Petty criminality and the social war

Reprinted from Milwaukee Indymedia, some anarchists in Milwaukee put together a list of actions and things that happened in their area in 2008. It's a list of mostly minor vandalism and banner drops here and there, and as such its posting received some criticism of being a "social bore" for not being connected to wider social struggles.

For Chicago, a list this long of graffiti and vandalism throughout the city could probably be compiled on a daily basis -- none of it necessarily having the kind of 'political' or social intentions that many of these have, but the actual impact, perhaps, being more of a nuisance to city government and property owners.

Is this the central purpose these types of acts -- nuisance and economic damage? One suspects that if that were merely the aim, then it would be unnecessary to write messages or issue claims of responsibility and revolutionary treatises about them. Who is the intended recipient of these messages and who actually receives them? What is actually conveyed?

Portions of this blog are dedicated to being a "crime blotter" of sorts and seem to glorify (fetishize?) certain acts of criminal behavior -- even those without political intentions -- and while I can't speak to the motives of the Milwaukee anarchists, my own reasons for spreading news of such acts are directed both within and without the anarchist (or radical/activist/etc) milieu.

Anarchists are often suckered into the Leftist self-absorbed delusion that our acts are paving the way towards revolution. It's perhaps a reflection of our need to convince ourselves that we matter, that our ideas are the correct ones, and that we are productively using our time to achieve a fantastic goal. We see this in the distortions and fabrications of report backs from conferences, convergences and actions and the rhetoric posing as critical analysis and strategy. Even lists such as the one below can contribute to this, inasmuch as these activist gestures can be mistaken for signs of social conflagration.

We need to put our own actions into context and not be convinced that our having an analysis of capitalism and government makes what we do any more important or meaningful than the thousands of acts of subversion, revolt and empowerment that regularly take place in the lives of those who have never read Bonano and don't give a fuck about twinkle fingers.

To the extent that those who desire to exacerbate social conflict can differentiate this desire with reality (as in the authors' description of these acts as "efforts over the last year to experiment with conflict"), the anarchist crime blotter serves the opposite function of the police crime blotter -- whereas the latter inspires fear, the former inspires (dare I say) hope. We feel all around us of the watch of panopticon, the sense of futility, the inability to achieve our desires. The anarchist crime blotter shows us that the state is not all knowing, all seeing, all powerful. Whether it's a bank robbery, a bricked window, a graffiti tag or an occupied factory, individual and collective acts of revolt against the alienation, violence and drudgery of capitalist life offer (to me, at least) the reminder that there are always cracks in this system, and the future is not necessarily bleak.

Beyond that I'm reminded of an explanation of the essay "Why I Love Shoplifting," and that its purpose was not necessarily to convince anarchists to start stealing but to encourage thieves to take a look at the social context of their daily activities, and perhaps to begin dreaming of larger adventures -- what's the line? Better to loot than shoplift, to ambush than to snipe, to walk out than to phone in a bomb threat, to strike than to call in sick, to riot than to vandalize.

As far as I know, Chicago anarchists do not have a collection of clandestine acts of 2008 to glorify this New Year's Eve. We speak to one another of our quieter victories, relish our survival for another year, and take stock of our possibilities for the future. And we have this cool banner from a Greek riot solidarity demonstration a couple weeks ago:


This is a compilation of some actions that happened in the Milwaukee area during 2008. It is in no way a complete list, nor does it give an accurate reading of all the resistances and conflict within the city (inherently permeated by them). The minor and major contradictions of everyday life within a city explode and take form in a multitude of effects, but what has been compiled here are what appear to be conscious efforts over the last year to experiment with conflict and build off of these experiences - to act in concert, in solidarity, for themselves or for fun, etc.

A more thorough analysis and elaboration of the direction things seem to be headed in is in order.

January 8th: two banners dropped reading "destroy the election" and "choose your own adventure" claimed by some milwaukee anarchists

January 17th: three banners dropped reading "whoever wins we lose", "9-1-08, st. paul, it's on!" and "let the end come: 9-1-08" claimed by some milwaukee anarchists

January 17th: anti-RNC graffiti on condo developments that read "shut down the RNC" and a circle A.

Febuary 5th: banners dropped reading "victory against politics", "9-1-08" and "shut down the RNC" on the national day of action against the elections called by Unconventional Action.

Febuary 5th: bannners dropped in osh kosh reading "Demicrans and Republicrats both fuck working class" and "8.24.08 Receate68.org / 9.1.08 NORNC.org."

March 18th: recruiting center on Oakland ave vandalized with spray paint and window broken for anniversary of the war in Iraq. http://mke.indymedia.org/en/2008/03/209413.shtml

March 20th: Anarchists and Anti-Authoritarians from around the Midwest blockade downtown Milwaukee and halt traffic for about 30 minutes leaving fences, news paper boxes and trash bins in the middle of the roads in wake of their path. 4 people were arrested.

March 24th: The CEO of Oshkosh Corporation, Robert Bohn, arrived at the Oshkosh Country Club to give a presentation to the future business leaders of the world finding a message for him painted across the front entrance and door. It read 'You're Days Are Numbered Bohn (A).'

March 31st: It was reported that early in the morning the intersection of Highway 21 and Sawyer Avenue was blockaded. Dumpsters and their contents, along with other debris, were strewn across the intersection effectively blocking it for morning rush hour traffic. An altered road sign was placed in front of the toppled dumpsters reading 'Road Closed Due to War.'

March 31st: Two banners were spotted within the city of Oshkosh. One was hanging from a security fence in front of an Oshkosh Corporation Defense factory. It read 'Oshkosh Says Fuck the War Truck.' The other was hung on a guard rail overlooking Highway 41. It read 'End the Slaughter in Iraq.'

March 31st: Around a dozen people gathered at the headquarters of Oshkosh Corporation dressed as robots. They were accompanied by a shopping cart fashioned into an Oshkosh Truck which was devouring a young child while robot techno was blasting out of its mouth. The people played games and danced for a little over an hour bringing laughs, frowns, and looks of intense frustration and disgust to the faces of Oshkosh Corporation employees and police alike.

June 7th: Bash Back Milwaukee and Anti-Racists throw water balloons filled with glitter at Nazis who came to pridefest to protest.

July 4th: Army Recruiting Center vandalized again with "get the fuck out" as well as a circle A and circle e sprayed on the front of the building.

July 5th: Four Milwaukee area Starbucks had their locks glued and were closed for prime hours of business as an action for a international day of action against Starbucks.

August 14th: "A gang of anti-hipster hooligans trashed an Urban Outfitters in Milwaukee." Displays were flipped over and merchandise strewn into the street outside.

September 1-4: Many autonomous actions happened throughout the city of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in attempts to "crash the convention" or simply experiment with possibilities for going wild.

November 5th: Police car attacked at Riverview dorms in Riverwest

November 5th: ATM attacked and vandalized in solidarity with people facing state repression

November 5th: USA Today newspapers throughout the city were wrapped with a false cover the claimed "capitalism wins at the polls" and "anarchy brewing in the streets."

December 13th: Two banner drops in solidarity with RNC Arrestees and Greek Rioters that read "Solidarity means attack: this is global social war" and "Burn Greece Burn: Alex was here"

December 13th: "At least 21 ATMs, banks, and businesses had their locks glued or were otherwise vandalized all across Milwaukee" in solidarity with RNC arrestees.

December 20th: Chase bank in Osh Kosh had its locks glued and paint thrown at it.

December 20th: "Vandalism claiming solidarity with greek anarchists, and denouncing police officers" reported to be seen all over Milwaukee.


Robbers break banks, but not record

A Metropolitan Bank branch was robbed this morning on the South Side, the FBI said.

FBI agents were called to the branch at 1947 W. 35th St. in the McKinley Park neighborhood. The robbery occurred about 9:45 a.m.

The robber got away "with unknown proceeds," according to Chicago Police Officer Daniel O'Brien. It was not immediately known if he had a weapon.

The bank robbery unofficially is the 270th of the year in the metropolitan area, said FBI spokeswoman Cynthia Yates. That exceeds last year's total of 226, but falls short of the record of 284 set in 2006.


2 escape Illinois Youth Center

Authorities are searching for two youths who escaped from the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles in recent days.

The facility, 4450 Lincoln Highway, is conducting an internal investigation to find out how and when the juvenile offenders escaped, said Derek Schnapp, agency spokesman.

