interview with some American comrades

“There is nothing comunitarian except the illusion of being together”

Some time ago we interviewed some American comrades on the situation that they are experiencing, on the “black lives matters” movement and on the riots that are going through the country. We will not get lost in long introductions. We will leave space directly to those who answered us.

Distrozione

Q:To start and help readers in Italy we ask you to give us a brief historical contextualization of the racialized protest movements in recent years in the USA. How did we get to the BLM movement and how after the uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore etc. the situation exploded in today’s protests? 

FB: The historical context for BLM and the anti-police rebellion is very long and complex. I can only speak from my own experience as an anarchist of color, but my racial identity shouldn’t be representative of other anarchists of color. We (anarchists of color) share different, unique experiences that can and have led us to different ideas of what freedom looks like. 
 
Generally speaking BLM began as a radical response to perpetual police brutality and murder which remained suppressed from mainstream news sources. Soon after its beginning the BLM movement began changing, ultimately becoming less radical and more reformist. While BLM as a movement is responsible for many protests and demonstrations, political divisions within created a lot of problems. For example, in both Ferguson and Baltimore BLM activists were hostile toward any and all anti-capitalist elements – even going as far as calling them “outside agitators” or “white supremacists”. In reality many black and brown anarchists were on the forefront of these rebellions, but were de-legitimized because they were not politically in-line with BLM reformist ideas. In both rebellions BLM activists and organizers went to the police in order to suppress “undesirable” elements of revolt. 
 
I was personally at the rupture of rebellion in Minneapolis. Behind the 3rd Precinct a verbal altercation between BLM peaceful protesters protecting the police and black and brown angry youth escalated into a fist fight – which then led to bricks, rocks and other items being thrown at the precinct, smashing all the windows. This was the birth of the anti-police rebellion. 
 
The same BLM activists who were protecting the police station were chasing people and collecting rocks so there were none available for people to use against the police station. A few days later as the anti-police uprising grew to looting and fires, BLM and other black organizations began dispersing myths all over social media that the rioting was started by “white supremacists” and “outside agitators”. This is blatantly false and only constructed to discourage more radical elements to participate in the rebellion. For example, if you are white and you show up to the rebellion, you are subjected to threats by black “organizers” or “community leaders”, called a white supremacist and or turned into the police. As day 5 of the anti-police rebellion in Minneapolis rolled around, the intensity had dwindled, everyone is calling each other white supremacist, and slowly the rebellion dies. This happened all over the united states in every city. 

NY: The important thing to understand when contextualizing the recent George Floyd rebellion is understanding the local context that lead to some of the most famous victories and defeats in recent months. For example in Minneapolis before the prescient was sieged and overran/burned there was a previous attempt in a neighboring district several years earlier over another police murder that employed siege tactics and even Molotov cocktails. This same protest/siege/attempted occupation was also shot up by white nationalists but thankfully only injuring and not leading to any deaths. Once you understand the local history and context that these regions are living in the recent past and near future come more clearly into view.  
 
Other areas like Portland that has seen some of the largest sustained clashes in the country have a long history in recent history of having a protest culture. On top of this its important to note that since at least the 80s both neo-nazi and anarchist/antifascists have been sewing seeds and laying down roots in communities through out the Pacific Northwest. These two political bases have been engaging in conflicts with each other for over 30 years. The current national macro political climate of the rebellion/covid/economic collapse compounded the established micro political climate in the pacific northwest to produce the situation we see today.

Q:Speaking of spontaneous “movements” of struggle and protest, born mostly in response to police violence, do you think we can speak of a process of structuring or of a de-structuring of the movement? In other words, do you think that from the past protests to today’s uprisings, we can say that “the movement”, in pursuing its own demands of struggle, has become more structured in its organization and in its demands? Can we say that the demands are in some way shared by the entire BLM movement or, within the individual protests and individualities, there are different demands?

FB: Each BLM movement or organization in each state or city is slightly different, but mostly have the same reformist vision of organization and making change. The differences are primarily between those who identify as BLM activists and those who are black but are more anti-authoritarian and do not share the same visions of BLM. As I mentioned above, these differences are huge. In other words, not all black people support BLM, and BLM does not support all black people, specifically those who are anti-authoritarian. 

NY: I would say that in the classic political sense any united “movement” has yet to show any lucid platform of demands or act in any clear paternal way as a representative of the rebellion. There are various nonprofits, NGOs and academic projects that talk about specific issues of say prison abolition, mental health first response to more traditional liberal issues of focusing on training or sensitivity training for police forces.
 
The “tent” if you will for the current rebellion is quite large and dispersed while police and prison abolitionists take to the streets for direct action against buildings and riot lines many middle class liberals will march separately with marshals and chants for “peaceful protest”. So far traditional counter insurgency has had limited success in curtailing tactics or splitting support amongst supporters. In NYC for example where there is mass support most protests are peaceful and consist of people who aren’t aware or interested in attempting any direct action outside marching. The liberals think worse case that the militants are a few bad apples or even outside agitators while the militants view the liberal masses in support as crowd cover/ mass support needed for advancing abolition. 
 
The preexisting and growing “woke” culture also makes it a pretty large social taboo to speak out against the rebellion in polite society, Which I think is one of the main reasons why support for the protests irregardless of tactics or demands is still looked on quite favorably by large parts of the country. For anecdotal evidence it was very common to see people you went to high school with who are run of the mill “I’m With Her/#resistance” Hillary supporting neo-liberals start sharing Angela Davis quotes and saying they support prison abolition. For a lot of Americans specifically middle class white liberals being seen as “an ally” is more important then political loyalties.  

