Perspectives on #Black/Brown Lives Movement Issues including Diversity of Tactics


Recently I’d run into several essays that were synergistic in many ways, at odds in some ways, and I thought I’d try to weave a few of them together for a greater understanding of  the ongoing social movement that hasn’t yielded what the more radical participants and philosophers have wanted.

To begin with, I’d like to highlight some of Lorenzo Raymond’s ‘Misunderstanding the Civil Rights Movement and Diversity of Tactics’, at

The author uses as a basic framework a contretemps last year between Jonathan Chait (whoever he is) and Ta Nehisi Coates about the ‘efficacy of the black insurrection, Chait having written that regarding Ferguson, ““Property damage and looting impede social progress.”  Coates had answered with this:

The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is inseparable from the threat of riots. The housing bill of 1968—the most proactive civil-rights legislation on the books—is a direct response to the riots that swept American cities after King was killed. Violence, lingering on the outside, often backed nonviolence during the civil-rights movement. “We could go into meetings and say, ‘Well, either deal with us or you will have Malcolm X coming into here,’” said SNCC organizer Gloria Richardson. “They would get just hysterical. The police chief would say, ‘Oh no!”

Chait had recently doubled-down with a paper on ‘right-wing backlash’, to which the author answers:

“The weakness with the thesis is not that there was no serious white backlash to the anti-racist movement, but that the backlash started as soon as the civil rights struggle began in the mid-1950s, not suddenly after the mid-60s Northern rebellions.”

Raymond offers his take on the limited gains of the non-violent civil rights era with examples, and references excerpts from Michael Klarman’s book From Jim Crow to Civil Rights. 

Klarman’s work builds on that of scholar Gerald Rosenberg who demonstrated that no dramatic change for Black liberation occurred until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The direct impetus for that law was rioting in Birmingham in May of 1963: thousands of local blacks defie Martin Luther King’s exhortations to nonviolence, set fire to nine square blocks of downtown, and sent a police officer to the operating room.  The author of the most comprehensive study of President Kennedy’s civil rights policy, Nicholas Bryant, noted that

It was the black-on-white violence of May 11 – not [the nonviolence of the previous weeks] – that represented the real watershed in Kennedy’s thinking…Kennedy had grown used to segregationist attacks against civil rights protesters. But he – along with his brother and other administration officials – was far more troubled by black mobs running amok.²

Birmingham wasn’t an isolated episode; Black insurrection flared across the country for the rest of 1963 and into 1964.  Sometimes it was milder than Birmingham and sometimes it was more explosive. SNCC leader Gloria Richardson recalls that in her campaign in Cambridge, Maryland, activists exchanged gunfire with National Guardsmen just a few months prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

“…burning in every city, North and South…”

“President Kennedy’s response to Birmingham is the key historical moment of the movement.  According to White House tapes, the president initially thought about sending federal troops to Alabama in May 1963 with the idea of acting against Blacks if the rioting continued—not against Bull Connor.  He ultimately kept the troops on stand-by.  As the month wore on and Kennedy saw Black rebellion spread to Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York, he eventually concluded he would have to make a major gesture of support for African-Americans.  On June 11, he gave his landmark Civil Rights Address, in which he first proposed the Civil Rights Act.  The Address acknowledged the role of riots:

This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safetyThe fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.”

As I remember it, it was Bobby Kennedy who’d changed his mind.  But the thrust of arguments in his essay were meant to back up his assertion that:

“…the riots in Ferguson were objectively the best thing that happened to a movement that was already more than a year old.  In August 2014, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman had been almost completely forgotten by white America except as grim punchlines, while national civil rights leaders were more concerned with Chicago’s gang killings than with the national wave of police terror.  Yet by December, in the wake of recurring rioting in both Ferguson and the Bay Area, the Ferguson PD was under investigation by Amnesty International, the Justice Department and the United Nations…”

Along the way, he mentions anarchist author Peter Gelderloos’s book ‘The failure of nonviolence’.


