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This Is America #84: Kentucky Miners Blockade Coal Train

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Welcome, to This Is America, August 6th, 2019.

In this episode, we bring you an interview with both a miner and an on the ground supporter, who are taking part in the coal blockade of the Black Jewel company over unpaid wages. Miners are occupying the train tracks in a town located in Harlan County, Kentucky, which has seen decades of intense battles waged by coal miners against the coal companies. In our interview we talk about the general situation, what started the blockade, the history of the region, and how people can support. Check them out on Twitter here and on Instagram below. Info on how to donate here.

We also talk to someone involved in the Radical People Podcast, about recent resistance to a mega-project in Salt Lake City, Utah, which the State’s governor has attempted to label “terrorism.”

We then switch to our discussion on the State’s attempts to label antifascists “domestic terrorists” and also the meaning behind the growth of the Qanon “faith.” While this discussion will seem a bit dated after the events this weekend, we promise to be back in a few days with commentary of the recent horrific far-Right attacks.

All this and more, but first, let’s get to the news!

Living and Fighting:

This past week has seen a multitude of far-Right attacks and mass shootings across the United States. Last weekend saw an attack on a Sikh temple in Modesto, a far-Right mass shooting in Gilroy, California, a drive by shooting at a synagogue in Florida, and violent threats sent to another synagogue only 15 miles away. During the week, members of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front vandalized two synagogues in Columbus, Georgia, and this Saturday saw a mass shooting by a white nationalist which left over 20 people dead and many more injured, followed by another horrific mass shooting in Ohio by a young man who was kicked out of high school for making lists of women he wanted to rape and murder.

It seems that in particular the El Paso shooting, like Charlottesville, will be a turning point in American society, as the white nationalist anti-immigrant rhetoric of “The Great Replacement” and “white genocide” talked about in the killer’s manifesto mirrors that of Trump and Fox News icons like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

Republicans have predictably shied away from pointing the finger at Trump or far-Right anti-immigrant rhetoric and instead blamed video games, even though Trump, Fox talking heads, and rank-n-file Republicans are articulating the same exact sentiments as the shooter, while Democrats (and some in the GOP) have called for gun control. But calls have also been growing within some political circles to tackle the issue of white nationalist violence, with many calling for white nationalists to be viewed as domestic terrorists. Even some on the Right have pushed for the government to “go to war” with white nationalism.

As anarchists and autonomists, we must make it clear, as one of the actual material forces which have gone up against the far-Right, that while the State may decide to target some sections of the far-Right, it will never be the vehicle in which people will find ultimate safety from its violence. Time and time again, the State has both worked with the far-Right and also turned a blind eye to its violence against people of color, political dissidents, and communities in struggle. We must also realize that any additional tools that the State creates to go after the far-Right will most likely be used even harder against us; sort of how ‘anti-mask’ laws that once were directed at the KKK are not primarily focused against the black bloc.

As Splinter pointed out:

[T]hink about who this job would be entrusted with: Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s Department of Justice. These are the same people who want to designate antifa as a terrorist organization. It’s quite literally only a matter of time before any effort aimed at suppressing white nationalist terrorism would turn into an effort to silence antiracist, antifascist groups on the left with zero history of violence committed in the name of those ideals.

We also have to realize that within American society a new form of suicide-by-martyrdom is manifesting. While in other post-industrial capitalist countries such as Japan where other similar conditions appear: mass alienation, addiction to technology, declining birthrate, decreased standard of living, etc, suicide is becoming more of an epidemic. This is often an act which is carried out in private and often in shame: for instance, in the so-called “suicide forest.” Whereas in the US, where suicide rates have climbed 33% since 1999, a growing collection of young men are at the same time are viewing suicide-by-massacre as an acceptable way to redeem or gain revenge against lives many of them seem no longer be interested in living.

Added to this deep seeded nihilism is the fact that more and more young people just simply don’t have friends. As one article in Vox wrote:

A recent poll from YouGov, a polling firm and market research company, found that 30 percent of millennials say they feel lonely. This is the highest percentage of all the generations surveyed. Furthermore, 22 percent of millennials in the poll said they had zero friends. Twenty-seven percent said they had “no close friends,” 30 percent said they have “no best friends,” and 25 percent said they have no acquaintances.

