Tag Archive: Michael Brown

Learning from Ferguson: A World Without Police

love4policeFrom Counterpunch – by Peter Gelderloos

In two previous essay, I discussed the role of the Left in protecting the police through cautious reformism, and the effectiveness of a pacified, falsified—in a word disarmed—history of the Civil Rights movement to prevent us from learning from previous struggles and achieving a meaningful change in society.

The police are a racist, authoritarian institution that exists to protect the powerful in an unequal system. Past and present efforts to reform them have demonstrated that reformism can’t solve the problem, though it does serve to squander popular protests and advance the careers of professional activists. Faced with this situation, in which Left and Right unwittingly collude to prolong the problem, the extralegal path of rioting, seizing space, and fighting back against the police makes perfect sense. In fact, this phenomenon, denounced as “violence” by the media, the police, and many activists in unison, was not only the most significant feature of the Ferguson rebellion and the solidarity protests organized in hundreds of other cities, it was also the vital element that made everything else possible, that distinguished the killing of Michael Brown from a hundred other police murders. What’s more, self-defense against state violence (whether excercized by police or by tolerated paramilitaries like the Klan) is not an exceptional occurrence in a long historical perspective, but a tried and true form of resistance, and one of the only that has brought results, in the Civil Rights movement and earlier.

What remains is to speak about possibilities that are radically external to the self-regulating cycle of tragedy and reform. What remains is to speak loudly and clearly about a world without police.

We don’t want better police. We don’t want to fix the police. On the contrary, we understand that the police work quite well; they simply do not work for us and they never have. We want to get rid of the police entirely, and we want to live in a world where police are not necessary.

(more…)

Police Violence Is Not A Problem Because Of Its Invisibility

pigparade

Officers wearing riot gear walk through a park in downtown St. Louis on Sunday.

From Ben Brucato

For months, in response to the killing of Michael Brown, Ferguson and Saint Louis have been sites of ongoing rebellion, with frequent actions of solidarity throughout the United States. Last week, after a grand jury declined to indict Michael Brown’s murderer, Officer Darren Wilson, protests erupted across the country.

In response, today US President Obama proposed a national program to outfit 50,000 police officers with body-worn cameras. Many, including Michael Brown’s family, advocate in favor of wearable cameras for police. Rashad Robinson of ColorOfChange.org wrote today that, “If what happened between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson had been captured on video, we would not be here today—and Michael Brown might be alive.” This advocacy is predicated on the idea that police violence is a problem because it remains hidden.

For most of a century, police studies have operated under the idea that policing’s most crucial function—the use of force in the production of social order—is something that occurs outside of the public view. In their influential book, Above The Law, Jerome Skolnick and James Fyfe explained this hidden quality of policing has historically been a defining one, but that it was changed with the video recorded beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers.

Policing’s new visibility, as John B. Thompson calls it, is a consequence of surveillance that is rapidly approaching ubiquity. An institution once defined by operating outside of public view is now on exhibition as a result of cameras. Not only are private and government security cameras capturing many spaces—public and private alike—on video, but dash-mounted cameras in police cruisers and weapon-mounted cameras have produced a kind of self-surveillance (in addition to their primary intended functions of gathering evidence to criminally implicate civilians). On-officer wearable cameras, first developed by Taser, were developed from earlier stun-gun cameras (which, captured the moments before Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. was shot and killed by police in White Plains, NY).

If we believe police violence is a problem as a result of it being hidden from public view, we should expect to see a crisis in the police institution over the past two decades since the beating of Rodney King. As Skolnick and Fyfe wrote, “in the absence of videotapes or other objective recording of gratuitous violence, brutality rarely causes public controversy and is extremely difficult to prove.” But as I wrote last week, police violence appears to be on the rise in the presence of this new visibility. As much as we might hope for a simple, technological fix to the problem of police violence, more cameras are not the answer. (more…)

Political Prisoner Birthday Poster For November/December 2014 Is Now Available

birthdaycupHello Friends and Comrades,

1) Here is the political prisoner birthday poster for November. As always, please post this poster publicly and/or use it to start a card writing night of your own.

2)  Please help raise funds for our comrade Andy’s legal fund. On August 23rd Andy was arrested while attending a demonstration in solidarity with those protesting in Ferguson, MO following the murder of Michael Brown. While walking on the sidewalk during the protest, he was tackled to the ground and kicked by multiple officers, arrested, and non-consensually brought to the hospital for injuries that the police had inflicted. Because the police took away the bandages he had been given in the ER, he had to take care of his injuries on his own, while in jail. He has since been slapped with a large emergency room bill. He was held for around 28 hours with little food or water, and was subject to intimidation and threats of multiple felony charges and federal involvement. Instances like this are not unusual.  In fact, these circumstances – violent arrests, legal threats, withholding medical treatment and intimidation – are common in suppression of dissent against police brutality. Andy now faces six misdemeanor charges, for which the DA’s office has already demanded at least $1,500 in damage.

