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Ann Arbor, MI: Doing What We Can, Teens on Diversity of Tactics

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The post Ann Arbor, MI: Doing What We Can, Teens on Diversity of Tactics appeared first on It's Going Down.

Your Ann Arbor local teenage rebel-rousers are going back to high school this week (along with every other public school student in Michigan). Before we get bogged down with schoolwork, though, we wanted to engage in some productive trouble-making. This was how my friend Amílcar (pseudonym) and I ended up on our one ladder in our downtown’s Graffiti Alley with a can of spray paint each, trying to make an artsy mural that said “A2 WANTS DC TO DROP J20 CHARGES.”

When our unlikely hero showed up, he was pretty unhappy with us. He stoped his bike in front of us, watched us taping up stencils for a second, and said, “Hey. I’m gonna paint over that tonight.” He let us know that we were painting over his mural, and that he was just going to cover it up when we were done.

I guess this caught us a little off guard. Apprehensively, we asked him if he was familiar with J20. “Yeah, I know it. But you’re painting over my stuff,” he said. We started to quickly explain how this was for an important cause and to please paint somewhere else, but by then he was biking away. The two of us were left a little dazed and very pissed off.

“Let’s just finish it and take a lot of pictures,” Amílcar said. “No,” I said. “Fuck that. Fuck all of that. Let’s finish this, and then I’m staking out here with a fucking bat.”

Amílcar looked at me like I had just proposed a really bad idea (which, I mean, yeah. Pretty bad idea.) He had barely finished talking me out of it, though (which didn’t take much more than an “uh, no,” because, again, bad idea) when the guy came back on his bike. He apologized for approaching us the way he did. Then he said, “I actually am familiar with J20, and I believe in probably a lot of the same stuff you guys do.” He told us that he paints a lot–professionally as a commissioner, and, on his own time, rebelliously–and that he had put his mural up so high because he wanted it to last. Sympathetically, he offered to help us paint a different mural for J20 away from his. “That…would be awesome,” we said. I think we were both pretty surprised, but were more than open to help.

We gave him our ladder. He produced a can of paint from his backpack, climbed up, and drew out clean, flamboyant letters way bigger and more impressive than ours. He broke us out of our mesermized observational state by letting us know he believes we live in a police state and that he’s into prison abolition (which we agreed with him on.) While he painted and showed us the best way to do block letters, we talked about the abolition movement, the role of art in movements and revolutions, the hazardous relationship humanity has with its new technology, and some of the times he’s been almost caught by police for graffiti. We found that we agreed in the paramount role art plays in a revolution–landscape sets a tone for the climate; very important–and the importance of art in general. “It’s organic. It’s human expression, and like, it’s just what we’re supposed to be doing.” “Yes!”

We very briefly discussed antifascism, where we found what I guess was our only point of disagreement: our comrade was a pacifist. “I’m personally not really sure about the violence with antifa,” he said. He said he believed in egalitarianism, but he went about pursuing it through street art. Unwilling to get into how people categorize “violence” and distinguish state violence from political and interpersonal violence, inform him that he was participating in a type of antifascist work at the moment, or point out that antifascism was literally about opposing fascists–those subscribed to an inherently violent ideology–we asked him to talk more about the resistance art he had engaged in. Speculating whether that conversation would have been productive or not is all hypothesis contrary to fact right now. He wasn’t expressly disrespecting combative action; he just said he wasn’t into it personally, which I guessed I could respect for the sake of respecting diversity of tactics (and at least he wasn’t a liberal.) We continued our work untroubled and focused. This guy was doing us a huge favor, but when I looked at his face, he was smiling. I thought about how this must have been for him and concluded that based on what he’d shared with us, this was probably a pretty rewarding experience for him too. That made me really happy.

After we filled in his outlines, we watched him use red, silver, and white to accentuate the letters. We continued to talk about our lives, our world views, and art. I was thrilled to be able to bond with a local community member over resistance art. When he was finished, we had “DROP J20 CHARGES NOW!” emblazoned across half the span of the alley. We had silently agreed on letting him cover up our mural, so when we were done, we left him with our ladder and a can of our blue paint. Before we left, we thanked him profusely and told him how awesome he is, exchanged contact information and handshakes, and told him to just leave the ladder in the back of the alley and that we’d come back for it later. He left us with encouraging words and told us he’d catch us around.

Everyone, even pacifists and kids like us, have something to contribute to the movement toward a world without hate and hierarchy.

As exemplified by our comrade’s unfounded disdain for antifa, there’s a very particular version of antifascism sensationalized by the media right now that is embodied by masked-up fash-bashing and rioting. While that’s a part of the (unfortunately) needed work to be done for the safety of marginalized people right now, antifascist action can also take shape in masked-up teenagers and a community member collaborating to make rebellious street art. Everyone, even pacifists and kids like us, have something to contribute to the movement towards a world without hate and hierarchy.

Amílcar and I talked on the car ride back later that afternoon about school coming up, about college applications, and that superhero we had met. “I’m tryna get better at spray painting,” Amílcar said. I seconded that notion, excited for prospective projects to come.

