Self-Defense and Strategic Escalation Against Violent Racists
By Antidote’s Ed Sutton
Sometimes I hate being right. Of course, in the last few years, the further intensification and proliferation of racist violence in Europe and North America has been a pretty obvious horse to bet on, so my having called a couple close ones does not count as any kind of unique prescience. But even if it did, it’s nothing to celebrate when a group of visiting Greek students gets attacked by hymn-singing neo-Nazis in the heart of Zurich. “I told you so!” isn’t exactly the winningest response. One young man was hospitalized and nearly lost an eye.
Source: Calais Migrant Solidarity blog, an invaluable resource. Please visit them.
26/30 July 2015
One recent death here in Calais was that of a young Eritrean woman hit by a car on the A16 while trying to cross the road. While this is being reported in the news as a terrible accident, information we have been getting from those who witnessed the tragedy shows otherwise. Witnesses say that immediately before this young woman lost her life she had been in contact with the police. They say that she, along with a group of five other people, had been caught by police and then sprayed in their faces with CS gas. Afterward the people then fled across the highway, one by one. However, because the gassing had irritated her eyes so much, the young woman could not see when she went to cross the highway. She did not see and could not avoid the car speeding towards her, which hit her.
While in this case the police’s actions directly led to one woman losing her life, every day they are putting people in extremely dangerous situations.
Movements and Migrants in Central Asia*
Movements in Central Asia have become large-scale and permanent, involving all social groups, rich and poor, women and men, young and old. They move around their own countries and among countries. Some go for several weeks or months and come back, while others live far from their place of birth for years, only occasionally visiting their homelands. Still others leave forever, breaking all ties. Some travel in search of a new homeland, so to speak. Others go to make money, study or receive medical treatment. Still others go for fun and excitement.
All this movement has come as a surprise to experts and politicians. I still remember the debates in the Soviet Union in the 1980s as to why the people of Central Asia were reluctant to travel outside their region. Even then officials and academics in Moscow, observing the beginnings of the demographic decline in Russia itself, were planning to relocate people from borderlands with an excess labor force to the central regions of the then still-unified country.
These plans failed, because few people wanted to leave their homes. Only organized and, in fact, involuntary labor recruitment and military labor brigades partly solved the increased need for labor power. The weak affinity that Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Kyrgyz felt for voluntary mobility was proclaimed, on their part, an inherent and incorrigible attachment to family, community, and the hot climate.
However, all these explanations were put to shame only a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when millions of people from the titular Central Asian nations felt an irresistible urge to hit the road, leaving and, sometimes, literally abandoning their homes.
Let us try and make sense of these circumstances, to understand why movement in the region has suddenly become a vital life strategy among a considerable number of people.
Transcribed from the 30 May 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:
“These cases around women actually broaden our understanding of just how at risk black bodies are, and just how deep police authority has grown.”
Chuck Mertz: It’s not only black men who are victims of violence at the hands of police. Black women have been killed by cops, too. You may not know their names like you know Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Eric Garner. Maybe that’s the problem.
AntiNote: The following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability. Listen to it in its entirety:
On 20 December 2014, host Chuck Mertz of This is Hell! Radio spoke with author and historian Edward Baptist about the continuing legacy of slavery and the ongoing sanitization and downright falsification of its history in the United States.
This conversation was timely when it took place, as protests over police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and all around the country had been escalating. Since neither the regular police murder of unarmed black men and women in the United States nor the white supremacist system that drives and condones it has ended, this conversation remains timely now, six months later, with the world’s eyes on Baltimore.
The conversations around lethal racist policing and the growing rebellion against it have continued to evolve over these six months, with some promising turns. While deeper investigations into the racial, institutional and economic history of Ferguson were not completely absent from media coverage of the police murder of Michael Brown, it seemed to happen primarily at a low frequency on the fringes of the discourse. The same could be said of alternative analyses of rioting as a legitimate response to state violence. But both of these avenues of thought have factored much more prominently in the coverage of Freddie Gray’s horrific beating murder by Baltimore cops and the ensuing uprising there.
Indeed, they have combined in a way. The relatively recent history of Baltimore’s economic abandonment has been used as further evidence of the hypocrisy of people who complain about broken windows but not broken spines. As the argument goes, they never complained about the broken windows, the broken homes, the broken communities that de-industrialization, white flight, the War on Drugs, and austerity produced in Baltimore. Just the ones broken by black rioters.
Good point. Yes, a crucial backdrop for the ongoing racial unrest in Baltimore and the rest of the United States is the economic suffering wrought by neoliberalism over the last half-century. But this system of violent racialized economic exploitation has been a feature of capitalism for much longer than that.
by Josh Baltimore for SIC
29 April 2015
I’m heading home in two days.
There is something very important happening not only in Baltimore, but across black America. As of now there have been no reported deaths at the hands of protesters in a city where 250 people are killed a year, nearly all of those homicide victims being black. In spite of the fires and the looting, the young people of Baltimore are still showing a greater restraint in their conflicts with police and store-owners than they have shown in their conflicts amongst each other. I say this because for years it has been my family too that has done some of the killing and much of the dying.
Why is it that the current uprising has, in spite of its violence, not tilted toward a shooting war between whites and blacks, cops and kids, landlords and tenants, bosses and workers, given the fact that the shooting war between young black men across the region is invariant? Because young black people still value the lives of their structural enemies more than they value their own. The engineering of what is possibly the most efficient self-cannibalizing social organism in history – the nightly shootouts, the stabbings, the overdoses – is a project that has been centuries in the making.