility, despite most of their coworkers skulking at Walgreens. A DHS agent told them "you were told not to come in, please go home and wait for a call." So Occupy ICE Detroit officially canceled the early bird shift. Later, a Fedex employee arrived on scene, stated "Trying to deliver a package, but ain't no one in there! Oops, not supposed to say that," and promptly left.
However, the most damning incident occurred at the hands of a Centerra security employee, hired by DHS. This video shows the driver backing up a foot from where the protester is standing, then stepping on the gas to hit her. Fortunately, no severe injuries were sustained in the vehicular assault.
While the blockade stretched into the 10 AM hour, and ICE's vultures dispersed from the Walgreens, important work was carried out by the Outreach team, as a crowd of ten+ families waited outside for an ICE check-in to see whether they would be deported. Occupants walked through the involuntary gathering, offering water, snacks, and chalk for the kids, while asking how they felt about the protests and whether it helped. Almost universally there was appreciation, with one exception. One man needed to drive from Grand Rapids for his check-in, an expensive journey, and didn't want to have to repeat it due to a shutdown. ICE is forcing people to drive across the entire state of Michigan just for the privilege of finding out whether or not they would be exiled. Occupy ICE Detroit will be launching an additional fundraiser to provide relief for immigrant communities directly in the near future, especially as it relates to the deportation process.
By 11 AM, the Mt. Elliott blockade was completely surrounded, with DHS agents outnumbering protesters. A final warning was issued and the blockade ended, but not before canceling the entire first shift and observing a deportation free day while protesters were on site. Occupants were given only a half hour to strike camp or face arrest/personal property destruction.
No arrests were made, and Occupy ICE Detroit stayed out front for the remainder of the day, to much jubilation from onlookers driving by on Jefferson.
Several days later, a black Ford F-250 SuperDuty was seen exiting the ICE facility.
#Immigration #RacialJustice #occupyice #detroit #MDPAN #antifa #RefuseFascism #blockade #familiesbelongtogether #abolishice
Originally Posted on July 5, 2018
6/27 - Not long after sunrise, a DPD squad car approached the Occupy ICE Detroit encampment. A lone officer, flanked by two employees of Centerra Security, demanded we remove displays attached to the ICE Field Office fence. When asked whether the issue was just the signs, or the tent city itself, the officer stated he believed the tents were fine. After 30 minutes speaking to his superior, he confirmed the sole issue was the signs.
The five occupants present, groggy and disoriented, slowly complied. The fifteen foot "
#ShutItDown" banner was the last to go, folded like an American flag while the occupants belted out a heavily butchered version of Taps.
The next few hours were rainy, and punctuated by a fascist bearing an actual American flag, a sign reading "God Bless Our Law Enforcement", a CPL and a gun. After calling one of the women protesting ICE a "skank", DHS officers arrived on the scene. Despite a long deliberation with the fascist, DHS returned to state that both parties had a right to protest, and the armed white supremacist was viewed no differently than non-violent protesters attempting to prevent genocide.
Eventually, the fascist left the encampment to spend the next hour licking the boots of a DHS SUV observing the occupation.
Not long after, Detroit Animal Control arrived on the scene to force Erick's service goat, Deer, off the premises. After a lengthy, and thoroughly bizarre deliberation that featured phrases such as "live goats are not allowed in the City of Detroit" and protesters firing back "No goat is illegal!", Erick was forced to leave the encampment.
At 11:42 AM, a DHS SUV crept up to the protest site, and the agent stated he had received orders to strike the camp. Occupy ICE Detroit had until 1 PM to remove all personal property from the premises, lest it be stolen and thrown away by DHS. No reason for this action was given, beyond it was a command from a superior. As a torrential downpour began, the resistance hurried to preserve items of value before the encampment was destroyed. Multiple vans and a car were packed to capacity, but several tents and signs remained, their owners busy with employment or education.
These concerns fell on deaf ears as the waterlogged Occupants shouted "Shame!" while DHS agents scrapped the tents. The agents openly stated reluctance to follow this order, it had little effect on the execution.