Q: Looking at the past protests that have spread in the US, (Occupy, no global, ecological/indigenous struggles etc. etc.) can we talk about some kind of continuity with “past” movements or, is there a sort of split and a clear break between what is happening now and what happened in the past? In Italy, for example, the paths of struggle of the 70s have been and maybe still are a precious baggage of experiences and new instances. These have undeniably conditioned today’s instances of struggle, sometimes providing a source of inspiration and sometimes crystallizing and paralyzing them. How does these past forms carry weight in your specific context?

FB: Many protests here in the united states imitate each other. While I personally believe the past is an experience worthy of learning from, I do feel it can be a paralyzing nostalgia as well. For example,politically many anarchists have desperately attempted to re-create the conditions of the Spanish Civil War. But what this vision lacks is an analysis of capitalism that goes beyond anthropocentrism. In other words, many anarchists today are imprisoned by a Marxist worldview that sees liberation in terms of social economics, but does not see the liberation of the Earth and non-human animals. This Marxist imprisonment does not allow anarchists to recognize Earth and non-human animal liberation struggles as connected and vital to human liberation. I personally feel this fixation on leftism only perpetuates a cycle of repetition where anarchy never ventures out beyond the ghost of Marxism. There have also been a number of Indigenous anarchists who have written about and advocated for Earth based anarchy, but often get swept under the rug as a result of this 1936 fixation. 

NY: As I mentioned in my first answer preexisting movements and passed down experience and knowledge are invaluable for those of us that cherish and wish to nurture rebellion. While Ideologically I agree that “You can kill a revolutionary but you can not kill the revolution” Logistically speaking when you don’t have the people with experience or established infrastructure prolonged resistance is very challenging if not impossible. I would say that with out a doubt some of the most important inherited movement traits would be the free Legal Aid for all those arrested provided by the national lawyers guild (which dates back to the third international) and street medics (which date back to the civil rights movement). There are of course street tactics that have been learned and passed down to the new generation by movement elders. This is one of the most important things for us to have and as a reflection of the brutal history of left wing political repression in the US also one of the rarest resources we have. 

Q: Assuming we can talk about some form of movement (even if we want to move away from the idea of granitic and univocal movement), how do white allies position themselves within the protests? 

FB: By applying their anti-authoritarian views to identity and learning to think and act independently of their socially assigned roles, expectations, and identity… By becoming accomplices by their own individual accord, not in obligation to a “community leader” or because someone says they should. Genuine solidarity is born from individual desire, not guilt. A movement is only as powerful, rebellious, and anti-authoritarian as the individuals who compose it. Without rebellious, independent-thinking, empowered individuals there is only a subordinate mass (movement) which follows orders into a new replacement government. 

NY: This is a complicated question as there has been a spirited debate between the terms/ideas of allies or accomplice or co-conspirator. To state it briefly White allies I would imagine would ideally follow black leadership within protests and relate to the protest as sorta “helping the less fortunate” whereas as I understand it an accomplice co-conspirator actively works on there own liberation and defines there struggle as inter-sectional and recognizes that our collective liberation is required for individual liberation. For these reasons/differences the term “ally” carries different weight with it in different circles. 

Q: We have recently translated into Italian the text “Revolutionary solidarity” that deals with the issue of white allies within the paths of racialized struggle in America, a sort of “critical guide” for whites. It is a text that we find interesting because, although the context of struggle in Italy is completely different, here the majority of racialized people are from other countries, often undocumented and for the most part in really precarious living conditions, it helps us to start a collective discussion of what the intervention of the Italian anarchist movement, which is composed almost entirely of whites, could be. How it can interact with, for example, the struggle against borders, detention centers for migrants, farm workers struggles, housing battles and squatting. Having said that. How, within BLM, are the role and weight, in terms of decision making, of the white voices, discussed and dealt with? 

FB: Often, white voices are silenced or trivialized within BLM. It is my opinion that BLM – if it is as reformist there as it is here – might not be the best option for obtaining anti-authoritarian objectives.  I would encourage white people to make connections with those undocumented people through resource sharing and information (zine tabling etc.) and most importantly, on an individual basis. Keep in mind that when any movement approaches people living in these conditions, it looks like charity work which is off-putting. What has worked best with myself and other anarchists of color (and white ones!) that I know is “Propaganda by the Deed” methods which can easily be replicated by most people. Another very important thing to remember however is that just because someone is poor and or black doesn’t mean they will subscribe to the ideas of anarchism. Many people in my hood were pro-capitalist and sometimes that’s just how it goes. This is why it is important to live anarchy as life, not as an organization, and those who find it relatable to their own ideas it will connect with you on their own. 

NY: I would say that first it would be very important to normalize and popularize (in mainstream culture or the @ subculture) a good analysis and history of race politics in Italy. One of the worst things i have seen in foreign interpretations of American race analysis is in places like the UK where more or less social tools that are used to elevate/ attempt to solve the very dark issue of race in America are imported to a culture/context that does not share the same post colonial settler context or history.
 
That is not to say of course that one can not learn from our trials and tribulations but I would be very weary of for example attaching the same definition or concept of whiteness to Europe from America. Obviously white supremacy is a product originally of Europe an I don’t mean to say that there are no issues of racism in Europe. But I think it is most important to understand how your culture specifically relates to questions of race, wealth, power, sociology, etc. 
 
