Reportback: June 29 Noise Demo Against Social Cleansing

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In the last week of June, dozens of houseless people were removed from Peoples Park and numerous other public spaces by the Bloomington Police Department. After evicting people who stayed at the park, the cops began to do roll-call for their officers there, and usually had at least one of their ilk stationed there to make sure houseless people didn’t use the park. This is part of the City of Bloomington’s social cleansing campaign, the appropriately named “Safe and Civil Cities Campaign.”

Eventually multiple houseless people were thrown in jail after police removed people from a public encampment on Kirkwood near the library. In response, around thirty people gathered outside the jail on the corner of 7th and College at 11:00 p.m. on June 29th for an impromptu noise demo. The crowd consisted of many faces beyond the usual suspects at noise demos in recent years. Very few were masked, making it easy for everyone to see who was who, including the State, those watching one of multiple livestreams, and followers of participants on social media.

What set this noise demo apart from others, aside from the large crowd, was the quality of noise-making devices present. The mobile sound system hardly got use, as people banged incessantly on pots and pans, large hippie drums, and even an oil drum. About 30 minutes into the racket, people trapped inside the jail began waving from their cages and signaling by opening and closing window blinds. At this point, a small handful of older fancy types approached us to ask what the commotion was about. Turns out, they were staying in the Hilton across the street from the jail and couldn’t sleep due to all the drum beating and carrying on. (We noted this unexpected positive side effect for possible anti-gentrification efforts in the future.)

At midnight, the crowd moved into the street, blocking all three lanes of College Avenue. It was a Tuesday night in summer, when most students are away, which meant there wasn’t much traffic to block. Only one driver made a futile attempt at passing through and arguing with the demonstrators, but quickly retreated to his car and drove away through a side alley. At this point three BPD turds, including one shiny headed cop-scum with an impressively cocky strut, approached the group and told people to move out of the street. Nobody listened or engaged with these foot soldiers of indignity and ineptitude, and they used their scum mobiles to block traffic for us. Around 12:30 a.m., a few more badge bedazzled pond slime began to convene with zip-ties in tow. The demo turned south and marched towards the square, dispersing soon after that.

This demo was impressive for its size and volume, especially having been called for just a few hours before. We could have done better with messaging, as the few signs present were mostly vague and small. With just a few faces covered, it reiterated the usefulness of handouts about how and why to mask up, even during relatively chill demos. Those whose faces were exposed were also likely documented by the ample livestreamers and other photo and video documentation that was happening. What may seem obvious to many anarchists —that posting photos and videos of demonstrators online only serves to provide the State with more information that can later be used to repress movements —isn’t so for many liberals and progressives. It would be useful for anarchists and everyone else if there was a more concerted continuation of efforts in recent years to disseminate information about safety and security at the demos themselves. Overall, even if it was only symbolic, this noise demo was a surprisingly rowdy response to the city’s efforts to accelerate gentrification by targeting people experiencing homelessness.

Solidarity from Bloomington with Those Facing Felony Charges for Allegedly Disrupting Trump’s Inauguration in DC

This past week, there have been initiatives taken in Bloomington and around the world for the Week of Solidarity with J20 Defendants. The J20 Defendants are 211 people arrested in DC during Trump’s Inauguration on January 20th, who are being charged with at least 8 felonies, including “rioting,” “inciting or urging a riot,” “conspiracy to riot,” and multiple counts of “destruction of property.” If convicted, they face a maximum of 75 years in prison each. The mass arrest took place after the police surrounded the block they were in, using a likely illegal police maneuver called “kettling” to prevent anyone from escaping. In this case as well as countless others, the state casually breaks its own laws whenever they become inconvenient. Continue reading “Solidarity from Bloomington with Those Facing Felony Charges for Allegedly Disrupting Trump’s Inauguration in DC”

June 11th reportback

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In the month leading up to the June 11th International Day of Solidarity with Marius Mason & All Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners, we set up two tables at Boxcar Books with an array of free zines, stickers, and posters for June 11th and about anarchist prisoners.

On June 6th, the bi-monthly Read & Revolt anarchist reading group met at Boxcar Books to discuss “The Sun Still Rises,” a text written by imprisoned fighters of the Conspiracy Cells of Fire (CCF) urban guerrilla group in Greece. It had been nominated by regular attendees of Read & Revolt and, given that it was written by long-term anarchist prisoners, was scheduled for discussion the week before June 11th. Those in attendance for this session seemed to appreciate how concisely it was written, how clear the authors’ intentions were, and how it was written passionately yet without unnecessary flair. The conversation bounced between topics relevant to local conditions, while various ideas throughout the text acted as conduits for people to discuss ideas related to their own personal problematics.

On June 9th, we showed Sacco & Vanzetti, a 2006 documentary on the two militant anarchists. Without falling back on idolization and martyrdom, we want to affirm our history. As we continue on a path as anarchists of action, as enemies of this and all states, we carry with us the spirit of those who have, before us, carved out their own path of defiance. After the movie, folks wrote 25 cards and letters to long-term anarchist prisoners in the US.

