Bomb threat brings suburban school evacuation

Students at Westview Hills Middle School near Willowbrook were evacuated this morning because of a bomb threat.

According to the district's Web site, the students were safe and being supervised by the staff at the school, 630 65th St. in the southwest suburb.

The statement said police were on the scene, but an officer declined comment.

from the Trib

Insurrectionary discussion

I've been informed that someone from the magazine A Murder of Crows will be in Milwaukee on March 5 to speak about a synthesis of "The Coming Insurrection" and insurrectionalism in the U.S. Apparently they are working with semiotext(e) to publish an improved English translation of that text. Presumably the event will be held at Milwaukee's CCC but I'll post more info as it comes in.

Additionally, I don't think I've advertised it here yet -- Chicago Bash Back is hosting the second national Radical Queer Convergence May 28-30.


Little pig, little pig, let me in

A former member of the "police explorer" youth program who was infatuated with police work, Richardson is accused of getting dressed in a regulation police uniform on Saturday, walking into the Grand Crossing station and announcing that he was a Calumet officer assigned to traffic patrol there.

He signed out a police radio and joined another officer in a patrol car for five hours, police and Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Rutkowski said Monday.

from the Sun-Times

Burn the schools, save the children

A Geneva teenager who has been charged with arson, burglary and criminal damage to property wrote on a social networking site that arson was among his interests, according to police and court documents, the Kane County Chronicle is reporting.

The 14-year-old boy is accused in connection with a fire last month at Western Avenue School in St. Charles.

Police obtained a search warrant to examine his MySpace.com page, where they found the boy had listed arson, anarchy, vandalism and mischief as some of his general interests.
from the Trib
Original story from the Republican


"We’re building a civilized space here"

Finding Our Roots is seeking workshop proposals for its third conference at the end of April. The first theme was "Theory" and the second theme was "Organization," this third year's theme is different in that it seems to offer more opportunity for different types of proposals (beyond simply presentation/lecture) -- "Space."
Why and how is space important to anarchists, and so often central to our struggles? What do we mean when we talk about “anarchist space”? What different spaces have anarchists created and struggled to keep and maintain; how have these spaces functioned and thrived, or failed to do so? What kinds of anarchist spaces exist currently, and how are they serving anarchist community as well as contributing to larger struggles for liberation and against capitalism? Examples could include infoshops, multiuse spaces, housing collectives, squats, farms, gardens, parks, free schools, workers’ collectives, or any other space dedicated to radical purpose and used by anarchists as a focal point or staging ground of struggle.

How are anarchists involved in struggles around space, both within and beyond our community? What kinds of spaces exist (or attempt to) within larger radical spaces: Why, for instance, are queer space, women’s space, or space by and for people of color important; how do these and other marginalized/oppressed groups use space as part of their struggles and organizing?

How does space operate within the social landscape and the machinations of capitalism? How can anarchists support and join poor and disenfranchised peoples’ struggles around space, such as fights against gentrification and displacement?

Potential workshop topics include but are not limited to: Gentrification and anti-gentrification struggles, squatting, community, Europe’s autonomous radical communities and their role in popular uprisings (ie, the recent events in Greece), self-sustainability in urban or rural environments, decolonization and resisting the police state, the relationship of anarchists to anti-imperialist/nationalist struggles for autonomy, Queer space, safe space, space as a human right, the use of autonomous spaces by oppressed groups, “spiritual space” - anarchism and non-hierarchical spirituality, the history and practice of anarchist spaces, problems of unity vs. fragmentation within anarchist space, collective living, workers’ collectives and non-hierarchical workplaces, reclaiming the commons, democratizing/infiltrating media space, the “infoshop movement,” reclaiming corporate and governmental spaces, “anarchist space” and its intersection with other spaces of resistance.
Yet, I also wonder whether such a vague theme will increase the likelihood of the same old cookie-cutter discussions and workshops, the same old activist outlines getting new names, annual NCOR presentations changing around a few words to fit the 'theme' but not changing in substance. This is kind of just my whining -- I'll of course go to FOR, and I'm not sure yet if I'll have anything interesting to contribute, I recognize how difficult it can be to put together an interesting presentation. But how much of the conference is going to be devoted to recycling the same old thing -- essentially working to reproduce anarchist ideology -- rather than using this gathering of anarchists, this "anarchist space," to learn and try new things together, to experiment with space?

