a fire that cannot be contained
The prison strike noise demo in New York City reinvigorated the revolutionary movement and demonstrated the strength of our new organizational forms. We saw independent groups, committed to prison abolition, congregating in the streets to escalate actions against state repression. However, this was not simply a matter of anarchists leading the march; rather, it was independently formed revolutionary groups militantly resisting against oppression and raising the standard of rebellion in the city. As we well know, the stakes of resistance are a matter of life and death. The choice between movement or mortality, dignity or slavery, and life or death, was reflected by the actions of those in the prisons. In the streets we wished to display our commitment to destroying elite society and our actions shed light on the growing anarchist movement in NYC which is preparing itself for the revolutionary challenges ahead.
The connection between the hundreds gathered outside of Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) and those imprisoned inside was palpable. As chants were belted, banners were unfurled, and everything from frying pans to car alarms were used to make music of liberation, those on the inside pounded on metal, flicked light switches, and displayed cellphones in an impassioned response. Demonstrators banged in reply on a metal roll door, echoing their rhythms. A few cops attempted to quell the crowd with their car megaphones but their pathetic tools of pacification were no match for the fire of the people. The booming sound caused by both the inmates and those outside completely dwarfed that of the cops and they quickly gave up. It was soon made even more clear from the meager outpouring of guards that they were overwhelmed and outnumbered.
As the demonstration morphed into a march, the passion of that moment erupted in the streets. Immediately an american flag was burned, barricades were rolled out, and flares were lit. Passers-by echoed chants of ‘Fuck the police’ and young people joined the march. At one point, a roll door swung open and people inside a gym clapped and cheered as protesters passed. These acts of solidarity further fueled the energy of the crowd, with only one set of detractors capable of bringing the energy down remaining: the liberals. However, the usual complaints of liberals in the crowd such as ‘You’ll get us in trouble!’ and ‘This is a shame!’ were completely disregarded. The rampant liberalism that has dominated NYC marches for so long was totally eclipsed and the ‘peace keepers’ quickly found themselves without their usual ability to dominate and stagnate. As expected, the militant discourse and action resonated directly with the prisoners and those who need no explanation of modern slavery.
In addition, the police were baffled to an embarrassing extent. The two squad cars that showed up at the noise demo were completely disrespected and the force couldn’t pivot fast enough to keep up with turns of the march or defeat the barricades. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) was taken for over twenty minutes before a squad car finally caught up, which was easily sidestepped with a swift exit. In the end, everyone made it home safely to continue the celebration of resistance.
a match lit for the flame
How did this happen in a city notorious for it’s standing army of 40,000 police and its wealthy, stultified leftist liberals? On the one hand, over the last few years multiple anarchist and other militant groups have been building deliberately and concertedly: some cutting their teeth in the streets, others in discussions and organizing projects. Regardless of the strategy, the important point is that these groups are all coming up under the banner of revolution: their purpose is to act on whatever front is available and most efficacious in the moment, towards the final goal of total annihilation of the status quo. On the other, the state itself is digging its own grave. With every egregious act of violence and every dismissed conviction of a killer cop, they affirm to those watching that their sole purpose is the maintenance of oppressive relations and institutions. The wider acknowledgement of the irredeemable nature of the contemporary plantation was evidenced in the recent occupation of City Hall Park, which was held under the banner of police abolition, rather than the typical liberal promotion of reformation.
With the prison strike underway, a historic event initiated by the Free Alabama Movement and anarchist prisoners inside, we have a unique opportunity for action. The challenge we face today is how to make the contemporary underground railroad. The prisoners inside are calling for the end of prison slavery, and putting their lives at risk, not just for themselves, as Lucasville prisoner Keith Lamar pointed out, but for all the people swept up in the state’s dragnet, struggling towards the goal of a liberated society. Still, the question remains, where do we as a revolutionary anarchist movement fit into this puzzle?
until the smoke clears
It is clear that we have the advantage of being able to operate outside prison walls. Any solidarity and support we can give is exponentially magnified inside. As anarchists of New York, we will intensify our support for the Free Alabama Movement, the Free Ohio Movement, IWOC, and all those groups directly working with the rebels inside. This intensification may come in many forms, from direct discussions to direct actions. The only constant will be our fierce dedication to the war against the state and its ultimate death.
Being in the unique position of having a political position that has advocated for social organization without the state, we have the opportunity to make deliberate and well-considered proposals for a society without police. In NYC we intend to put our organizing efforts towards this purpose: creating the foundational groups that can help people evade prison society, while building resources based on mutual aid outside the state apparatus. For example, some of us are in the process of creating a Rapid Responders Network for people who can’t or don’t want to call 911, in turn removing their reliance on the authorities that hurt them when they are most vulnerable.
We will build our connections with each other based on principles and strength of character that cannot be broken by counterinsurgency of reactionary forces less acute than us. We will esteem each other’s efforts publicly while also engaging in critical thinking about the repercussions of our actions. This will allow us to continually evolve and in turn resist recuperation by the state and its lackeys.
Most importantly, we will never yield and never be cowed by state intervention/intimidation or reactionary forces vying for power or reform. It is clear from the general trends in anti-prison/police organizing that those involved in social movements are moving in a more liberatory direction, and thus a more militant one. Meanwhile, those subjugated by the most oppressive forces of the state and capitalism are ready to buck the system. As anarchists, the current outlook calls for us to turn our convictions into action and our ideas into reality.
Until all are free, none are free!
Burn down the american plantation!
-NYC Anarchist Action
(via It’s Going Down)