Tag Archives: anarchism

Public Transportation is a Must, But Not a Solution to Racism

6 Sep

Reading All Aboard? by Ben Campbell brought up conflicting emotions for me.

I felt excited about a public transportation system that might be effective, affordable, and improve the lives of so many low income people in Richmond. I was also excited by Campbell’s accurate, historical look at the loss of good public transit in Richmond, and how he identified racism and bigotry as the reasons why we ended up with the terrible transit we currently eke by with,

So, to get a few things straight before I go into a slight critique-

1- I am for a larger, better thought out, more affordable, multi-jurisdictional public transit system for the Metro Richmond Area.

2- I am against racism, segregation, and policies, institutions and practices that reinforce racism.

The part of Campbell’s article that I think deserves challenging and a more in depth discussion, is the seeming underlying assumption that developing a better public transit system would be anti-racist, and a step towards changing Richmond’s long, dirty legacy of racism. Racism is complex. Racism is not a flag we can change out front of City Hall and move on. Racism is an issue that all Richmonders will have to do a lot of work around for us to take steps forward as a city.
The loss of public transit in Richmond was a symptom of the underlying disease of racism.

Treating the symptom is not enough to solve our problems.
There are some really great things about a better, less segregationist public transit system- the possibility for people to interact more outside of their race, better opportunities for jobs and recreational activities for low income people of color, and more.

But without a more holistic approach to the issue of racism in our city and society, we won’t be “solving” racism. One complicating factor I can think of is simply that a change in our City’s ranking, without a change in real estate practices, might just exacerbate issues of gentrification. As Richmond grows in popularity, low income people, many of whom are People of Color, are forced out of their homes and neighborhoods in response in increasing real estate values. Gentrification represents a systematic problem, out of any individual’s hands to stop. But until this process, poverty, and racism are actively being addressed, I don’t want to see Richmond’s ranking go up.

An improved public transit system would be a marked difference in City policy and programming. Many of the urban renewal projects over the years have been pretty clearly directed towards improving the desireability of Richmond to people who might visit or might one day move here. Consider the tourist aspects of many of the recent projects and events. First Fridays which attracts many people from surrounding counties, and has difficulty when low income youth of color from surrounding neighborhoods in the city start attending in mass. The Canal Walk, where I’ve only ever gone with my grandma (love you grandma). The Convention Center. The upcoming 2015 cycling event. Richmond’s urban planning efforts have been fairly pitiful, and seem to reflect the racism and classism of the City government.

Richmond does need to focus more on keeping current residents, helping current residents, and developing ways to make our daily lives better. Jobs, housing, access to healthy food, and transportation are some really great places to start.

Some questions Richmonders should be asking themselves in the mean time are:

What are we doing to make Richmond a better place for the people who are currently living here?
How can we make sure we take care of the current residents before visitors or potential new residents?
What do low income people want and need?
What do people of color want and need?
How can we listen to low income people and people of color more?

If Richmond really does want to shed our racist reputation we’ve got some work to do. Let’s get a better public transit system, but make sure we don’t lose sight of the whole disease of racism while we ride around on some buses.

Homosexual Sex is Safer Sex- Turn Queer Virginia! Sex Strike!

16 Feb

“Homosexual Sex as Safer Sex”

Ladies, what kind of sex can you have that ensures you won’t get pregnant, even if they take away birth control? Sex with female-bodied people. Men, what kind of sex can you have that runs no risk of impregnating a woman with limited options to resolve it if she doesn’t want it? Sex with male-bodied people.

If you aren’t gay/lesbian/bisexual/queer we are also proposing a Sex Strike- where women in Virginia go on a sex strike until we make sure that our health, safety, and reproductive freedoms are going to avoid being totally crushed by a patriarchal government. Sex Strikes are a tactic that has been used with success before- see Lysistrata as one example. http://rogueclassicism.com/2011/06/25/latest-lysistrata-comparanda/

Some slogans to stand behind:

Keep from Harm- Use Your Arm!

Get Anal- Not Banal!

Resist! Use Your Fist!

“Out of the Closets and into the Streets”

“Two, Four, Six, Eight! How Do You Know Your Kids Are Straight?”

Ni dios, ni ley, ni marido. Under no god, no law, no husband.

The Virginia Legislature is coming close to passing a slew of new laws which would SEVERLY restrict the rights of women, their reproductive freedom, their safety, and their health. Sounds like all those boring old politicians want to discourage folks from having heterosexual sex- OK! Cool! Let’s have other types of sex! For more information about the proposed legislature and some upcoming events and responses to it, go here: http://wingnutrva.org/2012/02/14/fight-for-virginian-womens-rights/

To avoid the pitfalls of heterosexual sex, join the movement of QUEER SEX. Go on a Heterosexual Sex Strike!