3) Political Prisoner Tom Manning is scheduled to see the US Parole Board in November. In a recent letter he asks that people write letters supporting his release on parole. He writes “so if folks can just write their own letters expressing each ones ideas rather than all of them sounding like they read a form letter – so that they put their own voice down on paper.”

Please write a letter to support Tom! (more…)

Help Andy Raise Legal Funds!

andyFrom You Caring

Andy is a queer-identified 20 year old West Philly resident, environmental activist, and volunteer at LAVA community center.

On August 23rd Andy was arrested while attending a demonstration in solidarity with those protesting in Ferguson, MO following the murder of Michael Brown. While walking on the sidewalk during the protest, he was tackled to the ground and kicked by multiple officers, arrested, and non-consensually brought to the hospital for injuries that the police had inflicted. Because the police took away the bandages he had been given in the ER, he had to take care of his injuries on his own, while in jail. He has since been slapped with a large emergency room bill. He was held for around 28 hours with little food or water, and was subject to intimidation and threats of multiple felony charges and federal involvement. Instances like this are not unusual.  In fact, these circumstances – violent arrests, legal threats, withholding medical treatment and intimidation – are common in suppression of dissent against police brutality.

Andy now faces six misdemeanor charges, for which the DA’s office has already demanded at least $1,500 in damage.

In addition, the publication of Andy’s legal name and residence by local media outed him as transgender to the community, violating his privacy and potentially putting his safety at risk.

We have been making every effort to fundraise for Andy and have already raised some money.  However, we still have a large amount left to raise.  Please help us out to whatever extent you are able!  If you would prefer to mail a check, please contact us for a mailing address.  Thank you!

– See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-andy-raise-legal-funds-/253232#sthash.3TNYiNeA.dpuf

Accomplices Wanted: A few notes on race, legitimacy, and solidarity with the struggle in Ferguson

CAM01615-1

On August 9th, a white police officer murdered an unarmed Black teenager named Michael Brown (“Mike-Mike”) on the streets of Ferguson, MO, a couple miles north of St. Louis. Nothing about this was abnormal or newsworthy in any way; it was simply another reminder of the cheapness of poor Black life in the United States in 2014. Typically, such tragedies are swept under the rug with ease, by the usual combination of go-nowhere state investigations, mild officer reprimands, and calls for calm, prayer, and peace issued by Civil Rights and church leaders and echoed by the liberal media.

But in Ferguson, something different happened. Black residents, along with a few white people from the immediate and surrounding areas, fought back against the white supremacist authority of the police. They took over the main street of town, pushing police out of the area entirely. Pavement was broken up for projectiles, stores were looted and attacked, the QT where a customer had called the cops on Mike-Mike was burned to the ground. Until it was fenced in, the QT lot became a kind of gathering place, covered in spraypainted anti-cop lyrics and references to revolutions of the past. (more…)

Missouri Prison Newsletter #6–Ferguson

newsletter-6-image1From Anti State STL

Issue #6, September-October 2014

The Missouri Prison Newsletter is distributed to (about 150) people in prisons across the U.S., but focusing on those incarcerated in Missouri and Illinois. This issue focuses specifically on the recent uprisings in Ferguson, MO, and contains original personal accounts of the riots, analysis and a timeline of the uprisings as they unfolded.

The previous five issues are available here:

Issue #1, January-February 2014

Issue #2, February-March 2014

Issue #3, March-April 2014

Issue #4, April-May 2014

Issue #5, May-June 2014

Ben Turk and Alexander Abbasi on The Final Straw

ferguson-palestine_0From Asheville FM

Streaming at AshevilleFM from 3am EST on August 25th through August 31st, 2014, then podcasting atradio4all.net. Also airing this week on KOWA-LPFMin Olympia, WA, KWTF in Bodega Bay, CA, KXCF in Marshall, CA, and WCRS-LP Columbus Community Radio 98.3 and 102.1 FM

If you’re in the asheville area, there will be a vigil at Pack Square in downtown at 6pm tonight, Sunday the 24th of August for those who’ve lost their lives at the hands of pigs, such as Michael Brown, the unarmed black man gunned down by pigs in Ferguson and A.J. Marion, gunned down by asheville pigs who’ve just been cleared of charges.https://www.facebook.com/events/696569130391969/

This episode features two conversations. The first is with Ben Turk, anarchist, playwrite and prison abolitionist. We chat briefly about the upcoming North American Anarchist Black Cross conference in Colorado, about what folks can expect if they go and how to support the event. https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/ek5vc/ab/f3E260

After that, a conversation with Alexander Abassi. Alex is a palestinian-american from Los Angeles, an activist in the BDS (That’s boycott, divest and sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine) and a student at Harvard’s divinity school. We talk about decolonization, the uprisings in Ferguson, the struggle to liberate Palestine from the occupation by Israel and what solidarity and liberation might look like. (more…)

The Making of “Outside Agitators”

This illustration is available in poster form from artist Corina Dross, to raise funds for arrestees in Ferguson.

