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Kronstadt diary – Mar 2nd | Historical

PETROGRAD, 1921

March 2—Most disquieting reports. Large strikes have broken out in Moscow. In the Astoria I heard today that armed conflicts have taken place near the Kremlin and blood has been shed. The Bolsheviki claim the coincidence of events in the two capitals as proof of a counterrevolutionary conspiracy.

It is said that Kronstadt sailors have come to the city to look into the cause of trouble. Impossible to tell fact from fiction. The absence of a public press encourages the wildest rumours. The official papers are discredited.■

Alexander Berkman

<< Mar 1stMar 3rd >>

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Kronstadt diary – Mar 1st | Historical

PETROGRAD, 1921

March l–—Many arrests are taking place. Groups of strikers surrounded by Chekists, on their way to prison, are a common sight. Much indignation in the city. I hear that several unions have been liquidated and their active members turned over to the Cheka. But proclamations continue to appear. The arbitrary stand of the authorities is having the effect of rousing reactionary tendencies. The situation is growing tense. Calls for the Uichredilka (Constituent Assembly) are being heard. A manifesto is circulating, signed by the “Socialist Workers of the Nevsky District”, openly attacking the Communist regime. “We know who is afraid of the Constituent Assembly,” it declares. “It is they who will no longer be able to rob us. Instead they will have to answer before the representatives of the people for their deceit, their thefts, and all their crimes.”

Zinoviev is alarmed; he has wired Moscow for troops. The local garrison is said to be in sympathy with the strikers. Military from the provinces has been ordered to the city: special Communist regiments have already arrived. Extraordinary martial law has been declared today.■

Alexander Berkman

<< Feb 28thMar 2nd >>

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Kronstadt diary – Feb 28th | Historical

PETROGRAD, 1921

February 28–Strikers’ proclamations have appeared on the streets today. They cite cases of workers found frozen to death in their homes. The main demand is for winter clothing and more regular issue of rations. Some of the circulars protest against the suppression of factory meetings. “The people want to take counsel together and find means of relief,” they state. Zinoviev asserts the whole trouble is due to Menshevik and Social Revolutionist plotting.

For the first time a political turn is being given to the strikes. Late in the afternoon a proclamation was posted containing larger demands. “A complete change is necessary in the policies of the Government,” it reads. “First of all, the workers and peasants need freedom. They don’t want to live by the decrees of the Bolsheviki; they want to control their own destinies. We demand the liberation of all arrested socialists and non-partisan workingmen; abolition of martial law; freedom of speech, press, and assembly for all who labour; free election of shop and factory committees, of labour union and Soviet representatives.”■

Alexander Berkman

Mar 1st >>

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Justice For Mohamud | Current Events

On the 9th of January, Mohamud Mohammed Hassan was murdered by the South Wales Police in Cardiff. Communities across the city soon rallied to oppose this blatant, horrible act of racism, with a fundraiser for Mohamud’s family reaching its goal of £30,000 within two days, and the hashtag ‘#Justice4Mohamud’ quickly spreading like wildfire throughout social media. The most overt response was, however, a series of large protests outside the Cardiff Bay police station from the 12th until the 16th of January. The response of the police and the media to both Mohamud’s death and to the protests provide a damning exposure of the role of both of these institution in, and their allegiance to, a racist, colonialist system.

The police, as expected, explicitly denied any role in Mohamud’s death, even going so far as to lie and state that there was no evidence that Mohamud being physically injured in any manner; this lie was later exposed by a later report from an independent investigation. The media assisted the police in this lie, and continues to downplay the severity of this event, by refusing to state that Mohamud was murdered by the police, instead stating only that he ‘died after being held in police custody’ in a poorly veiled attempt to distance the police from Mohamud’s death; some may attempt to justify this phrasing as no more than an attempt to maintain neutrality, but, in situations of evident and extreme oppression like this, neutrality can be nothing more but allegiance to the oppressors.

The protests were large, vocal and unrelenting in their criticisms of not only South Wales police, but of policing as an institution. They, acting in accordance with the wishes of Mohamud’s family, remained entirely non-violent, yet, due to the challenge that they posed to the police, they were treated in a disproportionate and aggressive manner, with around 250 police officers being present at the protest on the 16th; this number of officers is completely unprecedented in recent history, and I have personally seen far, far larger demonstrations of thousands of people in Cardiff being policed by no more than a dozen officers. The police deliberately targeted black people, walking past white protesters, in order to threaten them with fines for breaching the restrictions on mass gatherings that have been placed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; this threatening behaviour continued outside of the protest, with protesters being intimidated, followed and fined as they walked home, and one organiser, Bianca Ali, had her home invaded by two van-loads of police officers in riot gear in an obvious act of state repression and authoritarianism. Bianca received a fine of £500, which was later doubled to £1000, but, thankfully, community solidarity resulted in this money being raised within a few days. The surveillance of protesters was also obvious, with police liaison officers attempting, with a false, friendly guise, to gather information about the protests, and with cameras being constantly used to record the protests. Even beyond this frankly horrifying repression, the behaviour of the police at the protest was atrocious and disrespectful; officers were recorded laughing at and mocking the protesters, and one officer even jokingly confessed to murdering Mohamud.

The media did nothing to expose or report on the police’s atrocities and did everything in their power to portray the protests as violent riots, playing on the racist stereotype of black people as aggressive thugs or criminals in an attempt to delegitimise the protests; Wales Online used a deliberately provocative picture to misrepresent the protests, and the headline from the Daily Express read “Furious protests erupt in Cardiff as angry crowds hurl smoke bombs at police”. The use of smoke bombs was a brief, harmless event which posed no threat to anyone, and, whilst it is undeniable that many of the protesters were angry (and rightfully so!), ‘furious’ is hardly a suitable word to apply to a controlled, relatively peaceful event. In fact, the majority of the major media outlets reported on the use of smoke-bombs, whilst very few of them reported on the speeches, arguments and demands of the protests.

These disgusting behaviours displayed by both the police and the media are a direct result of their vested interest in preserving racism. The police in the UK were formed in order to maintain oppressive class relations by attacking organising working class people and violently enforcing private property relations, and they were soon modelled after their Amerikan counterparts, who were the direct institutional descendants of slave patrols; as a result, the police is fundamentally racist and classist, and will always serve to intimidate, attack and oppress those marginalised in society in order to coerce their subservience to the unjust system that exploits them everyday for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Major media outlets in a capitalist system are necessarily owned by rich and powerful people, the same people who benefit from this exploitative system and, therefore, have a vested interest in combatting the anti-racist efforts that would necessarily challenge this system. Any honest reporting of the protests would undermine the ideology that upholds the current neoliberal system, and would expose many people to its horrors, so instead dishonest reporting is used to undermine support for the protests and, by extension, the struggle against racism; despite the best efforts by some to keep the protest’s respectable, there simply never was a chance of the corporate media reporting positively on the protests.

Mohamud was only 24 years old, he had a family and his whole life ahead of him. That was robbed from him by a racist institution that has been operating for centuries, claiming thousands upon thousands of innocent lives. His death was, and remains, a tragedy, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that Mohamud is the last person killed through the brutality of the police. As these events have proven, this can only be achieved through the abolition of the police, who are irredeemably racist and beyond any hope of ‘reform’. As these events have also proven, we cannot expect any help in this struggle from corporate media, which has a vested interest in ensuring the continued existence of systemic racism. However, these events have proven that we can expect help from our communities, those who we struggle and fight alongside on a day-to-day basis. Together, we can fight for, and we can win, a better world! ■

If you can afford to, please do consider donating money to Mohamud’s family: https://gofund.me/bb087bb7

Written by a Federation member.