The youth facility also is working with the Illinois State Police and St. Charles police to find the two juveniles, Schnapp said.

He declined to say what offenses landed them in the youth facility.
from the Trib


Thieves target cops' credit union accounts

At least 50 members of the Chicago Patrolmen's Credit Union have been targets of thieves who have used their debit card numbers, authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators suspect the thieves are stealing the card numbers when the cards are used to make online payments. Police don't think credit union employees are involved in the thefts. About 12 financial institutions, including the credit union, have been hit.

Investigators suspect the debit card numbers are being sold. Thieves use the numbers to electronically manipulate gift cards to purchase items and steal money from the victims' credit union accounts. Thieves have used the manipulated gift cards to purchase items worth a few hundred dollars to about $1,000, officials said.

Suspects in Rockford, Lansing and Crestwood have been arrested using the gift cards. Police are trying to identify who stole the debit card numbers. The retailers will suffer the losses from the scheme, authorities said.

from the Sun-Times


Bank robbery suspect tries to run over FBI agent

A bank robbery suspect who was being detained in an FBI van on the Gold Coast Monday morning commandeered the vehicle, threw it into reverse and struck an FBI agent before he was shot, authorities said.

No charges were immediately filed against the suspect, who was being treated at a hospital. An FBI spokesman said the agent, who wasn't identified, wasn't injured and refused treatment.

The 27-year-old suspect allegedly robbed a bank in Uptown earlier Monday and was tracked to the 100 block of East Pearson by FBI agents, who arrested him there after a short foot chase.

The suspect was handcuffed, shackled and sitting in the back of an undercover FBI vehicle -- a Dodge Caravan -- about 10:30 a.m. as the two agents collected evidence outside the car, according to a police report.

He managed to slip out of the handcuffs and put the van in reverse, striking one of the agents, according to the report, and a second agent then fired a shot at him, causing the suspect to crash the van.

The keys were in the ignition because of the cold weather, the FBI said.

The suspect, a Chicago man, was believed to have robbed a TCF Bank at 4355 N. Sheridan in Uptown, the FBI said.

from the Trib


Nihilist reactions to self-management

The factory takeover at Republic has captured the imaginations and energy of anti-capitalists all over. I wrote earlier about avoiding illusions and projecting motives onto the workers. Now that the occupation itself is over we are all free to provide our over-analyses and project our desires onto the vague "movement" this may or may not inspire. I'll let others with closer links speak to the results for the workers themselves; what I'm interested here is anarchist response and possibility.

A common failing among anti-capitalist analysis is the impulse to call for self-management of the Republic factory, and the fetishization of re-occupation & production generally as revolutionary strategy. Is self-management good for workers, and is self-management good for revolution? The answer to both questions is -- well, kinda, sorta, maybe.

One report from Republic workers I've heard is that they were wary about taking over and running the factory themselves, not because they don't think they're capable, but instead that the window market is terrible right now, and it would likely be extremely costly and risky for them. Getting their checks was just a better financial decision, and financial ruin is not much of a sustainable revolutionary strategy. A program of self-management here stifles the possibility for more enriching aims -- like, say, workers demanding two to ten times the money they are legally owed, fencing factory machinery, or turning the building itself into a collective home for workers who could no longer pay their mortgages.

If the Republic action is indicative of a form worker resistance could take during this crisis, how does it speak to our desire for anarchy? When anarchists are uninvolved in the intimate planning and execution of worker actions, what points of commonality can be found with the workers and how can anarchists engage with and support these struggles without abandoning their principles?

A discussion over the weekend demanded anarchists not only fight "against" the establishment but "for" something. It is vital anarchists reject this demand, inasmuch as it is a call to develop a positive program for struggle or a blueprint (or even, I daresay, a rough outline) for an alternative society. It is an understandable impulse, but in the same way self-management transforms from a weapon into a limitation, so too does a political program go from a guide to a chain. Political programs are for Leftists -- social planners who want to impose their version of justice onto others. Anarchists desire free societies, decentralized and autonomous communities deciding for themselves as appropriate for their situations. Freedom has no program.

It is from this aspect that anarchists can find commonality with rebellious workers like those holding Republic Windows. The particulars of their action are irrelevant -- what is especially inspiring is the spirit of autonomy and the rejection of capitalist law and logic. Leftists call for the workers to re-start production, to strike and make demands, to fight for a return to normalcy; anarchists should encourage only autonomous decision making (free of the political hacks and boundaries) and offer whispers of radical possibilities.

Anarchist participation was limited not because of an extremist political ideology but the lack of personal relationships with those engaged in struggle. While anarchists waited for guidance and requests from the workers, the workers had no knowledge of the skills and resources anarchists supporters might be able to contribute.

Unconditional anarchist support for workers struggles does not mean a lack of critical analysis -- now that the occupation has ended, anarchists should learn from the action and use it to shape our direction as we move ahead. The quick action of politicians, union officials and others shaped the form of the demands that were made. How should anarchists apply efforts in situations when they are clearly on the outside, and bureaucrats' grip keep it that way?

In the wake of the resolution of the dispute, a fund has been created to attempt to revive the factory operations. Some earlier reports spoke of trying to find new management for the company. It remains to be seen to what extent the fund would create a worker- or union-managed factory, or whether it would be used to find new masters. And either way, the resolution itself re-affirms capitalist power and the workers must again submit themselves to the rule of the global economy. What worthwhile contributions can anarchists make so that this scenario does not continue to play itself out?

If this action really is going to be an example for laborers around the U.S. and elsewhere, what are the best ways to contribute to the spread of its momentum? Is workplace-occupation to become just another issue on the plate of issues for anarcho-activists? Is renewed effort on traditional worker organizing vital to spread resistance to the economy, or are there others ways that will create initiative and space for mass criminality and autonomy that carry the same threat to the capitalist order as a factory occupation would?

Chicago cop shot

A police officer was shot while on duty in the Lawndale neighborhood early Friday morning, police said.

The shooting happened around 2 a.m. near 18th Street and Washtenaw Avenue while officers were investigating a report of shots fired, police said.

Additional shots were fired, and one of the officers was struck in the shoulder, police said.
Sources on the scene said the injured officer was driven by a partner to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where the officer was being treated for an apparent gunshot wound.

The officer's condition was unknown, but police said the injuries did not appear to be life threatening.

No one was in custody, police said.
from the Trib


Thoughts on the Republic Window takeover

The factory takeover at Republic Windows has quickly generated huge media attention and widespread support. It's also become a rallying cry for assorted Leftist political groups, interpreting the action and its motivations to fit their agenda and program. In its least malicious guise is the suggestion that the action is the start of some sort of "new movement" (an exciting possibility, but a bit premature of a claim); at worst Leftists impose their own messaging over the workers' intentions and see the workers as a potential vanguard for whatever diabolical intention they have in mind.

I find the takeover extremely inspiring and thrilling, but I think it's also important to temper that excitement with the on-the-ground reality at the factory and make an attempt, at least, to take off my black-and-red ideological glasses while looking at the situation.

The action is not a "sit-down strike" -- thought it's an exciting term, the action is not a strike. Folks who use the term are either misinformed or imposing their own delusions over what the action is about. Moreover, it fits it into the category of acceptable labor actions, and doesn't recognize it for what it essentially is -- criminal action by workers stealing and trespassing on private property.

The quick intervention by liberal establishment folks like Jesse Jackson and Luis Gutierrez, and the brief verbal support by Obama in favor of payment, points to the degree -- or lack thereof -- to which the action contains the possibility of extending beyond the contained conflict. These personalities keep the emphasis on acceptable discourse by political actors and away from all the possibilities the workers hold. Their presence already brings with it obligations and responsibilities counterpoised to the desire of the workers to maintain the occupation under all circumstances until their demands are met. While the degree of conflict is currently minimal, a protracted struggle will only increase the political demand for compromise and restraint.

The limited demands made by the workers so far do not suggest a desire to exacerbate conflict. Some folks who have been to the factory report mention of discussions about restarting productions, but it's impossible at this point to decipher the extent to which those conversations are occurring. There's also been a couple mentions of the same in some reports from Leftist press, but the veracity of those are even more impossible to ascertain. Nor have the workers begun looting or destroying machines and office materials -- from the lobby one can see a plethora of untouched computers and fax machines ripe for the taking. The struggle is still fresh and new -- but at what point will material need outweigh image and respectability?

