Plain Words #5

[For reading and printing 8.5×11]
[For printing 11×17]

The fifth issue of Plain Words is out, with reflections on anarchist publishing, a debate on art, an overview of local gentrification, analysis of struggles against police militarization, critical thoughts on coping, and more.

CONTENTS
– One Year of Plain Words
– Dialogue on Art & Anarchy
– “Cops, Cameras & Condos: Bloomington is Getting Worse”
– “Coping with the End of the World”
– Responding to the Police Murder of Ricky Ard
– The Lenco BearCat & the Liberal Trap
– “Blast from the Past: The Underground Railroad in Madison”
– Updates on J20
– News from around the world
– A chronology of local happenings

Interview: The Police Murder of Ricky Ard

In August of 2017 Evansville, Indiana resident Ricky Ard was gunned down by an EPD officer and a federal security guard outside of the federal courthouse in downtown Evansville. We spoke with three people involved in the response to Ricky’s death.

Can you start by walking us through what happened at the Denton Federal Building on August 29th?

Respondent 3: Ricky Ard is reported to have gone to the Federal Building the day before he was killed to “complain about the government.” He was removed from the building without incident. He returned the next day with a bat, shouting at the building and broke some of its windows. Ricky retreated away from the building and sat down for several minutes before walking toward the building a second time. EPD officer Kenny Dutschke approached him from behind, shouted orders and deployed his taser, which was “ineffective” according to a police statement. Ricky responded to the officer’s aggression by swinging his bat and moving toward the officer. Dutschke and a federal security guard whose name has not been released shot Ricky Ard 6 times, bringing him to the ground and killing him.

What was the response?

Respondent 3: Ricky was murdered around 11 a.m. The mainstream media covered the story pretty immediately. A friend heard about it and sent out a text. People in our neighborhood were talking about the police shooting and killing someone at the Federal Building. People were saying that his body was still laying there and asking, “what are we going to do about it?!” We began checking all the coverage and our facts, and several people went to the location to get more insight. I mentioned we have to be there tonight, to not let this go without challenge or notice if nothing else for his family. We met up in the early evening, piled up supplies for posters and a vigil, shared our plan with other neighbors and decided to act after sundown. Almost twenty of us met and occupied in front of the Federal Building where they had washed away all evidence anything had happened. Throughout the night, about sixty people trickled through. We lit candles and spread our signs along edge of the property and scratched messages in chalk along the sidewalks; we talked and sat and waited. Continue reading “Interview: The Police Murder of Ricky Ard”

Banner Drop in Solidarity with West Virginia Teachers on Strike

Reposted from Rififi Bloomington

This past week, we’ve felt stronger, inspired that teachers in West Virginia are struggling collectively, with dignity and without bowing to the union bureaucrats or cops, for their future and the future of the children they teach. The teachers are fighting for all of us, demonstrating the power of solidarity to push back against the relentless cuts to living standards threatening us all. Now it’s up to the rest of us to make sure they don’t fight alone by spreading the struggle. We hung this banner during rush hour as a small contribution to that process.

Coping with the End of the World

Submitted anonymously

The day after Trump was elected President, news reports circulated images of young people at college campuses gathering to cry and mourn together. At these “cry-ins” or “self-care events,” students reportedly colored in coloring books, played with play-doh, met with therapy dogs, drank hot chocolate, and of course, cried together. These stories were met with ridicule, supposedly showcasing the oversensitive millennial generation as a bunch of snowflakes who can’t handle the world. But just like how, to Baudrillard, the existence of the uber-commercialized and artificial Disneyland gives cover to the rest of society pretending not to be both already, these spectacular stories of human coping hide the fact that society is already coping all the time. Continue reading “Coping with the End of the World”

Cops, Cameras, and Condos: Bloomington Is Getting Worse

by Barney Szyalak

Bloomington is increasingly becoming a place meant for rich and middle class people. In order for that to happen, the city government is cracking down on the presence of poor people in downtown, while real estate developers are building luxury and market-rate housing developments that drive up rent across the city. Cops, cameras, and condominiums complement each other in guiding the city towards becoming a place inhospitable to poor or uncontrollable people. Continue reading “Cops, Cameras, and Condos: Bloomington Is Getting Worse”

Plain Words #4

[For reading and printing 8.5×11]
[For printing 11×17]

The Winter 2017/2018 issue of Plain Words is here! This time around, we present articles on anarchist prisoners and grand jury resistance, social media and television as obstacles to revolt, local eco-action, animal resistance to techno-society, and memory as a weapon.