He further calls out the concern-trolling of the liberal left and even radical whites who maintain that ‘insurrection is not strategic, this is what the police want’.

Past that:

“Most of the time they manage to stop short of asking “why are they burning down their own neighborhood?” –if only to be mindful of clichés—but some can’t even help themselves there.  In the aftermath, Amy Goodman (seemingly channeling Alex Jones) will spread conspiracy theories on how the government “orchestrated” the rioting.¹  

The respectability politics of nonviolence will return.” 

I’d disagree with him on that; it certainly did seem that the National Guard stood down in black neighborhoods from what we’d seen, and there were times it seemed as though  agents provocateurs did set fires.  The larger point was that the tate cared far more about harm to property than it did (and does) to citizens of the Rabble Class, be they black, brown, or mentally ill.

Now Joel Northam echoes many of his sentiments in his ‘The Black Lives Matter Schism: Towards a Vision for Black Autonomy’ at  He calls what he saw early on in Ferguson heroic youth waging war with a militarized police state armed with only bits of rubble and glass bottles, and against all odds forcing them to retreat.  But immediately in Ferguson, and later in Baltimore, came the popular response of many distancing themselves from the unruly youth:

“Cloaked in a veneer of inclusiveness, it drowned out the original spirit of resistance that the rebelling youths exhibited nights before.  The message was “we don’t want to be associated with them and we will ‘resist’ within the confines of rules and regulations given to us by established power”.

Then came boatloads of ‘think pieces’ dedicated to denouncing riots, looting, and so on.

“This schism between militant resistance and respectability has since become more acute. The mass movement has become amorphous, and what should have been channeled into organic revolutionary energy has dissipated under the weight of having an incoherent structure and lack of a declarative revolutionary political program that includes building international, intercommunal alliances with other Black left movements and anti-imperialist organizations worldwide. This flaw was seized upon by petit bourgeois elements, who have seen fit to reduce the Black Lives Matter movement to a “New Civil Rights Movement”, hell bent on simply effecting policy changes rather than assigning it the character of a revolutionary liberation struggle that requires a coherent strategy and a diversity of tactics for its success.”

He lauds the overall movement’s challenges to, and heightened awareness of, the status quo of institutional racism, but he totally sees the danger that the celebrities of the movement are being coopted by the MSM, visits with capitalist Democrat politicians, grant offers, and crap solutions like Campaign Zero (created without consultation to the mass base of folks who’ve been putting their lives on the line), as if the police state can be ‘reformed’ by politicians, as the movement pauses, breath held, to see what the next election will bring.

“We say “Black Lives Matter” as a reminder to us as Black people that our lives matter regardless if we’re accepted as human by white society or not, and is said as a declaration of resistance to our condition as beasts of burden for capital.

But a declaration is not enough. Neither are policy reforms, symbolic political actions and awareness campaigns. What is needed right now is an entire shift in orientation. A complete overhaul of all of the resources we have and can acquire at our disposal dedicated to the purpose of relinquishing our dependency on the economic system that exploits us; the building, maintenance, and defense of our own institutions and organs of power, channeled for the general uplift of our people, for our people, and by our people. The institutions that the state uses to oppress us must have their diametrical counterpart built by us for liberation purposes and must function to fill the void that has been left by the excesses and crises of transnational capitalism. Responsibility for the defense of our institutions rests with us, and this defense will also serve the purpose of resisting any and all attempts to put us back on the capitalist plantation.

We must strive for nothing less than the goal of complete self-determination and autonomy of African descended people in the US and abroad, working hand in hand in communal fellowship with other oppressed peoples who have their own contradictions with the power structure. Only by aligning ourselves with the international anticolonial, anti-imperial movement can success be achieved, as we represent only a little less than 13% of the national population.  [snip]

“The autonomous movement explicitly rejects of the kind of separatist reactionary nationalism which is unfortunately endemic to many formations within the Black Liberation movement. It rejects the hetero-patriarchal ethos that women should be relegated to servant status. It rejects the demonization of Black queer and trans people and instead uplifts them as leaders. We hold that one immediately relinquishes the role of “vanguard” if one subscribes to Eurocentric authoritarian hetero-patriarchal standards of gender and their corresponding roles as the norm.