An interesting development that hasn't been too widely publicized yet is that the owners do seem to be moving the operation into another state. According to an investigation in this article by the Trib:
People who apparently have ties to the financially strapped Republic Windows formed a limited liability corporation in Illinois last month, Echo Windows & Doors, that has bought a similar plant in western Iowa.

Sharon Gillman, who shares an address with Republic President and CEO Rich Gillman, is listed as an officer of Echo Windows & Doors LLC, which was incorporated in Illinois on Nov. 18, according to secretary of state records.
How interesting.

The article says Echo recently purchased a pre-existing factory in Iowa; the address is 2400 N. Broadway, Red Oak, Iowa.

Unfortunately, capitalist law and logic make it pretty clear that it's the factory owner and not the bank that is responsible for paying the debt to the workers. But, if the owners close their company their pockets are technically empty. UE's putting pressure on Bank of America could have implications beyond simply paying owed wages and opens the door to struggle that can place the blame on the economic system itself.

The action does/will have implications for anarchists, but I think so far they are not the ones that folks have been bandying around. One message someone from the Four Star collective sent out suggests anarchists need to be more "structurally organized":

For us anarchists, this turn of events points to the serious need to become structurally organized, and that by working so decentralized from one another and other organizations, we were ineffectively unable to come out in a serious and cohesive body of support. Being a factory occupation, this is a moment in which anarchist politics are most important.

In fact, what's personally been so inspiring for me on 'our' end of things is that anarchist support developed extremely rapidly -- especially because of individual initiative and autonomy. Several delegations have brought food and other supplies to the factory, and news is being spread extremely quickly and widely. FNBs are organizing more food support, a movie showing is being set up, and a rapid-response phone tree is coming together.

At this point, what more could a formal organization do besides co-opt the struggle, like all the Leftist paper sellers flocking the site "like flies to honey"? Are we supposed to print copies of Rocker's Anarcho-Syndicalism to pass out to educate the workers? I'm sure they have enough shitty newspapers to read.

Certainly, anarchists can develop relationships, beyond slogans and press releases, to provide unqualified support for worker autonomy -- to ensure that if workers decide on the need to escalate their occupation or resist efforts by the law, political hacks and opportunists cannot strangle it. But there needs to be a clear delineation between supporting and spreading the struggle -- creating autonomous though complimentary situations -- and hijacking their action from outside

The negotiation between the bank, owners and union is set to begin in about an hour, so we'll see how that goes. Perhaps the action will lead to a quick settlement, and all these talks of preparations are unnecessary. The action seems to have sparked something nonetheless -- will victory here end the cries for worker power?

Success could inspire similar actions by those who find themselves in similar situations -- but it would also set a dangerous precedent for creditors like BofA who refuse to be held responsible for the debts of others. The failure to reach an agreement could lead to a protracted campaign, and from the looks of things I think the Left and others are ready for a fight.


Chicago window workers occupy factory

I won't be on the web to update but here's the source who may be updating more: PilsenProle. I don't know anything about the blog, author or its politics, just wanted to get this up quickly.

The workers of Republic Windows and Doors are right this minute occupying their factory, which was due to close at 10:00 AM this morning. The workers are fighting for pay for their lost vacation days and for the 75 days notice that they are guaranteed under Illinois law. This is the first time in many years workers have taken the bold, militant strategy of occupying their place of work to demand justice. The plan to occupy the plant until they hear the results of the next round of negotiations Monday afternoon. THEY NEED TO KNOW THEY HAVE OUR SUPPORT!!!

A prayer vigil has been planned for 12:00 Noon tomorrow. Please attend. BUT WE SHOULD ORGANIZE A CONSTANT PRESENCE OF COMMUNITY MEMBERS PICKETING OUTSIDE THE FACTORY! BRING FOOD AND COFFEE FOR THE WORKERS. It is our presence and the press that is the workers best defense against the police raiding the factory.

These workers are fighting for all of us!!! As the economic crisis deepens we need to launch a working class fight back. These workers are the starting point and deserve our full support.

Go to…

Republic Windows & Doors
1333 N. Hickory
On Goose Island, near the intersection of Division & Clyborn

Call for more info… (312) 502-7867


Mortgage Crisis Opens Doors for Squatters

López lives in a three-flat in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. An ex-girlfriend lives on the first floor. She’s the one who invited López to move into the basement space last year. She was a legitimate tenant, but now says she doesn’t know who to pay rent to. No one in the building has paid any rent or utilities since the landlords moved out more than a year ago.

A deed filed with Cook County shows that one of the nation’s largest banks foreclosed on the property months ago. A county court summons also names that bank and alleges 10 building-code violations. The squatters asked us not to report the bank’s name.

from Chicago Public Radio
I heard this on the way to work this morning. This situation apparently has repeated itself throughout the city -- disappearing landlords leaving the buildings with tenants and questionable status. It's much easier and less sketchy than breaking into an abandoned home. If this is a common occurrence in certain neighborhoods, perhaps a squatter and support network could be developed to ensure that if steps are taken by absentee landlords to claim property, an organized effort could resist evictions and make tenant claims to land and homes something more permanent.


Pig farmer battles Village Hall

In his bid to block construction of a water tower next to his home, Bob Wargaski on Monday welcomed three pigs to his northwest suburban spread.

"These guys should help me with the 'Big Bad Wolf' at Village Hall," Wargaski joked before moving the 100-plus pound porkers onto his Dowell Road digs in Wauconda Township.

Island Lake officials didn't appreciate Wargaski's humor. They contend the pigs—or more precisely, their waste—could pose a danger to the village's water supply.

"What he's doing is threatening to contaminate the water, and that doesn't fit too well with our plans," Island Lake Mayor Tom Hyde said.

Island Lake officials previously filed a nuisance lawsuit against Wargaski over the pig farm. The court has yet to weigh in on the issue.

State officials, meanwhile, believe Wargaski's pig operation won't fly.

Opening it could violate the conditions of a permit he received last summer to run the containment facility on his 5 acres, Environmental Protection Agency officials said.

The Agriculture Department issued Wargaski the permit with the stipulation that the containment facility would not be allowed to open if it was within 400 feet of a community well like the one Island Lake has been operating for more than a year.

"The statute is very specific [against] having pig poop in there," said Rick Cobb, the deputy division manager of the Division of Public Water Supplies for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Wargaski said it's his right to run the pig farm because it went into operation before the village could build the $5 million water tower outside his home. Village officials admit the tower is still months from going up to service a new subdivision on the edge of town.
from the Trib

Cook County Building briefly evacuated

Authorities temporarily evacuated the 5th floor of the Cook County Building this afternoon.

Employees from the offices of two Cook County commissioners were quarantined after there were reports of some type of threatening letter having been sent to the building, sources said.

The building, at 118 N. Clark St., was secured within 20 minutes.

No further information was immediately available.

from the Trib

Suspect escapes handcuffs, police station

A suspect who was in police custody reportedly picked the lock on his handcuffs and escaped a West Side police station Monday afternoon. He remains at large Tuesday morning.

About 3:45 p.m., a 34-year-old man who was in custody for drug charges was being processed by police in an interview room in the Harrison District police station, on the 3100 block of West Harrison Street, according to police.

Someone else who was in custody described to police that they saw him allegedly pick the lock on his handcuffs and escape. The incident was not captured by a camera.

The unarmed man remains at large as of 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Harrison Area detectives are investigating.
from Sun-Times


Police: Bad economy may breed crime

It's too early to tell if the economy is a major factor in Chicago's rising crime, officials say, but already one police unit is focusing on areas hit hardest by the financial meltdown.

"Abandoned buildings breed crime," police spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

Officers in the Troubled Buildings Unit have been identifying abandoned properties, patrolling them to keep gangs, vandals and other criminals out and getting the city involved in dealing with the owners, Bond said.

"All cities will be faced with some crimes of opportunity as a result of a downtrodden economy, and we are addressing them," Bond said, adding that police don't know yet how much of a role the meltdown is playing.

Bank robberies peaked in '06

Citywide, crime was up 3 percent this year through October, compared to the same period of 2007. Murder rose 16 percent, robbery 9 percent, burglary 5 percent and theft 3 percent.

Retailers have reported a jump in shoplifting.

"Purses and laptops are getting stolen, too," said a major retail center's security chief. "People are desperate."

