The Police, Crime Sentencing, and Courts Bill is rapidly approaching and holds major implications for black and brown communities across the UK. As the Institute of Race Relations said way back in March of this year, "the race and class implications are massive and go beyond the right to protest"
To get an understanding of what the future holds for our communities, we only need to look back at history. Just recently, I visited the outstanding War Inna Babylon, at the London ICA. As moving and powerful as the exhibition is, what it conveys is not only a community's fight for truth and justice in the wake of police brutality and deaths in custody, but of the continual resistance to racist and autocratic policing over the decades.
Author and Professor of Sociology, Alex Vitale, once said that "the police are not here to protect you", and as people of colour, we know this to be a truth. Over the past two-to-three years, there has been an increase in the disproportionate use of stop and search nationwide. Here in Avon and Somerset, we have seen a reintroduction of Section 60 powers, and during lockdown, black people became a frequent target for fines and increasingly disproportionate and racist policing.
As a police-monitoring organisation, we noted the 38% increase in the use of stop and search powers across Avon and Somerset (2019 to 2020 respectively), and the stark fact that black people became 6.4 times more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts in the county. We also expressed a great deal of concern that not only did the police not acknowledge this fact, but in fact outright denied its existence, whilst drawing on the reactionary "more whites are stopped than blacks" trope.
Of course, this was not only infuriating, but troubling for many of us. The lack of trust and public confidence in the police has become increasingly evident over the past eighteen months or so. Rather than bridge the rapidly emerging divide that exists between themselves and communities, they seem more inclined to contain than protect. We are currently witnessing an increasingly aggressive and militarized response to crime that has adopted the authoritarian 'law and order iron fist' approach of the conservative leadership of this country with relish.
We need look no further than the introduction of Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVRO) to understand the implications. In the Conservative party 2019 pre-election manifesto, it was stated that "police will be empowered by a new court order to target known knife carriers, making it easier for officers to stop and search those convicted of knife crime." However, the landscape was soon to change when re-elected home secretary Priti Patel issued a consultation document, proposing that anyone aged 18 or over, who is convicted of an offence involving a knife or other offensive weapon, could also be subjected to an SVRO stop.
We need only look at the legal definition of offensive weapon ('any tool made, adapted or intended for the purpose of inflicting mental or physical injury upon another person') to understand that the scope and target range of SVRO powers increases dramatically on this basis, as does the potential for disproportionate stop and search. The issue we face is that it has always been unlawful for a police officer to target someone based on previous criminal history. To do so allows no propensity for people to rehabilitate and change, and effectively allows the law to punish us forever.
Of course, what the law states the police should and shouldn't do and what they actually do are very different things. As a 'mixed race black male' (my PNC record definition), I have been stopped and searched over 50 times in my life. Upholding the 'once a criminal, always a criminal' narrative does not bridge divides or heal wounds and regain trust in the police. It creates trauma. It creates cycles and dog whistles to the reactionary elements of society, as well as within the police themselves. By increasing the scope of powers that are frequently abused, we are moving rapidly away from "policing by consent", and towards a model of policing from a bygone era.
As IRR stated in March, "policing in the Brexit state" is a trip back in time to the 1980s. Recently, the government said that discrimination against black people and travellers and the impact on us from the bill is "objectively justified". They went further to state that "any indirect difference on treatment on the grounds of race is anticipated to be potentially positive and objectively justified as a proportionate means of achieving our legitimate aim of reducing serious violence and preventing crime."
This statement has massive implications for our communities and what the future of policing in the United Kingdom means for us. It's clear that, to some in the echelons of power, the ends justify the means. That racial profiling, stereotyping, and disproportionate targeting of anyone who is deemed to be a potential criminal, often seems to be based on race alone, is quite simply collateral damage.
At present, black people are nine times more likely to be stopped by the police in England and Wales than our white counterparts. The police seem happy to open the doors to racist strategy without any consideration for those who are on the sharp end of such powers. Stop and search has failed spectacularly to act as an effective deterrent to knife crime, and an expansion of these powers will only continue to destroy public confidence in policing.
I share the same concerns as the Criminal Justice Alliance Group, that we are looking at the disruption of the lives of those who are rehabilitating in our communities and, from my point of view, no doubt 'discretionary' ongoing vendettas by malicious racists, who should never have been granted a position of authority. In late 2020, the ex-Met Police Superintendent Leroy Logan said, "Young people feel they are over-policed and under-protected. They see the police as predators."
Speak to anyone in St Pauls or Easton in Bristol, and you'll notice the general mistrust and disillusionment with the police. Communities here, like those in London, have a long and volatile relationship with the police, and, with the upcoming PCSC bill, we can only expect things to become increasingly worse before they become better.
The focus on the bill, in particular, the goal of Kill the Bill protests, has primarily been to raise awareness about the attack on our civil liberties and the right to assembly. Of course, like many others, I completely agree that protest is a cornerstone of our democracy. The fight is, without a shadow of a doubt, an important one.
However, it's absolutely worth noting that other than a large amount of righteous noise being made about the impact the bill is going to have on travellers' rights, it seems that along the way, the primarily-white Kill the Bill protest movement seems to have forgotten about us.
Don't get me wrong, the brutality of Avon and Somerset police during the protests earlier this year has been unforgiveable and has produced some of the most disgusting displays of state violence I have ever witnessed in my life. It's worth remembering that when the uprising occurred at Bridewell that weekend in March, following the first Kill the Bill protest, a black man with a heart condition was tasered three times and violently assaulted by an armed response team in St Weyberg.