Proposal and other information is available through the link above.


Chicago pigs play bad cop, bad cop

As if Chicago police need another black eye.

This one could come from a punch extended halfway across the country, from a former Chicago cop who allegedly has been recorded on tape telling students at Colorado State University that beating suspects and paying off informants with drugs is just a way of life for police in "Chi-town."
from the Trib


Yes, we ARE ninjas!

I just thought this was cute (even with the weird typo in the last line), in regards to the Milwaukee vandalism the other day. Anarchists need more witty replies:

Nearing bar close Monday morning the 19th of January, as we walked a few wandering drunks asked us if we were ninjas. One of us quickly replied "Yes, We ARE ninjas" and then seconds later the group continued on forward and proceeded to smash both ATMs, smash at least 9 windows (some of them bullet proof), destroy one camera and spraypaint "This is war" on the drive up window facade of a US bank building in Milwaukee. The group then seemingly disappeared.

Our laundry list of solidarity is far too long. We recognize that what we are up against is not a series of mishaps, corrupt and evil corporations, the good gone bad, but a system of control, and to act in solidarity is to work toward the annihilation of this control through acts of willed connectedness (as well as the fracture of what separates us).

This broken bank is but one contribution toward the discourse we are building.

We would like to contribute that we start believing again in the myth that we are a force to be not to be reckoned with.

from Mke Indymedia

Virgin Mary image defaced again

An image of what believers see as the Virgin Mary has been defaced again, this time with demonic graffiti that has lingered for more than two weeks, police said early today.


The image underneath the Kennedy Expressway at Fullerton Avenue on the North Side drew crowds in 2005 after Obdulia Delgado spotted it while driving home from work at St. Elizabeth Hospital.

It now draws worshipers who place flowers, candles and artwork around it, as well as graffiti taggers who have previously traced faint eyes and a gaping mouth onto it as if mocking Munch's "The Scream."

Police said today that the Illinois Department of Transportation would be responsible for eradicating the graffiti and that although visitors still frequent the shrine, police have not received many complaints about the most recent vandalism.

from the Trib


Social war by any other name

In general, I prefer not to reproduce stories that are tales of capture, but a lot of activities are invisible until someone gets caught.

This morning I read of two shops whose owners were operating beyond the law. At one, restaurant owners reported their capital stolen, collected insurance money, and then used that capital to open up another restaurant. At another, a restaurant owner was selling marijuana straight out of his shop.

Incidents like these make me contemplate agorist theory and its intersections with anarchism -- more importantly, the bits and pieces that can be culled from agorism in shaping insurrectionary strategy. At the very least, this means taking a second look at hardline Marxist class theory and considering all the agents that have a stake in the abolition of the state (and, for that matter, in defending it). Even the Greek anarchists were willing to support a kiosk owner hit by recent riots, and if that doesn't rile dogmatic classism I don't know what will.

This does not mean those of us who are workers should be forgetting where the balance of class power lies, however, as everyday work experiences remind us.


We become powerful in shared moments

Anarchist insurrectionalists in the U.S. seem to have been keeping themselves busy recently. In the Bay Area, numerous solidarity attacks took place in the wake of the Oscar Grant protests and riots.

In Milwaukee, even after two folks were arrested this weekend in connection with ongoing investigations into the RNC protests, a U.S. Bank was smashed up and tagged with an anarchist symbol.