This illustration is available in poster form from artist Corina Dross, to raise funds for arrestees in Ferguson.

From Crimethinc.

On August 19, ten days after police murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a slew of corporate media stories appeared charging that“criminals” and “outside agitators” were responsible for clashes during the protests. CNN alleged that “all sides agree there are a select number of people—distinct from the majority of protesters—who are fomenting violence,” quoting a State Highway Patrol Captain, a State Senator, and a former FBI assistant director to confirm this.

Today’s militarized police understand that they are operating on two different battlefields at once: not only the battlefield of the streets, but also the battlefield of discourse. So long as most people remain passive, the police can harass, beat, arrest, and even kill people with impunity—certain people, anyway. But sometimes protests get “out of hand,” which is to say, they actually impact the authorities’ ability to keep the population under control. Then, without fail, police and politicians proceed to the second strategy in their playbook: they declare that they support the protesters and are there to defend their rights, but a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch. In this new narrative, the enemies of the protesters are not the police who are gassing and shooting people, but those who resist the police and their violence. When this strategy works, it enables the police to go back to harassing, beating, arresting, and killing people with impunity—certain people, anyway.

Sure enough, a few hours after these articles about “criminals” and “outside agitators” appeared, the St. Louis police killed another man less than three miles from Ferguson. Here we see how defining people as “criminals” and “outsiders” is itself an act of violence, setting the stage for further violence. You can predict police behavior at protests with a fair degree of accuracy based on the rhetoric they deploy in advance to prepare the terrain.

So when we hear them say “outside agitators,” we know the authorities are getting ready to spill blood. All the better, from their perspective, if people buy into this rhetoric and police themselves so no officer has to get his hands dirty. This is often called for in the name of avoiding violence, but self-policing returns us to the same passivity that enables police violence to occur in the first place. How many people would have even heard about Michael Brown if not for the “criminals” and “agitators” who brought his death to our attention? Self-policing also preserves the impression that we all choose this state of affairs of our own free will, reinforcing the impression that anyone who does not is anoutsider. (more…)

What They Mean when They Say Peace

policestateFrom Crimethinc.

The Forces of Peace and Justice

“I’m committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice prevail,”Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said in Ferguson on Saturday, August 16, after a week of conflicts sparked by the police murder of teenager Michael Brown. “If we’re going to achieve justice, we first must have and maintain peace.”

Is that how it works—first you impose peace, then you achieve justice? And what does that mean, the forces of peace and justice? What kind of peace and justice are we talking about here?

As everyone knows, if it weren’t for the riots in Ferguson, most people would never have heard about the murder of Michael Brown. White police officers kill over a hundred black men every year without most of us hearing anything about it. That silence—the absence of protest and disruption—is the peace which Governor Nixon wants us to believe will produce justice.

This is the same narrative we always hear from the authorities. First, we must submit to their control; then they will address our concerns. All the problems we face, they insist, are caused by our refusal to cooperate. This argument sounds most persuasive when it is dressed up in the rhetoric of democracy: those are “our” laws we should shut up and obey—“our” cops who are shooting and gassing us—“our” politicians and leaders begging us to return to business as usual. But to return to business as usual is to step daintily over the bodies of countless Michael Browns, consigning them to the cemetery and oblivion.

Governor Nixon’s peace is what happens after people have been forcefully pacified. His justice is whatever it takes to hoodwink us into accepting peace on those terms—petitions that go directly into the recycle bin, lawsuits that never produce more than a slap on the wrist for the killers in uniform, campaigns that may advance the career of an activist or politician but will never put an end to the killing of unarmed black men. (more…)

New Bail Fund Link for Ferguson Rebels

freguson-hands-up2From Anti State St. Louis

Over the last few hours thousands of dollars have been streaming in from all over the world to support those arrested over the last few days in Ferguson, Missouri. This support is incredible and breath-taking, and sadly our previous link is not set-up to handle this level of activity.

Please, please, please, circulate this new link and continue donating.
https://secure.piryx.com/donate/mS25KFCe/MORE/mikebrown

Original call for donations:
A bail and legal fund has been established to support the 43 or so people who have been arrested during the anti-police demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo. Please spread the word widely and help us get some money together to get these people out.

All funds collected will be used to support those arrested during the demonstrations–their bail money, fines, legal funds, or other related expenses. In the unlikely event that there are additional funds, they will be used to support people resisting police repression and police violence in the future. Thank you.