Anti-fascist and Charlottesville solidarity banners were dropped today at the ASU pedestrian bridge
Anti-fascist and Charlottesville solidarity banners were dropped today at the ASU pedestrian bridge
This lively crew, comprised mainly of Indigenous folks, first gathered at Charlottesville solidarity vigil outside Flagstaff City Hall (the uzhe) but were immediately confronted by white liberals whose feelings were hurt by messages on the banners. One simply stated the famous Durruti quote, “fascism is not to be debated, it is to be smashed” and the other read “Death to fascists, anti-colonial & anti-fascist solidarity. One particularly excited person said, “don’t stand on the sidewalk, someone got arrested last time!” to which someone responded, “we will not be policed.”
Standing on a lawn holding signs amidst a hundred white argumentative liberals who were ready to throw us under the first bus to pass by was of of no particular interest so the crew departed into the streets proclaiming, “set aside your privilege and join us,” perhaps two did, but that was a clear enough message of how limited their “solidarity” extended. Though Flagstaff street medics became welcome company.
As far as marches in Flagstaff this certainly wasn’t the largest, but the streets (and sidewalks for a bit) were most definitely “our streets” for nearly an hour. Chants of “Charlottesville to Flagstaff, always anti-fascist,” and “organize, fight back,” and the standard, “no cops no kkk no fascist USA,” echoed off the buildings. Speaking of those fascists in blue, they did catch up with the crew after about 30 minutes and stalked them for the rest of the time. The impromptu march then wound its way to “Heritage” square where the recent Crime Think pamphlet (which copies of were also disseminated) was delivered to curious tourists via megaphone.
Then the skies opened up and everything was muted by thunder and heavy rain it, was the perfect punctuation (and cover). As it is in the high desert, beneath the sacred mountain, Mother Earth always gets the last word.
from It’s Going Down
From occupied Akimel O’odham territory (Phoenix, AZ)
Seven people were arrested in Phoenix by police after blocking a van with detainees in an attempt to halt the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia. Garcia, an undocumented immigrant arrested nearly a decade ago in one of then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s workplace sweeps targeting immigrant workers, who was attempting to check in with the local ICE office as a condition as a condition of the workplace raid, however her felony conviction for the arrest in 2008 meant she was a target for new enforcement aimed at the forced removal of undocumented people from the United States.
Puente, a local non-profit pro-migrant activist group, quickly organized protests calling for her removal from custody and a return to her family, as protests dragged into the night hundreds came to the ICE office in downtown Phoenix to join Garcia’s family in solidarity.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in the van. Reflection is her son Angel, 16. pic.twitter.com/cZMjdUi67C
— Daniel Gonzalez (@azdangonzalez) February 9, 2017
After the activists blocking the van were arrested the vehicle returned to the ICE property, allowing the Phoenix police to pull dozens of officers into the ICE building to assist federal agents in enforcing the deportation order. A few hours after the initial attempt to halt the van, a small convoy of police vehicles left the gates of the federal building with Guadalupe Garcia. There was no organized effort to halt the second attempt, and the few people who ran into the street were grabbed by plainclothes police while officers in riot gear with less lethal weapons moved towards the crowd across the street.
— Ben Moffat (@bmoffatphotos) February 9, 2017
A few small groups of local anarchists were present, offering up chants against the police, ICE, and the usual racist state of affairs. As the crowd remained in a stand off with police, the chants became increasingly hostile towards the cops, and the non-profit approved comments decrying the practices and policies of one institution became calls for the abolition of all borders and nations, and calls to burn down ICE.
The standoff between the crowd and the officers lasted for another hour after the deportation vehicles left with Guadalupe Garcia, and finally the police withdrew. Anarchists and other militants defied the calls from Puente organizers to regroup and talk “next steps” and instead took to the streets in defiance of police orders.
Close to one hundred people then spilled out onto Central Ave., halting traffic and blocking the light rail train as a Puente organizer again tried to call the crowd out of the streets and back to the sidewalks. It seemed as though people wanted even more, but police were able to succeed where the respectable activist group had failed in pushing people back from the streets and onto the sidewalk.
Workplace raids, the snatching of relatives from vehicles, homes, workplaces, and the regular deaths of migrants crossing the border in southern Arizona are not unusual events. We’ve become used to them over the years even as the federal government has continued to carry out this attack on immigrants in a stealthier fashion than our local right-wing sheriff. This new attack coming from the feds should cause great concern that the “bad old days” of open local, state, and federal hostility towards migrants may be surpassed under the new administration.
Certainly we see that it’s going to take a lot more than blockading vans to stop the deportation machine, and we may soon have a better idea of what that looks like as events unfold in Arizona and across the US in the coming weeks.