In Olympia, an audacious bunch attacked a police station with torches and rocks, trashing at least one police car in addition. A fairly creative reportback offers motivations and a look into ostensibly the northwest anarchist scene, though the issues seem as though they would resonate beyond:
All of the ingredients are here. We have each other, we have our friends and the friends of friends. But we are usually consumed with our lives and the things which fulfill us. We know that insurrection would fulfill us, but that, of course, is something which will never happen here. Mobilizing those around us for a common purpose seems to be impossible. And when we actually get 25 or 39 or 76 people on the street, we are flooded with a cacophony of criticism for everything we should have done and did not do. Sometimes this criticism comes from friends. And when we ask why they were not there, they reply, “I did not want to be disappointed.” With these friends, we continue to go to parties and shows.
It's interesting that although there are numerous references to the Coming Insurrection, authored by "The Invisible Committee," the conclusion of the reportback suggests invisibility as a drawback:
But our invisibility, so far, has made us irrelevant. In the United States, our invisibility is no different than other invisibilities: invisible murders, invisible poverty, invisible misery. We do not grow stronger with our invisibility. We rot with it. And no one outside our circles knows that we exist.
The Invisible Committee take an opposite stance, seeking power in insivibility:
Visibility must be avoided. But a force that gathers in the shadows can’t escape it forever. Our appearance as a force has to be held back until the opportune moment. Because the later we become visible, the stronger we’ll be. And once we’ve entered the realm of visibility, our days are numbered; either we’ll be in a position to pulverize its reign quickly, or it will crush us without delay.
So, which is it? The Olympia authors equate invisibility with isolation -- for them, the invisibility of the U.S. anarchist scene is not a force gathering in shadows but an irrelevant subculture. Visibility is relevance, and relevance is reality: "we need to convince our friends that we are real and that our desires and rage our real." Ergo, the degree to which one is "real" is the degree of visibility one has.

This points to a tension within forms of clandestine action. The nature of the action demands degrees of silence on the part of the participants, yet the ability of the form to spread is dependent upon the degree of attention and mediated coverage the act receives. The value of insurrectionary acts lie in the nature of the relationships formed and transformed, not the particular acts themselves. But it is the particulars and not the relationships that are the focus of attention in the aftermath of such an act.

The emphasis on visibility as a pathway toward insurrection is a recipe for spectacular actions escalating in militancy without gathering the social strength to defend themselves. The desire to be visible may distort the reality of irrelevance and lead to dangerous and foolhardy measures taken by a minority with delusions of grandeur. I don't mean to speak ill of actions like those in Olympia, only to caution against the mindset this communique seems to encourage with lines like, "Everything is cumulative, and one expression of anger fuels the next one." Anger is fuel, but it burns hot and dies fast.

Be safe.


The change we need

Early Monday evening, a broken window was seen at a real estate office located on Logan Square at Kedzie & N. Milwaukee.


"People in masks feel uninhibited by morals... let alone laws."

Oakland police officers are silhouetted as a car burns in... (Lacy Atkins / The Chronicle)
Protests and rioting erupted in Oakland over the New Years Day murder of Oscar Grant by police. From some of the news reports and raw video I've seen, it seems the escalation was caused by about only 200 protesters who left an evening rally to head towards downtown.

Although it's been difficult to piece together the exact timeline, it seems like an initial police contact with the group was overwhelmed and scared off -- hence the abandoned cruiser that got trashed in the intersection.

I found the video of the attack on the McDonalds pretty interesting also, because it looks like a handful of folks separate themselves from the larger mob and just start heaving shit, in spite of being away from the cover of the group and in plain view of non-participants just driving down the road.

One article claims that "a group of anarchists, who were not part of the organizations hosting the protest rally, were responsible for igniting the violence." There's also an interestion mention that:
The core group of the mob appeared to be about 40 people, several of whom were with Revolution Books, a Berkeley bookstore. A man distributed the "Revolution" newspaper - whose tagline is "voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, U.S.A." - as he shouted "This whole damn system is guilty!"
The author doesn't really explain what is meant by "core group" but presumably means the folks engaging in most of the criminal behavior and encouraging others to do the same. Another account documents how anarchists were maintaining momentum when others backed off -- inasmuch as folks continued to return to the action, it is obvious anarchists provided a necessary opening that allowed others to express their desires. The spontaneity of the action meant that police were somewhat unprepared for what was happening and the protesters were able to control their space for a period of time.

