Mid-conference report on Active Resistance - August 27 '96, Chicago

Jesse Hirsh (jesse@channel-zero.com)
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 10:34:44 -0400 (EDT)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 14:13:56 +0000 (GMT)
From: Adam Fingrut <adam@presence.lglobal.com>
Subject: Mid-conference report on Active Resistance - August 27 '96, Chicago

Brought to you by the letters D, A, V, I, D, & F, I, N, G, R, U, T.

WANTED
For Crimes Against the Empire

Luke Skywalker: Self Proclaimed Jedi Knight - 500,000 Credits
Han Solo: Smuggler, Pirate - 200,000 Credits
Chewbacca: Smuggler, Pirate - 100,000 Credits

All of these individuals are wanted for the following crimes
against the Empire:

* Liberation of a known criminal, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan
* Direct involvement in armed revolt against the Empire
* High treason
* Espionage
* Conspiracy
* Destruction of Imperial Property

These individuals are considered extremely dangerous.
EXPERIENCED BOUNTY HUNTERS ONLY

The Empire will not be held responsible for any injuries or
property loss arising from the attempted apprehension of these
notorious criminals. Bounty is for live capture only! For more
information contact your local Imperial Intelligence Office.

I took that off a sign on the wall in front of me at the CounterMedia
office located on the bottom of the Teamsters Truck Drivers Union
local 705. This will be a brief rundown, 'cause I'm tired and have
much to prepare for tomorrow (oos - make that today). So without further
ado, here we go.

Following another healthy all-nighter the eve of Tuesday the 21st, I
headed out for Union Station early Wednesday morning. The severe
exhaustion I was experiencing kept me from sleeping on the train,
but the adrenaline I was saturated with got me on the train in the
first place, with about 3 minutes to spare. I sat next to a nice
Israeli couple living in Milwaukee - which provided me with an
opportunity to practice my Hebrew. And in front of me sat a few
Polish toddlers, which provided me with an opportunity to practice
my origami (I had fun making them paper cranes).

Going across the border I had to lie about my intentions of going
to Chicago; then I was asked if I've ever been in trouble with the
law, and had to lie again. Didn't really want to explain to
customs how I was arrested at the Toronto Stock Exchange protesting
NAFTA in 19944; not the sort of thing that goes over well with those
types. I got some funny looks for my passport too: Guatemala, Mexico,
Honduras, Belize, Turkey. Good thing they didn't search my bag.

I arrived in Chicago around 7:30 and walked through town to The
Autonomous Zone - an extremely well organized anarchist infoshop
packed with about 75 eager young anarchists taking part in a
tribute to Fred Hampton and a talk on Fred Hampton Jr. Mayor Daley
Jr. has kept him in prison, in a bizarre re-enactment of a
generation previous, when Mayor Daley Sr. had Fred Hampton Sr. killed
during the lynching of the Black Panther Party.

The A-Zone (note the absence of the word 'Temporary' - very few
here seem to idolize Hakim Bey) has a vast resource centre of
magazines and books, a fully functional kitchen & with 2 free food
fridges, a pair of computers for databasing & internet
transmissions, a free clothes box, and a vast array of literature
for sale and for free. The walls were covered with info on the
Active Resistance gathering including workshops, messages, and
rides in and out of the city. Media representatives were asked to
carry green cards (friendly media: anarcho-zines), orange cards
(neutral media: alternative), or pink/red cards (evil media:
capitalist press) respectively.

After registration, I hung out for a bit with Matt from Toronto
Habitat II and Critical Mass, and then got a ride down to The Spice
Factory to finally crash and make up for 2 days of sleep
deprivation. The Spice Factory - an abandoned chemical lab once
used for testing food additives, currently being rented out by the
Active Resistance folks - was packed with an additional several
hundred anarchists from across North America crashing for the
night. Walls were covered with events schedules, messages, and
bios on Tolstoy, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, Chomsky, Zapata, and
30 other influential anarchist philosophers. To finally crash out
on the floor felt good.

