Toward No Borders
Welcome! This page is dedicated to no-border dialogue. A lot of the posts are Arizona specific.
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?
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.”
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.
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!
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.
Battlin’ Phoenix: O’odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective statement on the January 16 Day of Action
Fellow O’odham, Dine, Indigenous, Migrant, Non-indigenous brothers and sisters and concerned people of Maricopa County…
After days of reflection, O’odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective (OSABC) would like to give our thoughts and analysis on what occurred on the January 16th National Day of Action Against Sheriff Joe: March for Human Rights. As we all saw, heard and read, the march turned violent due to calculated moves by Phoenix Police to unfairly, and unjustifiably remove a contingent of marchers that expressed a voice and message that was foreign to them and national organizers, but all too familiar to the original people of the very land they walk on. OSABC called for what we dubbed the “Dine’-O’odham-Anarchist/Anti-Authoritarian” (DOA) contingent, in order to voice what we recognize to be an unending historical condition of forced removal here in the Southwestern so-called United States.
From the murdering of our O’odham Peoples, the stealing of our lands for the development of what is now known as the metropolitan Phoenix area, to the current relocation attempts against our O’odham along “their” border, and along the west-end of Gila River for a freeway. Or with 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. This is a system that will continue to attack us unless we act.
OSABC and our Diné comrades viewed the National Day of Action against this one particular agent of forced removal, Maricopa county sheriff Arpaio, as an opportunity to express our opposition to the extension of this oppressive system towards our immigrant brothers and sisters. DOA felt the best way to show solidarity was to express this broader message and felt that if we started from our voice — the O’odham voice – it would greatly help to undermine and defeat the white supremacist/colonial positions that Sheriff Joe and his many supporters uphold. In the past, when OSABC engaged other movements – even reactionary ones – with our broader perspective, on immigration and the border, we found we made progress, and that possibilities present themselves that are not included under the generally accepted terms of the discussion.
The national immigration organizers “call for action” seemed to express their willingness to expand the debate because of the many other outside factions that formed that day on the streets, such as National Day Laborer Organizing Network, No More Deaths, Border Action, and Mexica Movement to name a few. Local, regional and national solidarity was called for, and that’s why we came, to stand together against forced relocation of all peoples, both immigrant and Indigenous. National immigration organizers appeared to also express that willingness by giving O’odham and Diné members of DOA the opportunity to address the crowd, to express the “Native American Voice” in this struggle. We even gave the blessing of offering a song in the O’odham way, so we could bless the people and the march before we departed. The “acknowledgment” of indigenous peoples of the Phoenix area by the organizers seemed to be a breakthrough, given the national movement’s tendency to marginalize local indigenous voices in the many different communities in which they organize, but this acknowledgment was soon erased when the police attacked.
The police oppression that occurred after this great start gives us an idea of what we are up against. The police decision to attack was the State’s way of showing who has control. Their attack also shows how the national immigration movement still doesn’t get it. That the national immigration movement chooses to work side by side with the same institutions and politicians that oppress and attack our communities throughout the country shows how inconsistent this movement is. The Phoenix organizers’ politically convenient decision to not denounce the actions of police, but instead fellow marchers with our bigger message of no more forced relocations and displacement, this reflects the same disconnect that afflicts the overall national movement. If national organizers are for the rights of migrants and overall human rights, most would naturally conclude that they take the same overall position against forced removals and relocations for ALL people and that likewise, they certainly take a line against police brutality.
