Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sunni Patterson: Daughter of New Orleans As Powerful Voice

She leads like a daughter, not from the front, but holding our hands, pulling us toward the future from our swampy, mucky Big Easy. Asking those questions that only children usually ask, demanding answers for our assumptions, and stunning us into silence that turns to a smile and sparks our ability to see through fresh eyes once again. Enjoy some of her amazing poems.
Check her out: Sunni Patterson




Sunday, June 26, 2011

More Sex Workers Arrested, Charged with "Crimes Against Nature"

Less than a month after Women With A Vision won a victory for sex workers by getting a repeal of the Solicitation of Crimes Against Nature (SCAN) law through the Lousiana legislature, a law which labels sex workers with Sex Offender status meant for sexual assault perpetrators, NOPD continues it's racist, P.R. motivated sweeps of minor offenders by arresting 9 women and charging them with the soon-to-be-repealed SCAN law.

The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 or 14 years old. Most of these 13 or 14 year old girls were recruited or coerced into prostitution. Others were "traditional wives" without job skills who escaped from or were abandoned by abusive husbands and went into prostitution to support themselves and their children.[1] The fact that New Orleans cops firstly failed to protect these women when they were children from the violence of patriarchy and class society, and then have the gall to ATTACK THE VICTIMS when they use a means of survival that is a visible reminder of this system's failures is a despicable attempt at obliterating any activities which remind them of where their massive degree of power, control and wealth in our society came from, while simultaneously re-producing and furthering that inequality as these women are forced to pay money to the courts for fines and fees, as their bodies in cells mean daily money to pay the Sheriff to house them, and as they lose the money from Johns to the whiter, more privileged sex workers ("escorts") not targeted by NOPD. NOPD's action simultaneously attacks society's victims, takes away more power from the oppressed and gives it to the more privileged, and blames sex workers instead of Johns for prostitution when most wealth is controlled by men in our society, re-enforcing the system of patriarchy.

The insults against the dignity of the people who live in this city just keep on coming fast and furious. 

Solidarity with the mainly women of color sex workers charged with SCAN crimes is imperative for any believable claim by those with greater privileges to really be fighting the systems that give them such privileges, whether that be male privilege, white privilege, or the class privilege to not have to do sex work to pay the bills.

Where are all the activists who speak so passionately about ending racism, sexism, classism, or violence? What are they doing? Eracism? Silence is Violence? NOW? Unions? The People's Institute? These women don't have the luxury of waiting for the next round of grant funding to come in, or waiting for minor legal reforms, of waiting for the next book to come out that explains intersectionality to suburban college students, of waiting until more people have degrees in Sociology or Non-Profit management, of waiting until enough people have gone through the People's Institute training that privilege somehow magically vanishes.  They are being attacked right now.

This system must be attacked for the humiliation, suffering, indignity, and hardship it puts the most vulnerable members of our communities through on a regular basis. Solidarity means risking your privilege to fight this system. This is a call to put your privileges on the line in the fight against oppression. Let's get these women free from the nightmare of 15 years of restrictions that will come from being on the Sex Offender Registry. Let's demand they are never targeted as criminals for being sex workers ever again without a fight.

Solidarity means attack. [2]

K'naan "Fatima" about his friend sold into forced sex work, something many sex workers experienced as children

Landrieu's Blight Campaign For a Neo-Liberal City: Code Enforcement Attacks on The Poor

The Neo-Liberal Model is Being Imposed Worldwide
 When the city announced it would be stepping up code enforcement as part of Mayor Landrieu's campaign against "blight" (did anyone tell him there was a flood here a few years back?), somehow it seemed there was no way it could be a good thing. Now we know for sure, as this article from The Lens about a mid-city man's desperate plea to save his home from demolition in front of the Code Enforcement Board at City Hall clearly shows.

Landrieu's anti-blight campaign, seen in the context of his attempt to re-make New Orleans into a neo-liberal city (a city for private profit, not for people, where the enrichment of private capital will somehow trickle down to everyone else), and especially the idea of increased code enforcement actions, would inevitably lead to more attacks on the poor and working class majority.