When you understand that the horrific levels of violence seen and used against peaceful protestors is used against black and brown communities far too frequently, you realise that the police commit hate crimes against us every day. At points, I've cringed seeing the, dare I say it, middle-class trendy student "send flowers to Brixton police station please!" XR protestors take centre stage, who think living in St Pauls is "edgy" and drinking in Easton is getting back to their nan's roots, but you know what? It's their fight, too. Except when they walk past a stop and search that seems a little rough, because it's not their problem.
The support work I have been involved with, as a case worker and a member of Bristol Copwatch over the past 12 to 18 months, has been emotional. When we've seen unjust convictions overturned for those we have been supporting, it's been liberating. When I've been called an everyday hero, it's touched my heart. It's made me revisit my own trauma the police have created, from years of stop and search harassment and, most recently, low key surveillance, tails, and ongoing harassment, because of the work I do in the community.
From what I've seen whilst volunteering, and what I know about the police as a whole, it is clear that they are unlikely to change their approach towards marginalised communities. What they put us through reflects the corrupt system they enforce. It mirrors the attitudes of those in the highest echelons of power, and it's something that we as people of colour should always stand together and resist.
John Pegram, Bristol Copwatch founder and case worker
Thank you to John for the article, follow him and the rest of the team via @BristolCopwatch.
Thatcher’s Tech Base (TTB) is a Doom II modification that was released on Friday the 24th of September, with the help of the websites how to install guide after ten minutes of downloading and extracting I managed to get the game working. Six hours later I had made it to the end screen and a sequel hook. My final runtime was just over an hour, the other five hours were me reloading after dying. I’ve enjoyed Doom, Doom II and Wolfenstein 3D for years, ever since I found them installed on a computer in my town’s internet cafe. Though sadly I was never very good at them, so if you were an old school Doom pro you’ll probably beat my time, and if you’re not a pro then copy my strategy of saving in rare moments of peace from slaughtering everything in a room.
TTB feels like Doom II, its pacing, its maze and gauntlet mix for level design, the soundtrack is original but aside from a few tunes inspired by old British patriotic jingles like Land of Hope and Glory are just like the soundtrack to the original Doom II. The webpage has a bandcamp that plays some of the tracks and I’ve been listening to them while writing this. The levels are covered and I do mean covered in detailed sprite work that’s gory and gross, and full of highly detailed 1980s propaganda posters and graffiti. The only parts of the game that show that it's a 2020's modification and not from the 1990s (when shareware mods were common) are the things it does that were simply impossible back then. Other than a short opening section in a demon prison where Thatcher and her acolytes have escaped, the entirety of the game including boss battles and secrets is in one level. That’s over an hours worth of gameplay with dozens of unique assets with no loading in between. The sprite work that covers the walls of this world is just too crisp and clear for an older machine to have run, you can read most of the gravity and text on the vote Tory posters.
The plot is very simple, Thatcher has gained control of a part of hell and is attempting to return and bring an army of demons and party activists with her. Its the players task to go to the tenth circle of hell ie. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to stop her. The demonic horde is quite diverse, most of the roster of enemies from Doom II are here but have been given a light blue makeover. Jokes aside the world of TTB does look like a hell version of the late 1980s/1990s UK. Apart from some very brief text boxes the old Doom games told their stories through environmental design and TTB maintains that tradition. You can tell Thatcher has escaped because the prison at the beginning has a lot of corpses of guards and busted open cells and damaged machinery. You can tell you’re getting closer to the final confrontation the more closely the scenery resembles a Tory party HQ and the British government. The final showdown with a Cyber Thatcher (see the box art) is in the House of Commons complete with both aisles full of sycophants willing to fight to the death to protect her.
Though this does mean that the game has a target audience of people who are already intimately familiar with the legacy of the Thatcher’s government and her successors, something the game acknowledges by being dedicated to them, and since this is a modification of a licensed property, instead of payment which is illegal due to copyright law, the game devs at Doom Daddy Digital recommend that you donate to one of several charities on their webpage. The charities are ISWO support for Mining families, Stonewall, The Hillsborough Justice Campaign, ICTJ The International Center for Transitional Justice, Living Rent, and the Scottish Refugee Council. This might at first glance seem a bit of random list but they all represent some of the victims of the Thatcher government, Mining communities were ripped apart and occupied for over a year, queer Britons were left to die through AIDs with the UK government only taking action once it had definitely started affecting heterosexuals, but even after that gay people were still criminalised and scapegoated (Ed. Google Section 28), Hillsborough was ofcourse where the police managed to kill 97 Liverpool FC fans, which was covered up by the government in 1989 and to this day the families of the deceased are still battling government indifference and inertia, the ICTJ campaigns to expose systematic human rights abuses and given that Thatcher’s administration escalated the conflict in Northern Ireland and turned parts of Britain into militarised states. Living Rent is one of the many groups dealing with the ugly aftermath of one of the Conservative government’s flagship policies, mass selling off of council housing and deregulation of the housing market, and the Scottish Refugee Council, well in addition to using Scotland as a test bed for most of their reactionary policies before rolling them out to the rest of the UK, the Tory party of the 1980s was also openly hostile to refugees, which to be fair is an example of the continuity of British government rather than a break with tradition.
