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Decolonizing, Destroying Borders and Attacking Infrastructure. What side are you on?

February 11, 2010

Decolonizing, Destroying Borders and Attacking Infrastructure

What side are you on?

by: Survival Solidarity

A question that all past revolutionaries have had to ask themselves at critical moments in humyn history: Which side are we on? —Down with Borders, Up With Spring!—Panagioti.

On January 16, Diné, O’odham and Autonomous/Anti-authoritarian (DO@) people answered a call-out from the O’odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective and Phoenix Class War Council to form the DO@ Block. The bloc, consisting of anarchists and Indigenous people, converged on occupied Akimel O’odham Pi-Posh land (Phoenix) to take part in what was a larger march against Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is well known for his racist border politics and strict prison regulations. However this time people were confronting his repression on those that take situations into their own hands and defiantly cross the border without the permission of others.

No deportations, relocation’s or foreclosures.

The Bloc’s adorning of masks and hoodies was not the only point of contrast between them and other march participants. The DO@ bloc represented the distaste in many people’s mouths from endless banal discussions and approaches to the border. It brought the unwillingness to ignore the nightmare of capitalism that socially reinforces the walls that divide us. The DO@ block consisted of those that chose to no longer acquiesce to the displacement of people due to capitalism, colonization and invasive infrastructure projects.

From the original call:


“We are an autonomous, anti-capitalist force that demands free movement and an end to forced dislocations for all people. We challenge with equal force both the systems of control that seek to occupy and split our lands in two as well as the organized commodifying of every day life that reduces the definition of freedom to what can be produced and sold where and to whom, and compels our social relations to bend to the very same pathetic formula of production and consumption. Capital seeks to desecrate everything sacred. We hold lives over laws and human relations over commodity relations.”

“We recognize what appears to be an unending historical condition of forced removal here in the Southwestern so-called US. From the murdering of O’odham Peoples and stealing of their lands for the development of what is now known as the metropolitan Phoenix area, to the ongoing forced relocation of more than 14,000 Diné who have been uprooted for the extraction of natural resources just hours north of here, we recognize that this is not a condition that we must accept, it is a system that will continue to attack us unless we act.”

“Whether we are migrants deported for seeking to organize our own lives (first forced to migrate to a hostile country for work) or working class families foreclosed from our houses, we see the same forces at work. Indeed, in many cases the agents of these injustices are one and the same.”

DO@ Bloc

Members of the bloc addressed the march from the stage of the initial meet-up point and also sang traditional songs. Shortly after, the bloc merged together with black flags and banners and began howling chants. As allies of the bloc emerged from the mingling crowd, the energy grew to nerve tingling proportions; and as the bloc advanced forward, it worked it’s way through the streets of Phoenix. The DO@ bloc was under the eye of the Phoenix police for the entirety of the march. The Phoenix Police eventually erupted into a violent response to the block. Within seconds of bloc members advancing forward around an encroaching cart screams broke out as the air became saturated with pepper spray. An officer on horseback began recklessly thrashing through the crowd, and in the midst of the blurry encounter, five people were stolen from the bloc and arrested. Amongst bloc members taking the brunt of Phoenix PD’s violence, many others were disoriented by the situation and a two-year-old marcher was sprayed in the face.

A standoff between officers and the bloc ensued after the arrests. Other marchers also felt the urge to confront the cops. The standoff lasted for nearly an hour and a half.

As Saturday night stretched into Sunday morning all five arrestees were released. One arrestee was released on their own recognizance and the others were served with an assortment of bail costs and charges related to assault. Local Phoenix attorneys and cop-watchers are assisting those facing charges from the march. Some of the arrestees are going to appear before a Grand Jury because of the charges being a class 2 offense.

“Queremos Un Mundo” (We want one world) “Sin Fronteras” (Without Borders!)… Chants from both sides of the border at the 2007 No Borders Camp.

An abundance of responses to the border have developed in recent years. Many have strived to break out of popular mundane thought patterns of looking toward politico figureheads for the answers.