CONTENTS
– “Mirror, Kaleidoscope, Dagger: What is Anarchism?”
– Solidarity with Michael Kimble
– “Fuck Your Selfie: On the Spectacle of Resistance from Bloomington to Hamburg”
– “Destitution & Trolling”
– Solidarity with Grand Jury Resisters
– “Good TV as a Roadblock to Becoming Ungovernable”
– To a Trodden Pansy: Remembering Louis Lingg
– Night Owls Disrupt Yellowwood State Forest Timber Sale
– Deer: 1, Computers: 0
– Black December

Night Owls Disrupt Yellowwood State Forest Timber Sale

From the Earth First! Newswire

On the morning of Thursday Nov. 9th, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR)’s Division of Forestry sold the timber rights to 299 acres of the Yellowwood State Forest Back Country Areas that are some of the oldest and most diverse in the state. Nearly 2000 trees were sold to Hamilton Logging, who have a long history of shady business practices and timber theft.

Despite over 200 people showing up to protest the sale, months of organizing against the planned logging, and a recent protest encampment being established on private property adjacent to the public land to be logged, the DNR insisted on selling another piece of some of the most wild and beautiful land in the state – for a mere $108,000.

So during the weekend following the sale, we painted hundreds of additional trees to match those the DNR had marked for removal in two of three tracts on the chopping block. We did this to obscure the trees Hamilton Logging bought, and to force the DNR Division of Forestry to redo the work of marking these tracts, thus delaying when logging can start.

We understand there is a risk that these additional trees could be cut down, but only if the DNR Division of Forestry and Hamilton Logging show unprecedented, intentional negligence, by letting a group of pranksters mark the trees for them. Logging all currently-marked trees would be a violation of the contract between the two parties, which only includes the trees the DNR chose to mark, not the hundreds more we marked with identical paint and markings. We hope that by painting these additional trees we can stop them from taking any of them – or at least slow them down.

To other defenders of Yellowwood: there are many more trees left untouched. All it takes it red or blue marking paint, and some careful navigation. We wish you luck and look forward to all the other creative and inspiring ways you’ll think of to protect the land.

<3 N.O.P.E.
Night Owl Paint and Exteriors

Deer Smashes Up Computer Store, Flings Cop with Antlers

Reposted from Earth First! Newswire

A disoriented 250-pound deer broke through two glass doors at an east-side computer store, thrashed — bleeding — through the business and flung a police officer over its back with its antlers before being tranquilized.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department described the buck as “going berserk” and “terrorizing employees” before Animal Care and Control officers could subdue it. Continue reading “Deer Smashes Up Computer Store, Flings Cop with Antlers”

To a Trodden Pansy: Remembering Louis Lingg

Louis Lingg was born on September 9, 1864 in Mannheim, Germany. Early in his life, he began working as a carpenter, eventually involving himself in revolutionary struggles. His politicization compelled him to evade military service, so he fled Germany for Switzerland, only to be expelled in 1885. That summer, Lingg immigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago, one of the epicenters of the vibrant German-American anarchist movement.

On May 3, 1886, police attacked a strike at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company plant, killing two workers. The following day, during a rally against this brutal repression, police attacked demonstrators. In the melee that followed, an unidentified person threw a bomb into the crowd of police, killing seven of them and injuring many others. At least four other people were killed in the ensuing firefight between police and demonstrators.

In response, police, with little evidence, began rounding up anarchists who they claimed played a part in the bombing. Eight prominent anarchists – among them organizers, orators, and editors of popular anarchist newspapers – were sought by police: August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Adolph Fischer, Albert Parsons, Michael Schwab, George Engel, Oscar Neebe, and Louis Lingg. Initially evading capture, Lingg was discovered in hiding on May 14. Not one for willing submission to the state, Lingg fought the two police who tried to arrest him – first with a gun, then with fists.

While Lingg was not present at the Haymarket the day of the bombing, the state’s dogs claimed he was involved in making the bomb. Though no evidence links him to the bomb thrower – whose identity remains a mystery to this day – Lingg was a prolific producer of bombs and an intransigent enemy of authority. In a search of Lingg’s apartment, investigators discovered two spherical and four pipe bombs.

