I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Occupy Oakland and an anarchist's analysis of Power.

 Without justice, there can be no peace. 
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it 
as he who helps to perpetrate it 
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Came across the link to the blog post below on Spacebook tonight; seems to have been put up for discussion by a fellow member of the Phoenix Anarchist community. There are some pretty provocative ideas here - whatever one thinks of that, there's a well-articulated analysis of the apparatus of the state and police violence. There's also some criticism of the "peace police" which is worth looking at as Occupy Phoenix struggles with how to keep our own spaces "safe".

The safety issue at Cesar Chavez Plaza these days almost always comes up in discussions about "what to do with a problem like" our otherwise-homeless members (accused of consuming "our" food, stealing our stuff, showing up drunk and disorderly, and not "contributing" anything of "value" to the community) as well as the anarchists (accused of everything and presumed to be "violent") in the movement.

As for me, I wish to include in that conversation my safety concerns about the violence handed out by the police - including arrests of sleeping occupiers. The city still sees the potential for this movement to be co-opted and members disempowered by appeasement - the apparent restraint shown so far by the Phoenix Police is not kindness or patience, it's just good battlefield strategy. It's much easier and more fruitful to co-opt rebels than it is to beat, gas, and arrest them all. If Occupy Phoenix or select members of the movement are at all effective in our challenge to power, however, we will be the targets of increasingly oppressive police tactics.

That's already happening to the anarchist community, which is frequently singled out by police to those we may be protesting with as "troublemakers" who - with the cooperation of mainstream activists - the police will be happy to deal with so no one else has to. That's not because of black blocs or the possibility of a few broken windows, either. Rather, it's got more to do with the ability of more radical thinkers to critically analyze and articulate just what the bad guys are up to - as this person does in the essay below.

I don't entirely agree with all the arguments the author below makes, but it's well-stated.  I'm guilty of a tendency towards pacifism myself, so it takes a bit for me to wrap my head around the nuances of what we call violence and what violence we fear identifying as such. I also don't usually refer to myself as an anarchist, but that's largely because I haven't studied anarchist theory or history well enough to coherently represent to others what I mean by "anarchy". I also have my hands full already just trying to explain prison abolition to the uninitiated. 

But I do consider myself to be an anarchist-sympathizer and am grateful to be a member of the local anarchist community here - I've never met a better bunch of people, frankly. They took me at face value, and have loved and supported me through difficult times. I've learned a lot from our dialogues, and from witnessing how they create safe spaces in our community without relying on police to enforce a particular code of conduct. They've challenged me constantly to think outside the box - not just to agree with them, but to explore and expand my own analysis of power and oppression beyond that which I had previously been limited to. 

The anarchists I know and love don't go around hurting people or wantonly destroying property, as they are frequently accused of doing.  They tend to have a strong sense of social responsibility, and strive to live according to some pretty solid values more than I see most people doing...more than I do, even. They recycle, they garden, they cook vegan food with solar ovens, they serve with Food Not Bombs, they support their comrades in trouble, they seek consensus,  they critique their own privilege and strive to build egalitarian relationships and non-heriarchical social structures, they try to practice principles of transformative justice when they hold each other accountable for harm done to individuals or the group, and they are as likely to take on the police in community meetings and other public forums as they are to engage them and the Neo-nazis in the streets. They have no tolerance for oppression, and - as no one is perfect - they constantly check themselves and eachother when it manifests itself within our community, as well as confronting it on a grander scale. They are, by and large, creative and courageous human and animal rights activists and deep thinkers, and I'm both grateful and proud to be a part of the Phoenix anarchist community.

All that said, I hope that folks for whom anarchy is a foreign and frightening idea will follow the link below and read with an open mind. It offers one of a range of critical perspectives  that I've encountered in my travels with and among them, evidence that there is plenty of room for a diversity of tactics and political thought among anarchists, perhaps more so than elsewhere in our two-party republic. What we all seem to have in common, though, is the notion that capitalism itself must be dismantled for the creatures inhabiting this plant to ever be truly free...

(follow the link below)

To Our Friends, We Are Here. To Our Enemies – We Are Coming.”

In defense of the revolutionary politics and actions of Occupy Oakland.


"Abolish the Phoenix Camping Ordinance!"
Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix (October 15, 2011)

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