We wrote the Code Enforcement people at City Hall after Landrieu's announcement a few months ago, asking who exactly would be targeted, and explaining that in other cities Code Enforcement has been used to harass and displace the poor, and asking that this not occur here, because if the problem is empty blighted buildings, displacing people will only create more blight. We need people living in our neighborhoods, not empty neighborhoods more amenable for the interests of private capital (you can't have new condo developments with poor people around, right?). We were assured in a response e-mail that Code Enforcement would only take action against empty buildings and slumlords, not owner-occupied homes. Well, big surprise, they were lying.
Poster to print and distribute.
Mere months after that response letter to us, The Lens reports attorneys for the city are examining whether it is possible for the city to expropriate/demolish an occupied home for blight, giving the man targeted a short, 30 day reprieve while they make this determination. The fact that they are even asking this question shows they consider targeting the poor in their own homes a possibility. And, considering our city's neo-liberal overlords and their constant attacks on anything unprofitable to private Capital, the outcome will surely be bad news unless, through our anger and organized resistance to these attacks, we can force the creation of a future where the people who live in the city matter more than profits, property values, and tax revenues.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Critical Mass and Other Events

Come out to protest the ticketing of bikers in the French Quarters and to display an expression of bike power and solidarity by riding in Critical Mass today, Friday, June 24, at 6pm. Meet at Jackson Square. Hopefully it won't be raining.

Also, come out on Tuesday at 7pm to the Iron Rail Book Collective's benefit extravaganza at Zeitgeist.

Help Free Spyboy Ricky, a Mardi Gras Indian currently kidnapped for ransom at OPP. Read more here. NOLA Anarcha donated $20. Match us!

UPDATE 6/25/2011: YES! Spy Boy Ricky is FREE, thanks to the solidarity of so many caring and generous souls who raised the needed $5400 in no time! Look for him this Sunday with his tambourine. (Uptown Swingers second line, and Super Sunday downtown.) Amazing! A win for us! The only sad part is that $5400 went to the prison system instead of being able to raise that money for a worthy program for kids or other people who could use it for something positive in our city. The prison system is a vampire sucking the blood out of our communities to keep itself alive. Some day we're going to have to kill it. Read an interview with Ricky after he got out.

Ricky is now FREE! Check it out! What amazing solidarity!

let's go get 'em

Monday, June 20, 2011

In Chalmette, If Race Divides Class in The Fight Over Multi-Family Housing, Renters Lose

Recently there was another news story about the battle over 4 mixed-income apartment buildings being built in da Parish. The Parish Council has been fighting the GNO Fair Housing Action Center over the development for years, and many white Chalmette residents are dead set against the idea. They use every argument they can think of against the development, and a couple months ago, as the linked news story shows, racist graffiti appeared saying "no niggers" on the building.

It is interesting to note the blatantly racist comments of the Parish President Craig Taffaro. He is willingly spreading false rumors of an insane conspiracy theory, rather than admit racism amongst the development's opponents. He concocts a story which conveniently blames the development's advocates for the racist graffiti, and implies it was an attempt to make the opposition look racist. It's hard to believe a seasoned political operative like Taffaro is an just ostrich trying to keep his head in the sand about the racist nature of this opposition, more than likely he is one of the arch-racists trying to keep people divided from one another for his own political gain.

Rather than spreading fear and rumor-mongering about blacks moving in to Chalmette like Taffaro in the news story, anti-racist whites in Chalmette should be explaining how these multi-unit buildings will help stop landlords from raising the rent on tenants as easily. If there are less people competing for market-rate rentals, landlords can't charge as high of a price for them because the demand is lower. These buildings ease that competition among renters. The real struggle is between property owners in Chalmette, who want their property values (and ability to charge higher rents) to increase at all costs, even if it means poor white families are priced out of neighborhoods, kids have to sleep in cars with their parents, homelessness increases, and renters of all colors have to pay more just to have a roof over their heads. 
A poster you can put up in Chalmette (how to put up posters)
The landlords and homeowners are using race to keep renters from uniting and wringing their damn necks for stopping this affordable housing development that will benefit all renters by easing demand for affordable rental housing in Chalmette. As has happened for hundreds of years in Louisiana, wealthier people and politicians are trying to use race to divide and conquer people to manipulate their way to more political power and wealth.

For many of the homeowners and small-time landlords in St. Bernard Parish, they've come to this position that attacks renters because of the pressure they feel to maintain their property values because of the mortgages they still owe to banks. This pressure forces them to turn against their renter neighbors instead of fighting the banks over their mortgages. It's up to anti-racist whites in St. Bernard Parish and white renters to unite with non-white renters and demand that they not be forced to pay the price in the form of higher rents for maintaining landowners' property values in St. Bernard.

