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May29

Solitary Confinement, Torture & the Dallas 6 [audio]

The-Dallas-6-collage

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From the facebook event page:

Mass Incarceration, Solitary Confinement and Torture: The Case of the Dallas 6
Panel Discussion on the Dallas 6

Presenters:

Shandre Delaney: Coordinator of Justice of the Dallas 6 and mother to Carrington Keys, one of the Dallas 6
Derrick Stanley: One of the Dallas 6
Theresa Shoatz: Activist and Daughter of Russell Maroon Shoatz
LuQman M. Abdullah: Human Rights Activist

Moderated by Shesheena Bray

Where: The Rotunda, (4014 Walnut Street)
When: May 26th
Time: 6pm

SUPPORT THE DALLAS 6!

On April 29, 2010, six courageous African American prisoners in solitary confinement at SCI Dallas engaged in a peaceful protest against the widespread abuse, violence and torture by guards which they had witnessed, endured, and helped to publicly document. The abuse included withholding food, urine and feces in their food, mail tampering and destruction, vicious beatings with electro-shock shields, tasers, fists, use of tear gas and pepper spray, medical neglect, use of torture chairs, death threats and more. For being whistleblowers on this abuse, the state has charged these six men with rioting.

For more information on the case, please contact sd4hrc@gmail.com and/or visit www.scidallas6.blogspot.com

For more information on the event please contact Iresha.Picot@gmail.com or Natasha.Danielle86@gmail.com

May12

Ramona Africa @ UPenn [audio]

4-28 flyer

Audio of Ramona Africa’s 4/28 appearance at UPenn

Intro by Dr. Anthony Monteiro

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Full version of the flyer

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Apr17

Jake Conroy @ The Base in NYC

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This event was sponsored by the NYC Anarchist Black Cross and the National Lawyer’s Guild. Click here for more info on the SHAC 7 case.

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Synopsis from the facebook event page:

Jake Conroy is a long-time activist, designer, and writer based in San Francisco, California. As a co-founder of Ocean Defense International, he helped lead the first ever disruption of a whale hunt in US coastal waters, putting himself between the hunter and the hunted. He also helped build the foundation of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA (SHAC USA), one of the most successful grassroots animal rights campaigns in history. Due to his involvement with SHAC USA, he was a co-defendant in the SHAC7 case and was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison. Jake is currently working at an international environmental non-profit campaigning against corporate polluters. He can also be found speaking around the US, and working on the projects he helped co-found— Bite Back magazine, the Animal Defense League – San Francisco, and the blog Plant Based on a Budget.

Jake will speak about his involvement in SHAC USA and the repression they experienced from the US government and corporate investigators, as well by the Bureau of Prisons while incarcerated. He will discuss being the target of a multi-agency terrorism investigation, learning he was on a high-profile prisoners list, and navigating living a life branded as a terrorist in post-9/11 society.

Apr09

James Baldwin Lecture Series

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After seeing this lecture it’s difficult to understand Temple University’s decision to decline to renew Dr. Monteiro’s contract, effectively crippling their own African American studies department. Protests against that decision are ongoing.

Week 1 of Dr. Monteiro’s lecture series on the legacy of James Arthur Baldwin is titled “The Price of the Ticket: James Baldwin’s Life and Journey.”

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Apr05

Let’s Disappear

Tagsim1

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of The Invisible Committee‘s upcoming book,’To Our Friends’, scheduled for release later this month. To read the full chapter, click here