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Solidarity Is A Stream Of Sparks | International

Now and then the flame dies down, but solidarity is a stream of sparks”

ILYA SHAKURSKY, an antifascist political prisoner in Russia, appeals to you in this interview to write to him, and to others imprisoned in the infamous “Network” case. Please see a note at the end about where to send messages.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 19 January, is the anniversary of the assassination of antifascists Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov, who were shot dead in broad daylight in central Moscow in 2009. People will gather – in Moscow, to lay flowers at the place where they were killed, elsewhere on line – and we publish this article on several web sites simultaneously, to express solidarity. 

The “Network” case began in Penza and St Petersburg in October 2017, when the Federal Security Service (FSB) started detaining young anarchists and antifascists, who had supposedly participated in a terrorist group. The security services claimed that the young detainees were preparing terrorist acts, aimed at the presidential elections and the football World Cup in 2018 [which was staged in Russia].

It soon became clear that this “Network” organisation had been dreamed up by the FSB, and the confessions extracted from the alleged participants with the use of the most barbaric tortures. Details of the methods used, including electric shock batons, were published widely before the defendants were tried. 

Nevertheless, the defendants were found guilty and sentenced – in January 2019 in St Petersburg, Igor Shishkin to three-and-a-half years’ detention; in February 2020, seven defendants in Penza, including Ilya Shakursky, to between six and 18 years; and in June 2020 in St Petersburg, Viktor Filinkov to seven years and Yulii Boyarshinov to five-and-a-half years.

In October 2020 an appeal by the Penza defendants was heard and rejected. An appeal by Viktor Filinkov is in progress.

All ten defendants are included in a list of 61 political prisoners compiled by Memorial, Russia’s largest human rights defence group.  

This interview with Ilya Shakursky, who is serving a 16 year sentence, is by Dmitry Semenov. It was published by Free Russia House, an “alternative embassy for Russian civil society” based in Kyiv, Ukraine, and by the Rupression collective that supports the “Network” case prisoners. (The questions were sent via Yelena Shakurskaya, Ilya’s mother, and answers received, via Yelena, in written form.)

Question: Do you feel the support from outside the prison system, and how important is it? Could you say something briefly to our readers and to people who support you?

Ilya Shakursky: It feels good to realise, every morning when they call out my surname and hand over letters I have received, that people remember me and continue to support me. At those moments, the grey monotony of imprisonment is broken up by different colours. It doesn’t matter whether the letter is a couple of lines or goes on like a whole essay. Just getting some news gives me strength and happiness. When I see photos of solidarity actions all over the world; when I read interviews with well-known people who speak about the absurdity of the criminal case against us; when I hear the drums and voices of friends [demonstrating] on the other side of the [prison] wall; when I think of the concert, at which the whole hall sang “It Will All Pass” [“Vse proidet”] (a song by the Russian punk group, Pornofilms, about the “Network” case), or of the rap-battle, where verses were read in support of our case, or of the street artist who used graffiti to speak out about repression in Russia today – I feel like it wasn’t all in vain.

If this means that people start paying attention to things that were previously out of their reach, or unclear, or that they didn’t need to think about – then this could become a way in which everyone can contribute to the struggle against the absurdity, the violence and the injustice. Now and then the flame dies down, but solidarity is a stream of sparks, that stops them from putting the fire out all together, that stops us losing heart – or, to put it another way, stops us from bowing our heads and submitting to evil.

If any of you suddenly thinks of writing to a political prisoner, don’t abandon that thought. Don’t hide it in your “to do” list among your other worries. Do it, right at that moment. Write about your dreams, about what you love, share some memories that make you laugh, or your impressions from a book you have read. Please be assured that your letter is more important than it can seem to you. It can save a political prisoner from the awful monotony of another day behind bars and walls. And that really is very important.

I am very grateful to each and every person who supports political prisoners, who fights for their release, and for justice, and who conveys those sparks that light the fire, that prevent evil from consuming our lives.

Q: After you heard the verdict, and the long, severe sentences, at the court of first instance, how did you react? What has helped you not to give up, not to be overcome by depression, to hold on?

ISh: When I heard the sentences being read out, I took them as final confirmation that this was nothing more than punishment for recalcitrance. It’s difficult to believe what’s happened, and even now I try not to dwell on it. Such thoughts can gnaw away at you and drive you out of your mind.

We live in a world where the life of any one of us can be destroyed, on the whim of those who have power in their hands. What’s most terrifying of all is that people get used to this – to everything that is happening now: demonstrators and young politicians being beaten up; criminal cases under terrorism laws being opened against underaged children; the poisoning of undesirables, absurd sentences, and much, much more that is unjust, cruel and brutal, that could become the norm, if society just accepts it as the new reality. I fear that, above all. Really, that would be totalitarianism with the silent acquiescence of the majority. And then it might be too late to start saying that that was not what we wanted.

I admit, honestly, that holding on, not getting depressed, gets harder. Especially in the context of what is happening in the country. But I am still alive, I have friends and family waiting for me outside these walls, they believe in me and sincerely love me – and so I have to hold on. I must not give up, for the sake of those people who are dear to me, for my own sake, for the sake of the stars in the sky and the fresh air, for the sake of freedom and love.

With smiles they were breaking my wings,

My scream sometimes was like a wail.

And I was numb from pain and helplessness,

And could just whisper: thanks to be alive! (Vladimir Vysotsky.)

Q: You practically all received exactly the sentences that the prosecution asked for – evidently, in large part because you refused to admit guilt and you publicly denounced the torture. With the benefit of hindsight, do you now regret that?

ISh: To regret the course we have taken would render worthless all that we have lived through, and are living through now. The very worst time for me was when I gave up to weakness and fear, and betrayed myself by doing so. I felt that I had just stopped being human; hatred for myself overshadowed all my thoughts. But today, although I am in prison, actually behind four walls, I now remain the person that I really am. If I had [approached the trial] differently, my life would have been mere existence. Why talk about freedom, equality and fraternity, and then betray all of that? What would these words mean for people, if each one of us could just turn our backs on them when the executioners demand it?

The more that people betray themselves and others, the more often they carry out criminal orders in spite of their conscience, the sooner we will all become slaves, deprived of our free will, whose lives are mere existence.

Maybe I am guilty for silence,

Guilty for unnecessary words.

At moments of fear and desperation

My guilt can be hidden.

I constantly expect reproach

Even from those who are indifferent.

I, like everyone, am not free of defects, 

But I am constrained by my conscience.

That’s what calls on me at times

Not to shut my eyes to evil

And to stand by those who suffer.

Otherwise, the burden of guilt will suffocate us.

Q: If you could make time go backwards, and return to some point before your arrest, would you change anything cardinal in your life?

ISh: I already look at my past from a different, probably more grown-up and aware, viewpoint. So of course there are things in the past I would like to change. For example, I would value more highly the people around me, not make mistakes or take wrong turnings, be less bitter, less naive – and much else, maybe some completely personal stuff. But I take my fate as it is – although of course there’s much I could regret, as there is for many people.

My behaviour, my mistakes, my action and my views and aims made me what I am now. That’s what makes our lives interesting, full as they are of happiness and pain, of light and dark. All the more often now, I realise that I took the road leading in the necessary direction. When I see those who hate me – Nazis, propagandists, Chekists [i.e. those in the Russian security services], thugs – and those who support me – the defenders of Shiyes, musicians, artists, political prisoners, teachers, people from my town, comrades all over the world, family and loved ones – I understand that I am on the right side, the bright side. And that understanding justifies, in many ways, the road I have taken, which is short but from which I have drawn definite conclusions and ideas.

What’s there to say about life? That it turned out to be long.

Only with grief do I feel solidarity. 

