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(en) US, anarchist journal, Nor'easter #8 page 12 - Opinions: Copping Out in the Private Sector By JESSE HARRASTA + Igniting the Fight Against Gas By ANONYMOUS

Date Sun, 18 Apr 2010 08:15:20 +0300


Copping Out in the Private Sector By JESSE HARRASTA ---- Anarchists have a long and colorful history of interaction with the Law in its various incarnations. I, as detailed here, am no exception. ---- Around New Yearâs, my partner, her son and I were visiting New Haven, Conn., home of Yale University. While searching for a friendâs apartment, expecting to spend the weekend there while she was in India, we came afoul of the cityâs confusing policing structure: The apartment buildingâs security guard saw that we had the key to our friendâs apartment and became irate. He snatched the key from my partnerâs son, causing the child to cry. Not knowing who he was, we told him he could not simply take a personâs keys. The guard then stepped outside and hailed a passing patrol car.

Both the rent-a-cop and the two officers
from the passing police car interrogated us and
then called five more officers for backup, which
seemed like an extreme measure for a situation
involving an 11-year-old boy and two rather
small adults. While our interaction with this
bastion of elite white power was tied to issues
of class and race (my partner and her son are
from South America), I wish to focus here on a
key point involving private security firms.
What we did not realize that night was
that the âpoliceâ car was actually a vehicle of
the Yale University security force. Like many
universities, Yale has signed an agreement with
the City so that their officers patrol the areas
around the university grounds. Who are these
people? How â apart from fancy equipment
and uniforms â are they different from the
rent-a-cop at the door of the apartment?
Across the globe, we are seeing a
privatization of âsecurity.â And while this
phenomenon is at its most grotesque in places
like Baghdad with groups like Blackwater, it is
also prevalent throughout the United States.
In my own city of Syracuse, N.Y., both the
University and the Downtown Merchantâs
Association have private armed forces in
formal agreements with the City police. Are
the bourgeoisie building militias?
The problems here are numerous,
including unaccountability, classism, racism,
lack of training, confusion between the public
and private spheres and some parts of a city
having better âpoliceâ coverage because their
residents pay for it. Like the rise in private
schools, the middle class is withdrawing from
the public sphere and creating its own private
parallels. In the process, privatizers undermine
the public infrastructure, turning safety â what
should be a universal right â into an under-
funded control mechanism for the poor and a
source of corporate profit.
As the economy grows grimmer and
people become increasingly desperate, we need
to engage the issue of community security.
We canât do this by simply (albeit justly)
dismissing the âpublic optionâ as corrupt
and leaving it to be privatized into oblivion;
instead, we must organize real, community-
based, accountable alternatives that can be
universally employed by all neighborhoods
and communities, particularly marginalized
ones. Examples like the restorative justice
projects that seek to heal communities, the
street committees in Apartheid South Africa
and the community mediation projects in
IRA-controlled Northern Ireland prove that
alternatives are indeed possible.
For
more
information,
I
suggest the zine âAlternatives to the
Policeâ by the Rose City Copwatch
(zinelibrary.info/alternatives-police).
------------------------------------------