From now….until these shitty pieces of legislation are dead.

~~~~~~

Worried about the idea of a “sex strike”? Think this is sexist? Gonna be sad if your partner won’t have sex with you for a little bit? We understand. Here are a few explanations that might help you understand where we are coming from with this Sex Strike/Turn Queer campaign:

It’s creative, and it’s not just about ‘good men’ v ‘bad men’ or whatever but raising awareness and making a point overall. I don’t think it matters whether your partner is supportive of your rights. If he’s supportive, he’ll support the sex strike. I enjoy sex, but I think women’s reproductive rights are more important and worth fighting for and I would support anyone who chose to fight this way.

From another person: I think the point is that none of our needs should be compromised by legislation. But they are. In the heterosexual male case, it’s a theoretical decrease in something that isn’t really guaranteed in the first place. In the case of women, it’s an extremely practical limitation on whether we get to have both sex lives and jobs and educations, or sex lives without significant risk of death if we get pregnant and something goes wrong, or just regular lives where, if we’re raped, we can have emergency contraception or an abortion and not spend the majority of that year being forced by the state to carry our rapist’s baby.

You might be thinking – “But wait, isn’t a Sex Strike sexist against men?”- Probably can’t get into it all online, but I would just say that in my POV, and that of a lot of folks, sexism is a one way street- because of the institutional powers that support patriarchy and prejudice towards women. Were women to act prejudiced towards men, it would be just that, prejudice. Because there is not an institutional backing in everything from the media, to school, to books, to wages, etc. supporting women.

You might also be thinking- “But wait, I’m in a happy healthy relationship with someone and I don’t want to stop having sex with them”- Then don’t! No pressure! Denying ourselves sex sucks, and can totally be unhealthy. We don’t want anyone to hurt a relationship or really hurt themselves by not having sex. We just want to bring home the idea that sex IS awesome, sex SHOULD be positive and fun, and that right now, in Virginia, that is all being put at serious risk. Refusing to have sex can help bring home that reality to folks who don’t get it yet. Having sex would be much more risky to women if all of these laws get passed, and more women might feel like they can’t have sex then due to the risks (which as some folks point out is probably half of what the religious right wants). And then there is the obvious- you can say you are going on Strike, but just lie. This is not a court of law. Not all of us are in the sort of relationships where a strike on sex would change our partner’s behavior, or be needed to, or be a useful tactic. But there are definitely women out there who have less than supportive partners when it comes to these issues, and having a larger movement that would support them and their push for rights could be useful.

* We would like to add that there are many MANY aspects to safe sex besides the potential for pregnancy. We strongly encourage folks engaging in any sort of sexual relationship to do so consensually, honestly, and with protection to help prevent any STDS/STIs from being transmitted. Queer sex does not mean total safety- there are still needs for condoms, dental dams, gloves, lube, toys, consent, and all kinds of other things to make sure that everyone participating is actually have safe sex- safe for their bodies and their emotions!

**Additionally, this is not meant to tokenize or trivialize queerness or any aspect of LGBTQI identities. There are more queers than you might have even dreamed of! And queerness is not just a choice made in response to the political realm. People are born into all kinds of bodies, with all kinds of genders, and with all kinds of sexual desires and lack of desires. Sometimes those identities and desires are more fluid than other times. We are encouraging people to come out of the closet, embrace their desires and needs, and identify with the identity they feel at home with.

***If you are upset, or offended by this (for reasons other than you being a misogynist or a patriarchical pro-life turd or a homophobe) we are sorry. This is not meant to upset you. Its meant to be part satire, part pushing the envelope, part pushing the fundies’ buttons, and part for real. This is not meant to be the most effective tactic, or the best tactic, or the coolest tactic, or the tactic for everyone. To successfully fight this legislation and a lot of the really oppressive shit that is going on in the world, we need a diversity of tactics. Do the things that you find to be effective, and comfortable to you given your risk level and any other personal considerations. For more on Diversity of tactics- check out the St. Paul Principles: http://wingnutrva.org/2011/11/04/organizing-with-large-coalitions-the-st-paul-principles/

The last thing intended by this concept is to create division in the movement for women in Virginia. If you don’t like it, we are sorry, but we are also not trying to make this feel like something anyone is obligated to be into. If you want to talk about it, lets do it. We’ve tried to make this as un-oppressive and fucked up as possible while still being interesting, but we might have made mistakes so please let us know. But mostly, lets all do what we can to protect our rights to reproductive freedom and sexual freedom and health!