But whilst my mouth is not yet packed with clay, 

It’ll only resound with gratitude

(Iosif Brodsky.)

Q: Finally, I would ask you to formulate some sort of phrase or slogan that in the current situation helps you to overcome all the difficulties and to believe that justice will soon be achieved.

ISh: When I write that good will prevail, I don’t have in mind worldwide peace, however much I would like that. The point is that good prevails every day, thanks to sincere, good people. Good prevails when doctors save people’s lives, when people adopt a child from an orphanage, when a taxi-driver saves a demonstrator from sadists with truncheons, when eco-activists defend forests from destruction, when political prisoners are released in court, when human rights defenders protect prisoners from torture, when solidarity and love make us smile, and make us believe that we are not alone, that we are together and that we will win. Good will prevail!

PS [from Dmitry Semenov, freerussiahouse]. At the end of his letter Ilya Shakursky sent a message to the interviewer, not for publication. At the end of that message he again expressed thanks for the interest shown in the case, and best wishes. From my side I would like to send Ilya and his friends rays of support, for their freedom. “For sure, this will all pass.” 

Note. Please send messages to Ilya Shakursky and the other prisoners in English to peoplenature[at]yahoo[dot]com, and I will see that they get translated and passed along. Our friends in Russia say that there is no point in sending letters written in English (or other languages except Russian) to prisoners in Russia, as they will not receive them.

A list, in English, of the “Network” case defendants is here, and other information from the Rupression collective is here.

The English translation of Interrupted Flight, the song by the Soviet-era Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky, is from an article by Elena Dimov on the Contemporary Russian Literature site. The translation of the last lines of “I, Instead of a Wild Beast, Entered the Cage” by Iosif Brodsky is by Valentina Polukhina and Chris Jones, from: L. Loseff and V. Polukhina (eds.), Joseph Brodsky (Palgrave Macmillan, London: 1999).

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Death of Alexandre Skirda – historian and anarchist militant | Rest In Power

Translated by the Anarchist Federation from the French language original ‘Décès d’Alexandre Skirda, historien et militant anarchiste’ from Le Monde Libertaire (journal and website of La Fédération Anarchiste– French-speaking Anarchist Federation, our comrades in the International of Anarchist Federations): https://monde-libertaire.net/index.php?articlen=5339

Death of Alexandre Skirda – historian and anarchist militant

Following a long illness, on Wednesday 23 December our friend and comrade Alexandre Skirda passed away aged of 78. Has he now joined Nestor Makhno, likewise a descendant of Zaporozhian Cossacks, on banks of the Dnieper?

His interest in the region and understanding of its language enabled him to get to know the revolutionary peasant movement in southern Ukraine, heir to centuries of direct democracy practice. In books such as Nestor Makhno: Anarchy’s Cossack. The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine 1917-1921 he showed how the creation of free municipalities in that period aimed to establish a stateless society, and how the Bolshevik state destroyed these after eliminating the Ukrainian insurrectionary revolutionary army (which consequently allowed them to defeat the White armies).

Even today, most Trotskyist militants shudder at hearing the name of Alexandre Skirda. They cannot forgive him for revealing the manner in which the Red Army, sent by Trotsky, crushed the City of Kronstadt that had wished for direct federalist democracy in Russia: “It is here in Kronstadt that the first stone of the Third Revolution opposed to the bureaucratic order of the Bolsheviks was laid, leaving behind the dictatorship of the Communist Party, chekas and state capitalism ” (8th March, 1921). In publishing Kronstadt 1921: Prolétariat contre Bolchévisme he granted the longstanding wish of Stépan Pétrichenlo, president of the Kronstadt Provisional Revolutionary Committee: “They may shoot the Kronstadiens, but they will never shoot down the truth about Kronstadt”.

His research enabled him to write several books on that historical event, which have been translated into different languages and reissued many times, enriched by new documents. Significantly, he recently translated and presented the previously unavailable Kronstadt in the Russian Revolution by Efim Yartchuk [also now in English].  This recounted the experiences of one of the key instigators of the Kronstadt anarchists dedicated “To those who had shed their blood during the revolution of 1905 for the complete emancipation of the proletariat from the yoke of capital and authority; To those who fought in February and July 1917 against the new world order; To those who let themselves be deceived by the slogans of the proletarian state raising their arms against the new masters, the Bolsheviks. In memory of those who perished on the road to the Society of free men: anarchy”.

Having this opportunity to scale the mountain of documents feeding his books, those mentioned here being only a small part, we are able to see the importance of his historical work in revealing what has long been hidden – as much by the “Whites” as by the “Reds” – on a revolution which has had consequences, for decades, on the workers’ movement in many countries.

We will not forget Alexandre Skirda, the essential historian of the Russian Revolution, and also the anarchist activist who, from the 1960s, led the Anarchist Studies and Action Group.

“The dead live on, and with them, the dreams they carried”, Gustav Landauer.■

Original text

Décès d’Alexandre Skirda, historien et militant anarchiste

À la suite d’une longue maladie, mercredi 23 décembre notre ami, notre compagnon Alexandre Skirda nous a quittés à l’âge de 78 ans. Est-il allé sur les rives du Dniepr rejoindre Nestor Makhno, descendant de Cosaques zaporogues comme lui ?

Son intérêt pour cette région et sa connaissance de la langue lui avaient permis de connaître le mouvement révolutionnaire paysan du sud de l’Ukraine, héritier de plusieurs siècles de pratique de la démocratie directe. Dans des livres tel Nestor Makhno, le cosaque libertaire, la lutte pour les soviets libres en Ukraine 1917-1921, il montre comment dans cette période la création de communes libres visait à établir une société sans État, puis la façon dont l’État bolchevik les a détruites, après avoir éliminé l’Armée révolutionnaire insurrectionnelle ukrainienne, qui avait pourtant permis de vaincre les armées blanches.

Encore aujourd’hui le nom d’Alexandre Skirda fait frémir la majorité des militants trotskistes, qui ne lui pardonnent pas d’avoir révélé la manière dont l’armée rouge, envoyée par Trotski, avait écrasé la Commune de Kronstadt, qui souhaitait pour la Russie une démocratie directe, fédéraliste, et déclarait le 8 mars 1921 : « C’est ici à Kronstadt qu’est posée la première pierre de la IIIème Révolution opposée à l’ordre bureaucratique des bolcheviks, laissant derrière la dictature du Parti communiste, des tchékas et du capitalisme d’État ». En publiant Kronstadt 1921: soviets libres contre dictature de parti, Il exauçait longtemps après le souhait de Stépan Pétrichenlo, président du Comité révolutionnaire provisoire de Kronstadt : « Ils peuvent fusiller les Kronstadiens, mais ils ne pourront jamais fusiller la vérité de Kronstadt ».

Ses recherches lui ont permis d’écrire plusieurs livres sur cet événement historique, qui ont été l’objet de traductions dans divers pays et de nombreuses rééditions, enrichies par de nouveaux documents. Il a notamment récemment traduit et présenté Kronstadt dans la révolution russe d’Efim Yartchouk, inédit jusque-là. Celui-ci, un des principaux animateurs des anarchistes de Kronstadt, décrit ce qu’il a vécu et dédie son ouvrage « à ceux qui versèrent leur sang lors de la révolution de 1905 pour l’émancipation complète du prolétariat du joug du capital et de l’autorité. À ceux qui luttèrent en février et en juillet 1917 contre les maîtres du monde. À ceux qui s’étant laissé abuser par les slogans de l’État prolétarien levèrent bientôt les armes contre les nouveaux maîtres, les bolcheviks. À la mémoire de ceux qui périrent sur la route menant à la Société des hommes libres : l’anarchie ».