Igniting the Fight Against Gas By ANONYMOUS

Chances are, youâve heard about the massive
industrial project to develop the Marcellus
Region â which spans five states, including
West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio
and New York â for natural gas drilling. For the
sake of this article, Iâm going to assume that we
are fully committed to stopping this absolutely
awful development. The challenge, of course,
is realizing this commitment through action.
Fossil fuels are, after all, unsustainable,
as is the capitalist system. Weâve already seen
the energy industry exploit communities and
ravage the land in other parts of the world.
Now, here in North America, gas production
has left a similar path of contaminated water
and fractured communities in its wake. The
corporations involved â Halliburton, Fortuna,
Chesapeake and Talisman, to name a few â are
hoping to profit by spreading the doctrine of
energy independence and sustainability. We
know better and would prefer to be on the
offensive in the struggle against one of our
greatest enemies. As we build our movement
and our capacity to attack, we must remember
and hold dear in our hearts all those who,
around the world, are waging fierce resistance
against similar development. This is life or
death, yâall. And to fully live and to experience
the fullest autonomy and freedom is to answer
the call of resistance. This is it. This is our call
to action.
Here in Upstate New York, thereâs a
feeling of impending doom. Weâve seen
whatâs happened in Pennsylvania and West
Virginia: the spills, the fragmented farmland,
the explosions. Weâve seen the pictures and
the stories of drilling in Colorado, Wyoming
and Texas. Weâve heard stories of cancer,
sickness and inflammable ground water.
Knowing this information has changed the
way people feel around the Marcellus region.
Itâs brought a stabbing despair into our lives,
affecting everyoneâs long-term goals and sense
of security.
Organizing around gas development in
Upstate New York brings in many different
kinds of people with many different responses.
This issue spans across different cultures and
social demographics. It brings up every social
tension imaginable, and it creates fertile ground
for organizing an effective, anti-authoritarian
resistance movement.
New York has a history of brutal genocide,
prisons and industrial development. These
issues continue today, maintaining white
supremacist and capitalist occupation. As
anarchists, weâre working to break down the
rhetoric of surprise coming from folks whoâve
until now enjoyed a certain level of protection
from these injustices. âWhy us?â or âThis canât
happen here!â are some common responses
to the shock of energy development in our
back yards. Another common response is
the amazing amount of energy that people
pour into waves and waves of letters to
politicians on this topic. Itâs not that we lack an
understanding of history, nor a commitment
to social change, but so many of us are unable
to fathom the reality of what is going on in
the world. Itâs different for everyone, but one
thing is certain: Privilege acts as a buffer, and
the simplest comforts can keep us from having
an honest relationship with the consequences
of our industrial society. The reality is that
weâre all fucked. Just think about all the stuff
you already know but never totally freak out
about: climate change, wars, torture, prisons,
mass extinction and so on. Make your own list.
What kind of life are we living? What do we
really have to lose besides our fears?
Impending gas drilling has been a wake-up
call for many of us anarchists in Upstate New
York. The struggle and despair of dealing with
this issue has helped many of us come together
for the first time. We are using this sense of
urgency to overcome barriers and fears that
once kept us apart. Now we are seeking out
like-minded revolutionaries.
It may seem insane to declare resistance
against all odds. What is the alternative? It
would be so nice to just live the good life: start
a small organic farm, ride bicycles and play
music all day. But remember that this âdo-
it-yourself autonomyâ is distorted into âthe
American Dreamâ and then sold back to us at
high costs, complete with property taxes and
subsidized by globalized slavery. And now, the
land comes with gas leases, and of course your
neighborâs gas lease.
To fully recognize this reality is difficult.
We have to ask ourselves: How does this fit
into our long-term goals? Do our day-to-day
activities reflect an honest relationship with
our values?
We could leave. But we would be cowards
to stand back as the land, the forests, the
streams, the lakes, the critters, everyone and
everything suffers. A true insanity (and oh,
how familiar it is!) would be to allow the world
of which we are a part to be destroyed by a
mechanistic culture of greed and sickness â the
same culture, of course, that predisposes our
disconnection from the land, from reality, from
our own lives. Now is yet another opportunity
to break this faÃade. By waging resistance to the
gas companies and their extended networks,
we can experience a true sense of freedom and
autonomy.
In a nutshell: Iâd rather die standing than
live on my knees.
In the Marcellus Region, we need to form
affinity groups that are capable of striking
offensive actions against the perpetrators of
gas development. The smallest actions can
build group dynamics and courage. Now is
the moment to get healthy and get our shit
together.
This is more than just about protecting the
land and our lives; this is about living. There
is no alternative more attractive, no alternative
more honest, and none more daring and
exciting than that of total resistance.
_________________________________________
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