But as the overall national movement has shown, their decision to work with that State will only yield reformist policies that may benefit some, and hurt many. Remember, the national immigration movement’s push for immigration reform and call for the Obama administration to take action includes the militarization of the southern border with a wall surpassing the notorious Berlin Wall. Such a barrier would cause the forced relocation of our people, the Tohono O’odham, and the many other indigenous nations that “their” borders would displace. If the national immigration movement’s objectives of reform will hurt our people, then how can their agenda be for human rights? We can’t help but see contradiction and hypocrisy when the national movement defends Phoenix as the front line in the struggle against attacks on the rights of migrants, while at the same time it supports politicians that advocate other plans and policies that whose logical conclusions necessarily mean the forced removal and relocation of our fellow Akimel O’odham/Pi’Posh and desecration of our sacred sites (as in the case of the proposed Loop 202 Freeway expansion through Gila River). The State sees in this division the opportunity to further divide and conquer our communities and lands, and to pit immigrant and indigenous against each other, historically, the State has used their non-governmental bodies as the means to accomplish this. If the struggle is in fact for human rights, as the national immigration movement states, how is it that the first people of land, that is now deemed the front line, not even considered into their analysis?
The national immigration movement’s decision in Phoenix to evoke the 1960’s Civil Rights Struggle further demonstrates their misguided attempt for true change. The national movement tends to forget that Martin Luther King Jr and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s fight to end segregation in Birmingham were done in opposition to the police and the State. The Birmingham campaign demonstrated the nature of the police and the State when confronted with the threat of true change. They too, were attacked by the police, and still, they took that risk to go against them. Just imagine if they had not? So why does the national movement proudly support the same police oppression not just here in Phoenix, but all around the country? It would be hard to imagine, in the initial years of the Civil Rights movement, if Martin and even Malcolm would ever have worked hand in hand with the police and the State. They stood their ground and their courage lead to the start of change (we are far from being done). Their courage led to the successes that the national organizers now wish to replicate.
The national movement’s organizing relationship with the police left them to support the oppression released on the 16th, just as the National Movement did in Los Angeles in 2007, when the LA Police attacked peaceful marchers on May Day. The dynamics are very similar and further show how this national movement of hundreds of thousands in the mid-00’s has now declined to the thousands, while simultaneously thousands of migrants are being deported south of the border. A lack of understanding of the police and state infiltration in the immigration movement has lead to a narrow message that prevents this movement from being a true movement of human rights. The national movement determines, with the cooperation of the State, what level of action can be taken, and who and how one can participate in “their” movement, while at the same time calling for a National Day of Solidarity. One example of such “gatekeeping.” is a call for a Pan-American Indigenous voice that in fact marginalizes the local Indigenous voice, in the case of this area, the O’odham. Most would think, the overall indigenous presence would be amplified by the local Indigenous voice being present, and the participants being supported, in this case the DOA contingent . If themes of indigenous liberation are used, it’s should be expected that would include a true solidarity with the indigenous people, and an understanding of this very land they organize on. This inconsistent message the national immigration movement organizes around gives the State the power to divide and conquer all people, and provides an avenue through which the State can attack the overall movement.
The police’s brutal use of force on the 16th is a wake up call, not just for what corporate media and national immigration movement leaders deemed “an outside factions of anarchists” but to everyone who marched that day, which is that we are living in a police state in which all forms of resistance that address the root problem will be targeted. What happened here in Phoenix can and has happened in communities throughout the country.
The local and national immigration organizers denounced our project of indigenous/anarchist solidarity. As expressed in the first DOA statement, we welcome diversity of tactics to challenge the violence of the state, and thus welcome diverse groups and communities that are compelled into action. Documented or undocumented, environmentalist or anarchist, whomever so desires it in their hearts to live free from this current existence of the tyranny of the state.
The police attack led to the wrongful arrest of five of our comrades. But as the weeks go by, more evidence is showing the contradictions in the police’s account on the 16th. Recently, two of the arrested cases have been scratched, we continue to stand by the three who are still facing charges and ask that national immigration organizers join us in this latest struggle against state repression.
OSABC at this time is asking that the points of the DOA statement be addressed. The 16th showed what happens when fake gestures of solidarity are expressed, the State sees this as a chance to further divide movements and people. OSABC hopes if the points are addressed, then it will lead to a stronger movement that does not do the State’s job by dividing us. We understand many are upset by corporate media and politicians’ accounts of what happened, but we would refer that you ask the youth, that the national immigration organizers used as security, for their accounts of what transpired. They also became subjected to the brutality of the Police State unleashed.