North America has seen a distinct surge in radical responses to borders and colonization through the expansion of capitalism. Anti-olympic organizing in Vancouver, British Columbia, has become full-on volatile. From burning barricades on native land, to shattered windows in Santa Cruz, the message has become clear—the olympics are not welcome on stolen native land.

From November 7-11 2007, the Mexicali border was occupied as people established an autonomous zone for a No Borders Camp. Prior to the No Borders Camp people in California and San Diego were organizing and sabotaging the efforts of the Minute Men (an-armed-anti-immigrant group that patrols the border).

Insurrectional actions have sprouted up throughout the US threatening the security of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities. Funders of detention centers have also become the target of sabotage. Open organizing against these racist prisons and capitalist institutions’ such as Wells Fargo has been a commonly employed tactic amongst Smash ICE groups of the Northwest US.

Fire From Migrant Riot at a Lampedusa, Italy, Migrant Prison.

Across the Atlantic ocean, Europeans have established the no border network to facilitate their desires to confront the violence perpetrated by borders in their area. Through their networking, they’ve organized numerous No border camps. A No Borders Camp was held in Calais, France, from June 23- 29 2009. In Late August, No Border Activists held a No Border Camp in Lesvos, Greece. Activists were able to communicate with prisoners of the Pagani prison that were involved in hunger strikes and provide peripheral support for those imprisoned. Toward the end of the camp 10 activists occupied the roof of the prison. One day of camp was dedicated to inspiring Harbor actions. 40 campers deployed small rubber boats and instigated interactions with the coast guard. They were met by attempts of the coast guard who attempted to capsize them. One boat was even harpooned by the Coast Guard. One can only to imagine what waits on the wings of future European camps.

Many European detention centers have felt tidal waves of resistance from migrants rioting there. In February migrants set fire to a detention center in Lampedusa, Italy, in   response to the threat of 107 Tunisian migrants being deported to Tunesia. In September, migrants rioted and set fires in a Greek prison yard for more than five hours.

“Borders are scratched across the hearts of men, by strangers with a calm, judicial pen, and when the borders bleed we watch with dread the lines of ink along the map turn red”— Marya Mannes

The DO@ bloc knew that at the end of the day, the tables had not only been turned’ but literally taken from beneath the noses of anyone attempting to keep border discussions within frames of the past.

For radicals in southern Arizona, the reality of the border stares at us eye-to-eye. If you are not directly effected by the border, someone you know is. Chances are you have done work with No More Deaths, have witnessed the violence of the border and tried to process the cruelty of constant deaths and deportations, which is a result from capitalism’s pressure on those migrating north. Further north on both O’odham and Diné land, the border and relocations have an even more omnipresent effect on everyday life. On O’odham land people are frequently harassed by border patrol. These confrontations often escalate into extreme forms of intimidation and violence for O’odham people. These actions are not only carried out by border patrol, but also homeland security. For years, Diné people have been relocated due to infrastructure projects. Note this doesn’t come close to delving into the continuous actions both the Diné and O’odham face due to colonization.

The border is merely one point of contention in this debate. The onslaught of capitalism and the unceasing violence of infrastructure must be brought into the light within these debates. It is also eminent that we move past talking and into attack mode, now! Pleading for change in the stagnant water of past approaches will only leave us drowning. Developing approaches to support people in the struggle, as well as defending our communities and land while attacking the perpetrators of these acts of violence is the next step. So step it up!

For further readings on the March from other collectives please see our Toward No Borders page.  If you wish to fuel your intellectual fire, try visiting some of these sites: Survival Solidarity, O’ODHAM SOLIDARITY ACROSS BORDERS COLLECTIVE, Fires Never Extinguished, Black Mesa Indigenous Support, Root Force, Unsettling Minnesota. Or, try talking to someone in your community about the next steps to decolonizing and destroying local infrastructure projects.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tim permalink
    February 14, 2010 12:28 pm

    As a participant in the DO@ block, I feel this is one of the most compelling recounts of the 16th. It describes the implications and broader context within which the actions of the 16th fall. Write ups like these further convince myself, and I imagine others as well, of the importance of the bonds and alliances we have made and the importance of reframing the debate over these issues.

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