Since the catastrophic defeat of the 1970’s, the moral question of radicality has gradually replaced the strategic question of revolution. That is, revolution has suffered the same fate as everything else in those decades: it has been privatized. It has become an opportunity for personal validation, with radicality as the standard of evaluation. “Revolutionary” acts are no longer appraised in terms of the situation in which they are embedded, the possibilities they open up or close. What happens instead is that a form is extracted from each one of them. A particular sabotage, occurring at a particular moment, for a particular reason, becomes simply a sabotage. And the sabotage quietly takes its place among certified revolutionary practices on a scale where throwing a Molotov cocktail ranks higher than throwing rocks, but lower than kneecapping, which itself is not worth as much as a bomb. The problem is that no form of action is revolutionary in itself: sabotage has also been practiced by reformists and by Nazis. A movement’s degree of “violence” is not indicative of its revolutionary determination. The “radicality” of a demonstration isn’t measured by the number of shop windows broken. Or if it is, then the “radicality” criterion should be left to those in the habit of measuring political phenomena and ranking them on their skeletal moral scale. Anyone who begins to frequent radical milieus is immediately struck by the gap between their discourse and their practice, between their ambitions and their isolation. It seems as if they were dedicated to a kind of constant self-incapacitation. One soon understands that they’re not engaged in constructing a real revolutionary force, but in a quest for radicality that is sufficient in itself— and is played out equally well on the terrain of direct action, feminism or ecology. The petty terror that reigns there and makes everyone so stiff is not that of the Bolshevik Party. It’s more like that of fashion, that terror which no one exerts in person, but which affects everyone alike. In these milieus, one is afraid of not being radical anymore, just as elsewhere one fears not being fashionable, cool or hip. It doesn’t take much to spoil a reputation. One avoids going to the root of things in favor of a superficial consumption of theories, demos, and relations. The fierce competition between groups and inside them causes them to periodically implode. But there’s always fresh, young, and abused flesh to make up for the departure of the exhausted, the damaged, the disgusted, and the emptied-out. An a posteriori bewilderment overtakes the person who’s deserted these circles: how can anyone submit to such a mutilating pressure for such enigmatic stakes? It’s approximately the same kind of bewilderment that must take hold of any overworked ex-manager turned baker when he looks back on his previous life. The isolation of these milieus is structural: between them and the world they’ve interposed radicality as a standard. They don’t perceive phenomena anymore, just their measure. At a certain point in the autophagy, some will compete for most radical by critiquing the milieu itself, which won’t make the slightest dent in its structure. “It seems to us that what really reduces our freedom,” wrote Malatesta, “and makes intiative impossible, is disempowering isolation.” This being the case, that a fraction of the anarchists declare themselves “nihilists” is only logical: nihilism is the incapacity to believe in what one does believe in—in our context, revolution. Besides, there are no nihilists, there are only powerless individuals.

The radical defining himself as a producer of actions and discourses has ended up fabricating a purely quantitative idea of revolution—as a kind of crisis of overproduction of acts of individual revolt. “Let’s not lose sight of the fact,” wrote É- mile Henry back then already, “that revolution will not be the resultant of all these particular revolts.” History is there to contradict that thesis: whether it’s the French, Russian, or Tunisian revolution, in every instance revolution results from the shock encounter between a particular act—the storming of a prison, a military defeat, the suicide of a mobile fruit vendor—and the general situation, and not the arithmetical addition of separate acts of revolt. Meanwhile, that absurd definition of revolution is doing its foreseeable damage: one wears oneself out in an activism that leads nowhere, one devotes oneself to a dreadful cult of performance where it’s a matter of actualizing one’s radical identity at every moment, here and now— in a demo, in love, or in discourse. This lasts for a time—the time of a burnout, depression, or repression. And one hasn’t changed anything.

A gesture is revolutionary not by its own content but by the sequence of effects it engenders. The situation is what determines the meaning of the act, not the intention of its authors. Sun Tzu said that “victory must be demanded of the situation.” Every situation is composite, traversed by lines of force, tensions, explicit or latent conflicts. Engaging with the war that is present, acting strategically, requires that we start from an openness to the situation, that we understand its inner dynamic, the relations of force that configure it, the polarities that give it its dynamism. An action is revolutionary or not depending on the meaning it acquires from contact with the world. Throwing a rock is never just “rock-throwing.” It can freeze a situation or set off an intifada. The idea that a struggle can be “radicalized” by injecting a whole passel of allegedly radical practices and discourses into it is the politics of an extraterrestrial. A movement lives only through a series of shifts that it effects over time. So at every moment there is a certain distance between its present state and its potential. If it stops developing, if it leaves its potential unrealized, it dies. A decisive act is one that is a notch ahead of the movement’s state, and which, breaking with the status quo, gives it access to its own potential. This act can be that of occupying, smashing, attacking, or simply speaking truthfully. The state of the movement is what decides. A thing is revolutionary that actually causes revolutions. While this can only be determined after the event, a certain sensitivity to the situation plus a dose of historical knowledge helps one intuit the matter.

