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.