Ayant eu l’occasion d’approcher la montagne de documents alimentant ses livres, ceux évoqués ici n’en étant qu’une partie, nous avons pu mesurer l’importance de son travail historique pour révéler ce qui a été longtemps occulté – aussi bien par les « blancs » que par les « rouges » – sur une révolution qui a eu des conséquences, pendant des dizaines d’années, sur le mouvement ouvrier de nombreux pays.

Nous n’oublierons pas Alexandre Skirda, l’historien incontournable de la révolution russe, et aussi le militant anarchiste qui, dès les années 1960, animait le Groupe d’études et action anarchiste.

« Les morts vivent et avec eux, les rêves qui les ont portés », Gustav Landauer.■

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Great Anarchists | Review

Anarchism, despite being a rich historical tradition with theorists and thinkers from all over the world, and which has influenced a great many social movements, is unfairly maligned at times. Some pigeon hole it as an anachronism, based on the worship of a prelapsarian past; a mindset of the small-society and essentially obsolete today. Others malign it as overtly and centrally European, unequipped to deal with the struggles faced by people of colour and colonised peoples today who may demand a nationalism of their own for the sake of safety. Beyond this, some – often of the more traditionally Marxist stripe – tend to label it utopian and divorced from material change: too busy focused on what could be to deal with what is.

Given that these criticisms are some of the most common that anarchists, and Anarchism more broadly, face, there is always a concern when a book with a historical angle crosses the desk, and has a focus on the thinkers of the past. While it is unquestionably valuable for a modern movement to be aware of the thoughts and struggles of those who came before, is this not just re-affirming some of those critiques above to centralise them in a book of this kind? The pivotal issue of a work such as Ruth Kinna and Clifford Harper’s new Great Anarchists is whether it manages to avoid the trappings of simply repeating and glorifying those of the past, becoming a project of immediacy and relevance, or whether it becomes mired in celebrating long dead men.

Immediately the question is answered: in the introduction, they establish the important principal that, ‘although these contexts were special, many of the issues the anarchists wrestled with still plague our lives’, and that the purpose of the investigations in the book are ‘not just interesting archaeological exercises’, but instead opportunities to examine how classical anarchists thinkers influenced modern movements and offer insight into lessons that apply to modern living. From the very beginning, the project is set up with a powerful motivation towards a useful and ultimately successful goal.

Originally published as a series of pamphlets, Great Anarchists serves as a crash course through individual prominent anarchists and thinkers of influence to the anarchist movement, and to this extent each segment is dedicated to a single individual. Further, Clifford Harper’s beautiful illustrations begin each segment, showing an artful and striking portrait of the subject. The heavy, stark lines and strongly textured designs draw on images of classical woodcuts but without the clutter that can often confuse and bury less expert attempts at the style, and compliment the book in a unique manner. Addition of art such as this breaks up the text, and transforms Great Anarchists from a piece of raw educational material into a singular project, a kind of didactic art-book, fusing the theory with an aesthetic quality that calls to mind the aesthetic and joyful narratives implicit in so much of anarchist thinking.

Comprised of ten miniature biographies of thinkers associated with anarchism, one of the strengths of the project lies in the selections themselves. It would be tempting to approach a project such as this with the desire to nail down all of the ‘canonical’ thinkers, and it is precisely this temptation that Kinna and Harper avoid. While prominent names such as Kropotkin certainly appear, and it can be somewhat disconcerting to see a list of ‘great’ anarchists that doesn’t include Emma Goldman, the choice to include early pre-anarchist figures such as William Godwin, mavericks such as Max Stirner, and those with legacies which have been largely depoliticised by history and education such as Oscar Wilde, allows an image of anarchism to be built more broadly. Further, it implies a vital piece of information: anarchism is somewhat unique among ideological traditions in that while it invariably draws from thinkers in the past, there is no name-giving origin point or presumed ‘central’ figure of authority. Anarchism can be found in any number of places, drawn out from any number of thinkers, and there are more of them around than you might think.

Kinna’s clear and concise style provides a great sense of ease to the reading. Never difficult, there is an almost conversational tone to much of the writing which can allow a reader to almost miss exactly how much information is being presented. Further, and perhaps most importantly to avoid the curse of hagiography, Kinna is never afraid to present critiques of the figures contained in the book: whether it is highlighting Kropotkin’s infamous views on the First World War, Bakunin’s anti-Semitism, or the long-standing tension between Stirner and much of the general anarchist movement, there is always room for nuance in Great Anarchists, and it is precisely this care that avoids the book sliding into myth-making.

All of this is extremely positive, however, that does not mean that Great Anarchists is without some degree of concern. To begin with, there is the first and obvious issue of the selection covered. While it is absolutely true that, shy of writing a tome thousands of pages long, Kinna and Harper would always be forced to make decisions to exclude certain thinkers in a project of this kind, the choice of who to include is worth examining. Inclusions of Oscar Wilde and William Godwin are certainly appreciated, and as mentioned earlier, open up the world of anarchism more broadly than simply focusing on the anarchist ‘canon’ might have, however the limitations of the figures selected do seem evident: other than Lucy Parsons, every figure discussed in the text is white, and with no exception at all, every figure is either of European or North American origin. Given the generally European flavour of most early anarchist theory, it is difficult to critique Kinna and Harper themselves for this issue, but in a text in which they are willing to include figures who pre-date the anarchist movement (as typically thought of) itself, it seems slightly strange that no figures from Asian, African, or South American anarchism are discussed.

It must be emphasised that this is not a damning criticism, and does nothing to impact the valuable nature of the work that is included in Great Anarchists, nor is it intended to downplay the significance of any thinker who has been included. Instead, it simply must be stated that the anarchist movement is broad and multifaceted one, and it might have been nice to see an inclusion of a figure such as Itō Noe (to give but a single example) in order to reflect that and also to combat the idea of anarchism as being a Eurocentric concept.

Further, there is a single note worth making, which is that while the downsides of various thinkers as individuals is a subject of discussion – anti-Semitism, or personal views on war, as mentioned earlier – there is fairly little critique of their thought itself in the broader sense. As Great Anarchists is more of an introduction to thinkers on their own terms than a text of theory in its own right, this is not truly an issue in my view. However, it is easy to imagine an anarchist coming from an anti-civilisational or primitivist perspective taking issue with the discussion of Louise Michel’s support for scientific and technological advancement in an uncritical tone – addressing only potential ‘deeply unscientific practices’ – as if these views were in a state of firm consensus amongst the anarchist community in general.

Neither of these downsides counteract or deny the useful and overall very fun nature of Great Anarchists, which manages to achieve its stated goal of balancing historical education with an emphasis on shared struggle with the present almost effortlessly, and is an enjoyable read.

The question for someone new to the world of radical leftist thought – particularly anarchist thought – is often where to start learning. It can be incredibly difficult without any particular guide to know where to begin, both in terms of which thinkers one should approach first, but also the texts they wrote and which ones should be considered the most urgent to read. Perhaps the most commonly suggested classical anarchist work among modern radicals is Kropotkin’s The Conquest of Bread, and while still a fantastic work filled with powerful explanation and convincing argument, there is some truth to the claim that the style can be challenging for people with little background in reading older texts. By contrast, many of the attempts that have been made to write modern groundings and introductions to the radical movements of anarchism take an altogether different route and, while they do provide an overview of common perspectives, it is fairly normal for them to avoid delving too deeply into the history of anarchism. Preferring to give modern day examples, and discuss modern day events, this strategy can be very useful but for a number of new readers it can be frustrating: where did these ideas come from, the question is asked?

