Doing For Selves: Open Source Supplies and Tenant Organizing
Welcome to a podcast special from The Final Straw. While William is was busy producing an episode featuring voices of medical professionals and activists inside and out of prison to talk about the impacts of covid-19 on incarcerated people for broadcast, I had a couple of conversations about work folks are doing on the outside that I’d like to share.
Sean Swain [00:08:06-00:15:12]
Hacking To Fight Covid-19
First, I spoke with Bill Slavin of Indie Lab, space in Virginia that is in the process of shifting it’s purpose since the epidemic became apparent from an broader scientific and educational maker space to work on the manufacturing and distribution of covid-19 related items in need such as testing kits, medical grade oxygen, ventilators and 3d printed n95 quality masks for medical professionals to fill public health needs. Bill talks generally about the ways that community and scientists can come together through mutual aid to deal with this crisis left by the inaction of the government on so many levels. They are also crowd-sourcing fundraising for scaling up their production and facilities and there’s a link in our show notes on that. The platform that Bill talks about in the chat is known as Just One Giant Lab, or JOGL. Consider this an invitation for makers to get involved.
Organizing With Your Neighbors For Homes and Dignity
Then, I talked to Julian of Tenants United of Hyde Park and Woodlawn in Chicago. What with all of the talk about rent strikes in the face of such huge leaps in unemployment during the spread of covid-19 and accompanying economic collapse, I thought it’d be helpful to have this chat to help spur on these conversations of how we seize power back into our hands while we’re being strangled by quarantine and hopefully afterwards. You can learn more about the group Julian works with at TenantsUnitedHPWL.Org. Philadelphia Tenants Union and Los Angeles Tenants Union were both mentioned and will be linked in the show notes, alongside a reminder that the national Autonomous Tenants Union Network (ATUN) is being organized and folks can reach out to Philly TU or LA TU via email to get onto their organizing zoom calls. Finally, if you’re in the Chicago area and need a lawyer for housing, check out Lawyers Committee For Better Housing online at lcbh.org. Julian also mentioned squatting of homes in southern CA owned by the state, here’s a link to an article.
WNC Mutual Aid Projects
Linked in our show notes is also a googledoc that Cindy Milstein and others are helping to keep updated that lists many mutual aid projects that have sprung up all over concerning the exacerbation of capitalism by the covid-19 crisis, as well as a similar page up from ItsGoingDown.Org
If you’re in so-called Western NC and want to get involved, the project Asheville Survival Project has a presence on fedbook and is soliciting donations of food and sanitary goods for distribution to indigent, bipoc, elder and immune compromised folks in the community. We’ll link some social media posts on the subject that list our donation sites around Asheville in the show notes and you can venmo donations to @AVLsurvival.
And check our show notes for an invitation to call the NC Department of Public Safety and Governor’s offices to demand the release of NC prisoners susceptible to infection and possible death of Corona Virus in the NC system due to improper care. Wherever you are listening, consider getting together with others and calling jails, prison agencies and the executive branches to demand similarly the release of AT THE VERY LEAST the aged, infirm, folks in pre-trial detention, upcoming release or who are held because they can’t pay bail.
North Carolina Corrections Department-Prison Division
My name is ________, and I am a North Carolina resident deeply concerned about the safety of the states’s incarcerated people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Incarcerated people have a unique vulnerability to disease due to their crowded, unsanitary living conditions and lack of access to adequate medical care. For humanitarian reasons as well as reasons of public health, we call for the immediate release of all people in the North Carolina prison system. We also urge that you stop the intake of new prisoners during the pandemic. The cost of failing to take these steps will be paid for in human lives, and we refuse to abandon our neighbors and loved ones to die in lockup.
Even while the world burns, our 10th anniversary still approaches and we’re still soliciting messages from you, our listenership. Not sure what to say, likely you have a LOT of time on your hands, so go back through our archives and dive in. If you want a deep dive, visit our website where you can find hundreds of hours of interviews and music. If you want to drop us a line, check out the link in the show notes, or you can leave a voicemail or signal voice memo at +18285710161, you can share an audio file with the google drive associated with the email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a link to a cloud stored audio filed to that email address. Tell us and listeners what you’ve appreciated and or where you’d like us to go with this project.