The movement for Black autonomy does not include coexistence with white supremacist authority in its platform. We understand that the development of a scientific, intersectional revolutionary political theory that is applicable to our specific material conditions in the US, and our development of a praxis that tangibly counters the power of white supremacist institutions that control our lives, is the difference between being victims of genocide or soldiers at war. We understand that the striving for autonomy means provoking violent reactionary resistance to our advances. We accept this. We understand that Black liberation means human liberation, so we act in solidarity with the oppressed. Long live the Black resistance. We have nothing to lose but our chains!”

A tall order, in any event, and yes, he knows that there will be incredible backlash both from the state and white supremacists.

Bobby London, writing for, writes ‘No Leaders, No Masters: We Must Liberate Ourselves’ is a bit contradictory, so I’ll just let the title stand for it.

In We Will Not Stop Talking About Racism’, Martinez and Ware talk about black social activists being told and shown that ‘they’re too political’, or are taking flak for the term #BlackLivesMatter.  But this is the most illustrative point of their essay:

“Still worse are black manifestations of this sentiment. For many middle class black folks, the unspoken state of being is adjustment to injustice. Their way of thinking says, “I’m comfortable in my privilege working next to and with white people–please don’t mess that up.” Oppressed people so deeply identify with oppressive conceptual frames that they fail to see that those who speak truth to power, do so from a place of pain.

The insidious nature of white supremacy is such that black and brown people will more readily identify with the feelings of the dominant group about what is being said than with those expressing truths concerning the reality of their condition. Shame is so deeply felt that moments of individual black failure are worrisome because they ‘set black people back.’ The goal implicitly articulated in this statement is white approval of black bodies and behavior.

What’s worse, many of the same upwardly mobile black folks who try to silence others are themselves in pain. They intuitively see that they are ‘othered’ by white co-workers. They are not invited to the social gatherings. They are only consulted when sports or hip-hop are the topic of conversation. And their children are sometimes welcomed to play with at the house of their white friends, but white children never visit the house of the black child. These are the concessions. This is the price of the ticket. You get access to white spaces. You get access to economic opportunity, but you are perpetually an outsider. You are never fully accepted. White Americans want cosmetic diversity without the burden of black and brown political and social consciousness. This desire for black and brown faces without a commitment to egalitarianism is widespread.”

They give examples of what ‘safe’ black women behavior, and ‘safe Latina’ behavior, then give plenty of examples of institutional tokenism, some schools that have made ethnic studies, illegal (Tucson and South Dakota ride the top of the list), textbooks removed, etc..


Items from the last Killer Kop Katch-up:

this Peace Officer’s gun fired ‘accidentally‘, thus the county DA will not prosecute him. ‘not justifiable, but not criminal’. as far as i can tell, he might as well have blown the smoke offa the end of the barrel before he holstered it, just like in the old westerns.

the man he shot might be permanently paralyzed from the base of his neck down. he will be ‘likely’ be prosecuted for his deeds, though. drunk driving and manslaughter in the death of his wife.

26 responses to “Perspectives on #Black/Brown Lives Movement Issues including Diversity of Tactics

  1. i’ve read exactly two opinion pieces on post-cop21 that i’ve admired.

    michael donnelly, ‘flop21’

    alexander reid ross, ‘gray, not green

    hfcMofo sent me a treasure trove of links yesterday as a gift. at first i’d thought to say that they’re not related to this diary, but then i thought…yes, they’re just right…suitable.

  2. I’m still trying to digest the concept that unorganized violence, rioting and looting, or the threat of such, is somehow a ‘tactic’ to be used to push for reforms and that any reforms, such as the Fair Housing Act, enacted can be conflated with Black Liberation!

    Diversity of Tactics is a different animal, calling for organized violence, insurrection not just riots is a militant tactic that could certainly lead to open warfare with all of its consequences.