Kinna and Harper’s new collection strikes a delicate but vital balance between the two approaches. Maintaining constant connections with the movements and struggles of revolutionary groups and radical thinkers of today, they draw a line directly between historical writers and activists without entangling themselves too deeply in what might be intimidating theory for the newcomer; their language is clean and concise, and they refrain from approaching the topic with the assumption that any given reader will already know what they seek to discuss. Given this mixture of the present with the past, as well as the brilliant use of illustrations throughout the book, Great Anarchists takes a centre stage as one of the most useful and beautiful introductions to the history and, more importantly, the present of radical thought. While not without potential nitpicks, the next time you are pressed to show a curious individual something to get them tumbling into the radical movement, Great Anarchists should be near the top of the suggestions. ■

Jay Fraser
Jay is an anarchist, poet, amateur philosopher, and basketball fan. He did his degree in English at the University of Lincoln, and is a fan of animals, good coffee, and horror movies. You can find him on Twitter @JayFraser1, or trying to find his face mask for the millionth time.

Great Anarchists by Ruth Kinna and Clifford Harper is available now from Dog Section Press for £6. Visit www.dogsection.org/press to buy, and read online.

Ruth Kinna is a professor of Political Theory at Loughborough University, and is currently the editor of Anarchist Studies. Clifford Harper is a radical illustrator, whose work can be found in a number of radical publications.

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Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitors | Review

An essay collection united around an examination of class, justice, and social perception, D. Hunter’s Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitorsa powerful set of arguments delivered in a tone that switches from the personal to the academic with ease. Blending scholarship with experience, Hunter adopts the methodological framework of the auto/ethnography, and attempts to situate his often harrowing life experience within a framework that embraces class politics, restorative justice, and social understanding over the course of ten essays of varying length. As the author tells us in the introduction to the collection, ‘’one of the aims of this book was to emphasise not only the humanity, but also the insight, intellect, and determination of those living in poverty.’’

Following the author’s previous book Chav Solidarity, the thematic through-line is obvious, and Tracksuits follows through on many of the themes that were established previously. Despite this, there is no need to have read the prior work to understand the new one; this is perhaps one of the largest strengths of Tracksuits, as Hunter’s writing is clear and accessible even when dealing with some of the more academic subjects. Marrying the unornamented and raw background of their life experiences with the theoretical allows a window of insight that should make even those without much background in theory to dive in without any issue. This conversational and almost casual tone combined with the brevity of many of the essays makes it excellent introductory reading, and would be easy to pick up and dive into for anybody at any level of academic experience.

Hunter’s essay collection begins with a content warning, and although this review will not touch on everything mentioned by the author, it is my responsibility to warn any prospective readers to take the content warning serious; discussions of mental health issues, violence, drug usage, and sexual abuse are frequent throughout the book and there are visceral moments in the reading which may be difficult.

A question that is commonly asked is the role of theory and analysis on the left: for many, it is an interesting curiosity, but there is a lot of discussion of how central it should be. There are some who suggest that it is, in fact, obnoxious to insist on analysis; further, there are those who claim that theory is a barrier to the ‘real working class’, getting in the way of Real Politics. While there is some truth to that – others have written before on the class barriers built into education, as well as the difficulty of certain authors – there are also many (of whom I am a representative, in a small way) who believe that theory is often powerful and liberatory, and that there is an inbuilt classism and derision in insisting that people who are working class or from traumatic backgrounds are unable to grasp ‘advanced’ concepts.

Hunter provides a powerful example of the way theory should be used, or at least one vision for how it could be. Utilising the framework of personal experience, lived encounters with the harsh realities of life under the myriad oppressive structures of modern capitalist society, Hunter leans over the boundary between the ‘real’ class conflict and the analysis. Here, theory is a way to consider experience, to step back and think about it, rather than to dissociate from it, and Hunter’s writing moves from the merely demonstrative to the functional when it funnels trauma into, for example, ideas of restorative justice.

In the first major essay of the collection, ‘Naming Football Teams’, the question ultimately arises of how one is supposed to deal with having been wronged. Without going into the specifics, there is essentially a scenario in which somebody has harmed another in a way that seems to, under the current shape of society, scream out for punishment; for vengeance, even. There is a punitive urge that underlies out current cultural logic, but Hunter calls instead for ‘a form of justice that does not require cages, keys, police, courts, and a violent class system’, but rather a process designed to ‘deconstruct abusive interpersonal relationships, and generate responses to them which do not merely reproduce the same dynamics’. Essentially, it is a call for a justice based on empathy, but Hunter is not simply engaging in wishful thinking here: referencing various cultures which have engaged (and continue to engage) in justice that differs greatly from the carceral, as well as philosophers and activist groups, the outlines that reconciliatory justice may take are eminently practical, and yet are informed by the theory.

Another great strength of Hunter’s writing must be highlighted here; it is all too easy for somebody who is distanced from, say, Indigenous American culture to simply point to the Other from the comfort of whiteness and decide to pick and choose which elements of this culture are fit to adopt. Avoiding this trap, however, Hunter tries to clarify that they are ‘’careful not to stake a claim to ownership of these ideas’’. Vital to avoid a kind of mythologising of the Other, Hunter acknowledges these other justice systems as ideas from which to draw inspiration, to prompt the thought that there are other ways to do things, rather than simply claiming that any one none-white, none-European tradition is the true path to peace.

Careful consideration of race at the intersection of class returns more prominently in another later essay, ‘You’re Just a White Boy’. While the title of this essay from other authors could be worrying – we’re not going to get another self-serving narrative about the problems of being dismissed as white in progressive spaces, are we? – Hunter quickly does away with that, opening with a quote from Jackie Wang’s incisive book Carceral Capitalism, which describes whiteness as ‘’a category [that] is, in part, maintained by ritualized violence against black people’’, and the discussion does not get any more conciliatory from there. Hunter details his relationship with MD, someone who they have known for a long period of time and who is currently in prison, and whose blackness contrasts heavily with Hunter’s whiteness despite their shared experiences and background, and who is not afraid to confront Hunter with this; ‘’ He tells me he doesn’t know how much of my willingness to make the worst possible decision in every situation was generated by the assumption that being white I would get away with stuff. […] I reply by telling him that as a white person some of those repercussions don’t apply. He nods, but looks far off over my shoulder and says, “I reckon you don’t think they should, either”.’’

Hunter’s willingness to be challenged in these circumstances and to discuss the nature of that challenge is admirable, though it must be noted that admiration is clearly not the intention here. Moving from this personal connection and contemplation in a way that has become trademark of the author by this point in the book, Hunter crashes from anecdote to theory: ‘’ whiteness becomes a stigma that can nevertheless be inhabited as long as it is reflexively acknowledged as stigma.”, as the quote is given. Reminiscent of Slavoj Žižek’s conception of the ‘’liberal communist’’, who simultaneously disavows capitalism and inhabits it fully, allowing the disavowal to absolve him of his behaviour, Hunter outlines a perspective on race wherein as long as whiteness is performatively acknowledged and apologised for, it can be effectively surpassed. This perspective is rejected in part, in favour of a critique of whiteness that becomes more granular and sees the varieties of whiteness spread through the intersection of class and gender and sexuality and which acts in concrete ways to change everyday life. Yet we are reminded as the essay closes that this kind of examination, while important, is also one that is in part facilitated by the privilege whiteness grants: ‘’black people don’t make these cages, we just live in them. We just die in them. White people make them.’’, MD reminds us.

‘You’re Just a White Boy’ may be one of the most contentious pieces in the collection, if only for the difficulty in discussing such a monumental issue from a perspective that is necessarily cut off from that reality. Hunter takes great pains to be careful with the subject of race, acknowledging and expressing understanding of his own racial background and the differences in material conditions and experiences that people from other racial backgrounds have had to live with, but it is a difficult balance to strike. For some, it may not be entirely successful, but it does seem to be honest and frank, which mitigates some of the worst tendencies that this kind of writing can often inhabit: if it is not successful, it is at least not in bad faith, which is far from the worst misstep one could make when writing something of this kind.