I would say only once you deconstruct culture to the point where you can clearly see white supremacy can you ever begin on systemically removing it from your movements political realities.
 
I would say that as far as whites in BLM goes it doesn’t or shouldn’t rather really be a thing like white people can help lead and define police abolition or many of the other issues that the rebellion is a response to but BLM is explicitly a brand for black people to lead and define along with the families of the dead etc etc 

Q: Revolutionary Solidarity also talks in detail about the complex differentiation between an ally and an accomplice. Within the text it is highlighted how hierarchies and power structures are often replicated by those who identify as allies. This, again within the text, is attributed to a greater superficiality in the relationships between allies and “leading actors” within marginalized communities, which does not allow to go deeper into the instances of struggle and therefore understand them and become accomplices in a common struggle. What is the situation today with respect to this point?

FB: The situation today in respect to this point is this: In the US if you are white, black liberals expect you to follow their (pro-statist, pro-capitalist) vision. If you do not, you are considered a racist/non-ally. Most white people are reasonably scared of being called “racist” on the internet. So most white people submit to this liberal vision. This is precisely why the zine “Another Word for White Ally is Coward” was written -to critique this submission. What I encourage white people to do is to think independently, question all authority and approach others with political affinity not identity.

NY: I think I already answered this above but yes more or less ally is a term used by people who are more associated with mainstream culture and political beliefs where as an accomplice is ore tied to action to achieve mutual liberation. 

Q: Still talking about the differences within the BLM movement, how do the other preexisting struggles (such as queer struggle, or anti-prison struggle) relate to it, and by extension, each other? Is there a broader debate that touches on different instances? Do other minorities find space and voice within the movement? 

FB: Within the BLM movement specifically, not necessarily. While I am sure there are some BLM groups that attempt to bridge these struggles, there have been many cases where BLM organizers have suspended all talks of other movements – including but not limited to instances where other struggles were painfully trivialized. Recently a black person made an awful post about how Anne Frank was privileged because she was not black. As far as those people finding affinity within the anti-police rebellion, all are welcome as they each see fit! 

NY: The national dialogue or at least as it is represented on tv or by the media is pretty one dimensional to the point where police abolition as a popular and core idea of many protests really does get covered. So for example the fact that for example many black trans women die in jail at a higher rate than anyone else isn’t really talked about in the national dialogue. Obviously on the ground the situation is much different with how movement news covers protests developments as most those leading the struggle forward are organizers or militants from some of the most oppressed backgrounds. This can not be denied. But sadly for the time being the allowed national consciousness has a very narrow focus.   

Q: Also, especially pertinent to the Italian situation, is there a dialogue with undocumented racialized minorities and space for the expression of their specific cases and demands within BLM? If so is their particular legal vulnerability addressed in moments of street actions? 

FB: I am personally not aware of anything like this here in BLM. In general, I think people voices are acknowledged and heard well within the anti-police rebellion. People of all colors shapes and backgrounds rebelled together in the streets against capitalism and the state. 

NY: Legal vulnerability is a constant presence but depends greatly on status and location. There are many groups working to address the ongoing ethnic cleansing of central and south American peoples in America currently and have long related there struggle to the struggle for BLM as well as prison abolition. The “Abolish ICE” campaign I believe was foundational in getting Americans ready/used the idea of abolition so that now we can talk about it in relation to police and prisons.  

Q: Getting to the organizational issue. Since we are talking about a spontaneous and mass movement with very high numbers, how can such a large number of people manage to coordinate themselves outside the moments of directly taking the streets? Are there moments of decision-making, horizontal and of free participation? How are decisions taken? And how, above all, do the different practices and visions on how to act in the streets relate within this? 

FB: That is a very complicated thing. In my experience, BLM does not allow for tactical diversity. As mentioned before, BLM in the US is very pro-statist and reformist – they take pride in their image of peaceful protests without any street battles. I have been to 3 different cities where each BLM group required white people to turn their backpacks over to be searched by their “leaders” to assure no rioting can happen. If you are an anti-authoritarian and you desire to do more than just march and chant, BLM movement might not be the best option for you. Many black people have left these groups because they were not satisfied with mere marching and chanting. As far as the anti-police rebellion, all different types of tactics have been used. It is beautiful. Because the anti-police rebellion is not a formally organized movement, it allows for the full flowering of creative potential. From dumpster fires, attacks on police stations, businesses set on fire, food sharing… anything is possible! 

NY: The answer to that changes in ever local context so it hard to really say. Like mentioned above there Is no coherent national voice for demands or decision making. All of that is dependent on the amount and type of political organizing that has been happening in whatever context up until that point. 

Q: We could see that during the demonstrations and clashes the different visions and practices seemed to garner some form of “mutual respect”, with moments of violent rupture and peaceful resistance that managed to share the streets. On the other hand, we saw how as protests wore on, there was a dichotomy between “protesters within the movement” and other subjects, identified by the media as “external provocateurs”. This, in our opinion, seems to be a way to clearly divide good and bad and to weaken the instances of struggle by creating opposite fronts within the movement. How, in respect to this situation, do people within the movement relate to each other? How do the different practices of struggle (from riots to looting, peaceful protests and civil disobedience) relate to each other in the streets and in moments of discussion and organization?