    I’m sorry to see you couldn’t grok what Bobby London was trying to explain, basically that Hierarchy is in Opposition to Liberation and that a Liberated Person has/needs no Leaders.

    I see the old/new Commies are again trying to sell their hierarchal and now rainbow hued plans and requirements for how to put their Leadership Class into power.

    • first, let me channel one of my favorite bloggers, j.p. sottile’s: ‘i aggregate, you decide.’ second, may i point out, that afik, neither you nor are i are either black, nor aborigianal.

      third, let me chuckle over you stated position that you are always the most radical (yada yada) on any website…. but look, you hate commies, and one of my favorite commie rappers is boots riley.

      fourth, so sorry you’re so sad about my not ‘getting’ london. his essay finally got to the point, but was confusing to say the least. old news about jesse, sharpton, and pretty confusing about the queer originators of #BLM. iirc, one link went to deray and netaaa meeting with clinton, but not tometti, on msnbc. of course, over five essays, i might be wrong, since i forget a lot, these days, but i had kept a few links, just in case.

      but let me point you to his further linked essays, please.

      “Now, many will wonder, “so what, what’s wrong with a little leadership, what good do riots bring to our communities anyway? We need organization!” For those individuals I would suggest you read my earlier pieces, “Looting is A Political Tactic”, “Embrace The Riot: Why Liberalism Fails”, and “It’s Time For Black Liberation, Not Liberalism” where I’ve discussed more in depth why rioting is a necessary tactic. Now, in the matters of the necessity of leadership, I will discuss further.”

      p.s on edit: you love the blacklivesmatter network queer anarchists; i wonder that you never remarked on the anarchist conference that i’d linked to on big al’s most recent post. wrong kind of anarchism?

      • I’m puzzled about why my comments and criticism of the Pinkos, hierarchal revolutionaries, and support of the young Anarchists produces such personalized responses. When someone such as Joel Northam a Marxist/Leninist describes the BLM movement as having incoherent structure and dictates they are in need of a (his) revolutionary political program my BS buzzer goes wild.

        I have been a Radical/Pinko/Commie/ Anarchist since 1967 and have criticized these pompous M/L and their hierarchical top-down cult of the Leader and loser programs since that time.

        I can’t view youtoob so I can’t comment on the Anarchist group you mention.

        I was going to comment on the dead Kennedys and the Civil Rights movement and what was ignored in what you quoted above, Camelot and the Cold War.

        • yes, i likely am rather reflexively hostile to your antagonistic comments by now. (experience as my teacher.) i’m not advocating for these positions, tactics, or black autonomy, but as i’d said: something’s in the air, and i choose to bring some of the thinking/angles on history, and alternatives. same for climate change, and other issues.

          as i said, i don’t know northam, save for a post or two of his that naked capitalism had picked up in the past. one of the links concerning anarchism went to a post at black autonomy’s website, that was what i was referring to. i don’t see from their essays that they are NOT grassroots, but you seem to know them as other than that.

          i can’t speak to the issue of diversity of tactics being planned, myself, my main experience of that was from occupy oakland, and of course chris hedges’ ‘the cancer in occupy’. the various authors seemed to believe that spontaneous riots did bring some benefits, though liberation? well, in some ways blacks must have believed so. i know that hough avenue in cleveland post-riots was a far better place to live after a few years. well, depending on who wrote the history, of course.

          my other point was that we here don’t get to decide what sort of insurrections, compliance with the state ‘reforms’ people of color choose, but i’m glad to see some ideas being floated out and about, myself.

          but i do see the stars in the twittersphere seriously holding their breaths in pause waiting for elections, promoting campaign zero, going on the teevee, meeting with candidates, urging Dem debate space on #BLM and the like. the folks on the street motivated by rage are the real deal, i think.