If you appreciate the work that we do here at TFS, you can also help us out by making a donation if you have extra cash rustling around. The link on our site called Donate/Merch will show you tons of ways. If, like most of us, money is super tight at the moment, no prob, we struggle together. You can share our show with other folks to get these voices out there and more folks in the conversation. And if you REALLY like us and have a community radio station nearby who you’d be excited to have us air on for free, get in touch with us and we’ll help. The page on our site entitled Radio Broadcasting has lots of info for radio stations and how to let them know you want us on the airwaves. Thanks!
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From Monument To Masses – Sharpshooter – The Impossible Leap In One Hundred Simple Steps
This week we featured two conversations in the episode.
“Stop The Pipelines Action Camp”
Firstly, Bursts chatted with erin. erin is a resident of the Blacksburg VA area and an affiliate of Blue Ridge Rapid Response Project (or BRRRP) and is helping to organize the “Stop The Pipelines Action Camp” in that area from July 13-17th, 2017. The action camp is being organized in hopes to spread resistance to the Mountain Valley & Atlantic Coast Pipelines that are traversing Appalachian West Virginia, Virginia and, in the ACP’s case, North Carolina. We talk about what it is to live in a place and defend your home, to get to know your neighbors, to build the skills needed to resist ecocidal, capitalist infrastructure projects. More info at https://blueridgerapidresponse.wordpress.com. The event is being co-sponsored by Smokey Mountain Eco-Defense (SMED)
erin mentions pipeline security pursued by mercenary groups like TigerSwan as well as industry-sponsored astro-turf (or fake grassroots) group YourEnergy meant to muddy the water of community resistance to pipeline expansion and other infrastructural projects.
After that, Bursts chatted with 2 residents of the squatted neighborhood of Errekaleor Bizirik in the Basque territory within the borders of so-called Spain. The residents talk about the history of Errekaleor Bizirik, feminism, energy infrastructure, recent attacks by police on the project and pre-figuring a post-capitalist life-way in the rubble of the existent. For more info on the project, which translates to Dry River (Errekaleor) Lives (Bizirik)!, check out:
The draft wikipedia page;
An IGD post about the project with links and context;
Their Coopfunding page.
We wanted to also state that the folks at Errekaleor reached out to us for the interview, which was super awesome. If you have a project, a book, an article, a fight that seems like it’d be interesting to us and our listeners, send us an email at email@example.com and get the ball rolling.
If you want, find us on itunes and subscribe for free. You can rate us there as well, to help others find us more easily.
The Arizona based humanitarian aid group No More Deaths (No Mas Muertes in spanish) has been under semi constant surveillance by Border Patrol for the past week. This is unprecedented attention; since its foundation in 2004 this group has had a written agreement, essentially a non interference good faith contract, with Border Patrol that names the group as a health aid and humanitarian group that has every right to be doing the work it’s doing. NO More Deaths is a group based on certain faith principles (it is an official ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Tuscon) and on critical engagement with policy reform, nevertheless it is a group that has a high degree of anarchist involvement and solidarity with what could be called anarchist principles. It is most famous for desert aid; volunteers hiking out and leaving supplies such as water – essential in the 100 plus degree heat – food, socks, blankets, other supplies, and directed first aid where needed along remote corridors in the Sonoran Desert. The group also engages with legal aid, abuse documentation, searching for missing or disappeared people, helping getting belongings back from Border Patrol, networking with other border solidarity groups in the area, and consciousness raising and education to subvert the extremely stale narrative that immigration has in the US.
A couple of days ago, after almost a week of constant surveillance, Border Patrol raided a camp “in an unprecedented show of force, [with] approximately 30 armed agents raided the camp with at least 15 trucks, two quads, and a helicopter to apprehend four patients receiving medical care.” We hope to talk with someone about this situation soon for the radio show; the fact that this raid is coming now is a clear sign of the administrations attitude toward this kind of work. For more information on this issue and to keep up with No More Deaths, you can go to their website https://nomoredeaths.org
This week we feature an interview with Freddy, who is a member of the autonomous youth collective in Belgrade, Serbia known as Koko Lepo. We speak about the origins of the collective as growing out of a self organized kindergarten primarily for Roma children, about solidarity between anarchists and Roma people in Belgrade, about some history of the region, and about the complex nature of solidarity itself.