While it would be very easy for me to continue in this fashion, recounting and detailing particular essays, that would be missing the point; the examples and discussions above serve to demonstrate some of the particulars to a reader and to examine that style of the analysis Tracksuits contains, but it would be inappropriate for me to continue removing pieces from context and breaking them down; instead, it is important to discuss the conclusions. After detailing and discussing various aspects of their own life and the lives of others, Hunter concludes with the following lines that echo Michel Foucault’s call in his introduction to Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, which instructed us to kill the fascist inside our heads;

‘’We need to abolish the White supremacist in us, the ableist, the patriarch, the transphobe, the parts of ourselves that still think, feel, act and organise as if some humans are worth more than others, that some bodies matter more. This is collective work, this is done in vulnerability with one another, and with an openness to making mistakes, speaking the worst of ourselves and trusting in “our” class that we can find new answers to old questions.’’

This is the fundamental takeaway from Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitors; the idea that the it is only through collective and communal work that recognises that the flaws in most people are not the result of their personal unpleasantness (although that can be a factor) but are in fact expressions of their lives, their circumstances, and the culture in which they have lived and survived. We have patriarchy inside us because it is impossible to escape the world, and the world is patriarchal; this is the same for white supremacy or ableism, or homophobia and transphobia, which are so commonplace as to be banal if not for their insidiousness. The way through this is not to personally disavow these things, as if stubborn refusal could change the world, but to work together, to communicate, to provide material aid wherever possible, and to challenge the world on our own terms and with the staunch acknowledgement that everyday life can and must be different.

While it is certainly possible to quibble with elements of Tracksuits – some people will certainly find the more graphic passages uncomfortable or even impossible to read, depending on their own experiences, and it is true that the tonal shifts can be abrupt and somewhat rough here and there – the final result of the collection is one that expresses solidarity and makes a demand for a new world that is made together. Ultimately, while Tracksuits fails to be a silver bullet for the world of social ills, and definitely will not be for everyone’s tastes, it does present a detailed portrait of a life lived in extreme difficulty but with a sense of awareness and sensitivity that is often left out of these kinds of narratives. Weaving back and forth through critical writing and biography, it is an experience that isn’t easily forgotten and which points arrows at many of the right places.

Jay Fraser

Jay is an anarchist, poet, amateur philosopher, and basketball fan. He can be found on Twitter, or anywhere that has good coffee.

Tracksuits, Trauma, and Class Traitors by D. Hunter
is available for pre-order from The Class Work Project and will be be released on the August 4th. You can follow D. Hunter on Twitter at @dhuntertheclaretchav

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Tear Gas | Knowledge Exchange

Let’s be clear about this.
Tear gas is a weapon of terror which is used to intimidate and disperse.
It is neither a “none lethal” nor “less lethal” option.

“Lacrimator Agent” as they are prone to call various chemicals which the police use was developed for use in war, it’s very invention was to skirt The Hague Conventions of 1899 which restricted “projectiles filled with poison gas”. The Great War saw it’s first use to clear trenches of unfortunate working class lads in the wrong uniform and along with an array of horrific weapons it’s use in warfare was outlawed by international agreement under the Geneva Gas Protocol of 1925 which prohibits the use of “asphyxiating gas, or any other kind of gas, liquids, substances or similar materials”. It currently stands listed as part of the international trade in tools of torture by Amnesty International and yet remains a popular weapon of oppression by the majority of the worlds states.

However no one bothered to outlaw a countries use of such a horrific weapon on their own people and in the following years it became a standard tool of police to maintain order and obedience. It’s use as such first rose into the public consciousness when the Israelis used it during the first Intifada and it was discovered that the US had exported $6.5 million worth of tear-gas guns, grenades, launchers, and launching cartridges to Israel. The “less lethal” option took 40 lives during that conflict and left thousands others to suffer illness. More recently we’ve seen prodigious use on the streets of Hong Kong, Paris and Seattle to the much less documented use by U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) against émigrés more than once a month since the start of the Obama administration.


It’s become a favourite of despots as gas has a psychological impact that has long been utilised to control the victims of an attack since day dot. This effect was noticed by Amos Fries of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service who commented “It is easier for man to maintain morale in the face of bullets than in the presence of invisible gas.” A truth then as it is now a hundred years later as I was entire blocks of Seattle drowning in noxious gas. It’s use was not to clear out any violent mob, but to assault peaceful protestors, mostly teenagers. Time and time again in protest footage we see police use tear gas canisters themselves as weapons, launching them directly into peoples bodies and faces. The results, horrific. A study from Iran observed the high rate of Vascular inurioes caused by such reckless brutality from the police “with high rates of associated nerve injury (44%) and amputation (17%)” in the study.

While ostensibly a last option tool to disperse violent mobs it has overwhelmingly become the weapon of choice of law enforcements seeking to harass and stymie any assembly with a mind to protest whether radically or peacefully. It may be banned as a weapon of war but it is seeing plenty of use as a weapon of fear and control.

TACTICAL INFO
Protests can be uncompromisingly disorganised. This is especially so when is has come together as a peaceful protest and the police have decided to turn it into a riot either by pushing tensions higher or simply by straight up attacking people. The best defence against the use of tear gas in this situation as it is in more conflict prone campaigns is the prepared comrades and autonomous affinity groups who are ready to deal with this specific threat.

One of the indirect defensive tools you have is fire. While not particularly great for the environment burn bins and tires create smoke, and specifically heavy smoke. This acts as a barrier for teargas, meaning that you can block it from going towards the demo/rioters/you name it. If able you will want to ensure that the cops will not use teargas in the first place and the best method here is to to disable their masks.

In Greece, they do this by spraying lines of cops with powdered fire extinguisher, which cloggs up their gas masks and makes them think twice before using it. In Catalan protestors covered the police in paint. This can be used to reduce visibility of gas masks and riot helmet alike and if it’s a weapon being used they are less likely to deploy tear gas as it will mean they could be trapped with zero visibility. Effective ways to do this are with water bombs filled with paint solutions, or even water guns or garden spraying equipment. Make sure to use none toxic paint tho, for legal and environmental concerns.

If you are partaking in unrest where you know the police are liable to use chemical agents consider volunteering yourselves to be “gas response”. That is, protestors who are armed with devices to cover tear gas canisters and drown them in water. They is best done in teams of three or four. You’ll need someone to hold the container and someone to pour the water with preferably a couple of friends dedicating their energy to locating canisters and spotting police about to fire them. Ideally you want to respond immediately and minimise the spread and the effect on others. You will need respirators or at the very least masks,goggles and good thick gloves. Cannisters can be hot and will burn you.

The basic methodology is to quickly cover the canister and pour water all over it. A popular container is a traffic cone or for the prepared the top half of a plastic milk container. However the former is very water inefficient and the later can be quite fiddly, especially in the heat of the moment. It you have the resources and want to come prepared consider using the Printable “Anti Gas Kettle” as developed by Corgian which solves both issues at the expensive of a sizeable printing project. Download the files here on sketchfab.

Corgian asks that anyone looking to provide some material support do so to FOR THE GWORLS who helps black trans women get reaffrimative surgery as well as help them pay rent.

If you are operating solo you’ll was a water battle with a wide opening and put the tear gas cannisters inside preferably using tongs of fire retardant gloves.

Either way you’ll want several bottles of water ready to go (preferably with a good source nearby to top up) and a separate water proof bag with water in for collecting empty cannisters.