FB: Sometimes peaceful protesters bond with rioters and looters (for example in Minneapolis we looted eye protection and water for peaceful protesters sitting in the street). Other times Peaceful protesters put out fires, grab rocks from peoples hands, alert the police on looters or physical fight more “violent” elements of revolt. “External provocateurs” or “Outside Agitators” was constructed by liberal BLM and other black peaceful protesters as a way to 1) discourage white people from joining black rioters and 2) to convince the population of the liberal narrative that that black people are “innocent” and “victims” and would never engage in criminal acts. The reality is the George Floyd rebellion was started in Minneapolis by black and brown angry youth who felt marching and chanting was not enough to avenge his death. Black and brown youth set fires because nothing says “fuck you” like setting fire to a police station. Black and brown youth looted because it was an opportunity to make money after years of being in poverty. Every time liberals of any color say it was all started by white supremacists, we are erased from history along with the courage it took for us to do what we did. 

NY: I think I more or less answered this above, but I would agree that the counter insurgency tactics that the government is using recently are very obvious and have failed to work outside of taking some of the bite out of the protests situationally speaking while it has yet to affect the overall numbers or public support  

Q: Within the BLM movement are there moments to when groups with different needs or horizons can organize together? To better explain and contextualize. In Italy, the different paths of struggle are mostly followed by specific areas of movement (anarchists, communists, etc. etc.) without, except for cases of popular struggle/defense of the territory (NoTav or similar), that these areas of movement interface with each to form any real engagement or coordination. How, for example (among the many possible examples) do the demands of the Queer struggle, struggles against borders, housing occupations or any other forms of organization interface with the BLM movement? And how do they find space and confrontation within this? How do the different political ideologies and practices relate to each other?

FB: Sometimes they work together, and in other cities and places they don’t. I personally have not seen much collaboration or coordination between those movements. As with BLM, the Queer struggle isn’t homogeneous out here – there are many divides within based on pro-authoritarian and anti-authoritarian visions of liberation. 

NY: There a many different realities but I would say foremost prominent are movements that are already established in attempting material change. Wither they be anarchist or just community based orgs if you have a strong queer movement in a city the protests there where probably relate more to the queer perspective this can be swapped to any specific out look or issue.

Q: How, in this moment, within a really heterogeneous and broad movement, do different groups, such as smaller affinity groups more propense towards direct action, have the possibility to identify their enemies and decide freely how to hit them without over-reaching the goals and strategies of the ‘broader’ movement? How do people “external” to these small groups (if any exist) relate to direct action and sabotage? 

FB: This is a good question because in the past several years, as movements become more and more internally conflictual, more anarchists have broke off from the broader movement to pursue anarchy and rebellion in their daily lives. This individualist anarchy allows for more rebellious potential because it is less likely to become distracted with the social drama that is so rampant within the “movement”. For example instead of above ground activities some anarchists are now involved with clandestine, cell-structured activities that attack capitalism and the state from below rather than in the streets. While many consider this “lifestylism” and frown upon it, I consider it more joyful and much more effective in terms of mass organizing vs affinity-group based insurgency. 

NY: I think confidence/ambition in relation to target size is the primary factor. In cities where there isn’t much of a movement or support maybe there will be spray paint or light sabotage but in cities with a defined history of such acts affinity groups with premade fire bombs destroy prescients. It really depends on the localized situation of the region. For example an “antifa” member shooing a trump supporter in self defense in south Carolina would illicit a much different response nationally than when It happens in Portland.    
 
But as this is America I don’t think the idea of “over reaching” when it comes to hitting targets isn’t really something we do. As long as no one does anything half as scary as what fox news says we want to do it would be very hard to make things worse through action right now. In my opinion.

Q: Moving on to reason on what is a “normal” path of revolutionary and insurrectional growth within the evolution of this struggle. How, within the instances and tactics of the BLM movement have these evolved? Wanting to make a perhaps forced comparison with other struggles in other latitudes, we have been able to evaluate (in our opinion) how these paths over time and due to the difficulties faced have “refined” their own objectives, practices and differences. Can you give us an idea of how this “revolutionary process” is manifesting itself in today’s protests in America? Moreover, since we are talking about a broad and evolving path, are there any (more or less collective) reflections about the perspectives of the moment that we can define “post” the current disorder in the streets? Oftentimes, after long moments of street revolt, we have been able to see how, some practices slowly become less relevant (be it due to media falsification, fatigue in the movement, repression). Is there a conversation at the moment with respect to what could be the future collective organizing? How to continue the struggle by facing the different difficulties that may be encountered, such as the tiredness or loss of enthusiasm in the streets? 

FB: In my experience, there seems to be a lot of “burn-out” with collective organizing. I, Myself, was part of 3 different collectives and was actively engaged with organizing in my hood for years. While I wouldn’t say I “burned-out”, I can honestly say I have experienced quite a let down during that time. The “community” or my hood is not a monolithic group of people. I realized this year after year as some people were
into radical politics, but many were not. Rather than spending so much time trying to organize others, I found power in organizing myself and exploring rebellion from an individualist perspective. While I still distribute zines with my distro (Warzone Distro), I have come to realize people come to become rebellious on their own individual desire – not necessarily by being organized by others. I know many other anarchists who feel the same and are living similar lives. Some travel and live as illegalists while others live as insurgents always planning and attacking. Not many march in the streets or organize as they did in 2010 etc.