It should be mentioned though, that due to a very unfortunate technical error, we lost the final 13 or so minutes of this interview, many apologies both to you – dear listeners – and to our guest. Just to give you a broad picture of what we talked about, we touched a bit more on the complex nature of actual solidarity, and made the point that sometimes so called “real” solidarity can look somewhat ordinary or boring. We also spoke more about the tour that Freddy just concluded with a stop in Asheville, and about challenges that the various audiences brought to the talks he did, in particular the question of race, racism, and ally complexes. Our guest brought up the point that there have been various conversations about this topic in the US that have not happened – or have not happened in the same way – as they have in Belgrade. He was particularly excited to engage with American audiences about this issue, and said a lot of really cool and poignant things which we are unfortunately unable to share with you. Though if you would like to write to this project you can email them at kokolepo(aat)riseup.net and get in touch with them on facebook by searching kokolepoav
However, all of this perhaps gives us the opportunity to share more in depth than we may originally have been able some of the musical projects that our guest recommended. It also bears mentioning that mutual aid in the form of money donations most often happen for this project in the form of music shows, punk, metal, hardcore, or other varieties. If you feel so moved to, please feel free to make a solidarity show in your town!
The first project we’ll share is a Roma language hip hop project called Lord Kastro with Djelem Djelem. The next is a track from a hardcore project called Katma, the singer of which is one of the co-founders of the original kindergarten. The third is another track from Gipsy Mafia (an antifa Roma hip hop group, a track from which opened up the show as well) with “Ava Kari”.
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Here is an update from comrades in Czech Republic:
On Friday 5-27-2016 in Pankrác remand prison anarchist Martin Ignacák accused of terrorism went on hunger strike. He did this because on 4-29-2016 the City court in Prague ruled in favour of his release from remand and the state’s attorney appealed this decision to the High court in Prague. On friday 5-27-2016 the High court in Prague extended the remand. Therefore the anarchist has decided to protest by going on hunger strike and has stopped taking in nutrition and liquids. This type of hunger strike threatens the life of the hunger striker after a week.
During the year long investigation of the preparation of a supposed terrorist attack the imprisoned anarchist has exhausted all legal options, to achieve objective procedure of the respective organs active in the criminal proceedings. None of them were taken into account. This is why he now chose this radical form of expression, to draw attention to this manipulated police case. “I consider the approach of the investigators and the police to be very problematic, it is a threat to the freedom of every human being, a threat to freedom of speech, a threat to activism that tries to lead to a better world , and this doesn’t just involve anarchists.”
Martin has been prosecuted in the so called Fénix case since April 2015, in which 5 people altogether were accused of the preparation and the failure to notify of a terrorist attack on a train. Martin is the only one who has been in remand prison this whole time and his detention has now been extended after the intervention of the state’s attorney. As a reason for the extension of remand the state’s attorney used the testimony of a police agent who infiltrated the anarchist movement in 2014. From his testimony the state’s attorney drew the conclusion that Martin might attempt to escape to Spain. Another reason, according to him, was that Martin “is connected to the so called Sít revolucních bunek/ The Network of Revolutionary Cells (SRB) and therefore also to similar organizations abroad.” The police spoke about SRB when they began Fénix and provided information to the media.” Any connections between the 5 attacks ascribed to SRB and all the detained and accused have been refuted. The investigators themselves have ruled it out” says Martin.
At the moment Martin is the second longest detained prisoner in the Pankrác remand prison. For 13 months he has been living there under conditions that negatively affect his psychological and physical state. For example he has been refused food free of animal products, which means he practically doesn’t have access to hot food. Friends, who have come to visit him have been mentioned by name in the indictment. Police from the Department for combating organized crime have started to collect information on Martin’s sister, only because she tries to support her brother in whichever way she can.
For Martin parole would mean that after 13 long months he would again see his friends, family, nature, that he wouldn’t be exposed to emotional deprivation and physical hardship.
Update Sunday, May 29th: Martin’s sister Pavla B. joined her brother in the protest and this morning she has started hunger strike herself as well.
In this hour we’ll be hearing two perspectives on migrant struggles in the EU, Germany in particular, dating back to roughly 2012. The first we’ll hear is Adam Bahar. Adam is an immigrant from Sudan who currently works on emergency phone networks connecting Coast Guards with migrants cross the sea in distress. In the second, we hear from Adams interviewer, a Berlin-based German-born no-border activist about their experiences. We tried to cut overlapping information to decrease redundancy but there will be a little overlap in order to make space for both differing experiences expressed.