“When we stand up to these authorities, they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from the outside.” – Free Alabama Movement and The International Workers of the World (IWW) Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC)
Today may be the largest national prisoner strike in years, and anarchists, prison abolitionists, and prison reform advocates are watching to see how events will play out behind the walls of prisons and detention centers in Arizona and across the country. Whereas prison abolitionists and prison reform advocates may be more interested in supporting reforms and legislation to affect what goes on behind the walls, anarchists are taking their relationships and solidarity with those behind bars and putting them into action in the streets and outside of the prison walls.
Given that for many years, Arizona has accumulated a reputation for the harsh and inhumane conditions behind the barred doors and razor fences (including well known incidents in Maricopa County’s “Tent City” and other county lock ups, state run prisons, privately operated state prisons, privately run immigration detention centers, and Border Patrol holding stations) it’s worth excavating the history of resistance and revolt behind the detention center walls and prison fences. Inmates have fought, bled, and died to reclaim their humanity in the face of neglect, brutality, and the paternalistic claims behind prison reform.
In 1958, inmates rioted at the Arizona State Prison, then located solely in Florence, Arizona, and built by the inmates it was intended to hold. These weren’t the first riots at the Arizona State Prison, the facility was overcrowded within its first two decades, and inmates were held in rundown buildings with ongoing health hazards from sewage and sanitation. Riots and strikes by inmates were common, which was why Pima County Sheriff Frank Eyman was called in to suppress a 1955 prison riot. Eyman was known for his part in the capture of notorious bank robber John Dillinger in Tucson in 1934, he also founded the Tucson Fraternal Order of Police, the first FOP in the state of Arizona. After putting down the riot he was hired on as warden of the Arizona State Prison, an over capacity facility, housing over 1,000 inmates.
The Arizona state legislature was unwilling to invest funds into the infrastructure for the ballooning prison system, and many improvements to the prison infrastructure were designed and constructed by inmate labor although Eyman feared that sabotage and vandalism by these same inmates would increase as a form of resistance to major expansions to the prison.
In an era when many prison systems were attempting “scientific” therapeutic programs aimed at inmates, Eyman instituted a classical authoritarian structure in which he ruled the prison, the guards were his enforcers, and inmates were subject to all forms of punishment for violating his “Inmate Rule Book” which was given to every inmate at the prison upon arrival. Inmates were expected to be “well groomed, upright in posture, respectful when speaking to staff, and engaged in wholesome activities, rather than ‘lounging against a wall or lying around in the grass’.”
The situation was even worse for the incarcerated mentally ill, or who as Eyman referred to as “moral perverts.” Until the late 1960s, the facility had no employed or contracted mental health professionals such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Eyman viewed inmates with mental health problems as an “aberrational subgroup,” placing them under constant surveillance and housed in segregated lock down.
In 1958, inmates attempted a mass breakout and subsequent uprising, resulting in four guards being taken hostage by inmates. Eyman arrived on scene, fired his gun and announced to the inmates that he would kill all of them “if you SOBs even so much as scratch my men.” The inmates held their resolve and prison guards launched an attack on the prison, leading to a gun battle with inmates, and ending the uprising. No guards were injured, though one inmate was seriously injured.
All inmates were returned to their cells, Eyman saw that the doors to the cells be welded shut (many inmates destroyed the locks to their cell doors), and that inmates be stripped naked, leaving them nothing but a blanket. This went on for several days , Eyman justified his actions to the press stating that inmates have no rights in his institutions, and they “had to learn to behave.”
In 1973, Arizona governor Jack Williams pointed to the uprisings in Attica and San Quentin as examples of what can happen when prison administrators treat the incarcerated with a shread of humanity. Williams wrote to Allen Cook, the head of Arizona’s Department of Corrections, “I hope you have assured Frank Eyman that in Arizona the prisoners do not run the prison! Furthermore, that just as they gave no chance for negotiation with their victims they have no right to negotiation as long as they are in prison. They earned their way to prison now let them earn their way out!”
For Cook’s part, he had previously worked in the California Department of Corrections for 27 years before retiring to Sun City and getting hired to head Arizona’s DOC. Cook was heavy handed from the beginning, he enforced a strict search policy of all visitors, which he suspected a court order could overturn, and bragged that inmate mail was regularly censored by prison authorities.He shared Williams’ contempt for inmates in his statements to the press after the 1971 San Quentin mass escape attempt which resulted in the death of black revolutionary George Jackson along with five other inmates.
Anti-inmate attitudes of prison bureaucrats and lack of funding from state politicians sent inmates at the state prison in Florence on strike in May 1972. Nearly 1,000 inmates out of the prison’s population of 1,277 went on strike, refusing work assignments until the inmates’ 13 grievances and demands were met by the prison administration. At the time of the strike, Arizona State Prison population was 56% white, 21% black, 20% Mexican and Latino, and 3% Indigenous people, making the strike an overwhelmingly cross-racial stance against exploitation in Florence.