NY: Sadly I think everyone more or less has the same dilemma of more or less being held hostage by the horse race of a presidential election year. The revolutionary process that is chosen will depend on whose sitting on top. I’m sure your average reader can understand plainly the different level of intensity each administration would warrant. 
 
So we more or less wait and see. 

Q: Going therefore to conclude this very long interview with a broader question, we would like to ask you what are actually, in your opinion, the anti-capitalist revolutionary prospects that are slowly being found within the goals and practices of the BLM movement? 

FB: I would say the anger in the BLM movement is a valuable, revolutionary prospect. While often times it’s not enough anger, there is an anger there that inspires people to get into the streets. The only question is will that anger be channeled into petty legislative reforms? Or will it break out of the shackles of liberalism and explode like a bomb against the domestication of civilized law and order? For every black liberal demanding white, peaceful obedience, there is a black anarchist rioting alongside white accomplices. 

NY: This will be look backed upon historically as the moment where Gen-Z tasted blood for the first time and I have it on good authority that they will be 10 times as militant as the generation before them. I think this is more or less a dress rehearsal and it seems like every one is hitting there marks and honestly doing a far better job than this old burnt out jaded anarchist could of thought. They have already internalized the hopelessness of the situation as it stands and I believe that they (as a generation) will be on the barricades until they die or they reach victory and the system falls.  

About this section

We have chosen to add this section of the site to republish articles or updates/news about repression and direct action and to spread some news about the struggles around the world.
The articles you will find here are taken from other websites. This is just a way to support those comrades and companions that we feel somehow close and to spread the voice of those who struggle.

Prison letters – support people behind the bars!

All around the world people are getting locked up because of their political or social struggles. Those people in many cases are left alone inside of the prison system that tries to crash them with all the power it has. However writing letters to the prisoners might be one of those small straws that will be able to pull the person out of repressive apparatus of the state.

We urge you to write letters to prisoners to help them survive hardships of prison!

This video is a result of collaborative work between Anarchist Black Cross Dresden and Anarchist Black Cross Umeå groups. It was created as a mobilization for the 2020 Week of Solidarity with Anarchist Prisoners (23-30 August)

Consent explained with tea

We offer you a nice video that, through the metaphor of tea, explains how important it is to have consensual sex in which both partners are comfortable and aware of what is happening.

Letter from imprisoned anarchist comrade Eric King – ‘Flipping the Script’

Eric King describes himself as a 33-year-old vegan anarchist political prisoner and poet who was arrested and charged with an attempted firebombing of a Congressperson’s office in Kansas City, Missouri, in September 2014. King was charged with throwing a hammer through a window of the building, followed by two lit Molotov cocktails. The criminal complaint states that both incendiary devices failed to ignite. King was identified as a suspect by local police because he had previously come under suspicion for anti-government and anti-police graffiti. After accepting a non-cooperating plea agreement, King was sentenced to ten years in June 2016. His release date is October 2023. He has served his time in various facilities of the federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP.

King is currently facing one count of assaulting a government official for an incident that occurred in August 2018 at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Florence. According to King’s account, he was taken into a mop closet, out of sight of prison cameras, and beaten up by a corrections officer. The officer then said that King had assaulted him. King has been housed in a segregation cell at FCI Englewood since August 2019, fighting this charge. Overall, King has spent about three years in solitary confinement. He now faces a maximum of 20 additional years in prison. Read more about Eric King here: supportericking.org.

My toilet is right next to my cellmate’s face, not hyperbolically, it is literally three inches from where he lays his head. I am in the FCI Englewood Secure Housing Unit (SHU)—the oddest SHU in the Bureau surely. In this segregation unit, you will get inmates from the Low [security prison], pre-trial people and folks like myself and my cellie who are on writ [having a court case] from other penitentiaries. This oddball combo makes no sense and causes a localized class system, all a part of the psych-ops of this odd rust bucket of a prison.

On August 17, 2017, I was taken into a mop closet by Super Patriot Lieutenant. I have been in solitary ever since, 19 months and counting. I learned how bad it can get, discovering new ways they can torture you; mentally and physically. Whether being choked while being held in four-point restraints for seven hours, being held in a cell for four days without a functional toilet filled with someone else’s feces, I have seen their brutality and am stronger for it. I hope.

The last SHU I was in before the indictment hit was the penitentiary in Virginia: USP Lee. There is no oversight at these joints. At USP Lee, you have nothing coming. NOTHING. You cannot receive or buy magazines, newspapers, books, radios, coffee, hygiene or pens. You can buy a rubber pencil which shows up horribly on all papers. You are completely isolated, which in my case included a phone ban from a previous SHU and visiting restrictions that were never explained to me. This is a SHU that holds 200 and only had 150 mattresses, many of which have no covering and are just urine-reeking slabs of foam. If you don’t stand for count, they take your mattress as punishment. Skip standing a second time and they will take you out and replace your clothes with ‘paper clothes’: see-through orange shirt and see-through bikini bottoms. You will be marched up and down the tier while the guard calls you ‘faggot’ and spineless ‘inmates’ join in with cat calls and whistles. You will stand next time. If you refuse the new wardrobe, you will get beaten and charged with assaulting staff. This is the BOP’s SHU. Resistance is not tolerated and no one will hear you scream. No one is listening.