The small size of the crowd and the brazen MickeyD's attack are evidence to me, though, that it doesn't really take a lot of folks to get something like this going. Assuming the vast majority of the crowd did not have any street fighting experience, and if what the newspaper reports is true, then a handful of agitators that ignited the violence were able to share that energy with others and keep folks going for several hours roaming through the street.

In the end, however, there were over 100 arrests made, which is about half of the estimated participants, so the longer-term success and sustainability of their spontaneity is debatable. Proportionately, though, compared to the resources and effort put into creating the RNC riots and the retaliation therefrom, these smaller events yield as much fruit or more with a fraction of the input.

The real difficulty is finding creative ways to open space so that one's daily urge to, say, smash up a McDonalds becomes something that feels realistic. Total spontaneity burns out quickly, and formal organization is ripe for repression. The street-level fallout from this murder will fall short the wrath exacted by anarchists in response to the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Greece; what insights can be gleaned from the Greek experience that we can translate into our own organizing in Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere?


Capitalism is the disaster

I've noticed a disconcerting trend in the news media that's been accelerating in the last few weeks -- a huge influx of articles aimed at reminding workers and the unemployed to work harder, lower their expectations, demand less and tighten their belts. A "survival guide" to keeping one's job suggests even:
For now, forget about work-life balance. A major preoccupation when the economy was humming along nicely, "having time for outside interests has to go right out the window now," says Bright. "You need to concentrate on doing whatever it takes to make yourself indispensable."
I am regularly reminded by friends, family and media that, with the state of the economy, I need to put my nose to the grindstone, be productive and simply be thankful that I still have a job. The unspoken urging is also that I shouldn't grumble or complain, and should rely on the folks in power to fix up what is supposed to be a minor speed bump.

Naomi Klein uses the phrase "disaster capitalism" to describe particular instances of capitalist restructuring after conflicts, crises or natural disasters -- but the authors of the "End of the world" essay in Harbinger #5 would consider capitalism a state of constant disaster. Nevertheless, Klein's examples lay a foundation for interpreting capitalist restructuring during the current crisis and remembering who benefits from government intervention.

The demands forced on us in times of economic crises remind me of Harry Cleaver's interpretation of capitalism, and how crisis is used to intensify the "boundless imposition of work":
Capitalism is not just a social system which exploits people through work, such that we can think about ending the exploitation and keeping the work, it is a social system which tendentially subordinates all of life to work and by so doing alienates those it forces to work and prevents them from developing their own paths of self-realization. The subordination of life to work means not only are we forced to work long hours--such long hours that we have little energy left over for other activities--but that those other activities tend to be reduced to the mere recreation of life as labor power, i.e., the willingness and ability to work.
I also want to toss in a link to the section on work from a translation of "The Coming Insurrection," which points out capitalism's method of survival is by intensifying production and inventing more work -- keeping busy for the sake of keeping busy and maintaining commodity flow:
To work today is less about the economic need of producing commodities than about the political need to produce producers and consumers, to save the order of work by any means necessary.
These quotes have been on my mind as I contemplate the inanity of my own job -- its total crushing of my mind and spirit, and yet my own inability to quit (lacking both means and will).

Man who fired boss goes to trial

Just a day after Tom Tuduj received a subpar job evaluation and was told he would be docked $10,000, the construction employee swiped a knife from the Northwest Side company's kitchen and fatally stabbed his politically connected boss -- an act prosecutors said was motivated by pure rage and disgruntlement.

But Tuduj's attorneys maintained Tuesday their client was not in the right state of mind when Gary Poter was murdered 2½ years ago at the Poter Construction & Development Co., 5440 N. Cumberland.

Tuduj was depressed and sleep deprived days prior to the May 2006 crime, lawyers Tom Breen and Todd Pugh said during the first day of Tuduj's bench trial, adding that he fainted on the job two months before and was prescribed a toxic combination of medication about a week before the crime.