  3. lots to digest here wendy. good comments on JFK and the civil rights mvt. paradigm liberal right there. chickenshit bootlick. Let’s not forget how much the FBI had penetrated & was using the KKK. the “uncontrolled” violence of blacks created a problem that was answered by reformist gestures & and more subtle forms of violence, like the drug war, and co-optation. (was it “uncontrolled”? i don’t know enough about the era but still roll my eyes at the term. somebody give those rioters some smart bombs ASAP so they can have some acceptable “controlled” violence. or give them a grenade to toss into a peasant hut in ‘Nam. or some napalm. you know: acceptable.)

    Loss of property terrifies property fetishists, for whom any unauthorized act is by definition “uncontrolled.”

    • excellent, jason. but no, i didn’t know about the fibbies and the KKK, to say the truth. but oh, yes: the constitution was based on property ownership, wasn’t it? sacrosanct; they knew what they were about. but think of what ‘broken windows policy’ is about in (liberal) de blasio and billy bratton world. emergency response team for protests? led by:

      sleep well; dream well.

  4. From the standpoint of Indigenous “politics”, one has to fully comprehend that the public educational system on any Rez, and when compared to other non-rez schools, our rez schools are now recognized as the worst in the nation. Thus, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Education, have been virtually incompetent when it comes to addressing our “unmet needs.”

    So, what political movement is going to address our future and which starts with education? The educational Theorists or the political theorists? Or another useless political party or movement that could care less about what goes on the Rez?

    As such, the Europa-American stereotype of “I don’t care…I’ll be dead…So, what’s your point?” And which brings to any trenchant discussion on the National Debt.

    And being somewhat reasonable on my part, our inevitable discussion would commence 25 years into the future and only when the demographics comes full force in the form and format of a tidal wave and where addressing “survival” is the first step in this discussion.

    Therefore, today’s toxic politics, is the first dying gasp of the conservative-branded Republicans, the conservative-branded Democrats and the conservative-branded Independents. Of course, I will spare the authoritarian-branded Commies, for today’s example, since this rant needs some downsizing.


    • well thank the goddess teach for america is in ‘alliance with native americans’, and are soooo culturally sensitive, jaango! (smirk) ‘five weeks of orientation, and YOU can be a teacher, too!’ too bad other ‘ong-time teachers will be made redundant, but them’s the breaks…

      i dunno about the authoritarian-branded commies, but now i see now that wayoutwest knows joel northam as that. i hadn’t, and had gone to their home site page an found this: (and i may be accused of cherry-picking, i can’t say in my naiveté.

      “In addition, the only revolutionary nationalist group to even talk about conducting a plebiscite to find out what form African people in America believed our freedom should take was the Black Panther Party. They recognized that it was up to the masses to make such decisions, not vanguard organizations in their place. Like the Panthers, we believe that even before racism or capitalism are defeated, we can begin now to wage a protracted struggle against capitalism and its agents and that the only nation-state we should be concerned with is the corrupt American state still oppressing us and most of the peoples of the world.

      In common with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the leading militant organization of the earlier civil rights period, Anarchists believe that the role of the organizer is not to lead people, but to empower them and let them take over their own local struggles. We also believe that such communities are virtual colonies or semi-colonies, which are under the military and political control of the state. But we do not believe that a national liberation movement alone can free us and that the real task is to dismantle capitalism itself. Our liberation struggle is part of a broader struggle for total social change.”

      the ‘commune’ link on the side bar seems to speak to their vision of local communities, perhaps ‘communitarian’ ones with scanning in haste.

      i’m jammed for time again; somehow, living in the time warp i do, i’d totally lost track that i needed to bake things to send out to our families…er…yesterday. but i’ll be back when i can.

  5. Consider todays version of the Pentagon Papers 2.0 when it comes to our foreign policy. If so, it become important to take into the consideration of the views espoused by the Communists and the Nationalists.

    So, if the Black Panthers was a communist-inspired movement, then must take a gander to view the Chicano Movement that would be an equivalent to the Nationalist.

    And from this standpoint, toxic politics becomes even more toxic,


    “Near the end of the event, when students were told to stand up to recite the Urban Prep creed, several students began chanting “16 shots,” a common slogan among protesters who want the mayor to resign over the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The chant is a reference to the number of bullets fired into McDonald by Officer Jason Van Dyke, who has been charged with murder in McDonald’s death.