The OSABC call for the DOA contingent will hopefully challenge all those who marched, against Joe or for Immigration Reform, to think about the root problem that spawns this system of forced removals.
OSABC is an autonomous collective and no way speaks for anyone but ourselves, families and elders, but will continue to address what appears to be the marginalization of our people and attack on our Him’dag, again. So when these victories for Human Rights happen, it’s not built on our backs. So our hajen can be able to freely travel in our lands, free of Border Patrol sweeps, just as migrant familias should be able to travel freely in Maricopa County, free of Sheriff Joe/MCSO sweeps. We, as young O’odham, along with young Diné, recognized the national climate around the immigration issue and felt this was the best way to support not only our fellow migrant brothers and sisters, but fellow O’odham, and all Indigenous peoples that are all affected by the white supremacist/colonial policies of the forced removals and relocations.
The Civil Rights Movement’s Lessons for Anti-Arpaio March
Since the January Anti-Arpio march many statements have come out reflecting on what happened as well as proposals for the next steps. To switch it up a bit we bring you The Civil Rights Movement’s Lessons for Anti-Arpaio March article from the Chaparral Respects No Borders blog that gave foresight to the march.
- Scenes From a 1964 Race Riot
“Not since the days of Bull Connor has this country seen a public official abuse his authority in order to terrorize and intimidate communities based on the color of their skin,” states a call for the big January 16th march in Phoenix against Arpaio. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is often compared to Bull Conner, the police official in Birmingham who fought civil rights activists with attack dogs, and strong water hoses back in the 1960’s. He acted above the law, although some could argue that his actions were not contrary to the general orientation of the rule of law then or even today. He was more blatant about abusing protesters and disregarding federal law than most law enforcement officials, which is why Arpaio is compared to him.
During the civil rights movement, there were no marches against Bull Connor, but there were efforts to produce situations in which he would show the world what he was willing to do to fight integration. The horrible treatment of marchers drew the attention of the nation and encouraged John F. Kennedy to initiate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To some, the Civil Rights Act was a victory, and the story somewhat ends there. This perspective makes it seem that Bull Connor was an important catalyst and therefore target (although he wasn’t quite a target in the way Arpaio is today). Yet if this was the case, why do stories that focus on a wider black liberation movement rather than focus on aspects of what’s called the civil rights movement that often center on the federal government’s benevolence or Martin Luther King’s heroism not really mention Bull Connor at all?
If one were to argue that strategically it makes sense to go after Arpaio because of the significance of Bull Connor’s role in getting the Civil Rights Act passed, I would say, Arpaio is our big villain, but just as Bull Connor was but a piece of the entire picture, Arpaio should not be the central focus of the current movement. According to The numbers don’t match Arpaios hype, Arpaio, despite having spent much more money and time and having wider jurisdiction and more media attention, arrested less people than city police departments in the county. The many politicians and those who elected them, the police, and ICE- all those who are enemies to undocumented people- make it clear that Arpaio is but one figure, and that opposition to racist attitudes must address something bigger than a politician, in many ways a symbol, no matter how monstrous. Yet the focus on Arpaio remains, locally and nationally.
Shall we just have marches against Arpaio until we get a crappy Immigration Reform bill? And maybe even get rid of Arpaio? Will that solve all the problems of migrants and others caught up in the arrests, checkpoints, and militarization of the border? We can bet that these things, especially the militarization of the border, will still exist after reform. There will still be “illegal” people, and a permanent underclass.
A call to action for the March in Phoenix on January 16th says, “It is time, just like Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement took the streets of Montgomery Alabama that at that time was the epicenter of hate; we must do the same in Phoenix.” The movement for immigrants’ rights is often compared with the civil rights movement, but we must ask whether the civil rights movement was even effective.
First, the civil rights/black liberation movement involved a lot of amazing work and the organizing by many people who are rarely credited for their contributions. Often their ideas about what should come of the movement are not recognized today. What is recognized are the agreeable aspects which the white mainstream chose to co-opt. It is not that the movement did not succeed exactly, but we are made to think that racism no longer exists because of the it. Yet we have the largest prison populations in the world and the relative majority of those in prison are non-white, and many are in for non-violent offenses. This is only one example of the way that racism has been disguised, yet still exists today.