In this first interview Adam Bahar talks about his participation in migrant struggles, including taking part in the public migrant march in 2012 from Wurzburg to Berlin, the tent occupation of Oranienplatz in Berlin by 150 migrants for a year and a half followed by the squatting of an empty school building. In German, the word Lager is used as a storage place, also used for the camps or shelters where asylum seeking refugees are kept isolated from the rest of the German population. Another word that may be difficult for listeners to understand is Adams phrasing of Guardsea, comparable to Coast Guard. Adam also talks about the cooperation between corrupt African governments and the German government either in their business of dictatorship or the deportation of Africans back to their continent of origin.
For the rest of the hour we’ll be hearing part of an interview conducted by myself and William with the activist who held the conversation with Adam in the first half hour. Here, our German friend talks a little more about the occupation of Oranienplatz from 2012-2014 in Kreutzberg, Berlin and more generally we discuss the Shengen Zone for the understanding of non-regional audience members. Later, they speak about their understanding of border situations in the Balkans as they’ve been closing down and thoughts about relationships between richer countries and the intolerable situations in the poorer nations from whence come many of the refugees.
Thanks to our buddies affiliated with Anarchistisches Radio Berlin for helping us out with setting up these recordings. More content from them at http://aradio.blogsport.de
Prison Resistance Updates
First, a couple of announcements. Here’s a wrap up of prisoner resistance activities this week around the U.S., followed by a few specific prisoner updates.
Momentum is growing behind the bars. After two intense rebellions in four days at Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama last month things have really heated up. Prisoners in Texas called for and initiated a state wide series of work strikes on April 4th, the Free Alabama Movement announced a shutdown of ADOC for the month of May and prisoners across the country announced and called for a nationally coordinated strike and protest this September.
Reports from Texas prisoners are still coming in, but at least 7 facilities participated enough to get locked down by prison authorities. There have been a lot of threats and harassment by staff reported, but no specific reprisals or people targeted as leaders, yet.
On Saturday, April 9th outside supporters gathered for solidarity events across the country, including, Austin, Houston, Phoenix, the Bronx, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Providence, Denver, Tucson, Minneapolis and Fayetteville Arkansas, as well as a protest at Holman prison in Alabama by the Mothers and Families of the Free Alabama Movement.
These events were either protests at corporations that profit from prison slavery, or workshops and planning sessions about prison slavery and supporting the growing wave of prisoner resistance. Supporters hope to see this tide continue to rise leading up to the September 9th work-stoppage, since attention from the outside is essential to protect striking or otherwise rebellious prisoners from violent reprisals.
Alvaro Luna Hernandez (Xinachtli)
Supporters of Alvaro Luna Hernandez sent this message:
“Alvaro is in dire need of immediate, practical solidarity from all who support his emancipation from unjust incarceration and cruel punishment.
Alvaro’s Recent Hardship
In these past few weeks it has come to our attention that Alvaro is enduring multiple forms of inadequate and cruel treatment by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).
He is in need of dire medical attention; the TDCJ has placed him in more inhospitable holding conditions; the TDCJ has confiscated and stolen from him; the TDCJ has limited his mail correspondence; and when in transport to Lubbock, TX, the TDCJ transported him with—what you will certainly agree is—little to no regard for his health or comfort.”
Therefore, Alvaro’s supporters are urging you to email or call relevant TDCJ authorities by Thursday, April 14th, 2016 (at midnight) to protest these conditions and demand immediate improvements. More information at http://FreeAlvaro.net
This week we feature an interview conducted by an Audio Cadre of ours on the West coast with Brooke, an anarchist who participated in the Foreclosure Defense Group that sprang from Occupy Oakland in March of 2012. During the hour, they speak about the history of that group, it’s strengths and weakness and lessons around cross-race and cross-class organizing around displacement in Oakland based on some of the models worked out by SolNet, the Seattle Solidarity Network. For an extended version of the conversation, check out the podcast version of the show.
If you’re in Asheville on Friday, December 18th, there will be a free event you can check out at Firestorm Books and Coffee at 8pm. From the description:
“The ZAD is a large scale land occupation near Notre-Dame-des-Landes, France. It was squatted in 2009 at the invitation of local citizen and farming associations, who had been resisting the imposition of an airport, highway, high speed train, and tram line since 1972. Since then, the anti-airport movement has depassed traditional limitations of “issue-based struggles” with a strong critique of capitalist and hierarchical systems (including and especially the State), and links and shared projects with a wide diversity of people, to the point where the divisions between squatter, farmer, local, have become blurred.