I was told I would be returning to Colorado on August 10, after a short and glorious four-day holdover at Grady County Jail. The US Marshals returned me to the FCI Englewood SHU where I would learn I was now facing 20 more years for the Lieutenant mop closet incident from over a year ago. They are charging me for my own attack: classic BOP.

I have been in this SHU ever since, seven months as of March 2020. Facing and fighting BOP charges while being held at a BOP facility, in segregation, to ensure any defense will be interrupted and complicated. Let me tell you about my physical existence. It is not pretty. The cells here are the smallest I have ever experienced. I am not certain they could literally get any smaller. 6 x 8 feet—double bunked. These cells were built for troubled children in the 1930s. This is not supposed to be a long term segregation unit, and it only becomes such for people like myself. Then it gets really overwhelming and mentally exhausting. That’s the Bureau’s game plan; shatter spirit, disrupt dissent, blame you for the horrors of this SHU, then expect lapdog loyalty when they give out small comforts.

At 6 am sharp, the four-foot-long fluorescent light comes on and will stay on until evening. This light is about two feet from my face and could make even the most level headed person homicidal. Breakfast is brought around 6:15 am, hot oatmeal and a weird cramp-inducing cake, seven days a week. It is at breakfast where you can sign up for your government approved one hour of ‘outside’ recreation or ‘rec’. Rec is basically the same everywhere: one hour of standing in a dog kennel. At Englewood, there is a chain-linked yard so you can at least see the sky and pretend you are hearing birds singing. Going out to rec can be a curse also; we only get showers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on my range. If you slip up and work up a sweat, you will be annoying your cellie and bird bathing [cleaning yourself at your sink].

For some ungodly reason, we are not allowed to buy decent soap, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo or deodorant. We used to have that right and after they announced the cancellation of hygiene, coffee and radios from canteen, my current cellie organized a SHU-wide cell barricade, to force them to come and take our stuff. We were not handing away our only comforts. The fear of the administration and high level of boot-licking is incredibly real. People will stab their neighbor over a stamp but won’t lift a pinky for their own dignity against the suits and ties. The barricades resulted in a lot of pepper spray balls and weeks in paper clothing. We stood up though, and they remember that, often acting more respectful.

My SHU existence until recently has been overwhelmingly lonely. Starting in November 2018, the gang and terrorism people at USP Leavenworth permanently banned me from the phone after an anarchist website posted updates on my earlier beating. That ban and a visiting ban followed me here to FCI Englewood and stuck. Other SHU prisoners do not have it much better with only one phone call, 15 minute tops, a month. If your loved one accidentally disconnects, tough. After the barricade, I organized a three-person hunger strike to get visit privileges back. Eighteen missed meals later and a lot of pressure from my legal team, non-contact one hour per week visits were restored. On December 14, I got to see my wife for the first time in 16 months. Plexiglass or not, it was one of the best days of my life.

This is a very violent SHU but not in the typical ways. In most SHUs, the violence stems from staff placing known enemies together, then loving the show when hell breaks loose. I experienced that first hand at FCI Florence. They sure love a good battle. Here though, it is ALL psychological and a lot of people—myself included for a time—had a very hard time handling that. On every Tuesday, the admin (Warden, Assistant Warden, Captain, etc.) will do their walk throughs along with S.I.S. (investigation goons) and your unit team (counselor and such, staff that handle your legal visits and calls, normal visits, transfers). This is your ONLY chance to try and either learn about your situation, try to get out or get grievance forms. In the Bureau of Prisons, our only legal protection against overzealous admins, is the grievance process. You must file these forms to resolve an issue before you initiate litigation. The only person who can give or receive them from you is your counselor.

They have mastered this routine to ensure prisoners in the SHU stay confused, angry, on edge or just broken and give up. You will hear people begging S.I.S. or the Warden to get out, and being experts, they will spin you so delicately that you really believe they will help you. Next week, same thing. Next week, still more of the same. At this point, you are shouting and losing it and they will tell you: “You can’t act this way if you want me to help you,” flipping the script. Maybe you realize the games, so you ask your counselor for a BP-8 grievance form. Well, don’t you know he is all out but he’ll be back in a day or two… You will not see him for weeks! Finally, you see him and get a BP-8 but then the next week, he loses the reply. Start over… It is maddening beyond words until you check their game. When you trash the tier or scream, they love it because they are in control. They have got you in this sick web where you start seeking their approval, when all along you never got your issues close to being resolved. But you feel good because they “_will look into it_”…

Another way that plays out is with the mail. In the SHU, you are at their mercy for mail call. There is nothing you can do when you know you have letters. They shamelessly gaslight you with “_Sorry, nothing for you. Sure they sent it?_” I have been lucky to always get pretty solid mail days when they decide to deliver it. Last month, after weeks of complaining to the SHU Lieutenant about missing mail, trying to convince her S.I.S. is doing too much, the Lt. and Captain went and grabbed a big crate filled with letters and months old magazines from S.I.S. (who claimed they ‘overlooked’ it).

If you are any sort of activist, S.I.S. will read and inspect every letter. In theory, they still have to follow guidelines and get it to you within 48 hours. This has never happened during my entire sentence. Even with the Captain forcing S.I.S. to hand deliver my mail, my most current letter was eight days old. Mail from my wife and friends will take 10-15 days at least. Isolation as a tactic, cutting you off from the world, making you feel forgotten and unloved and then showing up with a stack of letters saying “_See, we aren’t holding it_” result in some people thanking them and groveling. I mark the days and let my lawyers do the fighting for me but they will never get a ‘_thanks, boss_’ from me!