Despite the fact that many people have been empowered by the amazing work by organizers of the civil rights and power movements, what happened is that while elements of the movement(s) were co-opted, others were effectively destroyed through the Counter Intelligence Program(COINTELPRO). Briefly, COINTELPRO sought to eradicate dissidence, to destroy Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panthers, and other radicals, and was, with the help of local police and the criminalization of people, the downfall of many liberation movements.
It is difficult to use the civil rights movement as a model for a movement of today for these reasons (and many others), primarily because what most people know of it is what they are encouraged to know, their education about history filtered for the purposes of maintaining the status quo.
If we were to see the Civil Rights Act as a success of the civil rights movement, it would make sense for us to seek something comparable from the immigrants’ rights movement. Another call to action for the January 16th march says, “Join us and march against the injustices and separation of families caused by the 287(g) and Joe Arpaio. We will be demanding that the Obama administration take direct action on the issues affecting our communities.” Some calls for the march, seemingly mostly or solely coming from the National Day Laborer Network, call for comprehensive immigration reform.
Something many people don’t know about are two riders added to the Civil Rights Act of 1968, one which outlawed crossing state lines (which includes using a telephone or sending mail across state lines) with intent to “incite a riot” and the other making it a federal crime to “obstruct law enforcement officers or firemen doing their lawful duty in connection with a civil disorder which obstructs a federally-protected function”. Both of these have been used against Black Panthers, the American Indian movement, and various other radicals. This is yet another example of the way the federal government criminalizes dissent, as well as an example of how laws that claim to solve problems (such as discrimination) actually perpetuate those problems by undermining the people’s ability to rebel, and by contributing to the filling of the prisons. Oh, and get this: the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that was meant to prohibit violence against black people exempted from prosecution any law enforcement officers, member of the National Guard and Armed Forces who are engaging in suppressing a riot or civil disturbance.
The integrity of the Civil Rights Bills aside, it is important to make the point that the federal government was involved in crimes against the people (such as through COINTELPRO), and watched as racists such as the KKK and southern police committed crimes against black people. One example is that the federal government was providing information about the Freedom Riders to the Birmingham police, who in turn was providing that information to the KKK. The Klan used that information to attack civil rights activists, such as when the freedom riders arrived at a bus terminal and the KKK beat them while the police waited to show up until most of the Klan members had left. The police were actually providing a lot of information about local civil rights activities, but who they were providing it to was especially interesting. The information was being given to a KKK member who was actually an FBI agent who had infiltrated the Klan. So the FBI knew all along that the information was being provided to the KKK, and they also knew the details of the various acts of violence the Klan and the police were perpetrating against the black population and civil rights activists. Keep in mind that Birmingham was being called “Bombingham” because of all the bombings at the time. Yet neither the FBI, nor the federal government in general, did anything to stop the horrible violence that was occurring even though they did have the ability to do so. This is the government that benevolently gave us the Civil Rights bills?
So it must be asked, were the Civil Rights laws a success? I would concede that laws do shape people’s attitudes, that outlawing racial discrimination shaped the white consciousness. Yet, on the flip side of this, laws and law enforcement have played a stronger role in justifying racist attitudes. I would argue that the criminalization of people, which did not start with the civil rights movement, but at that time was intentionally shifted towards appearing unbiased, is the newer face of racism. Certainly things have changed due to the civil rights movement, but we must ask what was it that really changed and what has not changed? As mentioned above, dissent has been criminalized, as well as has been poverty, drug use, etc. The police enforce the color line by partaking in harassment, brutality, and arrests of people of color. Especially relevant to this discussion is that movement across borders has been limited and criminalized, constructing a whole mass of people as criminals. From this perspective, the rule of law is perfectly congruent with racism. So Connor and Arpaio are not aberrations except in the way that they flaunt their penchant for abusing people. While not as blatantly racist as Connor was, Arpaio can still terrorize migrants under the power of the law.