    The mayor abruptly left after the assembly, and some students resumed the chanting as they were being dismissed.”

    Freddie Gray hung jury mistrial today

    • i loved levine’s: “these were highly disciplined and motivated students of legendary urban prep”; ya know, the Good Negroes. well, good on them’ nice to know that what rahm needs to do is ‘connect with people’, isn’t it?

      not to show my doofusness again, but who introduced him, and left with him? so familiar a face, and yet….

      ach, day three, hung jury. any word on retrial? i did learn something i’d either not known or forgotten yesterday, and that’s that the same judge will hear all six trials. man, will that drag it all out, eh?

    • This incident of students publicly humiliating Rahm is why I stated in an earlier post that trying to force his resignation was a mistake. These corrupt raw power public confrontations by the people of Chicago or anywhere are rare, almost nonexistent so they should be prized and extended as long as possible.

  7. every local “revolutionary” movement is always on the cusp of recapitulating Stalin+Mao+Che. I’m sure I certainly act like a tin pot Pol Pot sometimes. on the supertubes, mostly. Maybe b/c of too much Marx. (snort. even the title of The Grundrisse puts me right to sleep.) and yet “we” can’t even take over a gas station.

    keegan stephan. in a society of such incomprehensible wealth, domestic soldiers exist. these soldiers shoot less of us than in iraq, to be sure. & fewer of us, probably, are in places like Holman Sq.

    • ha, i’d even had to googledybing ‘The Grundrisse’. er… but then, i admit that i’d even failed southern dragon’s (FDL) marxist economics classes back in the day via ‘Dr.’ richard wolfe, as well. i mean, how many times can ya listen to ‘mondragon cooperatives!!’ tinny, ooky videos, and i never could tell when class was out fer the day, dagnabbit. class clown, i was, unfortunately. ;-) jacobin turns out to be…not so very socialist, of course.

      but yeah, so many of the star BLM tweeters don’t seem to get how far capitalism is at the bottom of it all (not to diss them), but keeganNYC is now my go-to account.

  8. Diversity of tactics, at least in the Chicago 2012 form of it for NATO had to do with the ethical issue that manipulating people into the position of being arrested, beat up, or killed without their consent was not a terribly revolutionary thing to do. And it likely would contribute the successful suppression of a movement instead of its success as a movement. The operating principle was simple: separation in time and space. Interestingly, in Ferguson for whatever reason — agents provacateurs, overwhelming police force focused on the non-violent protesters, or decisional tactics — separation of time and space was what happened. And was often the reason that there is not as good documentation of what happened as of the police attacking non-violent protesters and journalists.

    Part of the anger of the local people (regardless of their later stance) against the white Chicago-resident Revolutionary Communist Party folks actions was they too often were seen as manipulating the situations so as to draw the police attack on people other than themselves. Their presence was the lever that Antonio French needed to get his strategy legitimized by the PTB as the compromise. The fundamental point of contention was: who controls the movement there, the locals or the outsiders? The local consensus of the facilitator’s hidden agenda?

    This is a good point to raise again because of the American self-congratulatory narrative of non-violent movements being a means of progress. But increasingly that progress is purchased at the underlying cost of not dealing with the fundamental issue, which then later resurges.

    This post by wendyedavis is an important issue about tactics that requires discussion because it is in the gray area that requires human judgement in the particular situation, the judgement of the local groups and the judgement of participating autonomous individuals.

    • oh, my. i have questions, and possible parallels from occupy oaktown but as i’ve had my tit in a time-wringer all day, i just consulted my cannabis doctor for pain relief, so i’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

      but in the meantime, knowing that by now you could teach a class on nato 2012 in chitown, i hope you won’t mind my bringing evidence of that for folks here who may be unaware. (and let me say, i’m glad to see that your oeuvre is magnificently intact; good on them.)

      Report from Chicago Spring: Thank You for Returning My Shoelaces and Belt. Now Can You Please Find My Drivers License and Computer? – My Experience Being Detained Prior to the NATO Summit’, tarheeldem

      on edit: you might say where it turns out you were imprisoned, as well, amigo.