After a massive police operation in 2012, “Operation Cesar”, the zone of 8 miles square has been free of State intervention, and has become known as a “zone outside the law”. Zadistas have created our own infrastructures and are autonomous in many ways. Some things work less well, like conflict resolution, but overall the occupation is settled into the territory and is planning for the long term, together with the “locals” and “farmers” involved in the struggle and those living close by. At the moment, however, the French prime minister is threatening to evict the ZAD and begin work on the airport early 2016. Ironically, they are waiting until just after the COP 21 in Paris (while billing the airport as “good for the environment”).”
Next, William spoke with folks involved in the struggle to save the Che Café, a social space present on the University of California in San Diegos La Jolla campus. The Che Café is a 25 year running co-op space and venue that is now in danger of eviction by the University and is currently squatting their location. Check out the website for The Che Café http://thechecafe.blogspot.com. What you’ll hear is an anonymized version of the conversation for the safety of those in struggle with the campus. Thanks to the folks at the Ex-Worker for putting us in contact with the folks at the Café. You can find the text from William’s conversation later in this post.
Finally, Bursts & William spoke with an anarchist resident of Olympia, Washington about the shooting of Bryson Chaplin & Andre Thompson, two unarmed young Black men by Officer Ryan Donald of the Olympia PD and some events that followed. Chaplin & Thompson, in two incidents on the night of the 20th of May, shot and seriously injured the men for allegedly trying to steal beer from a convenience store. The men were shot in the back, Bryson Chaplin being left paralyzed from the waist down. Over the next few days, rallies took place under the monicer of Black Lives Matter with hundreds entering the streets of Olympia. In response pro-cop rallies under the name of Blue Lives Matter (not a pro-smurf movement, sadly), in small numbers, countered the anti-murder demonstrations. As time went on, White Supremacists became more visible in attendance, which the police tried to distance themselves officially from. As more White Supremacists, some openly carrying guns, attended these events an Anti-Fascist march was called for. This escalated into the night of May 30th when police held back their presence and the anti-fascist march collided with the White Supremacists, including armed Citizens Patrols Militia members, Neo Nazis, and Third Positionists. As conflict ensued, the racists were chased from the streets of Olympia for the night and their manifestation has been resisted by Anti-Fa patrols. We spend a good portion of the hour talking about police power, institutional White Supremacy, anti-fascist organizing and some of the potential pitfalls of de-centering struggle away from a critique of institutional power and towards the fringe reactionaries.
Related-ly, there has been a call-out for folks to engage in the July 25th 2015 International Day of Solidarity with Antifascist Prisoners. From the call-out:
“Antifascists fight against those who—in the government or in the streets—dream of imposing their fascist and other Far Right nationalist nightmares on the rest of us. Throughout the world, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and racist bigotries are on the rise. Antifas are on the frontline in confronting these reactionary politics, and we will not forget our comrades imprisoned in the course of this struggle.”
Also, to relate this to local issues to Asheville North Carolina, well-known character from the so-called National Youth Front, Daxter Reed has been attempting to recruit at our local community college, ABTech as well as around town and in the punk and metal scene. The goofball even tried to show up at the May Day rally holding a sign for NYF and was summarily run off. It should be made apparent that these nazis and their foolish antics are not welcome here.
First, though, The Final Straw is soliciting folks in the audience with design skills to submit sticker and poster designs to us. We’re hoping these stickers and posters can make their way out to bookfairs, conventions, manifestations and the walls and un-smashed windows of the world, widening our audience and spreading some audio-anarchy further. We’re looking for the designs to include the show name, our website at thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org and either imagery or words pointing to the nature of the show. If you have a design, you can send a mockup or completed version to thefinalstrawradio(at)riseup(doot)net in pdf format. Designers of chosen images will receive some free swag from the Anarchyland.
Script from Che Café conversation
William Goodenuff : First of all will you talk about the history of the che cafe?