After a notoriously prejudiced trial, the judge sentenced seven of the Haymarket defendants to death by hanging and Oscar Neebe to 15 years in prison. At his sentencing, Lingg remained defiant, proclaiming “I die happy on the gallows, so confident am I that the hundreds and thousands to whom I have spoken will remember my words. When you shall have hanged us, then they will do the bombthrowing! In this hope do I say to you, I despise you, I despise your order, your laws, your force propped authority. Hang me for it.”

On November 10, 1887, the day before their execution date, the Governor of Illinois commuted Samuel Fielden’s and Michael Schwab’s sentences to life in prison (Fielden, Schwab, and Neebe would all be released six years later after being pardoned by Governor John Altgeld). Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel, and Adolph Fischer were murdered by the state on November 11, 1887.

Louis Lingg chose a different response to his impending execution. Days after four bombs were discovered in his cell, Lingg placed a lit blasting cap in his mouth, blowing off his lower jaw. Before the guards could enter his cell, he scrawled “Hoch die anarchie!” (“Hurrah for anarchy!”) on the prison cell stones in his own blood. Lingg died six hours later, refusing with his own suicide state authority’s control over his life.

For more information on Louis Lingg and the Haymarket, read Paul Avrich’s exhaustive and engaging book The Haymarket Tragedy.

***

To honor Louis Lingg’s rebellious life, we present an unpublished poem he wrote in 1886, discovered in the Labadie Collection.

TO A TRODDEN PANSY
A broken stem, a pansy blossom crushed
In dirt, yet naught in all of Nature’s store
Revels in scorn at what we all deplore
In it. Wert thou where careless footsteps rushed?
‘Neath wanton lust wert thy fair petals brushed
E’en when thou smiled thy loveliest, before
Dark destiny had rolled its shadow o’er,
Ere yet thy innocence for cause had blushed?
Canst we read naught not writ in Custom’s scroll?
Living and human, cast in a finer mold,
E’en while we mouthing boast a ‘deathless soul,’
Yet still more wise than Nature, far more bold—
Regarding what in Nature is no loss
E’en while Hope’s brightest mintage we call dross!

A Theory of Destitution and Trolling

In the grip of modern capitalism we face destitutions both material and social. Precarious employment, debt, exorbitant rent, and a diminishing welfare safety net are complimented by ubiquitous information technology that hinders the development of real life social skills, perpetuating neurotic anxiety and self-loathing which follows perceived failures to meet expected social roles. Both destitutions can be seen as “falling through the cracks,” where people fail to meet society’s norms in achieving a middle-class income, and/or fostering relations of affection, friendship, and love. One can imagine that these destitute people see themselves as losers, and hence gravitate towards opportunities to be in power relations where they are the ones on top, or at least higher than they are now.

In revolutionary times, the collective power inherent in massive and combative struggles may be seductive enough to draw these people in to the anti-politics of liberation. But with no horizon of revolution in sight and the limits of current collective struggles, the destitute will take what they can get. The easiest and most accessible opportunity for power, especially seductive for men with lighter color skin, are the sectors of the internet where far-right trolls specialize in tormenting marginalized people through social media. As the popular adage about bullying goes, the weak become the strong by preying on others that are weak. At the moment, and conceivably in the future, the formula is:

Privilege – Power + Humiliation + the Internet = Far-Right Trolling

In the past, those who capitalist society shaped to be losers and nerds would rectify their powerlessness by becoming an authority on a commodity or spectacle of their choice. Developing encyclopedic knowledge of video games, music genres, and Star Trek episodes while being condescending to those not in the know replicates a feeling of authority, and instills a fleeting sense of confidence about something, regardless how pathetic. This way of asserting power over others is passive and somewhat harmless, adopted only because it’s within reach.

Contrast this with the typical images of racial hatred in the post-war period: southern brutes drunkenly assaulting civil rights demonstrators, or a horde of working-class whites in the urban north converging on a house newly moved into by a black family to harass and attack them. The aforementioned losers, having too little confidence in themselves and their strength, would likely not be participants in such blatantly confrontational acts.

But different opportunities arise with the internet’s anonymity and everyone being “within reach” due to social networks. Every powerless person who occupies a position of even marginal privilege now has the easy ability to go to 4chan, participate in a coordinated harassment, perhaps of a black celebrity or any visible Trans people, and feel the deranged psychological benefit of asserting power over another. Similarly, men who have been trained to see women as objects, intimidating ones they are incapable of talking to without being creepy, can use social media to lash out in their impotence by tormenting, doxing, and threatening them.

The internet has created an easy pathway for the powerless-yet-privileged to become monsters in a vain reach for power. Who would have thought that hell would be participatory and decentralized?