I’m old enough to remember the lingering effects of the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s partly because the Labour governments that followed did very little to change or counter act that legacy. So I ate everything TTB was serving me. I understood that the NUM stickers on the walls were about the 1984-85 Miners strike, I understood the graffiti that were references to the IRA and the fighting in Northern Ireland, I understood why the 1% health pick ups are milk cartoons and why the words “you’ve snatched some milk” flash on the screen when you pick them up. I also chuckled a little when I noticed that the evil base full of dripping acid and exploding barrels has health and safety at work signs. And I understood what the red baiting vote Tory posters were getting at. But I don’t think that’ll be easily understood by someone playing this without that prior knowledge.
To take just one example, there’s a really clever part of the level that’s a BBC communications room, in it there are two banks of monitors with images of the UK and groups of blue uniformed soldiers at the desks. I enjoyed seeing this, but if you didn’t know just how overtly pro government the BBC was during this period and how the Conservative party used it to manipulate the population I think a lot of the messaging is lost. I do wonder what a Doom completionist who plays TTB with no real knowledge of Thatcher but loves the game and its modding scene would think. Hopefully the strengths of the game and the sheer never ending examples of just how hated Thatcher and the Tory party were will pique their curiosity and they’ll learn more about it when they’ve made it to the end screen or gotten a 100% of the secrets. On my first full playthrough I only managed 11% of secrets, and there’s an entire path of the level locked behind a series of doors that needed a red key card to access which I never even saw, so after finishing I dived back in, though I will probably have to wait for someone else to write up a walkthrough.
In summary, if you like the old Doom games you should play this game its in the top tier of mods and games inspired by them. If you remember the Thatcher administration and its austerity and police state actions, you should play this game even if you don’t like Doom games. It’ll take a few minutes for you to adjust but once you’ve got the hang of using a Winchester rifle and grabbed the Trident missile launcher you will find some catharsis. If neither applies to you, I would still say give the game a go, even if the game play doesn’t click and you don’t come away with an in-depth understanding of the damage the combination neoliberal economics and patriotic traditionalism and respect for authority can do to a people, you will at least get a taste of how varied and visceral the resistance to it was.
You can learn more about Thatcher's Tech Base and play it yourself via their Github.
In Aotearoa (1), one of the major forms of social struggle is the indigenous Māori (2) struggling to reclaim the land stolen from them by the New Zealand colonial government as part of the capitalist settler colonisation of Aotearoa (3). Since 2015, the greatest land struggle in a decade has been happening at Ihumātao (4) in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland (5), where Māori and non-Māori from the Save Our Unique Landscape/SOUL (6) campaign have been occupying the land to stop the capitalist construction firm Fletchers from beginning a socially and environmentally harmful housing development (7) and return the land to mana whenua (8). This land struggle is the most recent event in Ihumātao’s long history.
800 years ago, Ihumātao was one of the first places where Māori arrived and established settlements in Aotearoa, in the area now known as the Ōtuataua Stonefields (9). There, they cultivated 8,000 hectares of land to grow kūmara, taro, yams and gourds to feed themselves and later the British settlers/Pākehā (10) when they began to colonise Tāmaki Makaurau to create Auckland following the signing of Te Tiriti O Waitangi (11) between some Māori hapū/sub-tribes (12) and the British Empire. However, such co-operation between Māori and Pākehā did not last, as the drive to accumulate capital inherent to capitalism led to the New Zealand government using various means to transform communal Māori land into state and private land, including the Native Land Court, land sales and war, in Aotearoa’s version of the enclosure of the commons (13).
When the Waikato War, part of the broader New Zealand Wars (14), began in 1863 between the New Zealand Government, led by Governor George Grey, their Māori allies the Kūpapa/Queenitanga (15) and the Kingitanga/King movement (16) that wanted Te Tiriti to be honoured, a British official was sent to Ihumātao and demanded that the Māori there take an oath of allegiance to the Crown and give up arms or be expelled to the Waikato (17). The Māori there refused, and in response the Crown illegally confiscated Ihumātao (18) and in 1869 gave it to the Pākehā family the Wallace’s to be developed into a capitalist farm, while the Māori there were left landless and destitute.
Over the course of the 20th century, while the Wallace’s were running their farm, in the surrounding land (19) from 1960 to 2000 the Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant was built, polluting the air, water and sea bed, volcanoes are quarried for airport construction and Auckland’s road network. In 2009, Auckland Airport’s second runway construction leads to the bulldozing of a 600 year old urupā/grave site (20) on the Manukau Harbour foreshore, unearthing 89 graves. In 2012, Auckland Council tried to make the land a public space, but this was challenged in the Environment Court (21) and they had to rezone the land for future economic development. In February 2014, the local iwi/tribe Te Kawerau ā Maki (22) signed a treaty settlement (23) with the Government (24) to settle breaches of Te Tirti by the Government. In July 2014, the Government and Auckland Council designated 32 hectares adjacent to the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve as Special Housing Area/SHA 62 (25) for a future housing development.