But FBI spokeswoman Cynthia Yates said she didn't see a correlation between bank robberies and the economy. She pointed out that Chicago area bank heists hit a peak in 2006, when the economy was considered healthy. Holdups have risen as bank locations expanded, she said.

In New York, property crime has actually dropped this year. Burglary fell 6 percent and grand larceny 2 percent through Sunday, compared with the same period of 2007.

Murders are up 6 percent.

from Sun-Times

We must abandon all models, and study our possibilities

The anarchist reading & discussion group on the Comiso Dossier is being held this Wednesday, November 19, 7pm, at the Lichen Lending Library: 1921 S. Blue Island. Bring questions, answers and energy.


Police Admit Anarchists Took Control of St. Paul During RNC

ST. PAUL -- Police lost control of the anarchists during the RNC, and for the first time, police are offering a look at what went wrong, and how they may learn from their mistakes.

Police dispatch on the first day of the RNC reveal a communication breakdown for two crucial hours on Sept. 1.

Dispatch tapes show that between noon and 2:00 p.m., downtown belonged to the anarchists.

Tape: "Squads in my group, back off now, they're smashing out every squad car window around here."

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher says of the miscommunication, "We had 15 officers responsible for the conduct of 500 anarchists. They were outnumbered 40 to one."

And those officers, many fighting back without protective gear, had one question: Where was the backup?

The 11 mobile field force units, each with 75 officers in riot gear, were stationed along the parade route, where 10,000 protesters were marching peacefully.

At that time, about 500 anarchists split off in three directions, the town up for grabs. The cops were outmatched until the order was given to pull out.

St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington admits to a communication breakdown.

Commanders were watching the parade for trouble, when it was happening everywhere else.

Eventually the mobile field force moved into downtown, arresting 270 protesters the first day of the RNC.

"I think everyone agrees unlawful behavior should have been confronted, but it wasn't for two and half hours," said Fletcher.

Fletcher believes the error was strategic -- not enough plain-clothes cops along the parade route, and not keeping the mobile SWAT units moving.

But Chief Harrington believes they had enough cops from different cities, although maybe not enough time to train together on St. Paul's unique street pattern.

A task force is currently evaluating police actions during the RNC. It's report is due in December.
Story & Video

A fairly thrilling account of events from the other side's perspective, police reports confirm what anarchists had long believed -- the diverse and decentralized organizing spread the police thin throughout downtown St. Paul because they had no idea where the genuine threats would emerge. In this regard, the worry that was aroused at the spokescouncil the night before the 9/1 actions -- that several areas had insufficient numbers or no one whatsoever -- turned out to be a minor inconvenience, if that.

This scenario reminds me of something I was reading this weekend, a zine called something like "Beyond Affinity Groups," by Andrew Flood. The author mentioned that during anti-globalization movement, the affinity group/cluster model meant that the groups issuing statements or calling for actions were diffuse and largely anonymous; their ability to act didn't come from an overt or visible power or base but unseen networks and relationships. It was difficult to tell if a statement was actually made by a group or a lone weirdo in their basement.

For the police, this meant they were never exactly sure who or what to take seriously and it was impossible to predict numbers. Calls for "decentralized autonomous actions" often went unheeded, but occasionally did not. One particular meet-up point might attract only a few dozen folks, while a separate unannounced jump-off point could be swarming with hundreds of anarchists.

The RNC in St. Paul utilized this through the sector map -- dividing the city into loose regions which affinity groups would claim as their region for action. Some groups seem to have stuck closely within their sector while other roamed freely in and out of them as they please. Because no particular actions or levels of intensity were designated beforehand, it was even more difficult to determine where police presence would be needed the most. As it played out, the massive attention on the legal march apparently kept many of the heavily armed tactical units away from downtown. Several blockades attempted on the northwest side of the map -- notably Bash Back -- proved to be not much more than minor inconveniences on their own, but as a part of the larger strategy they kept a large contingent of riot police unavailable and far from more intense action.

The police structure inherently makes this impossible to deal with -- decisions being made at the top take longer to come together, whereas anarchists were able to decide immediately in small groups what to do based on their immediate situation. The picture I'm getting out of St. Paul seems to be that most attempts at solid blockades fell fairly quickly, and by 1:00pm groups began swarming from their own sectors into downtown around Sector 7. They came together and split up as the situation changed.

Man evades police by running through forest

Police have called off a search early Saturday for a man wanted for possession of a controlled substance who fled police and ran into the Schiller Woods Forest Preserve.

Officers from the Albany Park and Jefferson Park police districts attempted to serve a warrant to the man Friday night when the Northwest Side man ran out of his home and into the woods near Cumberland Avenue and Irving Park Road, police said.

As of 1:50 a.m. Albany Park District police have called off the search, and said the man, who was allegedly armed, will be found since police have his name and know where he lives.

Squad cars and helicopters from both districts responded to the scene to search for the man in the woods.

Earlier reports of the man being taken into custody were unfounded.


Chicago man baracks the vote

A Chicago man who persuaded a Minnesota judge to delay his sentencing in a drug case so he could vote in the presidential election didn't show up for his hearing this week.

Javontez L. Ross, 24, whose last known address was an apartment in the 1300 block of Arthington Street, pleaded guilty Sept. 11 to a felony drug charge in the St. Paul area, according to authorities.

But Ross' attorney asked Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan to delay sentencing so Ross could vote Nov. 4, said Paul Gustafson, a spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney's office. The prosecutor did not object, and the judge granted the request.

But when it came time for Ross to be sentenced Wednesday, he was nowhere to be found.

It's unknown whether Ross voted Nov. 4, but there's no record of him voting in Cook County since at least 2005, said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections. Records list him as an inactive voter, meaning mail sent to his address has been returned.

"We don't know where the heck he is," said Gustafson.

Maybe he's trying to keep his schedule clear for jury duty.
from the Trib


Four banks nailed in Chicago area

Police are searching for robbers who hit four banks across the Chicago area today.

The first heist occurred around 9:15 a.m. at a North Communty Bank at 4701 N. Clark St. in the Uptown neighborhood, police said.

The robber, described as a white man in his late 20s, standing about 6 foot 2 to 6 foot 4 inches tall, walked into the bank and handed a note to a teller demanding money. After getting cash, the man fled. He was further described as wearing a dark knit cap, wire-rimmed glasses, a dark brown hooded coat and blue jeans.

More than three hours later, a man described as in his 30s, walked into a Fifth Third Bank branch at 145 W. North Ave. and slid a note to a teller and ran off with an unknown amount of money. Police do not believe the robberies were committed by the same man.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the Hoffman Estates Community Bank, 2497 W. Golf Rd., was robbed by an armed man wearing a ski mask.

The man, who was captured on security footage, was about 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a medium build and thought to be in his 20s. He was wearing a red ski-style jacket with a label for Marlboro brand cigarettes on it, according to police.

The third robbery occurred at Archer Bank, 3259 W. 95th St., in Evergreen Park this afternoon.

Evergreen Park police declined comment about the situation, referring calls to supervisors who would not be available until Thursday.

The FBI, which has jurisdiction over bank robbery investigations, could not be reached for comment tonight. It was not immediately known if any of the robberies were related.
from the Trib

CTA board poised to raise fares today

The CTA board today is expected to increase transit fares, some by as much as 50 cents to $2.25 a ride.

The hikes would take effect in January.

The agency also earlier announced plans to eliminate the bonus for Chicago Card users and increase the price of a 30-day pass to $90 from $75.

Some of the increases: Transit card ride to $2.00 from $1.75; rail transit card rise to $2.25 from $2; rail Chicago Card to $2.25 from $1.75; bus Chicago Card to $2 from $1.75; one-day pass to $6 from $5; three-day pass to $15 from $12; and a seven-day pass to $24 from $20.

The agency blames higher costs and Gov. Rod Blagojevich's decision in January to extend free rides to seniors.

On Wednesday, Pace, the suburban bus transit agency, raised fares by a quarter to $1.75, effective Jan. 1. The Pace board also approved a new Pace/CTA seven-day pass that will cost $29.

After Dec. 31, Pace will no longer accept the CTA seven-day pass.

from the Trib


Cabbies vow strike as fares set to drop

Chicago taxicab fares are about to drop for the second time in two weeks. But passengers may soon have a more difficult time finding a cab.