Meanwhile, Occupy ICE Detroit is still continuing its picket, and would later learn the reason for the destruction. Large numbers of warrants were served that day, and the Monroe detention facility got fuller.
#Immigration #RacialJustice #occupyice #detroit #abolishice #MDPAN #stoptrump #annarbor #immigration #dhs #ice #cbp #racism
Originally Posted on June 28, 2018
The day began at 4 AM, for those not pulling the night shift. Cries of scorn and disgust emanated from tents as bucket drums were beat for a wake-up call. Two days of planning were finally coming to fruition, the blockade of Detroit's ICE Field Office begins. Intel stated ICE agents can enter the office as early as 5 AM to resume their genocidal campaign.
Protesters quickly went to work executing their blockade strategy, a hodgepodge of ideas collectively hashed out that created a surprising amount of cohesion and mitigated having such limited personnel. Only 40 could make it at such an early hour. Several suspected ICE agents attempted to pull in, but were met with an impenetrable wall of anti-bigotry chants and hardy activists. In frustration, they shook their head, gave the resistance the finger and turned around, unable to fulfill their requirements for the torture of immigrant families.
With three gates to guard, Occupy ICE Detroit was spread thin, but a mixture of guile, courage and communication allowed the blockade to continue for six hours.
The tale of Occupy ICE Detroit's standoff is a tale of two camps, holding the line along Mt. Elliott St's gates and another on Jefferson. At first, three DPD squad cars rushed the Northern gate at Mt. Elliot, prompting an influx of reinforcements. DPD officers exited their vehicles and stood agape at the collection of activists blocking off not just the gates to the ICE Field Office, but the Southern end of Mt. Elliott itself. At this point, it was determined blockading the building marked "Immigration Photos" was essential, as immigrants who attend their ICE check-in appointments live under the constant specter of deportation, fearing each appointment could be their last on American soil. Since no ICE Agents could enter their office, the appointments had been summarily canceled. One family with an appointment would have their mother taken from them, should the meeting be allowed to take place. A family stayed united today, because Occupy ICE Detroit refuses to accept genocide. The looks of relief on the faces of others indicates she was not alone.
A Chippewa County Sheriffs car strolled down Mt. Elliott, with an undocumented person in the back seat. After a few confused moments of deliberation while in park, the Sheriffs car turned around in the face of the picket and drove off.
A further rush of police personnel pushed the Mt. Elliott team off the street itself, punctuated by a ginger police Captain verbally taunting protesters while filming them with a gold-rimmed camcorder, but left the gate blockade and the immigration appointments remained canceled. Eventually, the pool of officers challenging Mt. Elliott was reduced to four, who showed little interest in the protest, beyond telling a protester her music was too loud to have that many expletives in it.
Meanwhile, Jefferson camp started off pleasantly, the blockade and banners were met with a chorus of appreciative honks from drivers passing by. However, trouble was brewing in the parking lot of an adjacent strip mall, where six DHS SUVs lay in wait, plotting the demise of the resistance. Shortly thereafter, Jefferson camp was beseiged by 9 squad cars, largely the property of DPD. Fifteen officers exited their vehicles and stared down the wall of humanity preventing the continuation of a pogrom.
A higher ranking officer declared the gate as private property, and protesters must disperse. They were given a warning, the first of three. They held the line, they refused to back down. The standoff continued as hours ticked bye, another warning given, and another warning ignored. Eventually, DHS and DPD forces surrounded the Jefferson camp, equaling the number of protesters. They threatened using tear gas canisters, and swept the encampment with dogs. The ginger Captain returned with full petulance, gleefully waving a fistful of twist ties as a threat against those who won't comply. The third warning was issued, six hours after the blockade began, but an outnumbered resistance were left with little viable choice but to comply. Their first ever mission took six hours away from ICE to inflict chilling horrors on immigrant families, and the excessive Belle Isle Fireworks traffic took care of the rest, suspending most to all of ICE's activities for the day.