When this was announced, Ihumātao local Pania Newton (26) along with several of her cousins, formed SOUL (27) in 2015 to stop the rezoning. In 2016, the Wallace’s sold the land to capitalist construction firm Fletcher’s (28), which planned to construct 480 homes. In response, in November 2016 SOUL began their occupation of the land (29) and demanded that Fletcher end their plans and that SHA 62 be dissolved. A month later, Joe Hawke, leader of the Bastion Point occupation (30), visited to support the occupation and provide advice. For the next three years, SOUL would use a diversity of tactics to try and stop Fletcher’s plans, including going to the United Nations (31), taking Fletcher’s to the Environment Court (32) as well as taking petitions to Parliament in Wellington/Pōneke (33) and to Auckland Council (34) with this all being complemented with an extensive (35) social media (36) campaign (37). However, none of these measures succeeded, with Fletcher’s development going ahead. In response, Te Kawerau ā Maki negotiated with Fletchers (38) to set aside some of the homes to be for the iwi and then supported the development, claiming that this was the best deal possible and that SOUL weren’t mana whenua.
With no more obstacles facing it, Fletcher’s now tried to begin construction at Ihumātao, with the Police being sent on 23rd July 2019 to Ihumātao to serve eviction notices and arrest three protestors (39). When this happened, the three years of SOUL’s campaigning now bore fruit, with hundreds arriving to blockade Ihumātao (40) to prevent construction from beginning, with members from Tāmaki Makaurau Anarchists (41) being amongst them. Due to holding this blockade (42) the Government, after initially saying that they wouldn’t intervene (43) on 24th July then said on 26th July that construction at Ihumātao would stop (44) while a solution was being negotiated between Te Kawerau ā Maki, Fletchers and Auckland Council.
Unfortunately SOUL was not invited to negotiations and they continued the blockade due to this as well as due to the Police and Fletcher’s remaining at Ihumātao, with the katiaki/protectors (45) of Ihumātao being able to push the blockade line closer to Ihumātao (46) while also facing an increased police presence by 5th August. On the following day, there was a national day of actions in solidarity with the reclamation of Ihumātao (47). This helped keep pressure on Fletcher’s and the Government after the Kingitanga offered to hold a hui (48) between SOUL and Te Kawerau ā Maki to come to a common position on Ihumātao that both sides accepted.
As the negotiations continued, the blockade held, with the majority of the Police withdrawing from Ihumātao (49) on 16th August, while SOUL organised a hikoi/march (50) to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Mount Albert office to get her to visit Ihumātao, which she refused to do. The negotiations ended on 18th September, with SOUL and Te Kawerau ā Maki agreeing that Ihumātao should be returned to mana whenua (51). Since mid-September 2019, negotiations have continued, although SOUL have been locked out of them (52). However, there are positive signs that a resolution may be reached soon, with the Government stating on 16th November that it’s considering loaning Auckland Council money to purchase Ihumātao from Fletcher’s (53) to turn it into a public space, while Pania Newton announced on 23rd December that a resolution would be announced soon (54). This great news led to Ihumātao having a very Meri Kirhimete/Merry Christmas in 2019 (55).
The struggle for Ihumātao in 2020 started well with Fletcher’s removing their fences (56) at Ihumātao. In addition, there was an expectation that a resolution would be reached (57) before Waitangi Day, with the Kingitangi lowering their flag from Ihumātao to symbolise, as their work in helping to resolve this struggle had finished. Unfortunately, Waitangi Day 2020 came and went without a resolution being announced. However, the Kingitanga said following Waitangi Day 2020 that a resolution was imminent (58), but that some work still needed to be done to finalise the resolution.
This work continued throughout 2020 until 17th December 2020 (59), when it was announced that the Government would purchase Ihumātao from Fletcher Building for $30 million under the Government’s Land for Housing programme. This was done as part of a Memorandum of Understanding/He Pūmautanga that was signed by the Kingitanga, the Government and Auckland Council which set out how they would decide the land’s future. In the Memorandum, it was agreed that the land should be used for housing, which could take on various forms, including state housing, mana whenua housing or Papakāinga housing (60). The Memorandum also clarified that the agreement does not amount to a new Treaty settlement to ensure it didn’t re-open the previous Treaty settlement, as all Treaty settlements are considered full and final. In addition, the Memorandum outlined that a steering committee, or Rōpu Whakahaere, made up of three ahi kā/those with links to the land (61) representatives who are supported by the Kingitanga, one Kingitanga representative and two Government representatives, would be formed to co-govern the land. The steering committee will engage in talks for a period of five years to make the ultimate decision on the future ownership and use of the land, with one possible option being returning the land to mana whenua (62). Pania Newton (62) said at the time that the deal was a good first step and that it would be up to whānau to decide what to do with the land, although she said it wouldn’t necessarily be used for housing.
Since the deal was reached, as of 17th March 2021 (63), the steering committee has not yet been formed as the ahi kā representatives and Kingitanga representatives have not been selected yet. In addition, on 20th April 2021 (64), the Auditor-General announced that the Government’s purchase of Ihumātao was unlawful and Parliament needed to pass legislation to make it lawful to resolve this technical error. What both these reports show is that while mana whenua have won an important battle, the struggle for Ihumātao is not over yet.
Looking back (65), SOUL’s campaign to #ProtectIhumātao has been a phenomenal success, with them being able to transform their initially small reclamation action into a direct action campaign that has created a mass movement in Tāmaki Makaurau and across Aotearoa to stop Fletcher’s housing development backed by an excellent social media campaign. It’s also led to a new approach to Māori politics, with a new generation seeking to engage in direct action to return stolen land instead of relying on corporate iwi structures (to the exclusion of hapū) negotiating with the Government to get treaty settlements that provide monetary compensation and only return Government land, enriching a new Māori capitalist class (66).