    • as i’d remembered it, there were those who railed against the college profs or whomever (white) who would make certain that they were heard at the GAs in oakland, planning for events such as ‘move in day’, not necessarily letting the many know that the few…anticipated violence. and further, that the deciders would be at the back of the protesting groups, where they never reaped the consequences.

      given that i may be wrong in my memory, i emailed hfc mofo to ask; if i need to correct, i will.

      but i went back to tacticaldiversity.wordpress and found, ‘What the Climate Movement Can Learn from Black Lives Matter’. it’s quite informative as to the corporate-funded ‘climate protestors’ i seem to be unable to avoid railing against (avaaz, tides foundation, rockefeller foundation, etc.). but this internal link to an interview with the blackout collective is again on point about the need for diversity of tactics. think: bart shutdown, ‘wake up Libby’ etc. clearly they prefer non-violent direct actions that stop business as usual. but:

      “CT: We work with various communities and with each of those groups that group has to decide what they view as being violent or nonviolent. I think that it varies [depending] on what community you’re in. As a collective, we believe in a diversity of tactics. It’s not our role to critique anybody’s tactics or any of the actions that are happening in the movement if they are continuing and supporting black people who want to do direct action.

      CF: We just want to make sure that people are being strategic and people are being creative, and that’s what we need to support. It’s not our job to police the way people respond to their own oppression. It’s our job to support people who want to do direct action.”

  9. The principle of direct action is pretty straight-forward–stop business as usual in some symbolic or material way until the system is forced to deal with you, make changes, or reconstitute itself into a system fundamentally much different from what it currently is — depending on your vision of what change looks like. It is the vision thing that hangs up most coalitions and they never are able to talk it through because of the conflict between immediacy and fundamental change. Our images of fundamental change forget the time it took to accomplish — the American revolution did not spontaneously happen with the Boston Massacre; the French revolution did not spontaneously happen with Bastille Day; the Russian revolution did not spontaneously happen with the storming of the massacre at the gates of the Tsar’s palace in St. Petersburg, the Chinese revolution is well known to have transpired over the Long March and the long battles first against the Japanese and then against Chiang Kai-shek’s Guomindong; the US Civil Rights Movement did not spontaneously erupt in the Montgomery bus boycott, the Birmingham demonstrations, or the march across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama. So criticisms of too fast, too slow are always beside the point. Movements move at their own speed; institutions change or collapse at their own speed.

    I and several tens of thousand people went to Chicago in 2012 to say that post-Cold War NATO was an organization looking for a mission and creating a whole lot of trouble for NATO countries, set aside the rest of the world, in order to maintain a claim on their nations’s taxpayers. That indicative statement was of itself supposed to cause the obvious imperative statement–shutter NATO as an obsolete global arrangement and negotiate other more peaceful, just, and honest arrangements — as just an obvious solution. Why don’t we diplomats vote it out of existence and go home? Of course the people there knew that there was going to be resistance. A year and a half into Occupy Chicago, we knew that Occupy Chicago was surviving never having had an encampment. We knew that it continued to have regular general assemblies until they were suppressed in public spaces, including sidewalks, with arbitrary police orders. We also knew that the Chicago Police Department wore the police riots at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 as a badge of honor and were determined not to let Occupy Chicago settle an encampment into Grant Park. What we didn’t know until the reporting about the Police Executives Research Foundation (PERF) that either the entire national security community was freaked out about civil liberties and terrorism or they found terrorism a good casting for security theater that fundamentally opposed the duopoly consensus on almost any issue.

    As it turned out, what the general assembly did was create the framework for other groups to use as a touchstone for developing their diverse tactics. One of the ones that appeared for the Sunday march against NATO — the big, “co-opted”, permitted march that got people within view of McCormick Center and for any curious delegates, staff, or McCormick center employees got the protesters in view of them. It also set the stage for the final theater of the conference in the media drama “Police v. black block”, “Police v. anarchists”, “Police v. Occupy Chicago”, or “Police v. Protesters” – depending on their editorial bent. No doubt there are other posts from Chicago Spring still archived at ShadowProof, which received the archive of FireDogLake diaries. I was there also as a citizen journalist, which quite a bit different from a propagandist although it also tends to have a point of view.