Che Cafe : The Che café actually started as the Coffee Hut in the late 1960s. The project to build the café cost 15k and was funded by student fees alone. It was the first student center at UCSD that was both student funded and student run. It hosted and continues to host discussions that facilitate brainstorming of marginalized/non-main stream issues (race, social justice, climate change, non-hierarchical forms of student government, etc…)
CC : It had two main roles:
CC : 1) it was the campus social center where student group of all political persuasions and interests hung out and had discussions
CC : 2) the collective is an incubator for cutting edge, non-mainstream thought, and gave birth to innovative ideas and practices
CC : it’s also important because it’s a safe space where all students were and still are welcome to hang out
CC : especially at a time where oppressed peoples where facing violence. One example was where people in the lgbt+ community were facing violence. The Che held a series of lgbt sponsored non-sexist dances in the 80’s, providing a safe place where it didn’t exist elsewhere
WG : Gotcha, I wanna talk about safer space in a minute, but just to give some context will you describe the space for listeners who have never been there, is it more like a show space or do people live there too? Is it still a cafe?
CC : Do you want us to describe the space as it is currently or also as it has been historically?
WG : I was thinking more in terms of how it is today, just how it looks and feels to be there for the benefit of folx who haven’t seen it.
WG : But also if historical cues make sense I’d be into hearing that!
CC : Before the occupation, it was more of a hardcore punk venue for music. But with the occupation, it has expanded to become so much more
WG : What occupation do you mean?
CC : Well, the UCSD administration is trying to evict and destroy the Che Café. They served the eviction on march 23rd and we’ve been occupying the Che in resistance since then. 93 days and counting.
WG : Oh shit I didn’t know that there was an occupation!
WG : How has it changed since then?
CC : Regarding the events we’ve had since the occupation
CC : we’ve expanded our programming tremendously
CC : we’ve had political meetings. For example, hosting the IWW
CC : We’ve also had workshops, like zine making workshops, feminist workshops, vegan cooking workshops. And something called Fem Fest, which is a feminist centered festival. Speakers from all over have come to speak at the Che. We’ve hosted workshops with Synchronized Cycle, a feminist bike collective. We’ve had circle discussions talking about issues affecting the people. We had music events, such as Che Fest, which was an all day music festival. Bands played inside and outside, upwards of 20 bands played. Hardcore and Indie and Surf Punk.
We’ve also had movie nights, ranging from light hearted movies to serious documentaries, with discussions after documentaries, student film nights, documentaries made here, queer/feminist film nights
As far as music shows, for awhile, we stopped doing shows because we thought it would help our case with the university. The strategy killed momentum but it made us less of a threat. When we started doing shows again, the university started threatening us again. We had university security watching us.
We’ve painted the Che, touched up Mario Terero. He painted a lot of the murals. He’s a well known Chicano muralist and did some of the murals on the building. Students have also painted murals. One member of the collective wants to do a mural of a lot of Chicana feminist writers that have a lot of influence on the Chicano identities. The Che has always been a place for marginalized peoples, including Chicano people.
We’ve done record swaps, there aren’t many all-ages record swaps in the area. The Che has always been a space for all ages to be included.
There have also been open mic nights and poetry readings. This has been a recent thing that a lot of people have gotten more and more engaged with. We have prominent poets in San Diego and Los Angeles who will be featuring at the Che on July 24th
There’s also something that happens called the Co-op prom or Safe Space Prom: Co-op prom happens every year for all the members of all the co-ops on campus. Co-op members are super connected and this is yet another form of social bonding for us that can happen in a safe space with lots of political unity.
We also have Meatless Mondays: They’re nice because they get a lot of students to come to the Che. It’s really nice to have students out here. We used to sell vegan donuts and coffee. A lot of people who wouldn’t normally come would come and ask questions and talk to us about the space.
We’ve even had a play produced here called Sodom and Gomorrah
WG : Is the Che Cafe on UCSD campus itself? I’ve never been to San Diego.
CC : Yes, it is located in Revelle College. Revelle was the first college in this campus system, and currently there are 6 colleges in the UCSD system
WG : Gotcha, I think it’s really rad that it’s been a place for marginalized folks for so long. I’ve definitely known folks who held that space as really important for a long time.
WG : Is it ok if I go off script for one question?
CC : sure
WG : Without compromising your security/safety, has there been much solidarity with the Che from within the student population? Acts of support etc?
CC : The majority of occupiers have been students and there were also graduate students from UCSD that participated as well as outside help from UCSD alumni.
CC : as far as acts of support there have been minor acts like chalking and banner drops by students in support of the Che, as well as petitions etc
WG : Word.
WG : How often has UCSD issued eviction notices to the Che? And since the Che is not the only cooperative, does it similarly target other collective spaces on campus?