However, there is still a long road to reaching a final resolution to this struggle. In addition, the Government ensured that the Memorandum did not set a precedent to return private land to Māori in future treaty settlements (67). If that had happened, then all stolen land in Aotearoa could possibly be returned to Māori, destabilising one of the pillars of settler colonial capitalism in Aotearoa: private and state land ownership. Despite this, SOUL’s campaign to reclaim Ihumātao has put into practice the anti-colonial cry from the Māori rangatira/chief Rewi Maniapoto (68) during the Waikato War: 'Ka whawhai tonu mātou, Ake! Ake! Ake! - We will fight on for ever and ever!'
Award winning outsider artist . Illustrator . Punker
The Federación Anarquista de Gran Canaria or FAGC celebrates its 10 years of existence this month. In the past we already translated a series of articles written by them outlining their ideological approach in what they call “neighbourhood anarchism”. But to celebrate this anniversary we decided to translate a summary of their history in these 10 years where they went from disrupting speeches by reforminist unions during the 15M square occupations to being the single entity in Gran Canaria that has facilitated more houses for people. All of this while enduring police repression and torture, internal conflicts and splits, twitter censoship, attacks and outrage from stablished anarchist and much more.
These are the victories, mistakes, and the many lessons learnt from both, of the FAGC. Congratulations on these 10 years and we wish you many more to come!
¡Viva la FAGC! ¡Viva el anarquismo de barrio!
- Anarchist Federation Member & Translator
This August the FAGC (Federación de Anarquistas Gran Canaria) celebrates ten years of existence, 10 years of neighbourhood anarchism. We are gonna do a quick and brief overview of the historical trajectory of the FAGC. We have to return to 2011, to a society shaken by the demonstrations of indignation of what would become known as the 15M
On the 16th of May a group of young anarchists burst into the San Telmo square handing out a leaflet. It said things like this:
Something has been put into motion and we can’t content ourselves with just looking. First of all, we are gonna receive a lot of shit, many insults and defamations. Both the parliamentary left and right, with their pretend feud, have polarized the social life of the State; now they see we don’t want either of them, that there’s only two groups: them and us, oppressors and oppressed, rich and poor, they cower in fear and close ranks. The fear they show for a “simple protest” is a symptom showing that this can be something more.
But this cannot be the only thing that worries us; this enemy is easy to identify. What we have to make sure is that this movement is not used by anyone but by the social discontempt itself. A lot of “fathers” and “tutors” are gonna appear out of nowhere, many who are gonna try to redirect us “poor idealists” to a more “practical” and “constructive” way. Don’t be fooled! Everything that smells like politics, not understood as the administration of the polis but the “art of governing”, will try to disassemble this movement and turn it into a tool for their own interests. Our only chance is to spit fire in the face of the “firefighters”, of the career politicians that want to turn this into their electoral campaign. To reform the laws? To refund the system of free exchange and try to radicalise the electoral left? To ask for state intervention? This is hanging ourselves by the neck with our own hands but using the noose they give us. Ricardo Flores Magón said: “Revolutions fail because, once they triumph, they let everything in the hands of the new revolutionary ‘government’, instead of doing it themselves”.
There hasn’t even been a total insurrection and yet and we are already asking the law and the system to reform they would they themselves created? What we need is free access to utilities, housing and food. What we need is for the workers to control the production. The financial and banking system cannot be “redirected”, but destroyed. It must be us, in whatever way we decide, who manage our own lives. Don’t let yourself be infected by the “pragmatism” of the moderates. If you want Everything, don’t ask for it: TAKE IT.
What was the reaction of the first 15M integrants to this leaflet? An urgent assembly was called to...EXPEL THE ANARCHISTS.
Students indignated because we were “”proposing a revolution and they only wanted to “change things a bit”. Puritans of political parties saying they should call the police on us to kick us out (from a public park, yes). But there were also voices defending us.
They could not kick us out, not even if it was decided by a majority they didn’t have. We found out that they had used the same procedure to kick out feminist compas for a placard: “The revolution will be feminist or it won’t be”
With all this mess, did we leave or stay? The easy option was to leave, but as anarchists we never choose the easy way. To leave meant to leave the square to the parties and the opportunists. We went into the Respect Commission, with the objective of showing a different way of solving conflicts.
Our intention was to keep the police out of the square (to whom the “indignados” themselves called for any reason), avoid the exclusion of the homeless compas who were camping and generally show that our ideas were useful.
In little time the perception some of the “indignados” had of us changed. A lot of people started to come to us saying they were anarchists, but didn’t say when we arrived because we entered “like a bull in a china shop”.
More and more people joined: old militants of the COA (Colectivo de Objeción de conciencia y Antimilitarismo / Collective of Conscientious Objectors and Antimilitarism) from the 80s, people from inestable Grancanarian CNT, punks, young people who sympathised but didn’t know anything about anarchism, independentists, etc. The “black block” emerges.
In actuality this was the name given by our detractors, but we thought it was funny. During the month of July we started to think about creating a federation, a FAGC. We also thought it was funny, because of the FAI and because of “Fuck” (yes, we were very young)
Around the middle of August (the exact date is a mystery), in San Juan Park, Telde, the foundational assembly of the FAGC takes place. No document was written. No photo was taken. Most of the current FAGC didn’t attend this assembly. But that’s where everything started.
