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(en) US, The RAT #% - The NYC Year in Anarchy!

Date Wed, 25 Jan 2006 15:33:26 +0200


With January 2006 almost a memory, we here at the NYC Rat think it is
important to remember the year that was. 2005 was a year that was rich
in a diverse array of projects, resistance, victories, and heartache.
Anarchy is alive in New York City, and remembering what went well -- and
frankly, what didn't-- is a step towards creating new, more successful,
projects and a means of improving those projects that already exist. We
dedicate this year-in-review to the anarchists who, in spite of the odds,
carried anarchy from the secret chambers of their hearts, into the streets
of New York City and beyond. We hope this will serve as an inspiration for
others to join in creating a new world in 2006. See you in the streets!


> 2005 started off with a bang in January with a major anarchist
mobilization against the presidential inauguration of George W.
Bush in Washington, DC, and the opening of a new anarchist space
in Williamsburg at the Brooklyn Free Store.

New York anarchists mobilized heavily for January 20th, sending out
--with support in Washington DC from Anarchist Resistance -- a
call for "An Anti-Authoritarian Bloc" to disrupt Bush's parade of
conquest. Roughly 600 anarchists marched from Logan's Circle to
the parade route, holding flags, chanting "What's the reaction?
Direct Action!" and carrying an extremely badass banner reinforced
with PVC that had an image of a giant flaming skull and crossbones
and a slogan that read, "Right Wing Scum Your Time Has Come."
Things didn't go quite as planned, and due to some internal
miscommunication amongst different regional affinity groups, and
the cold weather, which rendered the PVC reinforcements brittle and
easily broken, the black bloc did not manage to breach the parade
route.

However, the real excitement of the day was to happen later that
evening at an impromptu nighttime march after the
Counter-Inaugural Ball. Several hundred anarchists brandishing
torches, large sticks, rocks, and spray paint, marched through the
streets of the Adams Morgan neighborhood (and symbol of
gentrification), smashing the windows of a police vehicle, police
sub-station, and numerous corporate stores and banks. 80 people
were arrested but released after only a few hours in jail. Damage was
estimated at $15,000.

The In Our Hearts Space began in mid-January and took over the
Brooklyn Free Store in Williamsburg. Immediately renovations
began, and plans were made to expand the space for an infoshop.

February rolled in with two unconnected attacks on recruitment
centers that occurred in Manhattan and the Bronx on the same
night. On February 1st, at a recruitment center in Manhattan,
anarchists broke numerous windows and left obscene graffiti against
the war, while in the Bronx, anarchist David Segal was arrested after
gluing the locks, breaking a window, and throwing burning rags
inside of an army recruitment center. He was held on $150,000 bail
and faced 5-20 years in prison for his action.

Ending things in February, Jane Doe Books, a collectively run
women's library and resource center gave word that it would shutter
its doors in March. Many are still saddened by the loss of this space.

March came in like a lion, with anarchists taking to the streets of
Sunnyside, Queens in an "Anti-Imperialist Anarchist Contingent" of
the St. Pat's For All Parade. The pro-queer, anti-war, anti-fascist
contingent, which included the Rude Mechanicals Orchestra and the
Hungry March Band, provided a lively and festive element to
Queens' yearly all-inclusive celebration of Irish heritage. The
marchers carried black flags with circle "A" shamrocks and were led
by a banner proclaiming "US out of Iraq, UK out of Ireland". Flyers,
which related the anti-imperialist causes of Iraq, Palestine, and
Ireland's 6 counties, were distributed throughout the march.

The boisterous energy that was behind the success of the
Anti-Imperialist Anarchist Contingent earlier in the month was
unable to muster itself for the Second Anniversary of the War on
March 19th. A last-minute anarchist call by the "Clash & Scuffle
Brigade" netted about 75 anarcho-punks during the mainstream
activist march to Mayor Bloomberg's house. The anarchists
marched with a very nice banner with a Circle-A inside of a heart,
the slogan proclaiming, "Bring the War Home." Unfortunately, they
only managed a tepid flag-burning followed by scattering when the
police arrived.