    The short part of the tale is that two days before the march, the gang unit of the CPD slightly after midnight raided a house in which Occupy Chicago participants had made available for people from out of town and arrested nine people, who were then held for roughly 18 hours at Homan Square before the National Lawyers Guild found us. The first bunch of 4 were released without charge after 32 hours. Two additional were released before the Illinois state law’s 48-hour limit for “unreasonable” detention without charge. The remaining three, the NATO 3, were tried in a most irregular court proceeding and sentenced to the state prison system. Two have finished their sentences in the last year and are out reconnecting to family and friends. The third, Jared “Jay” Chase is awaiting trial for an in-prison charge that placed him in solitary for much of the time. The NATO 3 jail support team are still supporting Jay; any help you can provide them is appreciated as any encouragement you can provide Jay. See the NATO 3 site for appropriate actions.

    Which brings the other learning from the protests during Occupy Wall Street and #NoNATO demonstrated. People who in good conscience cannot be on the front lines or decide of very tame non-violent tactics can fully participate in jail support through subsidizing the pro-bono lawyers who have specialized in this defense of our liberties, and you can send appropriate messages of support and appropriate books (sometime) behind the wall of prison to let people who do get snatched essentially randomly or through some sort or cluelessness or from a particularly determined undercover cop and prosecutor (Anita Alvarez) and colluding judges to keep the perspective that allows them to get out sooner rather than later and to prevent them from getting lost and forgotten in the system.

    The whole purpose of what the CPD was doing was making people who were fundamentally engaged in First Amendment political assembly question who they could trust. And distrust erodes any freedom in politics and any empathy in social life — two markers of an emerging authoritarian state.

    I’ve departed from discussion the notion of a diversity of tactics. But know that decisions on the violence-nonviolence spectrum have to do with local analysis and without definitive evidence of which in the end in a specific time and place will be the more effective. It is not effective to guilt-trip people in either direction just to drive the tactic that you yourself have decided out of some abstract playbook or long-ago exciting writing.

    • thank you for the extra analysis and history, thd, as well as for the reminder of how we can’t be on the front lines can help financially, would that it were possible for more of us.

      i’m not sure i agree with this though: :…institutions change or collapse at their own speed.” often they collapse with some judicious help, don’t they? your final sentence is excellent, though, especially given that too often those promoting playbooks often end up urging others on the ground to reap the consequences they insulate themselves from.

  10. First they ignore you….

    “In a reversal of its long-standing position, the University of Chicago announced Thursday it would open an adult trauma center on its Hyde Park campus, and said it was shelving a more recent plan to partner with Mount Sinai to open a center at Holy Cross Hospital.

    The change marks a victory for nearby residents who for years have pleaded for an adult trauma center at the University of Chicago.”
    “This is a movement moment. We are winning and need to dream bigger and demand more to create a society where healthcare is a human right and all human rights are respected. We are calling on everyone who has struggled with us and all oppressed people to dream bigger. Let’s do more, it’s working, we can get the things that we want. The “I believe that we will win,” chant is not just a chant, it is real.

    The Trauma Care Coalition is a community-led coalition, led by Fearless Leading by the Youth, Other members include Southside Together Organizing for Power, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Interfaith Leadership Council, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, National Nurses United, and Students for Health Equity.”

    • thank you for that news, marym. five years the organizers have been at it? yes, i can see why the projected two years for its opening seem reasonable.
      bless all their hearts.

      more news, the CTU voted overwhelmingly to strike, and seem to hope their simple demands are met so they don’t have to. by the by, i haven’t heard how karen lewis is faring with healing her cancer, have you?

  11. i’d missed this from two days ago as well.

    fuckssake; i just clicked through and found this:

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