Let’s leave the radicality worry to the depressives, the Young-Girls, and the losers, then. The real question for revolutionaries is how to make the lively powers in which one participates increase, how to nurture the revolutionizing developments so as to arrive finally at a revolutionary situation. All those who draw satisfaction from dogmatically contrasting “radicals” with “citizens,” “active rebels” with the passive population, place obstacles in the path of such developments. On this point, they anticipate the work of the police. In the current period, tact should be considered the cardinal revolutionary virtue, and not abstract radicality—and by “tact” we mean the art of nurturing revolutionizing developments.

Apr04

The Passion of Ida Mae Clinton

Originally posted by the Navajo Times. Reposted here with its original intended title.

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The first thing I must acknowledge is that, though I will do my best, my words could never do Ida Mae Clinton or her struggle, justice. There is no way to adequately describe her strength, her resolve, or the depth of the spiritual relationship she had with the land that sustained not only her, but countless generations before her. Ida was what in a sane world would be considered a “national treasure,” yet her passing and the passing of others like her have taken place with barely a whisper, barely a mention.

First and foremost, Ida was an activist fighting to save her way of life from the forces of colonialism. During the 1980s Ida and other elders on Black Mesa took their activism to another level and opened up their homes to “supporters” who came from all over the world to see firsthand what was happening.

Supporters began staying for weeks or months at a time herding sheep and providing elder care and domestic assistance. One important task of the supporter is to spread the word about what is happening in that area. The message of Ida’s resistance must be heard. Her message, her truth, is exactly what we need to hear In today’s world of multiple and overlapping crises, many of them stemming from our warped or totally nonexistent relationship with the land we live on and the natural forces that sustain us.

Ida Mae Clinton was one of the last of a generation that truly knew what it was to be free. Their worldview is almost incomprehensible to us. How many of us can go down to our local river or stream and drink from it? How many of us can feed, clothe, and house ourselves without the aid of money or huge corporations?

Imagine learning everything you need for life without expensive universities and tedious hours of absorbing and regurgitating useless facts and information. Imagine a way of life that does not pollute and destroy the earth we depend on for survival. Though the modern world has given us much, the price has been steep and something has been lost, something fundamental to our humanity and to our ability to be good stewards of this precious earth.

In the 1960s and 70s, the Baby Boomer generation was coming of age and driving the expansion of cities and suburbs in the increasingly energy-hungry southwest. Amazingly, at that time and despite all the assaults against indigenous people over the centuries, many traditional Diné still thrived on the so-called reservation. Around this time is when the U.S. government instigated land dispute between the Navajo and Hopi tribes began in earnest.

It was no coincidence that the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act came into effect during this period of settler expansion in the southwest. This legislation that officially disenfranchised many thousands of traditional Diné was enacted in 1974. The Navajo Generating Station power plant was officially brought online two years later in 1976; it ran on coal that was strip mined from lands that had until a few years before been occupied by traditional Diné and Hopi living together in relative peace and harmony. Essentially, there was cultural genocide in exchange for cheap, dirty energy.

Ida lived far enough from the mine and the Navajo Generating Station to avoid the very worst aspects of this turmoil (devastating pollution and a marring of the landscape), but she was still swept up in the tragic events due to living on the wrong side of the newly created Hopi partition boundary. In the very beginning she could have taken a settlement and moved to relocation housing like many others were compelled to do, but she did not. As the years wore on, and as she grew frailer, rather than take the easier path of moving in with relatives to live out the rest of her days in relative comfort, Ida chose to continue residing on her land despite the hardships she knew she would face.