If you’re not able to dowse cannisters you can always remove the immediately threat by returning to sender. Either quickly grab the canisters and chuck them back – not very safe mind and use gloves! Heck if you’re sporting go Greek and get in some tennis practice by bringing along a racket or just be give it a good punt like this Palestinian lawyer…


MEDICAL INFO

If you are attending an action where you think you are likely to be attacking with chemical agents consider doing some prep the day before. Respirators which cover the eyes are a must, any Charcoal lines filter will do the job Tho ideally you’d have one rated to FFP2 (N95). If you shave your hair, do so the day before to allow micro-cuts to heal. If you have signicant facial hair, consider cutting it down or shaving it o to help your respirator achieve a better seal. There is a reason the army are limited to moustaches and this is it.

Before going out for an event where you expect teargas you should shower, and then do not apply makeup or other greasy stuff to your skin (like moisturisers etc) Teargas binds with grease so it is a fucker if you come to riots well-moisturised and with makeup.
Especially makeup is bad, as people tend to apply it to sensitive areas such as eyes

There are an array of compounds and blends used to the similar effect. the two primary agents are CN (phenacyl chloride or chloroacetophenone) and CS (2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile) tho notable amongst the rest are CR (dibenzoxazepine) and DM (diphenylaminechlorarsine)

Exploding tear gas grenades as well as launched cannisters that are improperly or maliciously red can cause injuries beyond the intended chemical irritation. Patients struck by cannisters may have thermal burns, contusions, bone fractures, lacerations, avulsion, amputations, or concussions. A hit to the torso, neck, or head can kill a protester.

CS is the most commonly used tear gas. Because it is so common, the literature that discusses the effects of different tear gasses typical does so by comparing their effects to CS. CN, also known as mace, is less common as it is more toxic than CS gas. CR is less toxic than CS

but a stronger irritant. CR can be identified by its pale, yellow colour and pepper-like odour. Patients whose skin is contaminated with CR may experience severe pain when wet, either during decontamination with water or due to sweating. DM is also known as adamsite and “green gas” due to its noticeable green colour. DM’s effects are similar to that of CS. The onset of symptoms is slower, but the duration of symptoms is longer, sometimes lasting over 12 hours.

CS, CN, CR, and DM are not actually gasses. They are aerosols (a suspension of fine particles in a secondary gas). They are distributed by dissolving them in a solvent, evaporating them through thermal reaction, or turning them into a micro-powder.

Symptoms of exposure to all tear gasses are generally similar. Under low concentrations, tear gas causes a burning sensation in mucous membranes, especially the eyes. Other effects are tearing of the eyes, increase nasal mucus production, and coughing. Moderate concentrations and longer exposure lead to profuse coughing, blepharospasm (involuntary closing of the eyelid), increased salivation, difficulty breathing (dyspnoea), prostration (doubling over), burning and stinging sensations on the skin, disorientation, dizziness, syncope (fainting), headache, tachycardia, and vomiting. Heavy concentrations, especially in enclosed spaces, can lead to death by asphyxiation or pulmonary edema. Patients with pre-existing respiratory disorders such as asthma are more sensitive to tear gas and exposure to even small quantities can be life-threatening.

TREATMENT BASICS

The following steps should be followed for treating patients exposed to “Riot Control Agents” or RCAs.

Introduce yourself to the patient. The patient may be blinded or disoriented, so will need to clearly introduce yourself before touching and treating them. This is true in general, but doubly so when they are alert but incapacitated. Failure to do so can lead to them striking out at you.

Remove the patient from the RCA. Pepper spray is short range and exposure happens during brief usage, but tear gas often makes air noxious for many minutes. Patients need to be moved away from tear gas before treatment can begin. Attempt to move the patient upwind from clouds of tear gas or burning cannisters. Tear gas is heavier than air, so if possible, move your patient to higher ground. In urban settings, you may be able to enter the foyer or courtyard of an apartment or building where the air is fresher.

Remove contact lenses. If the patient has RCA on their face or eyes, they should remove their contact lenses. Flushing the eyes can push contact lenses up into the eye socket. Ask your patient if they are wearing contact lenses, and if so, direct the patient to remove them before treatment. If the patient cannot open their eyes or is incapable of removing the contacts, you may need to flush their eyes until they can open them to remove the contacts. Some patients will attempt to save their contact lenses and reinsert them after you have decontaminated their eyes. You should advise them against putting the contacts back in and suggest they dispose of them immediately. However, they may have significantly impaired vision without lenses and will not be able to get home or continue participating in the action without their contacts. They may also have financial restrictions and not want to dispose of a new pair of lenses. Whatever the case may be, they may put the contacts in regardless of what you say, so your job is to help minimize recontamination and associated pain. After treatment, assist the patient with cleaning their lenses. Have them wash their hands using the solution from your bottle. Then, have them them rub their contacts together between their finger and thumb as your slowly stream water onto the lenses for at least 30 seconds. This will help remove a majority of the RCA before they put their lenses back in. After they put their lenses back in their eyes, you may need to help them gently flush out residual RCA.

Prevent the patient from touching the effected area. A patient’s instinct will be to rub the effected body part, especially the eyes and face, while contaminated and after decontamination. This can make the contamination worse and spread it to other body parts. When RCAs are deployed, no one should touch their eyes at all except to remove contact lenses.

Allow tear and mucus production. If water or saline are not available, natural tear and mucus production will eventually remove the RCA. RCA on the skin breaks down and washes o over time. Even without intervention, patients will recover, albeit much more slowly. Remove contaminated clothing. If the patient is heavily contaminated with pepper spray or tear gas, they may need to remove their clothes to prevent continued irritation. Masks and bandannas need to be removed before decontaminating the face, but other clothing can be removed after.

Decontaminate the body part. If the RCA is CR, attempt to brush and dust o as much RCA as possible. Avoid use of water or other liquids to decontaminate the patient unless they are already wet or sweaty, or the RCA is in their eyes (which are already wet). For other RCAs, flush the body part with large amounts of water. For parts of the body other than the eyes, spraying large amounts of water on the effected body part is sufficient. Specifics techniques for decontaminating the eyes are covered later in this chapter. Because pepper spray is oily, it may be useful to gently dab or wipe the effected area with gauze to remove the bulk of the pepper spray. Vigorously rubbing and scrubbing will exacerbate the pain. During treatment for both pepper spray and tear gas, attempt to prevent run off from spreading the RCA to other parts of the patient’s body or your body, especially mucous membranes or open wounds.

Rinse the patient’s mouth. Patients should rinse their mouth with water or saline to remove the RCA. Even in the absence of burning or irritating sensations in the mouth, a mouth rinse is encouraged as it helps remove the taste and it helps them feel cleansed.

Allow coughing and sneezing. If your patient is coughing or sneezing, allow them to continue as this is the body’s natural response and it will help remove the RCA. Give your patient tissue or gauze, and have them blow their nose.

Use refrigerant spray. For patients who have been contaminated with pepper spray, spray the effected areas with refrigerant spray. Use of refrigerant spray does not have an effect on pain levels beyond the immediate treatment, but it psychologically helps patients feel treated. Spray the effected areas for 3 to 5 seconds. Beware the refrigerant spray with cause a burning sensation on open wounds an mucous membranes. If the patient’s face was contaminated, instruct them to close their eyes and mouth and exhale slowly through their nose while your spray them. Consider use of an inhaler. If your patient is asthmatic, remind them to use their inhaler. If you carry a Salbutamol inhaler in your medic kit, consider suggesting they use it to self-medicate.

Consider treating for hypothermia. Patients may remove contaminated clothing, and clothing may be wet from treatment. On cool or breezy days, this can contribute to hypothermia. Consider wrapping the patient in an emergency blanket so they do not have to put back on their contaminated clothes.