Despite assurances from officers that a picket protest was still legal, as long as vehicles aren't blockaded, the ginger Captain demanded Occupy ICE Detroit strike its camp. Failure to comply would result in the entire encampment being tossed into city dump trucks.
In their first attempt at shutting down an ICE facility, this movement provably kept families together and thwarted ICE's daily plan. Camp was re-established Tuesday evening, 6/26.
So far, members of three families present for check-in appointments have reached out to protesters saying their parent was due to be kidnapped and exiled that day. They were granted a stay of two weeks for a new appointment, but that's still two more weeks with a unified family.
#immigration #RacialJustice #occupyice #detroit #dhs #dpd #Detroit #MDPAN #bamn #solidarityanddefense #RefuseFascism
Originally Posted on July 24, 2017
On July 24th, the Michigan Trump Republicans held a rally at Duggan’s pub in Royal Oak, MI. Metro-Detroit Political Action Network (MDPAN), Refuse Fascismand members of Solidarity and Defense staged a protest to reject the fascist ideology espoused by the President’s base. While the aim was for a peaceful demonstration, the Michigan contingent of Bikers for Trump violently escalated the situation, assaulting two members of MDPAN.
Joseph Fournier, a leader with MDPAN, made note that “known members of Michigan Militia and Bikers Against Radical Islam, who just love going into communities and tormenting families here,” were in attendance. The latter group recently attempted to drive through Dearborn terrorizing the majority Muslim populace, while thumbing their nose at Islamic traditions by hosting a pig roast, before being shut down by local Elk clubs. “Duggan’s is clearly endorsing them, despite what their official statement may say.” Fournier continued, alluding to a statement that this pro-Trump rally was simply the matter of fulfilling a reservation.
The first hour and a half of the protest was mild, peppered by the occasional jeers and Trump supporters wandering into the resistance area to profess the alleged evils of globalism, Black Lives Matter, and immigration. Encounters were tense, but ultimately not harmful.
That changed after 7 PM, when both sides clustered on opposite ends of the egress in Duggan’s parking lot. Shouts of “Lock Him Up” and “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” clashing with “We’re Stronger Together With Trump” and the revving of stationary motorcycles.
While the Bikers for Trump camp were safe crossing into resistance territory, two women from the activist camp were not so fortunate. Witnesses at the scene state that a woman walked across the egress, then had her sign grabbed at, and later her person, repeatedly shoved by a female member of Bikers for Trump in bizarre posture, reminiscent of a soccer player trying to get physical while avoiding a red card. Within seconds, she was shoved by a second Trump supporter and struck back in self-defense. Several other activists rushed to her aid.
One protester was then grabbed by multiple Bikers for Trump members and had her megaphone stolen amidst the chaos. At this point, the Royal Oak Police intervened, separating the clashing groups. The first assault victim made multiple attempts to state the crimes committed against her, but was simply told by an officer on the scene to “go back to the sidewalk” and file a report. Minutes later, she was placed under arrest for assault.
Another protester made multiple appeals for the return of her megaphone, which was eventually recovered by Royal Oak PD, stating that they found it on the ground and saw no evidence of wrongdoing. Video evidence proves otherwise. No further arrests were made.
After being separated, there were no further instances of violence at the event, though several homophobic comments were lobbed at Fournier by the Trump supporters as they departed. Despite a perverse obsession with the American flag, one member of Bikers for Trump displayed where his true loyalty lay:
#Politics #Trump #duggans #royaloak #MDPAN #RefuseFascism #whitesupremacy #bikersfortrump #Protest
Originally Posted February 11, 2018
Bill 5550 has been proposed to the Michigan House of Representatives amid Metro-Detroit Political Action Network's (MDPAN) protest that Metro City Church is hosting conversion therapy sessions for teenage girls. The bill, introduced by Ann Arbor Rep. Adam Zemke, seeks to make Michigan the tenth state to ban conversion therapy (attempts to reorient LGBTQIA individuals to a hetero/cis gender and sexuality dynamic) by mental health professionals. Zemke is joined Brownstown Rep. Darrin Camilleri in calls to remove the practice. Camilleri is also demanding MI Attorney General Bill Schuette investigate the Church for any deceptive and unconscionable practices under the MI Consumer Protection Act.