The next morning I took part in a networking discussion facilitated
by the recently formed Network of Anarchist Collectives, followed
by a workshop facilitated by members of Dreamtime - the intentional
community frequented by Hakim Bey - and a gathering of the Youth
Liberation working group to discuss deschooling. Then I headed over the
Ballroom for lunch. This was another building acquired by Active
Resistance for the gathering. It was the size of a small airplane hanger
but with the coziness of an Iroquois longhouse.
For indeed, this was a gathering of The Tribe.

There were people there representing Earth First!, Food Not Bombs!,
Anti Racist Action, Critical Mass, the Queer Youth Movement, Sister
Subverter, Anarchist Black Cross, the Youth Liberation Movement,
Love and Rage, Anti-Authoritarian Network of Community Organizers, Animal
Liberation Front, Prison Abolitionists, Social Ecologists, the Squatters
Rights Movement, Free Radio Berkeley, the Yippies, and solidarity
movements with Mumia Abu Jamal, the Zapatistas, the IWW, Leonard Peltier
and the American Indian Movement.

It was a mainly white crowd, but a respectful one at that. There
were train hoppers, trans-continental hobos, cider-punx, hardcore
punks, bikers, skaters, academics, 'zinesters, ravers, hackers, the
tattooed and the pierced, dreaded, skinheaded, blackblocked and
hip-hopped, and one guy wore a tie-dye. There were a few dogs, a
handful of people over 25, two young children, at least a dozen Mexicans,
Canadians, and Quebecois, and lots of bikes, banners, and no beer (the
space was alcohol and drug free, which is not to say we didn't find time
and place to drink outside of the Ballroom).

Lunch was organized and prepared by a group called Seeds of Peace,
a nomadic group quite similar in nature to the various Food Not
Bombs! collectives that speckle the continent. The food was vegan
and fairly simple, but very filling and quite good, which is quite
an accomplishment when you're cooking for 600 people. Everyone
volunteered to help out with the setup and cleanup after meals.

Next we returned to the Spice Factory to split off into core groups
focusing on Cooperatives, Collectives & Alternative Economics,
Community Organizing, Building Revolutionary Movements: Education
and Development, as well as Media (my chosen group). Michael
Albert, editor and co-founder of Z Magazine, facilitated a workshop
on support and maintenance of the alternative media network,
describing some of the struggles that Z went through in its
formation, and giving us anarchists a friendly chewing out for
reading Z, but not actually buying it in stores or via subscriptions. I
met another Torontonian - a York University environmental studies student
named Nick Garside - who was hoping to find a sympathetic anarchist prof.
back home.

Then a bunch of us returned to the Ballroom to set up for serving
dinner. Along with literature tables from various anarchist
infoshops and collectives Wise Fool Puppet intervention from San
Francisco had set up a giant-puppet-making workshop and were busy
constructing processional items for the upcoming Festival of the
Oppressed. I worked on constructing a giant tree from paper mache
and then constructed a cardboard prison. After dinner, we returned
to the Spice Factory for a direct action civil disobedience and
affinity group training workshop for use in upcoming demonstrations.
Leslie Wood (from Toronto Critical Mass and Inter/Section) arrived,
and the next morning we headed back over to the Ballroom together.
That day I took part in a dance workshop for an upcoming
performance, chopped vegetables for lunch, ate with my civil
disobedience affinity group while Sister Subverter supporters ate
topless, got chewed out for wearing my ANC T-shirt (apparently
Mandella was responsible for having anarchists killed) worked on a
paper mache construction of the Mexican border, took part in a
demonstration on behalf of Fred Hampton Jr. in Mayor Daley Jr.'s
neighborhood) while being monitored by helicopter surveillance),
got a ride down to Chicago Filmmakers Theatre to hear Michael
Albert speak once again along with performances by South African
poet Dennis Brutus, musician Pam Davis, and the Urban Dance Asylum
dancers I'd workshopped with that morning, then went back to the
Autonomous Zone for a bit before returning to the Spice Factory to
collate remaining copies of the Anarchives and then crash.