CC : I don’t have the exact number of times that the University has tried to get rid of the space but in its 49 years, it has been at least 10-15 times. We can give you a more accurate number if you like…?
WG : Gotcha. No worries on exact figures. I just wanted to get a sense of the extent that the University was trying to evict the space, and it seemed to me that they’d tried fairly often.
CC : Yeah, the Master space agreement for all of the other collectives on campus expire at the end of 2016, which is worrisome.
WG : Really quickly, what is the Master Space Agreement?
CC : the MSA is basically the agreement that (after much effort) allowed for these spaces to have the level of autonomy that they currently hold from the university, and it includes details on rent, etc. Kind of like a lease but a little more involved.
CC : To go back to the question of other evictions or threatened evictions, aside from collective spaces UCSD has in the last decade alone shut down CLICS ( a humanities library which was also occupied), Graffiti Hall, Porter’s pub, University Art Gallery, and the Ceramics Center
WG : That’s a crazy amount of resources shut down!
WG : What do you think the universities are trying to do? Is it a question of resources or control?
CC : Well, leading to why the university is trying to do, it might help to consider that the Che is physically located on the fringe of campus rather than prime real estate, it’s on the borders of a much more developed and built-up campus, but along with the cooperatives it is one of the few remaining establishments on UCSD run entirely by student and community members in the midst of a transformation of the university into a morass of private corporations and centrally-run “student” centers
CC : if you look at the corporate donor list for UCSD, it looks like you lined up a 100 NASCAR drivers
CC : There’s been a lot of construction on UCSD campus and two of the companies doing that are corporate donors not to mention that UCSD gets 2.5 billion dollars in funding from the Department of Defense, there’s an entire research center dedicated to drones and a bunch of other surveillance research is done here, and a lot of military research in general
WG : Holy shit! I had no idea about all of that.
WG : That definitely puts the eviction attempts in a totally new light, thanks for going into that.
WG : So as per the Master Space Agreement, the Che is a relatively autonomous space from UCSD?
CC : yes
CC : But the attack on collective and social spaces is not isolated to just UCSD. It has been happening elsewhere. We were talking to someone who went to UC Davis and the same stuff that has been happening here has also been happening there It’s systematic. And from what we heard, they’ve been trying to shut down the co-ops at UC Davis repeatedly
WG : That’s so brutal.
WG : What will it mean for the students if the Che gets shut down?
CC : If the Che gets shut down, that means the university will likely increase the pressure on all the other co-ops because the Che getting shut down would set a precedent.
CC : And like we said before, the Che has a long history of being an alternative community and social space for alternative and marginalized students and community members in general. It still very much is this for the community, despite pressure from the University. If we lose the Che, marginalized students and community members will lose a space that’s important to diversity of thought and expression. Keep in mind that the Che is a very long time part of the UCSD campus, even before it called the Che, back to the 60’s and 70’s.
CC : In addition, without this space, it will be harder for marginalized students and community members to resist against university policies.
WG : For sure. This is such a brutal example of how expression and politics are being increasingly curtailed by institutions.
CC : Yeah, it’s all about control. About shifting the university from a public to private model through any means necessary for the UC system in general.
WG : Agreed! It certainly looks that way to me.
CC : Additionally, an interesting note is that the current head of the UC system, Janet Napolitano, used to be the secretary of homeland security.
WG : Thaaaat just totally blows me away.
WG : You’ve already outlined the political and cultural place that the Che holds on campus, but could you talk about what it means for students to have a safe space within the context of the university?
CC : Could you clarify that question please?
WG : The question may actually be redundant, now that I come to think of it. I was wanting to get a sense of how large a part the Che played within the student body of holding safer space for folks, but I actually think we’ve touched on that sufficiently?
CC : Oh yeah, we can touch on that question
CC : The Che as it is today is unfortunately unknown to most of the students because the campus is so spread out.
CC : the Che, before it was even the Che, used to be the center of student life at UCSD during the 60’s and 70’s, being in the middle of the Revelle College.
CC : But there’s been purposeful expansion since then that has made it harder for students to gather in autonomous spaces, but the Che is still one of the main punk and anarchist spaces in San Diego.
WG : Wait, on of the main anarchist spaces in all of San Diego??
CC : Yeah! In my experience, I haven’t seen many other anarchist spaces in this town, the Che seems to be the main nexus for anarchists in the city
WG : Gotcha.