On June 11th, we held a picnic in a public park as a celebration of anarchist action and in honor of our imprisoned fighters. Beneath black flags, people talked, wrote cards to anarchist prisoners, and shared food. Some comrades prepared a songbook and performance of classic anarchist songs. Anarchists in the early 20th century often held picnics on holidays of their own creation, and we hoped to carry on this tradition. As the world becomes increasingly dominated by the technological mediation of the internet, it is imperative that we create spaces in which we can be together, face-to-face, without the noise of alienated chatter. There is, for us, a clear connection between the walls that separate us from our imprisoned comrades and the walls that separate us all from each other. We celebrate, with joy, the crumbling of both.

Earlier that day, anonymous individuals dropped two banners in solidarity with Marius Mason and against social control:

As a small, anonymous gesture of complicity, we hung two banners to honor June 11, day of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners. These banners are on the main north/south roads into and out of Bloomington. No matter how long he is held at FMC Carswell or in any other cage, we will make sure Marius isn’t forgotten here, especially given the vital role he played in defending the land and building a community of resistance in our region.

On the evening of June 11th, anonymous individuals wheatpasted dozens of posters and put up stickers about imprisoned comrades.

While our efforts this year were modest, they exist within a continuum of action for our imprisoned comrades that manifests every day. We take time on June 11th to remember and act for imprisoned anarchists, but this does not stop when the clock strikes midnight. For us, solidarity is not a one-off event, an act of charity, or something removed from our daily lives – it is an inseparable part of our existence as anarchists, a tension affirmed through action. Solidarity is the word in our mouths, the rock in our hand, and the blood in our veins.. The prison walls cannot break us.

Bloomington, IN: J20 Reportback

 Reposted from It’s Going Down (original date: 1/21/17)

People worked their way out of the shadows to meet at People’s Park. Participants were handed complimentary gift bags which included a handout on safety in the streets, face and hand coverings, noisemakers, and other fun items for a night out on the town. It feels like a sign of the times that all of these tools were enthusiastically accepted and used by most people who received them. It doesn’t seem hard for people to understand that in order to fight this regime and its “Alt Right” foot soldiers, we need to begin to protect ourselves and each other.

Stickers put over parking meters

Continue reading “Bloomington, IN: J20 Reportback”

2016 is over!

Breaking away from the jail demo tradition, we kicked off the new year with something fresh and exciting. At the stroke of midnight we dropped four banners and let five thousand fliers rain down from two downtown parking garages. United with friends, we reveled in the togetherness we will carry with us into the new year. 2016 was shitty and we expect that 2017 will be as well; however, we recognize the need to continue fighting. With these modest acts, we sharpened coordination practices that we will need in the coming months and years. Each of the banners reflects an element of our revolt we intend to strengthen and spread over the next year – combative memory for our fallen fighters, solidarity with our imprisoned comrades, determination to continue fighting no matter what is thrown at us, and struggle against immediate manifestations of power.

Vengeance for William Avalon Rodgers & Kuwasi Balagoon. [snarling wolf face] Long Live Anarchy
“Vengeance for William Avalon Rodgers & Kuwasi Balagoon. Long Live Anarchy.”
As December ends, we also take time to remember the lives of our fallen warriors. William Avalon Rodgers was an Earth liberationist who took his own life on December 21, 2005 while in jail awaiting trial on arson charges. Kuwasi Balagoon was a former Black Panther, fighter in the Black Liberation Army, bisexual, and anarchist who died in prison from medical neglect due to AIDS-related illness on December 13, 1986.

December 2016 marks 11 years since Avalon’s death and 30 since Kuwasi’s. We will not allow those who sacrificed everything for freedom to be forgotten. As we continue our struggles against Power, we keep alive the memory of Kuwasi, Avalon, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, Sebastián Oversluij, Lambros Foundas, Mauricio Morales, Feral Pines, and all of our other comrades who have passed on. Memory, like fire, burns our enemies and keeps us warm.

What would Marius do? [flame image] For defenders of the earth and of the wild For a local history of resistance
“What would Marius do? For defenders of the earth and of the wild. For a local history of resistance.”
We are consistently inspired by Marius Mason’s spirit and take strength from each of his paintings, poems, and letters. In an attempt to return the favor, we also chose to highlight his acts this New Year’s Eve. For many years, Marius lived and took action in Bloomington and we intend to maintain the passion and fighting spirit that he once embodied here.

“Safe and civil for whom? No complicity with gentrification and social cleansing [crossed out City of Bloomington logo] [crossed out security camera]
“Safe and civil for whom? No complicity with gentrification and social cleansing.”
As a quaint college town and liberal bastion in a red state, Bloomington’s iteration of state violence often takes the form of closing off public space to undesirable populations to maintain a sterile, commerce-friendly environment. One of the primary targets of this cleansing is the sizable homeless population. The city has deployed social worker cops, signs discouraging giving money to people on the street, and several new security cameras in popular hangouts like People’s Park. Despite their language of safety and compassion, we know that the city government has no interest in genuine solutions to the problems of poverty, unaffordable housing, and addiction; in reality, it exists to manage and police the conditions that create these problems. We have made a choice to not fall for the soft policing of the non-profits and charities that are in the pocket of the city.


Whatever 2017 brings, we plan to face it head on.