When San Telmo is evicted, we anarchists are on the front-lines. And also when it comes time to give a solution for the homeless compas that with the eviction also lost their refuge. An abandoned hotel is occupied. The first official squatting of the FAGC.
And also the first official trial of the FAGC for usurpation. The compas would be found innocent and there was a great mobilization from the healthiest and more committed part of the 15M.
Around this time the first important action of the FAGC takes place: to take lead of the a demo aways from CCOO and UGT (Two reformist unions from Spain). The slogan? “The only good Constitution is a burning one”.
Around that time the parties launch a powerful offensive to control the 15M in San Telmo. There’s a rumour going around that “the anarchists are a majority in the assembly and they are radicalising us”. The truth is that we were never more than 15, with a lot of sympathisers. (Read more)
The people who fear the 15M would end up becoming another political party, come to the anarchists to counter that influence. But the FAGC has an internal “rule”: to participate in the 15M as individuals, to not speak about the 15M in assemblies of the FAGC. In short, to not rule.
So Ruy developed an organisational model (to counter others who wanted that a collective/party voted and had the same weight as a neighbourhood assembly) that ensured the assembly’s autonomy. Ruy’s model won by majority.
In the model it reads:
The structure of a Movement that is horizontal, headless (without leaders) and popular cannot be understood as a “top down” correlation.
To stop any attempt at verticality we must try to organise things from the simple to the complex, promoting that the sophisticated depends inexorably on the basic.
But if the circularity scares the hierarchy, it will be the federal method what will allow to maintain the autonomy of the assembly. According to this principle, every assembly is autonomous and if we understand the Assembly as a method of collective decision-making in opposition to the powers that be, we understand that on it, and not in any other organ, is where sovereignty resides. This makes commissions mere tools that must only implement what the Assembly agreed.
We haven’t forgotten that the Collectives, unlike other social groups (workers, the unemployed, students, retired people, neighbours, etc) are united by ideological affinity, and that the horizontality must prevent any kind of outside control.
The successes come with police attention. In the next demonstrations and strikes a dynamic was repeated: the police charging against the anarchists and the confrontations with the “security” of the reformist unions.
We are now in 2012. Chaotic year. That’s when we kicked out, together with young independentists, the Nazis from Respuesta Estudiantil from a demonstration where they had agreed their participation with the biggest student collective of back then.
And also took place of our greatest hits: the taking of a platform that belonged to the reformist unions and their expulsion from it. An action that, although discussed informally, happened spontaneously to try to avoid the massacre of our block.
The FAGC from the outside gave an image of being “powerful”, but in reality it had suffered its first split a few months before and it was immersed in a debate about its nature and objectives. Everything started around the squatting of abandoned land.
Even then you could see in the FAGC two different sectors, one with more inclination with the “conventional” anarchism, with its typical actions: campaigns of apostasy, recreational activism, etc; and another more “from the neighbourhood”, more focused in reaching the people around them.
The discussion developed around an issue: to share part of the harvest with neighbours without resources and invite them to join the project or to take everything harvested for ourselves? We didn’t know how to manage the disagreement and little by little the supporters of the second option left.
Around then the FAGC was being mentioned in the local news (negatively) and it attracted young anarchists angry with everything, but our real effect in our neighbourhoods was minimal. We were very combative, but we didn’t speak to our people, only to ourselves.
We had a period of deep analysis, of contemplating the Canarian misery in all its depth and reach. Why, if most of us were from La Isleta, El Polvorín, Jinámar, Las Remudas, San Cristóbal, El Risco, Las Chumberas, etc (Different villages from Gran Canaria) we didn’t speak with our neighbours?
The period of demonstrations had been ok, it was very necessary to build strength. But in two years hundreds of demonstrations had taken place, and besides scaring the bourgeois, we hadn’t accomplished anything.
The battle for the horizontality of 15M had been a crash course on “realpolitik”. But beyond joining forces and bringing our ideas to a new public, did it make sense to continue in a “movement” that was only a collective now?
We started by opening our doors to our agricultural project. It was the first time that, as the FAGC, we worked with non-anarchist people on an anarchist project. That’s how “Land And Freedom” was born.
We continued our analysis of the Canarian situation and we saw that housing and evictions were two of the things that worried our neighbours more. A roof over your head, a house, warm clothes, the basic, the necessary. Our vegetables plot covered the first, but what about the rest?
For the clothes we created “Solidarity Meeting Space”, a network to freely exchange and share clothes, toys and other goods. Informally, it still continues. As well as 4 vegetable plots that feed 2 communities of 260 people and several more families.
But housing was much more complicated. We had already squatted before (some since they were teenagers) and we had stopped evictions with the 15M, but all the legal shit was beyond our understanding. We tried to unite with the local PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, network of groups involved in the housing struggle) and squatting movement.
The idea was that the PAH would take charge of the legal part, the squatting movement of the rehousing and the FAGC of the eviction resistance (our true speciality). But it didn’t work… The PAH at that moment didn’t deal with cases of renting or squatting.
Involved in a legalist and institutionalist process, it didn’t wanna have anything to do with the anarchists, so we limit ourselves to go to their assemblies to kick the hornet's nest and fish for neighbours unhappy with their “half measures”.
The squatting movement did rise to the occasion for months, stopping evictions with us and rehousing. But its internal dynamics, the thing about spaces for “travelers” or meditation, made it last little. The FAGC had to make the decision of being all-encompassing.
