Burnt Bookmobile

Electoral Politics Recalled: An Evening of Wildness Snakes Through Downtown Milwaukee

From AnarchistNews:

Four arrests Wednesday evening. A “keep it in the streets” protest in downtown Milwaukee followed the re-election of Governor Scott Walker, and was scheduled to respond to the victory of either politician. At this time, four have been released and cited with disorderly conduct and one more recently released back into our arms a day later than the rest. The five that were arrested were almost arbitrarily chosen for their close proximity to the blind and fevered panic of the police. The police, despite their smirks, had far less control over the situation than they want to say. At moments they had to put their hands on their guns just to convince themselves of who was in control. Shit was out of control.

After a year and a half being wasted on a recall election, after all of the energy put into the Capitol occupation and state-wide strikes was funneled into useless electoral politics, there is now room to breathe and begin again. This newfound freedom to act was seen in the streets of Milwaukee with surprising clarity. What started as a gathering of talking heads quickly escalated into a push and shove match with police, whose aim was to corner and stop any unpermitted march from taking place. Within seconds of the march, protesters took to the streets as dozens of cops in riot gear attempted to contain them. The crowd was unwilling to be pushed aside, and worked together to shove back and wind around the horses, motorcycles, and beefy baton-wielding helmets.

The black bloc, though dormant in Milwaukee for years, seemingly reappeared (some in all black, some with red bandannas, and some other groups and individuals who wore some form of the mask) and it both engaged in confrontation and helped to defend individuals in the crowd, while others that weren’t bloc’d up joined in and initiated their own actions. Its very presence declared non-violence an impossibility.

Police tried to stop the crowds, but failed again and again to contain its excesses. People pushed against police lines and horses and pulled their friends to safety as cops attempted to arrest them. One startled cop had some unknown liquid thrown at his face during the first attempted kettle. At another moment of police provocation a member of the crowd wrested a baton from the grip of a cavalry officer, hit him, and threw the baton at another, then jumped into the cloak of the crowd. It was unruly, disobedient, and willing to shove, at least 150 deep.

After twelve or so blocks of low-intensity conflict, protestors made it to Zeidler Park, the planned to be space of occupation. At this point the PA once again became an instrument of boredom as the crowd was talked at by people that wanted to give speeches instead of dance, or eat, or fight. Attention was then shifted to supporting those arrested, and a small crowd moved to the local police station to await their release. No occupation happened, but for now that is ok. All in all, the event was a short but inspiring leap away from the silly matter of a recall election.

When asked about the protest, police chief Flynn was quoted saying that it was MPD’s job to “babysit” the crowd while they “pretend to be relevant protestors”. We couldn’t disagree more. It is only now that the police have been identified as a thing to be fought, and the recognition that democracy will always fail to appease its audience that Wisconsin joins relevant contemporary struggle. Last year at the Capitol there was some confusion as to whether or not the police could be considered a part of the working class and it is very nice to see this question can put to rest. There is nothing more salient to present-day politics than an antagonism towards police.

Meanwhile, the media acted with calculation, minimizing and simplifying events, as they are expected to, creating a safe distance from any possible intensity. To them, it was simply a protest, it was “40”, it was “several”. It marched roughly half the actual distance down the forgettable avenue of Plankinton, when the wildness really cut through Water Street, the center of downtown. We blocked traffic “briefly” (ahem, forty god minutes at least). Their tendencies are to be non-descriptive, to imply that those that got arrested deserved it, and to minimize the actual event as much as possible, acknowledging it only so as to explain it away.

Similarly, the Left attempts to erase the excitement and power we experienced at the march. They talk about a peaceful, nonviolent protest where police officers unjustly arrested individuals to stifle free speech. From their press releases to the photos they post, the shining activists of the 99% were all but crushed, helpless victims.

The truth is that the march wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been as unruly and forceful as it had been, and there would have been many more arrests and injuries at the hands of the police. There was anger, and there was power.

To the rest of the world that is fighting and making 2012 the year that the world ends: Don’t wait for us, we’ll catch up!