The Eros of Eris

They hate us because we live the lives they wish they had the courage to live. (more: Krewe of Eris)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Local History: 1929 Streetcar Workers' Strike and the Invention of the Po'Boy

In 1929, eighteen-hundred unionized streetcar drivers and motormen from Local 194 engaged in a militant and successful strike against New Orleans Public Service, Inc. (NOPSI), now known as Entergy. The strike lasted from July 1st until October, and occurred in the midst of the Great Depression and in a year when transit workers were on strike all over the U.S. It became one of the fiercest battles between workers and management in New Orleans' history.

Just 5 days after the strike began, strikebreaking scabs were brought in from Buffalo, N. Y. to run the streetcars, but the first car out of the Canal Street barns was pelted with bricks and paving stones by a crowd. The scab motorman quit in five minutes. Four cars then left the barn under heavy police guard. Two, passengerless, crawled around the beltline. A third was driven back by angry strikers. A fourth was burned on Canal Street before a jeering multitude. Some policemen fired into the mob. Other policemen resigned rather than defend the strikebreakers.

5 Streetcars were torched during the strike.
A series of bombings, dynamiting, fights, shootings and assaults occurred in relation to the strike, crowds as large as 10,000 gathered to support the strikers[1], and NOPSI lost some 4 million fares because of the strike[2], causing them considerable financial damage.

During the strike, the Martin Brothers restaurant, owned by former union streetcar workers, invented the Poor Boy sandwich to feed the hungry strikers cheaply. They continued to make po'boys after the strike because the Great Depression left so many people destitute, even going so far as to give out lettuce and tomato po'boys completely free to keep people from starving. The po'boy is now a famous New Orleans tradition, even having a version suitable for vegetarians and vegans, the french-fry po'boy.

Awesome letter from Clovis & Bennie Martin to the strikers.
Two strikers were killed, five trolleys were burned to the tracks, a car barn was dynamited, trackage was destroyed, and switches were cemented in place during the fight. It must have been a crazy summer to live in the Big Easy! But, with the immense solidarity shown by the people of New Orleans, the strikers were able to eventually win their demands and return to work, and New Orleanians could start riding the streetcars again.

So every time you eat a delicious po'boy, take a second to remember the beautiful gesture of working class solidarity that led to it's creation. It makes them taste even better!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Take it to the streets with Women with a Vision this Friday

Take it to the streets with Women with a Vision this Friday:
Stop the war on drugs. For reasons why, see posts further down, including the incident in Houma, the case of Alvin Bean, and the person sentenced to life in prison for marijuana possession.

Planting Drugs is Standard Procedure for Local Cops

An Algiers man arrested in January on drug charges had his charges dropped recently after proving that the officers who arrested him were even worse at lying than most NOPD cops are, and they had lied about his arrest. He also said the drugs on him were planted by the cops. Alvin Bean was lucky.

This is a story very familiar to many people in New Orleans. Cops stop someone, take their drugs, then plant them on someone else later. How many times have the officer's account of an arrest been impossible for the defendant to prove false in similar situations? It must be hundreds. What kind of monsters would ruin someone's life like this? Only people who have been filled with pure evil by such an irredeemably soul-destroying institution as the police department.

Hopefully one day we will break free of the state's control over our communities, and all those who have been railroaded into prison by cops better at lying than these 2 idiots will have the chance to get their revenge. This is most certainly a primary reason why cops and the wealthy elites cops serve fight so hard to maintain the current system: they fear the vengeance they know is coming for them from all those whose lives they've destroyed in pursuit of wealth and power.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

NOPD Targets Cyclists: Will They Fight Back?

There are plenty of excellent reasons to support bicycling as a form of transportation: from the oil it takes to run a car and the wars needed to secure it, to health benefits, to ending the epidemic of car-related traffic fatalities killing pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. There are many local organizations trying to promote cycling, respect for bikes, and room for bicyclists on the roads: Metro Bicycle Coalition, Plan B, and RUBARB just to name a few.
At the same time the city is finally listening to these groups and installing a minimal amount of bike lanes and promoting bicycling, the NOPD has decided to issue tickets to bicyclists in the French Quarter. Sometimes our city has no policy coherency at all. This can be a good thing for those looking to escape this system and find zones of autonomy and opacity, but it also means the apparatus of control can be more capricious, arbitrary, and more catered to the service of the powerful minority. Which is why, when the rich, powerful Vieux Carre Property Owners Association (note: not a neighborhood association, a group specifically for owners of the most expensive property in the city) complained to the city about bicyclists running into them on the sidewalk as they exit their million dollar mansions (likely on a cell phone, carrying some shopping bags, expecting everyone to cater to their comfort and care like their servants do), the NOPD jumped into action, issuing $110 tickets to people riding bikes in the Quarter. Bikes that may have cost less than that to buy altogether.