Consider other complications. Patients may appear to be generally fine when you begin treatment, but you should still pay attention to their respiratory rate and overall complexion as you treat them. Patients may develop delayed respiratory distress or hyperventilation, or they may go into shock as their adrenaline wears off.

Instruct the patient on how to decontaminate at home. When you discharge the patient, direct them on how to safely decontaminate when they get home. Clothing should be removed before entering their home. Tear gas residue, especially CR, should be vacuumed o clothing and the body before entering the home. If it is available, an ultra-low particulate air (ULPA) or high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum should be used to suck up as much tear gas residue as possible. The patient should throw out the vacuum bag after use to prevent spreading tear gas. Clothing should be washed separately from other items, twice, and with a harsh detergent. If clothing cannot be immediately washed, direct them to put it into a sealed plastic bag until they can wash it. The patient should shower in a well ventilated room using the coldest water possible for at least 20 minutes. Warm water opens pores and may cause additional burning sensations, so patients should shower with the coldest water they can tolerate until the feeling of burning stops. Likewise, scrubbing effected areas should be avoided until burning stops.

For further information download Riot Medicine here.

It’s worth adding that several solutions have been developed, some of these such as Viniger or Baby Shampoo solutions are dubious and there is little reason to think they are effective and may act as an irritant themselves. Comrades in Greece however have long used milk of magnesia, specifically Maalox brand but any will do.

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The Demands of CHAZ | Statements

THE DEMANDS OF THE COLLECTIVE BLACK VOICES AT FREE CAPITOL HILL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

In credit to the people who freed Capitol Hill, this list of demands is neither brief nor simplistic. This is no simple request to end police brutality. We demand that the City Council and the Mayor, whoever that may be, implement these policy changes for the cultural and historic advancement of the City of Seattle, and to ease the struggles of its people. This document is to represent the black voices who spoke in victory at the top of 12th & Pine after 9 days of peaceful protest while under constant nightly attack from the Seattle Police Department. These are words from that night, June 8th, 2020.

For ease of consideration, we’ve broken these demands into four categories: The Justice System, Health and Human Services, Economics, and Education.

Given the historical moment, we’ll begin with our demands pertaining to the Justice System.

  1. The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police. At an equal level of priority we also demand that the city disallow the operations of ICE in the city of Seattle.
  2. In the transitionary period between now and the dismantlement of the Seattle Police Department, we demand that the use of armed force be banned entirely. No guns, no batons, no riot shields, no chemical weapons, especially against those exercising their First Amendment right as Americans to protest.
  3. We demand an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the abolition of youth jails. Get kids out of prison, get cops out of schools. We also demand that the new youth prison being built in Seattle currently be repurposed.
  4. We demand that not the City government, nor the State government, but that the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington, as well as the re-opening of all closed cases reported to the Office of Police Accountability. In particular, we demand that cases particular to Seattle and Washington be reopened where no justice has been served, namely the cases of Iosia Faletogo, Damarius Butts, Isaiah Obet, Tommy Le, Shaun Fuhr, and Charleena Lyles.
  5. We demand reparations for victims of police brutality, in a form to be determined.
  6. We demand that the City of Seattle make the names of officers involved in police brutality a matter of public record. Anonymity should not even be a privilege in public service.
  7. We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.
  8. We demand decriminalization of the acts of protest, and amnesty for protestors generally, but specifically those involved in what has been termed “The George Floyd Rebellion” against the terrorist cell that previously occupied this area known as the Seattle Police Department. This includes the immediate release of all protestors currently being held in prison after the arrests made at 11th and Pine on Sunday night and early Saturday morning June 7th and 8th, and any other protesters arrested in the past two weeks of the uprising, the name Evan Hreha in particular comes to mind who filmed Seattle police macing a young girl and is now in jail.
  9. We demand that the City of Seattle and the State Government release any prisoner currently serving time for a marijuana-related offense and expunge the related conviction.
  10. We demand the City of Seattle and State Government release any prisoner currently serving time just for resisting arrest if there are no other related charges, and that those convictions should also be expunged.
  11. We demand that prisoners currently serving time be given the full and unrestricted right to vote, and for Washington State to pass legislation specifically breaking from Federal law that prevents felons from being able to vote.
  12. We demand an end to prosecutorial immunity for police officers in the time between now and the dissolution of the SPD and extant justice system.
  13. We demand the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.
  14. We demand in replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs as a replacement for imprisonment.
  15. We demand autonomy be given to the people to create localized anti-crime systems.
  16. We demand that the Seattle Police Department, between now and the time of its abolition in the near future, empty its “lost and found” and return property owned by denizens of the city.
  17. We demand justice for those who have been sexually harassed or abused by the Seattle Police Department or prison guards in the state of Washington.
  18. We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that each and every SPD officer turn on their body cameras, and that the body camera video of all Seattle police should be a matter of easily accessible public record.
  19. We demand that the funding previously used for Seattle Police be redirected into: A) Socialized Health and Medicine for the City of Seattle. B) Free public housing, because housing is a right, not a privilege. C) Public education, to decrease the average class size in city schools and increase teacher salary. D) Naturalization services for immigrants to the United States living here undocumented. (We demand they be called “undocumented” because no person is illegal.) E) General community development. Parks, etc.

We also have economic demands that must be addressed.

  1. We demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control.
  2. We demand the restoration of city funding for arts and culture to re-establish the once-rich local cultural identity of Seattle.
  3. We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington, due to the overwhelming effect that education has on economic success, and the correlated overwhelming impact of poverty on people of color, as a form of reparations for the treatment of Black people in this state and country.
  4. We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that Seattle Police be prohibited from performing “homeless sweeps” that displace and disturb our homeless neighbors, and on equal footing we demand an end to all evictions.
  5. We demand a decentralized election process to give the citizens of Seattle a greater ability to select candidates for public office such that we are not forced to choose at the poll between equally undesirable options. There are multiple systems and policies in place which make it impractical at best for working-class people to run for public office, all of which must go, starting with any fees associated with applying to run for public office.

Related to economic demands, we also have demands pertaining to what we would formally call “Health and Human Services.”

  1. We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.
  2. We demand the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned businesses. Your money is our power and sustainability.
  3. We demand that the city create an entirely separate system staffed by mental health experts to respond to 911 calls pertaining to mental health crises, and insist that all involved in such a program be put through thorough, rigorous training in conflict de-escalation.

Finally, let us now address our demands regarding the education system in the City of Seattle and State of Washington.

  1. We demand that the history of Black and Native Americans be given a significantly greater focus in the Washington State education curriculum.
  2. We demand that thorough anti-bias training become a legal requirement for all jobs in the education system, as well as in the medical profession and in mass media.
  3. We demand the City of Seattle and State of Washington remove any and all monuments dedicated to historical figures of the Confederacy, whose treasonous attempts to build an America with slavery as a permanent fixture were an affront to the human race.

Transcribed by @irie_kenya and @AustinCHowe. Special thanks to Magik for starting and facilitating the discussion to create this list, to Omari Salisbury for the idea to break the list into categories, and as well a thanks to Kshama Sawant for being the only Seattle official to discuss with the people on Free Capitol Hill the night that it was liberated.

Although we have liberated Free Capitol Hill in the name of the people of Seattle, we must not forget that we stand on land already once stolen from the Duwamish People, the first people of Seattle, and whose brother, John T. Williams of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe up north was murdered by the Seattle Police Department 10 years ago.

Black Lives Matter — All day, Every day.

The Capital Hill Autonomous Zone is an occupied area of Seattle, taken on June 8 2020 during BLM Protests and encompasses around 6 city blocks. You can find out more, and watch the live streaming at www.caphillauto.zone

This statement was originally shared on Medium.