Her own tribal leaders, many of them brainwashed by the settler education system and more concerned with money and status than with anything else, turned their backs on her and the other resisters. Services like road and home repairs that were provided to most tribal members were denied to Ida because, according to the bureaucrats, technically she was no longer living on the Navajo Reservation. I remember Ida telling me several times how she and her daughter Rose (who was special needs and required a lot of care) would often resort to eating potatoes for days on end. There were times when she would be fearful of people trespassing on her land, yet there was no phone line, no electricity. Living as a resister to relocation also caused rifts between Ida and members of her family who had made different choices. There was bitterness on both sides; some relationships fell apart and were never mended.

Knowing the physical and emotional hardships she would face, why did Ida choose to stay? Well, when the land dispute kicked into high gear, she recognized right away that the future of the Diné people was in jeopardy. She understood instinctively that dislocation from the land would mean a loss of tradition, a loss of language, and that the loss of these things constituted a form of violence. This is why she advocated for direct action. When the livestock impoundments began, Ida fought back. Along with her friends and family in Star Mountain valley she confronted BIA officials, even going as far as to get into physical altercations with them. She marched, she protested, she traveled to faraway cities to spread awareness about the threats facing her traditional way of life.

Here are some of her words from the last video recorded interview she gave to NaBahe Katenay Keedihiihii for Big Mountain Productions: “Our livelihood, like the sheep, all of it they confiscated! The sheep are our savings and income, food as well. There are the cornfields, the sweat lodges, places of holiness — all of these they destroyed in our area. To me it is unacceptable! Another solution with more force perhaps; stronger plans initiated from here; our supporters and non-Native allies notified — Access into [the] coal mine pit needs to be blocked, a barrier set up and their operations halted.”

During the last weeks of Ida’s life the Hopi and BIA assault on Black Mesa elders was renewed with the tacit support of the Navajo tribal government. Swat teams complete with helicopters descended on Black Mesa after a lull of over a decade, terrorizing and arresting people and confiscating livestock. Though Ida was recovering in a nursing home far from her own land at the time, and though her family did not dare let her know what was happening, it was almost as if she could somehow sense what was going on. The small progress she had managed to make began to reverse itself. She became “agitated” according to the nurses, and began insisting on being allowed to go home immediately.

I wish I could say that Ida passed peacefully from this world after her decades of inspirational struggle, but that would be a lie. Thanks to a fundamentally broken geriatric care system, her last months on this earth were very difficult. The details are too painful to recount here. In the end, her heart that was so strong and warm and full of love failed. Because of the situation on Black Mesa she could not be buried on her beautiful ancestral lands, but instead was laid to rest in some strip mall border town. Sadly, the circumstances of her passing are not unique and will be familiar to many reading this.

What is unique is the way she lived. She lived life on her own terms. She fought for what she believed in, drawing upon wells of strength that must have been quite deep. In the days following her passing, many family members came out to her land over a period of several days to pay their respects, as is their custom. Seeing Ida’s great-grandchildren and other young relatives taking the sheep out to pasture made me smile in spite of my grief. She had left them an important gift; she had been a living example, a living testament to the importance of holding onto their traditions. Her sacrifice was not in vain.

Over these past few months I think I’ve cried more for her than I cried for my own grandmother when she passed in 2010 (rest in peace). This was surprising at first, but then understanding dawned on me. Yes, Ida was not related to me by blood; she was not flesh of my flesh. Yet flesh can be corrupted, destroyed, and obliterated. Flesh rots away and blood can be tainted. Spiritual bonds and emotional ties born of shared experiences, mutual respect, and an acknowledgement of another person’s humanity and uniqueness — these bonds are not so easily broken. Some might say that these bonds transcend our earthbound existence; they are, or can be, immortal.

I will end this with Ida’s own words: “The aggressors force requires prayers to confront them, “Stop your fears! Believe strongly in yourself!”

Feb24

What is White Supremacy?

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Presentation by One People’s Project and Philly Antifa at A-Space community center, 2/21/15.

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