I have been imprisoned 69 months—38 of those months have been in solitary (nearly three years of my life), with no let up in sight until after trial in August. I have seen all the horrors you pray never to see: suicides, homicides, brutal beatings, hunger and water strikes, flash grenades and bear mace foam. I have seen floods, fires and prisoners get dropped on their skulls without care or concern. I have seen happy relationships torn to shreds by the forced isolation; seen drugs turn people out of their heads. Yet there are also victories sprinkled in little pockets of life where convicts show true heart and self determination. People standing up even when their fellow prisoners back down. Once you have faced their worst and survived, you have won; they have to work with you now because they cannot step on you. We hold tier poetry readings, keep our family alive with stories, have firm conversations about our worth and power, reinstilling what the system tries to take.

New cats come and go weekly, my cellie and I try to prepare them, get their minds ready for the lies and the dull days and boring nights. I always share magazines and stamps to help people get on their feet and remove the desperation and panic. To let them know they are not alone and give space to express themselves, either with moaning, bravado, singing, whatever. The prison staff wants us bickering and fighting with each other—classic divide and conquer. We are not having it. I won’t allow it.

Who we are

Distrozione was founded in 2005 with the idea of organizing concerts and distributing information and musical material in different cities. Over the years there have been several concerts, festivals, co-release and collaborations with groups and other independent labels from all over the world, organizing, among other things, tours around Italy of various bands.
Over time, many people have collaborated and animated the label, each of them putting their passions and skills to increase the project and connote it in the musical choices and not only. Both the musical genres distributed and the initiatives organized over the years have changed. If on one side, from the point of view of musical choices, we have gradually moved towards a clearer definition of the kind of music we are interested in, on the other side the project has also been enriched with political contents that are essential for us. Thus, we began to organize only and exclusively productions and concerts in which the income would go to supporting the struggles and for the comrades caught by the repression. Using the form of direct benefit for each of our productions, becoming in fact a solidarity fund active in the struggles.

Like every project, this one sets itself objectives and tries to pursue them. From the very beginning, one of these is, precisely, to create a network of economic support for those who, every day, spend themselves in the paths of struggle, spreading and echoing initiatives of conflict and active solidarity.

The conviction that animates us is that it is not always just a shout on stage. That this is a way like any other to meet and discuss and to organize together. May it also serve to change what surrounds us.

Distrozione

 

 “Welcome to our house. We believe that punk is a culture of resistance against sexism, racism, homophobia, heteronormativity, strikebreakers, transphobia, cops…”

Schizo genesis // Mad-Apocalypse

We translate this zine because we believe it is now more necessary than ever to collectively discuss what is called “madness” in our day and times. Through this writing by Sasha Durakov we are going to explore the history of what has been called “madness” and its treatments over time. Aware that it is not up to us to determine what “madness” is, of our privilege to be “classified” as “healthy”, we want with this text to try to make a small contribution to a debate that also involves our social relations and our way of seeing the existing.

“Madness will continue to name the mask the democratic citizen keeps around to give a face to the emptiness that surrounds him so long as he, the rational democratic citizen, sustains his existence by naming others mad. This madness will persist until it becomes a radical multiplicity, an endless unfolding of always incomplete rationalities, so diverse and yet residing in such close quarters that they sequentially and spatially prevent one another from their wholeness. The question of madness beckons us to approach the beyond, but not the “Beyond,” but rather, all the beyonds we will never fully reach. Neither a person nor a pattern of behaviors, madness is the other side we flirt with at the edge of our own nothingness.”

Click here to download the booklet

Queer Fire

copertina

The 1970s, the so-called anni di piombo (years of lead), saw the flowering of a multiplicity of practices, ideas and thoughts, which go to compose a multifaceted worldwide revolutionary movement that for about twenty years shook the whole earth.
We know the exploits of guerrilla groups such as the German RAF, the Italian BR, “insurgency” parties such as the Black Panther Party or Potere Operaio in Italy, widespread struggles such as Autonomia Operaia or Action Directe, and yet around this chaotic history we forget many movements that proposed to change the existing starting from the same structure of their struggles.
The George Jackson Brigade is an urban guerrilla group that between 1975 and 1978 carried out a series of armed actions capable of shaking up American society.
Ideologically diverse, with part anarchist militants and part communists, they had a non-hierarchical organization structured by affinity, a model similar to the Angry Brigades and Azione Rivoluzionaria, but not only: the BGJ is one of the first organized structures in which the queer struggle and the struggle against prisons become inseparable.
With an executive group formed largely by lesbian women and non cisgenerous individualities, the BGJ immediately brings as a practical criticism the segregation of non-binary people in the “largest democracy in the world”, the same one that a few years earlier found itself running away from the stones thrown by transgender people during the Stonewall uprisings.
The fact that such a path is now forgotten does not surprise us: on the one hand it is in the interest of pinkwashing people to create a peaceful, colorful and “gay” LGBTQ story, which only in Stonewall has its moment of anger to be placed in a specific time context, on the other hand we see the militants prefer to talk about stories that do not question their gender privileges or sexuality.
To us, who like to question everything, it is important to dig up from the sands of time a story of short but intense struggle, a hatchet of war that still damages jails and homophobes.