Poter, 48, of Northbrook, built and remodeled hundreds of low-income housing units in Chicago for developers, including mayoral ally Allison S. Davis and Tony Rezko, the once-powerful political fund-raiser convicted on corruption and fraud charges last summer.

Neither defense attorneys nor prosecutors mentioned Davis and Rezko but instead focused on the 36-year-old Tuduj's mental health.

Tuduj's former co-workers said Tuduj had job-related stress but never showed signs of mental instability.

The most aggravated anyone saw him was when he left Poter's office after the job review.

"He was angry and swearing," said Tamela Augusta, Tuduj's former assistant. "He said, 'I can't believe Gary [Poter] cut my fucking pay. How am I supposed to pay my fucking mortgage?' "

from the Sun-Times

Tribune article highlights needs for widespread squatting

Cindy Almendarez avoided the homeless shelter for as long as possible, shuffling her children from a friend's basement to a roach-infested apartment before bunking down in the back seat of her car, where, for nearly two weeks, they tried to pretend they were camping.

She tried to cheer up Zachary, 10, and Zarah, 4, by joking that the family was "temporarily unassigned a permanent location" before finally winding up at a PADS Crisis Services homeless shelter this fall.

Almendarez, 41, is one of the early victims of the foreclosure crisis, losing her Waukegan home in February 2007 after the death of her husband. Spiraling into depression, she lost her job, her financial footing and personal dignity as she tried to keep the children's daily routines intact while recovering from her losses.

Across the Chicago area, social service providers say more families are turning to shelters. Just as alarming, they say, is the ballooning number of people who aren't homeless—yet—but who, lacking intervention, could join the ranks in 2009.

Some have been evicted from apartments after their landlord was foreclosed upon, and cannot afford the security deposit required to rent a new one. Others had their hours cut back at work and are struggling to meet their monthly bills.

"They were already just hanging on," said Marilyn Farmer, the executive director of the Morning Star Mission in Joliet.

Since October, Chicago-area homeless shelters have reported increases of anywhere from 5 percent to 39 percent in people needing immediate housing, compared with the same time the previous year. The number of homeless students enrolled by Chicago Public Schools in November was 9,132—up 28 percent compared with November 2007, a spokeswoman said.

What's harder to quantify are the numbers of people on the brink.

Experts say that's because becoming homeless usually happens over time, not abruptly, and may never involve a formal shelter or governmental agency.

"People will use up every available resource, staying in a motel, staying with friends and family," even in their car, before going to a shelter, said Lynda Schueler, executive director of West Suburban PADS, based in Oak Park.

But social service providers are noticing an uptick in people asking for the kinds of help that often presages homelessness—primarily help in paying their rent or mortgage and to catch up with utility bills.

"Lots of people are living doubled up," said Darlene Marcusson, executive director of the Lazarus House in Wheaton, which has seen a 20 percent increase in people seeking help to pay rent.
full story at the Trib


Real estate CEO kills himself

A Chicago commercial real estate broker committed suicide in a Kane County wildlife preserve, police said Monday.

A maintenance worker discovered the body of Steven L. Good, 52, of Highland Park, Monday morning behind the wheel of his Jaguar parked in a lot at the Max McGraw Wildlife Preserve in East Dundee, said Kane County Sheriff's Department spokesman Lt. Pat Gengler.

Good had suffered a single gunshot wound to the head. Gengler said police recovered a weapon inside the car but he would not identify it. There was no note, Gengler said.

Investigators are not sure how long Good's body had been at the preserve or why he was in Kane County, Gengler said.

Last month during an industry forecast, Good said conditions in the commercial real estate market were very challenging. Investment activity in commercial space has slowed to a crawl because of tight commercial lending policies and the job market's contraction, he said.

Police are investigating what led to the suicide.

Good was chairman and CEO of Sheldon Good & Co., founded by his father, Sheldon Good, in 1965. Steven Good was largely responsible for the company's expansion as it became the largest real estate auction company in the nation.
from the Trib