****Turn Gay, Break Stuff!

Why I want to protect First Fridays!

10 Aug

I have never been a regular attendee of Richmond’s First Fridays Art Walk. In fact, over the years I have been a major critic of the event and the concept of the event.

Richmond is by no means unique in having such an art walk. The tactic of using an art walk to push for the redevelopment or gentrification of an area (depending on your perspective) is not at a new concept. Richmond has had First Fridays for over a decade now. And while over that decade there have been major changes to the Jackson Ward/ Broad Street area, they have no occurred quite as  quickly as they might have were we not in an economic depression. I’m no expert, but the aspects of City Planning that I have studied and read about have lead me to take a position against Art Walks, Canal Walks, Convention Centers and other cookie cutter redevelopment schemes that fail to address the actual needs or wants of people living in a city.

Jackson Ward is a historically black working class neighborhood. The demographics of that neighborhood have been changing, particularly via VCU students moving in. First Fridays basically occurring in Jackson Ward was something I viewed as problematic- another major gentrifying move that had the potential to hurt that community and displace lower income people.

When I have gone to First Fridays in the past it was mostly to support friends who had art on display or who were performing. I even helped to organize some First Fridays events- like the Richmond Zine Fest at Gallery 5 in 2009. And what I saw was mostly white people.  And I saw a lot of white people who were more affluent. Which is definitely the type of crowd this sort of event is desinged to draw in.

I would acknowledge at this point that there have been organizers of First Fridays, Gallery owners and artists, who have all along worked to make this event inclusive and welcoming to pre-existing residents of Jackson Ward and the surrounding areas. I have just always been highly skeptical of their chances of success despite their good intentions.

So I mostly stopped going to First Fridays. I was not interested in participating in  a redevelopment strategy that seemingly reached out only to suburbanites and fearful west enders, adventuring into the heart of a city they really don’t understand. But then this year, we started to hear the rumblings of something else. I am a member of the non-hierarchical organization Richmond Copwatch. We listen to a digital scanner to hear what the Richmond Police are up to. This enables us to go out and observe and record the police, thereby helping to keep them accountable for their behavior. So through this and conversations with people we know who do attend First Fridays we began to hear that this year, the police were there in force, disrupting the crowd.

We heard that the police had maced the crowd a couple times, ridden their horses into the middle of crowds, and were trying to organize with Curated Culture (the non-profit that officially organizes First Fridays) to change the times of the event and potentially get rid of it altogether. We heard from many non-anarchists, respected community members about town, that the police were being very aggressive and that a lot of this aggressiveness seemed directed towards people of color. The media and others mostly spoke of the “youth”, but in this case the youth they meant was mostly youth of color.

Richmond Copwatch decided as a collective to go to the August First Fridays to observe and record the Richmond Police Department. I was still conflicted about how I felt about organizing to try and save something I have been avidly against in the past. For me, my motivations for going were mostly hearing from “youth” from my neighborhood (Southern Barton Heights on Northsiiiide) about the police presence. Regardless of the art, regardless of the suburbanites, I was interested in using Copwatch as a method to try and keep my friends and neighbors, as well as folks from neighboring communities like Gilpin Court a little bit safer from RPD.

We met at the Rite Aid parking lot for August First Fridays. Which was a bad idea, because of the whole private corporate property thing. But we met there, and then hung out in the parking lot waiting for one Copwatch member to go purchase some energy drinks from inside.  They came out and distributed the drinks to the caffeine fiends among us. We were just about to head out in smaller groups to patrol First Fridays for police, when lo and behold one came to us.  This RPO – Toney Waldorf- came speeding into the Rite Aid parking lot, parking at an angle, and got out of his car, basically yelling at me and my friend. He said something along the lines of “Hey you”. I asked if we were being detained (because if you are not being detained you do not have to talk to the police and can go on your merry way). He didn’t respond except to say he was not talking to me. He then crossed in front of me and unholstered his Tazer and held it about 2 feet from my friend’s face. Waldorf is a tall cop, and he positioned himself on a median above my friend, which made it so he would have been shooting my friend in the face had he fired his Tazer. That is the closest up I have ever seen a Tazer, and the fastest I have seen a Richmond  Cop freak out and pull a weapon. Tazers are less lethal weapons, just like if I shoot you in the foot with a .22 it is less lethal. They are still deadly and being shot with a Tazer can very easily end in death. Especially if someone has a heart problem, which my friend does.