We were not the 99%. We were 150, and we were angry.

Locks of school glued before Gov. Scott Walker slated to speak

According to Fox6News:

Vandals super glued the locks of several doors and a parking gate at Messmer Preparatory School in Milwaukee. School officials believe the people responsible for the vandalism were protesting the visit of Gov. Scott Walker Friday afternoon.

Gov. Walker was expected to arrive at 1 p.m. to speak to kindergarten and first grade students about reading.

Late Thursday night, school officials were informed that building alarms had been set off. Then, Friday morning, they discovered that nine locks on the property’s exterior doors had been sealed with glue. The doors tampered with included a parking gate, several doors to the building and even a church building door.

Janitors are working to get the doors open but believe the locks will have to be replaced. Surveillance video is now being reviewed to see if the vandals can be identified.

Messmer President Brother Bob Smith tells FOX6 News the protestors have gone too far.

In a statement released Friday morning, Brother Bob says, “We teach our students to respect adults and individuals they disagree with.  Our students work hard and succeed.  There are no gimmicks or tricks here, just a focus on traditional values.”   

Brother Bob is warning parents of students that if they join protestors and disrupt school, their children are at risk of being expelled.”


“Changed, if at all”

Q: “How has the situation in Wisconsin changed, if at all, in the weeks since you initially conducted the interview?”

A: It’s certainly devious in how imperceptible that change is and was, both for when there was a “change” and after. You had to seek it out or you have to have been effected, forced to pay attention. Most areas of life were on the surface in no way effected by “the events in Madison.” They were too easy to ignore. And this imperceptibility demonstrates the immense power of the apparatus that keeps everything the same and also the weakness of a struggle that either must change everything or will return to normal.

I’m tempted to compare the situation of seeming powerlessness, the general strike that was threatened and existed in many minds as a slumbering yet awakening beast of a bygone age, and which remains present in many minds specifically as a lack, to a phantom limb. We feel, and are witness to the presence of our absence of power.

What I can share are frustrations, and a kind of shock that corresponds with any subservient march back to work, and that forgets the most important fact of these events, which is that it was not the unions or politicians which made us something to be feared. It was the constitution as a force, however briefly and however foolish, that shocked many, especially those who participated, with fear. Where else did the constant calls for non-violence come from? A million tiny failures repulse us with the horror of our powerlessness, specifically after we glimpsed or dared think otherwise. Not only time will tell how well we will retain this dream, because within a world that has every interest in our forgetting, it would sooner have never happened. Either we will feel the shame of taking part in our own forgetting or we will have to fight and through conflict remember more and more what is at stake in the present.

So yes, a lot has changed, but if one weren’t part of it then it’s as if nothing has and never did. It’s a news story. It’s a protest to be ignored. Life goes on. Now instead of a general strike, or strikes, or sick outs, or walk outs, what remains overwhelmingly are recall campaigns, and talk of electoral politics, which channel and subdue these events into processes that manage them, contain them, count them, and include them in the calculus of the democratic party. One must wait for their turn to put a piece of paper in a box and then go back to work, go back home, go to the mall – all places which we’ve been produced to fit perfectly within. Our presence within them contests nothing, and where contestation is ignored politics hides – the beast slumbers.

Unlimited Wild General Strike (poster)

Download PDF

Toward an Unlimited Strike, for a World Without Prison

From Milwaukee Indymedia:

“The night of March 15th, a group of roughly forty students, workers, the unemployed and other uncontrollables marched to the Milwaukee County Jail, carrying banners and black flags. The banners at the front of the march read “Burn All Prisons” and “No Control”. Upon arriving at the front doors of the jail, demonstrators chanted “Free them all” and launched dozens of fireworks through the air in an effort to communicate with those locked inside.