New York City, in a desperate attempt to halt the monthly Critical
Mass ride, filed an injunction against organizers from environmental
advocacy group, Time’s Up, hoping to finally stop what months
of NYPD harassment and mass arrests had failed to do to. Critical
Mass, an event which takes place in over 400 locations around the
world, is a ride without leaders, and the route is determined by the
riders as they go. However, arresting cyclists en mass and targeting
Time’s Up! volunteers were not the only ways the City targeted
bicyclists. The NYPD also tried confiscating bikes, cutting locks,
and handing out bogus tickets.

March ended on a positive note with both a legal victory for Jamal
Holiday, an RNC protestor who was arrested for attempted assault of
an undercover police detective, and the start of the Grassroots
Animal Rights Conference (GARC).

Jamal plead guilty to assault and agreed to one year of probation, in
relation to an incident during the RNC last August. NYPD detective
William Sample had rammed his scooter into a crowd of
demonstrators, injuring people and crushing a woman's foot. He did
not display his police badge, or identify himself as a police officer,
and was pulled off of his scooter and punched and kicked multiple
times by Holiday, sending him to a hospital with bruises and a
concussion. Jamal, following the completion of his sentence will
have the conviction changed from a felony to a misdemeanor,
provided he stay "out of trouble." Despite having spent more than 7
months in jail, Holiday's supporters, which included many
anarchists, were pleased with the arrangement in light of the fact
that he was facing multiple years behind bars.

GARC started on March 31st and continued on into April, dealing
with an issue that many anarchists care about: animal rights.
Although the location at Holyrood Church in uptown Manhattan left
a lot to be desired, there were many great discussions, speakers, and
advocacy of direct action and prisoner support. Unfortunately,
GARC may now be remembered mostly for the attendance of a
snitch, Jacob Fergusen, who wore recording devices while speaking
with GARC attendee Daniel McGowan.

Continuing on into the month, there was yet another RNC legal
victory, with the case against anarchist Josh "Yusuke" Banno, being
dismissed from court. Josh has been prepared to go to trial on
charges of assaulting a police officer and reckless endangerment
stemming from an incident in which a large papier-mâché green
dragon was lit on fire last August during an Anti-RNC protest. Josh
was facing seven years behind bars if convicted. Thanks to the hard
work of his friends, who tracked down video and photographic
documentation which show Josh far from the origins fire, the police
officer who positively identified Josh as the "ringleader" was forced
to change his story.

Ending April were two community events, the A New World in Our
Hearts May Day Conference which began on April 28th, and a
guerilla gardening action by anti-gentrification activists and
community members in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

On April 24th, 200 people wove their way through the Williamsburg
section of Brooklyn in opposition to new high-rise luxury
developments which were planned for the area. They concluded at a
state-owned waterfront park on Kent Ave and North 7th street,
which had been fenced off from the public for years due to lack of
funding. After performances by the Hungry March Band and the
Rude Mechanicals Orchestra, landscaping tools and garbage bags
were passed around and people set to work cleaning up the lot. Even
thought his fight in particular was lost, activists and community
members are gearing up to win against Subway, which has moved
into the area.

The May Day Festival was a celebration of the anarchist origins of
May Day, and an event designed to strengthen existing ties in the
anarchist community as well as opening the doors to those who are
new to things. The festival included workshops, skill shares, music,
a really really free market, a critical mass bike ride, parties, speakers,
and films. Some things went better than others, and the social events
like parties, free markets, and films were better attended than
workshops and skill shares. It seems that one of the best and most
organic ways for anarchists to network and build affinity with each
other is through social events-- especially if dancing is involved.

Debuting at the festival was the latest treatise from the Curious
George Brigade, “Liberate Not Exterminate,” a
self-described love letter to the city. Also resurfacing was the radical
zine distro, “A New World In Our Hearts,” which has been
publishing and distributing radical literature since 2002.

May Day itself was a disappointment in that once again, there was
no militant anarchist activity on May 1st. The usual events like
Squatter's May Day in Tompkin's Square Park and the various
workers' marches that are peppered throughout the city continue to
make necessary the need for a strong anarchist celebration of the day
we made famous.

The rest of the month of May found the expansion of several radical
spaces in New York, as well as the start of GRUB, a bi-weekly
dinner hosted by the Toyshop Collective on the First and Third
Sundays of each month at the Rubelad space. Initially, the Toyshop
Collective hosted both Sundays, with Visual Resistance taking the
second Sunday after awhile.

