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Category: Creative Commons

A Message From Texas: When The Left Fights Together, We Win!

Posted in Act Out!, Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Video

With all the leftist bickering, in-fighting, both-siding, my anti-war prayers are bigger than yours bullshit, it seemed like a good time to highlight a leftist success story — particularly as it takes place in a bastion of right wingdom and frequent contributor and gonzo journalist Kit O’Connell was there to document it.

So yes — the Lone Star State is perhaps the last place where many of us would expect to see a broad coalition of left leaning groups successfully fight off the hateful Republican agenda. But that’s what just happened during a recent “special session” of the Texas legislature.

Special sessions are a loophole written into the Texas Constitution to allow the state government to conduct emergency business, but in this case the only emergency was that Gov. Greg Abbott had failed to oppress transgender people by passing a version of the so-called “bathroom bill” during the first part of the year. The Governor drew up a 20-point plan of hate for his month-long session, ranging from an attack on public workers’ unions, a pile of new restrictions on abortion, the bathroom bill, and even a bill that undermined the ability of cities to collect taxes to fund social services.

Then, to the surprise of even the people involved in the organizing to resist Abbott, activists working together across issues managed to fight off all but a handful of Abbott’s proposals, in an extraordinary display of the effectiveness of intersectional activism against seemingly insurmountable odds. At a time when some of our fundamental rights are under attack, the success of activists in one of the most politically conservative of states should give us all renewed faith in the power of movement building.

What Is Black Bloc? Why Do Activists Wear Masks?

Posted in Creative Commons, and Journalism

Black bloc are the masked activists in matching black clothes you may have seen at protests or on TV. There are many misconceptions about black bloc, especially about who they are and why they look the way they do.

One common misconception is that antifa (antifascists) and black bloc are one and the same, or that block bloc are all members of a particular activist movement. In reality, black bloc is not a movement but a tactic that has been used by diverse groups and movements over the years. Originally developed by autonomists in Europe, black bloc tactics first came to America during the protests against the World Trade Organization, including the famous “Battle of Seattle” in 1999.

By wearing masks and near identical clothing, activists in a black bloc protect their identities while creating a sense of unity and common purpose. While acts of property destruction by masked individuals tend to receive most media attention, one of the most common purposes of a black bloc is to protect other activists from attacks by police and fascists.

What Are The Antifa Doing After Harvey? (#GonzoNotes)

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Gonzo Notes, Journalism, and Occupy Wall Street

Recently I heard from a reporter writing an article for a major mainstream newspaper who wanted to talk with antifascists. After checking out his Twitter, I decided to give him a shot. 

We spent about an hour talking about my work with Oh Shit! What Now? an antifascist anticapitalist educational collective that’s hosted everything from computer security classes to discussions of education reform. I stressed the everyday nature of real antifascist organizing, and emphasized that all of us are involved in other social justice causes. 

When the article came out — actually an opinion piece, it turned out — it was a horrorshow of predictable hot takes about antifa that ignored nearly everything I told him, and most of the other constructive work being done by antifascists around the country. 

‘An Unjust Law Is No Law At All’: Philadelphia Councilperson Helen Gym On Immigration & Texas Bill SB4

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Video

Helen Gym, vice-chair of Local Progress, a nonprofit representing progressive elected officials from around the United States, and a member of the Philadelphia City Council, spoke to a crowd of activists and other elected officials at the Texas Legislature on July 28, 2017. The rally gathered in opposition to SB4, the recently signed law which would overrule local protections on undocumented immigrants and force law enforcement officials to actively participate in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions. It’s been compared to a “supercharged” version of Arizona’s infamous “Show Us Your Papers” law.

Over 150 elected officials signed off on a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott opposing the law.  In her speech, Gym compared SB4 to similar bills that have been introduced in other parts of the country.

Jose Garza Of Workers Defense Project: Immigrants Rights Movement A ‘Powder Keg’ With A Burning Fuse (VIDEO)

Posted in Austin, Creative Commons, Journalism, and Video

On July 28, 2017, activists rallied at the Texas Capitol in opposition to SB4, the “Show Us Your Papers” / anti-sanctuary cities bill passed during the recently completed legislative session, and currently facing a lawsuit backed by the majority of Texas’ major municipalities. The event was organized by Local Progress, a nonprofit representing progressive elected officials from around the United States, and over 150 elected officials have now signed off on a letter opposing the anti-immigrant law. Many of these officials were present during the rally.

In this video, Jose P. Garza, executive director at Workers’ Defense Project, explains how his organization encouraged Austin City Council members and other local officials to come out in opposition to the law, and he issues a warning to Gov. Greg Abbott:

Do We Owe Politicians Our Respect? (Respect Is Earned #GonzoNotes)

Posted in Creative Commons, Gonzo Notes, and Journalism

If they won’t let us dream, we won’t let them sleep

Time and again, one of the resounding criticisms of activist movements from the right and from the center-left is our lack of decorum.

While we sometimes acknowledge that acts of resistance can be effective, we’ve sanded all the rough edges off of our memories of these moments. Frequently cited are the successes of the Black Civil Rights movement, but in the popular imagination their victories were won by respectful, soft-spoken men and women dressed in suits, calmly advocating for their rights.

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