Breaking a window is violence?

Hitting someone with a club is violence. Funding projects that destroy local economies and ecosystems is violence. Displacing millions of people in order to ravage the countryside to extract resources and build useless consumer products is violence. Denying refugees right of return and bombing their villages when they defy the injustice is violence. Creating social structures that systematically stifle free expression and the ability to peacefully promote legitimate alternative points of view is violence. Maintaining an economic order in which the only way to hold off collapse is perpetual growth at the expense of a finite resource base, which cannibalizes itself in order to produce growth that is mostly based on the creation of new debt to finance paying off the old debt, while blaming people who bought into the system because they believed what it promised them for its failure is violence.

Breaking a window is a symbol of the shattered illusions of people who are sick and tired, and don’t want to take it anymore. Breaking a window is a message to the monsters whose livelihood depends on murder, displacement, and ecocide that the game is up and the ones who got us into this mess have forfeited their moral authority to be the ones who define a “new world order”. Breaking a window is liberation, a sign of life, not violence that destroys it.

Whether or not it’s tactically a good idea in circumstances such as the G-20 demonstrations is another matter entirely.

In response to this blog.

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Journalists arrested at RNC include Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman

We all expected the cops to use excessive force and utilize the tactic of questionable mass arrests in St. Paul. That’s no surprise, that has been a tactic for squelching public dissent since time immemorial. What is perhaps even more alarming about the tactics used in St. Paul is the arrest of several journalists who stepped outside “official” bounds to cover not just the staged convention proceedings or to follow the party line on the “violent” demonstrators (the vast majority of whom have been peaceful, and the only “violence” reported so far has been property damage, which is only questionably defined as “violence”).

Among those arrested include Democracy Now! host and producer Amy Goodman, who left the convention floor in the middle of an interview with delegates from Minnesota and Alaska to respond to the news that her producers were being arrested (Goodman grills St. Paul Police Chief about the Arrests). Not only were they arrested, but it is possible that producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar may be charged with felony rioting.

Not only that, but the convention hq for I-Witness Video was apparently raided. The police surrounded the house before a warrant was obtained, informed people they would be detained if they left the house, and then got their warrant (with one problem – it was for the WRONG ADDRESS) and raided the house, taking would-be police watchdogs into custody and confiscating equipment. I-Witness was extremely effective in exposing police violence during the 2004 RNC in New York, and it appears the St. Paul authorities did not want this to happen to them. Glenn Greenwald writes on the arrests, with substantial comment on the I-Witness raid. Eileen Clancy of I-Witness, wrote an emergency press release from inside the house while it was surrounded on the I-Witness blog.

Apparently if reporters aren’t “embedded” within the police corps or only covering subjects the authorities want them to see, they’re subject to arrest. So much for freedom of the press and the neutrality of journalists, and the supposedly basic assumption that journalists should be shielded from harm in conflict zones, or at least that every attempt should be made to do so. The same seems to be the case for other independent observers – in other words, if you’re not with the powers-that-be, you’re subject to arrest, to classification as a “criminal”.

In addition, student journalists from the University of Kentucky were also arrested. The cynical part of me wants to say at least they’re getting a true look at what they will be in for if they seek to pursue their chosen vocations with integrity and the desire to report more than just the “official story”.

Cynicism aside, the sad truth is that if the integrity and independence of journalism is not respected and actively supported, there can be no meaningful public discourse. Officials have said again and again that people are welcome to voice their opinions, that demonstrators have the right to air their griefs publicly, but the actions of those in power mitigate against the possibility of any real public dialogue that could lead to an actual accounting on the part of the leaders who are supposedly the servants of the people. There is no space for the vox populi to be heard, unless, apparently, the voice of the people comes through particular channels, in triplicate, bound and tied in red tape. Amy Goodman wrote an op-ed piece about how government crackdowns on journalists threaten democracy. I suggest you read it.

The voice of the people in colonial America took the form of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, though the lead-up to the Party was of course the Boston Massacre of 1770. Will people realize the things they’ve given up and seek to take back for themselves the power that is rightfully theirs? Or will we meekly accept our position as consumers, passively “choosing” between those products that are shown to us in storefront windows, on television screens, on our computer monitors? Will we take a stand and fight for the ability to truly govern ourselves and manage our own affairs, or will we continue to march to the beat of flags and pledges and patriotic songs, allowing our own identities to be submerged within the totality of the 21st century United Jingoistic Police State of American Empire?