What's next, ticketing the joggers that run into the oblivious rich trash stepping out of their mansions into public space with the arrogance to lay claim to the public areas of the French Quarter and demand they be treated like an extension of their private property? This is yet another glaring example of how the police protect and serve only the rich at the expense of others.

So what are bike riders to do? Will our local pro-cycling organizations step it up and organize bicyclists to oppose this unjustified, classist targeting by NOPD? Or will they leave the people they are advocating for out to dry in order to avoid conflict with the city and the cops? Perhaps they need to hear from bicyclists asking that they organize protests.

Critical Mass style protest rides downtown, perhaps weekly, until the ticketing ends could work. Perhaps rides where bikers borrow a labor struggle tactic and "ride-to-rule," meaning follow all traffic laws meticulously while riding slowly en masse, to show how many traffic problems it would cause, would work? Especially right around, say, City Hall at rush hour, maybe?

If bicyclists did not ignore the laws, which is something they must do in order to maintain their personal safety while riding on streets where cars are more likely to hit them if they ride legally, as well as to get anywhere in a timely manner, car traffic would be slowed to a crawl.

The targeting of cyclists by NOPD is an insult to the dozens of my friends who have been seriously injured by cars, often in hit-and-run collisions, despite NOPD's claim to be able to provide for the protection and safety of all. We all know from plenty of interactions with the NOPD that they could care less about cyclists being hit by cars. One friend who had been run over by a taxi and gotten his pelvis broken was even still in the hospital, sedated on painkillers, when a cop came in and made him sign a paper saying it was his fault when it wasn't!  

But, if rich people have to look both ways before walking out of a doorway, NOPD is on the case and ticketing cyclists! Totally pathetic and sadly typical.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Two Drug War Hostages Resist Being Kidnapped by Houma Police

Two people were arrested in Houma recently for trying to rally neighbors to stop the all-too-common violence of the police against them. Unfortunately, they were arrested, and for their completely logical response to being stopped and searched for drugs by men with guns, they were given extra charges of inciting a riot, were electrocuted with a Taser, and now sit in jail facing $100,000 bonds. Two more people from our neighborhoods, disappeared.

If anyone is guilty of inciting a riot, it is the police. Every time they demand people hand over their drugs, at the threat of lethal violence if they don't, and with the guarantee of being kidnapped by the gang in blue if they do (and aren't rich enough to afford prescription drugs), it is an outrage worthy of a riot. One should happen every time the cops try this bullshit. How many thousands of mostly people of color must be targeted in the war on drugs before people will riot?
The WWL account of the arrest is below, which makes it sound as if the police were just innocently trying to "identify a car." Right. They were wolves out hunting more prey, hunting more warm bodies for the prison system to feast on, more bodies to justify their paychecks, more bodies deemed expendable, deemed surplus labor by the dictatorship of Capital and given only two options: become a slave laborer in prison, or simply die.

This time they found two people not content to become human sacrifices of our system's genocidal machinations without a fight. Good for them! May they be the first of millions!

Via WWL:
A mother and son were arrested Thursday night for allegedly trying to encourage a crowd of Daniel Turner Court residents to harm Terrebonne narcotics agents.

Leslie Carson, 34, and Keith George, 19, both of 1313 Memory Lane, encouraged other residents to attack agents while they worked to identify a car, police said.

When agents tried to arrest Carson, George lunged at officers and tried to attack them, authorities said. George refused to calm down, authorities said, and agents were forced to use a Taser to stop the attack and arrest him.

Carson is being held at the Terrebonne Parish jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond, while George is being held awaiting a bond hearing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Krewe of Eris 12 Formally Charged with Crimes for Being Beaten by Police

In a slap in the face to all the citizens of this city who expect protection from police brutality, 12 people who were beaten bloody by NOPD during the Krewe of Eris parade have now been charged with crimes, some of them serious. This system is so damn good at blaming the victim sometimes!