The protest, organized in under a week by MDPAN, began with author Sara Cunningham's posting of Metro City Church's $200 workshop for teenage girls struggling with gender and sexuality identity. The activist group quickly mobilized. Spearheaded by LGBTQIA chair Brianna Dee Kingsley and Meeko Williams, the protest drew roughly 300 to the Riverview church to support those teenage girls pressured to attend the workshop, and condemning any abuse visited upon them by church staff.
One such tale of abuse was suffered by Seth Tooley, a 17-year-old transgender man, who attended a similar workshop by the church four years prior. Kim Tooley, Seth's mother, told the Detroit Free Press "My son had three adults laying hands on him — (he was) screaming so loud I heard him from the other room — praying that God will deliver him from (the homosexuality) demon". The abuse continued as the church insisted on deadnaming Seth, demanding he dress as a female, and subsequently banned him from a boy youth group within the church.
With Seth's experience as a focal point, MDPAN rallied LGBTQIA community leaders such as Kingsley and Williams, Jey'nce Poindexter (Equality MI, Trans Sistas of Color Project), Char and Esther Davenport (National LGBTQ Task Force), Rev. Roland Stringfellow (Metropolitan Community Church), Pastor Tray Smith (Faith Christian Community Church) spoke alongside Seth himself. The crowd gathered had time to share their stories, an improptu speaking circle lead by Williams also shed light on the experiences of James Williams and Matt Mayes, among others.
Jeremy Schossau, founder and head pastor of Metro City Church, denies these workshops feature conversion therapy. However, the Church's partnership with FORGE (Families Obediently Restoring Godly Education) Ministries suggests otherwise. A non-profit based in Texas, they bill themselves as a champion of Christian family values. Biblical verses pepper their organizational values, highlighting Mark 10:6 "But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female," and Genesis 1:28 "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." These passages forming a core of the ministry's ethos proves troubling, especially for the mental health of LGBTQIA teens, already at risk for suicide attempts at a rate five times higher than hetero/cis teens.
More dubious still, the workshop is explicitly designed for girls, but lead by men. Schossau's dismissive social media comments suggest a belief that homosexuality is comparable to a drug addiction, or obesity. The logical extension of FORGE Ministry's philosophy demands there be a rigid gender binary, and that women are tasked with breeding as their primary function. When taken with Seth's account of abuse, this workshop (and others like it), can cause long term psychological damage for attending girls.
GLSEN Southeast Michigan, Ruth Ellis Center, Equality MI and Affirmations have reached out while the protest was developing to offer resources for any teens struggling with LGBTQIA identity, especially those who went to conversion therapy sessions like Metro City Church's.
MDPAN is taking a stand against these torturous practices. Call your state reps and tell them to back MI House Bill 5550 and make this state the tenth to outlaw conversion therapy! Join the protest next Thursday the 15th in Riverview as the call continues to shutdown Metro City Church's workshop.
#LGBTQIAIssues #LGBTQIA #mentalhealth #conversiontherapy #MDPAN #metrocitychurch #Protest #housebill5550 #forge ministries
Originally Posted on November 22, 2017
There's a movement brewing in the neighborhood of Zender Place, sequestered between Mack and Gratiot on Mt. Elliot St. in Detroit. Rev. Aaron McCarthy, President of Detroit's SCLC chapter, has revitalized Resurrection City, in celebration of the 50th anniversary for the Poor People's Campaign, initially launched by Dr. Martin Luther King. Going strong for over 2 months, McCarthy's mission has provided food and shelter for Detroit's homeless population and most vulnerable residents. Initially planned as a one week engagement, McCarthy felt moved to continue the campaign as the need in Detroit was so great, even exceeding the timeline for the original Poor People's Campaign. As the weather turns cold, that need only increases, and Resurrection City needs your help to continue providing for those most harshly affected by economic injustice. Please donate today (Paypal ID: email@example.com) to keep the mission running well into next year!