Another question to be asked: Were the Civil Rights Bills written because of a moral imperative of the federal government, perhaps with a push from leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.? Or were they an attempt to quash dissent? After all, protests and riots were a major concern. What better way to deal with it than to throw the people a bone while you further criminalize rioting?
Malcolm X said, “You’ll get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it… when you stay radical long enough and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom.” Additionally, a couple months after the big March on Washington, Malcolm X described in a speech how the March was co-opted by the federal government; that originally the marchers were talking about how they were going to march on the government buildings and bring them to a halt, and even that they would lay down on the runways of the airports and stop planes from landing. This frightened the government so much, that got Martin Luther King Jr and others together to undermine the organizing for these activities by making it a passive march instead. “They controlled it so tight, they told those Negroes what time to hit town, how to come, where to stop, what signs to carry, what song to sing, what speech they could make, and what speech they couldn’t make; and then told them to get out town by sundown.” Yes, the government has its ways to undermine true dissent, and obviously it’s not always through force. Reform is used to undermine revolution.
This is why I believe that if anything with a positive façade is to come out of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, it is out of fear of the power of the people. After all, no moral imperative is preventing the federal government from running all the detention centers, from militarizing the border, from being involved in the corrupt drug war, etc. (On the flip side, I believe the federal government is also afraid of the racists who scapegoat migrants and other people of color for their problems but also are angry with the government for collaborating with businesses to make money off of cheap labor). Even if you believe that new opportunities come with Obama in power, the fact remains: the rule of law is intimately tied to racism. History may not repeat itself, but there are many lessons to be learned.
It is also worth mentioning that Malcolm X’s story should be considered when movement leaders invite cops to meetings, when activists police the behavior of the people during protests, and when they try to control the message.
To conclude, Arpaio mustn’t be the focus for the movement, and neither should reform. Knowing that Arpaio, like Bull Connor, was elected time and again by a mass of white folks who feel that people of color are somehow a threat, and that the rule of law, with the participation of the federal government, is inextricably racist, we have much to do. We need to challenge white people on their racism and no longer legitimize the federal government or other law enforcement by comparing Arpaio the “Sadistic Man” to those whose acts of repression are simply less visible. We need resistance, no compromise on freedom. Lives are at stake. Freedom not reform.
This is all not to say you shouldn’t attend actions like the march against Arpaio. In fact you should, and you should bring your message and your passion for freedom.
For additional links in this story please see the original posting.
Phoenix PD Attack Protesters at Anti-Arpio March
by Phoenix Class War
We couldn’t agree with Sal Reza more when he says, “There was provocation by some groups who came here for their own purpose to disrupt a peaceful march.” We know he isn’t talking about those of us in the Diné, O’odham, anarchist/anti-authoritarian bloc. Not only have we patiently marched in the marches and held the signs for years now, but how in the world could O’odham peoples, native to this land, in any way be considered outsiders? Such an assertion is ridiculous on its face. Indeed, as one of our O’odham comrades from the Diné, O’odham, anarchist/anti-authoritarian bloc sang from the main stage before the march, flanked by two other members of the DO@ bloc, no one seemed eager to denounce them outsiders. Naturally, then, we reject this allegation.
So, who is the outside faction Sal’s talking about? In our opinion it must be the Phoenix Police. Unprovoked, a female officer on horseback (who later covered her name on her uniform) charged her horse headlong into the march, colliding with several people and in the process almost running over at least one child in a stroller. After attacking families and protesters, she then whipped out her pepper spray and let loose on the whole crowd, who fled the noxious spew. In the process, children were blasted with pepper spray.
After that, other Phoenix PD officers stormed the crowd, violently attacking marchers, dragging several to the ground and further deploying their chemical weapons from all directions in an attempt to justify their their aggression by nabbing a few people. Dozens were so affected that they were soaked in chemicals, having to strip off clothes to stop the burning. Street medics (not Phoenix Fire Department) and other protesters came to each others’ aid. At the end of the melee, out of the more than a hundred that marched together, four of our comrades were in chains and countless others stood bleeding, bruised and momentarily stunned.