Bluestockings, a bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center in the
Lower East Side of Manhattan, expanded its premises, creating
more space for more books and events, as well as expanding its
hours of operation. The In Our Hearts Space, which was originally
the small storefront of the Brooklyn Free Store, expanded to the rest
of the building. An infoshop was immediately started, with a book,
video, and tape lending library.

The summer in New York City was fairly quiet, with anarchists
traveling to other places for fun and good work. Many activists from
New York mobilized against the G8 in Scotland, and were a factor in
the successful blockade of Gleneagles, the fancy resort hosting the
meeting of the 8 most powerful countries in the world, on July 6th,
as well as other street demonstrations throughout the week. Other
New York anarchists went down to the Appalachian Mountains for
Mountain Justice Summer where they protected the mountains from
coal companies engaged in "mountaintop removal." Mountaintop
removal is a process where coal miners blast off hundreds of feet of
mountain to get at thin layers of coal, burying thousands of streams
and healthy ecosystems in the process-- not to mention
communities. Others participated in Cascadia Summer in Oregon,
protecting precious forests from the chainsaws of logging firms, and
Roadless Summer in Indiana, where activists are thwarting the
construction of Interstate 69, the NAFTA superhighway, which will
pave over tens of thousands of acres of forests and farms, displace
hundreds of families, and destroy communities throughout the
Midwest, all to serve the interests of multinational corporations.

However, there were still a few activists working on projects in New
York City this summer. A successful benefit in New York was held
for the Jeff Luers Weekend of Resistance on June 11th, and the
Ghost Bike Project was begun by members of Visual Resistance.
They create small and somber memorials for New York City
bicyclists killed by automobiles. The installations-- a bicycle painted
all white locked to a street sign and a small stenciled plaque is bolted
in place above it-- are meant as reminders of the tragedy that took
place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet
statements in support of bikers’ right to safe travel. In 2005, 22
bikers were killed by vehicles.

Unfortunately, summer also marked the sudden demise of the In
Our Hearts Infoshop. Although there were some problems
maintaining the project while many of those involved were away for
the summer, the main culprit was gentrification, with the landlord
evicting the space for a hipster record store. The In Our Hearts
collective held on to the space until the end of October, and are now
working on other projects.

As August turned into September, anarchists in New York were
busy trying to make sense of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A
meeting was called at Bluestockings, and various anarchists,
activists, and anti-authoritarians worked on how best to help the
people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who were predictably
abandoned by the government. Many New York anarchists were the
first to respond to the crisis, much like after September 11th, when
many anarchist squatters and aid workers were first on the scene to
find survivors. Anarchists from New York went as legal observers,
bike mechanics, medics, Food Not Bombs cooks, and many others
donated money, food, and helped transport supplies to the affected
areas. EBS, a New York project, worked with other out-of-state
collectives to provide evacuees with much needed communications
equipment. For a more in depth look at the anarchist response to
Hurricane Katrina, please check out our full-length feature on page
5.

Anarchist David Segal, arrested earlier in the year for the attempted
arson of an Army recruitment center in the Bronx, plead guilty to
felony "malicious mischief" in federal court on September 15th.
David, who was initially looking at a minimum of 5 years in prison,
was given a sentencing recommendation by the prosecution of 10-16
months. Ultimately, when David was sentenced in January 2006, he
received six months in prison as well as four months of house arrest,
which is part of a three year supervised release program during
which he will have to visit with a counselor for one hour per week,
pay $4,500 in fines, and serve 150 hours of community service.

Many in New York, realizing the upswing in the anti-war
movement, brought about by the frenzy surrounding Cindy Sheenan,
and the general anger at the government after Hurricane Katrina,
tried to take advantage of this energy. Inspired by comrades from the
west coast, Anarchist Action, a call for "A Revolutionary
Anti-Authoritarian Bloc Against the War and Capitalism" was put
out for the major anti-war demonstrations in Washington DC on
September 24th.