I have to get personal on this one:  My friend, who is a pacifist teetotaler, and was playing the clarinet in the band at the parade, is one of the Eris 12. At the parade during his arrest he had his cheek bone broken, his head split open (requiring stitches), his clarinet broken, and he got tazered three times. Why must he now must be subjected to still further abuse at the hands of the horrible DA's office by being charged with a false crime, adding further insult to injury? 
We all know this system doesn't actually protect us, but it still makes me sick to my stomach when they subject people I love to such indignity and humiliation, after already failing to do what they claim is their job, to "protect and serve" people to keep them safe from violence and crime. The criminals that awful night were a gang of violent psychopaths sporting their blue gang colors and attacking people with weapons. This affair is just sickening and pathetic. It's yet another example of the cruelty of the this system, and the callous nature of those in power in Louisiana. Ugh. Solidarity is our only hope!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Police Car Tires Slashed in Thibodeaux

On May 5, someone in Thibodeaux took action against the police department there, slashing 34 tires in one night. We completely understand the type of mistreatment from, and frustration with, the police that could lead to such an action.
 We want the cops out of our communities, and out of operation, as soon as possible, so we can create a society based on cooperation and community instead of inequality and individualism. The laws the police enforce maintain the racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and classism our current society is predicated upon. They are the running dogs of the wealthy elites, and their job is to maintain the very social inequality that is the root cause of most crime, thereby making us less safe than if they did not exist. If you don't believe this, just look at where the most police are at per person to see if they keep those under their authority safe: look at prisons. Prisons have plenty of police, but are still one of the most violent social arenas in the world, proving that police don't make us safe, they enforce the inequality that leads to violence.

Video: Red Light Cameras Covered Up By Anarchists

Recently some anarchists covered up some of the notorious and hated red light traffic cameras in New Orleans with black garbage bags and threw leaflets in the air nearby. They anonymously sent in the video below. We transcribed the text of the leaflet below because it is hard to read on the video. This follows an arson attack on a speed camera on Chartres St. last October, and angry comments flooding after every traffic camera story. Cameras in Jefferson Parish have already been stopped, and hopefully New Orleans will be next!

Traffic cameras show the total contempt that the government has for people. A stack of tickets extorts payments from us. They threaten us with worse if we don't pay. And in the end surveillance doesn't make us any safer, it only illegalizes things that we were once capable of accomplishing with our own good judgment.
Well, we're fucking sick of being manipulated by the incredulous gaze of surveillance, so we're putting a bag over the watchful eye of this newest type of policing. 
Against the gaze of the state! For self-determination!
                                                                             -Some anarchists

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Serpas Petition: Meet The New Chief, Same As The Old Chief

Here we go again! Liberals, forgetting the entire history of how institutional structures function, seem to believe that an online petition proclaiming "no confidence" in NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas will make the police force any less of a menace to society.

Even if this online petition was capable of accomplishing it's goal, which it's not (unless we are underestimating the political power of local liberal elites), we have no illusions that changing the man in charge will change what his job requires him to do. When we work our jobs as bartenders, dishwashers, or construction workers, we know that we can't decide what our job will entail. We have to do what the job demands of us or we'll be fired. Being a police chief is no different. The policeman's job requires him to uphold the privileges of race, class, and gender our nation is built on.

We refuse to be sucked into the fantasies of bourgeois reform, hoping that this time the man in charge will be different. This perspective, that if we can just get a good police chief things will be better, is highly convenient for those who rely on the "good cops" to maintain their privileges as the system's reformers. We know from our daily interactions with police, the prison system, and all oppressive systems that it is not the man that makes the system from within, it is the system that molds the man to it's ends.
Local graffito mentioned in a Nation magazine column (linked)
Even in cities with reputations for progressive policing, the cops are still a menace. In Seattle last fall, police murdered a homeless, deaf, Native American woodcarver in broad daylight for not hearing their orders to put down his tiny carving knife. In New York, two police were acquitted last week of raping a woman despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt. And in every city, even the most progressive police regularly attack and intimidate anarchists who dare to challenge the state and capital.

No matter how many cops are replaced, no matter who the police chief is, as long as anyone in our society wears a gun and a badge and demands our obedience, that person is an oppressor and enforcer of privilege. Obfuscating that reality behind calls for the "bad apples" to be fired makes one an accomplice to the continuation of the police as an institution of domination. We need less cops, not better cops!