The two-tiered surcharge imposed last spring to provide relief to cabbies squeezed by skyrocketing gasoline prices will be lifted entirely at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The Seattle-style surcharge requires passengers to pay an extra 50 cents a ride whenever gas prices "equal or exceed" $2.70 a gallon for seven consecutive days and up to $1 whenever the price tops $3.20 a gallon for one week straight.

The $1 surcharge was cut in half Halloween morning. At 12:01 a.m. Friday, the 50- cent surcharge will be lifted.

Last month, the United Taxidrivers Community Council gave Mayor Daley an ultimatum: Support a 16 percent fare increase that takes effect Jan. 1 or risk a strike that could "paralyze" the city.

City Hall responded by saying a permanent fare hike was in the works for next spring, but no sooner.

On Monday, chairman Fayez Khozindar said his group was forging ahead with the strike and would hold a press conference Nov. 25 to announce a specific date.

"It will be painful for the city. . . . It will be 80 percent effective, I hope," Khozindar said.

Consumer Services Commissioner Norma Reyes said the United Taxidrivers Community Council "does not speak for a majority" of cabbies. And she argued that the group was playing with fire by promoting a strike.

from Sun-Times


Anarchist Reading and Discussion Workshop

Discussion around the Comiso Dossier (from Insurrection magazine). I'm not the host but volunteered to be a contact.

Pick up print copies of the Comiso Dossier at anti-Olympics meetings and at the Lichen Lending Library (1921 S. Blue Island). Or write to this address [xxx], and we can get you a copy. Articles for discussion will be highlighted or marked.

The actual discussion will happen sometime around November 19. Be in touch to get the time and location.

We're reading this because we think it presents some vital ideas for anarchist organizing here, especially in the wider community and with opposition to the Olympics, though we're certainly not proposing a fixed model. Here's a description of what the Dossier covers:

In the early 1980s, Italy was in the grip of repression and state-sponsored terror, as the forces of order worked to violently dismantle the massive and inspiring social movements of the previous decades. While many revolutionaries were hopelessly demoralized and disoriented, others pushed ahead without pause.

In Sicily, some of these anarchist comrades moved to oppose the installation of American cruise missiles in the rural community of Comiso. Refusing to play the game of negotiation or compromise, they worked directly with other local people to organize rebellion against the construction of the base. The form of struggle was the self-managed league- autonomous groups that brought together anarchists with the wider population, while excluding all the parasites of the Left.

These experiences are not so far removed as we might sometimes think. They reflect is an entirely different model of anarchist organizing, one constructed against overwhelming odds, but which contain many lessons for us. While we have frustratingly little access to these experiences, the Comiso Dossier is an important and inspiring collection of historical and theoretical documents. Our reading group will cover the basic history, but we want to move on to practically discuss anarchist strategy today in light of past transformative moments.


Bloomingdale bank robber makes getaway

Bloomingdale police and the FBI were searching today for a bank robber who escaped on foot from a First American Bank with a bag filled with money, authorities said.

The robbery occurred at about 10:10 a.m. Thursday in the western suburb when a man entered the bank at 80 Stratford Drive, displayed a handgun, and demanded that the teller fill a bag with money, according to a press release from police.

The suspect is described as white, about 5-foot 8-inches tall with a medium build. He was wearing a black ski mask, a red T-shirt and jeans. He left southbound on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Anyone with information is asked to [keep it to themselves]

from the Trib


Milwaukee Network for Social War Communique #1

Something I found posted on Milwaukee Indymedia. It's interesting to see the proliferation of the use of the term "social war" and the spread of insurrectionalist tendencies -- Santa Cruz, Olympia/Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and now Milwaukee are becoming notable hot-spots of, at least, insurrectionalist chatter. The contemporary expression of insurrectionalism deserves a look here at some point.
This is critique as attack from those who attack as critique. It is an attempt to make apparent what is evident to us: a separation between the ideology and practice of activism and those who seek a complete destruction of this world (domination in its totality) in search of the unknown world of possibilities that lie only in its ruin. Recent conversations have shown it to become more and more necessary to articulate this divide most importantly for ourselves and others still open to possibilities.

As capital has accumulated and thus reproduced the world, so have good intentions.

The ever constant activity of the activist in their efforts to petition this, reform that, vote, educate the masses, and always with the guidance of them and others as experts, perpetuate the logic of alienation. Theirs is a relationship managed and on the terms of the state, whose goal is always the maintenance of dominance by whatever means. And while they may have good intentions in their reactions to an always expanding set of outrageous issues, the many contradictions within capitalist social relations, they merely assimilate themselves into the disease from which no cure can be found within. To the extent that they adopt and perpetuate this ideology, they spread disease.

This disease is the same disease we've been building for thousands of years, dead yet alive in its spread of social decomposition and society as prison. It is the corpse of our social relations, conditioning the reproduction of the expert, hierarchy, and class division. This corpse in the mouth of the activist vomits out not only how life should be lived, but also how it should change, effectively changing nothing.

Always there is that feeling of unreality, estrangement, otherness, that stinking fucking smell underneath the stairs of our everyday lives.

To the pathetic calls for unity, mediation, compromise, restraint in our discourse with our conditions, our reply is "we'd rather not."

Our conditions are a social war.

Our social war is discourse.

Only one direction -- Obama insurrection

Not everyone behaved themselves when celebrating U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s historic win Tuesday night.

Some fired gunshots, a felon accused cops of arresting him “because a black man won for president” and a teenager standing with throngs of passionate revelers used the opportunity to slap a police officer, Cook County prosecutors said.

“White bitches. Fuck McCain. You white police can’t do nothing,” 19-year-old Celita Hart taunted officers as she stood with a throng of Obama supporters in the 6900 block of South Western Avenue, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said in a court Wednesday. At some point, authorities said, Hart left the crowd, which had been chanting “Obama, Obama,” walked up to a squad car, and smacked a male officer in the face.

from Sun-Times

Man robs bank on Northwest Side

Police are looking for the man who robbed a Northwest Side bank Tuesday afternoon.

About 1 p.m. Tuesday, a black male, believed to be in his mid-20s, entered a Charter One Bank branch in the 2800 block of North Narragansett Avenue, according to police News Affairs.

The man demanded money from a bank teller, who complied, police said. The man then fled with an unknown amount of money.

Chicago Police and the FBI are probing the robbery.

from Sun-Times


Eviction resistance in Boston

Although the intention of the postings on this blog will be focused on Chicago experiences, it is essential to learn from the experiences of others elsewhere dealing with the same problems. In this article from Boston, for instance, we find that chaining a few folks to a building on eviction day does not itself prevent eviction or seriously hamper their effort to evict.

However, it would of course be unfair to assume this is the entire strategy. In fact, CL/VU can at least claim success in contributing to the momentum of preventing one eviction last April as they had threatened at the beginning of the year to physically block evictions whenever possible. The trick, of course, seems to be in encouraging enough eviction resistance so that the one hour hold up at a single site accumulates into an unmanageable waste of police resources across the city.

The results appear to be a matter of circumstances -- on the one hand, the resident in eviction that went ahead was apparently the owner of the condo and was indebted directly to the bank. In the case of the halted eviction, it was a matter of the scummy landlord giving the renters the claim of being good tenants. It's exciting the CL/VU went ahead and took on both, although the legal claims of one were more dubious. This points to an attempt to deconstruct the logic of the social order that only "good" residents deserve to stay in their homes.

About 50 people, activists from the Jamaica Plain based organization City Life/Vida Urbana, and their supporters, gathered in front of 76 Perrin Street in Roxbury today, to try and block police from evicting one of the building's residents, Paula Taylor, 43.

Six people chained themselves to the front and back entrances of the building. After a standoff that lasted more than an hour, Boston police from the area B-2 precinct and officers with Boston Special Operations, finally cut the protester's chains and arrested four of the six activists. Shortly thereafter, workers with a moving and storage company began removing Ms. Taylor's belongings and placing them in a truck. She told reporters she was not sure where she would go.

Attorneys with the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild observed the eviction and arrests. Students and staff from Harvard Law School also were in attendance and several spoke with reporters.

Ms. Taylor's condo was foreclosed upon earlier this year. The mortgage is owned by Bank of America. She said she offered to pay rent to the bank and move out once a qualified buyer for her condo could be found, but she and spokespersons for City Life/Vida Urbana said the bank rejected that offer. The fight for tenants' rights is far from over. City Life and other organizations are stepping up to stop the banks from taking people's homes.