Such a reality is amplified by the growth of what the Situationists described as “Spectacular” society, or the mediation of life via images. In today’s world, the spectacle of the online world is often viewed as more important than the real one; the reaction to something online is often seen as more important than what actually plays out in real life. In this reality, a person’s death, albeit in a hail of police bullets at the end of a public massacre, may grant someone the kind of existence they always dreamed off: a desire to feel important and part of something, even if they aren’t around to swipe, “like.”

And, at the end of the day, we know what the State is not going to do: offer relief in the form of programs, mental health services, better veteran’s benefits, free access to housing, health-care, and education, etc. Not to mention doing away with a capitalist civilization based on industrial production, domination, and alienation. As always, its up to us to make those things a reality and like the class of people who keep us from making this so, we must be dedicated towards putting our own class interests first and charging full steam ahead.

Survivors of the neo-Nazi car attack in Charlottesville confronted former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe at Politics & Prose in NW Washington, DC last week as he promoted his new book: Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism. Four car attack survivors confronted McAuliffe during the Q&A. They were joined in chants such as, “cops and the Klan go hand in hand” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police.”

In a statement the group wrote: “McAuliffe represents and speaks for white liberal moderates who intellectually understand that racism is wrong but who do not want to do any of the heavy lifting associated with actual change. Neither McAuliffe nor the police should profit one red cent from the book; survivors of the car attack that he failed to prevent are still in need and are much more worthy of support.”

Far-Right groups have attempted to harass the Border Resistance Tour in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, but anarchists and antifascists have managed to defend the events from trolls, Proud Boys, and militia members. In Portland, a crew of far-Right trolls were sent packing and in Seattle, the far-Right attempted to also attack supporters of a local soccer team who were wearing the antifascist “Iron Cross” logos on their shirts.

Abolish ICE actions continue across the US as news broke that upwards of 1,000 children have been separated from their parents even after a judge has ruled an end to the practice. In Boston:

On Sunday, approximately 500 people shut down Boylston Street in a march to condemn the American Correctional Association (ACA) for supporting mass incarceration and immigrant detention.The ACA, a professional organization for the prison and detention industries, is in Boston August 1st-6th for its annual conference at the Hynes Convention Center. “We’re out here because we believe no one should profit off of caging human beings. We want an end to incarceration, whether it’s at the border or in our backyard,” says Mike Cox, an organizer with Black and Pink. The event was organized by a coalition of prison abolition groups and immigration justice groups, including Deeper Than Water, Black and Pink Boston, Black Lives Matter Boston, and Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network.

A small group of Patriot Front members also showed up to the Boston protest, threw up Nazi salutes and held an American Flag (SiCK opTIcs BRo!) but were quickly chased off the streets by the much larger anti-ICE demonstration. Stay home and enjoy your blackpills goys!

In LA, #NeverAgain demonstrators protested and shut down the entrance to GEO Group, a corporation which runs private prisons and detention facilities. In Seattle, a rally was held outside of an ICE building in the Downtown, which dwarfed a smaller pro-Trump, pro-ICE rally. Also this weekend in the Twin Cities, #NeverAgain demonstrators shut down streets surrounding an ICE facility chanting, “Close the streets until they close the camps!”

In Colorado Springs, two men on motorcycles pulled guns on a rowdy protest against a fatal police shooting. According to local news:

Police arrested twin white bail bondsmen Monday after they brandished their guns at a crowd of more than 60 people protesting police brutality in front of police headquarters in downtown Colorado Springs.

A fight broke out after the brothers in bulletproof vests pulled up on motorcycles and yelled “All lives matter” at the protesters, who were demanding justice for 19-year-old De’Von Bailey, a black man fatally shot by police Saturday.

In Milwaukee, IWW workers at a captioning assistance center who are fighting for $15 an hour launched a picket. A report from a local teacher’s union wrote about the picket, which they supported wrote:

We joined a picket with the Captel Workers Union in front of Captel to demand a $15 an hour wage for workers. Captel workers are currently paid only $11 an hour and are subjected to poor working conditions. Their calls for improved pay and working conditions have gone unanswered by the boss. We hope the boss heard the workers today.

In Hillsborough, North Carolina, local community members mobilized against white nationalists and neo-Confederates who threatened to rally in their town. A report on social media wrote:

“Racist hate group ACTBAC had been threatening Hillsborough activists & harassing a chocolate shop that put up a “burn a confederate flag” sign last week. Anti-racists occupied every corner of the intersection where ACTBAC was planning to flag & racists were too afraid to show up.”