The inmates’ action on the inside was met with support from outside of the prison walls, a Tucson based group called the Arizona Citizens’ Commission on Prisons was holding hearings in which former inmates could share their experiences inside of the prison, in addition to the group’s political organizing for reforms at Florence.
In an article on the hearings published on July 17, 1972 in the Tucson Daily Citizen, testimony from former prisoners covered a range of exploitative practices enforced by prison authorities. One former inmate who worked in the medical unit testified that Florence’s hospital was “deplorable,” as some prisoners waited up to 10 days before receiving medical care. The inmate testified that the prison’s chief physician Dr. Robert I. Carlson only came to work for three to four hours per day, and “even when he is there he prefers to let the inmates do the medical work while he sticks to the administrative paper work.” A former female inmate from Florence described the racial hierarchy at the prison codified into the jobs available to women of color. White women inmates were offered office work, while Black and Mexican-American women were only offered “dirty jobs” within the prison.
One week into the 1972 strike at Florence and Warden Eyman insisted that efforts at prison reform were misguided, what was needed was inmate reform to stop the flow of what he called “anti-social, militant, drug-oriented problem prisoners.” And this was Eyman’s generous take on inmate self-organization. Eyman took a harder line towards the strike when speaking to the press in the second week of the strike, threatening to “make Attica look like a picnic.”
By 1973, Eyman was no longer the warden of Florence, but many of the problems persisted, including overcrowding. In May 1973, a group of inmates took guards hostage to get various demands met, including for one inmate to speak to his children, and two weeks later a second group of inmates took guards hostage, one of the guards died. The new warden of Florence, A.E. “Bud” Gomes met with a delegation of inmates to discuss general prisoner demands.
The inmates of Florence again called for a strike at the prison in January 1976, presenting the prison administration with a 35 point list of demands, including a federal investigation of abuse by guards who see themselves as “above the touch of law,” and a primary demand that Arizona State Corrections Director John Moran, Arizona State Prison Warden Harold Cardwell, and many other upper tier bureaucrats resign immediately.
Medical conditions had only worsened at the prison since the strike in 1972, as confirmed by State Senator Lucy Davidson in an interview with the New Times, she called the conditions “horrendous, deplorable neglect.” Some cell blocks go as long as two weeks with no access to showers, and broken toilets and showers take as long as a month for repair. Mail confiscation, misuse of prison funds for inmate programs, harsh punishment, a code of conduct for guards to match the one inmates meet, repairs for the sewage system, and fair medical treatment were also included in the demands.
Prison administrators dismissed the inmates concerns, but New Times sources in the prison reported that the brutality from guards extended to tear gassing inmates in locked cells and using high powered hoses to attack to reprimand inmates. Prison authorities used repression and isolation to break the strike, causing two previous attempts to be disrupted after inmate strike organizers were thrown into isolation and guards confiscated grievance lists, other strike leaders were scheduled for transfer out of state to New Jersey, Colorado, and New Mexico prisons.
Like the rest of the United States, the Arizona prison population exploded since the prison strike of 1976, as the state’s number of prisons has grown from two to sixteen in 40 years, with six of the facilities run by private corporations. Riots and disturbances continue in the Arizona State Prison system, in both those run by the state and by private companies. On July 2nd and 4th, 2015, inmates at Arizona State Prison – Kingman, privately run at the time by Management and Training Corporation, caused $1.9 million in damage to the prison. The damage so extensive that the unit was closed for six months for repairs and security upgrades, in addition four inmates and nine guards were injured.
The rebellion ended after the state sent in 96 members of the Department of Corrections’ Tactical Support Unit, but only a small number of inmates were charged for their participation because of the quick destruction of surveillance cameras. In the aftermath of the uprising inmates cited abuse from guards, lack of access to adequate medical care, old or inedible food, and a lack of meaningful social and educational programs for inmates, demands nearly identical to those of the inmate strikes of 1972 and 1976.
This short and incomplete history of inmate strikes in Arizona is a reminder of the force of collective revolt and individual action. Certainly the same conditions prevail in lockups around the state, as they did in the 1970s, inmates continue to face the harshest of oppression as both captives of the state and as workers under capitalist exploitation, making pennies a day.
As anarchists, we stand against systems of control, and with the prison rebels opting out of work, engaged in sabotage, or any other of the myriad forms of resistance for freedom that may never be known beyond prison walls or cell doors.<
Solidarity to the prison rebels! Fire to the prisons!
