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’s show features an interview with two residents of the ZAD about the demonstrations of February 22nd in Nantes, France. Also, Anarchist prisoner Sean Swain talks about Swivilization in his weekly segment. More on him can be found at seanswain.org
The demonstration, dubbed a “sacking” by the media and police, featured directed attacks by demonstrators on offices of the French construction company threatening the lands of Notre-dames-de-Landes, a police station, a travel office, and a private transit company. The day of action also featured speeches, picnics, play, marches, discussions and theater.
In this conversation, some folks from the ZAD describe what they saw, why violence occurred, how that violence as an idea is wielded to form a narrative by the media and state and how it was experienced by folks actually present with the movement and the land.
First, we hear Sean Swain, anarchist prisoner in Ohio’s super-duper-mega-ultra-uber max prison at Youngstown talk about accusations of Utopianism thrown at him for his anarchism.
Secondly, we speak with author, activist and advocate Staughton Lynd. Mr. Lynd speaks with us about the ongoing hunger strike at Menard Correctional Facility’s administrative segregation units in Illinois. The strikes are in response to prisoner complaints of lack of heat and hot water in the freezing facility that was built in the 1870’s, leaks around the windows, rodent infestations and the lack of transparency around how people get put into the hole or get out of it. Upon initiating the hunger strike, prisoners (in particular Armando Velasquez who was witness being beaten, thrown down stairs and stomped by correctional officers/screws) have faced threats of force, including forced feeding for which Illinois law does not require court orders. You can find out more by contacting the Alice and Staughton Lynd at salynd(aat)aol (d ot)com. Also, check out articles at The SF Bay View on the subject.
If you care to call/write officials to press for an end to the torture:
Warden Rick Harrington, (618) 826-5071, P.O. Box 711, Menard IL 62794-9277
Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador Godinez, (217) 558-2200, ext. 2008, P.O. Box 19277, Springfield IL 62794-9277
Gov. Pat Quinn, (217) 782-0244, http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/Pages/ContacttheGovernor.aspx, 207 State House, Springfield IL 62706
The final portion of the episode is an interview with ecological and social activist, Yaroslav Nikitenko. Yaroslav has been involved for years in the struggle to save Khimki forest, the only old growth forest in the Moscow area, from development by a public-private construction project between Russian government, companies and VINCI construction (out of France). Yaroslav argues a lack of transparency by government, profit not surprisingly overshadowing concerns for peoples lives or the environment, neo-nazi thugs hired for home invasions and street attacks on journalists and activists working to speak out about Khimki and about how people can do solidarity work with those struggling to save this forest. Yaroslav also did solidarity work for incarcerated members of Pussy Riot, some of whom were involved in social struggles including the defense of Khimki. President Putin, prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics, released a number of political prisoners including members of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot (albeit 2 month before their release). Lastly, Yaroslav shares his perspectives on the #euromaidan protests threatening the Ukrainian government, threats from the far-right in that nation, and his own fears as a Russian of the Ukrainian civil society coming further under Russian political sway. http://khimkiforest.org
This’ll be followed by an interview with Deedee, a member of Saving Our Families, a network of those with loved-ones in the Prison Industrial Complex, based out of Indiana. Deedee is also a supporter of Control Unit Prisoners on hunger strike at Westville Correction Facility in Indiana about the strike and the atrocious food distribution, run by Aramark Corrections Services based out of Philly PA. More info can be found at http://dignityatwestville.wordpress.com
And, finally, we’ll present the last portion of the ZAD interview we started with last week. http://zad.nadir.org
Also, we announce that we’re now available at 106.5LPFM in Olympia Washington on KOWA. Tune in on Saturday nights at 9pm to hear us!
This week’s episode of the Final Straw features a conversation with Cami, a resident of the ZAD (Zone À Défendre or Zone To Defend) speaks about experiences of living on, defending, struggling on and with the project and the people in Western France and against the police, airport expansion and fascists.
Backstory: Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL) in western France has been the target of the French government and private corporations like Vinci Construction for the building of new infrastructure. Plans have been brewing for 40 years to build a new, larger airport in the area, to expand the bus systems, build a high speed train out to the airport from the nearby city of Nantes and expand the port at Saint-Nazaire. The struggle, for many of the members of the farming communities around NDDL, has been about saving their countryside from gentrification, from preserving their generations-old ways of life, their homes, their agency in what happens to their homes so that it’s not just people in Paris and Nantes who reshape their world. For many others it’s about preserving some of the last remaining undeveloped lands in the area, resisting the expansion of the Metropolis and the way of life that it brings and even in making their own way of life with others while resisting eviction and learning new ways of struggle.
Much media coverage of the ZAD has worked to build a myth around the project that it’s hunky-dory heroism and everyday revolution. While those things exist there, the story is not so clean cut. This hour we’ll also be speaking about internal problems of sexism, racism, interpersonal violence, drug use, valorization of certain forms of struggle, homophobia… the same crap we have to deal with everywhere, sadly. Cami also talks about how people on the ZAD have tried to work through these problems. While also struggling against the occasional neo-fascist incursion from the outside.
We have hopes at the Final Straw that this will be the first of a few shows that focus on communities resisting development by Vinci, a company that destroys ecology, builds prisons and greenwashes around the world. Vinci is also the main holder of contracts with the Moscow government in relation to the development of old growth Khimki Forest to build a road and a village for the rich as well as Combe Haven in the U.K. Also, in the Atlanta, GA, USA they’ve been awarded (under the sub-subsidiary Hubbard Construction) the Northwest Corridor contract, worth $600 million, which will bring 30 miles of toll highway to that city.
(The following note is apparently up for dispute, according to some sources…)
2 days ago Vinci was seeing red in Bristol, UK, due to an arson at some of their offices by Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) (http://325.nostate.net/?p=9416)
The portions of the interview talking about Insurrectional theory, Radio Klaxtion (pirate radio on the ZAD), fascist attacks on the ZAD, immigrant solidarity, ability and the ZAD, films about the ZAD, and some of the music created through resistance by folks at the ZAD… don’t appear here due to lack of time. They’ll be linked on our afm blog page and eventually on thefinalstrawradio.noblogs.org