Still, shaking it off, we rallied, facing down the cops, until eventually they withdrew. We celebrated and took turns speaking out about what it’s like to be under attack by a system that values property and power over people.
Indeed, during the entire march the Phoenix police had been provoking marchers. Riding bikes and golf carts into people. Pushing and shoving. For what? To keep one northbound lane open? Rather than assaulting people expressing their legitimate desires to see an end to oppression, why not shut down the street? Cops do traffic control all the time. What’s wrong with PPD? Why, for instance, is it somehow possible for Tempe PD to shut down Tempe streets tomorrow for the corporate schlock that is “PF Chang’s Rock n’ Roll Marathon” tomorrow but not for PPD to close off a few streets so that people can assemble without threat of attack? Truly a backwards system indeed!
The police have so far put forward several different explanations for what happened, all of which contradict each other. On one channel they say that they were breaking up a fight. On another they say that people were throwing bottles. And on and on. What’ll it be in five minutes, we wonder? The contradictory stories ought to be your first clue that what they’re claiming happened didn’t in fact happen. No surprise that the media swallowed it. But if we know they’re lying, we have to wonder why anyone else would defend their actions?
Did people fight back against the police assault. We don’t know because our eyes were full of pepper spray, but we wouldn’t begrudge them if they did. To be charged into by a twelve hundred pound horse, while attacked by thugs using chemical weapons necessarily evokes the instinct to fight back, especially when your enemy is so vile as to assault children. Police demand the impossible from people. They expect you to allow them to attack you while at the same time demanding that you suppress your gut, human tendency to defend yourself. There is nothing “peaceful” in that relationship.
That sort of power relation is one that condemns those who resist while exonerating the violence of those from above. It reflects the current distribution of power — a distribution we want to change drastically. This is as unnatural as fighting power without taking action. Movements, like people, have a right to self-defense. For us, that has to be in the form of direct action and civil disobedience against the system. It must be made not to work unless our demands are met. No more mediation through shady politicians. No more appealing to power through moral arguments. We can take our futures into our own hands, directly.
Still, we’re not surprised that the police attacked. While it seems the leaders of the movement are eager to make excuses for police who attack children, we know that what we saw today is but a glimpse of what the cops do everyday. We see it with our own eyes. They are the outside, alien force that first and foremost defends white supremacy and capitalism. How can someone say they are organizing a “peaceful march” when they work with such sadists? Anyone who was at the point in the march where the attack took place obviously recognizes that the only physical threat to the march was from the police. No one in the march was at any time under threat from anyone in the march. Understand that and you also understand that naturally the cops were going to attack the march eventually, especially considering the militaristic fashion in which they deployed. Phoenix PD deports more migrants than Sheriff Joe and yet we are told that we ought to give them a pass so that we can focus on that clown Arpaio? We saw today just how foolish that strategy is.
In our eyes, this is but a symptom of the failure of the strategy being pursued by the movement as it is. White supremacy in Arizona goes far beyond one ancient sheriff in one county. Ballot measures attacking people of color will almost certainly pass in Arizona yet again this year with 70 or 80 percent margins. Is this Sheriff Joe’s fault? Obviously not. But marches against Joe won’t stop that.
We need a broader movement with a critique beyond Joe so that we can challenge the whole problem — one that stretches from Tohono O’odham land down south to the land of the Diné up north. And everywhere in between. And we need to break from this mode of organizing that can only deliver more oppression and more violence down on our heads. No more politicians. No more working with cops. Look what it brings.
This is why we supported the call for the Diné, O’odham, anarchist/anti-authoritarian bloc. For someone to say now when it is inconvenient that we are an outside force is to replicate the marginalization that for centuries has dominated the discourse around land and movement in this region. But PCWC’s native comrades didn’t come from outside. They were always here. And we stand with them.