To say, as we do, do nothing... This is not to say do nothing.

By way of fleshing out some of the comments made in the review of Platypus, I'll offer an overview of the current that best responds to the Plat refrain "The Left is Dead!" Most if not all advocates of this position argue for actual attack against and the destruction of the Left -- not its reconstitution by reviving the likes of Trotsky and Lenin. They see the organized Left itself as a barrier to revolution (though certainly not the only one), and they see the conclusions drawn by the authors of "Violence at the RNC" as being applicable to all sections of the activist Left.

I read the essay "Impotence of the Revolutionary Group" by Sam Moss several years ago while digging through assorted ultra-left archives [I prefer "ultra" to "left communist" as a catch-all term to describe that loose collection of ideas, if only because it sounds cooler]. I didn't relate very well to the essay at the time -- I was, perhaps, infused with that revolutionary giddiness that comes with youthful activism and couldn't wholly comprehend what the heck Moss was talking about. But it struck a nerve, though I found it difficult to articulate or relate to my experience at the time. The piece wound up being lost but never really forgotten.

But apparently the essay was discovered by others as well -- a duo called Monsieur Dupont had been conversing with various anarchist and ultra-left zines from a position of "nihilist communism" (to use the title of a book of theirs), or communist pessimism, critical not only of revolutionary organizations but the illusion of our agency in moving towards revolution, and Sam Moss was used as a starting point. More recently, a zine in the US has sprung up around the concept, publishing from Kentucky as Letters.

Their position is occasionally criticized as economism -- it may be somewhat determinist (though in their pessimism I certainly don't think they see revolution a foregone conclusion) but it is hardly orthodox marxism. One of their contributions to contemporary discussion is the slow proliferation of the use of the term "pro-revolutionary," as opposed to "revolutionary" or "activist," though the term has been misinterpreted. "Pro-revolutionary" isn't meant to distinguish one type of activist from another, those who prefer the revolution "here and now" as used in "Assuming Hostilities." Rather, pro-revolutionary is a recognition of one's inability to produce the conditions of revolution in spite of the desire to do so.

The resulting difference is striking, as seen when "Assuming Hostilities" asks:
In recent years we have been forced to ask ourselves repeatedly, when the state hits us, why are we so incapable of hitting back in any substantial way? Or when situations arise in our own areas or in our own lives, why are we also so incapable of acting with any decisiveness, with real force?
and concludes:
Our strength will ultimately come from the strength of our relations, how willing we are to have one another’s backs.
An undefined "we" -- presumably pro-revolutionaries, given the address to the "pro-revolutionary milieu" -- accepts responsibility for the situation in which they find themselves and concludes the way out is a tightening of social bonds among pro-revolutionaries and an escalation of attack, and that this attack could create a revolutionary situation. The Monsieur Dupont crowd might critique this as a moderated form of vanguardism (though there are links between MD and insurrectionalist thought, MD remains critical of the insurrectionalist optimism and fetishization of action) or substitionism.

MD expands the definition of "party" much like in the ultra essay "Call," differentiating political parties from Marx's concept of the historical communist party:
The practice of communism, as we live it, we call “the Party.” When we overcome an obstacle together or when we reach a higher level of sharing, we say that “we are building the Party.” Certainly others, who we do not know yet, are building the Party elsewhere.
In doing so, they can critique activist organizational forms as vanguardist while still advocating "the party" as a revolutionary form. The party isn't a political organ per se but the collection of attacks initiated by proles against the capitalist order:
No experience of communism at the present time can survive without getting organised, tying itself to others, putting itself in crisis, waging war. “For the oases that dispense life vanish when we seek shelter in them.”
.... Looking closer at it, the Party could be nothing but this: the formation of sensibility as a force.
It is a recognition of autonomous working class power and organizing to meet immediate needs. Communism itself exists when those needs clash with the needs of capital and organized power attempt to assert themselves against capital. This is a contradiction of one's material conditions and not ideology; to re-orient this argument towards "Assuming Hostilities," then, those authors appear to advocate the spread of pro-revolutionary ideology and the desire for immediate revolution in the here and now, whereas the authors of "Call" appear somewhat less hopeful in regards to converting revolutionaries [I may be projecting here or confusing their position with MD; I haven't read either in a while] and look instead towards resolving immediate neeeds against the logic of the law (which is not to say "Assuming Hostilities" dismisses this wholly).

The growth of anarchist crime blotter blogs (like Social Rupture) is related to this encouragement of conflictuality. The concept of "social war" is described by Social Rupture thusly:
There is a pleasant thread of consistent, though severely under-reported, targeted attacks being carried out against those responsible for the submissive, depressing nature of our lives. The following acts seem isolated, but when viewed together, present a coherent story of an ongoing fight-back. It's not criminality that we necessarily support (i.e.-rape, murder and child abuse are mostly despicable), but the strikes against the logic of the law (both the State's and the Economy's) and it's domination of our daily lives. Some acts are more intentional than others, some more imaginative that others, some more collective than others, but all are worthy of publication, defense and proliferation.
Notably absent is the usual invocation of revolutionary strategy or exhortation that following this path will lead to successful revolution. Whether this is the product of pessimism and hopelessness or just calm, hopeful humility remains to be seen, although it seems SR desires to see these acts proliferate intentionally, imaginatively and collectively, becoming a social force in a similar way that "Call" imagines the Party.

MD's nihilist communist position rejects the ability of ideological revolutionary groups to change the course of history, echoing Moss:
The small radical groups - "intellectuals" who have "raised themselves to the level of comprehending historical movements as a whole,".... strive continually to turn the struggle for immediate demands into a struggle against the system. But beside the realities of bread and butter which capitalism can still offer a majority of the workers, the radicals can submit only hopes and ideas, and the workers abandon their struggles the moment their demands are met.
Moss heaps on relentless pessimism in his description of the class struggle: "The actual class struggle is not waged through revolutionary organizations. It is waged in the factories and through the unions.... We see that the class struggle is today still conservative." For the activist whose energy relies on the prospect of millenarian revolution, Moss' words are sobering, if not enraging. Moss adds a dimension to consideration of class struggle -- that not all class struggle is radical or revolutionary, leading to the conclusion that participation in class struggle in itself is not necessarily a way of immediately opening revolutionary potentials. Instead, revolution is the product of a certain set of material conditions and crises that are largely the product of capitalism's internal contradictions.

Now, Autonomous Marxists like Harry Cleaver argue that the crises come about in response to working class reaction to capital, as a result of capitals attempts to reorganize itself leading to a tightening of its contradictions (a cyclical relationship inevitably spiraling towards revolution). This lead to autonomists to desire engagement with the political process -- I'm thinking of Negri's idea of bleeding government programs ; wages for housework campaign; etc. -- to speed up the disintegration of the social order. Something like an inverted commie form of Reaganism, bleeding the system from the opposite end.

But in their pessimism and rejection of politics, the nihilists stick to their basic argument, that "Our impotence illustrates what should be obvious to all: that history is made by the broad masses alone." Rather than seeking political games and solutions, the nihlists emphasize actions (when they do emphasize action) that enrich proles in the here-and-now. Political organizations and political strategies will at best be destroyed by revolution, and at worst will attempt to lead and divert it.

Moss' explanation of revolutionary groups sums up the nihilist position nicely and offers, along with the insights from the sources above, a spring board from which a critique of activism and the Left may develop:
But this question may be raised, why, then, realizing the futility of the act, do you band together into groups? The answer is simply that the act serves a personal need. It is inevitable that men sharing a common feeling of rebellion against a society that lives by exploitation and war should seek out their own kind in society, and in whatever weapons fall to their command. Unable to rebel against the system with the rest of the population, they will oppose it alone. The fact that they engage in such action however futile it may appear establishes the basis for the prediction that when the large masses, reacting to the compulsives of the objectively revolutionary situation, feel similarly affected, they too will band together out of the same urgency and they too will use whatever weapons fall to their disposal. When they do so, they will not rise from ideological factors, but from necessity, and their ideologies will only reflect the necessities then, as do their current bourgeois ideologies reflect the necessity today.
Oh, I know, I know. Lots of flowery language without spelling out a plan for moving ahead. But that should be welcome to those who proclaim that those most impacted by experiences are the ones who should lead the attempt to respond to them -- to the extent that it exists, nihilist hope lies not in a future expropriation but our own ability to determine our needs, find our commonalities with others, and act as we see fit to improve our lives here and now.
"Call" is another text that may be difficult to read online, and print copies are available. "Impotence" is printed in the (also available in print) zine Total Destruction #4, but probably deserves to be made into a pamphlet on its own. Monsieur Dupont's books "Species Being" and "Nihilist Communism" aren't available in Chicago distros yet as far as I know, but maybe they could be. A zine of their collected writings would also be a worthwhile work-time endeavor...