Saturday featured a presentation by the Love & Rage Federation on
the encuentro document produced by the Zapatista's intercontinental
gathering for humanity and against neoliberalism, followed by lunch
with my CD affinity group, a gathering with the local media
collective to discuss the liberation news service and various
alternative media networking ideas that came out of the recent ZMI
training school in Woods Hole, Massecheusets, a guerilla media workshop
on defensive videography put on by CounterMedia participants, along with
maskmaking at dinner followed by some wicked jungle/rave DJs.

On Sunday I helped out with food again and participated in the
Youth Liberation working group to discuss networking on deschooling
issues, then got a ride across town to a restaurant called The Heartland
for a Free Fred Hampton Jr. demo at an MTV 'Rock the
Vote' coverage event. We met up with some Cuba and Puerto Rico
solidarity activists, one of whom invited me to an international
youth gathering taking place next summer in Cuba. After that, we
returned to the Ballroom and I worked on puppets some more.

Later that night CounterMedia held a massive gathering of alternative
media makers from around the world (too bad Channel Zero wasn't there -
nudge nudge, wink wink) organized to build a strong, united movement.
The gathering was called 'To Tell the Truth and Smite the Devil", and
featured '68 Yippie Paul Krassner, Norm Solomon of Fairness and Accuracy
In Reporting, Black liberation activist Sufia Bukhani, and Chicago 7
defendant Dave Dellinger. The head organizer of the Rainbow Gatherings
was there as well (quite a chubby fellow - and only the second individual
I'd seen wearing a tie-dye all week). Again, the DJ spun late and we all
got nicely tanked out behind the Ballroom by the railroad tracks.

Now, let's see; today (yesterday?) I went to a well-attended scam
workshop at the Spice Factory. I wont go into too much detail
here, but lets just say that I now know how to successfully make
free long distance phone calls anywhere in the world. The technique
reminds me of the trick to get unlimited lives in certain Nintendo
games. After a street puppeteers meeting at lunch to prepare for
the next demonstration I took part in an urban herb walk and a
workshop on herbal medicinal healing while I finished off a
prisoner puppet I'd been working on. A bunch of us went out back
to drum for a while to accompany a fire juggler, and then I headed
out here to the CounterMedia office.

I've been hanging out with Virus from 'Revolutionary Worker' (in
fact, I just woke him up), Eddy from Dreamtime, Dharma from League of
Revolutionaries, Jim from Countermedia, and the lot of other folk who've
been wandering in and out of here all night. ABC came by to pick up a
videotape featuring footage of a topless Hillary
Clinton impersonator, and I answered the phone a few hours ago to
field a similar request from CNN. Always nice to be able to count
on the mainstream media to seek out the real important content.

Anyway, I'm going to head off soon to be one of three stiltwalkers
in 'No Justice No Peace': a rather large demonstration taking place
in a few hours to demand freedom for U.S. political prisoners, a
stop to police brutality, and an end to racism in the justice
system. This will be a dry run for the Festival of the Oppressed
taking place on Thursday. The cops have set up a "designated
protest cage", but we're not likely to be easily corralled into it.

Recent news (as of a few hours ago), is that the police have placed
a curfew on the people living in the region surrounding the United
Centre where the Democratic convention is taking place. The racist
cops, or should I say, pigs (this is Chicago, after all), have
already begun arresting people in the 99.9% impoverished African-American
neighborhood simply for being out on the street. There
are remarkable similarities here to the harassment of the poor in
Atlanta prior to the Olympics, as well what I witnessed this summer
in Istanbul during the Habitat II summit.

Plenty more things will be happening over the next week; things
that I'll have to write about when I get back to Toronto, such as
tomorrow's planned Radical History Bus Tour of Chicago, culminating
in a picnic at Emma Goldman's grave site. There are also some
things I could use down here (ie: literature on Tibet, East Timor,
Kurdistan, the October 25th Days of Action, The 8th International
Festival of the Oppressed, Channel-Zero, and more copies of The
Anarchives). If you could send any of this stuff with Alan from
Who's Emma (416)603-2557, it would be of great value down here.
But for now, I'll leave you with this article from Sunday's edition
of Revolutionary Worker.

;) David

LESSER EVIL?

In some circles, there's talk about the Democrats being a lesser
evil. Hello? Is there anyone there paying attention?