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subbes
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i love teens
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America needs its unions more than ever

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September 4, 2017

The central issue in American politics is the economic security of the middle class and their sense of opportunity for their children. A pervasive sense of vulnerability and missing opportunity leads to dissatisfaction, reduces faith in government and institutions, diminishes willingness to support the least fortunate, increases resentment towards members of other ethnic groups and fuels truculence towards other nations.

As long as a substantial majority of American adults believe that their children will not live as well as they did our politics will remain bitter and divisive. Middle class anxiety is surely also fed by the slow growth of wages even in the ninth year of economic recovery with unemployment at historic low levels. The Phillips curve – the view that tighter labour markets spur an acceleration of wage growth – appears to have broken down. The Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported that average hourly earnings last month rose by all of 3 cents or little more than 0.1 per cent. For the last year, they rose by only 2.5 per cent. In contrast profits of the S&P 500 are rising at a 16 per cent annual rate.

What is going on? Economists do not have complete answers. In part there are inevitable fluctuations. Profits have declined in recent years. The wages that are reflected by the BLS are earned in the US, whereas a little less than half of profits are earned abroad and have become more valuable as the dollar has declined. In part, wages have not risen more because a strengthening labour market has drawn more people into the workforce.

But I suspect the most important factor explaining what is happening is that the bargaining power of employers has increased and that of workers has decreased. Bargaining power depends on alternative options. Technology has given employers more scope for replacing Americans with foreign workers, or with technology, or by drawing on the gig economy. So their leverage to hold down wages has increased.

On the other hand various factors have decreased the leverage of workers. Employers increasingly offer gigs rather than jobs. For a variety of reasons, including reduced availability of mortgage credit and the loss of equity in existing homes, it is harder than it used to be to move to opportunity. Diminished saving in the wake of the crisis means that many families cannot afford even a very brief interruption in work. Consumers also appear more likely now to have to purchase from monopolies rather than from companies engaged in fierce price competition meaning that pay checks do not go as far.

On this Labor Day we would do well to remember that unions have long played a crucial role in the American economy in evening out the bargaining power between employers and employees. They win higher wages, better working conditions and more protection from unjust employer treatment for their members. More broadly they provide crucial support in the political process for broad measures such as Social Security and Medicare, which benefit members and non-members alike. Both were at their inception passionately opposed by major corporations.

The shrinking of the union movement to the point where today only 6.4 per cent of private sector workers – a decline of nearly two-thirds since the late 1970s – are in unions is one important contributor to the decline in the relative position of labour in general and those who work with their hands in particular. The decline in the unions is also a contributor to the pervasive sense that too often our political system is for sale to the highest bidder.

What can be done? This is surely not the moment for policy to tilt further to strengthening the hand of large employers. Sooner or later labour law reform that gives organisers a chance by seriously punishing employers who engage in illegal reprisals should be back on the agenda. Union efforts to organise non-traditional groups in non-traditional ways need to be encouraged. And policy support needs to be given to institutions where workers have a chance to share in profits and in corporate governance.

In an era when the most valuable companies are the Apples and the Amazons rather than the General Motors and the General Electrics, the role of unions cannot go back to being what it was. But on this Labor Day any leader concerned with the American middle class needs to consider that the basic function of unions – balancing the power of employers and employees – is as important to our economy as it has ever been.

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subbes
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Washington, DC
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cjheinz
16 days ago
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True dis.

Eat Sheet (Cake) And Die, or, Give Your Cakes To Antifa

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Walking on the freeway during a protest is like a fear of heights on Hard Mode. You get light-headed, you have to take very small steps, constantly looking down at your feet to make sure the ground doesn’t give out beneath you. You feel around for things to latch onto or to push away to make sure you don’t […]
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30 days ago
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yay jetta
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31 days ago
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Chicago!
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One Dead in Charlottesville : Why the Right Can Kill Us Now

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Charlottesville murder

Today, in Charlottesville, Virginia, participants in a fascist rally did what they have been threatening to do for a long time, driving a car into a crowd and murdering at least one person.

News coverage of Nazi driving a car into a crowd.

We are not surprised.

At Standing Rock in November, police nearly blew off the arm of 21-year-old Sophia Wilanksy with a concussion grenade.

The North Dakota legislature responded not by condemning police violence, but by introducing a bill that would make it legal for drivers to run over protestors.

At an anti-fascist demonstration in Seattle in January, coinciding with Trump’s inauguration, an alt-right assaulter shot Hex, an unarmed anti-fascist protestor and IWW member, in the stomach, sending him to the hospital for weeks. Police initially responded by declining to charge the shooter with a crime, while continuing to condemn and repress anti-fascist demonstrators.

After the Seattle shooting, we wrote that the alt-right “is actively working to create momentum for a fascist movement that will not stop short of murder.”

Today’s murder of an anti-fascist protestor is the first to take place during a demonstration. It is probably not the last.

Nazi driving a car into a crowd, rear angle.

When the state sends the message that both police and other totalitarians can freely attack and injure those who stand up against racism and injustice, no one should be surprised when that continues to happen.

When the state moves to legalize using vehicles to murder protestors, no one should be surprised when the alt-right takes up their invitation.