In other news, eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee have officially been charged under terrorism laws. I have more to say about this, but it will wait until tomorrow when I’ve had more time to reflect and process.

Video of Nicole Salazar’s arrest:

Video of Amy Goodman’s arrest:

my sister shares her story about the I-69 tree sit

This past weekend a tree sit protesting I-69 was “evicted” by DNR, the Indiana State Police, and other “law enforcement” agencies. My sister was right in the middle of (some of) the action, and she’s shared her story on her blog.

Early morning, April 4, a shot rings out in the Memphis sky…

As you’re probably aware, on this day 40 years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

Fewer people are aware of this speech he gave 41 years ago, today.

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 4, 1967

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

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Let’s hear it for the democratic process

Depending on which study one considers credible either 70% or 90+% of people in Indiana are opposed to construction of a new-terrain extension of I-69 from Indianapolis through southwestern Indiana. The major pocket of support is among business interests in the Evansville area.

This project is highly problematic for numerous reasons, including but not limited to its connection with NAFTA and globalization infrastructure (which will increase development of maquiladora factories in Mexico and increasingly undermine what little power labor has left in many American sectors, driving down prices of goods while simultaneously decreasing average people’s ability to purchase such goods), environmental problems (including the disruption of endangered bat habitats), depletion of usable farmland, budget problems (the budget has officially increased over 200% in the last five years, not counting an outside estimate that doubles THAT projected cost when figuring in increased fuel costs over the past three years), and other problems.

I-69 is a lie, and possibly a dangerous one at that if one factors in the fact that the road is being built in a somewhat geologically unstable area in parts of the state – a fact that can only be accounted for by geological survey features being deliberately obscured by or criminal ignorance on the part of those who are responsible for determining the route. In the Indiana University Kelley School of Business report that is being cited as reasons for why the highway is potentially economically beneficial, the proposed budget cost per job is over $500,000. This was before the official budget doubled twice and studies came out suggesting the budget as it stands now is too low. That’s $500,000 for every fast-food joint, convenience store, and crappy motel job along the route, a cost that is not likely to be returned any time soon.

I can provide sources for this material later, but I’m in between classes and have to scoot. The point of all this semi-coherent rambling is…

Today they began demolition along the route in Zone 1 in southwestern Indiana. There was legally-sufficient prior notice about the letting of construction permits (through a pdf buried in the BFE regions of INDOT’s web site), but they didn’t exactly go out of their way to let anyone know.

Three cheers for democracy!

For information about practical ways you can oppose this project, visit the Roadblock Earth First! website. This highway is not fully funded (not even close), can still be stopped, and should be fought on every available front.

Disclaimer: This author does not consider acts of violence against human beings to be legitimate forms of resistance. True liberation is liberating for the oppressors as well as the oppressed.

Speaking engagements and new zine

I have a couple of confirmed speaking engagements coming up and another possible one.

“Jesus and the Anarchists”
Saturday, March 22
7 pm
ASC Infoshop
600 SE 2nd St. (upstairs from Penny Lane Coffeehouse)
Evansville, Indiana

“Sacred Anarchy: The Image of God and Political (Dis)Order”
Cornerstone Festival
Underground/Alternative Subcultures tent
Date and time not yet finalized (festival is June 30-July 5)

And I might do a session at the national Food Not Bombs gathering in Nashville, Tennessee.

In addition to speaking engagements, I’ve also written a zine based on my session from the Cynicism and Hope conference in Evanston, Illinois last November, as distilled through my article from Catapult Magazine later that month. If you download it here you may freely reproduce it without royalty as long as you either give it away or sell it at cost. If you wish to reproduce it for any other reason, or to sell it above cost to help support a collective, event, or other worthy cause, contact me and I’ll work with you. I also plan to have copies available when I do talks and the like. It is a 16-page pamphlet with two pages printed on each sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, landscape orientation. I recommend printing on both sides of the paper both to save trees and space. I hope it’s helpful for you!

Radical Hope: Anarchism, Christianity, and the Prophetic Imagination

In other news, I did a nearly four-hour interview with Matt Dellinger of the New Yorker about I-69 and resistance for a book he’s working on. It won’t likely be out for quite some time, a couple of years at least, but if I’m still blogging at that point I’ll mention when it comes out.

Anti-I69 consulta this weekend

An anti-I69 consulta will be held this weekend here in Evansville, Indiana to discuss resistance strategies and tactics. See the Roadblock Earth First! Stop I-69 website for more information.