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In March of this year, an international call for solidarity during the week of April 17-23 was made for anarchists arrested for allegedly robbing banks in Aachen, Germany back in 2013 and 2014. The trial is underway as of this writing, and is expected to go run until May 22, 2017. From the call-out:
“It does not come as a surprise to us that those who oppose and fight against the misery of this world forged on domination are attacked, prosecuted and punished. We are not interested in discussing about guilt or innocence, it is the language that belongs to our enemies and we refuse it. Our enemies follow the logic of separation and categorization of individuals, in order to then have the possibility of locking up the undesirables. We share with the accused comrades an aversion to this system, and towards the prison system which perpetuates the distinction between good citizens and those who deserve to be punished.”
That banks are despicable should go without saying. They stockpile wealth from the interest charged to fund corporate, state, and military projects that make this society a living hell, as well that from small loans made to individuals, meaning they get rich because others cannot afford the cost of life in exploitative societies.
Taking hostility to banks one step further, under capitalism it is not possible to simply live freely. The earth and nearly everything in it has been colonized and commodified, so in order to survive one must have money, and in order to get money, one must perform labor that the economy deems valuable. When at work, we forfeit our autonomy to bosses, bureaucrats, and market forces, accepting a level of domination over our minute-to-minute lives that would be jaw-droppingly dictatorial if it was a government issuing the orders instead of a manager. Our activity during this time is alien to us, it’s a waste of our time, because it has no bearing on our lives except that we are given money in exchange for doing it.
Without money, the police can kick us out of our homes for not paying rent or the mortgage, and courts can send us to prison for stealing the necessities for survival. To put it another way: without money, people with guns, who can call back-up from a massively violent apparatus called “the state,” can remove us from our homes, kidnap us when we try to take food and other resources, and lock us in cages for years on end. They may even kill us, largely depending on the color of our skin. Capitalism can only exist through violence and coercion.
Because we are under assault from this society all our lives, every attack on capitalism and every expropriation of its institutions is self-defense. But that’s putting it lightly. All wealth in this world has been stolen, both from extracting resources from the earth and exploiting the work that people do. This has been happening for centuries, the total misery and destitution perpetuated by this system accumulating with every passing minute. As Monsieur Dupont puts it:
“The structure of the world was built by the dead, they were paid in wages, and when the wages were spent and they were dead in the ground, what they had made continued to exist, these cities, roads and factories are their calcified bones. They had nothing but their wages to show for what they had done and after their deaths what they did and who they were has been cancelled out. But what they made has continued into our present, their burial and decay is our present. This is the definition of class hatred. We are no closer now to rest, to freedom, to communism than they were, their sacrifice has bought us nothing, what they did counted for nothing, we have inherited nothing, we work as they worked, we make as they made, we are paid as they were paid.” 
If it was possible to measure the equivalence between the amount of money a bank heist nets with all the people over generations whose opportunity to live a free life was stolen and wasted in service of the economy, then you could not rob enough banks in your whole life to come near to closing that gap.
Timeline of Solidarity Actions
A number of actions have taken place this year before and since the call, claiming solidarity with those comrades on trial:
- January 17: 50 parking meters were covered in paint and multiple banks had their locks glued in Leuven, Belgium. One of the banks was tagged with “Solidarity with the Accused in Aachen” next to the anarchist circle-A.
- January 22: Anarchists in Den Haag, Netherlands destroyed 9 ATMs and wrote in their communique: “We are not interested in knowing whether the comrades are actually responsible for the bank robberies or not. Expropriation is an ethically just and politically legitimate practice, a method of struggle that is part of the history of all revolutionary movements.”
- January 28: Two vehicles belonging to a private security company were set on fire in Barcelona, Spain. “We do not think it necessary to justify this attack on these wretched guard dogs,” the communique states, along with “Long Live Anarchy!”
- February 2: anarchists in Mexico City bombed two ATMs, completely destroying them and causing significant damage to the bank branch they were connected to. The communique describing the attack and claiming solidarity with the Aachen case comrades was signed by “Night Cats & Evil Sorcerers Incendiary Cell FAI-FRI”
- February 9: anarchists in Belin, Germany committed an arson on a police station in anticipation “European Police Congress” taking place later that month. In addition to the Aachen case comrades, the communique claims solidarity with migrants risking their lives around Europe, recently arrested members of “Revolutionary Struggle”, and those rioting in Parisian suburbs after police raped a black man.
- April 16: a cell of the “Informal Feminist Commando of Anti-authoritarian Action” bombed an Exxon facility in Mexico City “[b]ecause nobody is untouchable! Because we are not intimidated by the heavy silence that you have imposed on your crimes based on fear and violence, and we are not intimidated by the premiere of your Secretary of State” (note: referring to Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State who was the CEO of ExxonMobile) as stated in their communique.They write a ruthless denunciation of all nationalisms and call to “Destroy the walls! Destroy the goods! Destroy work!”
- Also April 16: A company that builds jails had their truck set on fire in Brussels, Belgium. A communique was posted to the internet the next day, claiming solidarity with comrades accused of robbery in Aachen.
- April 18: A police station in Liege, Belgium was set on fire. The act was dedicated to comrades accused of bank robbery in Aachen, and the communique begins with “We are not soldiers. We are criminals. We have no fatherland, no higher cause, we do not follow any directions other than those of ourselves. On the other hand, we are fighting. To find our lives, explore our freedoms. We fight the misery of our lives, the oppression of morals, and the grids that imprison us.”
- April 20: A bank branch was bombed in Mexico City, claimed by the “Few But Crazy Insurrectionary Cell F.A.I./F.R.I.” in solidarity with Aachen case anarchists. From the communique: “Is it necessary to explain why we attacked a bank? These shits leave people homeless, they finance military companies, companies that destroy the environment, exploiters, who chain millions with debts and false promises…They are the terrorists, they use fear with payment warnings, debt, they threaten you with eviction or to leave you with nothing. And still they will dare to say that we are the criminals, the soulless, the murderers…”
In addition to these attacks, other instances of solidarity and support are being taken up. There will be a benefit show in the UK on April 29 to raise money for them. One of the arrestees of the case wrote a letter from prison for International Day of Women’s Struggle on March 8th titled “Down with patriarchy: On the social, racist & patriarchal problems faced by women in prison.” Comrades did work posting this letter onto anarchist websites, and translating it into other languages. People do regular work hosting these internationalist anarchist news sites so that people across the world can learn about each other’s actions. All of these are ways of keeping those locked up included in contemporary struggles. Doing work like this is based on a rejection of seeing imprisoned comrades as victims to do charitable work for, which is a hierarchical relationship based on moralistic pity.
For more information on the Aachen robberies case and other internationalist news, check out the following websites:
: FAI is an acronym for ‘Informal Anarchist Federation.’ It is not an organization, but a tendency within anarchist thought and action.