Meanwhile, the state intends to use this tragedy to consolidate its position. Trump condemned hatred and bigotry “on many sides”—deliberately obscuring who perpetrates the violence and who suffers it, and what distinguishes the values of anti-fascists from the hatred of fascists. Melania Trump reminds us that “no good comes from violence”—again, equalizing anti-fascist militancy with fascist murder—while her husband brings the world closer to the brink of nuclear holocaust than it has been for generations.

Nazi driving a car into a crowd, side angle.

And as our friends lie bleeding in the streets and cold in the morgue, as unapologetic neo-Nazi violence escalates to a level not seen in decades, Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer tells us to “go home.” He cannot bring himself to say, “A neo-Nazi murdered someone fighting against white supremacy while I stood and did nothing.” So he diplomatically mentions that “a life was lost”—like a misplaced set of keys, rather than a horrific and deliberate act of racist violence.

The discourse of “law and order” functions the same way, whether from the mouths of liberals like Mayor Signer or authority-worshipping Blue Lives Matter zealots. It is intended to play on our fears of violence and chaos to convince us that the only alternative is to accept the economic, political, and racial status quo, defended by ever-escalating control and surveillance.

But we have to realize that their laws and their order are precisely what produced this situation—a situation in which pipeline company profits are worth more than the lives of water protectors, in which cops murder black men with impunity, in which torch-wielding Nazis can murder those who organize to halt their racist agenda.

Nazi driving a car into a crowd, aftermath.

We must identify the forces underlying their laws and their order—white supremacy, patriarchy, policing, capitalism, and the state. We have to work together to keep ourselves safe and reimagine the world without them.

No, we will not go home. We will not forget. And if we can ever forgive, it will only be when we have ensured that no policeman or fascist will ever again be able to cause the slightest bit of harm to any living thing.

See you in the streets.

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skorgu
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angelchrys
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Overland Park, KS
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39 days ago
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Marijuana Company Turning Entire Town Into Pot Tourism Destination

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If the idea of a marijuana-friendly town gives you an anticipatory buzz, you may consider taking a trip to California, where one municipality is slated to become one big pot tourism destination.

Recreational marijuana will be legal in California as of Jan. 1, and in an effort to take advantage of the impending green rush, American Green Inc. — a company that makes cannabis products like body balms, pet treats, and mints — has purchased the entire town of Nipton for $5 million, Bloomberg reports.

The goal is to turn it into a weed-friendly tourism spot over the next 18 months by using some existing structures and building others, all powered by renewable energy.

For example, a new facility will make water infused with Cannabidiol or CBD, which doesn’t make you feel stoned but is believed to have medical benefits. There are plans for edible marijuana products, retail stores, and even artist-in-residence programs as well.

Greenwashing the town will not only appeal to travelers looking for a buzz and revitalize the area, the company says, but the hope is that others will follow suit.

“We thought that showing that there was a viable means of having a cannabis-friendly municipality and further making it energy independent could be a way of really inspiring folks to say, ‘Why can’t we do that here?’” project manager Stephen Shearin told Bloomberg.

American Green also recently launched smart vending machines an idea we first heard about back in 2014 — that it says uses biometrics to ensure only people of age are purchasing





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subbes
47 days ago
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gglockner
48 days ago
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They should have picked Weed, CA
Bellevue, WA

Let’s Pack the Courtroom for Eric’s Preliminary Hearing!

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Eric, who is facing charges stemming from the counter demonstration against an alt-right/fascist rally in Berkeley on April 15, needs our support!
His court date is Thursday August 10 at 9am. Rene C. Davidson Courthouse (12th and Oak St in downtown Oakland) Dept 11.

Thus far, public call outs have not been made for court support because alt-right trolls have also shown up to harass Eric and his supporters. For supporters at court this has even meant risking getting their photo taken and their identity researched online, which increases the risk of being doxxed.

At this point, we believe that these risks are now a part of the nature of doing support for anti racist, anti fascist, feminist, and queer comrades dealing with state and right-wing vigilante repression. The Anti Repression Committee has always promoted the idea that repression is not something that we can avoid, but it is something we can be prepared for. With that in mind, we strongly encourage everyone in our movements to prepare for repression in the form of right-wing doxxing, but to not let this risk prevent us from showing up to support those who are baring the brunt of repression. While there are always many individuals who cannot and should not put themselves in vulnerable positions (just like some people cannot be on the front lines in street protests), we maintain that if enough of us show up with our bodies in the court room to support comrades like Eric, it will strengthen the very movement the right wing and the state is attempting to neutralize. This also continues to set a precedent that if any of us are under attack we will be supported by each other.

August 10 is Eric’s preliminary hearing and his case will be the only one heard in that court room. Therefore, if you can, please come and pack the room so there’s no space for the trolls and their cameras. But before you come to court, please check out this article to educate yourself on how doxxing works and what kind of personal information you can wipe clean from the internet about yourself -especially your home address, place of work, and contact information of you and your family.
https://itsgoingdown.org/time-beef-defense-against-far-right-doxxing/

Together we’re stronger! Let’s do this ya’ll!

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53 days ago
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