Unfortunately, this action did not work out-- in an almost comical
way—due mainly to the lack of solid regional organizing, and
frankly, a lack of interest on the part of militant anarchists. This,
coupled with the fact that the march was mostly attended by skittish
anarchists new to things, made for a complete disaster. Learning the
hard way, it is incredibly important that any public militant presence
have a good combination of seasoned veterans as well as newbies, if
success is to be attempted.

In October, anarchists organized the first New York City Anarchist
Circle, which was a continuation of the NYC Anarchist Tribes from
several years back. The goal was to create an opportunity for various
anarchists and anarchist collectives to come together and facilitate
discussion. Plans were made for those interested to begin work on
forming a new organization or federation-model group, as well as to
continue on with the popular, decentralized Anarchist Circle model.

Ending October was the 2nd Annual Halloween Really Really Free
Market at St. Mark’s Church. The Really Free Market is a place
where nothing is for sale and communities come together and share
what they have-- because Capitalism fucking sucks and because
there is enough for everybody! Always fun, children as well as adults
took turns bashing a US Army tank piñata, eating amazing vegan
pumpkin pie, finding stuff they need, and getting backrubs!

The Really Really Free Market is just one way to draw attention to
the overproduction and conspicuous consumption that drives global
capitalism, as well as building community and reducing waste right
where we live. Other groups, like Freecycle and Freegan.info have
events year round and provide information to people who are looking
to not only personally reduce what they buy and use, but to reclaim
what capitalists call trash but would throw away rather than let
anyone have something for nothing.

November marked the return of the Free Events Calendar by the A
New World In Our Hearts distro and the hands behind the delicious
meals at GRUB changed yet again. While the first Sunday is still
hosted by the Toy Shop Collective, the In Our Hearts Collective is
now dumpstering and cooking the grub on the other night.

The IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), a radical union whose
members are often known as “Wobblies,” received some
good press for their ongoing attempts to unionize Starbucks and
immigrant workers. Calling for the “abolition of the wage
system” they have currently added online grocer, Fresh Direct,
to their current campaign.

November also brought about a counter-recruitment action in
Brooklyn. On November 16th, anarchists arrived at the Armed
Services Recruitment Center on Flatbush Avenue to see the gates of
the recruitment center pulled down, and an estimated hundred police
officers standing guard. The job of shutting down the center already
done by the over-zealous police response, anarchists and other
activists handed out over 500 flyers, spoke to passersby, and had
local area high school students perform impromptu street theater.
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response, plans were made to
continue the push against Army recruitment as a concrete way to
strike at the war machine.

December came fast and sudden, much like the arrest of
environmental and social justice activist, Daniel McGowan, on
December 7th. He was charged in federal court on 16 counts of
arson, property destruction, and conspiracy, relating to two incidents
that occurred in Oregon in 2001. Daniel plead "not guilty" and is
facing a minimum of 30 years in prison and the possibility of life in
prison if convicted. (Please see page 4 of the NYC Rat for more
information about Daniel.)

Daniel is a much beloved member of the activist community in New
York and he is greatly missed. He was always active, and worked on
the demonstrations against the RNC, and did support work for Jeff
“Free” Luers as well as other political prisoners. We in New
York will not be swayed from our convictions by this latest example
of state repression. We will support Daniel in the ways we can
(writing him letters, sending books, holding fundraisers) and by
remembering the things that we hold dear: liberation, justice, and
solidarity.

Happy New Year.

XO

The NYC RAT

-------------

The New York Rat --New York City's ONLY Anarchist paper-- is
out now! Issue #5 deals with topics such as political prisoner
support, an anarchist perspective on Hurricane Katrina, as well as
the NYC Year in Anarchy -- a retrospective of NYC anarchist
projects, events, and actions in 2005. You can also expect to find
Upcoming Events, the NYC Black Pages, and the Cop Crime
Blotter!

Get your hands on NYC's ONLY anarchist paper and check out
what's happening right here at home!

You can find The NYC Rat at:

Bluestockings
Time's Up!
St. Mark's Books
Vox Pop
Foodswings
St. Mark's Church

as well as at many other radical events throughout the city! If you
would like to help distribute The Rat or have comments, questions,
or feedback, please e-mail newyorkrat@riseup.net

**We are looking to distribute The NYC RAT outside of the NY
metro area. If you are interested in carrying The Rat, please e-mail
and we will send you some!**
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