Established in the neighborhood he grew up in, McCarthy (affectionately referred to as "Jelly" by his fellow residents) created a tent city on the intersection of Zender Pl. and Mt. Elliot. Twenty-five tents were available for Detroit's poor to use as housing. McCarthy and his assistant, Valerie, also provide two hot meals a day for Resurrection City's tenants and all others in need who stop by. When it began on September 16th, McCarthy, Valerie and an assortment of volunteers worked to feed 20-30 people.
"Now we got dinner lines going around the block...we got people coming as far as Cass Corridor!" McCarthy remarked on the mission's growing popularity. "When people stop by the Heidelberg Project, they're asking the guy in the booth 'which way to Resurrection City?'"
Rev. McCarthy also has a plan to combat sub-freezing conditions and keep the city open all through the winter. With the tents all situated in one backyard, his plan is to lay straw down at the base of the each tent and strategically position four outdoor space heaters, powered by two generators. Your donations could go a long way towards securing a warm night's sleep for Resurrection City's tenants.
While the seasons have already turned, the tenants have managed thanks to Women's March Michigan's coat drive. Each resident received a heavy winter jacket that can also transform into a sleeping bag. "I was asking some of the people in the tents if they got too cold this month, but they kept saying 'I'm not cold!' 'cause of those jackets." McCarthy quipped.
The Reverend went on to observe that Resurrection City's occupants were creating a real home out of these tents, storing their belongings and making each one unique to it's resident. While the first cold snap was tolerable, those space heaters, generators and fuel would go a long way towards securing a temporary home for Detroit's most vulnerable through the harshest months.
Please donate (Paypal ID: firstname.lastname@example.org) to SCLC Detroit's Resurrection City today and keep Dr. King's legacy alive!
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#EconomicJustice #sclc #detroit #poorpeoplescampaign #Detroitresurrectioncity #MDPAN #WomensMarch #homeless #poverty
Originally Posted on November 12, 2017
A building defect in the witness rooms has been discovered by local businessman Jeff Rutledge at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Third Judicial Circuit . The flaw, first reported during Steve Neavling's program on 910 AM, allows court proceedings to be heard within the witness rooms. This inadequate soundproofing is in direct violation of Federal Rules of Evidence, Article VI, Rule 615.
At a party’s request, the court must order witnesses excluded so that they cannot hear other witnesses’ testimony.
The rule is in place to prevent any collaboration between witnesses in fabricating testimony during court proceedings. Failing to adhere to this will automatically result in a mistrial. In the case of Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, witnesses would be able to hear a trial while awaiting their turn to provide testimony. Given that this violation is due to a building flaw, any trial where witnesses were supposed to be excluded would be deemed a mistrial.
Since first reporting this on Neavling's program, Rutledge has gathered three separate videos interviewing local law enforcement on the building flaw. Each officer confirms the defect, with the one in the second video stating "It's been like that for years".
Even more damning are Rutledge's observations on court proceedings with this clearly known defect in mind:
What's interesting is that the prosecution's witnesses aren't told to wait out in the hallway but are told to wait in the witness rooms. These witness rooms are attached directly to the courtroom. It is those witness rooms that are audible to the court proceeding. So police officers, detectives, and general prosecution witnesses in general can listen to what's going on in court.
This would grant the prosecution a clear advantage. Wayne County Executive Warren Evans has held meetings to gauge the public's opinion on a criminal justice complex, which could be built near the court. County officials are expected to reach a decision on the complex by December 1st. However, the witness room defect casts significant doubt on the integrity of court proceedings in Frank Murphy Hall, which could receive considerable taxpayer funding as part of this deal should the complex be built on Gratiot. Funding that would cover up the inadequate soundproofing issue without addressing the validity of the cases.