-A dispatch from a valley anarchist.
from It’s Going Down
Over 1,000 people took to the streets of Phoenix on a hot Friday night to protest numerous issues associated with the police in the wake of the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. While the march took to the streets, it was largely self-policing, aside from a notable confrontation with a Trump supporter who had to be escorted from the rally by police after he was knocked to the ground.
The mood of the march changed after a group of armed militia, who had shadowed the march, began to run ahead of the march, at one point cutting through the front of the march. The crowd gave chase to the militia but was stopped when officers in riot gear were driven into the fray to help the camouflage wearing militia men escape, providing marchers with the first look at the plans the Phoenix PD had in place for those who stepped out of line. I yelled at the militiamen as they had ran by, and then complained about the armed group aloud, three older women were walking next to me, one said that they all had wanted to bring firearms to the demonstration, but the march organizers had insisted that attendees leave all weapons at home.
While much has been made locally since the march as to whether a march
organizer tricked the crowd to march towards the I-10 on ramp, I overheard a number of people in the crowd (mostly younger people) call for the freeway to be taken. Some of these same voices were also denouncing the march leadership.
Once the march turned onto 7th St. to head north to the freeway, a large presence of police were visible, creating a skirmish line across 7th St. and Fillmore. While some of the march organizers’ people tried to divert marchers from a head on confrontation with police by turning the march onto Fillmore, many younger people surged forward to the shields of riot police. Water bottles flew through the air at police, some of those in conflict removed their shirts and used them to conceal their identities as the Phoenix PD’s mobile surveillance unit “Freedom on the Move” sat parked well behind the police line with a raised camera high over the crowd to record the coming conflict.
The cops sprayed the crowd with pepper spray, causing hundreds of people to turn and run from the skirmish line. As many laid in the street, some screaming, as they dealt with the effects of the spray, others were being lifted off of the crowd, or helped from the ground as they had been trampled by the crowd in retreat. Soon water bottles gave way to rocks, and the Phoenix PD declared the march to be an illegal assembly. March organizers scrambled to move the crowd away from the police line as the conflict intensified, and the pleas to stop the confrontations with police fell on many deaf ears.
As the march finally moved away from the police line, much smaller than when it had first arrived as the police dispensed liberal amounts of pepper spray, it appeared that the march organizers had succeeded in diverting the crowd back to the core of the downtown Phoenix area. A group of people towards the front of the march broke away and pulled the rest of the march with them down a side street, an attempt to bypass the police line and make it to the freeway.
I could see police running up 7th St. and police vehicles making hasty u-turns to assemble a skirmish line at 7th St. and Roosevelt, the crowd ran too. Some were picking up rocks from dirt lots, others snapchatting and calling friends to tell them what was going down in Phoenix, and other stood in the way of police vehicles that had yet to make it north of Roosevelt. While there were only three arrests Friday night, there were dozens of people who unleashed rocks on the reassembled line of riot police blocking the street north of Roosevelt, while a police helicopter flying overhead made periodic announcements regarding the order to disperse. More people arrived, some jumped out of cars, maybe after a phone call from a friend or after watching the fights on the news, many grabbed the biggest rocks they could find to heave at police lines.
The police responded with tear gas, pepper balls, and more tear gas. Some of the tear gas was thrown back, but the amount of chemical weapons deployed had the desired effect of breaking up what was left of the crowd.
I arrived late to the march with pretty low standards, considering the reputation of the march organizer, and the warnings put forth by both the Mayor and Chief of Police to cancel the demonstration in the wake of the Dallas shootings. I didn’t hear anyone say a word about Dallas that night, a night that saw the largest confrontation with the Phoenix PD since the anti-Nazi rebellion against the National Socialist Movement in November 2010. The last time there were anti-police violence demonstrations of this size was in December 2014, just days before the bullets of an assassin targeting NY cops caused many to retreat from their agitation against the agents of the state.
Unlike the December 2014 demonstration, this was considerably less white, perhaps an effect of the Dallas shootings, as the march was overwhelmingly black and brown, minus the consistently conservative input from white allies and activists.
Finally, the media, the march organizer, and the police did their best at minimizing the scale of the hostilities towards police, reducing it to the actions of the three people arrested on Friday night. The police touted the low number of arrests as an example of the department’s close ties to “the community,” while the protest organizers slandered the arrested on TV the next day. For my perspective, what happened on Friday was significant because those fighting the police refused the leadership of clergy and politician, the authority of the state, and the expectation to self-police in the midst of an unfolding national crisis. Phoenix is a poor town, second only to Detroit for the level of poverty, this poverty is shared unequally among the indigenous, black, brown, and white residents of this doomed metropolis on these occupied Akimel O’odham land.
A social explosion is long overdue.