Big news for those fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Appalachia. According to a post on the groups Facebook page:

This weekend, allies from across the region gathered to present flowers and thanks to the pipeline fighters at the Yellow Finch tree sit blockade in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Local farmers donated hundreds of flowers. It was by some amazing happenstance that the group was present when news arrived at camp that MVP’s injunction against the sitters was denied!

Meanwhile in Northern California, the tree sit to save the ancient Mattole forest continues with supporters of tree sitter “Rook” struggling to keep supplies going up in the face of security on the ground.

View this post on Instagram

A few nights ago a cold front came by, bringing chilly, wind driven fog. Up in the canopy, fog becomes rain – a steady, all night drip-down from higher branches that generally continues for hours even after the fog has dispersed. So far, I’ve been soaked each time this has happened. Despite many emails, calls, and visit from a concerned county supervisor, HRC has refused to return my tarps – one cut down by a hired climber, the other seized during a resupply attempt admist a week of harassment and water deprivation. Security guards remain posted under the tree at all times to prevent any supplies from reaching me. Well, someone must have been snoozing on the job, and now I have shelter! Some time ago, friends on the ground were able to send up a few basic necessities – notably the tarps, sanitary wipes, and a fresh toothbrush, without being detected. This was a big boost in more ways then one, at last having a few things that didn’t pass through the camo pajama crew’s grubby lil paws! This is the first time since I climbed up in early June that I’ve had anything which hasn’t first been seized, opened, left on the ground for days, used to taunt me, chewed up by animals, then maybe if I’m lucky eventually sent up to me in bits and pieces… Or, as the situation is now, someone in the company deciding what I should eat and is allowing me a ration of sugary snack foods every day, so they can claim not to be starving me, but also block attempts to provide me with anything nutritious. Goody. Anyway, I have a tarp now, and that’s great. 😎 #savethemattolesancientforest #treesitter #stillhere #directaction #nomoreherbicides #intheforest #banroundup aka #glyphosate no more #hacknsqirt #lettheforestgrow don’t buy #HumboldtRedwoodCompany #MendocinoRedwoodCompany or @fsc_us use #recycledlumber #protectwhatyoulove #resist

A post shared by Blockade Babes (@blockade.babes) on Aug 1, 2019 at 3:52pm PDT

Solidarity:

  • Court solidarity needed with antifascists arrested at the anti-Nazi mobilization in Sacramento in 2016:

The June 26th defendants have their next court appearance coming up! This is the Trial Readiness Conference that was supposed to occur back on July 24th but was instead rescheduled. Well, it is now on schedule for August 15th at 8:30 am in room 63 at the main jail (651 I st., Sacramento). It’s now been over 2 years since this case began and over 3 years since the demonstration that the charges stem from. Let’s continue to show the defendants we have their back! Let’s continue to show that support and solidarity by making sure the court room is packed that Thursday morning! Due to the nature of this case, be sure to both arrive and leave with a friend for this upcoming court date.

Upcoming Events:

  • August 12th: Shut Down ICE Profiteers. Olympia, Washington. More info here.
  • August 12th: NYC to Charlottesville: Vigil for those killed by White Supremacy. More info here.
  • August 13th: Shut Down ICE Profiteers. Troy, Michigan. More info here.
  • August 16th-18th: Indigenous Anarchist Convergence in so-called Flagstaff, Arizona. More info.
  • August 17th: Counter-mobilization in Portland against far-Right. More info.
  • August 23rd-24th: Bend the Bars Conference in Lansing, Michigan. More info.
  • August 23rd-25th: Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair happening in Asheville, North Carolina. More info.
  • August 24th: Protest against white nationalist “Straight Pride” parade in Modesto, CA. More info.
  • August 24th-September 12th: Rainbow Ridge Direct Action Mobilization to Save the Mattole. More info.
  • August 31st: Benefit for Political Prisoners organized by Bakersfield Anarchist Black Cross (ABC). Show with speakers happening in Bakersfield, CA. More info.
  • September 7th: Halifax Anarchist Bookfair. More info.
  • September 7th: Running Down the Falls in Philadelphia. More info.
  • September 18th-22nd: Symbiosis Conference in Detroit. More info.
  • September 21-22nd: Victoria Anarchist Bookfair. More info.
  • September 28th: Toronto Anarchist Bookfair. More info

Music: Sole, “Decuperation,” The Highwomen, “The Highwaywomen,” Tyler Childers, “Nose to the Grindstone”