The demonstration was called for by participants in the occupation of the Theatre building at UW-Milwaukee as a part of the ongoing struggle against the “Budget Repair Bill”. The bill, proposed by the hated governor of Wisconsin, contains a provision that will institute a Truth-in-Sentencing policy. This measure removes the possibility for those locked away in Wisconsin’s jails and prisons to qualify for early release for good behavior or ‘good time’. For inmates this means a dramatic increase in the time spent in jail – more time in captivity, kept away from their families and loved ones, kept in abject misery and isolation. The Truth-in-Sentencing provisions of the bill highlight specifically how the economic attacks on working and unemployed people throughout the state goes hand in hand with the criminalization and imprisonment of the working class). The economic system that exploits our labor, deprives our benefits, and throws us on the street is the very same system that keeps us in cages and behind barbed wire.

In the past weeks of resistance to Walker’s austerity measures, the politicians and police unions have been remarkably silent about this provision. They’ve built a mythology that “we’re all in this together” or that “they’re on our side”. It is more convenient for them to simply ignore the ways that the bill they purportedly oppose dramatically expands the prison system they faithfully defend. It’s no coincidence that the bill both extends prison sentences while also protecting the Police Union from the elimination of collective bargaining rights. The role of politicians and the police is to maintain the dreadful economy and the prison system necessary to it. It should come as no surprise to us that those who fail to criticize this system are the same who encourage us to continue working and scold those who step outside the lines they’ve defined.

It is time for new lines to be drawn. On the one side: the governor, politicians, police, bureaucrats, professional activists. On the other: prisoners, workers, students, the unemployed, the enraged. If the spontaneous struggle against this bill were to generalize and become a movement against this economic system and its prisons, it would mean that those affected by the bill would need to extend their actions and gestures of solidarity through all the walls that separate them. December’s historic strike by prisoners in Georgia shows us what such action could look like. For us, this means that the strikes, occupations and sabotage – the generalized disruption of the economy – needs to spread through the walls of the prison, to generalize, and to intensify. In this, we need to build complicit relationships and revolt inside and outside those walls.

Towards an unlimited strike, for a world without prison.”

-The enraged

Anti-Prison Demonstration in Downtown Milwaukee (tomorrow)
03/14/2011, 11:30 PM
Filed under: Milwaukee area, update | Tags: , , , , , , ,

A call from the UWM Theatre Occupation:

“A part of the bill which has not been given nearly as much attention within
the movement against it, which has been focusing mostly on collective
bargaining, entails changes regarding early release for prisoners and people
incarcerated in jail. This means that prisoners and people jailed will face
the entirety of their terms with no possible opportunity or encouragement for good
behavior. This exposes the utter lie of rehabilitation. It will increase the
terms of people in prison, and thus will increase the number of people in
prison in Wisconsin, in a country that already counts more than two million
people as captive within its walls and barbed fences.

Be there at 9pm sharp. Bring things to make noise. Bring banners and signs
against prisons.

Come protest this and against a society that deals with its problems by
putting people in cages.

Come to the South entrance of the Milwaukee Public Museum (800 West Wells

Tomorrow March 15th

Section of the Wisconsin state budget regarding the stripping of collective bargaining rights passes
03/09/2011, 10:04 PM
Filed under: Milwaukee area, update | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Senators in favor of stripping unions of their collective bargaining rights figured out a way to split this section from the rest of the budget and pass it without the presence of the runaway Democrats who were stalling the passing of this part of the bill. People in Madison are running angrily to the Capitol and storming the doors, starting shoving matches with the police holding them shut until the police gave up and retreated. Once inside thousands of people filled the building and chanted “general strike” and “occupy”, amongst other things. Strikes seem more imminent than ever. They appear as certain. Thus chanting and marching in circles appear as more than obvious to everyone as finally and obviously inadequate. News sources are describing firetrucks driving around Madison blaring their sirens as sense of a state of emergency prevails across the city. They are joined by an endless stream of cars in traffic honking their horns constantly.

Reporting on this from the Journal Sentinel

While getting in to the Capitol building:

“Some doors were damaged, knobs and handles broken off,” Donovan said. “Some windows were either opened or broken. We can’t confirm whether any window glass was broken.”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 35 other followers