[sixties-l] Fwd: Organizing in the Face of Increased Repression

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/07/00

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    >Organizing in the Face of Increased Repression
    >by Starhawk <stella@mcn.org>
    >Since the very first morning of the Seattle blockade a year ago, the
    >police forces of the world have greeted the antiglobalization movement with
    >a high level of violence and repression.  As the international movement has
    >continued on, the repression has fallen into a pattern discernible from DC
    >to Prague and beyond.  This pattern involves:
    >1. A concerted media campaign by the police and government forces that
    >begins long before the demonstration, painting the activists as violent
    >terrorists.  All previous demos are equally characterized as violent,
    >regardless of the actual facts.
    >2. Surveillance of meetings, email lists, phones, listservs, etc.
    >3. Attempts at pre-emptive control, which range from mass illegal arrests in
    >DC the night before the action, shut downs of convergence centers and
    >IndyMedia centers, and border closures, to declaring a 5-kilometer
    >no-protest zone five months before the planned action in Quebec.
    >4. Less obvious violence on the street.  Seattle taught them that tear
    >gassing whole sections of the city was a bad idea.  However, tear gas,
    >pepper spray, beatings, projectile weapons, water cannon and concussion
    >grenades, etc. are routinely used now from Prague to Cincinnati.
    >5. Random arrests and targeting of peaceful protestors, while those throwing
    >rocks are often let go.  Maybe nonviolent protestors are easier to catch?
    >Or maybe this is a concerted effort to discourage wider participation in
    >these actions?
    >6. Use of provocateurs.  I am not saying that all who throw rocks are
    >provocateurs.  However, there is a growing body of eyewitnesses and stories
    >of 'protestors' seen one moment throwing a rock at a window and the next,
    >being sheltered behind a police line to indicate that provocateurs are being
    >used.  Along with them, we can suspect the whole range of fun Cointelpro
    >7. Intimidation and brutality in jail, which reached levels of outright
    >torture in Prague.
    >8. Some sporadic attempts to identify and neutralize 'leaders' i.e. holding
    >John Sellers of Ruckus on a million dollars bail for charges that were all
    >later dropped.
    >What fun!  It?s enough to make you think we?re being effective, especially
    >when, as in Prague, the protestors still managed to disrupt the meeting and
    >send the banksters home a day early.
    >What can we do about it?  Are we doomed to have these actions become more
    >and more dangerous, and smaller and smaller?  Or can we succeed in building
    >a mass movement in spite of repression?
    >1. The greatest restraint to police violence during an action is the
    >organizing and alliance building we?ve done before the action ever happens.
    >We need to counter their disinformation campaigns with our own community
    >outreach, to leaflet, to talk to people, to go door to door, to explain to
    >the community what we?re doing and why long before we do it.
    >2. We need to build alliances with labor, churches, NGOs, all the groups who
    >are fighting the same vested interests.  We don?t have to do the same work
    >they do, we don?t have to change our hairstyles or analysis to accommodate
    >them, but we do need to build bridges so that we can call on them to defend
    >3. We need to train and prepare as many people as possible.  The more people
    >have had a chance to play out a dangerous situation, to think out possible
    >responses and try out different tactics, the calmer and more resilient
    >they?ll be on the streets.  Even a few centered people in a crowd can be
    >enough to prevent panic and spark an effective moment of resistance.
    >Trainings need to stress flexibility and developing a range of possible
    >responses to widely varied situations, so activists are prepared in the
    >moment to make choices about what to do.
    >4. We also need ever more flexible and creative tactics.  The more we can
    >plan for orchestrated spontaneity, the harder we?ll be to stop.  For
    >example, in Prague part of the plan was for smaller marches led by flags of
    >different colors to break away from the main march and go in different
    >directions.  While this tactic had been discussed at open meetings for at
    >least a month before the action, it still seemed to confuse the authorities.
    >5. We may need to focus more on preparation for surviving jail, for
    >resisting intimidation and being prepared for interrogation, than on the
    >classic jail solidarity tactics we?ve used in the U.S.  Those tactics focus
    >on attempting to stay in jail where our strength of numbers allows us to
    >pressure the system to drop or lower charges, and helps to protect
    >individuals at risk.  These tactics were developed, however, in a very
    >different time, when the authorities often were interested in releasing most
    >and when jail experiences were often hard and uncomfortable but relatively
    >decent.  At times those conditions still prevail and that kind of jail
    >solidarity has been effective in Seattle and DC.  However, if people are
    >being chained to the wall and beaten, the focus needs to shift to getting
    >them out of jail.  Solidarity then becomes what people outside jail do to
    >put political pressure on the system, from calling on allies, phoning,
    >faxing and emailing the authorities, to blockading the jail itself.
    >6. Organizing an action needs to include planning post-action and post-jail
    >support, debriefing, trauma counseling, etc.
    >7. We need to continue building a broader, larger movement, to find ways to
    >encourage participation at varied levels of risk, to support a wide variety
    >of forms of protest that can mobilize different groups of people, to
    >confront the racism, sexism, classism etc. in our own groups and reach out
    >to more diversity.  Most of all, we need to clarify our vision of the world
    >we want to create, so we can mobilize peoples? hopes and desires as well as
    >their outrage.  And we need to be creative, visionary, wild, sexy, colorful,
    >humorous, and fun in the face of the violence directed against us.

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