Quickly other RPD arrived and kicked the rest of us (who were filming at this point) out of the parking lot. One of them, Stone, committed battery against me by shoving my arm while I was clearly backing out of the lot and not at all resisting. They eventually let my friend go, after we showed a commanding officer the picture of Waldorf with a Tazer in my friend’s face. He had no charges, had done nothing wrong, was simply wearing the same color shorts as a suspect in a call they had received.

So my first experience back with First Fridays is Toney Waldorf, Richmond Cop, freaking out, unholstering a weapon at an inappropriate time and in violation of protocol, and threatening to kill my friend.

As the night carried on, it became quite clear that First Fridays had changed. I liked it better. There were kids from my neighborhood, and overall a lot of people of color seemed to be enjoying a public space. I am a huge proponent of public spaces and our ability to use them. It is the lack of public spaces in lower income neighborhoods that can make community development and organization more difficult. Downtown was packed, loud, and seemed to be full of people enjoying themselves.  These were not the people who might be likely to eat at some of the few new fancy restaurants on Broad Street, but they were people socializing in an area that could certainly benefit from development of community. Continue reading

Richmond Police Department Bringing Court Case Against Me?!? Who Me?

4 Jan

It is fairly common knowledge that being an anarchist is fairly criminalized in the United States. So it comes as no surprise when the State tries to use one’s anarchist belief against them.

In this case, the Richmond City Police Department is using court proceedings to try and ‘compel’ me to give back some of the documents that we got using the Freedom of Information Act. I am the person named in the documents, because someone has to make the FOIA request. But the documents being requested was an idea that came from Richmond Copwatch. We wanted to get copies of the police protocols so we could know when the police are breaking their own rules.

We submitted our request, were informed that there were many different sets of protocols, so we asked for a list. Then we chose from the list. We got that information right before Christmas. We then scanned and uploaded all of the information onto the internet- to save others the trouble and expense of a FOIA request.

Today someone came to the Wingnut and hand delivered a package from the Office of the City Attorney of the City of Richmond. I opened up the envelope to find just 2 documents full of lawyer speak. No cover letter, no explanation. Just 2 documents not even addressed to me, but about me. Apparently the CITY OF RICHMOND POLICE CHIEF BRYAN NORWOOD and the CITY OF RICHMOND, VIRGINIA are filing a complaint against me, the defendant Mo Karn (not even my legal name you sillies). They want some of their FOIA Documents back. Because they say they shouldn’t have given them to me, and importantly, I am a known and admitted anarchist.

So the first I hear of this is court documents. No email, no letter, no phone call asking for them back. Just a copy of a complaint they filed.

The second document they sent me today was an “EMERGENCY MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER AND TO COMPEL THE RETURN OF TACTICAL INFORMATION AND TO PREVENT THE DISCLOSURE OF SAID INFORMATION

Apparently they want their information back. I don’t think they understand the internet. You can’t really get that information back. We’ve got it, the internet has it, and hundreds of people have looked at it. The documents they specifically request back are Emergency Operations Plan Part 1 of 2 Emergency Operations Plan Part 2 of 2, Canine Unit Manual, Crowd Management Team, Focus Mission Team Property Crimes Detectives Operating Manual, Homeland Security Criminal Intelligence Unit, Mobile Command Center Operating Manual, Mounted Unit Operating Manual, Traffic Enforcement Unit, Police Cyclist Operating Manual, and Police Segway Operating Manual. These are just some of the almost 50 documents we have made available at http://www.wingnutrva.org under the tab Richmond Police Department Documents.

Who knows if these motions will be approved by a judge. They don’t have a case number on them, and they don’t have a court date or any useful information like that at all.

I don’t believe the information in these documents is classified or should be exempt from FOIA. Its not like it is manuals on how to drive their various vehicles or anything actually explicit. Beyond that I definitely believe this has a lot more to do with politics. Their FIRST point for their motion is that “1. Defendant Mo Karn is a known and admitted anarchist. See generally https://anarchymo.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/foia-rocks.”  Yup. And that has what to do with FOIA? Freedom of Information Act Except for Anarchists would be FOIAEFA. I didn’t request shit through FOIAEFA.

In the spirit of FOIA and making RPD documents available online, here are copies of the documents they sent me in the mail today.

Emergency Motion for Protective Order by Richmond Police Department V. Mo Karn

Complaint by Chief of Police Bryan Norwood And The City of Richmond V. Mo Karn

Blade as allegory for dealing with privilege

22 Oct

OK OK, I’m being serious here.

I’ve been thinking about issues around privilege a lot lately. And I watched Blade last night, and the third Twilight movie a couple of weeks ago. These two movies combined have created some weird connections in my brain. This is my attempt to convey these connections. It will probably make better sense if you have seen both of the films, but I wouldn’t spend money on it.