Click here to download the booklet

Revolutionary Solidarity

WITH BLOOD IN THE EYES

This booklet that we have translated in italian dates back to 2013.
Many things have changed and there are many objective differences between those who designed it – an American anarchist comrade – and us who are going to read it, but the casus belli is similar: in the ongoing class conflict, not a day goes by when the bosses and their thugs humiliate, exploit, hold and finally kill those who are “weaker” in this society.
And not a day goes by when these “weaker” subjects do not respond to violence with violence.

The question that the authors ask themselves is an inescapable question now in the anti-authoritarian world: what role do we play in the struggles of the oppressed classes?

After the times when they were anarchists or communists blowing on the fire of revolts, today the choice is between watching the revolts of the oppressed classes like any other show or taking part in them.

But how? ….

Click here to download the booklet

The Anarchist Movement in Japan

Not many days month we came across this pamphlet, written by British John Crump, on the Japanese anarchist movement, reissued by the Japanese anarchist communist federation in ’96.
We immediately thought that it could be a good starting point to inform about what comrades were doing in other latitudes of the world, overturning as much as possible a Eurocentrism very present in the information and in the anti-authoritarian historiography “of movement”.
Like every good book of historical investigation, it does not pretend to assert truth or to indicate the lines to follow, and very often – starting from the introduction of the comrades – we found ourselves “turning our noses up” on some positions. In spite of this, we believe it could be a good contribution to the rediscovery of stories that would otherwise be buried.

Click here to download the booklet

Signal fails

“The Master’s Tools Will Never
Dismantle the Master’s House”
A. Lorde

We continue to look for tools and instruments to communicate with each other and organize ourselves through new technological devices more and more invasive for our lives and in our daily lives. On the other hand, we want to equip ourselves with the tools and studies necessary to better understand them and learn how to defend ourselves against them. Any tool is really safe but we can adopt minimal habits and safety standards to make them as harmless as possible.

Click here to download the booklet

Consideration on SPRAR and HC

Opponiti a tutte le leggi imposte
opponiti a chi, ti vuole comandare
strappandoti un voto per essere certo
che sarai, cio’ che lui vuole
obbligandoti ad essere un loro prodotto, a fare il suo gioco
apri i tuoi occhi, la tua vita e’ condizionata
tutto cio’ che loro ti fanno credere
semplicemente registrandoti e insegnandoti le verita’ che a loro sono piu’ comode
combatti
non basta vandalizzare una strada da ubriachi
non basta avere una divisa di vestiti firmati
non basta girare i chili di droga per essere piu’ vivi
non basta supportare una scena che e’ fine a se stessa
vivere è avere una logica in tutti i tuoi atti
organizzati, per fottere metodi ed istituzioni
e non per essere fottuto
sei studiato, sei programmato
e quello che sei, l’hanno voluto”

Grandine – Opposizione

On March 29, 2016, in Massafra in the “mysterious” convent of St. Augustine, was held the concert Hardcore punk with: Doom, Deception, Entact and Cruentus , organized by Entact with the arci LABinrinto. Having overcome the “mystery” of the space, we came to know its identity through the sign placed at the entrance. The former monastery, in everyday life, hosts the sprar Motvs Animi.

The sprars (protection system for asylum seekers and refugees) are places that fit into the expulsion system. The attempt to control and speculate on migration is articulated by various forms of detention, more or less coercive. The sprar is considered one of the most “human” places. Without bars and torturers, they are mostly seen as structures of benevolent welcome, where the immigrant is offered a bed and a daily meal.

But above all, the sprar, together with Hotspot, CARA and CIE, act as structures where migrants are “sorted”, in a completely arbitrary way, on the basis of thesir origin. Who migrates to Italy is no longer an individual, but is transformed into a number for statistics aimed at the sorting, precisely, of blackmailable workforce for European countries. The waiting, in the hope of obtaining a residence permit, greatly affects the life of the “guests” of these structures.

Within these places among the various projects has appeared for some time that of “voluntary” work. Migrants are assigned jobs for reimbursement of ridiculous expenses. With the excuse of filling the time of “guests” the municipality has a workforce substantially free. People are forced to stay in the centers to get the documents but for this reason they cannot live independently. As a counterpart to their reception they will have to provide social work to the same people who control their lives. Beyond this, many of them represent a catchment area of labor usable from logistics to agriculture, supporting the economy of exploitation.

Among the various managers of the sprar centers we often find the applications of arci.
The arci are places of aggregation on the basis of well-defined content and a political line as questionable as it may be. We have always seen how the position of the arci is far from the spirit of self-management that animates the hardcore punk.

Although the emptying of the contents of the scene does not come to us new, aware that this is the responsibility of all of us, we are perhaps at the limit. To the point of finding ourselves having to have something to say about all this in very few people and not even in the bands that play or in those who hear you face the issue. Or to be answered by the organizers who understand your perplexities but the practical needs of a small provincial reality justify this kind of choices. Coming for exhaustion to bring out what they actually think:

that people receive board and lodging and do not pay anything; that the concert is a way for guests to meet people; that in the arci offer help in integrating through initiatives.

Justifications that refer on the one hand to a pietist vision of the migrant category, and on the other hand to a mediatized and racist idea that sees the migrant as the holder of more rights and services than the Italians.

We believe that it is necessary to have a more critical vision of the places and situations in which we find ourselves or where we organize ourselves even worse, that compromises for practical or other needs cannot be part of the logical ones, such as self-management, the fight against all forms of authority and the rejection of any mediation with it.