Durham: June 11th Solidarity Noise Demo Reportback

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written by comrades

On Friday 13th, June 2014, around 8:00PM, an angry crowd of about sixty people converged on the Durham County Detention Center in downtown Durham for the June 11th international day of solidarity with long term anarchist eco-prisoners Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, and all others whom the state has imprisoned. The crowd brought banners bearing messages of solidarity with those inside, one even saying “We Are the Bad Luck” with a provocative image of a cop being kicked, drums, a variety of noisemakers, and a giant crow puppet which waved around visible to inmates, until it eventually blended in with the night sky, creating a witchy silhouette. Bandanas were brought along with “How to Do It” posters, which provided info about how to mask and bloc up properly in order to conceal one’s identity from police or random do-gooders who might be filming. Almost immediately, a pig tried to talk to us, but his unwelcomed chit-chat was stopped ultimately when people gathered around him and drove him away with loud, disruptive drumming.

We stayed on the left side of the jail for about forty minutes until we began marching toward the front. DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) was hosting an event that evening for the Israeli dance company, Vertigo, which was also a target of protest by some, and presumably to keep us from interrupting it, twenty or more bike pigs were stationed outside. We stayed across the road from them on the jail side banging loudly on drums, waving and screaming to prisoners, and holding banners up for them to see. The crowd moved closer to the jail, and firecrackers and other fireworks were thrown at the entrance. Soon after, about fifteen or twenty pigs wearing yellow shirts who were part of the Detention Emergency Response Team, whose function is specifically to stop rebellions inside, came outside armed and unhappy. They created a line in front of us and the jail, physically pushing us back when possible. More firecrackers were hurled at them, hitting and bouncing off the prison guards. A couple days later we heard back from a prisoner that many could see the confrontation from their cells, and were thrilled.

Several minutes later, we moved back to the railroad tracks, chanting, still drumming, and banner-laden. Caring little for the consequences, prisoners inside placed signs on their windows, which were hard to read from our position, but presumably as in the past, bore messages of thank you’s, acknowledgements of them hearing us and seeing our banners and floating lanterns, and fuck you’s to the jail and all the pigs who keep them locked inside. The guards eventually, as far as we could tell, made the prisoners take down their signs. Lanterns were lit, and more fireworks were set off, and loud pops echoed through the streets as firecrackers were thrown there. We marched further down to the leftmost back corner of DCDC, where we continued being as loud as possible for about twenty minutes or so. After marching back up the sidewalk, we gathered in a tight cluster, silent for the longest thirty seconds ever, and then erupted with the loudest drum beats and screaming noises we could make as our finale. We then dispersed. No one was arrested.

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This demonstration was an important catalyst for future actions of resistance in Durham for several reasons:

1) You Can Crush the Flower, But You Can’t Stop the Spring
This was the first public display of anarchist-oriented resistance since the winter, when the marches for Jesus “Chuy” Huerta kicked off. Participants donned masks, bloc’d up, and damaged police property as a response to the obvious cover-up of the police killing seventeen year old Chuy. The first march saw the police headquarters vandalized, a cop car window smashed, and anti-cop graffiti sprayed downtown. The second march which led up to a vigil at the spot where Chuy’s life was ended at the police station, was brutally repressed, ending in several arrests, and riot police teargassing the crowd and beating people with sticks. The third and final march had fewer participants than the previous two, and happened just before another vigil inside of the church that Chuy and his family attended. In a disgusting PR stunt, police chief Lopez attended the vigil which sparked outrage from the family, and caused some in attendance to walk out. The march went past a police sub-station where windows were again broken and cop cars were vandalized. These marches set a precedent for street marches in the Bull City. None of them were permitted, many people chose to mask up, and property destruction wasn’t halted by the “good citizen” crowd in spite of a scare campaign by the city council and police chief Jose Lopez. When the police fucked with people, people fought back with their rebellion, refusing to be corralled away from the streets. See the zine “Unforgiving and Inconsolable” for a more thorough analysis of these specific incidents.

2) Your Laws Are Bullshit
After the winter street demonstrations, the city of Durham and the DPD made a public statement reaffirming certain “protest rules” that were disregarded. They made it clear that marches must, from now on, take place on the sidewalk, during the daytime, without masks, without pyrotechnics, and without property destruction. This demonstration disregarded most of these things explicitly, and the call for it outlined the reasons for this. These legislative attempts to quell dissent were put in place specifically to criminalize people and youth of color, and general rebellion that isn’t defined as civil and productive. The fact that there were people present to challenge these laws with the intensity that they were is an accomplishment. They didn’t fuck with us because we didn’t let them.

3) All Prisoners Are Political Prisoners: Solidarity With All Prisoners!
Prisoners inside of the Durham jail, like all jails and prisons, have been subjected to horrible living conditions, denied basic rights, and have struggled against racist prison industrial complex. Our solidarity extends not only to our immediate comrades who have been incarcerated for challenging and attacking oppressive, capitalist institutions, but to all those who are survivors of the hegemonic tool of the state that is meant to continue the legacy of white supremacy and patriarchy. This also comes near a time when a hunger strike at the Polk Correctional Institution in Butner began.

Until every cage is empty,
Fuck DPD and every cop who ever did his job

Links:

Inside Outside Alliance June 2014 Statement

Original Announcement

Info on Polk CI Hunger Strike

Unforgiving and Inconsolable Zine