Plain Words is back with issue three, featuring news of resistance in Bloomington; reportbacks from efforts of solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners, imprisoned anarchist comrade Eric King, and those arrested on the January 20th demonstrations against the inauguration of Donald Trump; a look back at the 2013 strike at Indiana University; and an introductory essay on self-organization via affinity groups.
“Introduction to the Affinity Group”
June 11th International Day of Solidarity with Long-Term Anarchist Prisoners
Noise Demonstration Against Social Cleansing
Interview on the 2013 Indiana University Strike
Banner Drop in Solidarity with Eric King
Solidarity with the J20 Anti-Inauguration Demonstrators
A chronology of action and solidarity
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.
A few nights ago we sabotaged about 50 parking meters by gluing their locks, coin slots, and card readers. This was a simple act which took no specialized skill. Get some superglue, cover your face, keep your eyes peeled for cops or loyal citizens, and act.
These parking meters were targeted because they fund the Bloomington Police Department and because they force people to pay to be downtown. We hate the police and we hate gentrification and class society, so we chose to attack them.
We act as a gesture of combative memory for Lambros Foundas, anarchist of Revolutionary Struggle killed by the forces of the Greek state on March 10, 2010. Our memory is not one of passive mourning or martyrdom, but of active struggle against the state, capital, and domination in all of its forms. The flame of Lambros’ life kept us warm as we walked through the winter night, and we will carry that flame with us in all parts of our lives, which are lived at war with this society of masters and slaves.
We send strength to all anarchist combatants held captive in the dungeons of the Greek state.
We send solidarity to all those facing the state’s latest attacks against squatters, anarchists, and refugees: we are inspired by your refusal to be paralyzed.
Plain Words is a website and publication that focuses on spreading news and developing analyses of struggles in and around Bloomington, Indiana. As anarchists, we approach these struggles from an anti-state, anti-capitalist perspective. However, we aren’t interested in developing a specific party line – even an anarchist one – and instead value the diverse forms resistance can take. Our anarchism is vibrant, undogmatic, and finds common cause with all others who fight for a world without the state, capital, and all structures of domination.
We actively seek collaboration. If you have news, images, reportbacks of actions and demonstrations, communiques, event information, publications, analyses of local trends and situations, updates on projects and campaigns, or anything else coming from an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist perspective, please get in touch.
If you have comments on or critiques of anything we’ve printed that you’d like us to publish, feel free to send them our way.
“Revenge! Rainbow Bakery Sabotaged for Feral Pines”
“Anti-Oppression & the Internet”
“New Year’s Eve Reportback”
“Reflections on the September 9th Prison Strike”
“How to Wheatpaste”
“We Have Only Begun to Fight: Reportback from the J20 Bloc”
“What is Anarchism”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.