Bank robbers fail to escape

Three people were in custody this afternoon for making off with more than $35,000 during a holdup at a Far South Side bank Tuesday, according to a federal complaint.

The trio, David L. Newton Jr., Sean D. Smith and Charles M. Smith, was arrested in connection with the heist at a Charter One Bank branch in the 1300 block of West 103rd Street in the East Beverly neighborhood.

About 9:10 a.m. Tuesday, Newton and Sean Smith entered the bank and one of them pointed a gun at a teller, according to a federal complaint. Newton allegedly approached a security guard, asked if he was armed, searched him and ordered him to the floor.

Newton then fired a gunshot into the air, the records show. No one was hurt.

Smith then jumped over the teller counter and ordered tellers to open their drawers, according to the records. Smith allegedly made off with about $35,721 along with a red dye pack before he and Newton exited the bank.

Bank employees said the two then entered a white Chevrolet Blazer driven by Charles Smith, a fled the scene, the records show.

A teller at the bank then activated a silent alarm, notifying Chicago police who eventually found the vehicle abandoned several blocks away, according to the records.

Newton and Sean Smith were found a short distance away hiding under a porch with a black book bag that had red dye stains on it, the records show, adding that the money also was stained.

The two were eventually taken back to the bank and identified by employees as the robbers, according to records. Charles Smith was arrested shortly thereafter and admitted to FBI agents he was the getaway driver during the robbery, the records show.
from the Trib

Chicago to be first stop for Olympics panel

Chicago will be the first city visited by the International Olympic Committee's 2016 Summer Games evaluation commission next year, according to a Chicago 2016 spokesperson.

The 10-member commission will be here April 2 to 8.

The panel will visit Tokyo April 14 to 20, Rio April 27 to May 3 and Madrid May 4 to 9.

The stay in each city has been extended from four days to seven.

The cities found out the dates at a meeting of Asian Olympic Committees going on in Bali.

Upon completion of the visits, the commission will prepare a report that will be issued one month before the IOC chooses the 2016 host Oct. 2, 2009. The cities will not be ranked in the report.
from the Trib


The twilight is red. The sunset is bloody.

For lack of anything better to write at the moment, here's an exciting story from a European individualist anarchist. The biography below is taken from an introduction to his text "Toward the Creative Nothing." It's somewhat arty and poetic and whatnot, and I feel like that can make it tiresome to read on a screen. There are print zine versions available at local distros.

My soul is a sacrilegious temple

in which the bells of sin and crime,

voluptuous and perverse,

loudly ring out revolt and despair.

Renzo Novatore is the pen-name of Abele Rizieri Ferrari who was born in Arcola, Italy (a village of La Spezia) on May 12, 1890 to a poor peasant family. Unwilling to adapt to scholastic discipline, he only attended a few months of the first grade of grammar school and then left school forever. Though his father forced him to work on the farm, his strong will and thirst for knowledge led him to become a self-taught poet and philosopher. Exploring these matters outside the limits imposed by the educational system, as a youth lie read Stirner, Nietzsche, Wilde, Ibsen, Baudelaire, Schopenauer and many others with a critical mind.

From 1908 on, he considered himself an anarchist. In 1910, he was charged with the burning of a local church and spent three months in prison. A year later, he went on the lam for several months because the police wanted him for theft and robbery. On September 30, 1911, the police arrested him for vandalism. In 1914, he began to write for anarchist papers. He was drafted during the first World War. He deserted his regiment on April 26, 1918 and was sentenced to death by a military tribunal for desertion and high treason on October 31. He left his village and went on the lam, propagating the armed uprising against the state.

On June 30, 1919, a farmer sold him to the police after an uprising in La Spezia. He was sentenced to ten years in prison, but was released in a general amnesty a few months later. He rejoined the anarchist movement and took part in various insurrectionary endeavors. In 1920, the police arrested him again for an armed assault on an arms depository at the naval barracks in Val di Fornola. Several months later, he was free, and participated in another insurrectionary endeavor that failed because of a snitch.

In the summer of 1922, three trucks full of fascists stopped in front of his home, where he lived with his wife and two sons. The fascists surrounded the house, but Novatore used grenades against them and was able to escape. He went underground one more time.

On November 29, 1922, Novatore and his comrade, Sante Pollastro, went into a tavern in Teglia. Three carabinieri (Italian military police) followed them inside. When the two anarchists tried to leave, the carabinieri began shooting. The warrant officer killed Novatore, but was then killed by Pollastro. One carabiniere ran away, and the last begged Pollastro for mercy. The anarchist escaped without shooting him.

Renzo Novatore wrote for many anarchist papers (Cronaca Libertaria, Il Libertario, Iconoclastal, Gli Scamiciati, Nichilismo, Pagine Libere) where he debated with other anarchists (among them Camillo Berneri). He published a magazine, Vertice, that has unfortunately been lost. In 1924, an individualist anarchist group published two pamphlets of his writings: A1 Disopra dell’ Arco and Verso il Nulla Creatore.


Homes and Freedom

This anonymous letter was read to the CrimethInc. convergence held this summer in July. The reader said it was written by some friends who couldn't attend the convergence but were launching their own project of liberation:
For the past year, we have inhabited an occupied space in conflict with the prevailing logic of capitalism: everything that can be desired is for sale (nothing escapes the realm of the commodity); in order to survive one must exchange commodities for their representation in the form of currency; one's daily experience, the sum of life itself, is nothing more than a good to be sold on the open market. That space and the lives we have come to know and to love are being directly threatened by those who have chosen to base their livelihoods on exploitation, fear, and the destruction of life. We are anarchists, squatters, and gardeners who by asking no leave, no permission to live, have attempted to take directly some of the means necessary for life: the space and time to breathe and recover from the incessant monotony of school, work, rent, and the supermarket; the thought and energy to mount an attack against all that which is killing us piecemeal.
Unfortunately, nowhere do the authors even hint at where they reside, and so "Midwest" could mean anywhere from Kansas to Ohio. But they acknowledge the fragility of their situation and ask for folks to keep an ear to the ground in the event of future trouble that may be heading their way. They explicitly state their goal is not merely another place to live but a place worth living:
Our project is the destruction of the current social order and the creation of lives truly worth living. Squatting is one means of many we choose to further this endeavor. We have never been interested in finding yet another way to merely survive. Our interest lies in the generation of conflict and combustion capable of skyrocketing us out of this mess.
The creation of a confrontational squat is a relatively new and rare occurrence for the United States, at least outside of New York City. As mentioned earlier, the social situation is opening up space for the reclamation of unused housing. A well-planned and well-defended squat could be not worth the authorities' efforts to evict -- especially when it would mean just one more derelict building on a block of foreclosed homes.

Also interesting is the squatter's ignoring (and by implication, rejection) of using the squat as just another way to leverage city officials for a new homeless shelter or other concessions. Squatting contains the possibility of removing the "housing advocates" or activists that mediate between government and its subjects. The squat contains both the petition and the demand itself, eliminating both the desire for and the possibility of compromise on the part of the rebels.

The Vancouver Woodward Squat will likely be cited numerous times in the discussion on insurrectionary housing; some of the anarchist squatters have provided numerous texts and analysis of the experience. Their piece Squatting or Activist Posturing? looks at attempts to accelerate the Woodward Squat from a 10-day plea for social housing into a permanent, self-managed squat for homeless folks, free of external control, and how "anti-poverty" activists stifled momentum.


Bending the rules til they break

It's no longer hyperbolic or romantic extremism to say that the economy is undergoing massive crisis, and this is leading to changes will upset the status quo in unpredictable ways. Crisis is a demonstration that the authorities do not, in fact, have everything under control. The period of crisis itself is marked both by the underlying problem itself and the attempts of the authorities to re-assert their control over the many cracks that emerge.