We immersed ourselves in legal law (like the atheists who read the bible) and we started to create our reserve of socialised houses (the plan B) and we started to stop evictions by ourselves. The “Grupo de Respuesta Inmediata” (Group of Immediate Response) was born.
We made the first “Assemblies of Renters and Neighbours” of which the first public squats were born, together with the neighbourhood. In the photos you can see two assemblies (the first one just after the arrest of two compas) and one “socialisation caravan”.
We made our first rehousings, but it’s exhausting to limit ourselves to single-family houses. This is when, towards the end of 2012, the possibility of creating the “La Esperanza” Community was born. In february of 2013 we let in the first family. 20 families by May.
The overload of work starts to be brutal. There’s compas for who liked the theory of “working with non-anarchist people”, until it was time to put it into practice. Personal disappointments, communitarian conflicts… the theory spoke nothing of that.
A lot of compas don’t organise anymore, the weight falls on very few people and there’s then a conflict and the second and last split. There’s people who want to “do other things” and some others who want to continue in “La Esperanza” and in housing, but with the participation of everyone.
The first sector is the majority. The second one leaves and continues to squat, letting the first one do whatever they want with the name. In a month the FAGC doesn’t exist anymore. “La Esperanza” is allowed to manage itself however they want.
Months later the neighbours from the community contact the minoritarian group: they need a hand with those “assamblearian” and “horizontal” things because they tried a presidential system and it had been chaos.
We still have the minutes from the first assembly of the Community when it reinstituted the assamblearian model:
A periodic Neighbourhood Assembly will be constituted to manage the common matters. Said Assembly will have the capacity of making decisions about the opening and set up of new homes, rehousings, establishment of fees, bank procedures, maintenance, etc.
It is decided to “start from scratch”; past conflicts and grievances won’t be taken into consideration.
It is established that all neighbours are equal and therefore there’s no need for any position of leadership, management, presidency, etc. All decisions are made in common.
In the case of unforeseen expenses, an emergency assembly will be called to decide on the need of a collective fund to pay for them.
Taking into considerations the minimum expense of the community, it is established a quota of 25 euros per month for each house.
The payment of the quotas can be done between day 1 and 30 of each month and will be given to the treasurer. If a neighbour can’t pay the quote in its entirety, they’ll contribute whatever they can (Ruy promises to pay the difference in case of proved need).
The assembly bluntly rejects the extortion or intimidation of any neighbour for not paying. No neighbour can be evicted or denied water or electricity because of not paying.
We needed a platform to spread our voice and by petion of the neighbours, and seeing as the compas who kept the name had stopped using it, the FAGC was refounded in 2014. A very different FAGC from its beginnings.
The more we organised with non-anarchist people the more ideological anarchists started to disappear and more neighbours were joining the FAGC. It starts the golden times of self-management, with the first massive experiences, with the first failures, but also satisfaction.
Even before “La Esperanza” a self-managed community had been started (still continues to this day, it’s “El Project”, whose location remains secret). But “La Esperanza” is way bigger, 210 people and it allowed to experience “anarchy” in our own flesh.
From 2014 to 2015 the FAGC was busy experimenting with the limits of self-management. With all its contradictions and conflicts. Two blocks in disrepair of “La Esperanza” are rehabilitated and the last 5 families are rehoused (76 in total) and the project is considered finished.
It’s around this time when agents from the Guardia Civil (Militarised police unit from Spain. Known for being bastards among bastards.) illegally detain Ruy and torture him on the station. By accessing the police report we see that for the Guardia Civil “La Esperanza” is a “hot spot” and they criminalise the community without remorse when preparing the intervention.
All the alarms go off. The timid attempts at letting ourselves be known are set aside and a state-wide campaign is initiated to avoid any kind of reprisal. That’s when “La Esperanza” became known as the biggest self-managed community in the State.
In 2016 the mayor office of Guía (town where the Community is located) commanded the neighbours to abandon the community in a month (as if they were able to) and panic spread. Fearing a preemptive eviction, the FAGC and the neighbours start a powerful campaign. A month later the neighbours are still there. This February it turned 8 years old.
Also in 2016 the FAGC starts “Las Masías”. A community to house migrant compas escaped from the CIEs (Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros, internment camps for immigrants) and persecuted by the police. Today 70 neighbours live there.
The resistance of “La Esperanza” also allowed a lot of young people and students to contact and become interested in the FAGC. Some of them, those who went down to Guía to lend a hand with the eviction, are today valuable members of the FAGC.
In the FAGC there’s very few anarchists and a lot of neighbours, who do not necessarily feel comfortable with the label of “libertarian”. There’s attempt to create big-tempt groups like the “Office of Popular Expropriation” but they don’t work because in the end they are the FAGC under a different name.
During the whole of 2016 there’s talks and debates about the need to create a Renters Union, like those started by the CNT in the last century. The FAGC is again on a situation of internal crisis, and it is thought to dissolve the FAGC if the SIGC doesn’t work out.
It is in January of 2017 when, without a lot of hope, an assembly is called in “La Esperanza” to decide the constitution of a renters' union. The response from the neighbours is a surprise: they throw their 50 cents quote to the table and ask for their membership card. They do understand what an “Union” is.
The SIGC (Renters Union of Gran Canaria) is born and out of it three new communities: “El Refugio”, “La Ilusión” and “El Nido”. All except the last one still continue. The lesson from “El Nido” is still important. We are talking about a socialised school.