CC : Social spaces on campus have really shifted from autonomous student spaces to corporate spaces like the Price Center (*note: this is the largest so called “student” center in the country and hosts many capitalist ventures like fast food restaurants and a movie theater, it has over 30,000 visitors a day).
CC : And we have important safe spaces on campus like the Woman’s Center, the LGBT Center, the Black Resource Center, and other important spaces, but none of these spaces are as autonomous as the Che. They’re politically progressive where we’re more anarchist, and are unfortunately more beholden to the University
WG : Yeah, that makes total sense. It’s so important to have spaces for anarchist folk.
CC : yeah, basically
WG : Did you get a chance to read the statement from the Hobo space in Bologna? If so, do you have any words for those folx?
CC : Yeah, we read that statement
CC : And we definitely stand in solidarity with the students and community members resisting in Bologna
CC : We shouldn’t just defend and preserve the existing autonomous spaces but expand and open up more of these sort of spaces. The stronger the network of autonomous spaces for anarchists and radicals, the easier we’ll be able to resist against Power. We encourage the leftist, radical, and anarchist to defend existing spaces and open up more of these spaces by any means necessary.
WG : Totally agreed. I know they’ll take strength from that.
WG : Is there a way for people who aren’t in your area to help with the struggle concerning the Che?
CC : Yeah, definitely.
WG : And is there a way for folks to keep apprised of how y’all are doing? A website?
CC : Oh yeah, we have a facebook page, which is facebook.com/che.cafe.collective
CC : And the Che has a webpage which is thechecafe.blogspot.com
CC : and in regards to support
CC : People should get involved more with the struggle for the Che and the co-ops. Join the occupation if you can. Put pressure on the administration in whatever ways you can. Donations also help with legal funds, and we have a paypal account. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need more support from the media. If you’re in the media, contact us. Spread the word that we’re still alive and still fighting. Encourage people to come to meetings. Help us occupy. The more people who resist with us, the better. If you have an event you want to do, you’re welcome to do it in the space as long as you put it through the collective process. Send resources like vegan food and books and anything else. Volunteers to help clean up are also really appreciated.
CC : Also, Pressure the vice chancellor and the chancellor to stop evicting the Che.
CC : We have a meeting with the Chancellor on July 15th and the more support we have at that meeting, the better.
WG : Let me know how it goes and I can report in on the radio. Also are there contact details for the VC and the chancellor?
CC : Yeah, we definitely will keep you updated, and the web page with all that contact info is chancellor.ucsd.edu/cabinet
WG : Gotcha. That’s all the questions I have, do y’all have anything else you wanted to close on?
CC : In regards to that, it’s important that we fight for these spaces because it’s in these spaces where we’re more free: free of the majority of the power dynamics of our society.
CC : and fighting for these spaces ultimately will lead us into fighting against Power itself so we can ultimately abolish authority and power and live a free life where we decide what we want do, no one else deciding for us, no politician or boss, but us living lives of true joy.
WG : Totally agreed! Thanks so much for taking the time to have this interview! Keep us posted, stay safe. Solidarity to yall.
This week, The Final Straw features content recorded by comrades in France of some reactions and reminiscences on the moments leading up to the death of Remi Fraisse and what followed. Context, Remi was a 21 year old resister who participated in the ZAD du Testet who was killed by a concussion grenade shot by police that exploded at the base of his neck on October the 25th. The ZAD du Testet is a land defence project in southern France against the construction of the Sivens Dam. The death of Remi has been marked by protests around France and around the world and has contributed to public discussions about militarization of police in France. A part of the ZAD movement’s reaction has been a public call for demonstrations on the 22nd of November around the world for Remi and against the police state.
This week, Olga and Kuba speak with William about anarchism in Poland and their experience of living in Canada. Olga is from Poznan, a city in Western Poland where anarchists have been able to open 2 squats in the city center, and a member of the musical network, Rhythms of Resistance. Kuba is a member of Tektura collective, Autonomous Social Center “Cicha4″ collective and Rhythms of Resistance Lublin, based out of Lublin.
The conversation, sprouting from Olga and Kuba’s presentation at the 2014 Montreal Anarchist Bookfaire, ranges from talking about squatting, resistance to the rise of nationalism, intersections of anarchism with feminism and queer existence, and homogeneity all within the context of modern Poland.