Prison and Police Power: This has been one of the most aggressively
pro-police governments in modern U.S. history. Under Clinton, the
numbers of people in prison have continued to rise. Clinton pushed
for new laws expanding the death penalty, restricting prisoner
rights to appeal, increasing wiretapping powers, censoring the
internet, accelerating the disarming of the population, expanding
funding for police agencies, and giving the military new powers for
domestic policing. His administration has championed capital
punishment and endorsed toughened mandatory sentencing like "three
strikes you're out."

Heath Care: The Clintons promised that reforming health care would
be their administration's first priority. Then their plan focused
on "controlling health costs" for big companies, insurance
companies and the corporate healthcare providers. After some
skirmishes inside the ruling class, talk of health care reform
disappeared.

The Border: A militarized attack on immigrants has accelerated
under Clinton. His administration lifted a proposal by fascist Pat
Buchanan - and started to build a solid wall along the southern
U.S. border. The Clinton administration brags that its agents have
arrested more immigrants than previous governments.

Political Prisoners: Some people hoped the Clinton Justice Department
might release long-time political prisoners. Leonard Peltier, Geronimo
Ji-Jaga Pratt and the Puerto Rican political prisoners remain behind
bars. Mumia Abu-Jamal remains on death row.

Women's Reproductive Rights: Clinton supporters claimed Clinton's
support for legal abortion is a key difference over Republicans.
However Clinton has openly pursued a policy of "keeping abortion
legal, but making it rare" - creating a climate where women's
health providers are under attack and millions of women face sever
difficulties.

Budget Cuts: Clinton announced that "the era of big government is
over" - and supported Republican calls to "balance the federal
budget within six or eight years" through sweeping cuts in social
programs. He has signed more extensive cuts than Reagan and Bush
combined.

Welfare: Clinton ran on a platform of "ending welfare as we know
it" while promising that the needs of the poor, and especially
children, would be protected. Now Clinton brags that over a
million people have been forced off welfare nationwide. Many more
federal waivers were granted to states than under any previous
government, allowing them to slash welfare in violation of previous
federal rules. Clinton's experts estimated that congressional
welfare plans would push a million more children into poverty and
would unfairly en protection for legal immigrants. Clinton
announced he would sign this bill.

Education: Though promising to revitalize public education,
Clinton focused instead on supporting methods of discipline: school
uniforms, curfews, enforced smoking restrictions, and stiff new
welfare rules for teenagers who have children.

Public Housing: Under Clinton, the privatization and destruction of
public housing projects has pushed ahead - putting thousands of
poor people in danger of homelessness. Raids and "pilot projects"
have accelerated. Clinton announced a policy of "one strike you're
out" - where whole families are evicted if one family member is
convicted.

Burning of Black Churches: A year of arson attacks on Black and
mixed churches was downplayed by federal agencies. After Clinton
announced he would act, teams of federal agents started treating
Black ministers and congregations as suspects in the fires.

Affirmative Action: Clinton took the position that "affirmative
action has gone too far" and announced that he believed many civil
rights programs are "reverse discrimination" against white people
and men. Clinton ordered an investigation of all federal
affirmative action programs to eliminate many. Much affirmative
action in federal contracts has been essentially ended - though
actions by courts and the Clinton administration.

NAFTA and GATT: Clinton fought to enact imperialist trade treaties
that would intensify U.S. control of Third World countries and
carve out a more tightly connected U.S. trade bloc to confront
rivals like Germany and Japan. NAFTA is ruining the lives of
people of Mexico. U.S. seeks to control worldwide patents on
grains and maintain monopoly control over key software.

"Traditional Values": The Clinton administration has pushed for
conservative religious and patriarchal values at every opportunity.
James Carvillle, a top Democratic strategist, said "The concept of
Daddy will be big this year." The Clintons have stressed the
importance of "personal responsibility" - a way of blaming people
for their own suffering. Clinton shocked supporters by imposing a
"Don't ask don't tell" policy in the military - allowing officers
to continue to persecute known homosexuals. When a state moved to
legalize same-sex marriage, Clinton rushed to say he would sign a
bill allowing other states to invalidate such marriages.