The idea was to turn it into a shelter for survivors of sexist violence, since in the “shelters” of the state the treatment is infamous. The school is made liveable and everything is ready. But it’s then when some neighbours make a fatal decision.
They decide to contact the mayor of the town to “legalise their situation”. For two hours the mayor kindly listens to them. Gets out to make several calls, but returns with the same cordiality and good disposition. The neighbours are very happy.
When they return home they find that the school has been walled off with all their things inside. While the mayor distracted them, the operatives condemned the house. It’s been a hard lesson, but it served to make the communities realise the nature of the institutions.
This year the compas fromInercia Docs produce the masterpiece that is “Precaristas: cronic of the struggle for housing in Gran Canaria''. A graphic manifestation of our reality, our militancy and our neighbourhood anarchism.
This year we also stopped the massive eviction of “Los Barracones del Conde” (The Baron’s Bunkhouses). The FAGC and SIGC come into contact with a different reality, the rural, the caciquism, the aristocratic, those of the exploited labourer who live in shacks. The struggle spreads from north to south.
In the beginning of 2018 SIGC started to feel the excess of activity. Some compas fall sick, some get tired. The SIGC takes some months off. With hundreds of evictions stopped (some of them massive), docens of rehousings and three new communities. The wear is obvious.
The FAGC is more used to these moments of ebb and flow, so it continues its activity while the SIGC takes some time to reflect. We start an Advisory Office for Precarious People, specially cash-in-hand workers.
Many of the compas who come to us are prostitutes. We start to write accusations against pimps and police abuse, to learn the steps to claim benefits, we organise workshops on job retraining and on how to write CVs.
One of our vegetable plots is currently managed by the compañeras that are advised by our Office. Hundreds of kilos of oranges, tomatoes, avocados, potatoes or zucchini come out every month. We don’t moralise. We give tools so that no one is stepped on by no one.
We also develop a small healthcare network to give basic cover for migrant compas who fear being arrested if they come to the Canarian Healthcare System. This network, with its clinic, it’s still active today.
Towards the end of 2018 the process to evict “La Ilusión” was initiated. The FAGC answers the call and by petition of the neighbours themselves the SIGC is refounded. From here starts a Union that stops the eviction of “La Ilusión” and an average of 400 every year.
The community of "Los Girasoles", started just before the reflection period of the SIGC, it’s joined now by the "Miraflor" Community. SIGC currently has more than 600 members and 80 organisers, with different degrees of involvement.
In the beginning of 2020 “Precaristas” was premiered for the first time in Gran Canaria. The event is an special occasion on the isle. It’s celebrated where it should be: in the square, in the neighbourhood of Guanarteme, in the outdoors, with our neighbours, with our people.
In april of 2020, the FAGC and SIGC help to promote the first rent strike in the State in the 21st century (it was only appropriate, being the SIGC the first renters union in the State in the 21st century, a fact that bothers many).
Some day we should write the internal history of this strike. Sabotaged by some, attempts to control it by others, criticised by many. We distanced ourselves quickly from the official current and we limited ourselves to creating strike committees and advising thousands of people.
More than 600 people (we only talk about data from the FAGC, the SIGC on its own will count with as many) in Canarias and in the Peninsula (yes, we dealt with many cases from the whole State) won concessions through direct negotiations.
The moratories or payment reductions we don’t even count, because they weren’t the objective of the strike. It wasn’t a general strike and the government (not fearing the “friendly fire”) didn’t suspend the payments. We did manage that organised neighbours defeated big landlords.
Even today there’s people who still enjoy a reduced rent. Others only started to pay after the State of Alarm ended, without any landlord dying because of it (in fact we have ended advising some small landlords with a mortgage).
Towards the end of 2020 FAGC starts “El Refugio II”. A community for migrants who are being persecuted where 190 people live. It’s been necessary to develop a whole infrastructure of self-sufficiency (with gardens, ovens, etc) and a buying network, increasingly needed less often.
During the hard months of the pandemic, the FAGC also developed a mutual aid network with purchases of 50 euros for each family. More than 30 of our neighbours benefited from it, and avoided having to grovel in front of the NGOs who humiliated them and even controlled the brand of pads.
In the beginning of 2021 the "Los Olmos", with its strike committee, reaches an agreement with the proprietors to live there 8 years in exchange of 2000 euros per year. Everything thanks to that “shitty strike” looked down on by the militant elites and the “wise-men committees”.
In the beginning of this year we were also notified that the trial against our compañero Ruymán has been restarted. The FAGC and SIGC return to the streets. It is still an ongoing struggle and we need you, all of you, to win.
Award winning outsider artist . Illustrator . Punker
Award winning outsider artist . Illustrator . Punker
Award winning outsider artist . Illustrator . Punker
TSHAFP is the edtiors favour panel comic of all time.
It was put out on a semi regular basis a few years ago by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness (purveyers of radical culture and all manner of goodness) and instantly found a home on many a social centre wall.
Producers and shared freely, We'll be uploading it bit by bit, working our way through the 17 'zines.
If you can't wait tho... well put putting the full download fiules here (just as soon as I remove the upload size from this new backend haha - Ed.)
There is a compilation book which you can get from AK PRESS and other such distreputable places.
Bare with us, we're going to build a comic viewer for easy scrolling, but are currently updating the websites backend, so it's not ready yet, however we thought we'd crack on asn start sharing Donald work now. - Ed.
Award winning outsider artist . Illustrator . Punker