The third twilight movie is a good example of colonialism/racism and how the vampire concept plays into it. In that movie they actually show white, colonist vampires engaging in genocide of indigenous people. Who happen to have the ability to turn into werewolves. The werewolves are indigenous people of color. The vampires are almost exclusively white- blindingly glittery white. The movie itself is full of racism in terms of the representation of the indigenous people. The movie also contains a lot of promblematic content in terms of how emotionally and physically abusive etc. the relationship is, as well as the Mormon points of view about sex, marriage, and monogamy that are very clearly promoted in the content.

Basically I am bringing up Twilight only to explain why I was originally starting the think about silly vampire movies in contexts of racism and privilege. Twilight is pretty racist. And so I started thinking about vampires as having a lot in common with white people.

In Blade, Blade is a person of color who was born right after his mom got bitten by a vampire. Continue reading

This Is War- From Cuddle Puddles and Hot Pants #5

17 Oct

<!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>This is an essay from the 5th issue of Cuddle Puddles and Hot Pants. If you want to get the whole zine you can mail me 2 bux to Mo Karnage P.O. Box 6025 Richmond, Va 23222

This is War

 

This is War. We exist in a state of war. I strongly suspect that stating “This Is War” is going to be taken by some as a declaration of war. It is not. This is an observation of war. This is an acknowledgment of war. Anarchists are at war. People of color are at war. The poor are at war. Women are at war. Queers are at war. Animals, the environment, differently abled folks, and the elderly are at war.

This war was declared on us. And I think it might have always been a factor, since the beginning of human history, at least for some of these groups. Capitalism is a major factor in the way that today’s situation is played out- it defines the format of the struggles/war.

Let me break it down some. War is defined as- 1- a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations or -2- a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism- a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end.

Without even stretching the definition of war it is clear that the capitalist/straight/white/rich/male powers that be are at war with the rest of us. The capitalist system, as well as the governing system in the United States of Amerikka, depend on hierarchy to exist. And hierarchy is maintained by keeping certain people down/oppressed.

Memes like the War on Terror and the War on Drugs make this situation even more explicit. The bottom line is that for centuries people have been enslaved, hurt, tortured, harassed, sexually assaulted, imprisoned, massacred, murdered, executed, assassinated, assaulted, and generally speaking really fucking oppressed. Our side is losing and it hurts.

Memes like the War on Terror and the War on Drugs are also important to understand as meaning more than simply fighting drugs and fighting terror. Because there are basically certain groups of people who are more effected by these concepts than others. The War on Drugs is basically a cover for a racist and classist war against people of color and poor people. The War on Terror is racist, colonial and Islamaphobic, as well as clearly an oppressive political tool.

Why does this matter? Might be the question running through your head. I strongly believe that we need to conceptualize this situation as war in order to understand fully the gravity of it, as well as in order to develop appropriate and effective tactics and strategies. Continue reading

August Really Really Free Market

11 Aug

Richmond has had its very own Really Really Free Market for over 2 years now. And simply having been maintained on a monthly basis for over 2 years is quite the accomplishment.

However I think it is important to recognize that there is a lot of room for improvement with the Richmond Really Really Free Market. We have had a very hard time engaging more of the community in the event. It has had little success including things like food, workshops, music, games etc. Many months it ends up just being a place where people come to get free stuff. So it has not been very successful in building a community that helps each other in solidarity outside of the restrictions of a capitalist market.

This month’s event will be on Saturday August 28th. It starts at Noon and will go until 3pm. It happens in Monroe Park at the corner of Main and Laurel, near VCU.

At 2pm there will be an organizational meeting about the RRFM. Anyone is welcome to come. With originally just 1 person organizing it, and now just a small handful, it has been hard to maintain the energy necessary to build the RRFM into a vibrant community event. I hope that more people will want to get involved in terms of organizing for the RRFM.

Organizing it can mean making facebook events, making fliers, sending press releases, emailing your friends, facilitating a workshop, coming up with themes, volunteering to take the leftovers to Diversity Thrift at the end of the day, bringing games or sports to play during the event, getting people to come play music during the event, sharing a skill at the RRFM- giving massages, doing henna, reading tarot,  etc.

I’m excited to see what happens at this meeting!