Some -- I'll take the opportunity to make a cheap shot at "the Left" -- have already yielded the ground to the state. Argument over the bailout or particular budget cuts are not an assault upon the capitalist system. Rather they point to a desire for a return to normalcy. At the risk of sounding cliche it is insisting to play by the rules of the game even when the rules no longer apply.

Leftists want management and stability; anarchists want autonomy. Left parties continue doing what they normally do in times of crisis because they don't know what else to do, nor do they really want anything else to do. Recruit; "organize"; preach. Anarchists would do well to approach the situation by looking at strategic weaknesses and capitalizing on them while the window is open.

For example, tightening local budgets will mean reductions in police forces:
"I think it's going to mean less police visibility ultimately in the community, and we're going to need a lot of community cooperation to keep the crime rate as low as it's been," he said.
What points towards rupture and unpredictability is that the situation ahead is a coupling of both police under-staffing and an increased need for individuals to participate in property crimes:
"I have been in this business for a long time, and I have experienced cutbacks in the past. Those, however, were done through attrition. I have never experienced the cuts that we are anticipating next year when we anticipate the very real probability of layoffs occurring in our community," he said.
There stand a real possibility that the rules will be changing. In fact the rules have changed, albeit temporarily, such as when the Cook County Sheriff declared a brief hiatus on evictions, throwing absentee landlords and bankers into a fit. The decision was criticized as being selective enforcement of laws, but what it showed was that mass refusal (in this case, of paying rent) can lead to the suspension of reality -- not by convincing the authorities but by making enforcement materially unfeasible ("the deputies were doing the work of notifying tenants that their buildings were in foreclosure, a procedure that Dart said should have fallen on banks, and was costing the taxpayers money"). That the sheriff made the decision and later reneged speaks to the relative class power of those being evicted. It is times like these that offer opportunity to upset that balance of power.

Anarchist intervention can emerge at points where folks understand the need to survive trumps obedience to social norms and laws. The police admit that "When people are hungry, they need to feed their families somehow... Not all those ways are always legal." It's sick and cruel that the officer would take such a callous stance, willing to enforce the law over or against human need. But anarchist practice with petty criminality is a skill that can be offered to others. If criminality is spreading on its own, anarchists can insert themselves to make the push from criminality towards rebellion. Widespread and confrontational squatting, for instance, could be one method of taking advantage of the inability of the authorities to enforce their own laws.

Even Alan Greenspan admits the situation before us is a "once in a century credit tsunami." Particularly interesting is that the authorities haven't entirely figured out what went wrong or how to fix it. While they scramble to reassert order, we should strike.

It is likely that the current financial crisis will yield to the efforts of international governments. But the cracks that emerge offer anarchists space to plant long lasting seeds of revolt capable of moving in the direction of total rebellion.

Woman accused of slashing cop car tires

Bail was set Thursday [October 16] at $10,000 for a Palatine woman accused of knifing tires on a police squad car.

Simone Duncan, 18, of the 400 block of East Spruce Drive was charged with felony criminal damage to government property, said Assistant Cook County State's Atty. Kristin Piper.

Duncan was arrested about 2:40 a.m. Thursday outside the Police Department.

She allegedly was upset at not being allowed to post bail for her jailed boyfriend, Piper said.
from the Trib


Threatening letters mailed to banks

At least a dozen more suspicious letters turned up Wednesday at financial institutions nationwide, but all appear to be harmless, the FBI said.

Authorities said nearly 50 letters in all, some filled with white powder, have been sent to Chase Bank branches and federal regulatory offices in 11 cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Denver, Newark, N.J., New York City, Okalhoma City, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington.

So far, the letters have tested negative for poisonous or otherwise dangerous toxins, FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said in Washington.

An FBI spokesman in Oklahoma, where eight letters turned up, said local preliminary assessments showed the powder was harmless calcium.

The letters first began surfacing Monday, forcing some bank branches to close. No injuries were reported, but some Chase employees, including a pregnant woman, were examined as a precaution. Chase branches around the country "are on alert," said JPMorgan Chase spokesman Greg Hassell.

Authorities said the letters appear to be from the same source, and were focusing on possible suspects near Amarillo, Texas, where the envelopes were postmarked.

The incident was being investigated as a first, if extreme, public backlash over the nation's financial crisis.
from the Trib


We are currently the we of our conditions; we seek to cultivate a we of our direction.

This essay from an issue of the Earth First Journal explores the idea of social war from an ecological starting point, expanding beyond activism and becoming a material force.
The we of our conditions is the we of a position within a capitalism, but it is also the we of the capitalism itself. If we are not the we of activism and not merely the we of arson, then what use are the communities we associate with? The point is not to denounce our communities, our identities, but to reveal the true power of those communities and identities if they were liberated from the hand of politics. We are alienated, isolated and disempowered when we are no longer at the Summer Rendezvous, the gathering, the potluck. We are weak without a community of support.

However, the weakness, sadness and alienation, are where we spend most of our time and where most of the human population spends its time too.

If we deconstructed our old selves, our old communities, what would we have left? Social relations, customs, rituals? Exploitation at work, structured gender relations, racialized power, reproductive systems of control, so many prisons? Thus, we will not have class struggle as our objective but social war. What if we recognized ourselves as the we of our conditions, and then attempted to meet and communicate with others who share similar conditions? What’s more, what if we attempted to not merely understand ourselves as a community of capital but to direct our struggle in a way that is intended to make us powerful? This would cause us to inhabit social war—with a clear understanding of our experience as a component of a total system of social relations. Social war can then become both the fruit and the path of an anti-capitalist, ecological social force. Once we’ve cast off the shell of our political identity, a real we will be illuminated. Only then can we talk about rewilding and going feral. It is precisely there—when our we is a mirror to the rest of the human population—that such “escapism” becomes a real force.

The only we of our direction is made up of those of us who are searching for an Other we. It is this Other we that makes social war its object, that will appropriate all knowledge from all existing culture and that will also be appropriated by the aesthetics, sciences and social environments produced through culture. The we of our direction—an anti-capitalist and ecological direction—becomes powerful when it is attached to realities. Thus, the we of our direction is biocentric because it understands itself as inseparable from its conditions. Our anti-capitalist, ecological social force is the union of our need to exist on the Earth as participants in an ecosystem and the desire to edit, transform and play with what being human means.

Ontario: Attack on CP Rail

In an attempt to cause a shitload of economic damage to the infrastructure of the CP rail main-line, we cut down two telephone poles across the tracks just to the north of their main intermodal yard outside Toronto. A pile of fallen trees was ignited with gasoline across the tracks, and we molotov’d one of those weird grey box things that look pretty important and are full of electrical shit. We also tied copper wire across the tracks to signal the blockage so no one would get hurt. That was way more exciting than a turkey dinner!

It’s shit cool that all you people been bringing the ruckus all over the country to mess with the Olympics and its Spirit Train business. That exhibition of nationalism and colonization has got all the rich motherfuckers greasin’ the pockets of development tycoons. Sure this shit’s been loomin’ round all our hoods for a while, but you throw in the Olympic Games and crackers like Bob Rennie can’t get enough. This spectacle is quickening the pace of yet another yuppie takeover. It aint gonna stop if we ask it nicely; it didn’t before the Olympics and sure won’t after!

For us the Spirit Train is every train, they’re all spreading “Olympic spirit”, or more like the spirit of capitalism: construction materials, military equipment, useless consumer products, tourists... Fuck it all. Every ride on the rails is a ride for the same invasion that’s been goin on since the railway was built to colonize this whole place. This rail system has been developed and is utilized to serve our exploiters and enemies. As long as the exploiters exist, infrastructure will always be their weapon. So we wanna destroy it all... their railway, highways, cameras, telecommunications, it’s all serving the masters and their police. We’re not interested in expressing our dissatisfaction at a symbolic part of the problem. We want to actually dismantle the whole system and hit these cracker-ass-capitalists where it hurts. It’s not just the Spirit Train; it’s every train, the tracks and the social structure they maintain!

This is solidarity with all the comrades raisin’ hell wherever they live. Keep the struggle burning locally, and your solidarity reaches globally. This chaos was for the warriors everywhere who are still facing charges for their involvement in acts of resistance quite like this one. It don’t matter how hard they come down on us cause there are too many of us waiting to explode. Let’s show ’em what we can do and aim for our actual objective!

Every train- stopped, every track- untied, every jail- destroyed!

from Infoshop